Barf Forth Apocalyptica

hacks => blood & guts => Topic started by: JasonT on August 07, 2012, 01:52:10 PM

Title: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 07, 2012, 01:52:10 PM
I've been trying to rethink some moves for my group (soon to be trying In Nomine with Apocalypse World rules), thinking about how they typically approach social situations. They absolutely love BSing NPCs, misrepresenting who they are or what their motives are; I wanted to make bluffing more explicitly part of the moves and somewhat separate from leverage/dealmaking (which has additional supernatural implications in In Nomine). Meanwhile, I think they will have a problem with Go Aggro's requirement to follow threats of violence with violence, but it'd be nice to have the option there still.

I ended up with these two basic moves as a result, and I was hoping I could run them by folks here to see whether I'm leaving open obvious loopholes or otherwise breaking how the game should work. (Versus NPC versions only so far.)

Convince Someone
When you you tell someone something they're inclined to be skeptical of, roll+smooth. On a 10+, they believe you. On a 7-9, they believe you, but the GM also picks 1 as appropriate.

Coerce or Manipulate
When you use leverage to get someone to do what you want, the type of leverage determines your roll. If you're threatening with something they don't want, roll+hard. If you're offering something they do want, roll+smooth. On a 10+, if they refuse, you can choose to do them harm (if you're positioned to do so) or to get +1 ongoing against them until the balance of power changes. On a 7-9, you get the same options if they refuse, or they can choose to demand some other positive incentive in exchange for complying (like a bribe, or a promise of protection not just from your threat, but from other enemies).

The first is basically designed for the scene where angels/demons wander into crime scenes, morgues, and other places they don't belong, claiming to be with the cops/FBI/whoever. The second is basically for when the players know they have some advantage, not just something to trade. I'd appreciate any input!

(Apologies if this is in the wrong forum. Still getting the lay of the land here.)
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 07, 2012, 05:51:48 PM
(This should probably be in hacks, not blood+guts, since you're already hacking.)

Based on your stated intentions, these could probably do with some tightening up. I mean "something they're inclined to be skeptical of" is pretty loose.

When you pretend to be someone you're not, roll+smooth. On a 10+, you pass. On a 7-9, the GM chooses 1:
* You arouse suspicion unless you provide an additional demonstration of authenticity.
* Your disguise works for now but will collapse under stricter scrutiny. Better hurry.

So, still pretty much the same thing, just slightly more tailored to the situations you have in mind. I would normally name this "Master of Disguise" or something and make it a special move, but if any PC can do this, sounds like a great basic move. If you have angels/demons with even better shapechanging powers, you can have a special move that changes the word "someone" into "something."

The second is also decent, but it's still pretty much 2 moves. You have different stats and different consequences. There's no real point in mashing them together.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 07, 2012, 07:46:35 PM
Sorry for mistaken placement; I think part of why I put it here was that I thought it might link into a larger discussion of why Go Aggro ought to exist as a move. I'm a little weirded out by its "you have to shoot" mechanic and by the common confusion between it and Seduce/Manipulate. It also seems weird to me that a 7-9 "success" on Go Aggro allows targets to back away or barricade themselves, as that seems like more of a failure when what you really want is them to deal with you or get hurt defying you.

As for "pretend to be someone you're not": Maybe I was trying to do too much with one move, but I actually tried to word it so that you could use "Convince Someone" even when you're telling the truth. Yeah, what first inspired it was my players constantly claiming to be police (despite being dressed in a bizarre array of fashions and never carrying fake ID), but I figured the basis of the move simply be "I'm smooth-talking enough so you believe I'm sincere." Useful for bluffing, getting people to run away from unseen danger, and reassuring someone who feels ugly that they're really a beautiful snowflake. I figured I'd also do more specific moves for lying/disguises available to some characters, either offering additional outcomes or a simple bonus to the roll. Too much, though?
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 07, 2012, 09:15:46 PM
re Go Aggro: Sure, I gotcha.

Vincent's main example is I put my gun in your face and say like "Giff me ze mikrofilm or I vill schoot you," and on a 10+ if you don't give me the microfilm I get to shoot you. Another intention is the old if you just plain get out of my way then I won't actually kill you because I am just trying to get through you to my main goal which is actually not killing you. Of course that means you have to make up your mind whether or not you're going to do it before you threaten to do it.
(And if my main goal actually IS killing you and you don't fight back, then it's still go aggro.)

The difference is that when you manipulate someone your ultimate goal is to get them to do something. So you apply leverage and try to convince them and so on, switching tactics if one doesn't work, etc. With go aggro, you're pretty much past that point. Either they do what you want them to do or you're gonna pull the trigger. Their choice.

As to your moves:
I feel like convincing somebody of something, or just manipulating their feelings and behaviour by talking to them, is pretty well covered by manipulate. Convincing someone to "run away from unseen danger" or  "reassuring someone who feels ugly that they're really a beautiful snowflake" is manipulating them. The mention of "leverage" is just there to keep the outcome within the realm of possibility, otherwise you could convince someone they are Elvis just by rolling a 10+. But telling someone what they want to hear can definitely be a form of leverage, as can small promises for insignificant actions (like leaving a place full of unseen danger--I mean, how do they do that one? "There's an invisible monster here, we should leave?" or "This place kinda sucks, eh? I know someplace better we should go.").

So sure, maybe what you really want is one move for persuasion and one move for threatening? To be fair, I think it's possible to have moves that cover a lot of ground. You could have something like "when you exert your social influence over someone" that could cover convincing, manipulating, impressing, lying to them, etc. But I think that moves work best when the fictional trigger is pretty clearly defined, and is integral to the game's genre. Also good if it's easy for the play group to recognize and agree on what fiction actually triggers a move (but then again, some of the moves in Monsterhearts are kinda vague and might require some discussion between players and MC as to whether or not a move was triggered, but lots of people really like that game, so...). One man's opinion, etc etc.

I guess my advice would be to list out the various social interactions that happen in your game that you think would require a roll, like:
* convince someone
* get someone to believe a bunch of lies
* pretend to be someone else
* make someone feel better
* threaten someone
* manipulate through promises
etc.
and then play. When a situation comes up, decide what stat is appropriate, what the possible outcomes are, and roll some dice. If your ad hoc framework doesn't work, try something different next time. If it does, make notes, and then after a while, you will begin to see what sorts of behaviours you think should require a roll, and which ones look like the same move. I know that advice is basically "go do some work" instead of "here's a possible shortcut," but basically what you are doing is rewriting the moves so they fit your sensibilities as an MC and the things your players do, right?
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 08, 2012, 05:21:25 AM
re Go Aggro: Sure, I gotcha.

Vincent's main example is I put my gun in your face and say like "Giff me ze mikrofilm or I vill schoot you," and on a 10+ if you don't give me the microfilm I get to shoot you. Another intention is the old if you just plain get out of my way then I won't actually kill you because I am just trying to get through you to my main goal which is actually not killing you. Of course that means you have to make up your mind whether or not you're going to do it before you threaten to do it.
(And if my main goal actually IS killing you and you don't fight back, then it's still go aggro.)

The difference is that when you manipulate someone your ultimate goal is to get them to do something. So you apply leverage and try to convince them and so on, switching tactics if one doesn't work, etc. With go aggro, you're pretty much past that point. Either they do what you want them to do or you're gonna pull the trigger. Their choice.

I think I get how the moves work and when to use them; what I don't quite get yet is why they work that way, and my brain is pushing back against that. "If you don't give me the microfilm, I get to shoot you" really sounds to me like it'd be better described by the phrase "Seize by Force" (I'm willing to kill a guy to get what I want from him), though that move works completely differently. To my mind, the real difference between Go Aggro and Seduce/Manipulate doesn't seem to be "when you want to get them to do something" (as they're both about using different kinds of leverage to persuade someone to do something), but what responses are available to the target of the move.

I suppose I was hoping to neaten this up for my own players, so we don't have the same Aggro/Seize/Manipulate debates that I keep seeing online as I research this stuff, but maybe it ain't broke and I shouldn't fix it. Or maybe all I need is different names for the moves that I think my group will process better.

Quote
As to your moves:
I feel like convincing somebody of something, or just manipulating their feelings and behaviour by talking to them, is pretty well covered by manipulate. Convincing someone to "run away from unseen danger" or  "reassuring someone who feels ugly that they're really a beautiful snowflake" is manipulating them. The mention of "leverage" is just there to keep the outcome within the realm of possibility, otherwise you could convince someone they are Elvis just by rolling a 10+. But telling someone what they want to hear can definitely be a form of leverage, as can small promises for insignificant actions (like leaving a place full of unseen danger--I mean, how do they do that one? "There's an invisible monster here, we should leave?" or "This place kinda sucks, eh? I know someplace better we should go.").

It's the "promise" thing that gets me. I think you're right that the "leverage" thing is in there to avoid nonsensical claims and stuff, but I have a hard time imagining how some 10+ rolls could be resolved with just a promise.

The scenario I keep coming up with is this: The PCs talk to an agent of the enemy who has something they want. They offer a credible bluff, saying they'll kill her if she doesn't hand over this thing. She says that nothing they do to her is worse than what her boss will do if she hands over this thing, and she's right, because in this setting she happens to be an demon whose boss will chew on her immortal soul after the players kill her mortal vessel. But the players rolled a 10+ and they promised to kill her, soooo ... what? That's just one example of the kind situation I was trying to account for in designing a manipulation mechanic that gives even NPCs the option to refuse manipulative bargains, and a bluffing mechanic that gives them a chance to double-check the PCs' credibility before putting their own asses on the line.

Maybe if I better understood how the "promise" works in the original mechanic, though, I could rephrase this for myself and wouldn't feel the need for a "fix."

Quote
I know that advice is basically "go do some work" instead of "here's a possible shortcut," but basically what you are doing is rewriting the moves so they fit your sensibilities as an MC and the things your players do, right?

No, I welcome the work, so thanks. (After all, work is play when you're working on a game, right?) I appreciate all the input!
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 08, 2012, 06:52:45 AM
I suppose I was hoping to neaten this up for my own players, so we don't have the same Aggro/Seize/Manipulate debates that I keep seeing online as I research this stuff, but maybe it ain't broke and I shouldn't fix it. Or maybe all I need is different names for the moves that I think my group will process better.

Well, if it doesn't work perfect, there's always room for improvement. It's possible different names could do the trick. Maybe rename Go Aggro to Coerce Using Violence or Threats, and rename Seize by Force to Take by Force, since the real trigger for that move is when they fight back to stop you from taking whatever it is you want to take, and so you end up in a fight, as opposed to just attacking someone who doesn't fight back.

It's the "promise" thing that gets me. I think you're right that the "leverage" thing is in there to avoid nonsensical claims and stuff, but I have a hard time imagining how some 10+ rolls could be resolved with just a promise.

The scenario I keep coming up with is this:

Ah, yeah, yeah, this problem. There's a couple ways you could handle it.

1) If her boss really will do something worse than killing her, then it's not leverage to threaten her with death, plain and simple! You can of course demand actual, real leverage in the fiction that both you AND the players agree is leverage, not just what the players think is leverage. That's what reading a person is for, finding out what counts as leverage to someone.

2) "Promise me you can protect me from him." It's your NPC that asks for a promise, they don't just have to accept whatever promise the PC is inclined to make. The promise and the leverage are two different things.

3) Try some alternative moves. This is from Monsterhearts:

When you manipulate an NPC, roll with hot. On a 10 up, they’ll do what you want if you give them a bribe, a threat, or a motive. On a 7-9, the MC will tell you what it’ll take to get the NPC to do what you want. Do it and they will.

And this is what I've got so far for World of Algol (a hack in progress):

When you offer someone a deal (an NPC), give them a reason to take it and roll+alluring. On a 10+, they do what they can to make the deal happen. On a 7-9, they want something more, and the GM will tell you what. If you meet the requirements, they do what they can. Otherwise, they can freely refuse or renege.

I put the reason before the roll in mine because you don't get xp for rolling moves in World of Algol so there's no point in rolling and then realizing you don't have a good reason for them to take the deal. And the cooperation you get from the NPC is within reason. If you like either of those, try them out.

After all, work is play when you're working on a game, right?

Haha! Oh God I wish. Anyway! Hope that helps.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 08, 2012, 04:12:51 PM
Well, if it doesn't work perfect, there's always room for improvement. It's possible different names could do the trick. Maybe rename Go Aggro to Coerce Using Violence or Threats, and rename Seize by Force to Take by Force, since the real trigger for that move is when they fight back to stop you from taking whatever it is you want to take, and so you end up in a fight, as opposed to just attacking someone who doesn't fight back.

The funny thing about this to my mind is that "Seize by Force" seems like a better name for Go Aggro than it does for Seize by Force (and "Go Aggro" is functionally meaningless to me as a name). Go Aggro isn't just about threatening (because it leaves no room for empty threats); it's about getting what you want or following through with violence, period. I had a real problem with the inability to back out of the move until I started thinking about your "microfilm" example: This is basically the "your money or your life" move, where what you really mean is "your money AND your life" if they say no. Seize by Force seems more like "Struggle for Dominance" to me, or something else that implies exchanging fire/trading blows. I don't want to rename Go Aggro to "Seize by Force" and confuse anybody who's played both the original and the hack, though.

I'll think on it. I couldn't help but notice that Monsterhearts ditches Go Aggro, though, which was part of why I thought I might be able to get away with it myself.

Quote
Ah, yeah, yeah, this problem. There's a couple ways you could handle it.

I like the Monsterhearts move (it was actually the starting point for my move until I mangled it until unrecognizable), though I wondered whether the 10+ option meant that the PCs could pick their own "motive" regardless of what would actually be sufficient in the NPC's eyes. That Algol dealmaking move is great, though. There is a lot of bargaining in In Nomine (demons, go figure), so I will probably try that out. I think I might still need a distinction between "get someone to believe something" and "get someone to do something," so I may still need to work on that "Convince Someone" move until it's usable.

After all, work is play when you're working on a game, right?

Haha! Oh God I wish. Anyway! Hope that helps.
[/quote]

It does help, thanks. And I have a pretty broad definition of "play" (as someone who wrote an entire doctoral dissertation on geeks and nerds), so I think I should be okay until the part where I have to start doing actual layout (definitely work).
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: lumpley on August 08, 2012, 04:33:12 PM
You might get something out of the original version of the move, which appeared in Storming the Wizard's Tower. It went a little like this:

Tell the GM what you want the NPC to do. ("Believe my lie" is a perfectly legit case.) On a 10+, hold 4; on a 7-9, hold 2.
You spend your hold not voluntarily but as the following happen, one for one:
- Something directly challenges their obedience or trust.
- You make a threatening or disillusioning move.
- They take a concrete action they wouldn't normally do.
- You make a demand on them they wouldn't normally accede to.
- Time passes.
- Maybe something else, I forget.
Once you've spent all your hold, they no longer obey.

So if you're like "I'm an INSPECTOR for LORD BAAL SHEBUB, you little worm, so MAKE READY FOR INSPECTION IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN," and you hit it with a 7-9, that means that the NPC will go along with you basically twice before wising up.

-Vincent
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 08, 2012, 05:02:29 PM
That sounds really handy for my purposes, thanks! I'm curious, though: Was there some issue with that move that necessitated redesigning it?
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: lumpley on August 08, 2012, 05:19:09 PM
No issue with the move, no, not at all. It worked very well in Storming the Wizard's Tower.

It makes NPCs too accommodating for Apocalypse World.

-Vincent
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 08, 2012, 06:05:39 PM
You could also ditch the Go Aggro move entirely. Use manipulate for threats (possibly rolling+hard if you like), and then use Seize by Force for all acts of violence. And if your opponent is not fighting back, you just don't need to select suffer little harm. It would probably make violence really brutal, though you could mitigate that by reducing the choices to 2 and 1 instead of 3 and 2.

Vincent's move is pretty cool. Having the hold there also means you can write special moves that increase your hold for that move. Or you can use evidence, special equipment, or magic to increase your hold, especially if you set the initial hold somewhat low (like 3 and 1).
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: lumpley on August 08, 2012, 06:20:34 PM
For all hacks, I recommend redesigning all the basic moves, but especially go aggro/seize by force and seduce or manipulate. Apocalypse World's approach to those is pretty particular, and there's no reason to expect your hack to want the same approach.

-Vincent
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 08, 2012, 07:00:08 PM
Thanks again for all the input, guys. I think this helps clarify for me how to think about the issues I've been having with the basic moves from AW (and which parts I can/can't use myself). I'll fiddle with this, run some stuff by my players, and maybe post back in the hacks forum again when I have something that's closer to ready for primetime.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Daniel Wood on August 09, 2012, 06:59:21 PM
I think I get how the moves work and when to use them; what I don't quite get yet is why they work that way, and my brain is pushing back against that. "If you don't give me the microfilm, I get to shoot you" really sounds to me like it'd be better described by the phrase "Seize by Force" (I'm willing to kill a guy to get what I want from him), though that move works completely differently. To my mind, the real difference between Go Aggro and Seduce/Manipulate doesn't seem to be "when you want to get them to do something" (as they're both about using different kinds of leverage to persuade someone to do something), but what responses are available to the target of the move.

Well exactly -- the difference between Go Aggro and Seize by Force is that the former explicitly allows the person you are interacting with the initiative. They get to choose. Seizing the microfilm by force does not allow the guy with the microfilm to choose anything at all -- he doesn't even get a chance to be like 'ok ok here's the microfilm already jesus don't shoot me!' If there's a situation where none of the 7-9 responses even seem possible, then you probably don't need to roll at all: the guy will give up the microfilm or he will get shot.

Following up on the above distinction, the difference between Manipulate and Go Aggro is who gets to choose. The person who Goes Aggro does not get to choose anymore -- they have fully committed to a violent course of action and it is now out of their hands whether or not it will come to that point. They have thrown away their agency by taking a risk (usually in the name of either effectiveness or expediency) and now it's up to the other guy what is actually going to happen. Manipulating retains the PC's agency -- no matter what happens with the roll, they still get to decide what they do. Whether they follow through, whether they fulfill their promise, whether they back out of the deal, etc.

The reason Go Aggro and Manipulate are different moves is that violence matters in AW. The willingness to kill someone if they don't do what you want transforms the social situation, in comparison to simply threatening to kill someone but not being committed, in the moment, to following through. It may be that in your In Nomine game, violence doesn't matter in the same way -- though you probably still want to keep Go Aggro for all the other violent situations it can cover -- and so you will end up using a lot more Manipulate-moves-where-the-leverage-is-violence. (Then on a 7-9 the PCs can decide if they want to shoot the guy to get the microfilm or not; everyone loves 'concrete assurances' when a threat of violence is your leverage.)


Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 09, 2012, 07:17:54 PM
The reason Go Aggro and Manipulate are different moves is that violence matters in AW. The willingness to kill someone if they don't do what you want transforms the social situation, in comparison to simply threatening to kill someone but not being committed, in the moment, to following through. It may be that in your In Nomine game, violence doesn't matter in the same way -- though you probably still want to keep Go Aggro for all the other violent situations it can cover -- and so you will end up using a lot more Manipulate-moves-where-the-leverage-is-violence. (Then on a 7-9 the PCs can decide if they want to shoot the guy to get the microfilm or not; everyone loves 'concrete assurances' when a threat of violence is your leverage.)

I'm interested to hear you say that I would probably want to keep Go Aggro, given that it seems to be missing from most of the hacks I've looked at (Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Monster of the Week, Dead Weight, Companions, etc.). Only one of those preserves Go Aggro in a form I can recognize, and that's in the way Companions combines that move's "initiative" advantage and stat into the Manipulate move (when you happen to be using a threat as leverage), but makes following through on violence an option rather than a requirement. That's the move I was trying to emulate in the move from my first post above.

I definitely do want violence to feel like it matters in this game, that there are consequences to it. Much of that comes from the fiction, given that it's a modern day setting. (Where will we hide the body? What will we tell the cops?) Some of that comes from the peripheral mechanics. (Other angels and demons in the neighborhood can hear it whenever you injure anybody or break anything.) I do want it to be reflected in the moves, too, but I want to make sure I'm not just taking stuff from Apocalypse World whole cloth if it overcomplicates things, and I'm concerned Go Aggro as written (and its inflexibility on whether you're ready to commit violence) may work better for the post-apocalypse than modern-day social interaction.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Daniel Wood on August 09, 2012, 09:53:24 PM
I definitely do want violence to feel like it matters in this game, that there are consequences to it. Much of that comes from the fiction, given that it's a modern day setting. (Where will we hide the body? What will we tell the cops?) Some of that comes from the peripheral mechanics. (Other angels and demons in the neighborhood can hear it whenever you injure anybody or break anything.)

Yeah, that sounds like something to incorporate into your Principles or MC moves, rather than the basic moves.

Quote
I do want it to be reflected in the moves, too, but I want to make sure I'm not just taking stuff from Apocalypse World whole cloth if it overcomplicates things, and I'm concerned Go Aggro as written (and its inflexibility on whether you're ready to commit violence) may work better for the post-apocalypse than modern-day social interaction.

I agree, I think Go Aggro in its primary application is very specific to how violence (and violent coercion) works in Apocalypse World, and I'm not surprised that lots of hacks don't use it. That said, all those games that I am familiar with also significantly (or radically) rework Seize by Force, because the AW-version of Seize by Force by itself doesn't necessarily do the best job of modelling a lot of violent situations. (Or, as in Monsterhearts, they just don't feature violence as centrally, or worry about modelling it as comprehensively.)

Go Aggro is a really useful catch-all for, as Johnstone mentioned, situations where someone is trying to hurt someone or get something through directly-violent means, and the target of the violence both a) cannot fight back and b) is not completely vulnerable, either. If they can fight back, Seize by Force is fine -- if they're completely vulnerable, you don't need to roll, the violence succeeds. But there are a whole lot of situations in which both a) and b) are true, and where you want an unpredictable or risky outcome, and that's a major (if still secondary) role of Go Aggro.

So if you want to jettison Go Aggro then you will also probably need to either add a move to replace it or somehow modify Seize by Force to cover a wider variety of situations.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 09, 2012, 11:03:49 PM
So I actually disagree that you would need to substantially change the other violence move if you left one of them out. You can use either move as your sole violence move with not a whole lot of modification and while violence will feel quite different, it won't "break the game" or anything (well, depending on the setting/genre, of course).

Go Aggro and Seize by Force are just two different perspectives on violence. I think Vincent said he wrote Go Aggro first and added Seize by Force to fill a gap that was left over? (could be wrong--but I seem to remember Go Aggro being the first significant rules example he brought up in podcast interviews when discussing AW). There's all the stuff that's been mentioned already, but there's also a difference between the two moves in when you roll the dice, by which I mean what point in the narrative of violence you roll dice to see what happens (sorta like that IIEE stuff).

With Go Aggro, you roll the dice as soon as you commit to violent action, ie when you demonstrate that you are willing to use force. This could be when you pull the trigger, or it could be when you stick the gun in someone's face and make demands. While it puts the choice over onto the other person, if you use just this move on it's own, it rewards taking the initiative, because you get to dish out your harm before your opponent can react.

With Seize by Force, you roll dice after mutual use of force has been established in the fiction. It means there is no mechanical weight to the threat you make when you put a gun in somebody's face and demand the microfilm. He can do whatever he wants until you pull the trigger and even then there's room for him to decide if he's fighting back or not, and only then do you roll dice. There's more risk to initiating violent action with just Seize by Force, but on the other hand, if your opponent is not in a position to fight back immediately, it makes violence more deadly.

Let's imagine two other situations, coercive violence and attempted murder:

1.
On patrol, Wilkinson takes a hit to the leg and goes down, out in the open. He can't move so he's a sitting duck. Parker rushes out to grab him and carry him back to the squad, so I decide to lay down some suppressive fire so the enemy stays under cover instead of picking off Wilkinson and Parker both.

If we use Go Aggro for this I roll when I declare my suppressive fire action. If I roll a hit, the enemy can either stay behind cover or they can suffer harm. Basically, in order to get a shot off at Wilkinson and Parker (or me), they will have to take my harm first. They can go back to shooting after, when my turn to say stuff is done, but Parker will have gotten Wilkinson back by then. Maybe our attempts to take cover from their return fire will be us acting under fire. But notice that they have an "out," because I am trying to influence their behaviour: They can just do what I want (stay behind cover and not shoot) and they suffer no harm. This move has a forgiving nature and tries to accommodate those who want to avoid bloodshed.

If we use Seize by Force, I don't roll until the enemy decides how they react, because they have the opportunity of shooting back written right into the move. The move also encourages them to fight back, because otherwise I don't need to choose to suffer little harm (because I'm not suffering any harm at all) so I'm free to inflict terrible harm and scare the bejesus out of them both. Or seize their position and drive them back, even. So there is no "out" with this move: the best tactic here is actually to fight back and refuse to be coerced.

2.
But what if I see you and I shoot you to death and that's it? If we use Go Aggro I roll as soon as I say I shoot you to death. On a strong hit, you can either be shot to death or suffer harm based on my gun. Being "shot to death" could literally be that or it might just be suffering harm based on my gun. On a weak hit, you might be able to escape, though (you have an "out" on a 7-9, but not on a 10+). This is good for games that have a lot of bullets hitting walls and people almost getting shot in the face before they duck back under cover and run away. This might make a 7-9 feel like a miss, although I'd argue that making your enemy run away instead of shoot you is probably a good thing.

If we use Seize by Force I don't roll until we know what you are doing. So, as above, it's probably a better idea for you to shoot back, and then we resolve me shooting you to death and you shooting me to death, all in one roll. If you try to run away, then I get to hurt you even more effectively.

***

Does all that make sense? We've mostly been discussing the intents and the fictional stuff that leads to a player rolling either of these moves (or manipulate), so I figured it's probably a good idea to discuss the effect the actual move architecture has on the fiction. You can see why Dungeon World uses a modified Seize by Force for melee fighting and a modified Go Aggro for ranged weapon attacks, for instance.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Daniel Wood on August 09, 2012, 11:47:03 PM

I think that analysis makes sense except that it's a bit weird to talk about what the NPC 'chooses to do' based on a mechanical incentive -- because that's not really how the game/fiction/moves work. The NPCs (and PCs) choose to do whatever they do based on the fiction, and that in turn decides what move (if any) is taking place. It doesn't make sense for a PC to say 'I am seizing by force!' and then the MC to be like 'okay, well then they better fight back' -- if they weren't fighting back, then there would be no seizing by force in the first place.

Unless the suggestion is there's some kind of like meta-fictional decision-making where the MC is like 'well clearly most of the NPCs who are still alive have figured out they should fight back because otherwise they're dead already' and so Seize By Force suggests that people in the world operate a certain way. But to my mind you have to go with how people react in the fiction first, and that will determine what move is going on. Like for the cover fire example, it's not about which move the player decides to use, it's about what they actually describe themselves doing, and how the MC decides the NPCs react. Possibly this is what Johnstone is already saying, and I am talking to myself, but the phrasing seemed strange.




Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 10, 2012, 12:42:59 AM
Like for the cover fire example, it's not about which move the player decides to use, it's about what they actually describe themselves doing, and how the MC decides the NPCs react. Possibly this is what Johnstone is already saying, and I am talking to myself, but the phrasing seemed strange.

No, I'm saying these are how the game will play out based on the game designer's choice to use only one move for violence. No part of my examples above include the player choosing one move over the other, they are examples of players choosing different games.

(Edit: Hm. On re-reading I guess that's not clear in my last post. But the point was to see the different perspectives offered by the mechanics and possible outcomes as a basis for hacking, as opposed to the fictional trigger for the move.)

Although on that note, I see the moves as describing what kind of world the characters inhabit, and I don't see an awareness of that as outside a character's POV, or meta-gaming at all. Rules can be based on the type of story they are designed to be emulating, or based on the life experiences of the game designer (ie "realism"), but if they don't reflect the lives of the characters in the game, that's kind of weird. Which isn't to say they know the ins and outs of the mechanics, but they should be aware of the outcomes generally produced by the mechanics, because that's the fiction they inhabit. Unless the character's perspective of the fiction is sadly at odds with the author's perspective (which is also a legitimate stance to take, of course).

I mean, yeah, you should be going to a move based on actions in the fiction, but even so, it may not always be clear what certain actions are supposed to be. You may be intending to Go Aggro and you might describe your actions in line with what you think triggers that move, and your MC might think another move is more appropriate. Like a lot of the moves in Monsterhearts require the MC to ask, like "so it sounds like you're shutting someone down here, yeah?" And you might say "oh, no no, I wanted to lash out physically, that's why I grabbed her arm." Or something. Anyway, I think I'm off on a tangent now.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 10, 2012, 04:19:57 PM
These examples are interesting because they're leading me to wonder whether I'd be better off with a modified version of Go Aggro than a modified version of Seize By Force (the latter of which being what most of the hacks mentioned above use).

What bugs me about using Go Aggro as written is the fact that you can use it before the shooting starts. I don't picture this setting as a lawless wasteland where your instincts take over if the enemy you threaten makes the wrong move. In this setting, when you threaten somebody, you should get to decide afterward – or perhaps better yet, realize afterward – that you're not actually willing to follow through with violence. This is why I'd rather have intimidation mechanics grouped under the Manipulation move, as some other hacks have done.

What I really do like about Go Aggro as described in Johnstone's examples, however, is that it involves actually opening fire, but is still described as a means to an end. Choosing to "suck it up" can even be a tactical decision from NPCs who want to fire back and do you harm. That actually feels more flexible than Seize by Force, but I wonder whether hacks have avoided adapting Go Aggro for that because the move can be so confusing. Maybe if you were using something like Go Aggro as your only combat move, you'd just need to make it more explicit in the wording of the move that you CAN still deal damage on a 7-9 if your opponent decides to suck it up in exchange for the option to shoot back. Looked at that way – assuming I get the move now – every time you use the move is an implied invitation to your enemy to surrender and end the fight, but still leaves open the opportunity to exchange fire until someone actually gets disabled. That may be a little higher-risk than how this move is normally used, though...
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 10, 2012, 08:58:11 PM
So I did some playtesting for World of Algol last night, specifically to test out violence moves, as that is my most important current dilemma (now you know why I have so much to say on this topic!).

I started off using the less-complicated violence move (which is more like Seize by Force):

When you make an attack, declare your intentions and roll+mighty. On a hit, your enemy must choose to allow your maneuver, give in to your demands, or suffer harm as determined by your weapon. Additionally, on a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
 * You force your enemy to move.
 * You inflict +1 harm.
 * You suffer -1 harm.
 * You take definite hold of something.

We started off with a fight in a bar. The PC was a Bravo, laden down with mighty weapons. The first round of the fight he attacked the gang leader with his magic sword while two minions with mundane swords tried to hack him up. He threatened the leader with 4-harm but his maneuver was to break the guy's cybernetic arm, so I took that option. The two swordsmen couldn't get through his armour, because he chose to suffer -1 harm.

The guy in the corner with the laserpistol was trying to blast him, so he charged and took a laser blast he didn't even notice. But he skewered the gunman and threw him at the other swordsmen. Then he charged them, killed one and knocked the sword out of the other's hand. He had to make the harm move here, and his accumulated wounds meant that he stumbled and dropped his sword.

He managed to make his recover move and triumphed in the end. He used his stun whip to knock them unconscious and I was a bit uncertain as to whether they should be able to attack him back, seeing as the stun whip has a longer reach (which is definitely something for me to think about). Overall, it was pretty brutal

Then a fat merchant came out and said he passed the test. The merchant wanted a might warrior to retrieve some magical purple rocks from a wizard who had stolen them. So the Bravo, after healing up, went off to the wizard's tower and we switched to the more complicated violence move (which is a bit more like Go Aggro):

When you make an attack, declare your intentions and roll+mighty. On a hit, your enemy must choose 1:
 * Allow your maneuver.
 * Back off or flee (if an escape route is available).
 * Suffer harm, as determined by your weapon.
 * Take cover and stay there (if cover is available).
Additionally, on a 10+, you may choose 1:
 * You cut off any chance of escape.
 * You force your enemy to move.
 * You inflict +1 harm.
On a 7-9, unless you have some superior advantage in terms of position, surprise, or weaponry, if you inflict harm the GM may choose 1:
 * You make yourself vulnerable to counterattack.
 * You need to move to a new position.
 * You strain or overextend yourself, your gear, or your other resources.
 * Your attack causes collateral damage.

So the Bravo got ambushed outside the tower. A sniper with a lasergun tried to pick him off, so he pulled out his needlegun rifle, took what little cover was available, and fired back. With his 10+, he forced his opponent to move, so the sniper bugged off the hilltop right quick -- needleguns do little damage but are designed to deliver poison.

At that moment five riders on bird-steeds carrying lances came over the opposite ridge and charged the Bravo. He pulled out his disruptor ray and when the riders were close enough and blasted them. Unfortunately (because of a miss), the magical forces emanating from the wizard's tower turned the disruptor blast into a psychic storm that engulfed everybody. The Bravo fell unconscious.

He awoke with his hands bound inside the wizard's tower, all his gear on a table a ways away. When the wizard tried to use a spell on him, he charged past the wizard and through the riders standing around, snapped his bonds and took up his magic sword. One of the guards leaped onto his back while the others drew their short swords. The Bravo threw the guard off and fled through a doorway, into a store room. His attempt to block the door with a barrel went awry when one of the guards slashed his chest and he fell beneath a barrel. He managed to recover immediately (10+ on his recover roll) and flailing wildly, he pushed past the guards and out of the store room. In the main room, the Bravo grabbed the wizard and used him as a hostage. When the guards dropped their swords, the Bravo threw the wizard aside and charged them and chopped some of them up, but the rest tried to wrestle his sword away from him. He dropped his sword and ran to his gear, picked up his stun whip and went to town. The wizard fled and the Bravo mercilessly dispatched the unconscious riders.

I wanted to try some more ranged combat, so I had the sniper and the wizard ambush the Bravo in town. He saw the sniper poking his laser rifle from around the corner of a shack, with the wizard exhorting him in a rage. The Bravo threw his spear and the sniper dropped his gun and fled (again). The wizard began to cast a spell, but since the Bravo was mounted on one of the bird-steeds, he ran him down and trampled him. then he made a deal with him that he would take him to a healer if he would reveal what the purple rocks do. The Bravo didn't like the answer and began to think twice about returning them to the fat merchant.

****

There was more repeat rolling of the attack move in the second fight, but ironically it felt like there was more tactical positioning in that fight and less repetition. The first fight felt like the two sides meet and exchange blows and the player rolls. There was a bit of an "attrition" feeling to it, and since in one fight the Bravo had armour and in the other he didn't, the player really noticed how effective it was (I use harm similar to AW, I don't use HP and rolled damage like DW does). After a few times using the simple move, the player said he could sort of see how a certain situation was going to go before even rolling -- the complicated move had more back-and-forth.

In the second fight, there was more instances of enemies fleeing or backing off and letting the Bravo maneuver his way around the battle. There was more back-and-forth, too. The wizard cast a magic missile at the Bravo, he went into danger and rolled a 7-9, so I said he could reach the wizard if he was affected by the spell, or he could dodge away in the opposite direction. He dodged into the storeroom. After taking a wound in the storeroom, he charged out of the room, past the riders trying to get into the room. He rolled good, so the riders backed away from his wildly-swinging sword blade and he got out of the storeroom. Then the Bravo charged the wizard and tried to grab him, and rolled 10+. I looked at taking 3-harm from his magic sword and decided the wizard would flee down the stairs behind him instead. The player chose to cut off his escape route, and so I decided he managed to grab the wizard.

I had already used a move similar to this complicated one the last time we playtested World of Algol and in that game there was a lot of just choosing the same options every time an attack was made. This time, not so much. In any case, it wasn't conclusive exactly, but still good data for how a single PC uses both of these moves.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 11, 2012, 02:18:33 AM
Thanks for sharing how those moves worked out. Really interesting to see some details that differ from what I've seen elsewhere.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 11, 2012, 08:24:47 PM
I'm wondering if there's a way to mix Go Aggro and Seize by Force into something relatively simple and versatile. Like:

When you attack someone capable of fighting back, roll+hard. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2.

(Edited to fix an issue I found in this.)
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 12, 2012, 06:41:45 AM
I feel like it's a bit too fiddly, and there's some false choice in there. To me, it looks like my simple violence move except the initial choice offered to the enemy (allow your maneuver, submit to your demands, or suffer harm) has been put into the choices, which means that just allowing your enemy a way out weakens your leverage for coercing them to actually take that way out. And then +1 harm can't be chosen unless deal harm is chosen, but the choices are presented as if they have no prerequisites (also, Daniel will criticize you for this if I don't). It feels less user-friendly to me, but then again I'm not one of your players, so...

I do like the phrasing of giving yourself an advantage in terms of positioning or disadvantaging your opponent in some way. I would probably make them different options, actually (so I can put him into a headlock AND drag him through the poison ivy).

Also, an aside: So like I know you state it clearly in the OP, and I saw you x-posting this on Story Games and all that, but it was only literally just now that I saw the thread you necro'd on rpg.net and realized... this is an In Nomine hack... and not a Nobilis hack. Hilarious!
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: JasonT on August 12, 2012, 01:30:51 PM
Also, an aside: So like I know you state it clearly in the OP, and I saw you x-posting this on Story Games and all that, but it was only literally just now that I saw the thread you necro'd on rpg.net and realized... this is an In Nomine hack... and not a Nobilis hack. Hilarious!

Isn't somebody working on a Nobilis hack already? Then again, you can't put anything past a dude who cross-posts a question to three totally different websites, nercros a thread on one of them, and posts in the totally wrong forum on another one. (I just remembered I said I'd move this discussion to the hacks forum, too, so I think I'll do that now.)

Response to your post in summary: Yeah, you identified some problems, but at least one part identified as a weakness was meant to be a strength, given demands of the setting. I do need to rework it, though.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on August 12, 2012, 07:50:27 PM
Isn't somebody working on a Nobilis hack already?

I'm sure I've seen something. If I had to bet money off the top of my head, I'd go with Jonathan Walton maybe? Anyway...

(http://s10.postimage.org/x2rb464zb/mah_wook_heah.jpg)

Lettuce go to uthah thread!
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Munin on January 10, 2014, 11:00:50 PM
I thought for a bit before I decided to perform necromancy on this thread, but I think that given this subforum's intended purpose as a study for hacking it seemed appropriate to put my comments here such that further hackers can find it one thread rather than two.  So, without further ado...

I think the separation between Seize By Force, Go Aggro, and Seduce or Manipulate is very intriguing.  Each move occupies its own very specific niche within the fiction, and there are very specific circumstances where each is appropriate.  I think what got lost in the early part of this discussion is not so much the structure of the moves themselves, but rather the stats upon which they are based.

Seize By Force represents the conscious commission of violence.  AW is interesting in its use of violence in that it's one of the few games I've encountered that makes no allowance for the kinds of things that most RPGs care about when you talk about smacking people (speed, strength, skill, etc).  In AW, violence is all about having the will and aggressiveness to hurt somebody else in order to achieve your goal.  With everyone walking around packing guns, this sort of makes sense.  Any idiot can pull a trigger, but do you really have the stones to look a man in the eye and take his life?  It all boils down to how Hard you are, and the governing stat makes sense.

By the same token, Go Aggro is about being absolutely ready and willing to commit vioence, but still giving the other guy the option to back down.  But if he doesn't you're not going to waste a second thought to hurting him. You have already decided you're willing (and able) to hurt him.  You're not hesitating for your sake, you're giving him an out.  And maybe the only reason you're doing so is because this jackass isn't worth the bullet you're about to put into him and you're trying to save yourself some jingle on ammo.  But either way you are committed, and your opponent knows it.  He can look you in the eye, know that you are Hard, and know that if he doesn't do what you want he's going to suffer for it.

As an aside, I feel like a lot of the difference between which of these two moves is appropriate comes out in the fiction.  If I can realistically narrate that I've got the drop on you, then Go Aggro is appropriate, because I'll get a chance to inflict Harm before you can do anything.  But if we're already all guns-in-hand and looking at each other Mexican-standoff style waiting for someone to twitch, then if I choose to resort to violence I must put myself at risk.  I can maybe do things to minimize that risk (i.e. choose to "suffer little Harm" and narrate my actions appropriately), but I'm not getting out of this without a few holes in my hide.

But Seduce or Manipulate isn't about your Hard, it's about your Hot.  I've always seen Hot as how socially adroit you are, how much interpersonal acumen you have.  If you are threatening someone using Go Aggro, the other guy already knows you're serious.  If you're threatening someone using Manipulate, you trying to make the other guy believe you're serious.  Your threat is intrinsically empty because you have no intention of actually committing violence (because if you did, you'd be using Hard).  But the other guy doesn't know that, and you're using everything you know about how people tick to get him to buy what you're selling.

Anecdote time: I know a guy who illustrated this principle very well.  Picture if you will a crowded bar in a college town.  A big dude knocks into my associate, precipitating the spilling of some of the associate's drink on said big guy.

The big dude says, "What the fuck is your problem?"

My associate says, "You are, you idiot.  Watch where you're going."

Big dude: "Yeah?  How about I pound your fucking face in, you little twerp?"

Associate (looking over said huge dude): "Dude, do you play football?"

Big Dude (flexing): "Yeah, I'm a linebacker and I crush people for breakfast.  And I'm about to fuck you up.  Whaddya have to say about that?"

Associate: "Only that before you beat me down I'm gonna make damn sure I get in one good hit.  And I'm going to make sure that that hit explodes your knee and ends your career.  So let's get started whenever you're ready, tough guy."

Now my associate was no prize physical specimen, hadn't ever been in a serious fight, and had perhaps only the vaguest inkling of how to actually break a knee.  I'm not even sure he'd have been willing to try if push came to shove.  But he was so good at sizing the other guy up, deducing his motivations, and playing on his opponent's fears (i.e. ending his career, losing his scholarship, ruining his chances of going pro) that he was able to effectively bluff.  And he made himself seem more Hard than he actually was (more willing to actually put up a fight).  Had the big dude not bought the lie, he would have beaten my associate to a bleeding pulp and suffered no injury to himself.  But he hesitated, and ultimately backed down.  In my mind this is a perfect example of using the (empty) threat of violence to Manipulate someone.

Right, so the reason I bring all this up is as a prelude to hacking myself.  I'm thinking of going sort of feudal Japan in flavor, with traits like Honor, Composure, Passion, Insight, and Fury.  And I'm trying to decide how best to span the dimensions of attributes and basic moves to capture some of this same nuance.  I'm thinking of separating Go Aggro into two separate moves, those being Impose Your Will and Strike Without Warning.  This would split off the kind of "sniping from an elevated position" aspect off from Go Aggro, and let me do things like introduce some more finely-tuned stat-substitution moves (like the hypothetical Ninja playbook, which might let someone use Insight rather than Fury to Strike Without Warning, meaning that the Ninja is good at observing his opponent as a prelude to a surprise attack, but which doesn't also make him better at threatening people).

Seduce is obviously off Passion, that's a no-brainer.  But when I get to manipulation, deceit, and driving bargains, I'm at a little bit of a loss.  Hot is kind of cool in that it's sort of all things social, and includes figuring out how to apply what you know about how people tick to achieve the effect you want.  But some of that is Insight as well (i.e. Read a Person).  Do I have Passion serve as a direct substitute for Hot and tie both Seduce and Manipulate to the same stat just like in AW?  I don't really want to tie it to Insight, but I'd hate to have another stat just for lying.

Ironically, Honor might be the best stat here.  When you are lying to someone, roll-Honor.  So slimy characters who lack honor are good at lying, but upstanding dudes who care about their own integrity have a harder time with it.  And Reputation (one of the potential currencies within the game) certainly enters the equation - if I have a reputation for being an upstanding dude but am actually a slimy bastard, it should be a) easy for me to lie to you and b) more likely for you to believe it.  But then again not all manipulation is based on lies, so I'm kind of going in circles in my head.

Thoughts, suggestions, or ideas?
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: plausiblefabulist on January 11, 2014, 08:01:35 PM
On your shogun-era game's manipulate:

First, why not Insight? In your college bar example that's exactly what's at issue:

Quote
But he was so good at sizing the other guy up, deducing his motivations, and playing on his opponent's fears (i.e. ending his career, losing his scholarship, ruining his chances of going pro) that he was able to effectively bluff

How is this not Insight? Now, one could certainly argue that the knowledge of how to manipulate someone doesn't translate into the chutzpah to actually do it; I suspect that I, myself, might well have had the insight that the linebacker would be loath to risk his ACL tendon, but I know for sure that I wouldn't have had the recklessness and self-confident to turn that knowledge into an empty threat. But that's me. Note that in your description of the encounter, you're emphasizing the knowledge of how to manipulate.

When you write the kind of game that an AW hack is, you're not trying to model all of possible reality (here, social reality): rather, you're creating a kind of engine to create a certain kind of story, full of the kinds of characters who inhabit that kind of story. AW's parsing of seize/go aggro/seduce&manipulate creates a specific world, full of characters who know full well when they lift the gun that if the fucker doesn't back down they'll pull the trigger, and others who know full well that they're bluffing. Those are the people that that world is full of, the people left here after what happened. The fact that those moves constrain and channel the possibilities of who the characters get to be is a virtue, not a flaw. Monsterhearts' turn someone on/shut someone down/lash out physically (and, late in the game, its corresponding Growing Up moves) structure that space totally differently, which makes the stories that game produces distinctly different. AW is full of Hot characters who turn others on knowing full well what that will accomplish, where to go from there, and use it efficaciously to further their goals. MH is full of Hot characters who turn others (especially other PCs) on, not fully understanding or in control of the consequences. (For a more overt example, MH explicitly drops helping moves, so that the characters won't have much luck helping each other).

If I was in that bar with the jock, there is no way in hell I would have threatened his knee. But nor would I have been the slightest bit scared of him. I would have been charming, and the conversation would have ended with him laughing at his own overreaction. Now, you can model that in AW, with some effort, as manipulate with some kind of marginal leverage (my approval? the relaxed attention of another human being? him not looking like an asshole for hitting someone so clearly being friendly?), and those all reference some of the de-escalatory tactics I might have employed, but they would do so only with some effort, by pushing the narrative into a different frame than the one it inhabits in my head (and, as I say, this is a virtue -- because I don't live in Apocalypse World). This is not unrelated to the fact that, in my game, the relevant stat is Charming.

So -- if you actually see manipulation as largely a matter of insight into people, you might consider going with that. If your concern is that that messes up game balance -- because Insight is already the root of various other moves -- I'd say maybe don't try and balance too early. It's better to have an unbalanced game that expresses something interesting than a balanced game with a muddy heart.

By that same token, "roll-honor" is cool too. It's a sort of fundamental hack (but an interesting one) to start having stats that work both ways, benefiting some rolls and hurting others. You have to think carefully what that does, because it has ripple effects throughout the game. AW has a relatively simple structure in that every single stat is a thing which, if it goes up, will straightforwardly push you away from 6- territory and towards 10+ territory. It's a profound shift to change that. It makes "honor" what we might call a Trollbabe stat. That's cool, and, for that matter, you might actually want to build on it. In a game set in a Buddhist cultural context it would make perfect sense for Passion to be a Trollbabe stat too: monks deriving power from nonattachment want it low, while maybe poets, bar-room wrestlers, and tempestuous warlords want it high.

(Or maybe I misconstrue what Passion is. You say Passion would be the no-brainer stat for Seduce, but that's not at all clear to me. If this is like AW's seduce -- not sex for sex's sake, but sex to get something -- then inspiring passion in others, but keeping my own head cool and not falling for the guy myself, seem to be pretty fundamental. I don't imagine a character who is himself utterly Passionate at being adept at employing sex hardheartedly as a tool. Inspiring great tragic romances, yes; strategizing who will be the most useful to glean information from during pillow talk, no. But maybe your insights about the human condition, or your read on the characters the genre is peopled with, differ here. Maybe you want to explicitly push characters who are adept at getting others to fall in love with them manipulatively, to also be at risk of falling in love right back themselves. Maybe you want the stat to tie "desiring" and "being desired" together, on purpose, because that's part of what you're saying with the game, or what kind of characters you want to inhabit it).

If you go with Trollbabe stats, I wonder if you actually need Composure: could it be the flip side of Passion? Or do they, instead, work together somehow: Composure is the capacity to control Passion, so the higher your Passion, the more you find yourself in need of Composure? A zen monk who has excised Passion from himself has little need of Composure, a swordsman whose blood boils at every insult and whose heart belongs to his liege's lady has enormous need for it? If so, that's also an interesting relationship between stats, right? It's sort of like how Sharp affords other stats in AW, but in reverse....

Or, hmm, is it Composure and Fury which relate in this manner? What's the border between Passion and Fury? Because, just looking at the words, fury seems like one of the passions. But perhaps you mean by passion something more like "the profound appreciation of beauty" and by fury "the righteous wrath of the warrior unleashed". (Did you ever see Emily Care Boss's game City of the Moon? It's set in Heian-era Japan. There was a playtest version up at one point, seems to have been taken down now. The stats were miyabi -- elegance, refinement -- and aware -- sensitivity to the impermanence of things.)

I know I'm totally running off with your game in a direction you never intended by talking about Trollbabe stats -- I just wanted to illustrate how one innocent little "roll-stat" does begin to change everything. And I kind of like the idea of tradeoff stats in a game in this setting, and if you imply about honor that it's a help in some contexts and a hindrance in others, it raises the question of what other aspects of a person's character are like that too? There would be something elegant about making all the stats Trollbabe stats, like: Honor (high for winning reputation and the respect of the wise, perhaps that of the very universe; low for manipulating, perhaps for manipulating fools particularly), Passion (high for unleashing warrior Fury and for falling in tragic and mutual love; low for monkish nonattachment, composure, Buddhist metaphysical attainment, but also for coldhearted manipulation without becoming attached), perhaps Simplicity (high for Taoist immediate natural insight into people and things and the harmony of the universe; low for Confucian legalistic complexity and erudition, courtly graces)...

Well anyway.

As for reputation: is it a currency? As with stats, currencies in AW are straightforward. A stat in AW is something which, if it gets better, you get better at doing stuff. A currency in AW is something which, if you have it, you can spend it, to effect. There are no moves in AW, afaik, which go "roll+barter, but you don't have to spend the barter" or "roll+stock, but don't spend the stock".

I also have a reputation currency in Shtetl World, and it doesn't quite follow this rule -- there are times when your static reputation matters, without having to spend it. But there's at least one basic move, rebuke, which is "roll+reputation spent"; the fiction being, if you don't have any real leverage to control someone, you can simply curse and revile and start a blatant public feud with them, savaging their reputation, but it's a negative-sum game; you put their name in the mouths of the shtetl's gossips only by putting your own in their too ("did you hear what Gittel said about Feigele? I can't believe..." etc.) I wanted to make this move attractive, in order to fill Shtetl World with the kind of divisive, brutal, corrosive gossip and quarrels which have characterized Jewish social life since Talmudic times (the sages spend an enormous amount of time discussing gossip and its effects)... and which makes sense in a historical context for a society which has largely had to police itself internally without much recourse to a state-like monopoly on violence. But I digress.

Point is, reputation is a currency if you can both earn, and also spend it.  In Shtetl World it's a quasi-currency, because you can earn and spend it, but it's also used as a bonus or limiting factor for certain moves. Thus, when trying to persuade someone from the shtetl (i.e., someone for whom your reputation stat is relevant), if you have a rep above [threshold], take +1; if  you have a rep below [threshold], take -1. That kind of thing.

I guess my main advice is to think about what kind of characters inhabit this world, and how they manipulate and seduce each other, rather than trying to capture manipulation and seduction in general. Is manipulating someone a matter of sacrificing your honor? (Maybe honor is a currency!) Kind of like how, in Monsterhearts, doing violence is a matter of losing control, of lashing out, showing yourself to be volatile -- something which is mechanically effective (kinda) but fictionally positioned as a lack. Is that -- the cost -- what you want to foreground when characters manipulate each other? Or is it a matter of keen understanding, of reading the other, knowing where to push? (So Insight?) So then the game is full of devilishly keen observers whose daring in putting their insights into practice goes without saying, like your friend in the bar. Or is it about being charming and suave, or refined and elegant? Or is manipulating someone a matter of leveraging your position, your power over them?

Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on January 11, 2014, 11:34:30 PM
Whoah, memories...

Why not use one move for convincing/manipulating but use one stat for when you are telling the truth, and another stat for when you are lying? I dunno what all your basic moves are, but I might combine Passion and Fury, so there's just Honour, Composure, Passion, and Insight. Use passion to seduce, convince, command, or inspire when you are telling the truth. Use insight to do the same when you are lying.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Jeremy on January 12, 2014, 03:03:55 PM
Or use Composure to lie/bluff, and Insight to read a person.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Johnstone on January 13, 2014, 07:00:40 PM
And Honour to convince with the truth, and Passion to seduce.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: Munin on January 13, 2014, 11:10:54 PM
Argh.  I wrote a long post which was then promptly eaten by teh intarwebz.  :(  Roight, I'w'll come in again!

Great post, plausible, lots of good stuff to consider.

I've had some further chance to ruminate on this.  I give you the following in no particular order:

I want to preserve the difference between Passion and Fury because I want the Samurai to be better at killing people than the Geisha.  Or at least better in a stand-up fight.  The alternative offers a certain ironic hilarity, but it's not what I'm going for.  Similarly, I would like a counterpoint to Passion or Fury that is more than just their negative, hence Composure.

I am seeing Composure as the rough equivalent of the Cool stat.  It's "ochitsuki" in Japanese.  A related term/saying is "gambatte," which entreats someone to keep going, to not give up.  The two are complementary terms, and perseverence could be very much a part of Composure.  People who have high Composure stats are people who tend to transcend the material, or who take the long view.  Monks and Priests and the like might have a high Composure stat, and it would be a secondary stat for The Ninja.

It has occurred to me that perhaps the concept that is not getting represented in a stat is Ambition.

I am envisioning that most of the playbooks will have a primary and a secondary stat.  So for instance the Daimyo might be Ambition and Honor.  The Samurai is Honor and Fury.  The Ronin is Fury and Composure, whereas the Bandit is Ambition and Fury.  The Geisha is Passion and Honor, but the High-Born Lady is Ambition and Passion.  The Ninja is Insight and Composure, the Monk is Composure and Insight, and the Artist is Passion and Insight.

By differentiating between Passion and Ambition, you have stat separation between seduction and manipulation, which intrigues me a little bit.  That might give you the following basic moves:

When you attempt to seduce someone, tell them what you want and roll+Passion. For NPCs: on a 10+, they are so smitten that they will comply before you have sex, and whether you do or not is up to you.  On a 7-9 they're happy to comply, but not until after.  For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:
if they do it, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're weathering adversity
What they do then is up to them.

When you drive a hard bargain, tell someone what you want and roll+Ambition. For NPCs: on a hit, they ask you to promise something first, and do it if you promise. On a 10+, whether you keep your promise is up to you, later. On a 7–9, they need some concrete assurance right now. For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:
if they do it, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're weathering adversity
What they do then is up to them.

When you lie to get what you want, tell someone what you want (or what you want them to believe) and roll-Honor.  For NPCs: on a 10+ they believe you and act accordingly.  On a 7-9, choose one:
accept that it must have been a misunderstanding, drop the matter, and avoid suspicion
stick to your story, arouse suspicion, and take -1 ongoing with this NPC
weave an ever more tangled web of lies by weathering adversity
On a miss, you are caught in the lie.
For PCs: On a 10+ both, on a 7-9 pick one:
if they believe you and act accordingly, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're exposing themselves to obligation (you)
What they do then is up to them.

This splits up some of the manipulation and social scheming across a couple of different stats.  It also paves the way for some interesting stat substition moves, like the High-Born Lady might have screw your way to the top, which allows her to roll+Ambition when attempting to seduce.

I also like the idea of making the downsides of stats meaningful, and that sometimes having a low score in something might be useful.  For instance, having a low Honor makes it easier to lie.  I want to have violence be consequential, and because it is there are certain social constraints that must be incorporated.  For instance, you might find yourself in a setting where violence is inappropriate, which paves the way for interesting basic social moves like:

When you attempt to let an insult go unchallenged roll-Fury if the setting is private, or roll-Honor if the setting is public.  On a 10+, you laugh, brush it off, and suffer no ill consequences.  Otherwise, on a 7-9 pick one, and on a miss pick two:
you are stung by it, take -1 ongoing with this NPC
you lose face over it, take -1 Reputation
you offer insult
you strike without warning

Thus, the higher your Honor is the more you'll feel the stain of those insults and the more obligated you'll feel to defend that Honor.  So insulting the Samurai (who is prickly, being both Honorable and Furious) is a dangerous proposition, whereas insulting the Priest (who is neither) is less so.

I suppose I could structure it like the Harm move, and have it be roll+Honor: on a miss you're good, on a 7-9 pick one, on a 10+ pick two.  I'd have to look at the distribution of chances of success/failure for both options, but it conveys the idea of what I am thinking.

I also kind of like the built-in snowballing of moves.  For instance, if I lie and get a partial hit, I can still pull it out by weathering adversity.  If my Composure is high, it means I don't crack under the pressure and can continue to lie with a straight face.  It's like doubling down, and exposes the player to more complications and fuckery, which is always a plus.
Title: Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
Post by: plausiblefabulist on January 14, 2014, 01:49:23 PM
Munin, very interesting, and this sounds good. Minor thoughts and quibbles:

I think my objection to Passion/Fury has to do with the English word, "passion". Passion originally comes from the root for suffering -- it's cognate with pathetic, and the German is the same, "Leidenschaft. Someone passionate about something feels strongly about it whether they want to or not; they are moved by it despite themselves. A passionate lover is one carried away by the storms of passion. A dispassionate lover is one who can say no, who can say "sure, I'll do you, but only if X." A passionate lover has no such option. A passionate artist paints what they are driven to paint; a dispassionate artist can decide what offers the best chance of advancement, etc.

So "passion" just does not sound at all to me like the stat for "why geishas are good at getting what they want via sex and not violence" -- not unless you're going to write that into the structure of the moves, like, on a 7-9, they are smitten but so are you, take -1 ongoing to resist any request they make of you, or something (meaning that your game is tying *passion* -- the ability to feel deeply *yourself* -- explicitly to the ability to inspire deep feelings *in others*).

If anything, Passion suggests "roll-Passion to resist being seduced" -- and it might be interesting to flip the move around that way.

The way you've written the moves, it sounds like you just want a setting-appropriate synonym for Hot. And "passion" just doesn't mean that. Elegance, Beauty, Charisma, Grace? Is this stat used for anything other than strict physical/sexual attractiveness? You mentioned artists; is it used for creating beauty in general? Is it used for commanding troops by force of personality?

There's a fundamental distinction between being affected by something and affecting something.

I like where you're going with Composure, but again I do wonder there too a little about the English word. It seems reasonable when you're talking about a Samurai rolling to control his temper. If it's the basic stat for monks that underpins their ability to do powerful monkish things, though, then the name seems to me to undersell the stat. In Japanese and Chinese folklore, monks can move heaven and earth, do magic, endure impossible extremes of pain and environmental conditions, etc., because of their nonattachment, their enlightenment, their tranquility, even just their self-control.... but to reduce it to their "composure" sounds like ascending to the Pure Lands requires nothing more than what is necessary to avoid remarking on your rival's choice of outfit at the garden party. Or rather (since on some level they *are* the same thing), it privileges the withheld snark over the satori.

I like the moves. Notice that your "seduce" move is now constrained to an explicit, literal offer of sex, which makes it far more constrained, in context, than any AW-hack seduce move I know of, and also seems possibly a little off for the setting, since it seems to me that there were probably plenty of geishas having sex, it's certainly a big part of geisha PR that they're getting what they want and winning the undying love of their admirers with mere smouldering looks, gentle touches on the knuckles, and playing the lute. Or indeed, that their lovers are in their pockets precisely because they *haven't* gotten the goods yet, and actually yielding would make them suddenly purchasable commodities rather than mystic visions of loveliness. I mean, I guess they can keep rolling 10+, and I do like the sort of implied threat that on a 7-9 you'll have to have sex... hmm, also, perhaps this here is the ordinary seduce, available to commoners and samurai and barmaids, and Geishas have playbook moves allowing them to replace actual consummation with artful leading-on?

I think, for balance, if you have -Honor and -Fury moves, then you need -stat moves for the other stats too. However, there's a bit of a problem with the -Fury move, because if that's what you have to roll to not respond to an insult, then whatever is Composure for? You characterized Composure as being precisely that. You have to think through what it means to have not-entirely-orthogonal stats; what does a character with a high Fury and a high Composure look like, and how does he respond to an insult?

One fix would be that if they fail on the -Fury/-Honor roll, the consequences are like "weather adversity not to strike without warning", etc; then you have a chain of moves, which is a slightly more AW-compatible way of involving multiple stats.

I'm also not sure the "-Fury if private, -Honor if public" distinction is crisp. For one thing, how many observers make it public? If one observer, -Fury becomes something of a rare case. For another thing, if you are a high-fury person with a low honor -- a gang kingpin, perhaps -- why is it that you lose control and lash out at someone who insults you in private, because of your furious nature, but as soon as there are observers present, your lack-of-honor protects you from your Fury? That seems like it doesn't make sense.

I suspect that either you're heading into multi-stat move territory, or derivative stats (the average of fury and honor)... or else this isn't really the -fury/-honor move, it's just roll on Composure, and those moves are something else. Or else you need to rejig the stats for orthogonality.

(This is making me realize that one aspect of the genius of AW, and one reason it works, is the orthogonality of Hot/Cool/Sharp/Hard/Weird -- they really describe different things and don't overlap)

It would be interesting to think about what the roll-Passion and roll-Insight moves are.

If you go with -stat moves, which I really like, it makes sense best if all your stats are both a power and a vulnerability. In that case Passion actually works -- it's an ability to inspire love and feeling, and a vulnerability to falling in love or being carried away by feeling. Fury works easily too -- an ability to impose your will violently on the universe, and an inability to resist imposing your will violently on the universe. Honor... what is, actually, honor for? I don't yet have your description of the move where you roll+honor, so I sort of don't know if you mean Honor more as social status, or Honor more as an internal code. I'm assuming the latter, but the mechanics so far look like the former. Your high-Honor characters, as listed, are those with high social status, irrespective of their internal values (perhaps the Ronin is masterless because of strict adherence to a vow, but that doesn't seem to help his Honor; perhaps the Daimyo is completely corrupt, etc.) In that case, Honor would be the ability to alter social reality by virtue of commanding respect, and the dependence on the respect of others (the vulnerability to disrespect, the inability to allow yourself to be treated with disrespect). And what's the downside of Insight?

Your seduce move and drive a hard bargain move are identical in their effects when you use them on PCs, which is interesting. It means that a high-Passion character needs to be explicitly offering sex to an NPC, but to a PC, they can use the same move and, as written, all they have to do is "tell them what you want". No requirement to have sex or even show a little ankle; unless you make the fictional trigger more explicit, what you've really written is "when you want something from a PC, tell them what and roll+ either Ambition or Passion, your choice" -- which makes the stats somewhat weaker, by virtue of making them interchangeable.

Shouldn't being caught in a lie have a consequence to Reputation?

Why are PCs under obligation to you if you lie to them and they don't believe you? Because other people believe you? Do they have some option to expose your lie for what it is?

In Shtetl World I'm also planning on having escalating insult/rebuke move-snowballing wars that you can only escape when someone manages to roll their equivalent of Composure! V. cool.

I don't think High-Born Ladies really need to screw their way to the top. It's low-born ladies who want to ascend via that ladder who would need that move, right? Some kind of social climber through sex playbook (or playbook subset) would be interesting, though it ought to be available to both genders, wouldn't you think?

How are you handling gender anyway? Currently -- unless your Artist and Bandit can be either gender -- you only have two classes that are explicitly female -- the Geisha and High-Born Lady -- and so far (admittedly we only have a smattering of moves) you've characterized them both as mostly using sex to get what they want; the Geisha's high stat is tied to a move which requires (at least with NPCs) an explicit possibility of sexual quid pro quo, and one of the HBL's playbook moves allows her to do the same thing with *her* high stat (making her more sex-oriented than the Daimyo and Bandit, though just as good at driving a hard bargain); we also know Geishas are bad at lying (high Honor).

AW goes to some lengths to make sure that every class is available to every gender; in its post-apocalyptic setting, that works fine; we can easily imagine as many male as female Skinners, as many female as male Gunluggers. Ditto Monsterhearts. Dungeon World is in a quasi-medieval setting, but a fantastical one, where  we can ignore gender constraints. Sagas of the Icelanders, since it's dealing with a historical context in which gender distinctions were very real, goes to some lengths to design a gender-distinct but balanced model. There are lots of things men do besides fight; there are lots of things women do besides have sex and babies. SotI offers powerful moves where women (and only women) get to challenge men's honor and require them to do things or lose face. I think either route can work; but it's disappointing to implicitly reserve most of the roles for men (Monk and not [Buddhist] Nun; Shoguns, Samurai, Ronin, and Daimyo we know are historically male roles;  "High Born Lady" (but not male courtier) and Geisha we know are female) and give the female roles mainly sex-for-gain moves. If you're not going to do the fantasy-of-gender-liberalism thing and explicitly make room for female Samurai acting just like male Samurai (which invents an ahistorical Japan, because while there were female warriors in Japan, their lives and histories and constraints were very different than male warriors'), then it would be interesting to look at the whole panoply of women's agency in that time and place, and how things that they do and men don't are powerful moves.

It's worth noting that the inventor of the novel, Murasaki Shikibu, was a medieval Japanese woman, and I again recommend you get ahold of a playtest copy of Emily Care Boss's City of the Moon (I could send you it, I guess).

Lastly, we ought to move this to another thread! Are you going to make one for this game?