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Messages - JonWake

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brainstorming & development / Re: New/Old Hack-Dread
« on: January 10, 2013, 08:17:29 PM »
Creating Mysteries

In Dread, unknown forces intrude on the status quo of the character's fucked up lives. These intrusions are called Mysteries, and are the narrative thrust of the game. The characters are confronted by a Body of Evidence that points towards a Grim Conclusion. The Characters must outpace the bad guys, seize the initiative, and prevent the Threats from coming to pass.

This means that Mysteries are active antagonists. Even if it's something that seems to be passive, like a location, the effects of that location must be moving towards some Grim Conclusion. 

Surrounding the Mystery are Layers of Protection that the players must penetrate to effect the Mystery. For example, a depraved serial killer stalking the streets might have a Cult that covers for him, or a corrupt police force that bungles investigations. Each Layer of Protection reveals something about the mystery, and is connected in some intimate way.

Imagine the Mystery as a race to the finish, and the party that gets there first will have the advantage. 


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brainstorming & development / Re: New/Old Hack-Dread
« on: January 10, 2013, 06:42:53 PM »
(You'll notice I'm using this as a scratch pad.)

Here's an idea: the Angel skin in Monsterhearts has a dual stat that shifts from light to dark as play proceeds. This might be a good compromise with the Dark/Steady stat.

Nah, and I'm not wedded to the Steady trait at all.

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brainstorming & development / Re: New/Old Hack-Dread
« on: January 10, 2013, 06:26:54 PM »
The Stats

So the stats I came up with way back when were Deadly, Slick, Smart, Cool, and Dark. Again, they're pretty obvious reskins of AW stats. Let's start from square one.

Violence is a big part of the genre. But its more important to state the mental capacity for violence than the physical capacity. Violence tends to be sudden and decisive, with the more willing participant setting the fiction. Deadle might still be a good name for it.
Deadly meaning dangerous, bloodthirsty, capable of violence, remorseless.

Solving mysteries is always about the triumph of rationality over barbarism. We'll keep Smart as a stat for that reason.

The characters in the horror-noir genre are more often charismatic because of their smooth talking than their raw sexual presence. It looks like Slick rounds out the trio of pure character defining traits.

We need some kind of trait that defines the mental hardiness of the character, the resiliency to horror, while letting a character that is magnanimous in spirit be playable. I'd like to draw a parallel with Deadly, some stat that says : I can take what the world dishes out and not lose my mind. This will play directly into the Understand the Madness move.

I started with Cool, but now that I think of it, Cool and Slick overlap too much. That means I might fold them together and rename it to Smooth. My old build of this game gave me Dark, which was thematically weak and just a reskin of Weird. Understanding the Madness requires more than Smarts, it requires a holistic understanding of the strange and depraved. For now, I'll keep it as Dark. The more I think about it, the better that name works.

So now we have four characteristics that define the character: Deadly, Smart, Smooth, and Dark.

What about some kind of stat that lets the characters be noble? Brave? No, that not thematically right. Something that's the opposite of Dark. If Dark is about embracing the horror, this is about creating a bulwark against it. Stoic? Steady?
Deadly, Smart, Smooth, Steady and Dark? 

Does that work?

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brainstorming & development / New/Old Hack-Dread
« on: January 10, 2013, 06:02:37 PM »
Hey guys,

It's been a couple of years since I was on the site. I was working on a horror/mystery hack called World of Dread. Now, at the time, it was essentially a reskin of AW, like most people's first hack. Since then we've had Dungeon World, Murderous Ghosts, and Monsterhearts come out, which showed just how far you can push the moves. It's made me rethink my hack from the ground up.  The moves define the genre. Monsterhearts, f'er example, forces things to go from bad to worse because making a move is basically fucking up (until you Grown Up).

So what is the genre about? In Dread, I'm emulating the horror-noir of Se7en or Chinatown, where evil intrudes on people's lives and secrets become the most important resource. I'm also taking a lot if inspiration from the horror writing of Thomas Ligotti, who finds horror in the absurdities of middle class life, and the films of David Cronenberg. What you have when you put those into a blender is a game about secrets; hiding them and uncovering them. It's also a game about the intrusion of the Weird into people's lives, and how the disruption can force people to reveal things they'd rather not.

So with that in mind, a couple obvious moves come to mind: Digging up Dirt and Understand the Madness.

Digging up Dirt is proactive: you're going through people's phone records, hunting down their last known address and the like. It's also very reductive. Instead of playing out each individual piece of information, like you would in a Gumshoe game, you're more interested in getting leverage over another character or NPC. It might work as an option between taking 1 Forward on future investigations, or increasing a connection with another player, or alerting the subject of your investigation.

Understanding the Madness is either proactive or reactive, depending on the situation and the MC's moves. This might be constructed differently than most other moves I've seen. On a hard success, perhaps the player can ask a series of questions to the MC. On a soft success, they may ask a question but take some mental stress or lash out. On a failure, they lash out, retreat from the scene, or some other inappropriate behavior. From a fictional perspective, it makes Understanding the Madness into a narrative keystone, and presumes that some dirt digging as occurred before then.

You'll notice a couple things about these moves. The first is that they predicate some kind of investigation mechanic. I think a lesson can be learned from Monsterhearts here, where Strings are the social currency.  If Clues are the investigative currency, it lets the players determine the course of the investigation.

This also mean that Fronts are replaced by Mysteries, or more accurately, augmented with Mysteries. Similarly to the portents of doom in Dungeon World, you have an Escalating Horrors. But parallel to that you have a Chain of Evidence, ways for the players to essentially jump ahead of the Mystery, and prevent it's Terrible Conclusion. 

I'll go into these in more detail, but for now, I designed a collection of playbooks for the earlier version. You can take a look at them here https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B0QGoyHBMghLdUx3N043LWhNaVE/edit.

Some of the playbooks work well, others wear their reskinning on their sleeve. Particularly I like the Gumshoe (all about getting into trouble), the Lunatic, and the Sherlock (the ultimate mystery solver, but vulnerable). 

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blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: May 18, 2011, 02:54:59 AM »
Oh, oh ho ho ho.. YES.  That's exactly what I was looking for. 

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blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: May 14, 2011, 07:36:12 AM »
I like that.  I really like how you embedded the game format into the rules like that.  World of Secrets (the rough hack title) is built more along the Phillip Marlowe style lengthy investigation, with lots of dead ends, double crosses, and the like.

Each character is also investigating each other, thanks to replacing sex moves with Secret moves.  When someone learns your Dread Secret (you killed your high school teacher, you're a mobster's son, etc.) they get power over you.  It is, as the Monarch would say, a game of cat and also cat.

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blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: May 11, 2011, 01:23:04 PM »
I actually was thinking about that.  The solution is the 'to do it, do it' rule.  To gather evidence the character is lifting fingerprints, or interviewing witnesses, or any of the other things detectives do.  To follow a lead, the hard boiled PI may snap his fingers and realize that that no good husband of the deceased HAS to be lying, or the brilliant detective from Scotland Yard realizes that the reflection in the camera reveals where the photos were taken.   It just divorces the idiom from the mechanics.   I don't think it extends the rules any further than Seize by Force does, which is intentionally vague.
I'd also point out the that putting it together rules let the MC know what the character isn't aware of, and thus lets her adjust the story's pace.
I'll note that what I only have the vaguest ideas about are how to set up the fronts for mystery play.  My rough, rough ideas are something like each front being a Conspiracy trying to hide something.  This lets the players navigate the mystery the same way they navigate the fronts.  Really, the system would hinge on how fronts are used.

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blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: May 10, 2011, 03:47:27 PM »
Okay, here we go (there's references to some of my Horror tools, like Dread)

The Investigation Moves

When you gather evidence, tell the MC what sort of thing you're looking for and roll+savvy. If you are investigating a PC, rol l+Hx.   On a 10+, you get 2-Clue +1.  On a 7-9, you get 1-clue.  On a miss, you have evidence, but you can't make heads or tails of it.   If your Clue is +1, you get a +1 to following any leads from that clue.

When you follow a lead, you roll +cool.
On a 10+, the MC gives you a scene where new evidence crops up, and take a +1 forward to gathering evidence.   On a 7-9, the MC gives you a scene where new evidence crops up. On a miss, you have a confrontation, expose your position, or alert the quarry.

When you put the pieces together, spend your Clue Holds (up to 3) and roll +(Clues spent).  On a 10+, you get 3 of the following, and take 1-Dread.
On a 7-9, you get 1 and take 2-Dread
On a miss, take 3-Dread
you learn their motives
you learn their weakness or Dread Secret
you learn where they’ll be in the near future
you learn the extent of the conspiracy or power


When you cover your tracks, roll+Dark.  On a 10+, you get all 3.  On a 7-9, you get 1.
you misdirect their investigation
you slow their investigation down
you make them waste precious resources


If used on a PC, on a 10+ you remove 2 clues from their pool, on a 7-9,  you remove 1 clue. On a miss you have a confrontation with the PC.

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blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: May 10, 2011, 01:21:20 PM »
I'm actually doing something like this for my Horror game (which I'll post up here when I've got the lion's share done).
Gathering evidence gives a special kind of hold called 'Clues', which are compiled and spent to fuel investigations.

When you gather evidence, roll +Savvy
On a 10+, you gain 3-Clues. The MC will tell you what you find.
On a 7-9, you gain 1-Clue.
On a miss, you have gathered evidence, but you can't make heads or tails of it.

This leads into players pursuing clues-- the ability to generate new scenes.

When you follow a lead, roll +Cool
On a 10+, a new piece of evidence crops up, and take a +1 forward to gathering evidence.
On a 7-9, new evidence crops up.
On a miss, you have alerted your quarry of your investigation, and they may hinder you.

Lastly, the players may finger the culprit.  It works similarly to the Savvyhead's Oftener Right ability.  The player comes up with a theory based on the evidence related to the case.

When you finger the culprit spend up to 3 Clues and roll +(clues spent)
On a 10+, ...

Okay, that part I have no idea.

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blood & guts / Re: Playbook Directions
« on: September 24, 2010, 06:13:48 AM »
So we're not talking about an X-y axis, but a slider labeled maybe 'implicit/explicit power'.  And then you have something connected to it like 'narrative autonomy/dependency'.   The Battlebabe can pick up and go from situations that any other character is locked into.  I could imagine a Golem playbook, moving in the opposite direction as the Battlebabe, where having sex or bartering with another character binds him to a course of action.

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blood & guts / Re: Playbook Directions
« on: September 22, 2010, 01:00:41 PM »
Okay, that actually makes sense.  I was figuring that the axises were Internal/External and Direct/Indirect.   

I set my axis as Mystery Effectiveness and Horror Effectiveness.  On one end, you have the brilliant Sherlock, who can solve mysteries in his sleep, but is mentally unstable, and on the other you have the Dead-Eyed, half a monster in her own right who approaches every problem with a hammer.

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blood & guts / Playbook Directions
« on: September 22, 2010, 06:07:34 AM »
Howdy-- I just picked up the AW book online a few weeks ago, and I've been thinking about using it as the glue that holds my WoD/Smallville RPG mashup game together.  That is, scrapping huge chunks for the vicious simplicity of AW.

So Vincent mentioned in the battlebabe thread that the playbooks sat on an x-y axis.  Care to illuminate those axises?   And what the directions on those mean?  IT would really help me get my head around designing playbooks.

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