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Messages - Paul T.

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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 16, 2017, 02:55:22 AM »
I find the best benefit of the Weird roll is by forming relational questions between the PC and NPCs / World. I'd be worried that this wasn't taking place without making that play a major part of it.


This sounds like a really cool and interesting practice. Can you give some examples of what this looks like in your games? I'd like to learn how to do this - sounds like a great thing to do!

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 16, 2017, 02:53:51 AM »
My gut feeling here is that - if you have, indeed, already tried using Tarot or imagery for inspiration - you could do one of two things:

1. Design a system of your own for handling the "obvious" ideas that come to mind. This could work via Tarot or other open-ended brainstorming techniques, or it could be a finite list.

The idea is that you a) form an idea for what the maelstrom wants to share, and then b) apply a "filter" to decide what actually comes of it. The "system" you're designing is what those filters are and how you choose one.

For a hyper-simple version, consider a "random table" like this:

(1) Terror (chaos, violence, madness)
(2) Love (attachment, dependence, sex, sorrow)

When someone opens their brain, you roll to see the result, and then you come up with the appropriate vision, topic, subject, or theme. (For instance, they're opening their brain about Birdie? Then Birdie is the subject, maybe.)

Finally, you randomly choose one of those themes above - Terror or Love. Now use that as a "lens" to colour, distort, or present the subject/theme/vision/topic. Reveal something to the character accordingly. What about Birdie, Birdie's past, or Birdie's present circumstances is chaotic, violent, or terrifying? (Maybe ask the player - in this case, the character - if you're not sure.) What about Birdie, Birdie's past, or Birdie's present circumstances is about Love? How does that PC feel about Birdie? What does Birdie feel attached to or who do they miss? Etc.

2. Leverage your MC prep.

Take all the stuff you've prepped - basically a bunch of threats, right? Because pretty much everything you prep is a threat. Number them all somehow, so you can randomly roll up something from your prep (or put them in a stack of index cards).

When you need a vision, revelation, or have to make a move because of an "open your brain" roll, select something randomly from your prep. You rolled "The Cult of the Returners"? Ok, what's up with them?

Maybe on a 10+, the PC gets supernatural insight into the Cult or a useful bit of information. Maybe they can ask a question of the maelstrom about this thing.

On a 7-9, they learn something, but it's disturbing, confusing, or otherwise complicated. It's new information, but not what they were hoping for - instead, it complicates the situation.

On a miss, well, you get to make a move, but make it related to the Cult. Maybe the Cult is actually making a move, or maybe the maelstrom just shows the PC some bad news about the Cult's activities.

Something like that.

I like that! It's a nice mix of simple and fruitful. I'll definitely be taking that trick away from this thread, thanks!

Apocalypse World / Re: Bennies or rewarding players?
« on: September 12, 2017, 09:01:41 PM »
This can be a fun thing to do, with the right crowd. However, before you go ahead, take a close look at the game as it is written:

You will find places throughout the game which already incentivize, provoke, or reward player input into the game world, whether it's questions about the past, choosing options for the hardhold, or simply dealing with the MC's questions ("so, what do you use for currency around here?").

In the games I've seen or played, there was always a great deal of player input into the game world. I can see a group avoiding that intentionally, but it's already the "natural" way of playing Apocalypse World, and tends to be a big part of the game culture surrounding it.

Apocalypse World / Re: Session Length
« on: September 11, 2017, 04:17:53 AM »
Our sessions are in the 2-4 hour range pretty consistently. (Maybe 3 or 3.5 hours more often than not.)

They tend to cover events happening within a short space of time (typically all within a few hours, or the same day), although occasionally a session will cover a handful of days "in game".

The only ongoing game where we've used the new barter per-session rules is a Fallen Empires game. It's felt fairly natural because each session started a significant timeskip after the previous one, like separate "episodes".

I'd be curious to hear about people's experiences with per-session barter in general, both good, bad, and just curious.

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 02, 2017, 02:43:52 AM »
Yeah, that's kind of the idea.

I'd want character creation to be that simple, and then also to connect people to the fictional situation (the way your original cards do).

Simplifying mechanically can be good, too, like if you get one move to start, and then the game is set up so that you'll score an advance after an hour of play or so, to get a second move. Less front-loading; more to explore in play.

The downside is that you have to redesign AW character creation, of course, as well as the playbooks. :)

Ah! That's an interesting take on it. I like it!

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 01, 2017, 10:23:56 PM »
Yeah, I think giving some thought to how "in line" with the playbooks you want the options to be is worthwhile.

There are definitely better options than what I wrote here. I like Monsterhearts' (1st Ed) "baseline" stats, which you can add 1 to, for example.

For Hx, I think some of the options are really great ("Who's been watching you sleep?") while others are fairly vague or "soft" (in terms of implications). For the goals of the game, this works pretty well. For a really tight one shot, however, I find having two sets of Hx details between each character to be too much to remember and bring into play. I'd rather see each option or question tie directly into a) something about the character, b) something about their relationship to someone else, and c) the situation we're about to play out.

I'd prefer to see something like:

"Your stats start at [some baseline]. Add 1 to a stat of your choice.

Now, choose 2 of the following moves:

* Bloodcrazed.
   - Add 1 to your Hard.
   - You add +1harm to any harm you deal.
   - You are notorious because you killed: [choose one NPC].
   - Another PC was there when it happened: ask the other players who it was. At the time, it seems like that character stood in your way and you left them bleeding. Tell them to write Hx+3 with you.

* [another move] ..."

And that's it for your character, maybe.

Meanwhile, the other players have lists of names to choose from, too. Maybe the [NPC] the Bloodcrazed person decided they killed is listed as a member of the Chopper's gang, or was the Angel's assistant, or was in charge of the water supply... So now we know they effectively have history, right? This Bloodcrazed person killed someone in your gang! What are you gonna do about it?

This way we only have a few choices to make (I like your idea of putting them on cards and handing them out), but we instantly have a pregnant situation, and we get all our stats and other mechanical bits in ways which instantly connect to something fictional, as well.

Something like that. You grab two-three of these cards and you have your character, and by answering a couple of questions, we have the situation, too.

That's pretty interesting, Ebok.

I like the implications that the Driver is so in tune with machinery that each car has a "personality" to them. "Normal" people are blind to this - they just see machines.

I could see it having a mechanical benefit, too: perhaps this sense of insight allows the Driver to get a bonus to "playing to the vehicle's nature".

The most obvious thing would be a simple +1 to rolling that stat when in the vehicle. That would create a "softer" version of the 1st Ed Driver's rules, where the Driver doesn't have to lose 1 from each stat, but just 1 from each stat *line*, and the flexibility that comes from being able to switch vehicles for the appropriate benefit.

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 01, 2017, 12:30:33 AM »
For the stats, you might consider something like my Apocalypse: Emergence rules, with a way to adjust them after you start playing. Or maybe just assign one stat to begin and leave the others open!

For instance, for the Gunlugger:

* You start with Hard+2.
* Hold the following four stat scores: -1, 0, +1, +1.
* When you roll a stat for the first time, assign one of these scores and cross it off.

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 01, 2017, 12:28:25 AM »
Agreed on all of the above.

The playbooks also have a lot of dense jargony information in them, stuff which must be asked about ("what do these tags mean?" "what's the apocalypse like? do I need a gun?" "how does highlighting work?"), and then some lengthy procedures like Hx. A lot of character creation is kind of "lonely fun", as well (like the Savvyhead detailing their workspace), instead being handled "on-screen".

In a tight one-shot I'd want each mechanical choice to be linked to learning about the characters, situation, and the game. I'd want the opening questions to determine Hx as well as the starting situation.

For example, maybe when you come up with a rumour about another character, that gives you Hx+2 with them, whereas being the one who found the Gunlugger's friend dead means you get +1Hx with the Gunglugger or whatever such other thing.

There's just a LOT of information on the character sheets which will never come up in a one-shot (or ever appear on-screen), and too many choices to make.

My Monsterhearts scenario isn't written up for public consumption yet, but I've played it and it was really fun. Setup involves asking people questions and thereby assigning Strings between the characters. Only character details which matter to relationships are discussed - basically, it's all Hx questions, and those determine the starting situation.

Each character gets to choose one stat, which they are "good" at (the others are just assumed to be 0).

There are no stats or moves until later in the game - supernatural interactions give characters better stats and/or moves, turning them into monsters.

Your hunch about slowing down the pace of the game is quite right: next time I play, I'll just make accruing new moves less available to everyone, and that will slow down the pace somewhat.

When we played, it was a mad scramble from the second scene onwards, with no room to breathe or think. It was fun, but the hectic scramble ruined some potential for drama (or to set up stronger conflicts).

Apocalypse World / Re: The Landfall Marine
« on: July 31, 2017, 01:26:36 AM »
(Thanks, Vincent! Makes sense now. Maybe it needs a few expletives to hammer that point home...)

Apocalypse World / Re: The Landfall Marine
« on: July 30, 2017, 11:47:17 PM »
That's a totally fascinating new playbook (and supplements). I would love to see a game with a Landfall Marine *and* a Quarantine. There could be some very interesting dynamics at play there.

One question: I'm not at all sure where I might use the "when you cover ground" walkingsuit move. What's it for? Is it a specialized form of "act under fire", or supposed to describe the walkingsuit traveling at all times, or just for battles?

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: July 30, 2017, 05:12:53 PM »
Again: what I wrote wasn't a criticism. It was an observation of style differences. (And I like how thoroughly you've dissected it here!)

I think, given your play culture and design goals, what you've got is exactly the right tool! I think it will work wonderfully for what you're going for.

(And I know where you're coming from, too: I haven't had a chance to play Apocalypse: Emergence for precisely the reasons you mention, for example.)

One thing that jumps out at me: given your goals and limited timeframe, I would think AW character generation to be too bulky for you, as well. I'd want faster, simpler character generation.

I put together some rules for a Monsterhearts one-shot which is similar to this in principle (and I got rid of Skins, to make character creation fast and focused on what we need for the game - rules complexity accrues in play, instead). (Notably, it has basically no NPCs at all, however.)

It worked great; however, everyone agreed afterwards that it was a little too frantic and fast-paced. I may redesign it slightly before I play it again to try to slow down the progress of events, and play again.

How many players do you expect to have for this (or would, ideally)?

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: July 29, 2017, 08:52:14 PM »

I really jumped on this when you posted it, because the "cards" are really well done. You've managed to use a very brief/low-detail format to convey a LOT of information and that's really cool.

These brief writeups give the player a sense of who the character is *and* orient them to how to play at the same time in a really concise way. I'm not normally a fan of blurring the lines this way, but I really like the way you do it here.

So, what about my comments on style? Well, I don't know what "your" style is, but I can tell you some things that jump out at me from the "cards".

Now, discussing differences in style and answering your questions is going to be hard to do without sounding like a critic. No! I really like what you've put together here. So, keep that in mind as you read on! Ask me what seems awesome about this thing you've put together and I'd write an entirely different post. :) That said, I'll answer your questions:

The first thing about the "style" of this thing you've put together is that there is a lot *personality* and verve in the descriptions and the details, but little about the Situation or the Setting. We know very little about the world, the people who live in it, or what thematic concerns might be important to us as players.

Only the Gunlugger's NPC is a real reference to something in the setting/situation to interact with (and you rightly point that out as the lynchpin to get the whole thing rolling). [The Brainer's "puppet" also helps define the world quite a bit, but you were correct to notice that, absent the emotional connection, it's not a good "direct" focus of action - still, the knowledge of an existing gang, androids, or whatever such thing is an important piece of worldbuilding.]

I think we can really see this from the way you've omitted all the playbooks which tell us something about the situation or setting - or give players input into what and where we are and who's around - except for the Chopper. There's no Hardholder, nor Maestro'd, nor Hocus, for example. Where do people live? What do they do for fun? What do they believe in? We don't know - and, by implication, we don't care.

I'm always pretty curious about the apocalypse itself when I play - what has the world become, and how has it come to be this way? What remains of civilized society, and what has been lost? How are people living now? Do they remember anything?

Your writeup just jettisons all that and screams "let's get to the action!"

This is, in many ways, a smart choice for a one-shot, but a very different approach from what I or others might do (look at Blind-Blue and Hatchet City for an example of quite the opposite approach in terms of setting detail! We have disease and weird mud fish and threats at large and various factions squabbling over it all...).

Secondly, there is an implied focus on high-octane attitude and wild action - this writeup, to me, says guns and gasoline and explosions. It's very Mad Max.

Perhaps that's why you've omitted the Skinner, as well, but included the Faceless.

It's also very low on the "psychic maelstrom" weird business. (In contrast, I've been watching a bit of the Roll20 AW game on YouTube, and pretty much *everything* that happens in the first four sessions is directly related to the psychic maelstrom. It's very interesting, but also makes me crave some focus on, I don't know... shooting some guy, or maybe trying to figure out how to replenish their stock of canned foods. Something normal and down-to-earth.)

Compared to the gonzo style of these cards, my approach to AW is much more low-key. It's always to find the humanity and to ask the players, "The world is fucked up. What are you willing to do to fix it?" I enjoy having the weird psycho business and the grotesque, bloody future... but largely as a foil for what is left under there to salvage - what remains of humanity, and how can we protect it? Is it all loss, or is this new world better in any meaningful ways?

Even Mad Max (Fury Road, I mean) has something to say about the nature of motherhood and the loss of innocence and liberty for women, although it doesn't get explored as much as the visuals and the action.

By way of example, here are a couple of contrasts:

1. Here's a thing I wrote for an AW campaign. As you can see, the direction is quite different stylistically:

2. You include the Faceless and describe him thus: "You are a psychotic masked murderer. Didů did you need any more information?"

That's pretty much the entirety of the character description. Again, this is very Mad Max! Who is this guy? We don't care; we just want to see him being scary and awesome on screen!

My own tendency if playing or offering a Faceless would be precisely to ask about the things which do NOT align with the obvious image of a psychotic murderer. I'd be all "Hey, do you own a stuffed animal?" or maybe "Whose forgiveness do you crave most?" or perhaps "Why do you wear that mask? What do you hope people don't learn about you? Are you afraid of seeing yourself in the mirror?"

In other words, the things that would make the Faceless interesting to me would be the contrast between the obvious "masked murderer" and the real human being underneath. To focus on the "psychotic murderer" angle basically removes any interest I have in the playbook.

These are not criticisms, by the way: first of all, they are all valid artistic choices, and, in many ways, smart for a one-shot (and especially so for a large group). I know a lot of people want AW to be Mad Max (and the 2nd Edition plays into their hands very intentionally, so maybe Vincent does too, at some level). Guns, gasoline, explosions and fucked up crazies!

Second, I am reading a lot into a few short blurbs - it's entirely possible that "your" style of play is quite different in practice. It's just the "vibe" I'm picking up from these descriptions, and extrapolating from there, since that's what you asked about!

I'd love to play this sometime and see what happens. Whether I'm reading it right or not, I bet it would be a ton of fun to play out. What kind of environment/scenario to you see yourself using this in? Is it a large-group one-shot in a party atmosphere, or something else entirely?

One question: what do you do (or intend to do) if you don't get the full complement of players? Some of these seem fairly central to making it work as a game (especially the Gunlugger), while other characters are less so.

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