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Topics - Orion

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1
blood & guts / Without act under fire...
« on: August 11, 2010, 07:39:28 AM »
A couple of play sessions confirms that "do something under fire" is pretty much the fundamental move that makes the game tick.  I'd go so far as to say that you don't, strictly speaking, need any other moves to have a playable game.  All my instincts tell me not to fix what ain't broken, but the fiction for my cyberpunk hack is asking me to tweak it, so here goes:

Act Under Fire is the only thing Cool does by default, and even then it's impressive enough that ways to raise cool are difficult to come by in AW.  Now, in Identity Crisis, every stat already has some moves associated with it, and therefore tacking Act Under Fire onto any of them feels like overloading it.  Hence, I'm wondering what y'all think of replacing

"when you do something under fire, roll +Cool" with

"when you do something under fire, roll

+fire if the fire is technological
+wood if the fire is social
+metal if the fire is physical
+water if the fire is sorcerous
+earth is the fire is spiritual"

I'm worried that it may be too clunky, slowing down the game or provoking argument in "mixed case" situations, but it's the way I'm leaning. 

2
blood & guts / Too many cooks... OR (help: not always helpful)
« on: July 27, 2010, 07:51:59 PM »
This post is not a complaint; it is an attempt to draw attention to a rather quirky effect of the rules.  The effect produced is in fact very much in genre, but it's one players should be aware of when choosing their moves, and MCs should be careful of when planning theirs. 

When you try to help someone, you give a bonus to their roll as long as you roll a 7+, which is pretty easy, right?  But if you outright miss, the MC gets to make a hard move.  And sometimes, those moves aren't good for the person you're helping.  let's look at an example from the book:

Quote from: Vx, p.206
Marie’s helping Keeler get into the water cult house by talking
animatedly with Tum Tum, trying to hold their attention while
Keeler sneaks behind them. (On a 7–9, maybe Tum Tum start
pressing her for … unsavory commitments, with threats to back
them up.) Marie misses the roll, so I get to make as hard a move
as I like. I choose to put Keeler in a spot. “Do you glance Keeler’s
way? Or do they read your mind? Or what? Anyway, one of them
turns, very deliberately, and Keeler, looks right at you. What do
you do?”

In this case what I believe is going on is that Keeler is acting under fire, rolling +cool to sneak into the building, and Marie is rolling +Hx to help.  When Marie misses her help roll, the MC responded by causing Keeler to automatically fail her own move.  We could generalize this as an application of "turn their move back on them" -- a missed attempt to help can cause the main effort to fail.  That certainly keeps AW feeling real--wannabe helpers ruin 4.7 projects, according to the Department of Fanciful statistics.  But it means that there's a trade-off and a balance point: a rolled help move can make the main move more or less likely to succeed. That means that a helper with a low +Hx can actually make you less likely to succeed than going it alone.

Now, AW characters are *supposed* to act rashly and self-destructively from time to time, so there's nothing wrong with the existence of a well-meaning move that actually screws your friends.  But what might surprise you is just how hard actually helping is.  I've crunched the numbers, and it turns out that the answer is this:

If you assume that missing your help roll causes the overall effort to fail or become irrelevant, then

IF you have +3Hx AND the person you are helping is rolling +1 or less, THEN you increase their chance of hitting; ELSE you make no difference or are an active hindrance. 

Now maybe you're fine with that, but I'm a big believer in player transparency, so I would implore you to make sure your players know this fact.  They can still choose to "help" when the fiction demands it, but they should know how the dice fall.  But, maybe your vision of AW is one where teamwork is more beneficial.  In that case, here is my advice:

--remember that to do it, you have to do it.  You could, when answering a read situation or offering an opportunity, decree that some things can't be done without help.  Marie rolling +Hx hurts Keeler if it's *optional*, but maybe Keeler can't even try to sneak in without Marie creating a distraction.  If you do it, you do it, so Marie has to roll.  Besides the difficulty in getting two PCs together, this move ends up being less likely to succeed for other moves, so try to make sure the payoff is worth it

AND (the big one)

--be judicious about how hard you go with the move you get on a failed help.  Try to put the burden of failure on the helper, not the helpee, and even then go a little softer than you might.  Share with your players your intentions Re: failed help rolls. 

PS-- the same thing applies to interference in principle, but interference is *way* easier since it gives a -2 when you hit.  And, while occasionally failing to interfere might help, it usually wouldn't.  Still, if you consider missing to be equally bad as making him miss is good, check this out:

IF you have +3 Hx THEN you are more more likely to cause him to miss than to miss yourself

IF you have +2 Hx AND your victim has -1 or better THEN you are more liekly to cause a miss than to miss

IF you have +1 Hx AND your victim has +1 or +2, THEN you are mroe likely to cause a miss than to miss yourself.

ELSE you are more likely to miss than to cause a miss. 



3
blood & guts / Why are followers so hard to get?
« on: July 27, 2010, 05:24:36 PM »
Only the Skinner has the option to pick up followers as an improvement, even though acquiring insight (or madness) and starting a cult seems like a pretty natural character arc.  I'm especially surprised it's not an option for Angels, considering the deep associations between religion and medicine, and the psychic/empathic powers an Angel can get.  A Brainer, too, would make a scary-ass cult leader with Unnatural Lust Transfixion. 

Are they omitted just because those playbooks ran out of advancement slots?  Or because Insight and Augury are too big a deal to give out easily?  Would there be any reason not to let a player substitute one leadership improvement for another?  It's not a big problem for me in any event, since by the time you played through your prophet's awakening and proselytizing, you'd probably hit Ungiven Future and be able to straight up change books to Hocus. 

PS: also curious why Battlebabe gets Leadership rather than Pack Alpha.   


4
The year is 23xx.  Megacorporations eclisped the state as the powers of the world and expanded their territory until the world was divided by 4 powers.  Universal Standard, decadent masters of Space and the Americas.  Hevezda Unlimited, leaders of the warrens and gulags of Europe.  Patala Investment, brokers of wealth and life in South Asia and Africa, and your home, the glorious Empire of Daybreak Industrial. 

In Houston they built the great Pattern, a space-beyond-space which facilitated storage and shipping through matter-gates.  In Dubai, they programmed the Rings, a revolutionary information network that coded access and account ID into the human genome.  The powers of Eurasia entered a biological arms race, uplifting animals to sentience, breeding great beasts for war and labor, and reifying the superiority of the Executives in blood.  Though rapid transformation left many behind, it looked like the dawn of a golden age, until the treacherous Turtle Clan unleashed the Shadow.

Now the locked vaults of past seep into the present, and the annals of the internet have come alive, drowning this human island in a tide of chaos and blood.  The metaphorical sea is metaphorically fucking rising, but that's not your problem.  Your problem is the bastards in charge of this island.  You aren't going to play by their rules. 

The Stats:

Earth: Earth is your attentiveness, your grounding, your receptivity. 
Fire: Fire is your energy, your impulse, your creative spark.
Metal: Metal is your hard edge, your discipline, your competitive streak.   
Water: Water is your flow, your cool, your tranquility, and your mystic mojo.
Wood:  Wood is your flexibility, your elegance, your social fucking grace. 

The Basic Moves:

When you pull something from the pattern, roll+Water

10+: As below, but add it to your Account. 
7-9: Choose 2: You get what you wanted, you get something quality, you don't take 1-harm(ap), it's not loud

When you look into the rings, roll+earth

10+: you see it
7-9: Choose two: you see what you wanted, they can't see you, you don't add a new spirit threat to the current front

When issue a challenge, roll+metal

10+: You don't take harm, or you harm something [big]
7-9: trade harm, but you get one possession, or one favour,

Note: "harm" in this game is frequently not actual harm.  You'll have weapons like "Stalking Tiger Style; harm: You collect a blood sample.  Or Sittar of Somnolence; area loud harm: target falls asleep." 

When you invoke your authority, roll+wood
10+: NPCs do what you want, PCs act under fire
7-9: one of the targets is a ninja

When you whip up a gadget, roll+fire

10+: Choose 1: it works right away, it isn't [dangerous]
7-9: it's [dangerous] and it takes a while

Note: The basic moves list is definitely incomplete.  These moves replaced Seize by Force and Open Your Brain, but there will definitely be an equivalent to Acting Under Fire and Reading a Person/Sitch.  Probably Going Aggro and manipulate, too. 

5
blood & guts / Advancement, what is it for?
« on: July 23, 2010, 06:24:25 PM »

1: Why have improvement at all?
2:How much improvement do we want?
3: Why tie it to die rolls and not time passed or fronts weathered or goals accomplished or any of the other things it could plausibly be tied to? 

6
Apocalypse World / Stat Substitution Glitch
« on: July 22, 2010, 10:19:16 PM »
This post is about a potential problem I see reading through the rulebook.  I haven't encountered it in play, but I'd like to hear from anyone who has (or better anyone who successfully avoided it), and ideally from Vincent for his take.  The difficult is the interaction between
Stat-Substitution Moves and Stat Highlighting

My understanding is that highlighting stats is intended as a way to influence behavior.  That is, if another player wants to see you take more risks and put yourself out there, he highlights Cool.  If the MC wants you to pay attention to the Maelstrom, he highlights Weird.  If someone wants to steer the session towards a focus on cultivating relationships, one highlights Sharp and Hot. 

But, let's look at an example character, Wrench, a driver who aims to be a one-man "problem-solver" and protection racket.  He starts off with Weather Eye.  For his first advance he picks up Ice Cold so he put the pressure on his victims.  For the second, he snags Easy to Trust so as to arrange better pay for his labors. 

Let's look at the way the basic moves break down for him:

Cool: Act Under Fire, Go Aggro, Manipulate/Seduce
Hard: Seize by Force
Hot: Nothing
Sharp: Read a Sitch, Read a Person, Open Brain
Weird: Nothing
(Hx): Help/Hinder

Now let's say a new session starts and it's time to highlight stats.  Two Problems arise:

First, you can't really manipulate his behavior by dangling XP any more.  Let's say you want him to go commune with the spirits of the wastes, but he's been hanging around in town politicking.  Well, highlighting Weird won't work, because he doesn't roll Weird anymore.  But highlighting Sharp won't do it either, because he can still rack up the points by sticking with his negotiations.  It's similarly impossible to encourage him to be more or less manipulative. 

The second problem is that there's a risk of the highlighting process becoming more adversarial.  If you highlight his Sharp and Cool, he'll get XP for nearly every roll he makes, which defeats the point of the mechanic and puts him ahead of the group.  But there's no longer anything "interesting" about highlighting Hot or Weird; doing so serves no purpose except to screw him over.  He only ever uses three stats now, which means there are only 3 stat combinations that even make sense, making it hard to follow the "try something different every time" suggestion. 

This isn't the only build affected; it's possible to use Weird for almost everything, for instance.  Anyway, I'm not sure what to do about it, but tentatively suggest awarding XP based on the default stat for all basic moves, not the one actually used.   

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