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Topics - lordrahvin

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brainstorming & development / The Modern World
« on: July 17, 2015, 10:46:53 PM »
It seems pretty silly to be considering a "hack" when I have so little experience with the AW system, but I've just been going crazy since I discovered AW and all its other games.  Despite this, I feel like all these games are "almost" what I'm looking for, but not quite.

I played the Spirit of '77, and while I don't dig the 70's theme, I loved the mechanics of the game (and still find it among my favorite of the AW hacks, mechanically).  It's almost what I want, but it was built to support a slightly different theme than what I'm looking for.  Like that product, I'm looking for cinematic action but also some kind of supernatural drama, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, X-files, that sort of thing. 

I was amazed by the mechanics of AW engine.  I loved the idea that the players rolled all the dice (as players like to do) which freed up the GM to focus completely on narration.  I never realized how much it bothered me to go from "narration mode" to "game mode" to "narration mode" and back again until I didn't have to do it anymore.  At most, I'm just jotting down notes when stuff happens. 

In addition, I simply love that there was a lot about the mechanics that felt appropriate for gaming in a modern setting.  The rules seem to support roleplaying in a modern world in exactly the same magnitude that the d20 system utterly fails at it.  So that's kind of what I'm looking for... a good "core" modern rulebook to play out some of my favorite modern-fantasy settings.  Basically, I want a single system that has mechanics suitable for handling cinematic action, supernatural drama, crime mystery, and maybe a touch of science fiction ala StarGate or X-Com.  I think the Apocalypse World can handle this pretty well with its focus on drama, dramatic consequences, and character-focused abilities/stats.  If anything, Apocalypse World has a little too much drama and I might tone that down a bit. 

I don't think this will ever be an "official" or "published" hack in any sense, in part because I think its the opposite from what a lot of AW fans want from an AW product.  I'm looking for a good "core" rulebook for modern games that I can add on simple modules to such as "Aliens" or "Magic" to customize the game for particular settings. 

So far, the AW product that has intrigued me the most is Monster of the Week as it comes the closest to the theme and openness I'm looking for.  Unfortunately, I think Michael Sands and I have different design philosophies.   I think he's more comfortable with "story games" than I am.  Like there's references to some characters simply "inflicting harm" by narrating a situation in which they can inflict harm without taking any in turn?   Meanwhile, it bothers me, really bothers me, that there's no "shooting" action in a modern game where most characters get firearms and the focus of every game comes down to a fight scene.  But I think their idea of when to use moves differs from mine, as I want to use moves and dice in any dramatic situation, since dice are a primary mechanism for introducing new consequences and escalating the action/drama. You want to shoot the guy, okay, but that's a move... which means you might just be making things worse.  Despite the fact that there's no "shooting" move, no "go aggro" move, and no fighting move of any kind that doesn't involve you taking harm as part of inflicting harm, "use magic" is a basic move, which apparently anyone and everyone can do without restriction.  To me, the moves feel disjointed from the focus of the game, and so I need to hack. 

My ultimate question when it comes to moves is, "What will the players be doing?"  Even better, "What will the players be trying to do?"  If there's something players are going to be doing a lot, and its important to the genre or setting, and it could have dramatic consequences, I think it should be a move.   Now, this can be a little ridiculous, like "When players are gambling over a game of pool..." but yeah, if the setting and story is set in a pool hall then... yeah, why not?  If it's only for one adventure, then it should be a custom move for that one location.  If its for the entire setting/campaign, then it should probably be a basic move.   IF its something only PCs are likely to want to do, even better.  Here's another example, "When players reveal their true identities to someone..." Clearly that's something pretty setting-specific, but imagine a setting where all players belong to a secret government division of undercover alien investigators.  You'd think at some point they might reveal themselves to gain an advantage, and since they can all do it, this is a good choice for a basic move.  Since my focus is on replicating the "cinematic action" and "supernatural drama" of certain movies and TV shows, this is relatively easy, as I just have to watch these shows/movies and try to identify those points where I say, "hey, that looked cool.  A player might want to be that guy doing that thing". 

So anyway, my ultimate criteria is "would players want to do this," and if so, I think it should be a move.  And that's why I'm shocked at the lack of a "shooting" combat move in some settings where shooting and firearms seem quite common. 

So I'm starting with the basic moves.  I'm adding a few, combining a few, tweaking a few.  I'm trying to think of things players will want to do during a game, and trying to make sure I have rules for it in place.  For example, I added a Smash Object move, in case players want to kick down locked doors or destroy the mystical object raising the dead.  I got rid of "reading a situation" because that felt too tactically oriented and replaced it with "investigate my surroundings", which can alert you to danger but also be used to find clues, track people, and get information about things that happened in the past.  My other two "get knowledge" moves right now are Research and Sense Motive (used with Sharp and Charm, respectively).  I also add options for the types of questions that can be asked to try to recreate the kind of knowledge that people actually research to do their group-briefings in shows like Buffy and Leverage.  Some of this was inspired by the changes in Monster of the Week. 

Altogether I have around 15 basic actions right now, which may be a bit much, but some of the moves are similar to each other.  I'll post more specific information as I continue to work on and playtest them. 

Right now I'm calling this project, The Modern World.  It's not remarkably creative, but it gets the point across. 

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