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Topics - Jason Morningstar

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Apocalypse World / How to handle pregnancy?
« on: February 07, 2011, 01:35:36 PM »
So my  player character is pregnant and she's going to have a baby. I'm trying to figure out how to do that by the rules. It's an inevitability, something that is going to happen pretty much on schedule barring some calamity.

Set a threat countdown clock? That's for stuff that is conditional and explicitly preventable. I guess you can prevent the birth of a child, sort of, but that seems off. But there needs to be a way of saying "you go into labor now". Or would the threat be "the baby comes too early" or maybe "the baby dies"?

Do you just have to fall back on "what the fiction demands" for when she goes into labor?

A custom move? For the process of delivery, definitely.

How would you handle this?

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Dungeon World / After-Action Report
« on: January 09, 2011, 03:16:12 PM »
We played DW last night for the first time and it was fun, but not amazingly fun. More on that in a second.

So we're four guys, all of whom have played AW at least once, a few of us quite a bit. We were all excited to try Dungeon World. Three of the four read the rules and handouts before we got together. Our session was about four hours long.

We all loved the character types, the alignment based XP, and especially the bonds, which work so much better than AW history to me. As GM I really found the monster section useful in building out my own stuff. I didn't print out enough moves sheets.

I set up a pretty broad setting with a variety of potential adventures and pressure points. It was all based around humans colonizing the ancestral lands of the frog-men, deforesting and looking for gold in their swamps. It was, as Ara pointed out, a cross between Ursula K. LeGuin and an episode of Captain Planet. There were a pair of cool dungeons and a wizard's tower, but they went for the more social adventure and tried to discourage a bunch of squatters from illegally invading frog-man lands. So - swamp excitement, social parley, fighting frog-men, that sort of thing.

It went OK, I thought, but we struggled at times and found stuff in the rules that did not ring true. I really hope the other guys will jump in because I can't remember everything.

Some issues - the Thief's signature move guarantees that he will never just steal a thing and get away clean. We were all taken aback by this. It's his thing!

We had a hard time with the synthesis of AW and D&D styles in combat - we did it AW style, but AW is sort of predicated on the PCs being very powerful and competent, and foes being individuals or gangs. When we had a bunch of individual monsters, it got weird. At one point Clinton's cleric recruited three miners to help in the defense of the squatter camp, so I said he could treat them like hirelings. That didn't work well, because the hireling move assumes they want money and autonomy. Also, the three guys gave him a +3, and I didn't know how to deal with monster damage to him and his "hirelings". It was just awkward and there was no guidance.

I was really hoping my deep experience with traditional D&D style play would be useful, since I struggled with running straight AW a little, but it wasn't any help at all. I still had a hard time internalizing what I was supposed to do and what I could do in terms of making moves. This isn't DW's problem but it impacted our game.

I made the mistake of giving some of my frog dudes 3 damage, which was completely soaked by one guy's plate armor. They'd need to make a special move to even have a chance of harming him and I didn't realize that until too late. I'd suggest assigning a die type to all normal monster damage, so that even the weakest at 1d4 could maybe hurt a dude.

I felt the strong desire to directly provide challenge, which is a very D&D impulse but seemed at odds with the rules for DW.

Everyone commented that the mechanical spread was harsher than AW. I'm OK with that. We started with second level guys and they all leveled up mid-game, and the increase in effectiveness was pronounced. I think they'd just get more potent, so this may be a non-issue.

I'll add more if stuff occurs to me. We all had a good time, but we all had a better time playing Apocalypse World straight. I hope some feedback is useful, because I love DW and want it to be as excellent as possible!


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Apocalypse World / Monolithic foreign powers
« on: October 08, 2010, 02:08:51 PM »
I'm reading Robert Fisk's book Pity the Nation, which is about Lebanon from the fifties through the eighties, and it is a real life apocalypse. Ruined infrastructure, criminal gangs, murderous lunatics, squalid refugee camps, ideological genocide, child soldiers, you name it. An extremely bad scene.

Central to the Lebanese tragedy is the intervention of massive external forces - Israel, Syria, Iran, the UN - all of which pull the strings of various paramilitaries and militias in a huge proxy war. The people in the middle - the Lebanese, and Palestinian refugees - do all the suffering.

So I'm imagining Apocalypse Worldifying this situation - there's still a functional world out there, but right here there is an apocalypse. And you can't get out, because there are large, sophisticated armies in every direction that won't let you. You can work with them, or for them, or through them, but you can't fight them or tell them what to do. They can hook you up, but they can also leave you out to dry when the political wind changes. You need to take sides and seek favor and protection from one of the monsters deciding the fate of your land.

Could this even work? It's essentially setting up arbitrary limits to agency, which is a weird thing given the wide open nature of Apocalypse World. You'd have to say "You absolutely cannot fuck with the guys on the border. They are an order of magnitude more powerful than you, full stop. But if you want some guns and cash, all they want is a public display of loyalty and for you to take over this village and slit a few throats. One of their officers may ride along to observe."

Thoughts?

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Apocalypse World / One-Shot advice?
« on: September 27, 2010, 12:40:05 PM »
I ran a one-shot this weekend, my first time GMing Apocalypse World. I was lucky to have two guys at the table (out of 3 players) who had run the game previously, which was a big help.

The whole session was just OK. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe more interesting and difficult situations for the players to address, but it felt a little flat to me. Part of this may have been the accelerated and sub-optimal one-shot format, for sure. I can see the payoff of extended play.

For the one-shot I set up a pretty straightforward situation. Local hardholder is fat and happy and into appeasement and delay, evil outsiders are eager to devour her holding and its valuable orchard. The PCs aligned themselves with the hardholder against the bad guys by choice - one guy was a local (and the hardholder's lover), one guy was a merchant's bodyguard, one guy was the town's paid muscle. It was a good setup and we tied them all in to NPCs pretty well. I also authored a locational threat and a disease threat, but these weren't brought to the fore by player interest or role choices and I couldn't really hit them all.

One guy played a gunlugger with all the gunlugger stuff (he was his own gang and did extra harm) that made him, by himself, a match for the largest, meanest threats I had created. And that's cool, I know it isn't my job to create challenges, but it made it hard for me to make his life interesting. Everybody at the table knew that the bad guys could never succeed by force majeur, which sort of sucked the danger out of the situation. When there was a fight, he realized that the enemy gang could not even harm him. They feared him, he was a god of war.

So if this were a long term game, I'd totally build up the nice developing NPC relationships and then have the bad guys use those as ratlines to get into the hold, bypassing the god of war. I can see how that would go and it would be fun. But in a one-shot, there wasn't space to develop that. My front countdowns were all "they try to be nice, they make veiled threats, random violence, directed violence", which totally didn't work. I was tempted to ramp up the badassery of my rival gangs, and that is not a good sign.

Should I have rewritten my threat countdowns as soon as I saw that their approach was totally FUBAR?

I guess I'm asking for advice on how to structure a one-shot game, which obviously needs a strong situation but can't be completely informed by player choices.

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other lumpley games / [Dogs] Give; keep two dice
« on: September 04, 2010, 02:03:03 PM »
What's the rule about giving and then keeping two dice for the next conflict? It's not in the older edition I have.

Thanks!

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blood & guts / Tone and Color
« on: September 01, 2010, 10:14:56 PM »
So I was looking at the character books and seeing a ton of color. My first impulse, for setting the game's tone where I want it, is to change all that. For example:

I don't like the names, so I'd change them out for ones I like.
I think walking around in bondage gear is lame, so snip, replace with "practical clothes" or whatever..
All the places where you can choose "fat body" gone, nobody is fat in our future, maybe replaced by "skeletal body" or something, not messing with the range of options but rather the particulars.

Just words, replacements, substitutions.

First question - am I missing something? I totally get the notion of a shared experience across play groups and I love that stuff myself, but the stuff AW wants to be universal hits me wrong. I don't think this will make the slightest difference but thought I'd check.

Second question - can this go further? If I don't want stupid explosions, can I just remove the grenade tube as a Gunlugger option? This seems like it could horn in a lot more on player agency and letting them set things up in the first session.

Even further, no Driver? I don't like cars, say. Can it just not be an option without causing any problems?

I'm interested in figuring out the unintended consequences of this sort of pre-editing and tinkering with color. How much it totally cool, how much is weak sauce, how much will actively break things?

I know I could accomplish this by having an up-front conversation, to a point, but I like the idea of laying out some tonal parameters right at the start. This is the world we live in, here are the things we do, here is how we look.

Thoughts?

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Apocalypse World / hold 1+1
« on: September 01, 2010, 06:53:33 PM »
What does "on a 10+ hold 1+1" mean?


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