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Topics - JonWake

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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

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). 

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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