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Topics - PeterBB

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blood & guts / Number of starting character moves?
« on: October 04, 2011, 01:41:11 AM »
Hey Vincent,

You mention in the "how the stats balance" thread that there's a rationale behind which playbooks get two starting moves, and which get three. I am working on some custom playbooks for a reskin, and I'd love to hear what that rationale is. :-)

Apocalypse World / How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« on: September 11, 2010, 09:03:17 PM »
Ok, so my Angel just switched playbooks to Brainer, and took in-brain puppet strings as one of her moves. This is awesome, because it means she'll be doing even more brain fuckery, but I don't quite get how the move is supposed to work.

First off, what sorts of commands are acceptable? Her first use of it was a pretty open-ended one, timewise ("don't leave the building"). At what point does that command become "fulfilled"? Or is that not an acceptable command, because it doesn't have an obvious criterion for fulfillment?

Secondly, what happens if they don't fulfill the command? Does the brainer get the right to brainfry them for the rest of their life, or is there some sort of time limit?

The specific situation: My player ("Ace") decided to command her brother, who is currently possessed by a ghost named Megan, not to leave the building. Ace later got into a situation where it made sense to have Megan around, and used Lost on her. So she came to Ace, and Ace had no reason to fry her brain. However, by the rules as written, it seems like she now has permanent leverage over Megan. She can't fulfill the command ever, so there's no way for her to use up Ace's hold. Ace can just threaten to brainfry her if she doesn't do everything she says.

That seems like it's almost certainly not intended behavior, am I missing something? If not, any suggestions for a fix?

I still have a soft spot for the old-style games with an impossibly detailed setting and an absurd number of books. There's something cool about playing in a defined world that extends beyond the borders of your character's lives, and having the details of the fiction backed up by mechanical effects. Unfortunately, playing such games is never as fun as reading about them, because they're pretty invariably poorly designed, and there's nothing especially thrilling about having to look up what guns White Knight employees use, and what their damage value is.

I don't think this means that such a game couldn't be done right, however. The two big problems, it seems to me, are that:

1) The fiction and the mechanics are pretty loosely linked. The differences between a Horizon security guard and a Triad enforcer might be pretty huge in the fiction, but they both have ten hitboxes and a 3 in Pistols.

2) On the other hand, in a feeble attempt to respond to problem #1, there are often so many fiddly little modifiers and interactions that you need to look up six different statistics just to shoot a guy. You need to know the mook's Body and Armor, and also your bullets' armor-piercing value, and also the penalty for fighting in a semi-dark room, and also...

What is needed is a more modular set of mechanics with a tighter connection to the fiction. It seems like Vx might have given us that.

What I'm imagining is essentially a world built on custom moves. This isn't so different from the way fronts work in standard AW, except that a lot more would be predefined by the game text. Consider the following moves:


When you are stopped by a Horizon security guard and decide violence is the answer, roll+hard. On a 10+, it goes swimmingly. On a 7-9, choose two:

-He gets away, and will almost certainly cause you more trouble later.
-He gets a com message off to a superior. Backup is coming.
-His cyber-eye was recording. They've now got you on file.
-He hurts you in the struggle. Take 1-harm.

When you are squeezed by a Triad enforcer and decide violence is the answer, roll+hard. On a 10+, all three. On a 7-9, choose two.

-You successfully get out of your obligation.
-The Triad higher-ups don't hear about it.
-You haven't made an enemy out of the enforcer, because he's either cowed or dead.


Obviously I haven't thought about these particular moves for very long, but I hope they get across the general idea. They're very different and tied to the fiction, and they're easy to apply.

You can even pull fancier tricks, like the ones Vincent and John Harper are talking about in their Knife & Candle hack:


When you have the Astral Perception quality, add the following question to the Read a Person basic move:

-Does this person have any hidden magical talents?

When you have the Unimpressive quality, remove the following option from Seize By Force:

-You impress, dismay or frighten your enemy


I don't have any concrete plans for what the actual game would be (all the examples are from Shadowrun, because that's the rules-heavy game I'm most familiar with, but they're just by way of illustration), so I can't really ask for specific feedback. I guess I'm wondering if this seems at all plausible. Are there any obvious pitfalls? Anything I should definitely keep in mind if I pursue something like this?

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