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Topics - Paul T.

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1
This is inspired by the "Skinner effectiveness" thread, which has received some fantastic replies and some great discussion. I've never had trouble understanding the Skinner.

But the Driver... now that playbook, I don't really understand. (To the point where I'd be tempted to pack it away when playing AW.)

Sure, there's the surface appeal of "Hey, I got a cool car". But is that all there is to it?

I can see that it potentially enforces a larger geographical scope for the game, as well. That's... somewhat interesting.

If you love playing the Driver (or MCing for one), why is that? What's under the hood, what makes it cool, what makes it tick?

2
the nerve core / It's a Mad Mad Mad Max Fury Road [video]
« on: May 13, 2017, 04:20:01 PM »
https://vimeo.com/132968940

A delightful mashup.

3
Are you about to play a *World game, and feeling restricted by the list of playbooks? Are you looking for a way to freshen up your next game, whether personally, or as a group?

Before you get to hacking (or before you get to writing up new playbooks), try this custom character creation move:

---

When you pick up a playbook, whether familiar, beloved, or overlooked, ask the group - or ask yourself - what is most archetypal about this playbook?

"What is the one thing that, to us, makes a person The Hardholder?"

Now, create the character, inverting that assumption:

When you invert an assumption, choose one of the following:

* The character plays entirely opposite to type, in terms of their personality, philosophy, outlook, or goals.
* The character occupies a station or role in society entirely opposite to expectations.
* The character is perceived by others (by society) as being someone totally different from what you would expect for that playbook.

As you look through the moves, gear, and Hx choices, justify each one. Some will be immediately obvious; others will be head-scratchers. Dig in and find the nugget around which you will form this new character.

If you are the MC, use that idea to form a landscape - physical, social, and psychic - which reflects that character's position and values.


Apocalypse World

Assumption: The Angel is a healer; someone who cares about helping people, and wishes to eradicate disease and suffering.

Inversion: In your game, the Angel is a sadist, who invents - or creates! -
medical problems, wounds, and imaginary "plagues" in order to scare others into submission and garner power.

Justification: This Angel believes that only those whose insides she has seen can truly be trusted. She cuts and slices the world so she can find some semblance of security for herself.


Assumption: The Skinner is a gorgeous, nubile, desirable creature.

Inversion: In your game, the Skinner is an aging soldier with a limp.

Justification: There is something so magnetic about their stories, the twinkle in their eye, that everyone admires them, respects them, and wishes to be close to them. Their words soothe the hurt and excite the young, sowing the seeds for dreams of grandeur; their tales of a lost past are dangerously seductive.

Let yourself listen too long and you'll find yourself in their bed.


Assumption: The Brainer is the weirdest wacko around, the most twisted and creepy individual.

Inversion: In your game, the Brainer is the only level-headed, sane person left. In the aftermath of the apocalypse, everyone else has lost their mind, and she is the last even-keeled survivor, clutching desperately onto reason and sensibility.

Justification: Your Brainer's desperation has attracted the attention of the maelstrom, which has bestowed upon her powerful psychic gifts. Will she use her whisper projection, violation glove, and in-puppet strings to try to restore sense and sanity to those around her? Does she see her newfound weirdness as a problem to solve (the final erosion of everything she has been clinging to), or a tool to embrace?


Monsterhearts

Assumption: The Ghost is a nobody; a social outcast, overlooked, ignored, and easily forgotten.

Inversion: In your game, the Ghost is the most popular kid in school. He is the quarterback of the football team and Homecoming King.

Justification: His popularity has reached such a peak that other students have started to see him as above them or beyond them. Suddenly he realizes that no one really cares; no one sees his vulnerability or his pains. There is no one he can confide in, for no one would ever believe that he, the Homecoming King, could ever have any real problems in life! At the peak of his popularity... he's never felt more alone.


And so on, of course.

Pick a different assumption each time.

Try it. Have fun.

4
Apocalypse World / Roll+Hx to help me with the Help/Interfere move
« on: April 28, 2017, 04:39:22 PM »
A quick question about best practices when it comes to the help/interfere move:

On a miss, the player is instructed to be "prepared for the worst" - generally, an MC move.

Sometimes, in play, the help/interfere move has clear fictional context, like when Dusk is trying to manipulate someone, and I decide to try to help by drawing my blade and locking eyes with onlookers. In such a case, it's really easy to see fictional consequences to a miss.

However, in some interactions, the help/interfere move has less clear fictional context. For example, when two PCs are making moves against each other - let's say they're both reading each other, or they're in a fight and both seizing by force. If either or both decide they'd like to help or interfere:

1. How strict are you about requiring fictional context for the move? Do you demand it to be described or justified fictionally, or is it the player's option to call on the move as an attempt to gain a mechanical advantage?

Sometimes, making four rolls and being really strict about "to do it, do it" feels rather like jumping through hoops in a situation like this - what we really want to know is whether the person manages to get a read on the other, or the outcome of the fight, after all, not to be sidetracked into a whole conversation about how your character interferes and what else might be going on with them.

However, if we just roll the dice and make the moves (to get to the main roll we're interested in), then we get this:

2. If anyone misses their help/interfere roll, how does the MC make a move in response? We've got all this other stuff hanging over our heads - the other three rolls going on, getting back to the fictional action we're invested in, and so forth.

It becomes very tempting to just skip it, and to say that the missed help/interfere "did nothing", moving on to the next roll, and playing out the scene. Is that the desired dynamic here, or should we be playing it differently?

3. What's your preferred way to handle the timing of help/interfere: before the roll you're trying to affect, simultaneous with it, or afterwards (where we only roll if it's close enough that successful help/intereference could make a difference)?

I suppose it might be really helpful to have some "default miss clauses" for such moves, since, unlike "playing in turns" (as we do in most of the game), handling MC moves and misses on a bunch of simultaneous rolls is significantly trickier.

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on handling this kind of situation - I bet there are some fun and clever ways to make this feel smooth and easy at the table.

5
Apocalypse World / Read a Sitch - on a miss (advice?)
« on: April 28, 2017, 02:54:44 AM »
I rather like the way the 2nd Edition rules tell us to "ask anyway" on a miss.

However, there are two things which that could feel a bit uncomfortable in play, and I'd like to ask you how you handle them

The first is simple:

1. When you "ask anyway" on a miss, do you also take +1forward to act on the answer, or not? The text doesn't clarify (but implies that you do). The examples appear not to have been updated from 1st Ed.

For some people, it feels a bit too much like a 7-9, in that case, so we've been thinking that it might be more clearly a miss if the +1forward does not come into play.

2. How do you answer the question?

The first that comes to mind is that the answer can be some extremely bad news. This *feels* right in terms of the conversation, but introduces a funny wrinkle:

* If you then follow up with a move which hinges on that bad news, does the PC take +1forward? That only makes sense if the move doesn't directly address the problem being discussed.

For instance, if I read a sitch and I ask "What should I be on the lookout for?", the logical answer might be, "Plover has been stewing this whole time, and he's finally losing it. He's about to smash your face in."

However, if I am supposed to grant +1forward, then the PC should have an opportunity to avoid this danger, and then it doesn't feel any different than a 7-9 outcome. We asked a question, and now we're back to normal play, except the PC has a +1forward to whatever they decide to do.

On the other hand, if I'm intended to follow up with a "hard" move (like Plover smashing the PC in the face), then the whole process of asking "What should I be on the lookout for?" feels a little bit like a pointless dance. What good did it do for the PC to ask that question, if they couldn't respond to it?

What do you find to be the "best practices" for you at your table? Has this ever come up?

Thanks!

6
Apocalypse World / 2nd Edition and Seize by Force (and similar moves)
« on: January 15, 2017, 05:16:40 PM »
I have a question for anyone who has now had a chance to play both 1st and 2nd Edition AW.

A notable difference - at least to me - is the change in the "miss" clause for some important moves, like Seize by Force. In the 1st edition, it was a basic move, so a miss could be any kind of MC move, including sometimes very punishing ones. The 2nd edition miss clause is an exchange of harm, and, often, something that looks like "success" for the character (e.g. choosing to "take definite hold of it"). Given many PCs who have big guns and lots of armor, an exchange of harm can range from an inconvenience to something safely ignored to a full destruction of the enemy.

How has this affected your play? What are interesting "side effects" on your group, or how the game develops? Has it led to different player behaviour? Different MC behaviour? More assertive low-Hard characters? Anything else?

Feel free to discuss other moves, as well - Seize by Force is just, perhaps, the most obvious example of such a change.

7
Apocalypse World / Read a person - do you use holds?
« on: December 02, 2016, 12:31:35 AM »
This topic is a rough survey of sorts:

When you use the "read a person" move, how often you do use the "holds" mechanic and play out the rest of the conversation?

I've seen a lot of people ask all the questions right away (just like for Read a Sitch), so I'm curious how many don't do it that way, but keep the hold and spend it during the conversation.

If you do:

What makes it work, or what encourages people to do it?

Does it improve your game?

8
While this article is already out-of-date in terms of its political statements, I think it's vital reading for anyone playing a post-apocalyptic RPG. There's some thought-provoking stuff in there, and I encourage you to think of ways to apply it to your game of Apocalypse World.

http://thebaffler.com/blog/fear-feminist-future-laurie-penny

Do you have any thoughts on how this kind of dynamic has appeared (or failed to appear) in your game?

How might you do things differently in your next game (or even the next session)?

Let's talk.

9
Freebooting Venus / Vincent: your "disappointing experience"
« on: September 16, 2016, 04:37:05 AM »
Vincent,

You mentioned somewhere that you had a really disappointing experience playing "Hand to Mouth..." with some teenagers. Have you written about this anywhere? What happened?

How similar is "Hand to Mouth..." to "Freebooting Venus"? (They sound pretty similar, from the capsule description...)

10
Apocalypse World / Hacking First Session: good, bad, or unnecessary?
« on: February 16, 2016, 06:58:09 AM »
A quick idea for a First Session hack:

Instead of establishing starting Hx by going around the table and saying a few things about your character and someone else's character, establish Hx by playing out a scene, one by one, between each Hx-linked pair of characters.

Your first scenes, therefore, aren't just "following them around", but "follow them around as they interact with the other PCs". We might see how a Brainer watches someone sleep, or how an Angel patches up the Gunlugger.

Otherwise, use all the principles and moves as usual: in particular, ask lots of provocative questions and allow everything to settle in.

Afterwards, have each player use the End of Session Hx move, to say who knows them better than they used to (or doesn't). Continue play normally.

Thoughts?

11
other lumpley games / [Poison'd] Mild-Mannered Piracy
« on: February 04, 2016, 11:07:14 PM »
We started a Poison'd game yesterday (and will hopefully get the chance to squeeze in at least a couple more sessions). Lots of great stuff about this game. My favourite aspect is how "Pick-up-and-play" it is. You read through the first few pages, and you're basically ready to go.

(The GM has a LOT of moving parts to learn, and some guidance on which ones not to worry about right away would have been great - like, for instance, all the uses of Xs in fights - but for the players it's very easy to just pick up and play. And even for the GM, there's no "prep" aside from reviewing the rules and, maybe, making a list of pirate names.)

I have a few questions and observations, but the main issue we struck right away is that everyone apparently decided it would be fun to "play against type", and made their pirates reasonable, "let's talk this through", and "I don't want to be in charge" types. Mild-mannered pirates, huh? Interesting. It didn't break the game, but it was definitely a bit challenging. Since I, as GM, kept expecting them to do something a little more active, the game dragged a little, and it took us about 2 1/2 hours of play just to settle the Tom Reed and election of a new captain issues. We enjoyed the attention to detail and learned lots about the characters, though.

One reason I think this happened has to do with ambitions: all but one ambition (a single pirate wanted to be captain) were very long-term things. (You can't meaningfully act on "I want to be respected by higher society" in the first hour or two of play.) This seems like a good thing to keep an eye on in the future.

I think that, from now on, at the beginning of a game I will...

Tell each player to choose at least one immediate, short-term ambition, whatever the others may be.

Tell each player it should be something they can imagine how they could pursue almost immediately, just by being on the ship.

One interesting thing happened:

One of the players, who ended up being the Captain, wanted to do so surreptitiously. He pretended to be reluctantly chosen for the role, while scheming to manipulate those around him to support his candidature. (We even used a flashback to describe him "priming" one of the other pirates to nominate him.)

This was a bit awkward in play. I wasn't sure whether this kind of scheming falls into "free play" (i.e. none of the rules were being triggered, unless he made a bargain) or whether some of it could be covered by "stealth and deceit". Talking to others and manipulating them is a bit of a grey area; sometimes we did one and sometimes the other, but neither was *great*.

Any advice on this point from experienced Poison'd folks?

(I also made a few minor adjustments to the rules I'd like to discuss, but I'll see if there's any discussion to be had about these points first.)

12
Freebooting Venus / Spells and Choosing
« on: November 23, 2015, 03:25:20 AM »
This is somewhat off-topic, but it's on my mind so much I can't help but blurt it out:

It seems to me that there's some serious magic possible with the spell rules... if, under certain circumstances, you don't *choose* an option, but two options come true at the same time.

I can't decide what those circumstances would be, though. Perhaps when you roll 3 dice you choose two of them, or when choosing to make the spell unsettled you can choose two of the dice...

I'm really not sure how to slot it into the existing system.

The various combinations of spell effects make for some very cool magic, however! There's got to be something to be done with that.

13
Freebooting Venus / Statting Up Our Own Monsters
« on: November 22, 2015, 06:03:09 PM »
Vincent,

I'm looking at the Bestiary and trying to see if there are guidelines we should follow for assigning stats to monsters (and NPCs).

Generally speaking, it's not a big deal - we've all probably done it before in various games. However, I have two specific questions:

1. Is there anything in particular we should know about Harm ranges and choices, other than what we can glean by imitating your own choices in the Bestiary as provided? (Some monsters have a large range at one end of the scale, others at another range.)

I'm guessing this is not crucial, we can just fool around with different options "by ear".

2. More importantly, how do we distinguish between assigning a Monster a Violent score and a "Bonus to Spend"? They seem somewhat like overlapping concepts (both add to your ability to spend on the Fighting move), so I'm not sure if they "map" to anything concrete in a reliable way.

Thanks!

14
Freebooting Venus / Ideology skill
« on: November 13, 2015, 07:48:00 PM »
What is the intent behind this skill?

It is at once the most interesting and the least clearly-explained skill. Why doesn't it confer any bonuses, unlike all the other skills?

Why should a player choose this skill?

Will the details be covered in an upcoming "module" (like "Through the Jasminite Gates"), in the same way that Warfare seems related to "Banners of War", Wizardry to the Grimoire, and so forth? For what it's worth, it would be a huge selling-point for me, although of course I can't speak for a general audience.

15
Freebooting Venus / Interrupting and Saves, the Conversation
« on: November 12, 2015, 04:32:20 AM »
Vincent,

This question concerns the interplay between the conversation of play, Saves, and the Interrupt move.

Is it fair to assume that the conversation in Freebooting Venus is more-or-less the same as in AW? I'm operating under that assumption, since there's nothing to contradict that in the text you've shared with us.

If so, it would really help us to have some clarification on how it interacts with Interrupting and Saves.

In AW, if there is a danger, the MC announces it, and then asks the player "what do you do?" Then the player can react and try to make a move to avoid it (which often turns into "acting under fire").

Is it the same in Venus? Or is it more like D&D, where the MC might say, "Hey, there's this danger! Make a Save to see if it gets you or not"?

In AW, there are very few situations where a roll doesn't come from a player's declared action (only a handful of custom moves, start-of-session moves, and other "reactive" moves come to mind). I'm not sure how to fit Saves into this framework.

Furthermore, my second question is related:

When is it ok to use the Interrupt move, and when should it be a "Quick" Save instead?

From the wording of the move ("Interrupt...") I get the impression that it is more or less like the "interfere" option in AW. Someone is doing something, and you move to interfere with them, hoping to get there first. This implies that the move is not a defensive one - you don't get to "interrupt" when something comes flying at you out of the darkness, and it's not a generic "how gets there first?" move, a la initiative roll.

However, one of the ghosts' duties can be to "alert you to danger". That sounds more like Save territory ("avoid a falling boulder"). However, mechanically, this ghostly duty boosts a character's ability to Interrupt others. This, in contrast, implies that the Interrupt move *can* be used to avoid danger or unexpected threats.

Third, the rules aren't entirely clear on when and how Saves come into play. For instance:

If I set up a danger, and the player doesn't make particular precautions to avoid it ("on a golden platter", in AW terms), like running through an arrow under fire from stone darts, should I grant them a Save to avoid or mitigate the effects, or not?

If I cast a spell on a victim, do they get a Save to avoid the effects?

Etc.

There are lots of different possible interpretations, but the basic idea is that it's hard to see exactly how "Saves" (which are rolls the MC asks the players to make) interact with the roleplaying conversation, a la AW. They serve a specific role in games which don't have the sorts of moves that Venus has (like D&D), but here I'm not sure where they do or do not overlap with other existing rolls and procedures (as in the case of the spells).

This could really use some clarification for us! Thanks.

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