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Messages - Jeff Russell

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1
brainstorming & development / Re: Lovecraft world
« on: November 15, 2011, 04:27:56 PM »
I've been playing a lot of the Fantasy Flight Lovecraftian games this weekend (Mansions of Madness, Elder Sign, et cetera) and was thinking that AW would work pretty well for a Lovecraft setting, so I am not surprised to see a cool hack like this one.

I would just say that the Bad Ass getting a fair share of both Operator and Gunlugger type moves might be giving that playbook too broad a niche, in terms of sharing with others. Have you noticed anything like that in play? On the other hand, it does all hang together very well. You might get some more 20's flavor by just flat out calling him a "Mobster".

Also, in your play, have things veered more investigative or more action-y or somewhere in between? While I've been thinking that fronts would do a great job of representing conspiracies and rituals to summon ancient horrors, I was also wondering if the sort of "find terrible things and try to stop them" would be conducive to the slow-burn inter-character drama AW is so good at. I'd appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on that. At any rate, it looks neat!

2
Apocalypse World / Re: Introducing: the Scrapper
« on: February 27, 2011, 06:06:30 PM »
Awesome! I haven't had a chance to play this, so if you use, let me know how it goes. My only thought on your move is that I'm a big fan of "on a 10, pick 3 (or 2), on a 7-9 pick 1" type of moves, as that means the situation is always challenging (not boring), but the player gets a say in how it goes well. So I'd probably flip it around where you pick 3 or 1 and make it stuff like "it's not a crap location" and "it's not inhabited" and such. Unless you're planning on this snowballing into the regular scavenging roll.

3
Goblin World / Re: Art and Inspiration
« on: February 13, 2011, 02:59:08 AM »
From your descriptions I had kind of assumed that "Goblin Quest" and its sequels by Jim C. Hines were already a big inspiration, but if you're not familiar, they'd fit right in with the view of goblin life I got from your AP.

4
roleplaying theory, hardcore / Evading the Color-Mechanic Disconnect
« on: February 05, 2011, 11:02:32 PM »
So, this topic is largely continued from "The Problem(s) With In a Wicked Age" but a) the most recent post to that topic seems to be from a spam bot, and b) I wanted to touch on a wider scale here. I wasn't positive which forum this should go in, so please move it somewhere more appropriate if this is off topic. But enough introduction:

Vincent has mentioned that "In a Wicked Age" suffers from the resolution mechanic not having enough connection to the fictional events of the conflict. You *can* go blow by blow and you *should*, but you don't *have to*. Dogs and Apocalypse World both do pretty good at this in a couple different ways, as Vincent has talked about elsewhere: Dogs conflicts plain don't work if you don't describe your raise actions, because it leaves the other side with nothing to respond to, and AW roots the moves in concrete fictional cues, and then has mostly fictional consequences that are spelled out rather than straight mechanical consequences.

So, my question is: what are some other games that *succeed* in tightly linking the fiction to the resolution (and other) mechanics, and how do they do it? Also, if anyone wants to delve deeper into how AW does it, I'd love to hear that too. I'm starting to get a rough idea for how this works, but am having trouble visualizing what it looks like other than the specific examples of moves and DiTV resolution.

5
brainstorming & development / Re: Ice World - A pleistocene hack
« on: January 30, 2011, 09:40:35 PM »
Neat, sounds interesting.

Oh yeah, and if you'd like some insights into the 'weird' side of things here, I can't recommend Joseph Campbell's 'Primitive Mythology' (Masks of God Part I) enough.

6
brainstorming & development / Re: Ice World - A pleistocene hack
« on: January 30, 2011, 07:34:42 PM »
This sounds really cool! How realistic are you going for? Cos I feel like if you go with playbooks, your options will sort of be limited to "hunter" and "gatherer", since specialization was not the name of the game in primitive groups. You could always add in a "chief" and a "shaman" type, and the gender-based playbooks in "Sagas of the Icelanders" might have some useful material.

I think the focus on tools is really sweet, though.

7
Apocalypse World / Re: A lush, green apocalypse
« on: January 20, 2011, 11:19:10 PM »
I'd second people's mentions of safety and add a mention of disease. Read some accounts of Japanese soldiers who got cut off from supplies in WWII on tropical islands, especially New Guinea. Everything there will make you sick or eat you or both if given half a chance. Not to mention it gives you a good excuse for a lower tech Apocalypse, as corrosion would be a nightmare.

This is all assuming "lush, green = tropical", where you might just mean forests and plants and what not. Naussicaa of the Valley of the Wind has huge, beautiful fungal forests growing in the radiation zones of a post-apocalyptic world, but they're super infectious/poisonous to normal plants and animals and they are full of giant bug monsters.

8
Apocalypse World / Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« on: January 20, 2011, 12:54:08 AM »
As to the not using a move all the time, I've noticed that the moves list is pretty darn good a covering "what you do when you GM AW", so even though I often don't look at the list and go "ah yes, this is the move I'm doing", when that's the case I almost always am able to look back and go "oh, well I suppose that was ____ move".

9
blood & guts / Re: Investigative moves
« on: January 19, 2011, 01:42:13 AM »
When you leave a suspect to stew, the MM can advance a countown clock, but hold 1 (max 3). Spend hold 1 for 1 to take +1 on any roll to break the suspect.

I dunno if it breaks the "always misdirect" principle, but I especially like the interaction here between a player move and one of the MC's fronts, very cool.

10
roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Designing interactions between players
« on: January 19, 2011, 01:36:03 AM »
Yeah, I didn't figure you meant "narration authority", but as I started trying to address what you *were* talking about, I realized that no examples came directly to mind, so I tried to get my brain going by coming at it sideways-like.

At any rate, I haven't yet played Mouse Guard either, just given a read through, but if my understanding of the rules and some of the actual play reports I've read is correct, then basically a session has a "GM's Turn" and a "Players' Turn". The GM's turn is the actual mission, and the dialogue is structured pretty traditionally with the GM setting scenes, describing dangers and challenges, and asking the players what they do and otherwise prompting them as necessary.

The Players' Turn, on the other hand, is the sort of end of session/between mission downtime. The players are explicitly instructed to describe their own undertakings to heal, train, and other "taking care of business" actions. The number of actions you get is affected by checks you earned during the mission and goes round robin between the players. In this phase, the players frame scenes (with some help from the GM if they want it) describe what they're up to, and call on the GM to oppose any tests they make for things like training. Again, this is just from my remembering what I've read through once, my rulebook is at home in another state.

I also haven't played Archipelago yet, but it's pretty exciting to me. Thinking about it some more, I believe that even more significant to the "flow of conversation" thing you're talking about than the round robin scene framing might be the ritual phrases. If you're not familiar, they're things like "That might not be so easy. . .", "Try another way", and a few others. What it seems like they do (anybody more familiar with the game, please correct any deficiencies I put forth) is to give specific permission to do things that people collaborating creatively will do - interrupt to offer better versions, ask for more detail on something that seems cool or unclear, and so forth. I feel like that will have a more subtle but important impact on the way the player to player interactions go than the more "story significant" rules that have each player take turns framing a scene and controlling the extras.

11
roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Designing interactions between players
« on: January 17, 2011, 12:35:21 AM »
Simon, that's a really interesting point! At first blush, all I can think about is that a lot of games have approached this notion with narration rights type rules, like the Mountain Witch, but I think it's a little different to establish what players get to say stuff about than it is to say what the baseline order/type of interaction is. Ummm, Mouse Guard's GM and player turns specify to a degree the kinds of interactions and level of control of the conversation to be had during them, and InSpectre's confessionals invite a certain type of grabbing the reins of conversation.

I also have gotten the impression that certain games do this, but I'm not familiar with them enough to say so (like Breaking the Ice, maybe? Polaris? or is that in the 'overly formal' category you mentioned?).

Oh! Archipelago lays out pretty clearly who gets the main say in talking over the course of scenes. Or am I veering too far away from what you're talking about and into 'authority over details of the fiction' space?

12
blood & guts / Re: Why is there no "what do I know about X?" move?
« on: January 11, 2011, 08:10:44 PM »
I think my somewhat glib answer would be as you alluded that there *are* moves for this, they're just the MC's instead of the players' :) I feel like the "pull play along" can be accomplished pretty well by responding with MC moves guided by the principles, being part of a prepped front/threat, or whatever.

On the other hand, it would be a way to a) emphasize sharp as a representation of what your character knows, rather than just relying on what makes stuff not-boring, which may be a direction you want to go, and b) to prod the MC into doing more than "Oh, well, they're, um, salty, and flat, and they're over there".

I'd view the "b)" up there as potentially more useful, but perhaps not necessary for everyone. I'd see that as a way to prompt the MC "hey, I care about this thing enough to want more than what you're giving me". I'm not sure that's necessary (again, I think the principles/agenda/moves point the MC towards figuring out what players want more of and delivering in interesting and unexpected ways) but it would be explicit.

Oh, and I just realized that the opportunity to give the MC permission to spread falsehoods on a miss might be pretty awesome, so I lied, I think that's probably the most interesting/valuable aspect of a move like that :)

13

Guidelines for narrative? Obviously a failed roll is a delicious opportunity for trouble, but do you often make bad things happen on those 7-9 rolls or use moves like "announce future trouble" after rolls of 10+? Fizzlepocket's dice seem to only have 5s and 6s on them. I want my game to be loaded with conflict and interesting choices at every opportunity. I felt like I was defaulting to my usual GMing technique and could do a better job of using Moves, which I apparently should always be doing.


I haven't gotten to run DW yet, so take this with a grain of salt! Also, I'm not sure how familiar you are with 'vanilla' AW, so please excuse me if I'm telling you things you know already.

In regular AW, the notion is that your MC/DM moves are what you do when it's "your turn". This sounds like it'd either be very formal or very hard to figure out, but in practice it's not. It sounds like you have loads of experience DMing, so you know when it's your turn to say something (like when everyone looks at you expectantly after they open a door). On the other hand, as you point out, when players fail rolls, you're given a bit of "bonus" permission to jump in with something complicating (like the broken sword or putting the carpenter in extra danger or whatever, which it sounds like you nailed).

As for 7-9 and 10+ results, John Harper pointed out that these are *successes* so you don't want to undermine what the player accomplished with the roll, but you do want to keep things rolling and interesting. So as for your specific question "do you announce future badness on 10+s?" I would look at it more like you resolve whatever it is that the 10+ accomplished. If more stuff flows from that you keep going ("Oh, you pulled a stunt to swing across the chasm and rolled a 10+? Sweet, now you can grab the princess like you said you were going to, pull another stunt!") but once that stuff is resolved *then* you can announce future badness, separate them, et cetera. Maybe that's what you were saying, but I just wanted to stress that my understanding is that you don't make MC/DM moves in response to successful rolls so much as when your next "turn" comes up after them.

14
Apocalypse World / Re: A question of scale
« on: January 10, 2011, 03:39:59 PM »
This is a concept I've had in mind as well! Some approaches to it that I've seen so far include:

* Discussion of "tiers" in Vincent and John Harper's Knife and Candle hack (will probably have to wait for it to be published to see what comes of that, and using it in your own hacks might be less permissive since it will be a licensed game). In this approach, at least in what's been discussed publicly upping a stat to +4 resets it to +1, but you're in a new tier. When acting against people on the same tier, no problem, it's the same. Acting against people or things on a lower tier, you either just succeed flat out, or else anything on a 10+ counts as a 12+ or some other "wow, great success!" way of doing it. When acting against a higher tier, you need a 10+ for a usual 7-9 result and a 12+ for a normal full success

* John Harper's Eye of Chaos has a peripheral move where you get +1 when contending with something beneath you, -1 for out of your league, and -2 for beyond the pale. This might be where the 'tiered' thing ended up going since he's admitted that Eye of Chaos has some 'test' stuff for Knife and Candle

* In "Beneath a More Auspicious Star" (basically a Romance of the Three Kingdoms hack) Stuart Chaplin talks about personal scale and strategic scale moves. I think his going idea is that some moves work on both scales, but have different effects depending on the scope of your conflict. This is meant to capture the whole 'one guy leveling armies' thing from RoT3K

* My own hack, "A Song of Ice and Fire" (yay plugs!) takes the approach you suggest of going totally loco with the gang scaling and adding some special caveats, like a group of men on horseback fighting a group of men on foot counting as one size bigger. Basically you have multiple tiers of "small, medium, large". On the personal scale it goes from a few guys, to 10-12 guys to 15-20 guys, say, then on the unit scale it goes from 20-30 guys to 40-50 guys to 60-70 guys, and then on the army scale, et cetera et cetera. When a group from a larger bracket acts against a smaller tier group (like an army-scale group against a unit scale or personal scale group, for example) they just win. I haven't tweaked or playtested this yet, and it's meant to be more gritty than epic, so it probably won't suit your needs

So, that's all that I can think of off the top of my head for scale stuff, but if you poke around a little (especially in the hack forums and blood and guts) you'll probably find some other interesting stuff.

15
brainstorming & development / Re: Apocalypse West
« on: December 22, 2010, 07:54:15 PM »
(The Revenant is totally Deadland's Harrowed.  No two shakes about it.)

Yeah, except way better! Seriously, I was thinking as I read this whole playbook "man, this is way better than the undead guys in Deadlands". I especially like that the focus is on your character's burning need to exact vengeance, rather than random or manitous or whatever. In your MC guidelines, I might include that the Revenant is okay for one-shot games, because I think he'd bring in all kinds of juicy situation generation and escalation right there. Oh, and of course 'Marked for Death' would automatically be in play in that situation.

So, by way of critique, the one thing that jumped out at me was the "Supernatural Skill". I get the impulse here, but when thinking about specific moves, some of them don't seem to mesh. Like, why does your zombie hell power give you the ability to get allies on a seduce or manipulate roll? Are you just that intense? Also, Shadowwalk seems a little vague, but I imagine there's more about the mystic wastes in the hack rules in general that makes them make more sense? Or is it meant to be vague to let your group figure out what the mystic wastes are like and what it means to physically enter them?

The only other thing that comes to mind right now is that the ability to take Revenant moves after a near-death experience (Sweet!) should maybe be coupled with some supernatural downside? I dunno, like "You can only use the "take a move from another playbook advance" to gain a Revenant move if you've had a near death experience. If you do take one, also take a curse". Even without the downside, I love the fact that having such sweet moves available will tempt players into damn near getting their characters killed :)

If you can't tell, I'm really excited about this hack.

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