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Messages - Munin

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Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 25, 2017, 06:19:18 PM »
That's one of the things that's so cool (IMO) about Apocalypse World - its elegant simplicity encapsulates some really nuanced stuff going on under the hood. One of the recent discussions about seize by force was cool in this regard, because it highlighted situations in which MCs were doing very similar things but for slightly different reasons.

Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 24, 2017, 03:07:39 PM »
^^^ This.

Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 24, 2017, 05:44:40 AM »
Yes, the issue is absolutely one of player agency, and I think we might see it slightly differently. I have no problem saying "you tried to shoot but missed" when narrating an opponent barricading themselves securely in (if the fictional situation warrants it or it seems like it's a reasonable consequence), but saying, "yeah, you just don't have the stones to pull the trigger" feels like it crosses a subtle but important line. So rather than say, "no, you cannot make this decision about whether or not your character takes this action," I'd much rather tell them the consequences and ask. As in, "yeah, you can totally drop the hammer on this guy - but now he's gonna get his licks in before he goes down. Do you still want to?"

Further, while a 7-9 is a hit, it is important to actually look at the results of the move in question. Much like a 7-9 in act under fire is likely to complicate your life or a 7-9 in pack alpha is going to make you make some tough choices, the 7-9 case for go aggro explicitly gives your opponent the capacity to NOT do what you want. I guess Vincent can chime in here himself if he chooses, but I think this is intentional; if 7-9 always made the other person cave (with or without complications), then everyone would be going aggro all the time because it would be the easiest way to get people to do what you want. There are a number of moves where things are really only "good" for you on a 10+, and while the partial doesn't totally suck, it's 50-50 whether you can really call it a "success." Remember, one of the "ugly choices" you might be given when you act under fire is "you achieve what you wanted but also suffer this other consequence, or you fail to achieve what you wanted and avoid this other consequence - which do you choose?" In other words, failure is a valid player choice even on a 7-9.

This is awesome because it puts the question (and the agency) directly in the player's hands. You know going in what the consequence will be, so how important is it to you to succeed? The example I gave works exactly the same way - Oh, shit, Squiggy has a gun too! How badly do you want those narcostabs? Enough to start a close-quarters gunfight over it? Ball's in you court, friend, what do you do now?

It's also important to point out that I would explicitly not have Squiggy suddenly produce a weapon and start immediately blazing away (exchange harm) as that is not one of my 7-9 options as the MC. But on a miss? Jesus, fuck, Squiggy is quick as a snake! You don't know whether he's jazzed on combat stims or just a fucking gun-snatching kung-fu ninja, but now you're looking down the barrel of your own gun, and Squiggy is jabbering a mile a minute about how you need to back the fuck off or he'll plug you and you can almost feel the trigger spring straining. What do you do? Hey, look at that, I've just flipped the PC's move! But that's appropriate for a miss, not a 7-9.

A 12+ on advanced go aggro is the only situation in the game that completely removes agency over intent from a player (with the possible exception of an arresting skinner, but that has baked-in limitations), and I think that's as it should be. Even a 10+ on seduce or manipulate still leaves the choice of "is leaving XP on the table and/or losing a highlight worth it to me?" which is fantastic!

And again, it's important to note that this is purely a narrative choice on the part of the MC to change up the fictional position of the characters involved because "I go aggro on him again" is pretty uninteresting and (I feel) against the spirit of how PbtA games generally work.

Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 23, 2017, 04:02:55 PM »
Right, and that's why I said it's fine as-is if the situation warrants it. But there are lots of times (in fact most times, I find) where it doesn't, and a different interpretation is required. And it's important to make the distinction that the opponent has not "ceded to your show of dominance," as that would be to cave and do what you want. They are explicitly not doing that, ergo some other interpretation must be used to make the situation fit the fiction.

Also, it's worth mentioning that this is also very much subject to the fictional positioning on the part of the player/PC; if the player has set things up that it is impossible for the NPC to either change the situation to offer resistance or find some means of safe retreat, then that response option is effectively taken off the table. At that point, the 7-9 might still very well result in "they cave and do what you want."

Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 22, 2017, 10:25:29 PM »
@arakn_e: the part about "exchanging harm" in the section on the battle moves is not a move in and of itself (at least not one a player can invoke). You will note that it has no trigger, for instance. It's simply an indicator of how the mechanics for a number of battle moves work, the situation upon which they are predicated. The move single combat is a good example - regardless of the outcome of the roll or options chosen by the player, the move includes the exchange of harm. You can't engage in single combat and NOT exchange harm. If you're lucky your armor may soak all the harm you receive, but you still exchanged it.

That said, trade harm for harm (as established) is an MC move. That means that at any point in the game (if it's fictionally appropriate), it's totally cool for the MC to say something like, "Yeah, you and Dremmer's goons are all shooting at each other in a blaze of gunfire. You take X harm in the exchange and they take Y harm." Nobody's rolling anything (as the players haven't triggered any moves), it's just that the fictional situation includes bullets flying everywhere, and it stands to reason that people are going to get shot and take harm. I find that this sort of situation occurs mostly when the characters are "in battle," though this is the part of AW2E that is the least clearly-defined in my opinion.

Does that answer your question?

@Paul T: the reason having a gun suddenly appear in the person's hands is a reasonable outcome to a 7-9 in go aggro is simple - you only get to inflict the "free harm" on someone if they elect to "force your hand and suck it up." The option to "back off calmly, hands where you can see" is fine as-is if the situation warrants it, but I find that often it doesn't make narrative sense in the fiction.

For example, I stick my gun in your face and say, "Give me the narcostabs, motherfucker. I will not repeat myself." If you simply back up, there's nothing in the fiction that keeps me from saying, "Fuck this, I pull the trigger," which is an identical outcome you forcing my hand - which you didn't choose to do. Further, nothing prevents me from saying, "If you take another step backwards, then so-help-me-Goddess I will blow your brains out," which is essentially me just going aggro again.

But as we know, AW isn't really an "I do it again" kind of game, so something in the fiction needs to prevent me from simply re-asserting my threat. And at the same time, "back off calmly, hands where I can see" has to be a valid option that keeps you from simply being able to plug me (because I am explicitly not forcing your hand and sucking it up). Ergo, by altering the fictional situation to include an escalation (Squiggy now has a gun of his own) I have made it clear that both a) he's not going to do what you want, and b) if you want to resort to violence, you're risking taking harm yourself. The fictional situation itself prevents you from triggering go aggro again, which is as it should be.

You see a similar dynamic with "barricade themselves securely in." I often narrate this as someone either making a run for it before you can bring your weapon to bear or moving quickly enough that you try to hit/shoot them and miss - because you don't get to automatically inflict harm on someone on a 7-9 for this move, even if they're not doing what you want. But at the same time, the fictional situation needs to change sufficiently that you can't just re-trigger the same move.

If you don't enforce a change in the fictional situation, the entire go aggro move loses something, either being too powerful or too wishy-washy, depending on how the MC interprets it.

Make sense?

Apocalypse World / Re: Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 21, 2017, 03:19:06 PM »
Another thing that's worth pointing out is the gap between what you want to happen (I shoot Dremmer in the head) and what actually happens (I reach for my pistol with the intention of shooting Dremmer in the head, but before steel clears leather all hell breaks loose). That's where the mechanics of the game get engaged and where narrative complications make things interesting. This is especially good to keep in mind with go aggro, because it's your opponent who chooses one. And in the 7-9 range, "cave and do what you want" is likely a hell of a lot less attractive than "barricade themselves securely in." Even if they "back away slowly, hands where you can see," you don't get to inflict harm on them for free.

So yeah, you can see Squiggy's hands clear as day - and the giant fucking magnum in them that you didn't know he had is now pointed straight at you. And he's sidling backwards towards the door and saying, "OK, now let's just all be cool and go our separate ways, right?" Now what do you do?

And as others have pointed out, all of this stuff really follows the fiction. Does it make sense for you to be able to plug Dremmer while his dudes stand around like dopes? Does it make sense for Dremmer to stand around like a dope waiting for you to shoot him? If not, then you just getting to inflict harm on Dremmer without having to work or bleed for it just isn't going to happen.

Another thing I've noticed in our games is that seize by force shines most brightly when what it is that you are seizing is conceptually granular, distinct, and of limited scope. Like, "the briefcase" or, "the exit" or "preventing Dremmer's escape" works a hell of a lot better than high-concept stuff like "her life" or "peace." Qualify or stipulate as much as you need to such that it's absolutely clear what single thing you want to achieve, and make sure the fiction fits.

Apocalypse World / Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« on: October 17, 2017, 05:08:32 PM »
Yeah, Mollisol, it sounds like you're getting the crux of how PbtA games play.

In terms of "the world outside the players," I think the best advice is to "ask provocative questions and build on the answers." The important caveat here, however, is that the question does have to be provocative, i.e. it must provoke a response. The trick for the MC is to structure the question such that a brief, non-committal answer isn't really relevant. You want to build a hook into a question in order to elicit a response. Asking, "Who taught Skeeter to fight?" is extremely open-ended, and doesn't really provoke the character. Instead, ask, "Who taught Skeeter how to fight, and who killed that mentor?" That establishes something in the fiction - you (the MC) have introduced a fact about the world - your mentor is dead - but left it up to the player to decide who and how. Riff off their answer.

As an aside, the Hardholder playbook is aces for this: From whom did you seize power, and how did you get into a position where that was possible? Who did you have to put down like a dog? Who still opposes you and thinks they could do a better job? What did you have to compromise to get the support of the Water Clan?

Seriously, you could (and should) have a field day with this kind of stuff.

In terms of introducing NPCs, I find that it's often most effective for the MC to give an NPC a name and some tidbit of defining detail, then ask the player a question about that NPC's motivation in regard to the player: "There's this wiry, shifty-eyed dude named Skint. Rheumy eyes, always disheveled. Anyway, he's pounding on your door in a panic - what does he want?" This establishes that the PC and NPC already know each other. They clearly have some history (as evidenced by the fact that the PC recognizes Skint by sight, knows his name, and knows he's always unkempt), and you're inviting the player's input into that history.

But the important part here is that Skint is panicked, pounding on your door. This isn't a situation you're likely to blithely ignore. You are doing this expressly to provoke the player, to present them with a situation to which they must respond.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 26, 2017, 09:59:47 PM »
No, no. Not hidden. In plain sight the entire time, just not understood or deemed significant.

Apocalypse World / Re: New in Second Edition
« on: September 22, 2017, 08:32:54 PM »
Yeah, the capacity to take "debilities" in order to wipe out Harm that would take you past 9:00 is no longer a thing; there are still ways to cheat death, but it's more difficult and meaningful in 2E.

The new subterfuge moves are cool, and while most of them are variations on the sort of things that good MCs would do under the 7-9 range of act under fire, it's nice to have them codified.

As Ebok stated, Hx has been re-done (it no longer requires you to go around twice). While this streamlines character creation, one very important thing has changed: you are now asking people the questions (e.g. the Hardholder's "Which of you has been with me since before?") rather than telling them. I actually like this a little bit less, because I was quite drawn to the idea that in AW1 even your character concept wasn't quite 100% your own.

I find one of the most subtle but substantive changes is in the new battle moves. The old system of the peripheral battle moves is completely removed, and while its replacement is kind of cool, I don't necessarily think that the best job has been done in the book explaining the ramifications of what being "in battle" actually means in play. I have my own opinions, of course, and there have been a couple of really good, thought-provoking threads on here that have discussed this issue.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 19, 2017, 02:53:55 PM »
To Munin, that is excellent. Seeing Tarot in action, I see it adding a lot to my games! I've already tried it on its own, and that was enough to make me excited for trying it out in-game (and maybe getting a tarot deck of my own...). So, thank you so much.
No worries! I'm glad it gave you some inspiration.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 16, 2017, 03:15:16 AM »
Paul, I can't speak for Ebok, but I often do something that sounds similar: the insights gained from opening your brain often serve to establish previously unknown relationships, preferably between the PCs and NPCs. When viewed through the lens of however the PC interacts with the Maelstrom, you see the people and events in your life in new ways.

Example: one of the PCs in a recent campaign viewed the Psychic Maelstrom as pushing his cart up and down the aisles of a massive grocery store, complete with saccharine muzak and weird announcements. At one point he opened his brain about a situation involving strange disappearances, at which point I described him pushing his shopping cart past the meat counter, where he saw a particular NPC in a butcher's apron, whistling a jaunty tune and wielding a cleaver with great gusto and enthusiasm as viscera flew. That, uh, "set the tone" for future interactions with this NPC, for sure.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 16, 2017, 02:51:53 AM »
Or how about this: same system, totally different cards, yielding a different interpretation...

First card (forces in favor), 3 of Disks: John has put something into motion that is working to her advantage. Her actions have already had a ripple effect, and those ripples are helping her in some way. Maybe her violent purge and sudden disappearance has people in the community looking for her. Maybe the reason Veil is so forceful is because she knows she only has a limited amount of time to do whatever it is she plans to do to John?

Second card (forces opposing), Prince of Swords: This signifies a person who is very cerebral, calculating, considered. This is not a person of action, but rather someone who likes to manipulate others into taking action. Who might this person be? Veil doesn't seem right for this, but maybe it's the cult leader? What other NPCs might fit this bill? Maybe it's someone closer to John - and maybe deciding who clubbed her from behind would yield answers to this. Whomever it turns out to be, they are demonstrably NOT on John's side, appearances to the contrary.

Third card (pose the problem), Prince of Wands: again a signifier. Ordinarily, this is someone who is a creative force, an idea man, someone who is decisive. But in this context (because of the cards around it - the last two, in this case) the card is ill-dignified, meaning someone who is indecisive or unimaginative. I see this pretty clearly as the cult leader; if he'd kept John on a tighter leash - or stepped in when it looked like trouble with the other family  - none of this would have happened. Thus, we get to the crux of the issue: poor leadership has led to deep divisions within the settlement, a much bigger problem than the current immediate predicament.

Fourth card (possible solution), The Star: This card can represent whimsy or fantasy, but it also represents mysticism and/or esoterica. Oh, shit - the psychic! The solution to the present predicament? John needs to focus her mind and reach out to the psychic, needs to use her intimate connection with the psychic to call for help! How does this work? Is this even possible? I have no idea, but what's the harm in trying? Roll+Weird!

Fifth card (hanging in the balance), the 10 of Cups: more than just fulfillment but satiety. Having enough, maybe more then enough. The symbology of the card is cool here, because the cups literally "runneth over." But in this context, I'd interpret this as satisfaction, i.e. an end to the feuding. If she can get out of this alive, John will have proven her point.

Final card (outcome), The Hanged Man: Put simply, this card represents sacrifice. John's not getting out of this one for free, but whom (or what?) must she sacrifice? Will calling on the psychic to save herself lead to a Pyrrhic victory, where John lives but her psychic lover dies? I see massive "bloody fingerprint" potential in this one. In some ways, it makes John's predicament more dire, because she knows that getting out of it will cost her dearly. Is it a cost she'll be able to bear? Let's play to find out!

And so it goes.

One thing I wanted to add - if you end up with a partial success on open your brain, you can use this same approach, just use fewer cards. I'd just use the 1st, 2nd, and 5th cards, as these give you some idea of forces working for and against you as well as what's ultimately at stake, but they provide no insight into the larger problem, pose no likely solutions, and give no hint as to the potential outcome.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 16, 2017, 02:12:11 AM »
OK, cool, that'll work perfectly. So interpretive Tarot works best when framed with a "what if I were to do X?" question, but sometimes you can just apply it straight as-is to a situation to give you insight about what's going on. And that's what I'll do here.

The first card (the leftmost) represents forces working in John's favor. In this case, the card drawn is the 8 of Disks, which represents "prudence." Whatever John is going to do from here, she needs to be careful and not hasty.

The second card (the rightmost) represents forces working against John. The card drawn here is the 8th card of the Major Arcana: Justice. Oh, shit, it looks like John is on the wrong side of something. Some action she's taken has put her on the wrong side of "the law," be that the law of the settlement or maybe in this case just vendetta law. But let's take a step back from her immediate circumstance and say it's her relationship with this psychic woman, as that's what started all of this trouble in the first place. Hmmm, a community's laws usually get made for a reason. Uh, oh, maybe the psychic woman (or psychics in general) are trouble. Why could that be? How might it manifest?

The next card (the topmost) is a succinct framing of the problem. In this case, it's the 15th card of the Major Arcana: The Devil. The Devil represents temptation in its most base form, and often represents the destructiveness of those temptations. What this implies to me is that John's "thinking with her clit," and furthermore, the position of the card indicates that doing so is problematic. Is it just a problem for John herself, or is it bigger than that? My money's on the latter.

The fourth card (the bottommost) is a succinct prompt indicating how forces are moving to address the problem posed by the previous card - it is the universe's "solution" to the problem. Here, the card that's come up is the 8 of Swords: Interference. Well, no shit. But what's interesting here again is that the issue isn't one of vengeance for the killed family, or excommunication by the cult or whatever - It seems like perhaps the Veil's goal is less one of payback and more one of trying to stop John. But stop her from what? What is it that John is doing that poses a threat to the existing order? Again, I'm thinking there's more to this psychic chick than meets the eye, and that John is unknowingly playing with fire.

The fifth (central) card represents the stakes, what hangs in the balance. This time, it's the Queen of Wands. Court cards very often signify people. Wands represent force, action (both creative and destructive). The queen tempers this a little bit, in this case being at once both matriarchal and nurturing - although in this context the term "protective" would be suitable as well. Think "Tiger Mom," maybe. This seems like exactly the kind of role that Veil might fulfill. But as a consequence card, this is interesting. If Veil is really the matriarchal protector, what does losing her mean for the hardhold? She's clearly a woman of force and action (as evidenced by her removing John's arm with an axe), but is she also something of the power behind the throne here? What sort of power vacuum would be left if something bad were to happen to her? Maybe Veil is not the real enemy here.

The sixth and final card (placed cross-ways over the fifth) represents an outcome. Here, we see the Princess of Wands. Again, court cards are often signifiers for people. In this case, the card represents someone who is active yet practical. I see this as a pretty good analog for John herself, and in this position it can also be advice to John - and builds further on the other cards in the spread; take decisive but prudent action. Don't be hasty, but don't be passive. Under the circumstances, I'd make a bold play - confront Veil as an equal, get her to tell you just WTF is really going on here. But maybe don't rashly open that door just yet. And ultimately, maybe John's "enemies" really should be her allies, and vice versa.

Is that sufficiently weird and non-obvious that it would help in this situation?

As a side note, there are a bajillion ways to interpret tarot. There are lots of different spread techniques and different decks have different symbology and iconography. Some use the orientation of the card itself to change the meaning (with cards placed upside down having the "ill-dignified" opposite meaning, for instance). The method I used here uses position relative to other cards to determine whether a card is ill-dignified or not (i.e. a single sword card heavily opposed by a bunch of disks, or whatever).

Ultimately, it really doesn't matter which method you use; the goal of interpretive tarot is to present you with pieces of information and then force you to figure out how they fit. Some of these will confirm the obvious, but some of them will yield entirely new or unexpected insights because they'll force you to think outside the box (e.g. when The Moon - indicating deception - comes up in an unexpected place and you have to figure out what it might be that's being hidden, or who's lying to whom about what, or whatever).

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 15, 2017, 08:15:16 PM »
Ooh, ooh, Tarot!

And I'm not talking like divination, but rather the use of Tarot that forces you to think outside the box, to give you unexpected insights into how disparate elements might be connected. I find a shortened Celtic Cross is really good for this, because it's really brief and easy.

I'll tell you what, give me an example of a situation under which you're opening your brain, and I'll whip out some cards and give you an interpretation to show you how you can make it work in your game.

Apocalypse World / Re: Session Length
« on: September 11, 2017, 10:20:43 PM »
Our sessions tend to run about 3.5 to 4 hours. That can cover anything from an afternoon to a month in-game, it really just depends on what's happening. And if there are significant "breaks" in the action for the passage of time, you'd better believe I call for lifestyle while that's happening. I've found that the AW2 lifestyle rules make poverty more pressing and give the PCs more impetus to go out and find trouble.

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