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Messages - Munin

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361
brainstorming & development / Re: Wayward Sons
« on: January 21, 2014, 06:03:37 PM »
For hunters how about the Protector, the Curator (might be too close to Collector, or could be another name for it), the Investigator (a CoC classic), and the Cannibal?

362
Apocalypse World / Re: Can someone please explain the malacuso?
« on: January 21, 2014, 05:34:34 AM »
The Macaluso is an entity that shares the same consciousness across several different bodies.  It works by allowing you to have different bodies (or versions of your "self") doing different things at any particular moment.  It's a great way to get screen time, though it should be pointed out that rather than highlighting a stat, you highlight one of your selves, and any time that highlighted self makes a move you mark experience.  Each of your different selves has different stats and circumstances.  So you might have one that is Hard+2, Hot-1 that is also a member of the Operator's Crew, or one that is Hot+2 Hard-1 that works in the Angel's infirmary.  And another that wanders the wastes looking for lost tech.  Either way, they're all "you" and they all have your moves (so if you took Martyr, you'd mark experience any time any one of your selves took a blow meant for someone else).  Or if you took a move from another playbook as an advance (say spooky intense from the Savvyhead's playbook), all of your selves would get that move (and thus roll+Weird when acting under fire).

What's cool is that there's no requirement for your selves to meet to share information.  Anything that any one of them knows all of them know, more or less instantaneously because they share a psyche.  So you can be in two (or more) places at once and relay information between them.  Or not, as you choose or as it suits your (inscrutable) purposes.

One thing that is very important, however, is that you are not human.  You see things very differently, and eve the death of any one of your selves might simply be a minor inconvenience to you (especially if you've taken Sustaining Influence).  This can and should give you a very different outlook and inform your decisions accordingly.

As a character concept it's absolutely fascinating, but I think it works best if you can roll-your-own when it comes to motivations.

363
Apocalypse World / Re: Weird Angel
« on: January 17, 2014, 03:36:55 PM »
I don't think there's anything more intimate than being elbow deep in someone's chest wielding a scalpel.  And the idea of the Angel taking in-brain puppet strings is absolutely awesome.

364
roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Joint MC'd Games
« on: January 17, 2014, 05:23:18 AM »
I think Apocalypse World and its hacks are good candidates for this sort of thing because they already have so much collaborative world-building built in.  While the MC is responsible for the world and making it feel real, many of the cues will come from the players.  Also, I feel like it's less "plot" structured, so rotating through MCs seems to me like a pretty cool thing to do.  The biggest thing is to make sure that both/all people who are going to be assuming the mantle of MC are operating under the same rules, assumptions, and expectations.  You'll probably want to hash out major elements before introducing them into the story ("hey, wouldn't it be cool if giant killer robots starting coming out of the psychic maelstrom!?!), but other than that I say go for it.

And let us know how it goes, and if you learn any valuable lessons along the way!

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Apocalypse World / Re: Some help with mcing the game
« on: January 16, 2014, 09:58:13 PM »
If your players are loving it then you're doing something right.  I'd say don't worry about it.

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Apocalypse World / Re: Just got into the game... Where do I start?
« on: January 16, 2014, 06:42:13 PM »
The previous posts have talked a lot about the maelstrom, and I think the answer of "it can do whatever you and the players decide it can do" is the best advice.  I know that seems like a cop-out, but trust me, it's better this way.  People come into the game with different expectations and biases.  Asking your players how they interact with the maelstrom when they first open their minds to it gives you as the MC a little window into those expectations and biases, and lets you shape your world accordingly.  If all of your players think of it as a 40K-style "Warp," then their descriptions will tell you that.  If some of them view it as "the spirit world," then their descriptions will tell you that too.  And if it's "the will of the gods," or "an alternate dimension seen through a smoky glass," then that's fine too.  And each of these games will be very different and have different things of which the resulting communally-defined maelstrom is capable.

In terms of playbooks for NPCs, what you're really looking at are custom moves, not for the NPCs themselves (because the MC never rolls dice) but rather for the PCs when they interact with those NPCs.  So for instance, you talk about different levels of tracking Harm.  Here's a potential custom move for a Warlord threat, let us call him The Humungus.

The Humungus is one tough sonofabitch.  He tracks Harm like a PC.  Any time the Harm inflicted on the Humungus goes past 9:00, roll+Hard.  On a 10+ he takes the Harm as established.  On a 7-9, his Harm is limited to 9:00, but pick one:
* The Humungus is shattered: The Humungus loses his taste for the fight, at least for now. He flees/retires/pauses to lick his wounds. Create a new threat countdown for The Humungus starting at 0:00 - he fucks off until that counter is filled. Advancing this clock a tick is now a Threat move.  (This gives the players a reprieve from the predations of this particular Warlord threat for a while).
* The Humungus is crippled: The Humungus breaks and shows weakness. Some of his warriors take this as a sign that he's not fit to lead and break away from him. Reduce the size of The Humungus's gang from large to medium. A cruel MC could add one or two new small gangs as emergent threats, or not. (Either way, it reduces the size of the rampaging horde and exposes them to the possibility of defeat in detail.)
* The Humungus is disfigured: The Humungus loses most of his nose, making him one ugly dude and giving his voice a reedy quality. He is surprisingly self-conscious about it, and players may take +1 in any moves against him where cracks about his appearance can be brought into play (such as Acting Under Fire to defy his will - "Bring me your women." "That's tough talk from a dude who sounds like a cracked flute").
* The Humungus is broken: The Humungus has taken a pretty serious blow to the head. He wasn't all there before, and now he's mostly somewhere else. The players take an +1 forward any time they are making a move to outsmart The Humungus. (This gives crafty players a better chance to defeat The Humungus using cleverness rather than straight-up brute force, or at least to maneuver him into a position where force will be more effective).
On a miss, he's so damn tough that damage past 9:00 is discarded.

This makes the NPC a little bit tougher individually, but also includes mechanics to alter how he functions or make him a recurring villain.  But again, this is all driven by the players' rolls and choices.  You can also stack moves. This is really common in Dungeon World, where getting close enough to attack a particular monster might require you to first defy danger.  In Apocalypse World, that could be something like:

Amano is unnaturally crazy sexy hot.  Any move made against her is made under fire.

In other words, the PCs need to first roll+Cool, taking the consequences of that roll before doing whatever it was that they wanted to do.  But make sure this plays out in the fiction.  Describe how Amano's aura of distracting sensuality influences or unsettles them (or the situation around them).  That's where the magic of custom moves for NPCs comes in - in how they influence not only the mechanical effects but in how they affect the fiction.

Stat substitution can be fun too.  You could apply this in many different ways, like:

Amano's emotions are like an open smut novel: attempts to read her roll+Hot instead of +Sharp.

or:

Jackson Twain has bizarre and inscrutable urges: roll+Weird when trying to manipulate him, nor do attempts to give 1-barter, but with strings attached have any effect on him.  The dude is just not motivated by ordinary wants.

Stat substitution really comes into its own when one of a particular PCs' primary foils has a substitution move that hits that PC's lowest stat.  So if I have decided that Hot is my dump stat, I am going to have a hard time figuring out what Amano is up to, and maybe I should recruit the Skinner to help me out.  Or if I have -1 Weird and I need something from Jackson Twain, maybe I should convince the Brainer to get it for me.  This will encourage players to work together in interesting ways, and is a great way to set up PC-NPC-PC triangles.

And finally, other options can be mechanical but based on gear (or gear-like traits) rather than moves.  For instance, The Wyrd fights with a psychic knife.  All damage inflicted by him is 2-Harm hand ap.  Or, Riddler Jack is slippery and always counts as having 2-armor in combat at close range or less.

367
Apocalypse World / Re: Augury and the Maelstorm Inquiry
« on: January 16, 2014, 03:47:20 PM »
The beauty of the psychic maelstrom is that while its form is established in the fiction, it is up to the MC to determine what sort of information the maelstrom barfs forth (i.e. "the MC will tell you something new and interesting about the situation"), and more importantly how that information manifests.  So in games where the players previous interfaces with the maelstrom have made it effectively "the spirit world," the MC can go one way.  In games where the psychic maelstrom takes a much more mundane form, the MC can describe things in a completely different direction.  And this can take lots of forms.  As a more extreme example, in the film Gladiator, I posit to you that every time Maximus knelt down, grabbed a handful of dirt, and let it run through his fingers he was opening his mind to the psychic maelstrom.

As the MC, you can use lots of mundane stuff to impart insight.  Noticing some minute but important detail is the easiest.  Appealing to less well-used senses is great too (a smell, a cool breeze, a low rumbling vibration).  Thoughts or (better yet) memories should be within your bag of tricks too.  So if one of the players opens their mind and you want to clue the players in to a hidden room, you might go with: "As you stand in the ruins, you suddenly get the overwhelming sense that you've been here before.  Long, long ago, and the place was different then.  At first you question your memory of the place, but then you see a faded drawing of an airplane done in pink chalk, barely visible now, and you vividly recall your brother making it.  And when you stayed here as a child, there was a hidden, secret place where you used to hide when there was danger..."

368
Aside: If you like "we draw the map together" conceptually, then you should check out The Quiet Year.

369
brainstorming & development / Ronin World
« on: January 14, 2014, 09:36:29 PM »
In another thread, plausiblefabulist wrote:
Lastly, we ought to move this to another thread! Are you going to make one for this game?

Ask and ye shall receive!

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
Munin, very interesting, and this sounds good. Minor thoughts and quibbles:

I think my objection to Passion/Fury has to do with the English word, "passion". Passion originally comes from the root for suffering -- it's cognate with pathetic, and the German is the same, "Leidenschaft. Someone passionate about something feels strongly about it whether they want to or not; they are moved by it despite themselves. A passionate lover is one carried away by the storms of passion. A dispassionate lover is one who can say no, who can say "sure, I'll do you, but only if X." A passionate lover has no such option. A passionate artist paints what they are driven to paint; a dispassionate artist can decide what offers the best chance of advancement, etc.
True.  Terminology is important.  Ultimately I'd like to use Japanese terminology, but the downside of that is that it breaks many of the connotation links that non-Japanese-speaking people have for certain terms.  You think something particular when I say "Passion," which is interesting and cool.  I wonder if I used more obscure terminology if that would still be the case.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
If anything, Passion suggests "roll-Passion to resist being seduced" -- and it might be interesting to flip the move around that way.
I had considered that.  But I'm not sure about "resistance" moves for various things.  AW has very cleverly lumped all of this stuff into Act Under Fire, but the downside of course is that resisting everything relies on one stat - your Cool.  With the possible exception of spotting a lie, which could fall under Read A Person.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
I like where you're going with Composure, but again I do wonder there too a little about the English word.
I agree, that's why I used the Japanese terms "ochitsuki" and "gambarimasu" in my explanation.  Your further comments about the orthogonality of stats are good ones, and certainly worth considering.  It could very well be that roll-Fury is inappropriate, and that roll+Composure is what I'd use instead.  In which case, the term "Fury" should probably be rethought because it too has connotations.  I want Fury to be the stat that means "adept at inflicting physical violence," because I think such a stat needs to exist.  In AW, it's Hard, but that has connotation as well, which may not be appropriate to the subject matter at hand.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
I like the moves. Notice that your "seduce" move is now constrained to an explicit, literal offer of sex, which makes it far more constrained, in context, than any AW-hack seduce move I know of...
Actually, the discussions in the AW rulebook (as well as here on the forums) make it clear that Seduce is explicitly using sex to get what you want.  It is the carrot.  It is the thing that you are offering when making the move.  And even in AW, on a 10+ whether you keep the promise is up to you later (i.e. you're could be just leading the person on).  But if you hit 7-9, they want something concrete now.  Quid pro quo, as it were.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
Geishas have playbook moves allowing them to replace actual consummation with artful leading-on?
This I like.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
Your seduce move and drive a hard bargain move are identical in their effects when you use them on PCs, which is interesting.
Not quite.  It depends on what you're offering them to entice them to do what you want.  And if that thing is sex, then you are seducing them (and use the appropriate stat).  And if they take it, that has further ramifications, especially when it comes to their Special moves.  As a vanilla AW example, say that I as the Skinner want to get the Operator to keep me happy (perhaps by giving me bling).  The best way to do that is to seduce him or her into having sex with me such that the Operator Special kicks in, because the Operator picks up the associated obligation gig of keeping me happy.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
I think, for balance, if you have -Honor and -Fury moves, then you need -stat moves for the other stats too.
Perhaps, but the more I think about these, the more I wonder if they are appropriate.  See above under "resistance" moves.  It is touching on some player agency issues, though.  I don't ever want to tell a player, "because of the result of X roll, you must do Y."  Even in the case of massively flubbing the let an insult go unchallenged example, you only pick two of the bad outcomes, which means that you are never required to strike without warning.  You can if you so choose, but because striking is an action on the part of the character, the player should never be forced into it.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
I'm also not sure the "-Fury if private, -Honor if public" distinction is crisp.
I agree, and think I would limit it to just roll-Honor.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
(This is making me realize that one aspect of the genius of AW, and one reason it works, is the orthogonality of Hot/Cool/Sharp/Hard/Weird -- they really describe different things and don't overlap)
Agreed.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
Shouldn't being caught in a lie have a consequence to Reputation?
It does, and was mentioned in the example I typed up that got eaten by the internet.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
Why are PCs under obligation to you if you lie to them and they don't believe you? Because other people believe you? Do they have some option to expose your lie for what it is?
Remember that there is no "resistance" roll.  If you are lying and your roll is successful, it means that you have lied successfully.  But because I don't want to remove player agency, I want to leave players an "out" when another PC lies to their character.  It is exactly the same as AW manipulate - I am successful at my roll, but the option to go along with it is yours.  Same here, and I decided to use Obligation because if you refuse a reasonable request or treat someone as dishonest when all "evidence" points to the contrary, you incur a social debt.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
I don't think High-Born Ladies really need to screw their way to the top. It's low-born ladies who want to ascend via that ladder who would need that move, right? Some kind of social climber through sex playbook (or playbook subset) would be interesting, though it ought to be available to both genders, wouldn't you think?
No, the High-Born Lady is attempting to advance her station within her overall class.  She is looking to marry up, make influential friends, and build a web of obligations from influential people.  In a society that has distinct class divisions, the low-born lady doesn't have as far to go, and her social climbing is of a different sort.

Quote from: plausiblefabulist date=1389707363
How are you handling gender anyway? Currently -- unless your Artist and Bandit can be either gender -- you only have two classes that are explicitly female -- the Geisha and High-Born Lady -- and so far (admittedly we only have a smattering of moves) you've characterized them both as mostly using sex to get what they want;
I am thinking that the best way to do this is to have gender-neutral playbooks with a few gender-specific moves.  So for instance, I might have the "Noble" playbook with "daimyo" and "high-born lady" as potential starting moves.  Similarly, you could have a Courtier playbook with "geisha" and "aide-de-camp" as opening moves.  Not all playbooks need these.  I could easily see female Ninja, Monk (Nun), or Bandit characters.  And historical record has ladies who became Samurai (or "onna-bugeisha" which is not exactly a samurai but has most of the same important qualities for purposes of the game), thus opening the way to Ronin and making these playooks gender-neutral as well.  And the interesting thing about the gender-specific moves within a gender-neutral playbook is that you don't have to take them.  So if you want to play a female Courtier without being a geisha, that should be an option.


370
I love the bit about companions.  Having more characters in the mix is always good.

371
Apocalypse World / Re: Some help with mcing the game
« on: January 14, 2014, 05:51:54 AM »
We found that for XP, it served us well to only allow a character to benefit from a particular highlighted stat once per scene.  But if your players are sufficiently self-motivated, they'll still find opportunities to use their highlighted stats in every scene.

As for PC-PC drama, I think it's a question of your particular group of players.  I played in one game in which my character was a slimy douchebag currying favor with his superior until she relied upon him, at which time he planned stab her in the back and supplant her rule.  That particular game had rampant metagaming going on, with players not able to separate what their characters knew from what the players knew.  It was incredibly frustrating, and I had to keep reminding people that they had no reason to suspect my character of anything untoward.  If your players can't keep it straight and separate, keep it under wraps.

On the other hand, I've played in games where everything was out in the open and all the players "got it."  To the extent that people were like, "you should totally betray me right now.  It will be hilarious."  Mountain Witch is a perfect case study for this phenomenon.  If what you care about is the story, then having everyone on the same page working to create that story together (even if it is to the detriment of one or more of the characters) is definitely worth doing.

I'd say put it to your players (perhaps without naming any names or giving any details) and see what they think.

372
Argh.  I wrote a long post which was then promptly eaten by teh intarwebz.  :(  Roight, I'w'll come in again!

Great post, plausible, lots of good stuff to consider.

I've had some further chance to ruminate on this.  I give you the following in no particular order:

I want to preserve the difference between Passion and Fury because I want the Samurai to be better at killing people than the Geisha.  Or at least better in a stand-up fight.  The alternative offers a certain ironic hilarity, but it's not what I'm going for.  Similarly, I would like a counterpoint to Passion or Fury that is more than just their negative, hence Composure.

I am seeing Composure as the rough equivalent of the Cool stat.  It's "ochitsuki" in Japanese.  A related term/saying is "gambatte," which entreats someone to keep going, to not give up.  The two are complementary terms, and perseverence could be very much a part of Composure.  People who have high Composure stats are people who tend to transcend the material, or who take the long view.  Monks and Priests and the like might have a high Composure stat, and it would be a secondary stat for The Ninja.

It has occurred to me that perhaps the concept that is not getting represented in a stat is Ambition.

I am envisioning that most of the playbooks will have a primary and a secondary stat.  So for instance the Daimyo might be Ambition and Honor.  The Samurai is Honor and Fury.  The Ronin is Fury and Composure, whereas the Bandit is Ambition and Fury.  The Geisha is Passion and Honor, but the High-Born Lady is Ambition and Passion.  The Ninja is Insight and Composure, the Monk is Composure and Insight, and the Artist is Passion and Insight.

By differentiating between Passion and Ambition, you have stat separation between seduction and manipulation, which intrigues me a little bit.  That might give you the following basic moves:

When you attempt to seduce someone, tell them what you want and roll+Passion. For NPCs: on a 10+, they are so smitten that they will comply before you have sex, and whether you do or not is up to you.  On a 7-9 they're happy to comply, but not until after.  For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 79, choose 1:
if they do it, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're weathering adversity
What they do then is up to them.

When you drive a hard bargain, tell someone what you want and roll+Ambition. For NPCs: on a hit, they ask you to promise something first, and do it if you promise. On a 10+, whether you keep your promise is up to you, later. On a 79, they need some concrete assurance right now. For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 79, choose 1:
if they do it, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're weathering adversity
What they do then is up to them.

When you lie to get what you want, tell someone what you want (or what you want them to believe) and roll-Honor.  For NPCs: on a 10+ they believe you and act accordingly.  On a 7-9, choose one:
accept that it must have been a misunderstanding, drop the matter, and avoid suspicion
stick to your story, arouse suspicion, and take -1 ongoing with this NPC
weave an ever more tangled web of lies by weathering adversity
On a miss, you are caught in the lie.
For PCs: On a 10+ both, on a 7-9 pick one:
if they believe you and act accordingly, they mark experience
if they refuse, they're exposing themselves to obligation (you)
What they do then is up to them.

This splits up some of the manipulation and social scheming across a couple of different stats.  It also paves the way for some interesting stat substition moves, like the High-Born Lady might have screw your way to the top, which allows her to roll+Ambition when attempting to seduce.

I also like the idea of making the downsides of stats meaningful, and that sometimes having a low score in something might be useful.  For instance, having a low Honor makes it easier to lie.  I want to have violence be consequential, and because it is there are certain social constraints that must be incorporated.  For instance, you might find yourself in a setting where violence is inappropriate, which paves the way for interesting basic social moves like:

When you attempt to let an insult go unchallenged roll-Fury if the setting is private, or roll-Honor if the setting is public.  On a 10+, you laugh, brush it off, and suffer no ill consequences.  Otherwise, on a 7-9 pick one, and on a miss pick two:
you are stung by it, take -1 ongoing with this NPC
you lose face over it, take -1 Reputation
you offer insult
you strike without warning

Thus, the higher your Honor is the more you'll feel the stain of those insults and the more obligated you'll feel to defend that Honor.  So insulting the Samurai (who is prickly, being both Honorable and Furious) is a dangerous proposition, whereas insulting the Priest (who is neither) is less so.

I suppose I could structure it like the Harm move, and have it be roll+Honor: on a miss you're good, on a 7-9 pick one, on a 10+ pick two.  I'd have to look at the distribution of chances of success/failure for both options, but it conveys the idea of what I am thinking.

I also kind of like the built-in snowballing of moves.  For instance, if I lie and get a partial hit, I can still pull it out by weathering adversity.  If my Composure is high, it means I don't crack under the pressure and can continue to lie with a straight face.  It's like doubling down, and exposes the player to more complications and fuckery, which is always a plus.

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I thought for a bit before I decided to perform necromancy on this thread, but I think that given this subforum's intended purpose as a study for hacking it seemed appropriate to put my comments here such that further hackers can find it one thread rather than two.  So, without further ado...

I think the separation between Seize By Force, Go Aggro, and Seduce or Manipulate is very intriguing.  Each move occupies its own very specific niche within the fiction, and there are very specific circumstances where each is appropriate.  I think what got lost in the early part of this discussion is not so much the structure of the moves themselves, but rather the stats upon which they are based.

Seize By Force represents the conscious commission of violence.  AW is interesting in its use of violence in that it's one of the few games I've encountered that makes no allowance for the kinds of things that most RPGs care about when you talk about smacking people (speed, strength, skill, etc).  In AW, violence is all about having the will and aggressiveness to hurt somebody else in order to achieve your goal.  With everyone walking around packing guns, this sort of makes sense.  Any idiot can pull a trigger, but do you really have the stones to look a man in the eye and take his life?  It all boils down to how Hard you are, and the governing stat makes sense.

By the same token, Go Aggro is about being absolutely ready and willing to commit vioence, but still giving the other guy the option to back down.  But if he doesn't you're not going to waste a second thought to hurting him. You have already decided you're willing (and able) to hurt him.  You're not hesitating for your sake, you're giving him an out.  And maybe the only reason you're doing so is because this jackass isn't worth the bullet you're about to put into him and you're trying to save yourself some jingle on ammo.  But either way you are committed, and your opponent knows it.  He can look you in the eye, know that you are Hard, and know that if he doesn't do what you want he's going to suffer for it.

As an aside, I feel like a lot of the difference between which of these two moves is appropriate comes out in the fiction.  If I can realistically narrate that I've got the drop on you, then Go Aggro is appropriate, because I'll get a chance to inflict Harm before you can do anything.  But if we're already all guns-in-hand and looking at each other Mexican-standoff style waiting for someone to twitch, then if I choose to resort to violence I must put myself at risk.  I can maybe do things to minimize that risk (i.e. choose to "suffer little Harm" and narrate my actions appropriately), but I'm not getting out of this without a few holes in my hide.

But Seduce or Manipulate isn't about your Hard, it's about your Hot.  I've always seen Hot as how socially adroit you are, how much interpersonal acumen you have.  If you are threatening someone using Go Aggro, the other guy already knows you're serious.  If you're threatening someone using Manipulate, you trying to make the other guy believe you're serious.  Your threat is intrinsically empty because you have no intention of actually committing violence (because if you did, you'd be using Hard).  But the other guy doesn't know that, and you're using everything you know about how people tick to get him to buy what you're selling.

Anecdote time: I know a guy who illustrated this principle very well.  Picture if you will a crowded bar in a college town.  A big dude knocks into my associate, precipitating the spilling of some of the associate's drink on said big guy.

The big dude says, "What the fuck is your problem?"

My associate says, "You are, you idiot.  Watch where you're going."

Big dude: "Yeah?  How about I pound your fucking face in, you little twerp?"

Associate (looking over said huge dude): "Dude, do you play football?"

Big Dude (flexing): "Yeah, I'm a linebacker and I crush people for breakfast.  And I'm about to fuck you up.  Whaddya have to say about that?"

Associate: "Only that before you beat me down I'm gonna make damn sure I get in one good hit.  And I'm going to make sure that that hit explodes your knee and ends your career.  So let's get started whenever you're ready, tough guy."

Now my associate was no prize physical specimen, hadn't ever been in a serious fight, and had perhaps only the vaguest inkling of how to actually break a knee.  I'm not even sure he'd have been willing to try if push came to shove.  But he was so good at sizing the other guy up, deducing his motivations, and playing on his opponent's fears (i.e. ending his career, losing his scholarship, ruining his chances of going pro) that he was able to effectively bluff.  And he made himself seem more Hard than he actually was (more willing to actually put up a fight).  Had the big dude not bought the lie, he would have beaten my associate to a bleeding pulp and suffered no injury to himself.  But he hesitated, and ultimately backed down.  In my mind this is a perfect example of using the (empty) threat of violence to Manipulate someone.

Right, so the reason I bring all this up is as a prelude to hacking myself.  I'm thinking of going sort of feudal Japan in flavor, with traits like Honor, Composure, Passion, Insight, and Fury.  And I'm trying to decide how best to span the dimensions of attributes and basic moves to capture some of this same nuance.  I'm thinking of separating Go Aggro into two separate moves, those being Impose Your Will and Strike Without Warning.  This would split off the kind of "sniping from an elevated position" aspect off from Go Aggro, and let me do things like introduce some more finely-tuned stat-substitution moves (like the hypothetical Ninja playbook, which might let someone use Insight rather than Fury to Strike Without Warning, meaning that the Ninja is good at observing his opponent as a prelude to a surprise attack, but which doesn't also make him better at threatening people).

Seduce is obviously off Passion, that's a no-brainer.  But when I get to manipulation, deceit, and driving bargains, I'm at a little bit of a loss.  Hot is kind of cool in that it's sort of all things social, and includes figuring out how to apply what you know about how people tick to achieve the effect you want.  But some of that is Insight as well (i.e. Read a Person).  Do I have Passion serve as a direct substitute for Hot and tie both Seduce and Manipulate to the same stat just like in AW?  I don't really want to tie it to Insight, but I'd hate to have another stat just for lying.

Ironically, Honor might be the best stat here.  When you are lying to someone, roll-Honor.  So slimy characters who lack honor are good at lying, but upstanding dudes who care about their own integrity have a harder time with it.  And Reputation (one of the potential currencies within the game) certainly enters the equation - if I have a reputation for being an upstanding dude but am actually a slimy bastard, it should be a) easy for me to lie to you and b) more likely for you to believe it.  But then again not all manipulation is based on lies, so I'm kind of going in circles in my head.

Thoughts, suggestions, or ideas?

374
Heh, he beat me to it.  But yes, if the battle is complicated, make it an actual battle complete with the peripheral moves.  This can be a little bit strange depending on the scale and circumstances of the fight, but with some clever MC magic you can make it fit a wide variety of situations.

The other thing to consider is the granularity of combat.  You don't need to roll for every shot you take.  It might be that a single Seize By Force roll can be used to describe the entire conflict.  So not, "I shoot guy A, I roll to Seize.  Then I roll to shoot guy B.  Once he's down, I roll again to shoot C."  But rather, "Guys A, B, and C are in my way.  I shoot them to get what I want.  Here's my roll."  The MC then takes the results of the roll and narrates an outcome for the entire fight, rather than for each tiny piece of it.  Lump NPCs together into an impromptu "gang" for the purposes of determining Harm and/or casualties if desired.

Example: Deke the Battlebabe is at the local watering hole when the local thugs tasked with security (read: extortion) are looking to shake her down for a little jingle.  The MC describes the situation thusly: "Abnett has his hand on the butt of his pistol and Carson is actually holding a rifle, though at this point it's still across his chest.  And you note that while they are trying to hold your attention, Butters is sidling over to block the door.  And his pistol is in his hand.  If you give Abnett what he wants, then this is just another business transaction.  If you reach for a weapon, things are going to get ugly in a hurry."  As an aside, the MC is offering an opportunity with a cost: describing the situation this way lets the player know that this isn't a situation where she can easily Go Aggro, and that if it comes to gunplay she is going to have to risk taking some Harm (although there's nothing stopping Deke from using threats via Seduce or Manipulate).

Deke decides to teach these jokers a lesson: "Fuck this noise, I draw my pistol, dropping and duckwalking to the nearest cover as I do, shooting the whole way.  And when it comes to targets, you'd better believe Abnett is at the top of my list."
MC: "Great, roll+Hard"

Deke: "I got an 11.  Hey, if I choose to 'take definite hold of it,' does that mean I can make it out the door?"

MC: "Absolutely."

Deke: "OK.  I'll do that while keeping myself as safe as possible.  And I want to scare the crap out of these idiots such that I don't have to deal with this bullshit next time I come here."

The MC decides to treat the NPCs as a gang for the purposes of inflicting damage, but since it's "a couple of guys" he decides not to offset the damage, so Deke inflicts the full 2-Harm for her 9mm.  But it's (ap) because she's packing armor-piercing rounds in it.  Did I forget to mention those?  Consulting the section on damage to a gang, the MC sees that 2-Harm is "many injuries, several serious, a couple of fatalities," but decides that since the gang is so small he'll take one of each (in this case one serious injury and one fatality).  Deke herself takes 2-Harm, but her 1-armor drops that to 1-Harm - she'll need to make the Harm move in a sec, which may snowball into more stuff later, but we'll ignore that for now.

So the MC decides to narrate it this way: "You drop and draw, and as you do so your first shot takes Abnett right in the crotch.  He drops, screaming and bleeding profusely, and you know for sure he's a dead man writhing.  Carson curses and brings his rifle to bear on you.  One shot passes through the table-top you knock over for cover, and wood splinters into your face.  After that, though, you hear a pop-click, then him cursing and messing with his rifle.  When you pop up to send a couple shots in his direction, you're pretty sure he's ducked behind the bar, and you don't see him again before you leave.  On your way out, Butters initially lifts his pistol to take a shot at you, but you can see his heart's not in it.  It might have something to do with the high-pitched scream Abnett's making as he bleeds out on the floor.  He doesn't actually shoot, but you blaze away in his direction anyway as you move and he wisely dives for cover. You're pretty sure you tag him at least once.  Then there's sunlight on your face and you're out the door.  Go ahead and make the Harm move."

As a side note it's six of one, a half-dozen of the other whether you call for the Harm move before or after the character is out.  It can give you some interesting options either way, but one of the things that Deke chose to "take definite hold of" was getting out the door.  As such, even if Deke flubs and rolls a 10+, I would still respect the success Deke got on her Seize By Force roll and the resulting choices she made, so being rendered "unconscious, trapped, incoherent or panicked" would be to deny her success and I wouldn't do it.

You could just as easily not treat the NPCs as a gang and split her Harm amongst the them individually, maybe doing 2-Harm to Abnett or one each to Abnett and Butters, Deke's choice.  But I think treating them as a gang lets you be a little freer with your crosshairs, which to my mind is usually a good thing.  It also "scales up" the action a little bit, meaning that Deke can inflict the equivalent of multiple hits with a single roll.  She doesn't need to act on Abnett, then make a new roll against Butters, or whatever.

But that's not to say that you couldn't zoom in your granularity if you wanted.  The above exchange was predicated on Deke wanting to get out.  If instead Deke chose some other intent (like kill Abnett where he stands, then go to the bar and calmly have a drink), things might have gone differently, because she might still have had to deal with Butters and Carson, which might have necessitated more rolls.

I guess the point I'm trying to make with all this is that as the MC you have the option of zooming in or out on the action and making the rolls as specific or general as you wish.  I don't think you need to "keep the last roll," because if you zoom out there will only be one roll, and if you zoom in you should be narrating in such a way that dry, repeated Seize By Force isn't necessarily obvious or even the best approach.  At the very least there should be some Act Under Fire going on.

375
Yeah, my mind went immediately to Edge of the Empire as well.  I love that mechanic, but I think the biggest problem with it is that there are like 8 possible symbols, which can make it a little tough to sum up/interpret.  Fortunately, Fantasy Flight's dice roller app does it for you.  But then again, rolling physical dice is part of the charm of gaming, so I'm not sure where I stand on all that.

For this system, I assume that you have to let at least one dreidel stand, yes?  So if you have a skill of 1 and you only roll 1 dreidel, you can't actually take one away (because then there's no way to determine whether your attempt was a success or a failure).  OK, cool, but what if you have a skill of 0, roll one die, and it comes up HAY?  How is that result interpreted?  Or if it's a SHIN?

So for instance, I'm at the bar mitvah of Moishe's little brother and I've decided to try to steal a kiss from the rebbe's daughter.  I have a Charming of 2 and I choose to roll 3 dreidels.  They come up HHH.  Or SSS? Or HHS?  What happens?  Do I succeed?  Do I fail?  How does the fiction change based on the rolls above?

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