Author Topic: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?  (Read 4372 times)

fnord3125

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Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« on: July 20, 2010, 01:59:12 PM »
So in my beginnings of working on a Wraith hack, it occurred to me that all the basic moves are active.  They all involve the character doing something.  In fact, the only moves that are along the lines of a "resistance roll" that I can think of are in the threat/front examples with the parasite that you roll to resist after encountering someone or something that might carry it. (I'm also realizing that I wrote up a LOT of custom moves that work like this for my threats and fronts... hmmm...).

I'm sure this isn't an accident, but I'm wondering... are reactive/defensive moves bad in general, or are they just bad for the specific incarnation of the game that is Apocalypse World proper?  Should they be avoided in hacks as well?

lumpley

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 02:19:16 PM »
Good question! Good observation.

"When Wist touches your skin, roll+weird..."

A player is never going to say "Wist touches my skin." Reactive moves put you in the position as MC of having to make a double move, you have to announce the future badness and then here's the badness right away: "Wist touches your skin-and-Roll+weird!" The natural dynamics of the conversation would have you put a beat in between, though, during which the player can jump in: "Wist touches your skin." "The hell she does!" "uh..."

There's nothing wrong in principle with reactive moves, but they make me feel awkward when I'm MCing so I avoid designing them.

Moves like "when you go into Dremmer's ambush territory..." work better, because even though the players never say "I go into Dremmer's ambush territory," they might very well say "I go out to the stovehead" or whatever.

-Vincent

fnord3125

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2010, 02:42:39 PM »
Thanks Vincent, but that wasn't really what I was asking about.  :)  I don't think.

I don't feel weird about moves like that when they're custom moves specific to some kind of threat.  Custom moves like that seem to be exceptions.

What I'm wondering is if reaction-type moves ought to be avoided for basic moves.  Is it stupid for one of the moves written in every playbook to be a "saving throw" style thing?

lumpley

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2010, 05:03:59 PM »
Oh!

In Apocalypse World proper, there are a couple of those -- the harm & healing peripheral moves. I have them as peripheral moves instead of as basic moves in the character playbooks, but if you want the players to see yours all the time, call 'em basic moves.

-Vincent

fnord3125

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2010, 05:10:52 PM »
Okay, so you don't necessarily feel they are "bad" but you don't want them at the forefront.  And... I think you're saying that's personal preference and not something you feel would hurt the game to change?

That's cool.  Things to think about, I guess...
(incidentally, in my weird way, I don't think of the Harm move as being a reactive move.  Although the player is the one who rolls it, I actually have always viewed it as the harm making the move against the PC.  Or at least that's how I explain the fact that you're rolling +harm and higher numbers are bad.)

Michael Loy

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 01:57:16 AM »
A truly reactive move does seem a little odd/unnecessary to me.  To amplify on "When Wist touches your skin" up there:

GM: Wist touches your skin.

Player: The hell she does!

GM: Ok.  Then what do you do?

Player: I've seen this before ... I pull my magnum and make her back off.  At gunpoint.

*rolls to go aggro*

If the player succeeds, then Wist doesn't touch his skin and the "When Wist touches your skin" move never kicks in.  If the player fails, then he's failed and you get to make as hard a move as you like.

It seems like the logic of the game dictates that at this point you kick in a no-roll NPC move that goes "when Wist touches someone's skin, they fall into a deep trance" or whatever.

If you follow up with a custom PC move ("when Wist touches your skin, roll +Weird to resist being put into a deep trance by her strange psychic powers"), you're basically just choosing to skip your normal GM move.  Which I guess you can do, since you only have to do as hard a move as you like, but it breaks the usual pattern.

I think a better custom move for this kind of situation might be something like: "When acting under fire from Wist's psychic powers, roll +Weird instead of +Cool."  Because then it depends on the player trying to do something (rather like the "when you go into Dremmer's ambush territory" move).

fnord3125

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 05:34:48 AM »
Hmm, I don't have the general problem with reactive moves that you have, Michael, for several reasons.  But one great thing about AW is that it allows for either approach, based on the tastes of the particular MC (and, to some extent, the group as a whole).

Chris

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2010, 12:07:30 PM »
Yeah, the first instinct here is to put in opposed rolling and saving throws and all that. To me, it's just not needed. I don't think it adds anything. Like Michael said, all of this is happening anyway. You shouldn't be like "Oh, he punches you." There should be a sort of setup where the PC has the time to react. If they blow the roll, go all out. Either way, reactive moves aren't necessary.

They're not bad; they're just sort of like a weapons chart being added to The Pool. It's more like a "why?" thing.

Thanks Vincent, but that wasn't really what I was asking about.  :)  I don't think.

I don't feel weird about moves like that when they're custom moves specific to some kind of threat.  Custom moves like that seem to be exceptions.

What I'm wondering is if reaction-type moves ought to be avoided for basic moves. 

No, you're talking about making custom basic moves, and Vincent's post still applies. Reactive moves force the MC to make a hard move regardless of what the PC does, before they even get to make a roll. It's not wrong; it's what most games do. It's just contrary, to me, to the feel of the rest of the game.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

tonydowler

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Re: Defensive/Reactive moves - Are they bad?
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 05:32:40 PM »
Great question!

So Apocalypse D&D has saving throws. They're completely passive, more or less colorless generic rolls a character makes when they're affected by a spell. So far in play they've proven to be rather flat. I think it's because an active move and a reactive move all have intrinsic fictional content, whereas passive moves don't unless you take an extra step to add it.

Saving throws were included in ApocD&D as a point of connection between Apoc and the D&D source material. They provide compatibility where the D&D rules call for a passive roll. It sounds like you might have a similar point of connection with Wraith (a game I don't know at all).

The problem with the passive move is that it takes the form of "when you resist X" where X is an abstract, not fictional fact, like "harm" or "petrification". In a reactive move, X is fictional, like "when Wist touches your skin" or "when you meet a medusa's gaze".

In Apoc D&D, I've been slowly replacing the passive saving throws with custom moves. Thus the save against petrification becomes a custom move on the medusa monster, or flesh to stone spell, or whatever. This works vastly better, as being petrified (or not) becomes a part of the fictional positioning.