Author Topic: Advancement, what is it for?  (Read 5868 times)

Orion

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Advancement, what is it for?
« on: July 23, 2010, 06:24:25 PM »

1: Why have improvement at all?
2:How much improvement do we want?
3: Why tie it to die rolls and not time passed or fronts weathered or goals accomplished or any of the other things it could plausibly be tied to? 

Bret

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2010, 07:02:56 PM »
1. Advancement is there to allow player characters to grow in terms of the fiction and the game mechanics, to allow them to evolve beyond the original concepts of the playbooks, and to let the characters modify them as their visions of the character change. It is also there as a reward mechanism, because it makes us feel good to ding! Level up!

2. N/A.

3. Advancement is tied to dice rolls to allow the player to have the power to pursue experience as much or as little as the want, and also as an incentive for the player to have his character take actions the rest of the group finds interesting - we want to see Ozair the Savvyhead go aggro or Iris the Brainer try to seduce someone, for instance. The other pacing mechanisms you mention are static and, in my opinion, uninteresting.
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Chris

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 07:25:13 PM »
I love advancement in AW. I've pretty much only played indie games, so I missed the whole DnD thing and AW is my first game with levels and such and I'm finding my inner min/maxer. :)

I think it's really there to help the game grow into a version of the vision Vincent has for the game. It's like a lattice for ivy. The ivy grow however it will, at the pace it will and the lattice keeps it on a certain, specific, weird-ass-apocalyptic track.

I agree that "how much improvement do we want" is odd tome. I don't really get what you mean. I get that it's a concern for you, so you might just want to extend the xp tracks before a DING, but I'd play the game before hacking it.

It's tied to dice rolls because that's a more concrete method and is frankly, easier than the ones you described. Also, it allows a certain track for the game to grow on, this time laid down by the MC and whichever player is fictionally closest to the player in question.
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 - "......"

Motipha

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2010, 07:40:55 PM »
1) prosaic response: Vincent builds advancement in to his games.  Dogs in the Vineyard, In a Wicked Age, Storming the Wizards Castle, Even Kill Puppies for Satan, they all include some idea of advancement, change, or improvement.

more meaningful: I think CHANGE is more key than anything else.  People are not static, especially not interesting characters.  We change over time.  As such, having characters change mechanically to show that fictional change works.  In some cases, it's accumulative, sometimes it's just drift.  Dogs is much more about drift than improvement: In Apocalypse World, it seems to be about broadening abilities rather than anything else.

2) yeah, this really doesn't make a lot of sense.  When playtesting I did kind of concern myself about people improving to fast, but that was my hangup that I got over: I'm used to thinking of improvement and experience in terms of the straight up "level up" reward, rather than a way to add depth to a character.

3)  Pretty much with Bret.  It's a way for other players to help direct how play goes: either to provide impetus for the player to continue playing up how hard he is, or maybe to show how he's weird because it's something I haven't seen before and I'm curious, or whatever.  highlighting isn't about rewarding someone for "succeeding."  It's about telling them this is something they might enjoy doing more of.
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Daniel Wood

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010, 08:30:34 PM »

1. Because change is interesting, and because increasing power and responsibility are key to a lot of the things Apocalypse World can be 'about.' Also, the 'meta' advances such as retiring characters and playing new ones really give the game and the players room to breathe, and the opportunity to take the game in new directions as it develops.
2. Lots. As far as I can tell there is no such thing as too much advancement in Apocalypse World. The moves I mention above are really, in my opinion, an extraordinary response to concerns about characters becoming 'too powerful' -- a phrase which only makes sense from the point of view of the player. In AW if your character's mechanical development is outrunning your vision of the fiction, you have a lot of very strong options to use advancement in other ways, to curtail any excessive upward motion by instead pushing outwards into the world.
3. Because characters who take decisive action are hot.


Orion

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 09:06:31 PM »
You guys just keep upping the ante.  First the claim was that an MC shouldn't try to control the rate of advancement, which I found hard to agree with, but is nonetheless a reasonable opinion to hold.  But this is a design thread, in a forum about making hacks.  Are you saying that the designer, too, should not deign to interfere with the mysterious powers of the game?

Somebody (well, vincent) made up the rule we have now and presumably had reasons for doing so.  *I* like to think that Vincent had an idea in his head of about how many improvements per session to expect and that if the rule didn't achive that result he would have changed it. 

I must be misunderstanding something because you seem to be advocating a contradiction in terms, that a game designer should not try to control the experience that his game generates.  But that's what game design *is*.  Culling, from the literally infinite number of play experiences it is possible to have, characters it is possible to imagine, and stories which it is possible to tell, a subset which the designer endorses as especially enjoyable. 

Motipha

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 09:44:37 PM »
Your intention in asking the questions was not immediately apparent, though the fact that it's in this forum does colour it somehow.  But it is a forum about looking at the blood and guts of apocalypse world itself, not necessarily how they might be changed, so I didn't make the intuitive leap.  Regardless, if the question is about design of hacks of the system then question 2 makes more sense.

So, second answer:  no idea.  how much advancement does your game call for?  should characters change more or less slowly than they do in apocalypse world?  I don't think there is a simple answer to this.  or are you asking for someone to explicitly say  something like "in apocalypse world, players should gain one advance every session?"
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Chris

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 09:48:56 PM »
You guys just keep upping the ante.  First the claim was that an MC shouldn't try to control the rate of advancement, which I found hard to agree with, but is nonetheless a reasonable opinion to hold.  But this is a design thread, in a forum about making hacks.  Are you saying that the designer, too, should not deign to interfere with the mysterious powers of the game?

Somebody (well, vincent) made up the rule we have now and presumably had reasons for doing so.  *I* like to think that Vincent had an idea in his head of about how many improvements per session to expect and that if the rule didn't achive that result he would have changed it.  

I must be misunderstanding something because you seem to be advocating a contradiction in terms, that a game designer should not try to control the experience that his game generates.  But that's what game design *is*.  Culling, from the literally infinite number of play experiences it is possible to have, characters it is possible to imagine, and stories which it is possible to tell, a subset which the designer endorses as especially enjoyable.  

Nope. I don't think Vincent is trying to control your table experience at all. The game happening at the table is like a river. The rules can move it, maybe change its course a little, but 90 of this is happening at the table. The MC can push it one way or another, but only to a point. It all comes down to the players. It's their game.

I think Vincent's real strength is making games that recognize this. You CAN'T control everything that happens at a table, not as the MC, and certainly not as the designer. So instead of "controlling" the game, like a dam, AW merely channels it into certain broad riverbeds that he thinks are cool, much like you said.

The game doesn't try to hold too tightly to play and I think that's your issue. It's gonna be really hard to do that in AW.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 09:53:38 PM by Chris »
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 - "......"

Fractaladvocate

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 10:02:57 PM »
You guys just keep upping the ante.  First the claim was that an MC shouldn't try to control the rate of advancement, which I found hard to agree with, but is nonetheless a reasonable opinion to hold.  But this is a design thread, in a forum about making hacks.  Are you saying that the designer, too, should not deign to interfere with the mysterious powers of the game?

Somebody (well, vincent) made up the rule we have now and presumably had reasons for doing so.  *I* like to think that Vincent had an idea in his head of about how many improvements per session to expect and that if the rule didn't achive that result he would have changed it. 

I must be misunderstanding something because you seem to be advocating a contradiction in terms, that a game designer should not try to control the experience that his game generates.  But that's what game design *is*.  Culling, from the literally infinite number of play experiences it is possible to have, characters it is possible to imagine, and stories which it is possible to tell, a subset which the designer endorses as especially enjoyable. 

Semi-longtime lurker, first time poster, but anyways...

One thing going on here is, Orion, is that you said you hadn't finished a game of Apocalypse World run under default rules. Which makes it more likely people are going to go 'of course he doesn't get it because he hasn't tried it', and advise you to try it because they like how it turned out. Or because they think even if it doesn't turn out how you want it to, that will give you a better idea of why it doesn't work.

But I think the main issue here is that your stated question is 'What is advancement for?'.

With such a question, people are going to reply with what it is in their view of default Apocalypse World, since there is no explicit talk of hacking, even if it's in the right forum. It seems like you're asking how the game works, rather than how it could be changed, so that's what you're likely to get.

People sometimes ask such questions to understand the thoughts behind the design, which can be useful for hacking.

If you named a topic 'How do I change the rules to control advancement as MC?' or something, people are more likely to be helpful, as you're then clearly asking their advice on how to change things, rather than how advancement works by default, or if it's a good idea.

Orion

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2010, 10:06:10 PM »
Chris: I don't see it that way.  On the contrary, I feel that AW is notable for shaping the experience much more tightly and explicitly than mainstream RPGs do, which is to Vincent's credit!

Remember, the rulebook may admonish the *MC* to go with the flow, look through crosshairs and play to find out what happens--but by telling you to do that, he's telling you NOT to play any of the dozens of other ways you could play.  (Like keeping your favorite NPCs alive until you felt it was their time to go, or writing the campaign's last scene first and then writing PCs to fit it (mental note: write that game!)  It's absolutely shaping the experience into a very confined space.  

Fractal:  Sorry, the question I'm really getting at is: Why did Vincent write the advancement rule he did and not any other rule?  Why do improvements come every 5 XP and not every 4 or every 6?  Obviously nobody can actually know why he wrote it that way except Vincent, and I'm hoping to hear from him, but Anyone is welcome to share their best guess.   
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 10:08:08 PM by Orion »

lumpley

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2010, 01:34:56 AM »
Orion! It's a good question, but you're attacking the people who're taking the time to give you their answers. Knock it off.

Here are mine:

1. To keep things fresh, sure, but most importantly, to gradually increase the characters' reach into the world.

2. 11 per character, if the character doesn't change playbooks. More or less is fine, for any given particular character, but 11 underlies the game's rules. I believe that the game exerts pressure toward 11 -- I'd be very surprised to hear that many characters get 13 advances without switching playbooks, for instance -- but that's an effect of the games' presumptions, not an important feature.

3. Because it's linked to character action but not character success, it's concrete, quick-paced and reliable over time but not 100% predictable, it's convenient, and it's easy to explain and remember.

-Vincent

FigureFour

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Re: Advancement, what is it for?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2010, 10:47:36 PM »
1. Because there are no status quos in Apocalypse World!
2. As much as I can get.
3. This one is complicated. As others have said, tying it to rolls makes it action oriented and puts the power in the hands of the players. Tying it to fronts weathered sounds pretty static. It's essentially just a timing mechanism. Tying it to goals accomplished makes the advancement process about acomplishing things, instead of just about taking action. I like that Apocalypse World rewards you for trying hard and fucking up.