Thanks for your comments
, grepogor! Seize by Force
It's funny... I've read the seize by force
move a dozen times and I'd built up a very distinct idea of what the move did. I haven't played Apocalypse World
yet; I'm currently running a Dungeon World
campaign, so I feel like I have at least a fair idea of how AW would run at the table, but seize by force
isn't in DW.
Anyway, I hadn't ever thought about the move the way you described it (it always felt like a more... "militant" move to me, like a battle scene instead of a fight scene, or something). I'm not sure why I had that idea; I haven't read it again in the last month or two, so it hasn't been fresh in my mind while working on this hack. But I reread the move a couple times after reading your reply and, for whatever reason, the move looks entirely different to me now. I think it was the name.
Further, I'd been looking at the two systems (Unknown Armies
and Apocalypse World
) and how they work (e.g. both, for the most part, have the PC rolling against a fixed difficulty that wasn't based on the specific situation, but rather on what's on the character's sheet--whether AW's miss/weak hit/strong hit or UA's rolling against your own skill). For reasons too long to explain right now, the act under fire
move in AW struck me as similar to the "major skill checks" in UA, while most of the other AW moves felt more like "significant skill checks" (with "minor skill checks usually being stuff you don't bother rolling for in AW). That thought in the back of my head had lead me to think about act under fire
as the default move to whip out whenever there was major consequences and you were rolling under intense pressure. I hadn't thought about it for a few days before writing my initial post, but I think it colored my sense that act under fire
would basically replace seize by force
for toe-to-toe combat.
Long story short, I'm reconsidering including Seize by Force
Thanks for your thoughts on Madness Meters, as well. I've been thinking about Madness a lot since reading your post and below are my current thoughts:The Meters
I like your idea of cutting down to only three meters and I think your split makes sense. Violence
feel distinct and are two that play a very immediate role in how many conflict scenes play out. The other three (Helplessness
, and Self
) seem more similar in effect and stresses; I'm struggling to articulate exactly what they have in common, but I think it's that Violence and Unnatural are more likely to make you freak out right the fuck now, while Self, Isolation, and Loneliness are more likely to eat at you and erode you and totally fuck with your sense of who and what you are.
I even think it can be called "Self" and the lists of stresses can be combined. Even though there are differences between the three, Isolation and Helplessness hit you in a similar way to the cognitive dissonance of having done something you didn't think you would ever do...Hardened Notches and Stress
I've also been intrigued by your idea about cutting down to a single stress track. While I want at least the three stress types for Hardened notches, I don't necessarily want to split them for the stress track (the Madness Clock).
In UA the only difference that the rank of the stress makes is to determine whether or not you make a stress check; it doesn't impact the difficulty of the check or change the severity of consequences.
Basically it works like this:
- If the rank of the stress is higher than your Hardened, then roll; if it's equal to or lower, then don't roll
- If you succeed at your roll, mark the lowest unmarked Hardened notch (i.e. your Hardened goes up by one)
- If you fail, mark the lowest unmarked Failed notch (i.e. your Failed goes up by one) and choose one of the reactions: panic, paralysis, or frenzy
So translated into AW mechanics, every failed stress check does 1-stress regardless of the severity of the stress trigger and every successful stress check causes +1-hardened.
If I use that system, then the Hardened wouldn't act as armor; instead they'd act as the threshold of whether or not you have to roll.
Hmm. So I'm trying to choose between that or treating stress as harm and Hardened as armor (e.g., a 5-stress event against a 2-hardened character would cause 3-stress).
What I'm currently leaning towards is having 3 separate "Hardened" tracks (one for each of the three madness meters) but only a single madness clock (so there would be a harm clock and a madness clock). This is in large part because suffering a mental derangement is based on any
track filling with failed notches; the only difference the balance of failed notches across stress tracks makes in UA is the description of how your character acts (4 failed notches in Violence has different quirks and ticks than 4 failed notches in Self, for example). While those descriptions are great, the amount of simplification that can happen by having a single madness clock is worth the loss, I think (KISS).The Stress Check
The stress check will be handled by a new peripheral move something like this:When you suffer stress greater than your Hardened rank, roll+hard. On a 10+, get +1-hardened. On a 7-9, choose 1.
On a miss, take 1-stress and flip-out (panic, paralysis, or frenzy).
- get +1-hardened
- flip-out (panic, paralysis, or frenzy)
In UA, if you fail a stress check you have to choose one of three reactions (in addition to gaining another failed notch): Panic
, or Frenzy
. They're basically what they sound like (run away, freeze like a deer in the headlights, or attack the source of your stress until the cause of the stress is gone). These are built into the move above.
I'm thinking that the above move is only for acute stresses with a clear source (like most Violent or Unnatural stresses). For chronic or diffuse stresses (like isolation for extended periods or the cognitive dissonance of having done something you didn't think you could ever do) I'm thinking there would still be a move, but either you wouldn't have to choose one of those reactions (it's all about the slow erosion into madness without the moment of flipping out) or maybe there's a separate list (like Withdraw
, or Anger
, or something like that--I haven't really worked on it yet).Stress Ranks
In UA, there are 10 stress ranks and Hardened goes up to 10. I'm trying to decide if I want to condense that. It would be easy to condense it to, say, 5 ranks by saying that rank 1 & 2 stresses become 1-stress, rank 3 & 4 stresses become 2-stress, and so on up to rank 9 & 10 being 5-stress.
This would have two main impacts:
- The size of the list of stresses and the number of Hardened notches
- How long it took to become a sociopath (see below)
I really don't know whether I'll do 10 (like UA), 5 (halving the list), 6 (and making them clocks?), or some other number...Getting Crazy
If the madness clock fills up completely, that doesn't mean you're "taken out" or out of play. Instead you don't roll anymore: If the stress is under your Hardened, nothing happens and if it's over, then you automatically choose a reaction as if you failed.
The first time the clock fills up, you pick up a mental aberration. These are basically disorders that are "permanent" unless cured and that are closely tied to your obsession.
You can walk around with your madness clock filled all the way for most of the game, really.
Also, I'll need to figure out if that's too fast. 6 "slots" on the clock is potentially only 6 rolls away if you fail consistently... It might also depend on how available treatment and "mental first aid" are. It probably isn't worse than wounds, as long as treatment is fairly easy to get.Getting Callous
Hardness is not benign; it helps you deal with stress, but you become callous. Mental stress makes characters vulnerable, but also makes them human.
In UA, you become a sociopath
if two hardened tracks fill up all 10 hardened notches or if the character's total hardened notches exceeds 35. You suffer the below consequences until you get treatment
- You can no longer use your Passions*
- If you're an avatar, you can't use that avatar skill
(*Passions have a mechanical impact, so this is not just a role-playing change--I haven't talked about it yet, but I will)
The exact number (e.g. 35) would change since there's only 3 tracks now. Also, as I mentioned above, I might use a different number than 10 for the number of stress ranks and the number of hardened notches. But I am planning on having a threshold where you become so calloused that you're a sociopath.Treatment
There will be rules for healing madness and hardness (in fact, the moves will probably be more detailed than the harm moves, since I'm not planning on having an Angel equivalent--there's a first aid
move to stabilize someone who's dying and the rules for healing naturally are the same as AW, but if you go to a hospital, that's more of a time and narrative thing than a move--i.e. it's like going to an NPC Angel in AW).
The rules for helping madness will be similar to the UA rules (mental help before they're crazy and after they're crazy, plus "psychological first aid"). I'll work on defining those moves once I have the madness system nailed down, but they'll probably look something like on a 10+, remove a madness stress and a hardened rank, on a 7-9, choose one.Madness and NPC'sNPC's Flipping-out
NPC's are definitely vulnerable to madness, especially flipping out (panic
, or frenzy
). It seems to me like this is mainly relevant in fights or similar conflicts. The longer-term stuff, like is an NPC going crazy, is probably better handled as GM moves rather than mechanics, but knowing if they totally flip-out is definitely relevant in a fight.
So... my three current ideas are:
- to work it into the Basic Moves and other Character moves (so NPC's flipping out in your favor is a choice you can take for certain moves--mainly violent or unnatural ones)
- to make it GM moves (so the GM can have them run away or go berserk or whatever), or
- to have a separate peripheral move to determine if they freak out and how
I don't like the third option. I'm leaning towards a combo of the first two: Some moves have stress reactions built in and also stress reactions are part of the GM moves.
How hardened the NPC is against that particular kind of stress (Violence, Unnatural, etc.) can be a tag for NPC's and groups. How it all plays out is up to the GM, based on principles (e.g. barf forth apocalyptica
(revised for the UA setting, look through crosshairs
, respond with fuckery and intermittent rewards
The rules for groups rioting is something I like in UA that helps give certain tenets of the setting some teeth. Unlike personal madness and flipping out for NPC's (see above), I'm thinking this should be a peripheral move. Like suffers harm
, it's one that you want to miss. The bonus to the roll would be based on how overt the effect is (and/or modified by the size of the crowd, etc.). I'll worry about the specifics later but wanted to jot it down while I was thinking about it.
I'm out of time tonight (I've already stayed up too late). As always, any and all responses and comments are very welcome!