Author Topic: Monsterhearts Basic Moves and achieving your in-fiction intention  (Read 12371 times)

Meserach

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Re: Monsterhearts Basic Moves and achieving your in-fiction intention
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2012, 06:51:39 PM »
Joe, first up, I want to really thank you for your honest and illuminating responses. I can clearly see the philosophy behind your design decisions and I think what you are saying makes sense given that philosophy. So, that's all good.

So, that said! For me, I feel like this quasi-dichotomy you've set up between AW (where basic moves resolve problems) and MH (where basic moves don;t resolve problems but instead provoke new ones) is kinda false?

For me, the whole beauty of AW's set of basic moves is that they both resolve situations AND provoke problems which lead to fresh situations. Interestingly, the moves I enjoy most in MH also do this; but they are nearly all not basic moves (exceptions: "run away" always, and "turn someone on" on a 7-9) but are instead skin moves.

My big concern with basic moves not helping to resolve situations is that players are going to avoid using them, since they don't help them get what they want, and instead just lead to further problems, or create mechanical tags (Conditions, Strings, Harm) which MIGHT help resolve a problem in the future but whose connection to such a resolution is fuzzy and unsure.

It also seems like this philosophy places a lot more weight on the MC as arbiter of events. Take your discussion of the bottle grabbing example. I'm seeing a lot of decision points for the MC (whose actions happen in what order? is this tense or scary, for whom, and as such, who has to hold steady?) and very few decision points for the players - they just state what they're trying to do and then wait for MC calls.

I'm aware the principle is only "sometimes, disclaim decision making", but I think this specific area is something that I personally would rather disclaim decision making on very often, and so if it comes up with frequency, then there's a disconnect between what the game provides for and what I want it to do.

And that's not a problem in your design necessarily, since you are saying, if I'm reading you right, that that's an intentional effect! But it does mean, as you suggested, that I want to play the game (as written) less.

mcdaldno

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Re: Monsterhearts Basic Moves and achieving your in-fiction intention
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2012, 07:55:10 PM »
Joe, first up, I want to really thank you for your honest and illuminating responses. I can clearly see the philosophy behind your design decisions and I think what you are saying makes sense given that philosophy. So, that's all good.

Yay!

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So, that said! For me, I feel like this quasi-dichotomy you've set up between AW (where basic moves resolve problems) and MH (where basic moves don;t resolve problems but instead provoke new ones) is kinda false?

Yeah. I'm exaggerating in the hopes of illuminating my point. I have a tendency to do that. It may be wise to take my thread responses with a grain of salt. (Here's a bottle of salt for your thread-reading. You now have a bottle of salt in your inventory[/n]. :)

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My big concern with basic moves not helping to resolve situations is that players are going to avoid using them, since they don't help them get what they want, and instead just lead to further problems, or create mechanical tags (Conditions, Strings, Harm) which MIGHT help resolve a problem in the future but whose connection to such a resolution is fuzzy and unsure.

That is not an experience I've had in play, nor one I've had reported to me by playtesters. Have players been avoiding them in your game? If this issue is surfacing in your game, let me know and we can workshop it.

History: At one point "hold steady" suffered from this kind of avoidance, because the 10 up result was simply "you keep your cool." It was effectively the same thing as Act Under Fire's 10+ result of "you do it," which I've come to believe is the worst piece of moves design in all of Apocalypse World. Because it's a 10+ result where nothing new is gained. The 10 up results in Monsterhearts all give you benefits (with the exception of run away, I just realized).

The benefits of turn someone on and shut someone down are different types of leverage. The impact of that leverage is amorphous, which is raising alarm bells for you. Yeah? Thing is: amorphous social power isn't something to scoff at, especially when we're talking about teenagers. It's ammunition for the single scariest thing about teenagers: they can make someone's life a living hell, and they're willing to do it the moment the gains outweigh the losses.

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It also seems like this philosophy places a lot more weight on the MC as arbiter of events. Take your discussion of the bottle grabbing example. I'm seeing a lot of decision points for the MC (whose actions happen in what order? is this tense or scary, for whom, and as such, who has to hold steady?) and very few decision points for the players - they just state what they're trying to do and then wait for MC calls.

Apocalypse World (and Dungeon World, and other hacks) present this same situation. These games don't have an initiative order, and so when two people want to take different actions, you have to ask yourself, "Who gets to act first?"

This thread talks about the same issue in AW & DW. On comment #7, DevP gets specific with an example. On comment #13, John Harper lays down the wisdom. The answer is the same for Monsterhearts, just with different points in the fiction where moves will trigger. But the "MC, clarify who acts first, if there's any confusion" guideline is precisely the same.

Meserach

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Re: Monsterhearts Basic Moves and achieving your in-fiction intention
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2012, 09:08:16 PM »
My big concern with basic moves not helping to resolve situations is that players are going to avoid using them, since they don't help them get what they want, and instead just lead to further problems, or create mechanical tags (Conditions, Strings, Harm) which MIGHT help resolve a problem in the future but whose connection to such a resolution is fuzzy and unsure.

That is not an experience I've had in play, nor one I've had reported to me by playtesters. Have players been avoiding them in your game? If this issue is surfacing in your game, let me know and we can workshop it.

It hasn't directly happened yet, because we played the game just last night and only just stumbled across the examples I've told you about where we noticed the problem profoundly. In the ensuing discussion, several players have expressed to me their future intention to avoid using these moves to try and achieve things, and instead to try some combination of: avoidance of direct confrontation, pressuring important NPCs for fictional leverage, using skin moves.

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History: At one point "hold steady" suffered from this kind of avoidance, because the 10 up result was simply "you keep your cool." It was effectively the same thing as Act Under Fire's 10+ result of "you do it," which I've come to believe is the worst piece of moves design in all of Apocalypse World. Because it's a 10+ result where nothing new is gained. The 10 up results in Monsterhearts all give you benefits (with the exception of run away, I just realized).

Hmm. I both agree in a sense and disagree. Yes, a standard 10+ on act under fire doesn't give you anything new. But players can't actually AVOID it, even though they have no incentive to pursue it, because a) it is sometimes a direct, mechanical consequence of other moves, B) the MC is meant to call for it when it occurs, C) it occurs so often, when you do basically anything dramatic, contested or tense, that to avoid it would meant having to avoid almost all actions.

By contrast, in MH, it is pretty easy to just avoid lashing out physically: you're never forced to by the mechanics, and there are other ways to achieve almost of all its actual effects.

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The benefits of turn someone on and shut someone down are different types of leverage. The impact of that leverage is amorphous, which is raising alarm bells for you. Yeah? Thing is: amorphous social power isn't something to scoff at, especially when we're talking about teenagers. It's ammunition for the single scariest thing about teenagers: they can make someone's life a living hell, and they're willing to do it the moment the gains outweigh the losses.

Well, it isn't the amorphousness that bothers me so much as the uncertainty of its efficaciousness. That string might make all the difference to an important roll... or it might end up being spent on offering an XP which is turned down, thereby signifying very little. That condition could be something you use multiple times in important rolls.... or it might be something the character removes before you can even exploit it.

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Apocalypse World (and Dungeon World, and other hacks) present this same situation. These games don't have an initiative order, and so when two people want to take different actions, you have to ask yourself, "Who gets to act first?"

Yes, I agree... but the way the basic moves in AW means that however the initiative order shakes out, I still feel both characters get a good chance to influence the outcome. (For example, in AW you have the option to roll to interfere with the other PCs move!) With MH's basic moves, it feels like the MC-decided initiative order is a lot more critical to the outcome.

Chris

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Re: Monsterhearts Basic Moves and achieving your in-fiction intention
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2012, 08:16:36 PM »
My big concern with basic moves not helping to resolve situations is that players are going to avoid using them, since they don't help them get what they want, and instead just lead to further problems, or create mechanical tags (Conditions, Strings, Harm) which MIGHT help resolve a problem in the future but whose connection to such a resolution is fuzzy and unsure.

Well, that's not a thing because they can't avoid using them. These (and the moves in AW) aren't powers you choose to use. They're mechanical responses to fictional triggers. So if your PC don't DO the fictional requirements, then there is no move. If they do, then the move happens. A player never decides to use a move.

And I'd be incredibly impressed if they went through the whole session without doing the things the basic moves outline.
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 - "......"