Author Topic: Without act under fire...  (Read 6383 times)

Orion

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Without act under fire...
« on: August 11, 2010, 07:39:28 AM »
A couple of play sessions confirms that "do something under fire" is pretty much the fundamental move that makes the game tick.  I'd go so far as to say that you don't, strictly speaking, need any other moves to have a playable game.  All my instincts tell me not to fix what ain't broken, but the fiction for my cyberpunk hack is asking me to tweak it, so here goes:

Act Under Fire is the only thing Cool does by default, and even then it's impressive enough that ways to raise cool are difficult to come by in AW.  Now, in Identity Crisis, every stat already has some moves associated with it, and therefore tacking Act Under Fire onto any of them feels like overloading it.  Hence, I'm wondering what y'all think of replacing

"when you do something under fire, roll +Cool" with

"when you do something under fire, roll

+fire if the fire is technological
+wood if the fire is social
+metal if the fire is physical
+water if the fire is sorcerous
+earth is the fire is spiritual"

I'm worried that it may be too clunky, slowing down the game or provoking argument in "mixed case" situations, but it's the way I'm leaning. 

Jeff Russell

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 08:04:17 PM »
I agree that the edge cases might be difficult, but this seems pretty darn cool to me conceptually. It would really push a feel of competence in area specialization, which I think would work with a cyberpunky setting.

Johnstone

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 09:35:22 PM »
Well, if you say "to defy danger, roll+stat, which stat depends on the type of danger" then you've got most of your basic moves wrapped up, right? Then you only need custom moves for stat bonuses and stuff other characters can't normally do.

Simon C

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 09:48:35 PM »
The whole game could be "To get something you want when someone else doesn't want you to get it, roll +stat, the stat depends on how you try to get it".

The game's not like that because the specificity of the particular moves, the consequences of rolling 7-9 and making one of those choices, the way the different moves shape what is possible in the world, all push the game towards a particular kind of fictional content, which is more compelling than if it didn't.

When Vincent talks about "designing the fiction of the game" that's what he means.

So, Orion, what do you want the fiction of your hack to look like?

Orion

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 05:32:01 AM »
Well, originally, the idea was that the game would primarily focus on teams of specialists doing breaking & entering, kidnapping and hostage retrieval, and investigation.  That very narrow focus was required because the game engines I was used to modeled fine enough levels of detail that separating characters too much was just awkward.  Now I'd like to expand the scope of the game to include battlefield maneuvers and prolonged negotiations as things people might get involved with, and let the players each have some room to explore. 

In the original game engine I was using, I had 5 skills: Martial Arts, Human Resources, Technical, Sorcery, and Spiritualism.  (well actually they had japanese names that were less awkward, but w/ever).  That kind of task-based segregation made sense in the context of team-based operations, because it gave everyone a natural role on the team--having one characters numbers mark him as "technical" nominates him to star when the team needs to bypass security measures, and tack a back seat when a suspect needs to be bluffed. 

My concern about carrying over that numerical division to Apocalypse World's engine is twofold: first, that having to define the nature of the danger before rolling adds an extra operation to the move resolution, and second, that the correspondence is too neat.  Martial Arts was meant to help you get past many technological traps, and sorcery was meant to provide some antipersonnel firepower.  I could work those in through playbook moves, of course but it is a concern.

The alternative is to use more function-agnostic stats like the AW default ones and bring in specializations like technical, kung fu, or medical through the playbooks.  The only problem becomes deciding what stats to base the playbooks off.  It's not obvious to me whether a Sorcerer is more Cool or more Hard, or whether a Diplomat should be Sharper than a Technician. 

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 11:23:56 AM »
The alternative is to use more function-agnostic stats like the AW default ones and bring in specializations like technical, kung fu, or medical through the playbooks.  The only problem becomes deciding what stats to base the playbooks off.  It's not obvious to me whether a Sorcerer is more Cool or more Hard, or whether a Diplomat should be Sharper than a Technician. 

I'd suggest this, at least for now.

A Sorcerer might not be more Cool or Hard, but they are certainly more Weird (talking to demons and whatnot).

A Diplomat might not be Sharper than a Technician, but they should certainly be more Hot (or whatever stat you use for manipulating people).

So, I'd start with first, making a basic playbook for each stat:

Cool - Martial Artist
Hard - Soldier or whatever...
Hot - Diplomat
Sharp - Technician
Weird - Sorcerer

Then, I'd rename the stats to reflect those essential playbooks.

What one adjective best describes a Martial Artist? Diplomat? Technician? Sorcerer? If Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp or Weird works, keep it.

If "Spirit" works better than "Weird", use Spirit. If "Tech" works better than "Sharp", use Tech. Yah know?

So, immediately you have a playbook in your game that functions on a level where if someone picked up the game, they could look and be like... "Hmmm, who's the Coolest character? Oh, the Battlebabe. Or, who's the Sharpest character? Oh the Savvyhead."

Only, in your game, it'd be, "Oh, who's the most Spiritual character, ah that's the Sorcerer (or Mystic) or whatever. Who's the most Technical, oh the Engineer!"

Maybe.

lumpley

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 01:31:11 PM »
Here's what I've said on this topic before: Re: Apocalypse World 2nd Session: Less Suck, More Bodies, at Story Games.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 01:35:03 PM by lumpley »

Orion

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2010, 07:07:59 PM »
Michael,

so your advice would be to start with playbooks and reason from them to the stats?  That does make a good degree of sense.  The specifics of your advice don't quite match the setting--nobody thinks Sorcerers are "weird" in this world--but of course you couldn't know that. 

Lumpley, the discussion you linked is fascinating, but that group was doing something a little different than what I had in mind.  I wanted to a keep a number of well-defined basic moves, something like:

--when you assert your authority
--when you engage in a contest
--when you consult the Rings
--when you pull from the Pattern
--when you whip up a gadget

etc. 

but when I was diagramming matchups of moves to stats, there was no room for Act under Fire to have a stat to itself.  Therefore it's that one move I wanted to axe.  So instead of the AW flowchart which is something like

--if this is a character move, use it; else
--if it's a basic move, use it; else
--use acting under fire

I want to use this:

--if this is a character move, use it; else
--if this is a basic move, use it; else
--make up an appropriate stat


Michael Pfaff

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2010, 07:15:38 PM »
I wanted to a keep a number of well-defined basic moves, something like:

--when you assert your authority
--when you engage in a contest
--when you consult the Rings
--when you pull from the Pattern
--when you whip up a gadget


Are these basic moves? They sound like specific playbook moves to me.

When I think of basic moves, I imagine something every character has a reasonable chance of doing.

Reacting, Aggression, Interpreting, and Interaction.

Asserting authority? Sounds specific. Who has authority in your setting? Everyone?
Same with the others.

The only one that sounds like a reasonable "everyone" move to me is "Pull from the Pattern" which could be similar to Open Your Brain.

You could also ditch playbooks (as they stand) and not have specific moves for specific playbooks.

Maybe everyone can do the basics and then choose a couple things they can also do.

Orion

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2010, 07:33:07 PM »
Assert your authority is the basic social move because the PCs are formerly-upperclass criminals in a world where the lower classes have been bioengineered for obediance. 

It's very similar to manipulate in that you can roll to dictate someone's behavior, but only if you have something over them.  So the default use of the move would be "assert my authority (over the conscripts), where my authority arises from genetic compulsion" but you could also use it on a captured noble by doing something like "assert my authority, where my authority is a big fucking gun". 

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2010, 07:35:27 PM »
Yeah, I guess I read that wrong.

Orion

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2010, 09:34:10 PM »
Not sure what you mean--you're making very intelligent extrapolations form very small amounts of information, I don't think I explained that anywhere. 

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Without act under fire...
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2010, 09:50:47 PM »
Not sure what you mean--you're making very intelligent extrapolations form very small amounts of information, I don't think I explained that anywhere. 

Oh, I just mean, I'm interpreting "assert your authority" (and I assume the other moves) wrong.

When you say, "I assert my authority with genetic compulsion" and "I assert my authority with a machinegun" I read that as:

"I seduced or manipulated... to assert my authority" and "I went aggro to assert my authority."

Right?

I mean, I think I'm just seeing "assert my authority" as a product of the moves, not a move itself. You know?

If I'm way off base, just say so. Haha.