Author Topic: Tone and Color  (Read 7004 times)

Jason Morningstar

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Tone and Color
« on: September 01, 2010, 10:14:56 PM »
So I was looking at the character books and seeing a ton of color. My first impulse, for setting the game's tone where I want it, is to change all that. For example:

I don't like the names, so I'd change them out for ones I like.
I think walking around in bondage gear is lame, so snip, replace with "practical clothes" or whatever..
All the places where you can choose "fat body" gone, nobody is fat in our future, maybe replaced by "skeletal body" or something, not messing with the range of options but rather the particulars.

Just words, replacements, substitutions.

First question - am I missing something? I totally get the notion of a shared experience across play groups and I love that stuff myself, but the stuff AW wants to be universal hits me wrong. I don't think this will make the slightest difference but thought I'd check.

Second question - can this go further? If I don't want stupid explosions, can I just remove the grenade tube as a Gunlugger option? This seems like it could horn in a lot more on player agency and letting them set things up in the first session.

Even further, no Driver? I don't like cars, say. Can it just not be an option without causing any problems?

I'm interested in figuring out the unintended consequences of this sort of pre-editing and tinkering with color. How much it totally cool, how much is weak sauce, how much will actively break things?

I know I could accomplish this by having an up-front conversation, to a point, but I like the idea of laying out some tonal parameters right at the start. This is the world we live in, here are the things we do, here is how we look.

Thoughts?

Johnstone

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 11:32:58 PM »
I don't see a problem.

The lists give you a consistent vision without everybody having to agree ahead of time. If each player clears their colour choices with the group, or you make new colour lists that are consistent, you'll have a different consistent vision, you'll just have to get the group to agree to it.

If you say up-front "no cars" and everybody else agrees, it's the same as playing a game where nobody chooses the Driver, and nobody introduces any cars, neither MC nor players.

If you get rid of all the big guns, you might want to get rid of 2-armour too. Maybe. If you still have 3-harm guns, but not explosions, maybe not.

John Harper

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 11:39:32 PM »
First time I ran AW, we used the City of Lost Children setting, pretty much straight from the film. We changed all the default AW color (and character type names, too). It was good!

You're essentially making a hack. Nothing wrong with that.

Removing the grenade launcher is maybe hurting the Gunlugger, but only just a tiny bit. Offer her a flame-thrower instead?
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 12:06:08 AM by John Harper »

lumpley

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 11:40:46 PM »
Jason: You'll have to go a lot further than any of that to break the game, I'm positive.

Keep going from there, though, and i think you'll find that pretty soon you're creating new playbooks.

A playbook takes a couple of hours or less to create, once you're on a roll. By game night you could have your own new, original 6-pack. Why not?

Once you have 3 or 4, you'll want to go back and look hard at the basic moves. You might find that you need to replace or revise a couple of them. They're based on my calls about the consequences of the PCs' actions, so if you're rewriting the one, you'll at least want to reexamine the other.

Jason Morningstar

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 12:03:49 AM »
Thanks guys!

Vincent, I don't want to get too far off the rez, having never run the game, but I definitely want to stray just enough. If it all works out and I get running it and like it I will stray hella far!

So far so good.

Margolotte

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 02:18:05 AM »
Also, there's nothing that says all playbooks have to be available at the start of all games. There were plenty that didn't have the Maestro'd or the Faceless, so there's no reason yours -must- have the Driver. I'm not sure the Driver was even an option in the first game I played in, because it didn't exist yet. I think that's a bit where I could have a some influence as an MC, saying to myself "ok, in this game? No Angel. And Gunlugger, Battlebabe and Faceless are all in. Man, this is going to -hurt-!"

John Mc

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 05:56:13 PM »
Yea, like everyone says, you can totally change that stuff around.

I do suggest that the stuff get changed with a consistent vision in mind.  Don't just let every player make their own substitutions, or make substitutions willy-nilly.  For example, my players tried to do that (choose names not in the books, look different than the books), but after four sessions everyone is glad we stuck to the stuff in the books.  It kept us all on the same track.  Vincent provided a clear vision for us to work with, and I wanted to use it.  My players hadn't grokked it yet, but they did once we got rolling and everyone benefited.  If they'd run off after different creative visions we wouldn't have as coherent a result.

Jason Morningstar

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 10:26:03 PM »
Oh yeah, I am all about being on the same page. I love consistency. Like names - I'll have a big list I made from American and Mexican census data and English and Spanish Swadesh lists that feels better to me.

Simon C

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 01:21:39 AM »
Jason,

I think one of the biggest things you could do to change the tone would be to create some new threat types. Like, at the moment you can't really have a single person in town who has an agenda that's not the PC's, and the means to achieve that, without them being a Grotesque or a Warlord. I like that, but it promotes a certain tone.

You could add a new threat type, like "Survivor", with types:
Lone Wolf: impulse: to resist fetters
Owner: impulse: to grow and profit
Dealer: impulse: to buy and sell things
Patriarch: impulse: to preserve the status quo

And then give them a list of moves, like:

Offer a deal
Require payment
Take ownership of something
Impose a law

and so on.

I think that will promote a game which has more status quo, less propensity to spiral into violence, and PCs coexisting with threats more peacefully.

Jason Morningstar

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 02:28:33 AM »
Thanks Simon, that sounds smart. I'm OK with not tampering too much before I've had a chance to run the game, but I can't resist the small stuff. I think once I get my arms around it, if I'm really loving it, I'll want to hack it pretty hardcore.

Mike Sands

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 02:32:10 AM »
As an aside, Simon: that sketch of a new threat type is pretty cool. One suggestion, though, is that by changing the Patriarch impulse to "protect my people" you could make it a whole lot less about keeping the status quo.

Simon C

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 04:34:55 AM »
Oh yeah, Mike, that's smart. It's funny. Sketching up that threat type gave me some interesting insight into the guts of the game. The threats all have active, driving motivations to change the world. It promotes the "no status quos" thing. When making threats you've gotta think about how to keep them relevant to play by making them constantly push against the PCs.

Chris

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2010, 10:54:52 AM »
Oh yeah, Mike, that's smart. It's funny. Sketching up that threat type gave me some interesting insight into the guts of the game. The threats all have active, driving motivations to change the world. It promotes the "no status quos" thing. When making threats you've gotta think about how to keep them relevant to play by making them constantly push against the PCs.

Not all. The brute : family already has close ranks and protect our own. In practical terms, the impulses have to be expressed through MC moves, so there will always be a "do something" component.
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 - "......"

nweismuller

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Re: Tone and Color
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 09:06:28 PM »
I took Simon C's suggestion for the survivor threat type, as it supports the tone I'm trying for in my new Central California game- Market Town, the hub of the game, and the surrounding farmers and ranchers are mostly trying to get by, but there are plenty of things to press down harshly on anybody trying to rebuild.  That said, my complete version of the threat type:

SURVIVORS

A survivor is a person just doing what it takes in this harsh world.  If well-treated, they might be a resource; if threatened, they'll act to remove the threat.  Nothing is free, everybody has a price, and hope and trust are always the first casualties.  Choose what kind of survivor:
-Moneyman (impulse: to profit and grow)
-Mercenary (impulse: to offer services, for a price)
-Patriarch (impulse: to protect one's own)
-Puritan (impulse: to find fault)
-Lone wolf (impulse: to resist fetters)
-Paranoid (impulse: to percieve threats)
MC Moves for survivors:
Offer a deal.
Demand a price.
Proclaim laws or limits.
Take possession of something.
Retreat from danger.
Share information.
Attack somebody, in revenge or defense.
Shut somebody out.
Condemn somebody.
Prepare defenses.

The list of moves is intended to emphasise that, in their defensiveness and mistrust, survivors are still a threat, despite not being as malignant as a warlord or grotesque.  The closest to being helpful a survivor gets, by the MC moves, is 'share information' or 'offer a deal', and they can turn nasty quickly through 'laws and limits' and 'revenge or defense', if people don't make an effort to stay on their good side.

In particular, the NPC 'hardholder' of Market Town is a moneyman, with a coterie of other moneymen as his inner circle, which places Market Town in a relatively passive and weak position compared to other, more aggressive groups that threaten this island of 'base of operations' for the PCs.