Author Topic: new player/GM exploring the system  (Read 12782 times)

zmook

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2014, 03:59:12 PM »
Here's a snippet from the rules of Apocalypse World:

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Here's a custom threat move.  People new to the game occasionally ask me for this one.  It's general, it modifies nearly every other move:

Things are tough.  Whenever a player's character makes a move, the MC judges it normal, difficult, or crazy difficult.  If it's difficult, the player takes -1 to the roll.  If it's crazy difficult, the player takes -2 to the roll.

Several groups in play test wanted this move or one like it.  All of them abandoned it after only one session.  It didn't add anything fun to the game, but did add a little hassle to every single move.  So it's a legal custom move, of course, and you can try it if you like, but I wouldn't expect you to stick with it.
             
   
                 

Kneller

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2014, 09:21:04 PM »
[quoteI encourage you to read through the sections of DW about...[/quote]

I've read the entire hyptertext SRD, twice.

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I resisted AW for several years

Several years?

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In some sense Strength isn't actually how strong you are, it's how good you are at doing heroic things in which being strong might play a factor.

But that's really the same thing. One is a measure of the actual strength, the other is the effect of having that actual strength and therefore a product of actual strength. Or to take it a step further, it represents the role a character's strength has in the story of using one's strength to avoid/resolve obstacles that utilize strength. What I'm saying is that all other variables being equal, puppy wrestling and troll wrestling have the same average results. So, the story is that puppies kick your ass as often as trolls. You can mitigate this somewhat with subjective success levels and throwing around custom moves. But even then, the story is, puppies kick your ass as often as trolls, unless we throw some excuses into the mix.

I'm not sure how much I can buy into the whole "homage to D&D" thing. There's a saying in fictional writing that goes, "learn to slay your darlings" that also applies to game design.

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Here's a Paladin move. What physics is it simulating?

No physics, per se, but you're modeling how the world "works". But it's the same thing here. Whether the NPC is really supporting you or just there for the paycheck the results are the same on average....unless you cover it up with custom moves.

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Several groups in play test wanted this move or one like it.  All of them abandoned it after only one session.  It didn't add anything fun to the game, but did add a little hassle to every single move.

Let me guess. It got in the way of the fiction. The "game" of a roleplaying game got in the way of people wanting to generate stories. I don't understand. Why play an RPG then? If one wants to engage in collaborative fiction, why not just get everyone together and write a fantasy adventure book. Then it would really be all about the story.

I appreciate all the elucidation, and I think DW has some cool elements, but I don't think this is the game for my group. Thanks again.

Munin

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2014, 10:52:28 PM »
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I encourage you to read through the sections of DW about...
I've read the entire hyptertext SRD, twice.
OK, so you understand what people are talking about when they are referring to GM moves, GM principles, etc.  That's good, because that's pretty much the core of how the system works.

Quote from: Kneller
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I resisted AW for several years
Several years?
Yeah.  I have a friend who is serious into hippie indie games.  He's all the time buying random weird crap and wanting to get us to play it.  He first suggested Apocalypse World right after it was released (late 2010, I think).  But so many of the games he'd recommended had left people cold (e.g. Diaspora, which is somewhat based on FATE and has some kinda cool elements but is mostly clunky) that it wasn't until late 2012 that he managed to talk us into trying it (with one-shots of first Dungeon World, and later its parent Apocalypse World).  And even then it wasn't until we got into a deep discussion about a player's agency (or lack thereof) over character actions that I became more intrigued with how AW cleverly handles this situation (c.f. seduce or manipulate in the AW rules). Once I was able to grok what the system was trying to accomplish, I understood why it is structured the way it is.  And it is impressively elegant.

Quote from: Kneller
What I'm saying is that all other variables being equal, puppy wrestling and troll wrestling have the same average results. So, the story is that puppies kick your ass as often as trolls. You can mitigate this somewhat with subjective success levels and throwing around custom moves. But even then, the story is, puppies kick your ass as often as trolls, unless we throw some excuses into the mix.
Of course puppies kick your ass at wrestling - I mean, you get them pinned and think you have them defeated and broken, but then they start yipping and licking you and looking at you with those big puppy-dog eyes, and the next thing you know your wrestling match has turned into a big smooshy cuddle.  And you want to get away, but you can't because they're just so darn cute.  You're pinned!  ;)

But in all seriousness, your hyperbole is broken from the beginning because it's not the variables that are unequal but rather the fiction.

To illustrate my point, when you say "wrestling trolls should be hard!" I am assuming that when you think of trolls you think of tall, lanky, strong, rubbery, fearsome creatures that probably regenerate.  But what if when I said "troll" you instead thought of little 4-inch tall naked dudes with big eyes and goofy multicolored hair that sticks out every which way?  Wrestling those guys is probably a snap!  What's the difference?  Nothing but fiction.  It is the shared idea of what "troll" means.

And you're still hung up on trying to make a specific move to use your Strength.  But if we're talking about the mini-troll, and you say, "I wanna wrestle that troll," you and I both know that Strength isn't going to be the issue - catching the little bastard is, and maybe that's not done with STR, but rather with DEX.  Or maybe the GM is just going to laugh and say, "yeah, you grab that little sucker and hold him down one-handed, no problem.  Now what?"

And if you are talking about the big, mean kind and say "I wanna wrestle that troll," then the GM is going to say, "Hang on a second there, Cochise.  How do you plan on getting close enough to that troll to grab him?  He's got the crazy long arms and is whipping around a tree trunk like it's a whiffle bat.  What's your plan?"

This is partly the meaning behind the term fictional positioning, in that the context of the imaginary situation is what is dictating the options and possibilities for what happens next.  And this is where the overall flavor of the game (gritty, cinematic, etc) shapes things as well.  If you are fighting that big, mean troll by tossing a flask of burning oil at it and flub your roll, in an epic-cinematic high-fantasy game, maybe you just suck down some burn damage and call it a day, and it has no further effect on you past the immediate damage.  Hell, maybe you try to get close to the troll to light him on fire with your own burning self, because that would be hard-core.  But if we're playing a more gritty game, the fiction demands a different outcome.  Like maybe, "Take D6 damage right now, and plus also your shit is on fire, yo.  What do you do?"  And if the answer isn't "stop, drop, and roll," then the GM is probably going to inflict more damage on you when it is next his turn to speak, because that is what this kind of (more realistic) fiction demands.

Quote from: Kneller
I'm not sure how much I can buy into the whole "homage to D&D" thing. There's a saying in fictional writing that goes, "learn to slay your darlings" that also applies to game design.
Amen, brother.  I think the goal was to appeal to players coming from AD&D by giving them something that felt familiar, but when you get right down to it it's not the same and the use of that legacy terminology is in some cases unhelpful and misleading.

Quote from: Kneller
Whether the NPC is really supporting you or just there for the paycheck the results are the same on average....unless you cover it up with custom moves.
Custom moves aren't a cover-up.  They are fundamental to how the game operates.  They are what distinguishes fighting an Orc from fighting a Displacer Beast.  In that sense, they are no different from different Armor Classes, hit dice, attack types, damage dice or any other stat you care to pull out of the Monster Manual.  They just tend to be more abstract and compact.

Quote from: Kneller
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Several groups in play test wanted this move or one like it.  All of them abandoned it after only one session.  It didn't add anything fun to the game, but did add a little hassle to every single move.
Let me guess. It got in the way of the fiction. The "game" of a roleplaying game got in the way of people wanting to generate stories. I don't understand. Why play an RPG then? If one wants to engage in collaborative fiction, why not just get everyone together and write a fantasy adventure book. Then it would really be all about the story.
Funny you should say that, because there are some indie games that are essentially that.  But that is another matter entirely.

But it's not the "game" that got in the way, it's the needless extra complication of a rule that added nothing to the story that got in the way.

Why play an RPG rather than just write a collaborative fantasy story?  Because regardless of what task resolution system you use, regardless of what granularity it simulates, or how realistic it is, it is the element of random chance that adds the extra spice.  It is that unknown chance of success or failure that makes the difference.  And as a side note, it's why games without an element of random chance (like the Amber RPG) don't excite me in the slightest.

But the rules are all about what you do with that random chance, what the consequences of success or failure are to the story.  Failing a roll in an RPG like Apocalypse World is pure awesomeness, because it introduces unexpected complications.  It adds tension and drama to the story.  It can change the fiction in ways you didn't foresee, and forces you to think on the fly, adapt, or develop your character in new and interesting ways.

Failing a roll in AD&D all too often boils down to, "You swing and miss.  Roll for initiative for the next round."

PbtA games are about minimizing the number of essentially useless rolls and concentrating on the stuff that actually has consequences.

Quote from: Kneller
I appreciate all the elucidation, and I think DW has some cool elements, but I don't think this is the game for my group. Thanks again.
No worries.  Games are about having fun, so if your group is having fun doing what you're doing, you should keep doing it!  This has been an interesting discussion, and might help someone else who has similar questions down the road.  Thanks for being inquisitive.

Borogove

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2014, 11:32:55 PM »
What I'm saying is that all other variables being equal, puppy wrestling and troll wrestling have the same average results. So, the story is that puppies kick your ass as often as trolls. You can mitigate this somewhat with subjective success levels and throwing around custom moves. But even then, the story is, puppies kick your ass as often as trolls, unless we throw some excuses into the mix.

We've gone to great lengths to explain that this isn't so.

noclue

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2014, 02:19:44 AM »
But even then, the story is, puppies kick your ass as often as trolls, unless we throw some excuses into the mix.
Nope. Puppies can't kick your ass. But it is true that if the GM calls for a Defy Danger roll they have the same chance of having an opportunity to make a GM move whether you are wrestling puppies or trolls.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Munin

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2014, 04:03:09 AM »
But even then, the story is, puppies kick your ass as often as trolls, unless we throw some excuses into the mix.
Nope. Puppies can't kick your ass. But it is true that if the GM calls for a Defy Danger roll they have the same chance of having an opportunity to make a GM move whether you are wrestling puppies or trolls.
Exactly.  Consequence of failing to Defy Danger when wrestling puppies?  Errant puppy-tongue up your nose.  Eeew.  Consequence of failure when wrestling trolls?  You weren't actually using that arm for anything, were you?

The GM makes as hard and direct a move as he likes, not as hard and direct a move as possible.

azrianni

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #36 on: August 05, 2014, 12:41:40 PM »
I realize that Kneller is probably gone and has made up her/his mind, which is fine. But this thread has been bugging me, and I finally figured out what I wanted to say when a similar question came up on RPGnet, so I wanted to put it here too in case other people are using this thread to explore DW:

Some games think that the GM can figure out the mathematical way to simulate odds on the fly. The I can look at a situation and figure out "oh, this is a -3 situation."

DW and other PBTA games think that the GM can figure out the fictional odds and simulate them in the story. If you fail Hack and Slash while facing off with a lone goblin, you're risking less than failing Hack and Slash against a dragon. The GM adjusts odds in part by deciding what qualifies as invoking a move ("You can't Hack and Slash the Apocalypse Dragon with an ordinary weapon") and in part by choosing GM moves appropriately.

This is a mindset adjustment, but it really does work great in play. And I'm convinced that, at least for me, it makes for a more satisfying game, where the fiction feels believable and I don't have to constantly be worrying about modifiers. Personally, I trust my ability to intuitively reflect the difficulty through the fiction more than I trust my ability to consistently set modifiers right.

noclue

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Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« Reply #37 on: August 06, 2014, 07:24:44 AM »
This is a mindset adjustment, but it really does work great in play. And I'm convinced that, at least for me, it makes for a more satisfying game, where the fiction feels believable and I don't have to constantly be worrying about modifiers. Personally, I trust my ability to intuitively reflect the difficulty through the fiction more than I trust my ability to consistently set modifiers right.
Yes. But the funny thing is that if we assume the GM does none of this, never tries to reflect difficulty in any way, and instead just focuses on the GM Agendas, portray a fantastic world, fill the characters' lives with adventure and play to find out what happens, the game will do this for you. You come up to wrestle the goblin and roll a...6! Difficulty!!! The GM reaches into his bag a tricks and pulls out something interesting and adventurous and you're off to the races (take an XP). You come up to the Ogre and roll a 10! A stunning blow! You fell the terrible ogre with an epic swing of your mighty axe. The GM sells your epicness and then you move on to the next adventurous thing...

So, if the GM wants to decide something is difficult before hand, the game works. If the GM doesn't decide whether something is difficult, the game works.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER