Author Topic: MASHWorld (working title)  (Read 11797 times)

Mark Plemmons

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MASHWorld (working title)
« on: March 20, 2015, 05:55:43 PM »
Hi everyone!

This post is first to say HI, and to throw my hat in the ring to let all of you know what I'm working on. I don't have much rules-wise that's ready to share publicly yet, but feel free to comment and advise in advance. I have a very busy work and home life schedule - that doesn't include game design - but I'll try to check in here at least once or twice a week when I can.

It's possible some of you may know me from other forums, or from some of my previous works, but this is my first PbtA project. It's an idea that I've had in mind for a while, but I didn't really have a good game system to do it with, and the last couple of years have been pretty busy with finishing up all the goals from the Corporia Kickstarter. Now that those are completed, I can finally spend my spare time on something completely different.

As you might guess from the working title (other draft titles include Meatball Surgery and Armed Farces), the theme of the game is the roles of doctors in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, in the Korean War. Gameplay and moves will be a lot like Night Witches, but with opportunities for both humorous situations as well as lots of drama. To avoid copyright and trademark problems with a certain television S*H*O*W*, the game will be based directly on the real-world MASH units in the Korean War, including the one that inspired the books/movie/tv show in question. If you want to use it to run situations from the popular media, you can. So, it will work with the media, but won't be based on it or licensed from it.

For stats, my draft notes use +skill, +nerve, +luck, and +fight, with points distributed depending on your rank (Lieutenant, Captain, or Major). There are four draft character types/temperaments (Head, Heart, Bones, and "Blood and Guts"), and several (yep, draft again) roles (Blueblood, Casanova, Dad, Egoist, Leader, Old Salt, Stickler, Trickster). Stress and burnout will be particularly important parts of moves and such.

Right now I'm still fiddling with these, as well as some other ideas about how mobile the MASH will be, and how/whether I use "Rotation Points" as a means of allowing characters to get leave or go home. Although real MASH doctors didn't get rotation points like the regular army did, I'm willing to bend reality where I need to service the fiction. That's one of my main rules concepts that I'm still having trouble with.

In September 1951 the Army had introduced a point system that tried to take into account the nature of individual service when determining eligibility for rotation home to the United States. According to this system, a soldier earned four points for every month he served in close combat, two points per month for rear-echelon duty in Korea, and one point for duty elsewhere in the Far East. Later, an additional category-divisional reserve status-was established at a rate of three points per month. The Army initially stated that enlisted men needed to earn forty-three points to be eligible for rotation back to the States, while officers required fifty-five points. In June 1952 the Army reduced these requirements to thirty-six points for enlisted men and thirty-seven points for officers. Earning the required number of points did not guarantee instant rotation; it only meant that the soldier in question was eligible to go home. Nevertheless, most soldiers did return home shortly after they met the requirement.

I'd love to get your thoughts on the points system or anything you think might work well (or be a problem) for the game. Happy to be here!

Mark Plemmons
Brabblemark Press

As If

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2015, 07:15:55 PM »
Hi Mark -- I once did this "Burnout Mechanic" for games where people had high-stress jobs.  You would need to add a couple MASH-specific events to the Burnout Points table, and then (in keeping with the theme of the book/movie/tv show) pranks and hijinks could be a way of burning off your Burnout Points. Might work for your game.

Here's the link: http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=6860.0

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2015, 05:42:44 PM »
Thanks for the link! I haven't time to consider it in detail, but it looks interesting.

My current plan is for stress points to triggered by certain missed moves and events. For instance, going without sleep for a day might cause 1 stress. Getting news from home causes 3 stress (even good news - since you can't be there to share in it). That kind of thing.

If you don't try and burn off stress points (sex, parties, pranks, etc.), then you take mental harm and have to get shipped home. Of course, some characters are better at handling stress than others.

Right now I'm still pondering how many points of stress should equal 1 point of mental harm. I'm thinking 6, but I'm not sure yet.


Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 02:34:52 AM »
Update: I filled several spiral notebook pages tonight, and I think I've got all the moves and roles set - though of course this will probably change once I start translating my scribbles and typing them out.

Quick notes:
the basic character temperaments are still Head (Brain?), Heart, Bones (or maybe Hands?), and Blood n Guts - or, if you prefer, "blood type personalities" AB, B, A, and O, respectively.

Stats and basic moves mostly unchanged, but I tweaked the special and character moves a bit. (It's really appropriate that AW has Hx, so I can use that along with Dx, Tx, Rx, Px, etc. as part of the medical skill stat.) Made notes to add Court Martial/Formally Charged, Section 8, and others.

Roles have changed a bit, to become: Casanova, Prankster, Scrounger, Mentor, Bully, and Stickler. I think that covers all the roles I want to focus on.

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 07:06:57 PM »
Here are three sample draft pages for those who are interested. I'm still working on "translating" my paper notes into Word. :)

======================

What This Is

MASHED is a story game that you play with your friends. It’s a game that’s based more on conversations than rolling dice – though you’ll still be using those as well. Everything that you say will craft an ongoing narrative, much like a stage play or television show without a script, where everyone’s ad-libbing their lines. The rules and dice are there to help this along, adding an element of randomness that lets you succeed in what you want to do – but also ensuring that that there will be consequences and complications, especially when you fail. After all, war is hell.

In this game, you take on the role of a doctor or nurse assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in 1951, shortly after the United Nations’ entry into the “police action” that will later be called the Korean War. It’s a game about medics whose government sent them to a foreign land, usually with little to no military training. It’s about men and women who were forced to spend hours and days on end spattered with blood and viscera, their hands inside mangled human bodies, sometimes those of their friends – and were expected to stay sane.

This is a game about the value of human life and the stress that war imposes on those who live through it – but it’s also about relationships. And courage. And humor. And love. Although the medics may spend hours – even days on end – in the operating tent, the game abstracts these into much shorter scenes, focusing on the most dramatic moments. Most of the conversation actually occurs outside of surgery, in those times when the flow of casualties has ebbed. Here you may fall in or out of love, fight the orders of ineffective top brass, pull pranks, help the native South Koreans, pick fights, seduce your way through the unit, pull rank to get what you want, and more.

If you can find enough ways to blow off the stresses of surgery and war, you just might make it through your rotation and get sent home with your sanity intact. Just remember that you’re practicing medicine in a combat zone – and death isn’t confined to the operating tent.

The MASHED rules are based on Vincent Baker’s innovative Apocalypse World game and inspired by other Powered by the Apocalypse games, primarily Jason Morningstar’s wonderful Night Witches, but also by ’Hood, Lapins & Lairs, Monsterhearts, and Tremulus.

======================

Using the Playbooks

When you’re ready to play, select one player to go first. Starting with that player, go around the table clockwise, with each player picking one of the four character playbooks. Each playbook is based loosely on one of the four ‘Humors’ from ancient Greco-Roman medicine, and labeled as: Head (melancholic), Heart (sanguine), Bones (phlegmatic), and Blood n’ Guts (choleric). These are explained further on page XXXX. If you have more than four players, you can provide another set of these four playbooks after the first four have been chosen.

Second, starting with the last player to take a playbook, go back around counterclockwise and let each player choose one of the eight Roles. No two players should start the game with the same role, though this might occur later since Roles can change over the course of the game, at specified intervals. Roles indicate the position you tend to take in your MASH unit’s dynamic, and provide you with unique advancement options that other players don’t get. Roles include: Bully, Casanova, Cutter, Devout, Mentor, Prankster, Scrounger, and Stickler. You can read more about Roles on page XXXX.

Third, pick a rank. Each rank provides a different set of numbers (such as +1, 0, 0, +1). Assign each number to one of the character’s four statistics (Fight, Luck, Nerve, and Skill) on the playbook, however you prefer. For example, you might assign your numbers as Fight 0, Luck +1, Nerve 0, and Skill +1 (or as Fight 0, Luck 0, Nerve +1, and Skill +1), or some other combination.

Fourth, detail your character’s name, appearance, and background. You can invent these from scratch, or choose from the examples that appear on the playbook under: Name, Gender, Uniform, Body, Hair, Eyes, Homefront (your state or country of origin), and Who you write to back home.

Finally, give your character a service number. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this last step, but having a service number is a nice bonus that provides another mental connection to your character. Details on how to generate a service number appear on page XXXX.

[insert steps in list/bullets]

[begin sidebar]
Consider these three questions when filling out your playbook.
•   Who are you? Have a good idea of your character’s personality traits and appearance. You might base this off yourself, someone you know, or even a fictional character.
•   Why are you here? You might be here unwillingly because of the Doctor’s Draft, or you could be Regular Army (RA) – someone who’s making a career out of military service.
•   What do you want? Think about what goals you have. You might want to keep your head down and just follow orders until you can return home. Perhaps you relish the new experience and you want to enjoy your time in Korea as much as possible. Maybe you’re scheming ways means to hoard money or rise in rank. There are many possibilities.
[end sidebar]

======================

STATS

Each player has four stats (statistics) which are fairly self-explanatory: Fight, Luck, Nerve, and Skill. The more or fewer points you have in a stat, the better or worse you perform any related Moves.

Your rank indicates what point spreads you can assign to these statistics. As mentioned earlier, and listed on each playbook, different ranks provide four different numbers (such as +1, 0, 0, +1) that you’ll assign as you choose to the four stats of Fight, Luck, Nerve, and Skill.

Fight is the stat you use when it’s time to clobber someone. If you want to Slug an idiot desk jockey in the jaw, fumble a pistol out of your holster and Shoot an advancing ROK soldier, or Seize a person or item by force, you roll 2d6 +fight.

Luck measures how lucky you are, and is particularly useful when you choose to Tempt Fate. It also comes in handy when you want to Scrounge for items like misplaced (or stolen!) medicines, or when a Complication arises during surgery. In these circumstances, you roll 2d6 +luck.

Nerve is your mental steadiness and courage, and helps you mentally brace yourself to face a situation. If you want to Act Up, Manipulate, Seduce, or Pull Rank on someone, you roll 2d6 + nerve.

Skill measures your medical ability, your natural talent, and how well you pay attention to detail. When you want to Eyeball a situation or Diagnose (Dx), Prescribe medication (Rx), or Treat/perform surgery on a patient (Tx), you’ll roll 2d6+skill.

Special Moves and playbooks may sometimes state that, when you make a certain Move, you add a different skill to your roll than you normally would. For instance, you might be indicated to roll +luck during surgery instead of +skill. Those rules override the general stat descriptions above.



Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 09:05:57 PM »
One more draft page. These are the playbook types.

================

HUMORS

Each of the Humors describes some common positive and negative traits for you to play with. Keep in mind that although you may inhabit a character with a mixture of both, you’ll probably have a stronger, more active conversation if you focus on either the positives or the negatives. For instance, a surgeon who is almost exclusively self-righteous and egotistical, but exhibits charity and kindness on rare occasions or with only one other person, will be much more memorable – and probably more fun to play – than an ‘average Joe’ with a better-balanced emotional state.

Head is the melancholic Humor. You are rational, focused, and conscientious. You prefer harmony rather than conflict, and dislike chaos. If you were one of the four classical elements, you would be Earth. You rapidly become interested in other people when your sympathy is awakened for their suffering. However, you are also subject to depression and moodiness, easily becoming preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty of the war. You can sometimes seem aloof, critical, indecisive, and unforgiving.
If this is your Humor, consider starting play in the Devout or Misanthrope role.

Heart is the sanguine Humor. You tend to be sociable, talkative, and pleasure-seeking. If you were one of the four classical elements, you would be Air. You often get interested in helping people when you see them trying to improve their situation. You are usually full of ideas. However, you can be flighty and easily distracted, and don’t follow through on something you start. You are often late, and quick to anger.
   If this is your Humor, consider starting play in the Casanova or Prankster role.

Bones is the phlegmatic Humor. You are inclined to be a perfectionist, private and conservative with your beliefs, and try to be calm and patient in your interactions with other people. If you were one of the four classical elements, you would be Water. You tend to become interested in a subject when the persons around you start showing interest in it first. You like to be punctual or, preferably, arrive early. However, you can also be uptight, self-conscious, stubborn, and obsessive. You dislike sharing your feelings and troubles.
If your Humor is Bones, consider starting play in the Mentor or Scrounger role.

Blood & Guts is the choleric Humor. You have seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy and passion, and when a job needs to be done, you want it finished quickly and precisely. If you were one of the four classical elemental, you would be Fire. You can easily become interested in something that challenges your capabilities. You enjoy respect and being in charge, and you like making plans where you can focus on the ends rather than the means. However, you can also be arrogant, insensitive, impulsive, ruthless and egotistical. You are absolutely convinced that you are a winner, and have an obsessive drive for success. You usually have little fear of taking risks.
   If this is your Humor, consider starting play in the Bully or Stickler role.

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHED (working title)
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2015, 03:21:56 AM »
I realized that (duh) it makes more sense to provide a document with the latest updates, since this is a DRAFT, and the previous posts will be rapidly getting out of date.

Here's a link to the latest public design draft. The big addition in this Word doc is that it includes all of the basic moves and medical moves. There are still character and special moves to come, though.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8o3435qc1terh3a/MASHED_design_draft.doc?dl=0

Thoughts?

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2015, 08:28:21 PM »
Here's the link to the latest rough draft. I finally got the basic and character moves written up, but there's lots more to come!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0aigzbok1j8t5hl/MASHED_design_draft_150403.doc?dl=0




Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2015, 02:14:19 PM »
Just a quick note. I haven't abandoned this - just needed to take a break for some family stuff and to release some supplements for my Corporia RPG. Of course, as soon as I did that, I learned that I barely have any hardcovers left from the first run, so I need to publish a Print on Demand edition. My current plan is to release the POD this month, then get back to 'MASHED' in July.

Still happy to hear any comments or questions in the meantime.

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHed
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2015, 09:32:44 PM »
I've spent the last three days running through different Operating Room rules in my head, and I think I've got it mostly figured, but I still have to crunch it. I'd love to hear your thoughts. See below.

Basically:

There is a one-page playsheet for each wounded soldier. Each soldier sheet represents dozens of other similar soldiers operated on, because players aren't going to want to repeat dozens or hundreds of operations in a row.

Each major part of the body (head, chest, guts, each limb) has its own trauma clock. You use Dx and Tx (diagnose and treat) moves for surgery, but can only focus on one clock at a time. The MC sets each clock's current status on the playsheet before handing it out.

10+ heals one segment
7-9 heals one segment, but choose from consequences (one of which is another clock gaining a segment)
6 or below leads to Complication (9 or below may cause consequences that lead to Malpractice) and one or more other clocks gaining segments.
Up to 2 other medic players can 'assist' on a surgery, to give a + 1 each.

You can start operating on any clock you want, but the goal is to do the minimum needed - to play 'par' surgery - so as to treat as many as possible. If you spend too much time on one patient, a consequence may make your next patient's clocks worse, since he spent too much time waiting for you.

I'm thinking some players will want to make a patient 'good as new' but be forced to choose how much time they can afford to spend. And it will be worse when an NPC they know ends up on their table.?

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2015, 08:20:26 AM »
Hmm.. I might be wrong, since I'm just looking at your synopsis, and haven't tried the rules in play, but: The way I understand your Operating Room rules, they seem a bit roll-y. Actually, scratch "a bit". They seem a lot roll-y. Does the rolls trigger from actual play, or will it (as it seems to me) just be a question of rolling multiple times, until the patient is well enough, and then on to the next set of rolls, maybe with some decorative descriptions thrown around it. What are the players' choices, besides deciding when to stop?

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2015, 06:28:17 PM »
I don't think the amount of rolling will be excessive, but it's definitely something I will be thinking about as I nail down this idea.

Now, if you were rolling 10+ every single time, then it would be just rolling multiple times until the patient is well enough. However, all lower rolls will be throwing various consequences and failures at the players.

The 'surgeon' won't be rolling to heal all the trauma clocks, because they're all continuing to get worse. The player has to focus on one, hoping that the consequences to his rolls don't cause the other clocks to get worse even more rapidly than they already are. I'll try to get that section fully updated and posted this week, if real life doesn't interfere.

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2015, 08:14:35 PM »
Here's a link to the latest design document. It's still in rough shape, but contains all the new operating room material. Of course, this will have to be playtested, so feel free to try it out and let me know. Credit will be given, of course.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nhnrquxwqq801br/MASH_PBA_150910_PUBLIC.doc?dl=0


Rubberduck

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2015, 10:07:21 AM »
"If you trust that the medic who triaged this patient did so accurately, you can skip the Diagnose (DX) move." You should probably give a reason why Dx is needed. Because, as I read the rules right now, the safest thing to do seems to be to trust the other medic and not make a Dx roll, given how Dx has a tendency of making things worse. There is literally no benefit from rolling Dx as it stands now, and a bunch of drawbacks if you roll low (even just 7-9). Maybe move the 10+ result down to 7-9, and have a good diagnosis (10+) give a bonus to the Treatment. Playtesting will have to show the right balance, but Dx seems punitive at the moment.

The full rules look less rolley than I feared. Depending on the severity the MC wants to put into a situation, it looks like he could put in patients that only has a single clock at 4, making the surgery go by quickly unless there are complications. After playtesting, you should probably put in some examples of different configurations of patients and how they'll generally work out. Say a three day stint with two easy anonymous patients (one clock at 4), followed by a seriously injured named patient, would have the first two mostly serve to drive up stress, before getting into the hard job of saving the named patient. It might tend to reduce a patients to a bunch of numbers that just need to be reduced to 3, but that might be a feature, allowing a shock when it turns out that there is a person behind the numbers.

There does seem a bit of a lack of obvious ways for the players to strategise their way out of bad situations. In an battle you can run away, try to outmanoeuvre or try to negotiate. In the surgery it seems you can swap places with another medic, use hold (if you have it), or impose a debility. They all require a Tx roll to solve the situation, perhaps with a tiny bit of bonus. That might also be a feature, leaving a surgeon to have a bad day where he just can't help but make mistakes (bad dice luck), but I could see it sapping player enthusiasm, when they can't do anything to alleviate the bad dice rolls. The character's moves might change that, but until then..

Speaking of debility "You can now ignore this clock, but the overall clock is unaffected." First off, does this apply to all debility choices, or only Tx? Secondly, I take this to mean that the Status clock is unaffected. Or is the overall clock another clock? What is the reasoning behind not (potentially) lowering the status clock? If all other clocks are at or below 3, you are forcing the player to operate on a clock that doesn't need it. If any clocks are above 3, he'd need to operate anyway, since he can't send away the patient before all clocks are low enough.

All that being said, the conversation in surgery still seem kinda structured around the moves. I tried to run the conversation in my head, and it kinda runs make move -> explain result -> make move -> explain result -> make move. Where an AW game would go do something->make move -> explain result -> do something -> make move. The next move for a surgery always seems predestined. The player might wrap some language around it, but he is just saying stuff to justify the move that has to come. He isn't doing something, and then making a move based on what he does. But I might just be running the conversation wrong in my head. Or I'm missing an aspect introduced by other parts of the rules.

Unrelated to the Surgery rules; Under Relieve Stress, 7-9, do you remove one stress and choose one, or just choose one? The reason I'm confused is because the first choice says "remove one additional stress" which kinda suggests that you always remove one stress (on a hit).

Mark Plemmons

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Re: MASHWorld (working title)
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2015, 03:14:14 PM »
Great comments, thanks! I'll respond individually below.

"If you trust that the medic who triaged this patient did so accurately, you can skip the Diagnose (DX) move." You should probably give a reason why Dx is needed. Because, as I read the rules right now, the safest thing to do seems to be to trust the other medic and not make a Dx roll, given how Dx has a tendency of making things worse. There is literally no benefit from rolling Dx as it stands now, and a bunch of drawbacks if you roll low (even just 7-9). Maybe move the 10+ result down to 7-9, and have a good diagnosis (10+) give a bonus to the Treatment. Playtesting will have to show the right balance, but Dx seems punitive at the moment.

Yeah, I need to tweak this for sure. Thanks!

The full rules look less rolley than I feared. Depending on the severity the MC wants to put into a situation, it looks like he could put in patients that only has a single clock at 4, making the surgery go by quickly unless there are complications. After playtesting, you should probably put in some examples of different configurations of patients and how they'll generally work out. Say a three day stint with two easy anonymous patients (one clock at 4), followed by a seriously injured named patient, would have the first two mostly serve to drive up stress, before getting into the hard job of saving the named patient. It might tend to reduce a patients to a bunch of numbers that just need to be reduced to 3, but that might be a feature, allowing a shock when it turns out that there is a person behind the numbers.

Agreed.

There does seem a bit of a lack of obvious ways for the players to strategise their way out of bad situations. In an battle you can run away, try to outmanoeuvre or try to negotiate. In the surgery it seems you can swap places with another medic, use hold (if you have it), or impose a debility. They all require a Tx roll to solve the situation, perhaps with a tiny bit of bonus. That might also be a feature, leaving a surgeon to have a bad day where he just can't help but make mistakes (bad dice luck), but I could see it sapping player enthusiasm, when they can't do anything to alleviate the bad dice rolls. The character's moves might change that, but until then..

My intent is to try and make surgery a somewhat realistic balancing act where the player has to make tough decisions, though this will be more effective when they know the patient. Surgery is also supposed to be a bit painful and stressful (for the character - not the player), so they have more reasons to try and blow off steam (Stress) with Events when they're not operating. We'll see how it shakes out in testing.

Speaking of debility "You can now ignore this clock, but the overall clock is unaffected." First off, does this apply to all debility choices, or only Tx? Secondly, I take this to mean that the Status clock is unaffected. Or is the overall clock another clock? What is the reasoning behind not (potentially) lowering the status clock? If all other clocks are at or below 3, you are forcing the player to operate on a clock that doesn't need it. If any clocks are above 3, he'd need to operate anyway, since he can't send away the patient before all clocks are low enough.

Yeah, I'm thinking there's probably no significantly good reason to have an overall clock. That's probably coming out.

All that being said, the conversation in surgery still seem kinda structured around the moves. I tried to run the conversation in my head, and it kinda runs make move -> explain result -> make move -> explain result -> make move. Where an AW game would go do something->make move -> explain result -> do something -> make move. The next move for a surgery always seems predestined. The player might wrap some language around it, but he is just saying stuff to justify the move that has to come. He isn't doing something, and then making a move based on what he does. But I might just be running the conversation wrong in my head. Or I'm missing an aspect introduced by other parts of the rules.

This is something I'm struggling with, since the Surgery conversation is definitely more constrained due to the circumstances. The Events that take place outside the O.R. are more traditional AW moves. In the O.R., you're stuck at a table with a patient, and have to either give up or keep operating until you're satisfied. There's not a lot of room for different types of moves yet, but I'm thinking about how this can be tweaked for more options and less 'predestination'. Any thoughts welcome.

Unrelated to the Surgery rules; Under Relieve Stress, 7-9, do you remove one stress and choose one, or just choose one? The reason I'm confused is because the first choice says "remove one additional stress" which kinda suggests that you always remove one stress (on a hit).

It should be:

On 10+, choose two. On 7-9, choose one:

•   Remove one Stress from yourself, and relieve one Stress from another person who was involved.
•   Ensure that there are no consequences for this action.
•   Add one to the Mission Pool.