Author Topic: AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list  (Read 3181 times)

Darlloh

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AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list
« on: March 07, 2016, 12:47:32 AM »
What follows is an alternative equipment list for Apocalypse World: Fallen Empires.  I really like the use of the “deadly” mechanic and the ranges.  I think it really captures the feel I want from a melee focused Apocalypse World, and in many ways captures the essence of what differentiates melee weapons far better than something like damage die and crit ranges do in d20 games.  I am a soldier, and a HEMA fan, so I am obligated to think about tactics when I play RPGs.  Before I found out about PbtA games, I even tried to hack d20 games by adding ranged threat so that guns could make attacks of opportunity.  It certainly succeeded in stopping players from charging headlong into half a dozen gun-toting opponents, but I ultimately abandoned it in favor of fictional positioning.  I find that to be much more tactically rewarding, and it neatly avoids the problem of specific rules that will inevitably conflict with existing fiction.

I adjusted the weapons with two goals in mind.  With the exception of the Child of Battle (whose weapons seems to be as much about looking cool as anything else), I felt the other weapons were tools with a specific purpose.  I didn’t see any thematic reason to make the weapons function differently than their real life counterparts, especially since I knew that if I was playing or GMing, conflicts between the fiction and the weapon’s tags would irk me.  I am not a historical weapons expert, but I think my tweaks bring things a little more in line with these weapon’s historical use.  In particular, I added “+” to some of the weapons to indicate that the weapon was only deadly when the both situations were met.  For example, some of the weapons such as the head breaker, just are not going to be very effective against anyone in any kind of real armor, no matter the range.  This is as opposed to a knife/dagger, which can get into an armor’s chinks and penetrate for some real damage.  The benefit of a head breaker is more social and fictional.  It can easily be concealed in any pocket, and maybe even a hand, and could be used in a tavern or street brawl without escalating to a deadly conflict.  On the flip side, a mace is specialized for fighting people in armor.  Against a person without armor, a bladed weapon like a sword can do more damage with a comparatively light or glancing blow, and is much nimbler in both offense and defense.  However, against someone wearing armor, a specialized weapon like a mace is useful for negating some of the armor’s protection.

I also added tags to many of the weapons.  Like “messy,” these are purely narrative tags.  They are cues for specific effects.  For instance, the “war” tag is there to remind everyone that this weapon is really only a battlefield weapon.  Its not something that can be carried around as a sidearm, and in many (or most) social situations would draw comment at least, if not more serious repercussions.  Thinking about an apocalyptic setting, these might be relatively scarce weapons.  On the other hand, the “war” indicating a battlefield weapon tells us something about the weapon’s capabilities.  Presumably it was a battlefield weapon because it was good for that purpose.  Trying to face a skilled and committed warrior wielding a “war” weapon with a non-“war” weapon should be a daunting task…however, one wants to interpret that in the fiction.  For instance a Greatsword is basically a bigger longsword, and both weapons are used in much the same way.  While the Greatsword is not as nimble as the longsword, it has greater reach and leverage, while remaining remarkably quick, which makes it a scary weapon to face.

Some other notables:
o Mastercut- This refers to historical longswords/greatsword techniques that allowed a swordsman to make a cut which simultaneously attacked and defended.  The idea being to end the fight in a single blow, while still protecting oneself.  This tag has me thinking of a character with advanced basic moves who uses a combination of Read a Sitch, Bait a Trap and Go into danger to set himself up to Fly at Someone he would otherwise have had to do Single Combat against.
o Armor piercing- This doesn’t directly reduce armor.  However, I could imagine a character waylaying someone wearing heavy armor.  If they waylaid that person with a sword, I might have them still roll Fly at Someone, since the sword is going to bounce of a helmet or armor plate just as readily if the attacked person is aware or not as aware.  Thus, they need to strike precisely into a non-armored, or less heavily armored area.  In other words, there is a chance to miss.  However, if we change the scenario so the waylaying person has a pick, it can punch through an armor plate very effectively.  So, I might just let the player inflict harm as established.
o Shield Work- Again, the shield doesn’t directly increase armor.  However, it still has fictional effects.  If I am a Wolfshead leading a War-band armed with shields, we could utilize a Viking-style shield wall.  Imagine if my war-band is getting up in the business of some of Lord Dragen’s warriors, and the cowardly dogs pull bows on us.  We form up in a shield wall and go into danger, trying to get up close so we can go to work.  I hit a 10+ and next thing we know he are in and among their ranks.  Its a mess.  Sounds like a chaotic free for all.  I hit a 10+ again and choose:
• You are able to avoid taking any harm yourself.
• You are able to protect another character from taking any harm.- I choose my War-band as the other character.
• You add to the chaos. The combatants as a whole inflict and suffer +1harm. 
As we rush up on them, Dragon’s men pull their daggers, deadly: infighting.  We are fighting with axes, deadly: hand-to-hand, so we inflict 4 and they inflict 3.  Since we rolled well, they do nothing to us, and we do 2 harm to them (4-2 armor).  That’s enough to break them, and send most of them running.  Now, imagine we do that without shields.  The cowardly dogs draw bows again, but this time we are sitting ducks.  They inflict harm as established.  We weather that, then we charge, assaulting their position.  I roll, get 10+ and choose 3.  However, we still exchange harm.  So, in the case without shields, we suffer harm twice, versus no harm suffered with shields.

I also re-wrote a few of the equipment options for the Child of Battle and Nightshade that were explicitly magical.  They seemed a little too high-fantasy for me, so I wanted to give options for someone looking for a more low-fantasy game, but who didn’t want to short change those playbooks any of their options.

Bonepicker
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Fighting knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)
• Fighting baton (concealable, deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Head breaker [brass knuckles] (deadly: brawling+no armor)
• Arming sword (follow-through, deadly: hand-to-hand)

Child of Battle
Distinctive dagger (reach control)

Distinctive sword tags (Circle 1-2)
Follow through
Wind
Mastercut
Draw cut

Distinctive hand weapon tags (Circle 1-2)
Follow through
Draw cut
Armor piercing
Leverage
War
Formation
Reach control
Flexible
Thrown

Other distinctive weapons:
Grenades of greek fire (thrown, area, ignores armor)

Mesmerist
Small fancy weapons (choose 1):
• Antique dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Glass-edge knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)
• Ornate dagger (deadly: intimate)
• Hidden knives (concealable, deadly: brawling)
• Jeweled skull-pick (power swing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)


Wolfshead
No-nonsense weapons (choose 3):
• Lance (armor piercing, deadly: mounted)
• Longsword (wind, mastercut, deadly: on the field)
• Mace (power swing, armor piercing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)
• Battle-axe (power swing, armor piercing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)
• Arming sword (follow-through, deadly: hand-to-hand)
• Shield (Shield Work)
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Fighting knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)

Armor (choose 1):
• Gambeson, helmet, boots (coat, 1 armor)
• Plates, helmet, boots (plates, 2 armor)
• Mail coat, helmet, boots (mail, 2 armor)

Sword Master
Terrifying Weapons of War (choose 1):
• Crossbow & quarrels (at range, slow, deadly: vs armor)
• Greatsword (war, wind, mastercut, deadly: on the field)
• Poleaxe (war, leverage, armor piercing, deadly: on the field)
• Halberd (war, formation, armor piercing, deadly: on the field)
• Spear (war, reach control, thrown, deadly: on the field)
• Spiked Flail (war, flexible, deadly: on the field)
• Lance (armor piercing, deadly: mounted)

Serious Weapons (choose 2):
• Shortbow & arrows (at range, deadly: aimed)
• Longsword (wind, mastercut, deadly: on the field)
• Pick/Hammer (power swing, armor piercing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)
• Mace (power swing, armor piercing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)
• Battle-axe (power swing, armor piercing, deadly: hand-to-hand+armor)
• Arming sword (follow-through, deadly: hand-to-hand)
• Cutlass (draw cut, deadly: infighting)
• Shield (Shield Work)

Backup Weapons (choose 1):
• Throwing axe (thrown, deadly: waylay, infighting)
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Fighting knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)
• Head breaker [brass knuckles] (deadly: brawling+no armor)
• Staff (leverage, deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Weighted chain (flexible, deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Shield (Shield Work)

Armor (choose 1):
• Gambeson, helmet, boots (coat, 1 armor)
• Plates, helmet, boots (plates, 2 armor)
• Mail coat, helmet, boots (mail, 2 armor)
• Brigandine, helmet, boots (coat, 2 armor)
• Lamellar, helmet, boots (plates, 2 armor)

Strongholder
In addition, you begin play with:
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Arming sword (follow-through, deadly: hand-to-hand)
• Mail coat, helmet, boots (mail, 2 armor)

Hocus
• Cudgel (deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Staff (leverage, deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Fighting knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)

Mystic
• Cudgel (deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Staff (leverage, deadly: hand-to-hand+no armor)
• Dagger (reach control, deadly: infighting)
• Fighting knife (reach control, deadly: brawling)

Nightshade
[ ] A dagger with a worked-gold hilt and golden blade inlay (reach control, deadly: infighting)
[ ] A slim and jewel-hilted sword (draw cut, deadly: hand-to-hand)
[ ] Poisoned dagger (thrown, ignores armor)
[ ] Thin breastplate made of the finest steel, easily hidden beneath your glamorous fashion (1 armor)

Precious things (choose 2):
[ ] A bag of fine dust, that when blown in someone’s face causes them to lose consciousness, and forget the previous 24 hours. 
[ ] Bag of mushrooms that, once eaten, calls to you the spirit of its wild wind. Ask the spirit three questions about what it has touched.
[ ] A deck of cards, that once dealt, predicts the future.

Faceless
Brutal weapons (choose 1):
• Sparth axe (war, power swing, armor piercing, deadly: on the field)
• Falchion (power swing, deadly: hand-to-hand)
• Flail (flexible, deadly: hand-to-hand)
• Dagger and Axe (thrown, power swing, deadly: infighting, waylay)
• Cestus (power swing, reach control, deadly: brawling)

Armor (choose 1):
• Gambeson, helmet, boots (coat, 1 armor)
• Plates, helmet, boots (plates, 2 armor)
• Mail coat, helmet, boots (mail, 2 armor)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 03:28:35 AM by Darlloh »

lumpley

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Re: AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2016, 05:50:53 PM »
This is really good!

Tell me about these tags?
Reach control
Follow-through
Wind

-Vincent

Darlloh

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Re: AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 02:07:13 AM »
Thanks!  Glad you like it.

Reach control is there to distinguish weapons that are merely best at one reach, from those where controlling reach is a cornerstone of their use, such that they become far deadlier when at their preferred reach (particularly against weapons that are shorter/longer).  I see this tag applying differently to shorter weapons (daggers), as opposed to longer weapons (spear).  A dagger/fighting knife is not just deadly up close, its downright vicious.  It gains a substantial advantage up close, but it also ups the ante of the fight.  There is no more maneuvering around, testing stances, feinting to see how the opponent reacts.  Its go for the throat or die.  From a rules standpoint, I would be inclined to have a player that manages to get their opponent into the preferred range of a dagger/knife to fly at that opponent, or even waylay that opponent, rather than have to roll a battle move.  By the same token, if a PC was in that position (stuck in close with a dagger wielding opponent), they would need to go into danger just to be able to take effective action.

In the case of a longer weapon, I think of reach control as a barrier against shorter weapons.  For example, in an on the field scenario, a spear-wielding PC could waylay (could miss) vs a sword wielding NPC.  Despite the ability to maneuver, the extra reach and the ability to enforce it is a huge advantage.  Now, if the PC doesn’t defeat the NPC with that, or the PC is cautious instead of aggressive, maybe the NPC tries to get inside the guard of the PC.  Depending on the fictional circumstances (relative skill of the combatants, relative weapons/equipment), I might have the PC go into danger to maintain the reach advantage, or defend something you hold (i.e. the reach advantage), to do the same. 

Follow-through is like parry-riposte.  Its setting the opponent up for planned response to their attack.  I think (don’t quote me) this term is mostly applied to sword and buckler fighting, but I just gave it to regular swords since I thought it captured their advantage of being relatively nimble and versatile.  From a rules standpoint, a character fighting with a follow through weapon might want to try and maintain a strong guard or ward, receive the opponent’s weapon, and follow through from their.  So, a PC might defend something you hold, and if successful, and the fight’s not over, the follow through might be a waylay (can miss), rather than having to go to battle move again.

Wind is similar to follow-through, in that its a response once weapons have crossed.  However, wind tends to the aggressive side of that equation.  In that, once the blades cross, someone wants to gain the initiative by winding around their opponent’s blade to threaten with the blade/point.   This video shows it much better than I describe it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjT4JepA-Vc&feature=youtu.be
Much like the follow-through fighter would try to defend a guard, the fighter with the wind weapon might assault a secure position (the opponent’s guard), and if successful, could then waylay them by winding around the guard.

There are probably other more creative ways to use the tags, but that is the general idea.

Paul T.

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Re: AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 06:01:38 PM »
So, how do we make use of these tags, practically, in play?

Thus far, all the examples are of making use of other moves (e.g. "fly at someone" instead of a "seize" move). Is that how you see them coming in play? Do the players effectively make colourful descriptions of their combat maneuvers, and then the MC calls for a specific battle move accordingly?

I'm not sure how this kind of detail interfaces with the highly abstract nature of AW's battle moves. Looking forward to more!

Darlloh

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Re: AW: Fallen Empires, alternate equipment list
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2016, 08:57:02 PM »
Essentially…yes.   

Your right that most of the tags only have utility if we zoom in on the conflict.  Its perfectly possible (probably even intended) to use a single move like assault a secure position to resolve an attempt by an entire army to storm a castle wall.  By the same token, you could break that assault down into multiple steps.  You might have to assault a secure position just to get up to the castle walls.  And then again to get the climbing ladders up, etc.  Point is, the moves work micro as well as macro, with the caveat that exchanging harm too often is going to be brutal. 

I don’t see the moves as abstract.  In fact, I look at them as, in a way, more concrete than many other more detailed combat systems.  IMO, most of those systems (D&D as the primary example) are precise, at the expense of accuracy.  Do I need to be more precise than saying that the warriors form a shield wall?  Do I need to know their exact position on the grid, and if they have the shield wall feat, and what their Dex score is?  I would say no.  I think the genius of the moves is they allow you to capture what the essence of the shield wall tactic…its a game changer.  In another game, a shield wall (if its even modeled in the system) might give a +X bonus to defense, or something like that.  It shifts the probabilities of success/failure for the respective combat action, but if you have really good archers, you just bang away at the shield wall and do less damage.  Probably the biggest effect is turning the combat into a more prolonged HP slog than it already is.  It not that likely to cause a major tactical-narrative shift, or inspire any really cool tactics.  It might, but less likely.  In AW, if your opponents form a shield wall, and you are taking the fiction first approach, it fundamentally changes how you are going to deal with them.  Shooting arrows at the shield wall is going to be next to useless.  Do something else.  It might even end up being the same move, but you have to do something to even get there.  It shifts the narrative space, whether or not it shifts the mechanical space.  That’s what I love about tactics in the fiction first model.  Sure, it requires some level of shared understanding, and its not precisely defined.  But, we never make that argument about a character just flying.  We just accept this is impossible unless something changes that.  No reason you can’t apply the same logic to combat.  The beauty of the narrative tags is, if you “tactics schmatics,” just ignore the tags, they have no explicit mechanical effects.

There is no reason this can’t be applied at the individual combatant level.  Now, I am not suggesting this apply to every small level fight.  The Swordmaster is certainly not going to make use of his weapon’s tags for each opponent he faces.  However, there are going to be opponents where zooming down to that micro level is warranted.  That’s why I gave them narrative tags, as opposed to mechanics tags.  They don’t reduce armor, or do extra harm for that specific reason.  However, I also wouldn’t say they are merely used to aid in “colorful descriptions.”  I am sorry if I am putting words in your mouth, but that does’t sound like fiction first to me.  That sounds like what I used to do when I activated an encounter power in 4E D&D.  I wanted to do more damage or do a new effect, so I used a better attack, and then glommed on a fun description.  While the description probably fit the ongoing situation, the mechanic didn’t (most of the time).  It was a mechanic I chose because it had a mechanical advantage, largely divorced from the surrounding circumstances.  That’s subtly, but fundamentally different from a Swordmaster making the tactical decision to engage an opponent by first trying to take away their secure position (a guard) vs. that same character trying to maintain a secure position (a guard) against their opponent’s attack.  In my mind, the mechanical difference between these two is secondary to that thought process.  The important thing is the snowball from there.  Maybe I am reading the moves wrong, but that is how I would have done things without a the tags.  If a character with a sword comes at someone with a spear and says, "I attack him."  I'm gonna say, "Great, but how do do that, because the spear is about twice as long as the sword, and he also has a shield.  You literally can't hit him from where you are, any more than you could shoot at somebody 500m away with a pistol.  I mean, you could fire it, but your more likely to hit yourself than you are him."  So, if players are describing how they prosecute a fight, it will trigger moves, and then the tags can be brought into play to modify which move might be available.  Which, seems to me like the a fundamental piece AW, using the fiction to modify what move is triggered.  I feel like this is in line with the games intent, especially considering that the rule system literally breaks down the 10ft between two people in a melee into 5 different categories. And again, narrative context is key.  The game/table dynamic is going to determine how often/if these tags even come into play.  Nor is it going to be applicable to everyone.  But to someone like me who loves the AW engine, but also likes to think about the tactics of a duel, it seemed a good way to marry the two, without messing with the underlying structure. 

Hopefully that illuminates my thought process.  And, just to be clear, I am not suggesting the game needs anything more to do exactly what I would want from it.  This is not a lead-in to me glomming on some kind of grid-based, super detailed system.  What I posted is it.  But, if you have ideas that would model said tactics better, I am all ears.