Author Topic: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble  (Read 3519 times)

KidDublin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2017, 04:05:41 PM »
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* First of all, a specific example from actual play would be REALLY helpful here. PbtA games rely a LOT more than other games on the specifics of the way you're playing, and the fiction that's happening when moves are rolled. This can seem frustrating when you're trying to get answers online, but it's really, really helpful to get into the specifics. Often, establishing some fictional details makes the difference between making the rules work and having them feel weird or out of place.

I agree that we need some specific examples. StormKnight, it seems like one of your major issues with PbtA/MotW is that the move outcomes *feel* limiting. As a proponent of the system, my argument basically boils down to "but they're not, in practice." The best way to get that across is if you can come up with clear examples. Give us some fictional situations that you consider troublesome, and we can show you how we might call them as MCs/Keepers. (If you want, start with some MotW-specific ones.)

Additionally, I think it's important to keep a clear separation between PbtA "problems" and MotW ones. StormKnight, if I understand correctly you're still trying to get on board with Apocalypse World/Powered by the Apocalypse *in general*. Jumping to Monster of the Week complicates that, as Monster of the Week (like many good PbtA hacks) diverges significantly from AW in a few places. The "panic button" Keeper moves you mention--such as escape, no matter how well contained--and the notion of monster weaknesses are the most prominent examples of that.

I consider those elements to be what makes MotW fun, but they're also part of the game's buy-in. If you and your players aren't on the same page about how monsters (or investigations, or minions) work in MotW, you're not going to have a good time. Maybe you don't want to play a game where the monster can always slip away (given the right fictional positioning)--that's fine! A move like that wouldn't work *at all* in vanilla AW, because AW is about badasses carving their way through a topsy-turvy post-apocalypse, and it's not about badasses hunting down monsters every week. The games are about different things, and MotW has rules specific to what it's about.

KidDublin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2017, 05:27:06 PM »
Also, I'll add that the manipulate someone move does have a miss condition suggestion in the 2nd edition book that isn't in the hunter reference sheet. Specifically, it says:

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On a miss, your approach is completely wrong: you offend or anger the target.

I agree that this can read as limiting. However, it's important to note that this guidance doesn't supplant the general rule for making hard moves.

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As well as a failed attempt to deal with a soft move, events in play can turn out so that a hard move is appropriate. Specifically:
• When the hunters hand you a golden opportunity
• When a hunter misses a roll (that is, rolls a 6 or less)
• When a hunter has used up all their Luck.

Missing a roll (with a total of six or less) is always a time when you can make a hard move. The hunter’s screwed something up badly, so do whatever you need to. For example, if a hunter tries to protect someone and blows it, then you can inflict harm on the victim, maybe even kill them: make whatever was threatened come to pass.

In the case of a failed manipulate someone, it stands to reason that whoever you're chatting up is unconvinced. But their being unconvinced doesn't have to be your hard move--in fact, I'd say it shouldn't be. The rules as written allow you to snowball that failure any way you want as long as it follows from the fiction, because the rules as written say you're always allowed to make a hard move on a miss.

Paul T.

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2017, 11:47:33 AM »
Ah, that does sound a bit limiting. I prefer to be able to do something like "you succeed... but it turns out to be bad news for you" on a miss, like in the examples StormKnight brought up. It's a useful tool, in my experience - among other things, it allows you to roll comfortably in situations where it just wouldn't be *fun* to have the character fail, and still have that roll matter.

StormKnight, is this thread helpful to you? I'd like to hear whether this is helping you understand better or just frustrating.

KidDublin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2017, 01:33:31 PM »
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Ah, that does sound a bit limiting. I prefer to be able to do something like "you succeed... but it turns out to be bad news for you" on a miss, like in the examples StormKnight brought up. It's a useful tool, in my experience - among other things, it allows you to roll comfortably in situations where it just wouldn't be *fun* to have the character fail, and still have that roll matter.

I'd still play it that way, honestly. This additional miss text in the main book seems misleading, as the reference sheets make it clear that the shared hunters moves don't have explicit miss conditions (which, if memory serves, is the same in vanilla AW).

I think the "offend or anger the target" is a "suggestion" in the true sense of the word, as opposed to "a move which dovetails with good roleplaying principles."

StormKnight

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #34 on: April 03, 2017, 11:27:53 PM »
Now we're getting into some specifics of Monster of the Week, and I've never read or played it, so someone else will have to respond to you. (From the way you're describing some of the game, it sounds to me like bad design. But, without having the text in front of me, I can't say whether that's the game or if you're misreading it in some way. For example, I have the 'basic moves' in front of me here - they're available online for free - and the "manipulate" move doesn't say anything about a miss condition.)

I think there are a few separate threads of conversation here, so I'm going to try to break them out into different posts.

The more important (well, from my point of view) thread at the moment is "how to use the player moves", so I'll give some examples a shot here.

Investigate a Mystery is the move that is giving us the most trouble. It seems to logically come up a lot, but we're whenever it does its always a struggle. It allows the PC to ask either one or two questions from:
* What happened here?
* What sort of creature is it?
* What can it do?
* Can can hurt it?
* Where did it go?
* What was it going to do?
* What is being concealed here?

You are supposed to justify with the narrative how each question gets answered. Invariably, we make the roll then kind of sit there staring at each other, and then try to figure out "well, could we come up with an answer to any of these?" Its awkward and confusing.

The miss result is equally confusing; "on a miss, you reveal some information to the monster of whoever you are talking to". We almost never have a good idea for to make that make any sense or be meaningful in play.

Examples:

(From the included intro scenario) The investigators arrive and talk to the sheriff (the Professional works with the FBI, so he's said its related to a case they are investigating). They get access to the police reports from people that have been assaulted and are looking at these and discussing them with the sheriff. We really struggled to find questions that fit or made sense. The adventure specified that the victim's couldn't remember what happened. There was no real physical evidence. So...what can they find out from that?

Oh, except for "what happened here", which is very confusing as a question to me - usually "what happened here" is pretty obvious and would be the sort of thing I'd include in the description without calling for any sort of roll. Often, that's pretty well established before people even start looking around. I mean, if they didn't know that "people are being attacked by a mysterious assailant that no one can seem to remember" (which is WHAT HAPPENED HERE) they wouldn't have come to investigate in the first place!

A miss didn't happen, but I would have been pretty lost here. How would the monster find anything out from this? What would it find out? The sheriff could find things out, but...what that would make any difference in play?

Essentially any time we've used the move, we hit the same problems.

However, these are kind of hard to give 'examples' for, since an investigate move generally involves potentially a lot of detail.

Example 2:

Investigating people that have vanished from a mental health institution. The monster  behind it is a Corpseweed; a faerie plant that, if it grows into a corpse can create a simulacrum of that person. It is offering patients and doctors "wishes", getting them to go through doors that it enchants to then lead to what they want - which can either be strange but fine for the person, or utterly horrifying, or even lethal, depending on what they wanted and how much it likes them. Its greater goal is that creating these doors from human desire is weakening the veil between the human and fey world (part of the 'season arc').

I didn't make just talking to patients an Investigate move, though it really could have been by the description; I just couldn't see how that would lead to answering those questions.

Searching through the empty. not-in-use part of a mental institution where they suspect something is lurking, looking for traces and clues.
In this case, I decided to, rather than having what the character had done so far answer the question, to set up a situation that would answer the question; the monster lured the character through one of the portals it had been creating, which was intended to get her out of the way - but brought her to a faerie with more info. However, this was really a cop-out, since that situation was likely to happen anyway. And if she hadn't gone through the portal, it wouldn't have led to the info. And this answered more than just that one question!

Example 3:
Investigation a mysterious murder. First investigation was looking through the police files. Really hard to answer any of the questions from a single incident. Even harder on a failed roll; how does looking through files in a record room reveal information to the monster, or to anyone else?

Being on-site for the second body led to a lot of the same problems. I could give plenty of info for what they were finding, but most of the questions just don't seem answerable.

Manipulate Someone
Pretty sure we're totally misusing it in situations we're not supposed to. Still works fine, except for the 7-9 result, which we just have no idea how to interpret.

Example 1:
PC leaps down and confronts the ogre heading for town, and informs him that she (the PC) has come with a message from Oberon and that the ogre is to return at once; his job is done. What would a 7-9 mean  here? (I opted to have Bonecrusher fall for it long enough to reveal a bit of info, and then realize it was a trick and attack her).

Example 2:
Someone fired shots at the investigators; when captured, he explained that he wasn't trying to hurt them, but had been paid to scare them off. PC confronts the guy (a doctor) she thinks is behind the attack and claims her partner has just been killed, wanting to judge his response. No idea what to do on a 7-9. (She failed; he didn't think the was nearly distressed enough and figured she was up to something. While talking to her, suddenly injects her with a tranquilizer and takes her prisoner).

Example 3:
Later, when she's awake, she's learned that the doctor is killing people that he believes are "aliens" disguised as humans; he's just run tests on her to verify that she's human, but now he doesn't know what to do with her. She explains that she's after the aliens as well; that she and her partner are from a secret branch of the FBI that defends against alien threats. Again, no idea what would happen if it had been a 7-9.

Aid Another
Generally fine, but confusing about what a failure result leads to when the person is helping with Investigation or something else where there is no immediate threat.

Read a Bad Situation
We tried to use this when a PC was looking for a) where the monster was likely to come from and b) where would be good to ambush it from; neither question seemed to be covered, so I guess that's a bad use.

Second use was when they were shot at (mentioned above); wanted to find out where the attack was coming from, and a good way to get to him without being exposed to more shots. Worked OK here.

Really just not intuitive. I wonder if that's because I'm used to one of two options for how this sort of stuff is normally handled in RPGs:
A) tactical/miniature based RPG; you've got a map and stuff, and figuring out things like this is all part of the game; the answers are all there on the board, and trying to figure them out is half the fun.
B) Heavily narrative RPG; the complete other side, where a PC would just add to the environment as needed (unless there was a big reason for what they decided to add to not be there). So a PC might just say "I'm going to hit a button to close the sliding door, protecting the bystanders!" without needing to ask the GM if there is a sliding door or a button.

KidDublin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2017, 12:13:24 AM »
Let me give your first scenario a shot StormKnight, since I'm familiar with that example mystery. But, before I do, a suggestion: download the reference sheets here, if you don't have them already: http://genericgames.co.nz/files/ . The archive you want is "Monster of the Week revised files". Take a look at the shared moves in the hunter reference sheet--they don't have any miss (6-) stipulations listed. Does it alleviate any of your problems if, instead of doing a specific thing on a miss, you instead just choose to make a hard keeper move, as described on page 174?

The problem, I think, is that the full book includes some unnecessary descriptions of what to do on a miss. In vanilla AW 2nd edition, the miss for almost all the shared moves is "on a miss, be prepared for the worst." Try thinking about misses that way, instead, and see if that makes the system more palatable.

Anyway... your first example. Let's say it's Roy the Professional who's taking the lead on this investigation.

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(From the included intro scenario) The investigators arrive and talk to the sheriff (the Professional works with the FBI, so he's said its related to a case they are investigating). They get access to the police reports from people that have been assaulted and are looking at these and discussing them with the sheriff. We really struggled to find questions that fit or made sense. The adventure specified that the victim's couldn't remember what happened. There was no real physical evidence. So...what can they find out from that?

Oh, except for "what happened here", which is very confusing as a question to me - usually "what happened here" is pretty obvious and would be the sort of thing I'd include in the description without calling for any sort of roll. Often, that's pretty well established before people even start looking around. I mean, if they didn't know that "people are being attacked by a mysterious assailant that no one can seem to remember" (which is WHAT HAPPENED HERE) they wouldn't have come to investigate in the first place!

What happened here?
Keeper: Roy, you have a pretty good rapport with this sheriff, yeah? He thinks you're a fed?
Roy: Absolutely.
Keeper: Cool. He makes good with the details--who, what, where, when, and so on. *I give Roy a big ol' info dump* Also, the sheriff stresses that each victim was cut in the same way, with significant--but not life-threatening--blood loss.

What sort of creature is it?
Roy: "You have any pictures from the scene?"
Sheriff: "Sure. Take a look."
Keeper: He hands you some crime photos. There are some close-ups of footprints in the mud. Big ones. Deep, too. Wow, whatever made those must be huge. There are some notes attached from the CSI team. We're talking, like, seven, eight feet? 300-something pounds?

What can it do?
Roy: "Not one of the victims remembers anything?"
Sheriff: "It's the damnedest thing. I can figure one, maybe even two people might forget an assault. Post-traumatic stress, ya know? But all of the victims? Doesn't make sense. Maybe our doer did something to 'em."

What can hurt it?
(You're right that this question doesn't fit this particular investigation--that's okay! The below is how you can work that out with a hunter without just saying "no.")
Keeper: Roy, how would you find that out?
Roy: I, uh, I guess I couldn't, huh? Let me try something else...

Where did it go?
Roy: "Any pattern to these attacks?"
Sheriff: "Well, most happened around this area..."
Keeper: The sheriff circles a few areas right around the nature reserve.

What was it going to do?
Roy: "Anything odd about the wounds on these victims?"
Sheriff: "Well, we did find a few of these. Lab guys can't tell what kind of thread it is, but it's covered in blood. Soaked, actually."
Keeper: He holds up an evidence bag with some crusty, dark red strings in it.
Sheriff: "These were deep in the cuts. Like some kind of cloth was jammed in there."

What is being concealed here?
Keeper: Roy, you look over and see that the Sheriff's microwave has been thrown in the trash, as well as an electric shaver and a laptop.
Roy: "Tech problems, Sheriff?"
Sheriff: "Yeah. Just up and quit on me these past few days. Had a guy try and take a look at it--he said it looked perfectly fine, 'cept it didn't turn on. Same thing happened to my cousin. And Bette down at the grocer, too. Strangest thing--stuff's breaking all over town it seems."

Does the above make sense, StormKnight? If you were a player, would you be satisfied with these answers? I could keep going with your examples, but I want to see if you have any issues with what I've written above.

Paul T.

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2017, 04:06:17 AM »
KidDublin's got a good take on "Investigate", I think.

I'll add a few things:

1. I'm not totally sold on the design of the move. It's OK, I think, but not great. (And you've basically nailed down why; it's a bit ambiguous about when to roll it and *why* you're rolling it in the first place, which makes things like handling a miss really awkward.) I really don't want to come off as a critic of Monster of the Week when I haven't even played the thing, but everything I'm finding here isn't convincing me that it's a terribly good AW hack.

2. When I use "reading" moves in PbtA games (like this one), I always ask the players exactly what they're doing. The idea is that the *methods* they're using will bring different results, meaning that character decisions and actions matter.

For instance, if you ask me "What can hurt it?", I owe you an answer. However, I will give you *as good an answer as I can*, given your method of inquiry. If you're just getting second-hand commentary on a crime scene you haven't even visited... I can only believably give you so much detail. I'll try my best to finagle something in there - maybe there's some weird alien fluid by the broken window, for instance, and you'll have to make your own guesses as to what that means - but that's best you're gonna get. If you were interviewing a survivor who had real information on the creature, they would give you much more, and much more specific information. So your approach matters.

In other words, I treat the questions as, basically, warranting that I give up *all the information I can think of on the subject, given what the characters are doing*. What could they conceivably and believably find out to answer this question in this particular situation? It's got to feel believable to me. Like KidDublin's examples, sometimes it means it's gonna be a bit vague. If they go to the crime scene themselves, they could go more thorough answers, for example.

The other way to play is to assume that the question's answer has been found, in full. (I don't know if the book explains this, or offers guidance.) If you prefer to play in that mode, then you, as the MC/GM have to go an invent an answer. That's fine and fun to play (especially if you're improvising!), but it gives you a very different relationship to the fiction.

3. On the subject of the miss, if the game doesn't help you set up a monster which has some means of learning stuff about the PCs, and then lists that as the default "miss" on an investigation move... that sounds like a disaster, to me. Are you sure there isn't something in there?

I'd want to say, for example, that there is a mole in the police department, and on a miss that person goes and tells the monster something about the PCs. Absent that kind of fictional justification, yeah, that miss clause is pretty awkward.

In general, though, keep in mind that when a "miss" happens, you shouldn't be wracking your brains for some terrible misfortune. If nothing bad is likely to happen, don't force it. You're only called to make a move that's "as hard as you feel appropriate". Sometimes your MC moves can seem like good things - or even be good things ("Offer them an opportunity"), hint at other bad news, elsewhere ("Announce off-screen badness"), or deal with the framing of the narrative ("separate them" - "You're going to have to spend all day there, reading those documents. What do the rest of you do in the meantime?", or perhaps "You waste a lot of time talking to the cops, and it's now the next morning. What do you do?" or even "Afterwards, you go to the ATM, and your bank card is declined. What gives? How are you going to buy yourself dinner?").

A sidenote:

Misses on an "aid" or "interfere" move can be very awkward. Again, if there's no apparent problem... let it go. Use "your move" as an excuse to talk about something and complicate the situation, or to raise the tension level subtly. It doesn't have to be ninjas jumping through the roof... it could just be that you forget a detail or leave your fingerprints or something, or someone at the office develops a crush on your character.

An "MC move" really just means you get to throw in something you, as MC/GM, find interesting.

However, it also helps to give this kind of thing some thought ahead of time and to have a "fallback option" (for when you can't think of anything). In this case, it could be to give the rolling character a -1forward (-1 to their roll) - you're trying to help, but you're getting in the way, instead.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 04:40:02 AM by Paul T. »

Sestuss

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2017, 04:42:53 AM »
Wow, this has been a fascinating exchange for me. In large part because I have had friends who have brought up similar concerns. I have literally heard the "too limiting" in some ways, and yet "to broad" in others. I too had some trouble at first and honestly didn't really "get" a lot of nuance until I starting making my own hack (Though I learn something new every time I read stuff like this, brovo with these explanations by the way).

But there is totally something to "get." I more recently explained away the "too limiting, yet to broad" by saying to myself, explicit text in rules as written is the stereotype, if you don't feel like being adventurous just do exactly that, otherwise treat that stuff as a guideline or inspiration and go nutz.

But for the record I will say this. There is a lot of... "culture" for a lack of a better word that makes AW or pbta work, implied/learned stuff. The advantage for trad games is that you know very explicitly the authors intent as defined by a 500+ word rule under the appropriate chapter heading, so when you do disregard it, you at least feel pretty clear on which part of the game your breaking and why. In these games I think people never even get the context of why a thing has a limiting way of describing it. A lot of newcomers aren't going to be comfortable breaking a rule they don't understand, and yet don't really like the rule as written, hence feeling like they don't get it.

Great stuff, it sucks that there hasn't really been any "ah-hah" moments but still, we do well to remember not to take well worn concepts "from our perspective" for granted (not that I am saying anyone here did that :)).

StormKnight

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2017, 07:02:15 PM »
(Oh! Monster of the Week calls the GM the "Keeper". AW calls the GM the "MC". I mixed them up in my post. Hopefully you can sort that out! MC = GM = Keeper.)

Heh heh. I keep trying to remember to type "Keeper" and not "GM". But yeah, MC, Keeper, GM, DM, Storyteller, referee...whatever. :D

StormKnight

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #39 on: April 04, 2017, 07:38:31 PM »
Let me give your first scenario a shot StormKnight, since I'm familiar with that example mystery. But, before I do, a suggestion: download the reference sheets here, if you don't have them already: http://genericgames.co.nz/files/ . The archive you want is "Monster of the Week revised files". Take a look at the shared moves in the hunter reference sheet--they don't have any miss (6-) stipulations listed. Does it alleviate any of your problems if, instead of doing a specific thing on a miss, you instead just choose to make a hard keeper move, as described on page 174?
Lol. I not only downloaded the references before playing, I then made my own version of the reference since they didn't include the miss text. :p

When treated as examples, the miss text is fine...but there are still a lot of things where we just don't seem to know how to handle successes or failures.

Quote
Anyway... your first example. Let's say it's Roy the Professional who's taking the lead on this investigation.
So this brings up another question - would  you tend to have everyone PC who is there make an investigate roll? Have some of them 'Help Out'? or just have one person make it?

Also, how does this actually tend to work out for you in play? We started with a lot of roleplayed conversation which covered a lot of the "basics" - stuff that you categorized in "what happened here". After all that, we used to move to dig deeper and get more answers - or we tried to at least.

Quote
Quote
(From the included intro scenario) The investigators arrive and talk to the sheriff (the Professional works with the FBI, so he's said its related to a case they are investigating). They get access to the police reports from people that have been assaulted and are looking at these and discussing them with the sheriff. We really struggled to find questions that fit or made sense. The adventure specified that the victim's couldn't remember what happened. There was no real physical evidence. So...what can they find out from that?

Oh, except for "what happened here", which is very confusing as a question to me - usually "what happened here" is pretty obvious and would be the sort of thing I'd include in the description without calling for any sort of roll. Often, that's pretty well established before people even start looking around. I mean, if they didn't know that "people are being attacked by a mysterious assailant that no one can seem to remember" (which is WHAT HAPPENED HERE) they wouldn't have come to investigate in the first place!

What happened here?
Keeper: Roy, you have a pretty good rapport with this sheriff, yeah? He thinks you're a fed?
Roy: Absolutely.
Keeper: Cool. He makes good with the details--who, what, where, when, and so on. *I give Roy a big ol' info dump* Also, the sheriff stresses that each victim was cut in the same way, with significant--but not life-threatening--blood loss.

What sort of creature is it?
Roy: "You have any pictures from the scene?"
Sheriff: "Sure. Take a look."
Keeper: He hands you some crime photos. There are some close-ups of footprints in the mud. Big ones. Deep, too. Wow, whatever made those must be huge. There are some notes attached from the CSI team. We're talking, like, seven, eight feet? 300-something pounds?

What can it do?
Roy: "Not one of the victims remembers anything?"
Sheriff: "It's the damnedest thing. I can figure one, maybe even two people might forget an assault. Post-traumatic stress, ya know? But all of the victims? Doesn't make sense. Maybe our doer did something to 'em."

What can hurt it?
(You're right that this question doesn't fit this particular investigation--that's okay! The below is how you can work that out with a hunter without just saying "no.")
Keeper: Roy, how would you find that out?
Roy: I, uh, I guess I couldn't, huh? Let me try something else...

Where did it go?
Roy: "Any pattern to these attacks?"
Sheriff: "Well, most happened around this area..."
Keeper: The sheriff circles a few areas right around the nature reserve.

What was it going to do?
Roy: "Anything odd about the wounds on these victims?"
Sheriff: "Well, we did find a few of these. Lab guys can't tell what kind of thread it is, but it's covered in blood. Soaked, actually."
Keeper: He holds up an evidence bag with some crusty, dark red strings in it.
Sheriff: "These were deep in the cuts. Like some kind of cloth was jammed in there."

What is being concealed here?
Keeper: Roy, you look over and see that the Sheriff's microwave has been thrown in the trash, as well as an electric shaver and a laptop.
Roy: "Tech problems, Sheriff?"
Sheriff: "Yeah. Just up and quit on me these past few days. Had a guy try and take a look at it--he said it looked perfectly fine, 'cept it didn't turn on. Same thing happened to my cousin. And Bette down at the grocer, too. Strangest thing--stuff's breaking all over town it seems."

Does the above make sense, StormKnight? If you were a player, would you be satisfied with these answers? I could keep going with your examples, but I want to see if you have any issues with what I've written above.

Well...first of, you are clearly better at answering these questions than I am. :)

But several answers we just covered in conversation; like I said "what's going on here" doesn't seem like the sort of thing you need to roll for. Same with the victims not knowing what happened. And the 'random stuff breaking and strange stuff going on' was part of what drew their attention to the area in the first place, so that really wouldn't be news to them.
Nothing about huge footprints is mentioned in the write-up (which really does make it sound like there's basically no evidence at all!), and again that seems like that would be pretty obvious - not something that should require a roll to discover.

The thread in the wounds is a good idea - my mental image is that he was cutting them, and then 'draining' the blood into his cap. Your idea leads to better clues. This is why I tend to think that advance planning (which MotW says not to do!) is a good idea - some things lead more easily to clues than others!

We sort of did a 'where did it go' similar to what you mention, except there was no real easy way to get to that specific question from the info. What the player wanted to ask was "is there any pattern to the location of the attacks?", and I decided to specify that they had been spreading out from the nature preserve. (Though both your response and mine bother me - in a small town, I doubt he'd have much choices for victims, so its far more likely to be 'wherever he happened to find someone out late alone').

We actually pondered over "what can hurt it", and I said that since it was cutting all of the victims it must need blood. I was told that this was an extreme jump of logic, which I agree with. :p


Paul T.

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2017, 07:49:06 PM »
Interesting. The book doesn't give you any guidance on when and how to roll the move, and who rolls it?

That seems like an important oversight.

As you point out, it's awkward to use that move if you get all the information *first* and *then* roll the move. It would probably work better if you rolled it earlier in the interaction.

(I spoke about "system mastery" for PbtA games earlier... this is very much where it happens. Figuring out where and how to smoothly use the moves is really key, and it sounds like MotW has a lot of moves which either aren't entirely obvious in this respect - or maybe the text isn't very good at orienting you to that. I'd recommend rereading the section about the move, in case it has good advice you skipped over before starting the game. Sometimes it makes more sense on a second reading, once you've played!)

KidDublin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #41 on: April 04, 2017, 08:19:16 PM »
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So this brings up another question - would  you tend to have everyone PC who is there make an investigate roll? Have some of them 'Help Out'? or just have one person make it?

If everyone's doing different sorts of things, sure. If the Expert's taking the lead and, like, the Meddling Kid is taking notes as they talk, I might count that as a Help Out from the Kid.

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Also, how does this actually tend to work out for you in play? We started with a lot of roleplayed conversation which covered a lot of the "basics" - stuff that you categorized in "what happened here". After all that, we used to move to dig deeper and get more answers - or we tried to at least.

In play, what usually happens is  one person triggers the move by engaging in some clear snooping. If my Meddling Kid is pacing around the crime scene, and pulls out her magnifying glass--boom, gimme investigate a mystery. If they hit, that doesn't mean all my answers need to be related to magnifying something--we might roleplay something where the Kid brings that glass right up to someone's face... and then asks them a question which could reasonably stand-in for one of the move's questions. There's still room to negotiate exactly what a hunter is doing as they ask those questions, but they need to start poking around before the dice roll.

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But several answers we just covered in conversation; like I said "what's going on here" doesn't seem like the sort of thing you need to roll for. Same with the victims not knowing what happened. And the 'random stuff breaking and strange stuff going on' was part of what drew their attention to the area in the first place, so that really wouldn't be news to them.

If you don't need to roll to find something out, then you don't roll for it. It's not investigating a mystery if you already know exactly what you're looking for. By the same token, I wouldn't spend a hunter's hold for a "What happened here?" question if I didn't give them any new information! However, I can imagine a scenario where "What's happened here?" is a totally valid question.

Keeper: "You all walk into the town square. Everyone is wearing demon masks and riding around on tricycles, on fire. There's one normal-looking fella cowering by the garbage cans."
Roy: "I pull out my P.K.E. meter." *Rolls investigate a mystery, hits* "What the hell happened here?"

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The thread in the wounds is a good idea - my mental image is that he was cutting them, and then 'draining' the blood into his cap. Your idea leads to better clues. This is why I tend to think that advance planning (which MotW says not to do!) is a good idea - some things lead more easily to clues than others!

This is me leveraging the limited preparation MotW asks for, in order to improvise. The mystery never says how the Redcap colors his hat (pouring is just as effective as dipping, one imagines). However, in that moment I decided the Redcap was leaving those threads behind, because it was an honest, fictionally appropriate way to answer Roy's question.

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Nothing about huge footprints is mentioned in the write-up (which really does make it sound like there's basically no evidence at all!), and again that seems like that would be pretty obvious - not something that should require a roll to discover.

Just because it's not explicitly mentioned in the mystery text doesn't mean it can't happen--that's a feature of the game, not a bug. You're right that there's no mention of the footprints--I made those up because, again, it was an honest, fictionally appropriate way to answer Roy.

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We actually pondered over "what can hurt it", and I said that since it was cutting all of the victims it must need blood. I was told that this was an extreme jump of logic, which I agree with. :p

For a normal person? Totally. For a crew of seasoned monster killers who literally do this kind of thing every week? Not at all, my dude.

Mike Sands

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #42 on: April 06, 2017, 01:05:18 AM »
[This is why I tend to think that advance planning (which MotW says not to do!)

That's a major misunderstanding. Clearly planning is required, which is why such a lot of the book is devoted to mystery planning.

What you shouldn't do is plan how the mystery will play out. You prepare the situation as it stands when the hunters arrive, what happens next is up to the group as the hunters do stuff, and you see what happens as a result.

Munin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2017, 04:15:09 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with investigate a mystery is to treat the PCs like Sherlock Holmes: they notice things that other people don't. They see things in crime photos others have missed. They infer things from police and coroners' reports that others overlook. When on scene, they find clues that lead them to make deductive leaps. This is doubly true the more experience they get (i.e. "this is sort of like that time when..."

So if you're going over the reports of a mysterious murder, think about little details in those crime reports that might hint at the answers to those questions:

What happened here?" This question is deeper than a simple answer of "someone was murdered." It dips into the how, or even the why. It highlights the unusual aspects of the event. So maybe in cross-referencing the coroner's report (which says much of the brain tissue was reduced to viscera) with the crime scene photos (which show no obvious cranial trauma), you know that what happened here was not that someone was killed, but that a dude got his brain pulped. This also speaks to "What can the monster do?", but that's OK. This question is also a good way to illustrate motive - see my previous example about  the pages torn out of the victim's journal.

"What sort of creature is it?" Footprints, hand-prints, marks on the victim, blood smears, etc are all fair game here. Perhaps in one of the crime-scene photos, one of the investigators sees a bluish smear on the edge of a dresser. It's not "blood," so the police didn't care, but the PC has seen it before - it looks exactly like the blood from an old "alien autopsy" video.

"What can it do?" The lack of forced entry is interesting. Police reports note that the doors and windows were locked - note is made of how the police had to force their way in - so the creature is clearly able to teleport or phase somehow. Alternately, maybe it has some sort of telekinetic powers.

"What can hurt it?" Here the presence or creature blood is again useful, as it indicates the creature can be wounded. Alternately, you can use things about the scene to give a view into the creature's psyche; the victim was mauled except for their right arm, which was adorned with a silver bracelet. The house was trashed, with every window and mirror broken except for the big salt-water fish-tank.

"Where did it go?" Again, footprints and blood-trails are good here. You can also use associated ancillary data - There's nothing from the police report itself, but there were a bunch of "noise disturbance" calls to the police that same night, all of which happened in this general area. By looking at the time tags of the complaint calls, you can plot out the creature's path, at least for long enough to give you a general direction.

"What was it going to do?" What is it that the monster is really up to? And what would evidence of that look like? So for instance, in your Corpseweed example, maybe all of the doorways in the abandoned part of the sanatarium have an odd, psychic "stain" to the that is discernible by the Medium. Maybe sound is weird there, like people who are close sounding far away or vice versa. Something that demonstrates the breakdown of reality.

"What is being concealed here?" This is a good one if there are people aiding the monster (either intentionally or not). Why was this police report filed in the wrong place? Why is evidence listed in the log books missing? But again, this question speaks to the monster's motives - what is it trying to conceal, and how might it go about it? This is a great way to introdce a Minion, FWIW.

In terms of giving aid, I find that failures usually lead to interference or putting someone in a spot. Interference is easy - instead of applying a bonus to the roll, the commensurate penalty is applied instead. "Dammit, Mort, all your tromping around in your work boots has completely obscured all the footprint evidence!" Or "Mort, where'd you put those 911 transcripts?" "Ummm, shit. I think they may have gone out in the trash with all the Chinese take-out boxes."

And finally, for the manipulation roll with the crazy, alien-hunting doctor, a good 7-9 result would be to have the doctor demand proof; "A Fed, eh? Where's your badge and gun?" Or better yet, "A secret division, eh? Let's call your supervisor right now. I can help you people, you know." This might snowball into another PC having to fake being an FBI director over the phone (certainly actingunder pressure) lest their teammate get hurt.

Paul T.

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2017, 03:22:30 AM »
That's excellent advice.

Question:

Does the game instruct you to hide the information from the players, or gleefully give it away?

That will affect how you interface with this move. If you're supposed to show them your cards as soon as possible (once they earn them, like by rolling a move), then you should do your best to answer the questions enthusiastically, contriving reasons to give them the information. (Munin gives some great examples of how you can justify this! I think it's OK to treat the questions fairly creatively and flexibly - after all, the players will be glad to just learn more information, since they are curious about the monster.)