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Messages - Spwack

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brainstorming & development / Re: Cyber_Peripherals
« on: December 29, 2017, 09:19:43 AM »
And so it begins…

- I haven’t played or even read the Sprawl, so I’ll be looking at this as a stand-alone to begin with. Perhaps I’ll mosey on over and check out the original game at some point, maybe not.
- Agenda: “Don’t waste your players time.” Is that a risk here? Or in similar systems?
- “Start with the vertical” seems like something I’m supposed to know, but don’t. Yet?
- Basic moves, here we go. “Profit” seems interesting, seems that the corporations are leaking down into the slums.
- “Figure Someone Out” goes both ways! A lot! Since it can be done at a distance, time-wise as well, it seems that poking around in someone else business will force you to reveal some of your own information. Noice. Keen to see how exactly that plays out at the table though.
- “Play Hardball” seems to be a high risk/reward situation. Am I reading it correctly that if you Play Hardball with another PC, they get a significant leverage back over you? Sweet. A 10+ here is a free-ride, but a 7-9 puts you at their mercy. It’s important that the 6- reflects this. You are all UP in their grill. Turning up the heat seems the only option, heh.
- “Fast Talk” isn’t quite the usual bargaining move. The Favour is paid even if they don’t agree, and the 6- seems very… friendly? There’s probably conditions where it should be impossible to make this move. Maybe ‘When you have time to try and convince an NPC…’ opens things up a little. If they aren’t listening, it’s not going to work out. Depends what you want!
- “Mix It Up” really does match the tone of the game, as you’ve rightly point out. Reminds me of ‘Fighter’ from Escape the Dungeon: Bad things happen to violent people, but they get what they want quite a lot of the time.
- “Do someone a favour” doesn’t have any numbers involved. I like this! “Pay back a favour” involves going back through why they actually owe you something’. If you can’t remember, then maybe it wasn’t that important to begin with… it also means that past sessions come back to life for a second, without excessive flashback-ery. Stolen!
- “Put off a debt” specifically says ‘online’. Don’t think it needs this, unless you are going for a particular tone here.
- “Max moves”? Not sure if I’m missing something here
- “Exchange bodily fluids” heh. So proud of you. I’m changing the Special Moves for AW to include this.
- “Go Under the Knife” the 6- phrasing is utterly perfect. Especially if whichever friend encouraged you to go to the slum-doc is sitting in the greasy waiting area, and the engineer comes out wiping blood off on a greasy rag before sighing.
- Right, time to skim the Sprawl
- Immediately, I can see that you’ve boosted Fast Talk and made Playing Hardball much more dangerous. While I do like the thematic pressure this places, Fast Talk seems to make everyone you talk to very “friendly”. Do you really want this?
- Breaker: the plusses and minuses in the stat-lines are quite useful pointers towards the ‘feel’ of each playbook, but confused me for a moment. Maybe just say, “the core stats of the [playbook] are…”
- “Boxes of electronics” seems a little lacklustre. How about “backdoor to electronics warehouse”?
- Can you use “Try this number” for your own problems?
- I’ve talked about “Red Hot Networker” - style moves in ETD, and I still stand by my opinion that they should be intrinsic to the playbook, not an optional move. A) All Breakers should be doing this, and B) do you want other playbook to be able to take it? And C) They should be doing cooler stuff with their moves.
- “Finger probes” oooooh. Me likey. I’d add a “shoulder drone”, “omni-sensory recorder”, “respiratory suppressor” (for playing possum) and maybe a memory backup.
- Goon: Just some housekeeping, a page break is missing at the end of Breaker, and ROLL + COLL.
- I’d proooobably switch Indian for dark skin. It is 2017 after all.
- “Vigilantes” has a very laid-back feel about most, while the 6- has a sort of… I don’t know how to describe it. Overwhelming? Unavoidable? No, not unavoidable. It’s like a nature documentary where the migratory animals don’t bitch and moan about the changing weather conditions, they just move elsewhere. The natural state of things is terrible, where are you going to sleep tonight?
- “Heavies” but this isn’t really related to the move, it was just the moment when I realised, is the Goon just a Chopper with a patch of territory instead of bikes?
- “Post traumatic enthusiasm” bah gawd. This would need a fair amount of testing I feel. I presume if you don’t choose an option, then the MC is forced to make it a terrible decision?
- “Street Politics” feels just a little bland. Obviously ‘through ritual’ needs to be soaked in blood, but still. I’d add more flavour from the MC’s side of the table, rather than just numbers and maybe a half-hearted attempt at a take-over.
- Goon Chrome looks sweet. “Limb stump” stumped me though XD are you supposed to attach something there?
- “Tradesite” says a huge amount about the setting, much as “Vigilantes” does. Stealing from elsewhere on this site: "Given how terrible people's circumstances are in the post-apocalypse, what do they do to distract themselves from their everyday circumstances, and how fucked up everything is?"
- “Know your customer” has really nice phrasing for the 7-9 ‘the window is closing’ is something I’m going to be thinking about next time someone makes an Act Under Fire roll and gets a partial success: yeah sure. If you do it now. Yes, right the fuck now.
- For Chrome, a hitech dowsing rod would be a classic piece of kit. Or an instant value finder. Something you can just point at interesting things, and it tells you how much they sell for on eBay
- Prole: Quite a wardrobe is missing the numbers. Also, “branding”? As in, with a hot iron? Icky. I like it.
- “Clock off” just doesn’t do it for me. I thought this game was all about “Clocking off”? More detail pleaseeee
- “My other life” is just too real on a 6-
- “This is Scooter” while you’ve already heard my opinions on these types of moves, this one is perfectly written. Gratz.
- Does the Prole not have quite as many moves as the other playbooks? I'd split "Clock off" into a couple different downtime activities with some more involvement, and maybe a "Clock on" move to round it out
- Some of these chromes aren’t quite as self-explanatory as before. Aug-ieball? Slot chip frame? Also, can we get that thing from the matrix with the brain-spike and the kung fu?

That’ll do for now. Ow. My eyeballs.

brainstorming & development / Re: Cyber_Peripherals
« on: November 06, 2017, 09:36:55 AM »
Moarrr things! You're probably sick of my waffle at this point but I love your writing style and will probably do another woe-to-go read through as soon as exams are finished*

*Possibly not immediately due to rampant procrastination.

In the meantime, when the Cyber_Peripherals movie comes out, where is it filmed, who plays each of the playbooks, and how much is spent on CGI?

Apocalypse World / Re: Session Length
« on: November 05, 2017, 08:17:48 AM »
Ebok, I scratched out the auto-10 part of barter. Interestingly, the first edition booklet I'm looking at has the line "By default, the characters have access to the barter moves, but the MC might decide to limit them."

I wonder what's up with that.

In addition, since this seems to be all about the economy, Vincent: four barter for gigs, 90% or more of the time. Why four? Why not dependent on the difficulty of the job?

My thoughts as I write this is that the easy jobs have all been taken, so to get one, you have to look extra hard, wait a long time, do without, or kill for it.

I've played a Child-Thing, I've MC'd a Waterbearer for a one/two-shot. The Waterbearer seems almost out of place in the wilderness. They're political in nature, more-so than the Hardholder. The 'holder, and the Chopper to a lesser extent, is about dealing with big groups of people. Packs? Herds? I like herds. They spook easily, they eat a lot, but then can be led, with difficulty.

The Waterbearer did something interesting, it immediately divided the world into "haves" and "have nots", whereas before there were only "have nots". You might say "But MC, surely some people have something." And to that I say, well yeah. They have something. But for how long? How long do you need to possess a material advantage before changing your behaviour pattern from "get the thing" (the have nots) to "keep the thing" (the haves)?

I did something for the one-shot, which were kind of like love letters. I've spoken about them before, but here's the one for the Waterbearer (WIP)

You are the Waterbearer -  You giveth. You taketh away. Blessed, blessed be your name.
Fundamentally, your presence alters the entire geography of the region. You own the last piece of potable water for a hundred kliks. Name three gang leaders who you’ve made deals with. What did you ask for, in return for access to your water. Two of them will have responded, ask the MC what they said. If one of the other players has a gang, you should definitely ask them. if they refuse your offer, turn to the MC and smile… They’re basically fucked, and they know it.

other lumpley games / On the wonders of censorship
« on: October 17, 2017, 10:27:54 AM »
As per the design goals, the name of "kill puppies for satan" has rendered me unable to publicly advertise it for my club. Everything about the game is fine*, just not the name. Go figure.

LO! I come to thee, internet, with a quest: I need a new name. Obviously, nothing can reach the perfection that is, "kill puppies for satan" but something must suffice.

Keep in mind I plan on maintaining the role of the title in being displayed proudly across the top of the character sheets. So it must be horrid. But no animal cruelty, apparently. Brutal gruesome human murder is fine, but as soon as it's fluffy? That's right out.

Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« on: September 25, 2017, 01:09:19 AM »
Well, you know that scene in a film where the twist is revealed? The characters goggle in wonder and horror while shots from earlier in the movie are shown, which now take on a completely different meaning from their initial appearance? That's Opening Your Brain.

Damn! I gotta do that some time. Just go back over a few scenes, but this time, reveal some of the stuff that was hidden.

Apocalypse World / Re: New in Second Edition
« on: September 25, 2017, 01:04:36 AM »
Fallen Empires has a highlight bubble for Hx, while 2nd ed doesn't. I wonder what that says about the importance of relationships when guns aren't a thing?

Or it's just oversight and you should highlight that shit anyway.

brainstorming & development / Re: Escape the Dungeon
« on: August 21, 2017, 06:06:59 AM »
Something came to mind quite quickly regarding GM moves, but was rather unformed. The phrasing is "On a 6 or less, gain experience and the Dungeon Reacts."

So basically, the demons provide a route for the MC's active moves against the players (usually) while these "Dungeon Reactions" are more passive in nature. Then of course, you can have a whooooole list of *things* that can happen, simply due to living in this place. Looking at the list of MC moves from Apoc World, I can kinda see how some of them being solely the purview of the dungeon itself making these things happen would add to the style.

Ding: Two lists of moves. Demon Moves and Dungeon Moves. Some of them overlap, like announcing future badness, while separating, capturing and putting in a spot is solely a Dungeon Move. Even if the embodiment of some sin or other is cackling as the trap springs shut around you, its still fundamentally the Dungeon making the move. You feel me?

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 02, 2017, 11:05:32 AM »
Ahh! It's not finished! Every move will eventually be written up, and the only thing that's being ACTUALLY changed so far is Hx. And maybe stats. But those might just be made into cards as well. It's not so much changing the rules, as changing the formatting to assist with a specific kind of play. That is, throwing a bunch of stuff at a player and getting them to pick things, but in a less neat (i.e. one page) fashion.

I would do font thingies, but G Docs aren't my favourite for editing in that fashion, but I do see why that would be important. What was the name of that channel, by chance? I love positive reinforcement feedback in all forms.

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 01, 2017, 09:28:05 PM »
Wow I love that! Never thought of linking the moves and Hx in that way. Linking to both an NPC and another player seems like a cool move as well. It's official, there are no issues that cannot be fixed by small pieces of paper. I'd have to chop and change, but the whole "Just pick up two/three cards and follow all the instructions" really clicks with me. To the drawing board!


brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: August 01, 2017, 05:56:20 AM »
While I do agree that Hx takes up a long time, I've found it is actually quite effective in getting the setting created. The process of answering questions is one that prompts a lot of further "ok, so how did that work out? Who were you fighting, and why?" However it is quite slow... Maybe just writing them out larger...

Topical idea! Each Hx question is written out on, you guessed it, even more palm cards, with room for a name (but only one), and the number written quite large. If it changes at any point during play, it is then written into the Hx section. If it doesn't, no biggy, they've got a reminder of how they were connected to some other player.

I love palm cards. They solve all my problems.

Palm cards palm cards palm cards.

While you're point on the stat-lines is perfectly valid, I do recall vaguely reading something Lumpley said when someone complained about how restrictive they were. If I can find the post I'll link it here, but it was to do with how the numbers added up vertically not just horizontally. As in, if you add up all the non-main stats (e.g ignore Cool for Battlebabes) down the line, you can come up with rather interesting numbers. Like, add up all the Sharp values for the Driver, and you get +4, while if you add up all the Gunlugger Hot stats you get -7. Which certainly tells you something about the Gunlugger as a playbook. Another thing would be the max and min values, Hardholders rarely have a Hot score other than +1, while Choppers are the exact inverse with Weird.

You feel me? I'm not sure I feel comfortable diluting the... poetry? Of the stats just for the sake of a few extra minutes.

Oh. Wait. That contradicts everything I've said about speed being key. Hm... Maybe a midpoint would be, some of the playbooks have a strong stat, while some have a strong AND a weak stat already written in...?

I think while I was trying to create a quick start sheet for the Hocus, I was stumped. I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason for their stats, and none of them go above or below ±1. Maybe this represents the fact that Hocus's can come from any walk of life, and be any kind of person? Design purposes aside, your A:E rules would work fine with them. I wonder whether any other playbooks are (un)arranged like this as well.

That would be the same reason why the Driver has Reputation: To get them to meet new people.

In my opinion, there's one itty bitty little problem with the Driver - everyone else's cars are the same. Have you noticed that when other playbooks get a workspace, hardhold, or gang of their own (through improvements or during play) they use different rules than the Savvyhead/Hardholder/Chopper?

Apocalypse World / Re: The Landfall Marine
« on: July 31, 2017, 08:38:01 AM »
Brutal, lumpley, absolutely brutal. Let me see if I've got this straight: You get experience for abandoning the totally reasonable* and completely sane* missions, and nearly all your improvements are about adapting to life on the ground... Hmmm...

Say, is there a way to get back to the orbital platform? If you are adapted to ground-food, are the rations topside still edible?

If the Marine is in play, does that mean the Maelstrom is always a weapon? Like, 100% of the time and 100% accurate? Just checking.

brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: July 31, 2017, 05:50:48 AM »
It's very interesting that you bring up the slow pace of character creation, as that is exactly what I'm working on right now... It's less interesting thematically than the cards, but basically, the slowest parts I've found are choosing the stat-lines and the moves. The method I'm using right now is to translate each of those into "plain english" as it were. For example, the Angel stat-lines look like this:

Cool+1, Hard=0, Hot+1, Sharp+2, Weird-1

Cool+1, Hard+1, Hot=0, Sharp+2, Weird-1

Cool-1, Hard+1, Hot=0, Sharp+2, Weird+1

Cool+2, Hard=0, Hot-1, Sharp+2, Weird-1

And I've described them, in turn, as Charismatic, Don't take shit from nobody, Blessed by the Psychic Maelstrom, Smooth mover.

How I come to these terms is a mix of, "which stat is higher or lower on this one than any other line?", and "what playstyle do I suspect this would produce?"

The moves are just a basic translation of "what do I get if I take this move" as opposed to the accurate and interesting jargon Lumpley uses. The biggest issue I've had so far is the replacement moves. Exhibit A is the Gunlugger, with both Cool and Weird substitution. Taking Cool-1 and Battle-Hardened makes you better at Acting Under Fire than the 'lugger with Cool+1. Which works... I guess. Maybe I should go the other way? Have them choose the moves first, and then the stats... not sure yet.

The bottleneck with character creation, I've found, is usually how fast and effectively the MC can explain the rules, or rather, the outcomes of the choices of the players. As I'm writing this, I'm considering splitting up all the potential holding/establishment/gang etc. options on, once again, palm cards, with short descriptions of what each option will functionally do (along with some rules and style, as per the drama cards). Maybe the ones that contradict go on one card, and they put a tick on the one they select? Have to look at it in more detail.

Do you still have those MH one-shot rules anywhere? I'd be keen to see them. One lever that you have for controlling the pace is the rate of complexity introduction, by the sounds of it. Then again, that might be counter-productive if you want to slow things down - by introducing new toys, they might be overeager to play with them XD

I don't envision a particular number of players for this, as I always go for 4, or at a pinch, 3-5. The reason I pick four specifically is because the action usually develops into two pairs of characters, meaning I can focus the spotlight on A-plot and B-plot as the drama dictates. Three, and one play can sometimes get left out, and five is edging towards chaos. Six, is right out. Two is interesting, I've found, but it definitely depends on the players.


brainstorming & development / Re: Palm cards and such
« on: July 30, 2017, 07:25:41 AM »
Wow, thanks for your interest. I'll try and respond to each point. Criticism is good! I always want to improve at my hobby/obsession, and extra points of view are a godsend. The style of the cards matches the style of the game, most of the time, so it's as good a place as any to start.

I remember reading your AW:E post a while ago and what caught me was the issue of time. Fundamentally, my experience with running RPGs has been fighting tooth and nail for a couple hours squeezed in to run something fun. AW:E is all about broadening the scope of things, both in background and introducing rules. Everything is measured, quiet, and more than slightly disturbing as you drip blood on the things they describe. I love that style. I really enjoy being able to take my time with stories, even if they are style fundamentally adventures. But I've rarely had that luxury. I need my players to make character sheets quickly, learn the rules even faster, and be able to start exploring nearly immediately. I've worked hard at reducing the time from sitting down, no, getting in the front door of my house, to killing something interesting. The main thing I've always struggled with is the initial "Where do you go?" and getting sheep-like looks. Or worse, seeing a table half illuminated by phone screens. I often feel like my engagement would be enough to invigorate the table, even just slightly, so I do my best to share it with everyone.

So I have to make them PANIC.

I cajole, I sneer, I snicker, I cheer at their funny/interesting suggestions, I say "Yes, but..." and sometimes it works.

I like to call these bits of paper drama cards. Or better yet D R A M A C A R D S. They are designed to just make things happen, and I think they work ok for just that purpose. If people are being interesting/interested, I don't even need them. Their role is to just kick-start the chaos. If the game ends up being a deep and insightful introspection on the interrelation of the Maelstrom and the human condition, I'm all for it. But a game can take so long to get there, that sometimes it never gets anywhere at all. Yes, my playstyle is a hammer, and I am completely aware of that. Sometimes it fails me. But plenty of my problems are nails.

I should make one thing clear, I haven't created cards for the playbooks you mentioned for a couple of reasons, not because they are banned outright

Reason 1:

These eight are, in my experience, the faster ones to create and get going. While I probably should, I don't recommend the detail-heavy Hardholder or Maestro to beginners or the mildly interested, because once again, speed is key. Needs must when the devil drives. But if someone wants to, really wants to play the Waterbearer, they've likely played before, so I can A) throw the playbook at them and help the Gunlugger with their gun tags and B) safely hope that they will DO something. ANYTHING. So a card is therefore not particularly needed.

Reason 2:

Quite often, these playbooks come with drama attached, likely in the form of extra NPCs under or against them. Maestro, Waterbearer, Child-Thing, and especially Hardholder. The Hardholder has the perfect plot booster-shot built into one of their moves: At the start of session, let's find out what is going horribly wrong with the township. Savagery and Hunger, huh? Excellent.

Reason 3:

I'm lazy, and haven't made one yet XD. I should probably make one for the Skinner, or maybe I'll just share that one with the Driver. Better yet, give the Driver one to the Skinner and make up a whole new one. Hmm... Child-Thing needs one, Waterbearer could do with one. Maestro has interesting NPCs stashed everywhere. Like the Hardholder, the Quarantine and Hocus both have start of session rolls. I find the Hocus strangely lacklustre, but I have no idea why yet. The Quarantine though, that's some good stuff. Regarding Skinner, Child-Thing, Waterbearer, oh, and Touchstone, any suggestions?

Reason 3.5:

If they pick something social like the Skinner or Hocus, or something cuddlier like the Child-Thing, they will possibly get overshadowed by the Gunlugger's feud with the Chopper. In a "normal"-er game, having a social-focus plot is perfectly acceptable. But I'm very young at heart, and get a little too excited by explosions, so they may not get as much of the spotlight as they deserve. Also, it slows down the game. Not a bad thing! Never a bad thing, except when the ticking clock is hanging around your neck.

Reason 3.9:

Disregard Reason 3.5. It's trash. The drama cards for the "non-combat" characters is going to be entirely about them having massive* leverage over another player of their choice. Maybe. Possibly. Stay tuned!

In regards to the possibility of missing several "key" members of the cast, yes, that is highly likely. But for smaller groups, that structure isn't as necessary. Each player can get a larger portion of my attention, as can their characters and what they are doing. More focus, more drama, more things happening. The larger the group, the more I'm divided, but also the more likely that the fun, pre-planned interactions will take place. It's a balancing act, where more players adds slightly more structure to the initial few minutes, rather than just being a large reduction. So far I have yet to see it in play, but here's hoping. These cards are definitely aimed at one-/two-shots, though many long running games have had humble origins, so who knows?

Regarding the Faceless (and the Battlebabe as well, since they are similar and linked), they are given strong, very strong prompts as to how they might want to play their characters. A new player, one who might not be sure what their playstyle is, is given a big, shiny button to press. And in this, as you describe it, guns and gasoline and explosions setting, they can make a BIG splash. I want them to Go Aggro on all of their problems. I aim to provide descriptions of gore that make half the table laugh and the other half wince. They will probably die in the process, but in a one-shot scenario, who cares? And it will be glorious.

They also don’t have a whole lot on their cards apart from “play this way”, because fundamentally, the Faceless/Battlebabe are D R A M A cards in and of themselves! They bring everything they need, just about. As you rightly point out though, this is a very one-dimensional way to view complex and interesting characters. And I agree. A savvy, more "skilled" player could fight against these violent origins, and use these tools of destruction to excise evil from the world. But then they wouldn't be doing what is said on the card! They wouldn't be following the rules!

How excellent! :P Of course, if they don't break the mold, and just play a bog-standard boring psychopath... Well, it might not be a very meaningful conversation, but did you see what he did to the legs of that bandit?

What else, oh, the setting! You are correct in observing the style and verve and lack of substance in these. It is very much on purpose. 30% of the time, I’ll come to the table with half an idea, and nearly always I’ll ditch it immediately in favour of something said by the players. More often then not, if I don’t know the answer to one of their setting questions, I’ll ask them. I make this clear to them while explaining how Read a Sitch works. If they ask me a question and I say “I don’t know, is there?” and they are quick enough, there usually is. It’ll be blood-soaked, but it’ll be there for them to use and abuse.

RE: Psychic Maelstrom. Every game I've played in and run has focused on it quite a lot, more than would make sense really. Lumpley has done a brilliant job of somehow creating some kind of semi-invisible narrative magnet. I'm not going to get it dirty with my grubby amateur hands, and really, I don't think I need to. The Brainer card is very much about humanity, and I like that as well.

While I’ve mentioned I also enjoy slower games, these cards somewhat paradoxically give me more control over the pace of the game. In a normal game, we start in first gear. We trundle along, fighting AW-equivalent rats, and maybe there’s a (second gear) suggestion of a rival warlord, or a bit of inter-party squabbling.

Oh shit, the Gunlugger has to leave early, and we’ve only got an hour till then. Shit shit shit shit shit…

And things kinda happen, the Brainer mentions some interest in the Maelstrom and I scatter cool things around them. It’s interesting. It’s fun. A favourite NPC, who was randomly generated and didn’t expect to have to act out but they focus on for half an hour, dies dramatically (still second gear though). But the warlord is never bought to justice. No concrete progress is really made, and we can’t meet up again for another four weeks.

This is a very, very negatively exaggerated example. It’s still fundamentally fun, and I love it. But the time constraints, for me, have gotten very frustrating, and I think that can rub off on my players.
The aim of the drama cards, whether they achieve it or not, is to slam the game straight into third gear. The Chopper is yelling, the Gunlugger is furious, the Brainer is cackling, and the Hardholder is panicking and using their gang like a sledgehammer. Can it be brought down into second gear as they work together to try and improve the lives of the random scum of the earth that survived the petroleum plagues? Absolutely, and in my opinion, it can be easier to do that than bring the pace up. Can I ram into fifth at nearly a moments notice? Well, fundamentally I could always do that, but the players have at least an inkling that that’s the kind of bullshit stunt I might pull, because they’ve read the cards and they know what to expect.

I guess that last point is maybe my main one. I might never use the actual stuff on the cards. I just want to set the tone of the game, or rather, set the tone of the game on fire. Not because I want to (ha! I totally do) but because I need to. I just don’t have the time for anything more cultivated.

Thanks for your feedback and interest, it's really crystallised some of my own thoughts.

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