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Messages - azrianni

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AW:Dark Age / Re: Twin Cities playtest
« on: September 24, 2014, 08:21:04 AM »
Forgot to mention that a couple of times I was looking around for a move that would cover someone trying to trick or fool someone and couldn't find a match.

AW:Dark Age / Re: Twin Cities playtest
« on: September 23, 2014, 10:50:18 AM »
Session 2, including battle!

We played again last night, and again had fun. Might have one more session depending on people's availability.

New moves rolled/used last night:
Season moves: travel, enchantment*, recovery, rites & celebration
Step out of your earthly life (failure, ha!)
Muster warriors
Call on another's aid
Leap into action
Harass enemy
Ask for their judgment
Prepare for what's coming

Questions, notes, and comments in no particular order:

I started to wonder if the season moves list is too small, although the second time we ended a season 2/3 players immediately said "I know what I'm doing" and the third had no trouble. Should mustering warriors be available as a season move?

Also, we kept confusing ourselves as to whether the 'people' moves were intended to be season moves. We kept deciding they were just listed on the same sheet, but 'prepare for what's to come,' especially seemed like it certainly could occupy "the rest of the season."

Related, we ruled that an enchantment that "takes the rest of the season" means you do it in lieu of a season move.

Do NPCs get to heal when a season ends? Automatic? Judgment call? As the story dictates?

We did our first battle. It was fun to pick the options, and that marked the first time I had rolled dice as MC. And I liked how damage and victory were interconnected but still separate. In our case, the PCs' side won the initial exchange, driving the enemy into confusion, but took more damage.

We didn't count the losses until after the whole battle was over. But just now it occurs to me that maybe we should have calculated that after the first exchange, to see if the numbers had changed the ratios and therefore harm and armor.

We puzzled a bit over how to make the battle rules fit with fortifications and tactical situation. Those are factored into the harm calculation, but for example we had an attacking "bad guy" force with cavalry, taking on the PCs' stronghold. We then were confused for a while about what kind of fortifications they really had, but looking at the stronghold sheet and noting what they hadn't chosen, we decided they just had "simple walls" etc. But if they'd had, say, a drawbridge and stronger defenses of the sort that cavalry can't really penetrate, then what? Cavalry loses their bonus? Or has to wait for something to happen to make it available? (If so, what?) Personally, I feel really confused about how the battle rules are supposed to interface with the story around fortifications. For 2 companies meeting in an open field, I would feel more confident.

If a war company has only bows, do they have no harm rating? (They are not listed on the war company sheet, except as the special "archers" move.)

If you're in a battle, do you have to roll "fight in company"? Can you just try to keep yourself safe?
(Although the court wizard's player analyzed the move and determined that even on a miss, you can avoid taking damage, so he thought of it as no risk.)

Just saw in another thread that the war leader doesn't roll fight in company, but we did. Otherwise, the war leader can't get hurt at all (right? or does war leader automatically take damage like the company does?). And our war leader ended up separated from the company, so someone else took over, which was interesting for story reasons. (Plus fun for players to try different things.)

The players had a little debate over whether the 'harassing the enemy' move was worth doing. They did end up trying it. I then found it confusing for how to calculate harm in that instance.

There doesn't appear to be a retreat option.

Counting the fallen was confusing. I mean, I understood what it was saying, but I had to keep looking back and forth between the "what to expect" lists and the list of questions (and they don't correspond one-to-one) and translate words like "many" and "some" into numbers, making sure that the ultimate total wasn't more than the company total. I managed to do it, but I either wanted more concrete guidance (like giving me "1/3 will be killed, give or take") or less specifics that I had to come up with.

I'm wondering how long warriors stay mustered for. Indefinitely? Until a season changes? Other?

We still don't have a clear sense of the total population of our island, or the people under the liege's authority. One player suggested that it might be better to start out establishing a total population, and then as 'people' are defined, they clarify the demographics of that population.

At end of session, the other two PCs got advances. Keep liege took +1 bold from war (I think), and outranger took the interesting 'twin soul' or guardian soul thing from the Wider World.

NOTE: that move appears to have a typo. It says that both 10+ and 7-9 yield 2 hold. I'm assuming 10+ should be 3.

Dark Age is certainly not my strongest genre, personally. And last night after we were done (and the players wanted more, and were asking about finding other times and maybe bringing more people in) I was feeling mild panic about knowing what to do as things went forward. They beat the sea raiders and some of the tyrant's forces and burned 2 ships. I didn't know what that should mean about how much those enemies were weakened, and for how long. I have clever players, and the mechanics don't automatically threaten their stronghold as much as AW (where a bad session-start roll from a Hardholder or Hocus or even Operator can set things tipping out of control again).

Now, as I've thought further, I've remembered the many loose ends, and the tyrant is still out there, and even if he were killed or deposed others will step in. And maybe all will be fine. But I did have that moment of uncertainty about it.

Players, please leap in with other things you noticed or your perspectives.

AW:Dark Age / Twin Cities playtest
« on: September 19, 2014, 12:03:53 PM »
We had 3 players + MC (me). The players knew each other to varying degrees, but I was actually new to the crowd. However, we all had a lot of PBTA experience, and it wasn’t hard to get in a common groove.

I enjoyed the experience and I think they did too—at least we agreed to come back next week and continue.

I had read the whole packet once and all the instructions and generic moves a second time, although I always find it hard to just read playbooks and process them. My eyes kind of start to glaze over after  reading 5 or 6 playbook moves. I never really ‘get’ all the options for a playbook in any game until I play or GM for that book in play. One player had seen the ‘pre-alpha’ version and drew on that knowledge to help us clarify some conceptual things, like ‘people.’ (He drew some Venn diagrams at one point.)

I had printed out everything and made multiple copies of the things I thought I would need multiple copies of. The one thing I missed was not printing extra copies of the instructions for making a people. That was the one sheet we sometimes had to wait on. Therefore, I’d suggest making a people sheet that includes those instructions right on it.

I don’t know that the players paid any attention to the different people sheets or formed an opinion. At first I thought I wanted the one that had the section for war company info on it, but then I ended up transferring all of that to a war company sheet. So probably the most useful versions for me so far (in different situations) were the one with “notables” at the bottom and the one that just let you get two peoples on the same sheet.

Building the holding presented no serious difficulties. (Note: the instructions call it “holding” but the sheet calls it “stronghold.”) We did puzzle briefly over the armory options with two circles, but quickly decided those things just had a higher “cost.” One player said that the improvement items were connected to a playbook move, which due to eye-glaze I just accepted as true. I still don’t know under what circumstances a “want” might be marked, or why they have 2 circles (though I have a guess about that).

We built an island, threatened by sea-raiders and a wrongful ruler. Building the dominant people (a “vassalage”) wasn’t difficult, and the name lists were appreciated. We did have to keep reminding ourselves that the dominant people weren’t necessarily the only people, which meant our sense of how big the total population was stayed fuzzy.

Players dove right into sorting through the playbooks like the old pros they are. At one point: “We don’t want to have all of them based on Weird.” This less to some negotiation, easily resolved with “It’s an Apocalypse World game; I’ll have fun no matter what I play.” Ended up with Keep Liege, Court Wizard, Outranger.

Note: several of us were struck in a positive way by the outranger’s “step out of your earthly life” move, which we felt added some magic/weirdness/surprise to an otherwise fairly archetypal character. So that was popular with us—please don’t remove it!

I didn’t bring up co-MCing. I felt like I had enough to attend to with getting enemies made and keeping half an eye on the PCs, even though the players had few questions during creation.

The “anyone can make a people anytime” was cool and had a couple of interesting effects due to coincidence:

The outranger, though one of the islanders by race, had been raised and traveled with a different people, some sailors. He made them “golden creamy” and Hebrew. Meanwhile, not knowing any of that, I made the sea raider enemy: golden creamy and Arabic. So the island’s enemy and the outranger’s adoptive culture are easily mistaken for each other.

Similarly, the keep liege was of a different people than the islanders, one that traces its lineage more directly back to the empire of eagles. He gave that people suspicion of sorcery, and I (again unknowing) gave it to the people of the false ruler on the mainland. That similarity was cool.

On the question of whether I had enough to start playing, I would say yes, but just barely. It helped that we’d named enemies of the holding. But two of the season moves didn’t have much teeth. The liege did hearth and got himself a baby boy, and the wizard did rites and ceremonies (to insure the birth went well, he said). Both very genre-appropriate, but not a lot of edge there for me to latch onto in the moment. Fortunately, the outranger had been traveling and brought back news that the bad ruler was trying to make an alliance with the sea-raiders. That got his character started. Once that was moving, I brought in a representative of the bad ruler to congratulate on the birth and threaten with takeover.

So yes, we had enough, we got started—but I did feel relief when the outranger’s season move explicitly gave me an opening for some bad news.

Play went pretty smoothly from then on. As I reflected this week and imagined where we might go, I realized that this game doesn’t really have something like Act Under Fire / Defy Danger, unless “Undertake Great Labor” is supposed to be that. I was imagining a possible threatening situation that a PC might (if it happened) try to resist/get out of—and wasn’t sure what move that would be, if any.

A good moment came when the representative of the bad guy got thrown out by the keep liege. I realized that the court wizard hadn’t been involved much yet.

Me (to court wizard): There’s something weird about this guy, something other-worldly.
Court wizard (to keep liege): He’s possessed.

He then did “consult other world” for confirmation, but I totally took his statement and ran with it, and it drove a lot of what followed.

Moves we rolled during play: take stock, single combat (almost did it wrong but fortunately the player read it more carefully than me and saw what to do on a tie for position: that was a fun little mini-game for me as mc), the wizard’s demon/spirit move, consult other world, win someone over, and size someone up (on NPCs and once PC-on-PC, the latter went so smoothly I ignored it and went to talk to another player)

Handing out experience went fine. Because of a season move at the start, the court wizard levelled up and took healing (which the keep liege could already use due to the single combat)

Other notes and questions I jotted down:

I liked the “use your moves to” list for MCs.

Naming peoples was tough, for me at least. Any help or advice there would be useful.

My hardest/most confusing was building a war company, in several ways:
* It appears that selecting “specials” and armaments are just arbitrary, well really that the whole thing is arbitrary. This had me worried about unintentionally making an opponent that is too overwhelming or not really a threat at all.
* If a war company is made up of mixed groups, then the sheet says to use the highest war value, but what about different harm/armor values? I never did figure out how harm is supposed to combine.
* I was also unsure about the size of the war company. I could just take from the warrior numbers of the peoples represented, but picking those is arbitrary too, and since the PCs had picked the largest possible size, I felt like I had to pick the same to make them comparable, and I wondered if that was weird.

So I didn’t feel very confident about that part, but I did it—haven’t gotten to actual battle yet though.

Someone said “I like the experience system.” I agree, although I did notice it doesn’t provide (much) in-game incentivizing. You don’t have highlighted stats or anything. That’s not a complaint—just an observation.

Didn’t talk about it with the group, but I missed having explicit Hx or bonds or that sort of thing. The group quickly sorted those out, as they were generally a cooperative bunch, and by giving the outranger news that would be of interest to the other two, that bridged the one gap quickly. But I noticed their absence.

We initially had a question about what “a right of your own” meant, but we found it with some looking.

One question did come up in the single combat scene. We tied on position on the first pass, so then we took the 3 additional points and went again, which led to a situation where the NPC had taken 5 total harm. When I said that, the PC responded “I didn’t want to kill him!” So we left him hanging on to life, just barely—but I don’t know if I was ‘cheating.’ Can you not kill someone if you want? Or is the only thing you can do is not put any points toward harm and hope to win position before you kill them?

More after next session.

Dungeon World / Re: new player/GM exploring the system
« on: August 05, 2014, 08:41:40 AM »
I realize that Kneller is probably gone and has made up her/his mind, which is fine. But this thread has been bugging me, and I finally figured out what I wanted to say when a similar question came up on RPGnet, so I wanted to put it here too in case other people are using this thread to explore DW:

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

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

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

Dungeon World / Re: PbP, PbF
« on: July 16, 2013, 03:28:46 PM »
I'm just about to wrap up the one I ran on RPGnet, and others have been there too Somebody is setting up a game using the Shadowrun hack right now.

Apocalypse World / Re: Interesting Place Names
« on: June 13, 2013, 11:23:56 AM »
Was (briefly, sigh, my own fault) in an online game in a town called Gaga. Apparently a weathered, partial billboard outside the town had once been advertising a Lady Gaga concert.

Dungeon World / Re: Triggering "perception" things
« on: March 03, 2013, 05:48:16 PM »
1) Be a fan of the characters.
2) Always say what honesty demands.

There is nothing cool or interesting about a secret door that the characters don't find.

Or, as Vincent Baker put it back in Dogs in the Vineyard, having secrets isn't cool--revealing secrets is cool.

If there's something there, I want the players to find it. Of COURSE they find it. They're the stars! The question is HOW do they find it and WHEN.

In some cases, it's because of Discern Realities. In some cases, it's just straight cause of the fiction. And sometimes it's from some other roll.

But with a straight-up there's a secret door in this room? Of course they find it. Give it to the thief, or an elf, or a dwarf, or whoever's got a high Wisdom, or whoever's been out of the limelight.

The question is, what do they do with it?

Dungeon World / Re: START of Session Move
« on: January 25, 2013, 12:29:27 PM »
  • Did EVERYONE show up by the agreed-upon start time?
  • Does EVERYONE have their character sheet?

Dungeon World / Re: Trip, knockback, disarm etc?
« on: January 04, 2013, 10:08:08 AM »
There's no specific rule for these things, but some standard ways to handle it. A weapon with the "forceful" tag would do knockback.

Otherwise, most of these are going to be handled either in the fiction (if you planned ahead and set up a tripwire, it's going to trip somebody: say what honesty demands) or by defy danger ("You can try to disarm him, but you have to defy the danger of getting attacked in the meantime").

I also tend to give the players something extra along these lines if they roll a 12+, but that's not in the book.

Dungeon World / Re: Fractal fronts
« on: January 02, 2013, 09:33:41 AM »
It seems to me that you want a kind of timeline, this is not exactly the best for me, but I understand what you think, the major problem with having larger timelines is that they players might actually loose track of the entire sequence at some point. I would, for example, break that front into three different fronts, the Necromancer, the Orcs and the Dwarves. The unifying theme is the banished god, but I would not flesh him out until the players got close enough to interact with it.

In my mind I usually consider how things can and would interact, then I make some notes down near the fronts, that alone has given me the juice to make them seem coherent and yet separate.

I don't want to join things too much because I take a risk at making them run through a more encapsulated story and path, something I am trying hard to avoid.

I get your point, though I also am trying very much to be open and responsive. This example is a "names changed to protect the secrecy" version of something from a game that's been going a while. And my whole basis for this approach to fronts is that they are very much "in pencil." The necromancer could become the biggest bad, and the dwarves could just disappear from the plot entirely, depending on what the players do.

Dungeon World / Fractal fronts
« on: December 31, 2012, 02:32:18 PM »
Fronts still bug me.

I can see why they're useful, and reading through the front chapter and especially the lists of dangers is always helpful and inspirational. But they're something about how fronts work that sticks in my craw. I think it's that, for me, they hit an awkward middle ground where they're too-structured/not-structured-enough. I either want them to be wide open ('think about what might happen and list possibilities') or as structured as a character playbook ('pick one from this list'). Maybe not.

Anyway, I've been trying to keep the good stuff but make them more workable for me, and this is some thinking toward that, so people can help or steal it or whatever.

What I want fronts to do, more than anything, is to help me have something to say when I'm surprised. I need them to provide me with moves, basically, with stuff to say to show impending doom, with actions that the bad guys might take, with unwelcome truths to discover. Yet I need them to be flexible enough that I can really play to find out what happens.

My working solution for all of this is fractal fronts. I'm basically listing fronts in a kind of hierarchical outline. So instead of having anything designated as "campaign front" or "adventure front," (or the intermediate "arc front" that I toyed with for a bit), I just know how they relate to each other.

That's not clear. Think of it this way: a monster is just a specific instance of a general danger, which is just a specific grim portent of a front. See how those nest? That's what I'm thinking. Dangers are actually grim portents of a front. That front is in turn a grim portent of some larger front behind it.

Of course, all of this is in pencil, with blanks, very much subject to change. It might turn out that what I thought was the minor danger is actually a major front behind everything.

Here's a sample, based on the notes I was doing for my online game, with specifics changed 'cause some of my players come by here:

I The Banished God Awakens! (impulse: end everything / doom: destruction)
   A The Ghost Horde returns (impulse: rage! / doom: chaos)
       1 The Gray Necromancer seeks to control it (impulse: gain power/ doom: tyranny) (Will the Wizard oppose him or join him?)
            a  Undead abroad (What are they looking for?)
            b  Orcs raid to recover lost knowledge from before (What is it?)
        2 Dwarves try to prepare for it (impulse: protect our nation / doom: war-impoverishment) Will the Dwarf help them?
            a  Gather materials for the forging of a great weapon Will Silverton survive the raids?
            b  Forge the weapon
            c   ?
   B  ?

Don't nitpick on the example here--I'm just trying to make clear what I'm playing with. I also toyed with presenting it in a more cross-reference style, so the first item under the Ghost Horde just mentions the Necromancer, who's fleshed out in a separate spot. This may be a better way to do it--certainly allows more easy shifting around of what fits together with what.

Whaddya think, sirs?

Dungeon World / what GM moves have you made on a failed Discern Realities?
« on: December 20, 2012, 07:10:27 PM »
Um, as the title says. I'm not fond of "You completely didn't notice this OBVIOUS THING," but I feel like I don't have a lot of good ideas for this--so I welcome suggestions, stories, ideas.

Dungeon World / You know what are some great moves?
« on: December 10, 2012, 02:45:59 PM »
The Wizard's Ritual and the Cleric's Divine Guidance

Because they're wide open. I find they let me not pull my punches, because against something big and out of control the Wizard can cook up a ritual or the Cleric can get a "boon" that allows the PCs to pull a win out of their hat.

It's because they're open, but not without their costs and challenges.

So, yay.

Dungeon World / Re: Carouse failure and XP mark
« on: December 10, 2012, 08:13:16 AM »
I asked for clarification on Carouse rolling somewhere here, and one of the creators said that just one person should roll, but that others who partied too could roll to aid.

But in any case, there is no "roll for the group," because the group doesn't have a CHA modifier: only individual characters do. Either each person rolls, or the others roll to aid. GM doesn't ever need to touch dice for anything, unless you just want to roll damage.

Dungeon World / tell me your "last breath" bargains
« on: November 26, 2012, 08:22:37 AM »
Death offers a bargain: what is it? What have you done in your games?

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