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Messages - Mikael

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The Sprawl / Re: Actual Play/Test
« on: July 01, 2014, 03:49:30 PM »
Depending on the angle the player wants, the Fixer or the Pusher should fill this role. What did the player want to do that couldn't be handled by those playbooks?

Unfortunately not. Even though they are based on Style and Edge, the Fixer is about gigs and selling and the Pusher very focused on ideology, so their moves are not supporting a concept we were looking for: the Social Infiltrator, the Face of the group, the Actor Gone Bad, Master Fast Talker, able to enter any company, talk through all obstacles.

Yes, those are going to change to be a bit more flexible on that front. I'd be willing to be that the "hard choice" comment was from the Infiltrator? Their choice is pretty hard.

Spot on! Although, I think the player pointed out this contradiction even before picking out the Infiltrator. And then again when hitting that point in the playbook.

The Sprawl / Re: Actual Play/Test
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:30:08 PM »
One more thing:

When setting the scene, so to say, we thought that after years of Shadowrun and such, we would have a pretty clear shared understanding of what a cyberpunk world would be like. We did set the tech level "not to be ridiculous" by today's standards, but by the end of the game noted that for a more solid baseline, we should have had more discussion on "what is normal".

E.g. from the viewpoints of 1) a wage slave, 2) man out on the street and 3) the hip upper class, some statements like the following:

- On the street: You hear gunfire every day, but rarely do you see anything, really
- Wage slave: If someone talks to you on the street, they are either insane, dangerous, or both
- Wage slave: Corporations can do immoral things, but my corporation is really fighting the good fight, as part of the system
- On the street: Cyberware is scary
- Hipster: Visible cyberware is so passé
- Wage slave: You need to be careful with the latest fashions, but last year's drugs are just fine
- Hipster: You cannot survive in this profession/you cannot be cool without the edge from the latest chems

The Sprawl / Actual Play/Test
« on: June 29, 2014, 05:11:59 PM »
Here's some notes from our Friday playtest.

Overall setting was a group of five, four of which are playing a long-running AW game, and one who had not even roleplayed before, but did have basic familiarity with cyberpunk concepts. MC + two of the players had read through the rules, which definitely helped the game, in my opinion. We played with the 0.2 rules, with revised Basic Moves and the Infiltrator.

Starting time was not as early as intended, and overall the energy level was probably not quite where it should have been. I was the MC, it had been about a month from my last read-through of the rules, and I certainly was not on my best game - I could not find the energy to keep asking, especially when we got to the actual mission.

We were using the playbooks that some kind person on the Apocalypse forums created, but they were quite buggy and did not of course match the latest revisions of the Basic Moves or the Infiltrator. For ease of playtesting, it would sure be excellent to have the Playbooks in the book contain at least the rudimentary places for stats, cyberware, creds etc., in line with latest rule revisions, and to have each Playbook fill an even number of pages (for double-sided printing).

I have not really read through all the feedback for 0.2 on the forums, and some of the following may be repeating some of that - sorry.

Character Creation:

* Character creation took longer than expected, more than 3 hours all told, I think. This was a big chunk of the available playing time, which led us to conclude that this is not really a one-shot game.

* Overall, we felt that the character creation worked to make the world come alive a bit and to make the players invested.

* Megacorp creation was relatively painless, here's what we came up with:
** MTV - Metatelevision - Always on, everywhere mega and miniscreens
** GPS - Generic PharmaSeuticals - Sells cheaper medicine right after competitor comes up with a new product
** General Systems - Household machinery - elevators, fridges, security systems, pick & pack robots
** Assurity - Skillsofts, latest hit - worldview filters
** DiapAll - Diaper for children and elderly - One diaper will last a lifetime!

* One player would have liked to play a stereotypical Face, i.e. the suave and social Stylish and Cool mouthpiece of the team, but could not find a suitable Playbook. This we felt is a gap worth filling.

* In advance, if there was a character I could not see fitting into a team going on a mission, that is Reporter. Of course, the first Playbook picked was that of the Reporter, and it worked fine during the limited playtime.

* Otherwise, it did not seem as though the players felt very strongly about the Playbooks they picked, but that is probably not a fault of the Playbooks or their descriptions. For the record, we ended up with a Reporter, an Infiltrator, a Killer and a Hunter.

* Players commented that there were a lot more choices to be made than in AW.

* Jobs against the corps were entertaining and quick, with the limiting factor being more my typing speed than the players' imagination.

* Jobs seemed to very quickly fill the Corporate clock, especially as GPS got two missions against it. The text is a bit open for interpretation here, but I ruled that being taken as the target does NOT advance the clock, only the other characters joining in on the raid. If I would have made the other interpretation, the two missions would have easily maxed the GPS clock, which did not seem right in terms of pacing.

* Cyberware selection and how the characters got them worked really well, and I think delivered on the intended result. Players made interesting and varying choices all around. After the game I thought that the hunted and owned cyberware options could have some tags as well, e.g. around the traceability, profile and uniqueness of the items - maybe you could get something really good this way, while becoming "hunted x2"?

* One player especially commented that the gear packages felt like an artificial "hard choice" on top of all the other hard choices already made, and that the approach did not really fit the stated vibe of "characters are professionals, and have the necessary gear". Maybe "pick 5 out of the following long list + colorful paraphernalia" could work better, not sure.

* Personal directives, while clear in intent, were not easy for most of the players, probably because they did not know their characters' personalities well enough yet. Also, it was a bit of a mixture between picking from the list and rolling their own, and when rolling their own there was uncertainty on what exactly is appropriate and how to word things. Note that this is a group with not that much direct experience of the Keys from... I forget the name of that game.

* Overall, the first-time roleplayer required only a minimal guidance in the concept, and was able to follow on and create a sensible - even inspired - character for himself (the Hunter).

First Mission:

* The first-time roleplayer had to bail out at the start of the mission proper. He did claim to have enjoyed himself.

* We only got as far as Getting the Job, and maybe first half of the Legwork, before the late hour forced us to pack it in for the night.

* Especially the Legwork was a bit of struggle, with the players maybe looking too hard at the moves to see what they could do, rather than going with the fiction first. Partly this could have been the fact that we know the AW moves and now they seemed effortless compared to trying to work with this similar but different set.

* I would say only one of the players was awake and trying to hit his directives, while the others seemed to promptly forget about them, and I was not also very effective in bringing them into play. Given their major role in getting to mark experience, I felt they are somehow too tacked on and a bit disconnected from the overall Moves mechanic.

* Player of the Reporter really enjoyed his character, especially when he really read through and realized the concept of the Story and Noise clocks. He felt he was having the priviledge of playing a private game on the side with those. Also, he had no problem being a part of the team (at least as long as we got on the Legwork phase).

After game discussion:

* We wondered whether the goal for the players is to not get the corps annoyed with them - many successful missions with the characters being the professionals they are - or whether the basic assumption is that things will go wrong, corp clocks will quickly fill up, and the point is playing a story where the first mission already is a bust and the focus of the play is more on the aftermath than on the missions.

* Actual game was very much the team working as a team to reach the common goal. There was virtually no real interplay between the characters. This may and probably will change in longer play, with varying pressures from the corps and directives, but it still felt too mission-focused to match our expectations of the cyberpunk genre, where the discussions, varying backgrounds and real goals of the characters seen a big part of the stories. We were thinking that maybe there should be some mechanic that would specifically make it so that the players or characters would need something from each other, in order to be effective. I say "players or characters" deliberately, because we did not even iron out whether this something would be some kind of a meta currency or more in-fiction things, or both.

Looks like we will be getting back to this game. Many thanks for making the playtest copy available.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: (Culture) Shock
« on: May 09, 2014, 06:35:02 AM »
Hey Daniel, what an excellent example. Disgusting, but excellent, and I appreciate the effort that went into it.

I see your example and the ways you suggest to manage the player responses as completely valid. But, given a reasonably-civilized Vault-dweller, suddenly eagerly turning into a cannibal, I would still highlight this major discontinuity with the "Culture Shock" move.

In the end, the player responses can be exactly the same whichever way you play, and we might end up rolling "Acting under fire" with the custom move as well. Thus it is quite fair to state that this custom move is unnecessary - but only if you do not feel the need to draw additional attention to a specific world-changing event.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom moves and lists
« on: May 07, 2014, 10:03:19 AM »
I would like to know if it is generally a better idea to have several custom moves instead of one "catch-all" custom move with many outcomes?

My guideline is to do custom moves only for things I am personally really interested in. And then have enough and sufficiently varying outcomes so that I really cannot guess in advance what the players are going to pick.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: (Culture) Shock
« on: May 03, 2014, 04:55:49 PM »

Why make this into a move? What is the benefit, versus seeing how the character reacts to these things organically? I don't roll to decide how my Gunlugger feels about killing people, or what she thinks about the Hocus' cult, or what she thinks makes for a good community; those are things I'm interested in finding out through play. Is this different somehow than those things?

These examples make it seem like the move is about controlling what the characters think or feel about something. That is emphatically not the point here.

Our game has seen a couple of occasions where a player or the MC has had some inspiration that - while valuable and in the end contributing to the overall story - has been introduced with such jarring, "culture-shocking" suddenness that it has directly conflicted with the agenda of "making it feel real".

Yes, these situations could be avoided if the player took a bit more time to introduce their idea, using foreshadowing and some tasty hints, but at times that can be really difficult, or the player has some trouble with the whole concept of pacing.

At the same time I really cannot see an AW MC blocking these contributions.

Thus I am now going to see whether a judicious and limited application of this custom move could turn something that has been difficult into something that is fun for everyone.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: (Culture) Shock
« on: May 03, 2014, 04:13:34 PM »
... I'm a little less convinced by the way the holds are handled.  Maybe you should just give the holds to the MC?

You could, if that works better for your group. For us, I will definitely go with players being the primary drivers for their characters, with suggestions from the rest of the table, and the threat of MC "helping" there mostly just to motivate the players not to sit on their holds indefinitely.

Apocalypse World / Custom move: (Culture) Shock
« on: May 03, 2014, 04:41:06 AM »
When you try to adjust to culture shock, roll+something (see below). On 13+, you were born for it. On 10+, hold 1. On 7-9, hold 3. On a miss, hold 3 in addition to the other bad stuff that happens.

You spend your hold when you:
- decline to perform a related action
- take -1 when rolling for something related
- act under fire when doing related stuff

If you have trouble spending your hold, MC will help you.

This is arguably more a template than a real move. Concrete examples:

If someone convinces you that humans are fundamentally good and trustworthy, roll+Sharp. Spend hold by e.g.
- refusing to help the pitiful refugees
- doing something for the common good? - act under fire

If you start believing that Pugsbreath is a god, roll+Weird. Spend hold by e.g.
- preventing Pugsbreath from slaying infidels with his godly thunderstick
- taking -1 when converting others to the faith (custom move)

If you declare unconditional love for Wanton, roll+Hot. Spend the hold by:
- insulting his mother
- acting under fire when trying to impress him

If you suddenly have to believe in magic, roll+Cool. Spend your hold by:
- walking away from the sword in the stone
- taking -1 when operating the Wand of Purification
- acting under fire when in the presence of obvious magic

If you are faced with aliens, roll+Sharp or Weird, depending on the kind of aliens we are talking here. Spend your hold by:
- trying to pull the mask off the biggest alien
- taking -1 when dodging their invisible heat rays

Note that in these examples, the ways to spend hold are also only examples, not an exhaustive list to choose from.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« on: April 29, 2014, 01:40:58 AM »
That way, you'll keep the players on their toes, never really certain what to act upon unless they roll well enough.

Although, pick 3 on a 7-9 is a bit generous. You're too nice ;)

Here, I am going with the guidance from The Sprawl hack, which reads something like "the point is not to keep information from the players, but to see what they do with it". Sounds appropriate for AW, could be even in the book somewhere.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« on: April 29, 2014, 01:27:29 AM »
Yarrum, big thanks for your inverted version. Now this thread reads like shopping list - people can conveniently pick the version they feel most appropriate.

The main difference I see here is that the options in the original version essentially promise that something bad will not happen, leaving the MC free to decide what fits most within the established fiction, whereas in the inverted version MC is forced to deliver on the bad stuff. For example, in the original, even if the player does not pick "no misleading information", MC is not forced to invent something misleading - the suspicion cast on the perfectly valid evidence can be enough.

In other words, I would say that the original formulation tickles my brain more, the inverted version being "too blunt".

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« on: April 21, 2014, 04:08:24 PM »
Man, more good questions! Thanks.

Yarrum, this depends on the way your game and group works. I think AW in general and our group in particular is not as focused on maximising effectiveness as on playing an interesting game. Thus having several options has worked really well for us in the past. Players enjoy agonizing over their picks and their ramifications, and their selections have always been something else than what I would have picked. For example, I no longer would be at all surprised if a player preferred to be found out, just so that he can see what kind of shit breaks loose.

Maybe it is also crucial to note that I do not expect this move to be used in our game more than 1 or 2 times, so a key factor is that the move is new to the players and the options entertaining in their own right.

Tod, yes, I assume that the MC already knows who did it. This is aligned with my reading of the AW rules - to make the fiction seem real, as an MC you can mislead but you should also know the who and the why, because this will come up, sooner or later. In practice, for the murders discussed in my earlier reply, I would know who did the deed, and would also know who would be the other likeliest suspects in the minds of the players (and the mob).

The amount, exactness and completeness of the actual clues will depend on the options the player picks, and I would not prepare them in advance. As usual for our game, I will lean heavily on the players to provide details, and use those details to point to various suspects as needed.

Like: "You remember that Hothouse had that unpleasant habit - what was it?" Player: "Er, constantly chewing a piece of cloth, yeah, hanging half out of her mouth, all disgusting, with saliva dripping wherever she went." Me: "Ok, right, so... When you put your hand under the desk, that's what you feel - a wad of cloth, all moist and clammy."

Apocalypse World / Re: New Playbook: Firebug
« on: April 21, 2014, 03:24:08 PM »
Explosive tendencies should really be roll+Hot. Just, you know, because.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom move: Investigate a (crime) scene
« on: April 20, 2014, 07:20:01 PM »
Thanks Munin for some really excellent questions. Personally, I like my moves evocative and a bit ambiguous, to drive surprising interpretations and wider use, but I will be happy to elaborate below. Reader, if you are one of those who do not want the explanations, consider this your spoiler alert.

This move comes from our "vanilla" AW game, where the fronts are looking like they might generate a body or two with a cause of death that will be initially ambiguous. Perceived and real murderers' identities have a potential of taking the game in very different directions; thus the custom move. Later, I also saw that it is not very tied to specific setting, and decided to post it on the forum.

As to the specific options and my suggestions for interpreting them:

"Solid evidence" means tangible evidence that can be used to convince others of your conclusions, whether they be a judge or a mob. Without solid evidence, you may gain enough information to convince yourself, but nothing you would rely on in front of others.

"Finding everything there is to find" is for players who dislike the uncertainty of some other games' approach on clue finding. If you do not take this option, it means it is possible - but not guaranteed - that there is some other information you missed. Maybe there is also a nagging feeling your character is left with. In no way is this option intended to suggest a reroll.

"Misleading information" is where MC:
- should be especially lavish on juicy details, some of which are inaccurate and contradictory, and
- implicate several culprits, some of whom are not really guilty of anything relevant (but everyone's guilty of something, right?).

"Found doing something you should not" and "Leave no trace" are ideal for an unofficial night-time investigation on enemy turf, but could as well apply to a police procedural, as they open options for intentionally or unintentionally tampering with the evidence, or even being caught planting some evidence. Of course, if you have the freedom of the scene you can just "trash the place", which can make things easier as you do not have to waste a pick on the "leave no trace" option.

Apocalypse World / Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« on: April 19, 2014, 06:14:32 AM »
If you investigate a crime scene, roll+sharp. On 10+, pick 4. On 7-9, pick 3:
- You get some solid evidence
- You find everything there is to find
- You get no misleading information
- You are not found doing something you should not have
- You leave no trace

If you try to go by "mystic vibrations", roll+weird. Replace "You leave no trace" with "You attract no unwanted attention".

Thanks for the update, sounds very interesting. I am naturally curious to see this hack you mention, but cannot seem to locate anything except an early discussion thread by Wordman. Any hints?

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