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Messages - aerothopter

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brainstorming & development / Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« on: December 27, 2016, 10:46:31 PM »
Gonna necro-bump this thread. Anyone still out there working on this? It's stuck in my head for (no joke) going on 3 years now, since super rats first posted, and I've been itching to play a more complete version.

Apocalypse World / Re: World building questions
« on: December 27, 2016, 10:29:05 PM »
I will wholeheartedly agree with RangerEd here. I think it's way more fun to leave the cause of the apocalypse a mystery to find out during play (or not).

I've played several ApW campaigns, all with the same MC, and here's how he's done it: he has one fictional touchstone that he decides on beforehand. Something to make the campaign unique.

  • The first campaign, he decided he wanted to set it here (San Diego). Nothing else decided, no plot, no nothing. Nothing about what apocalyptic San Diego would be like. He used questions like RangerEd's:
    • So, your caravan pulls into a town. What's it like? Ruby, you've been here before. Who do you know?
  • The second campaign, he decided we'd do a frozen apocalypse. We all decided on a nuclear winter sort of game, so he whipped up an 80's soundtrack and all. Some broader questions came out in game 1:
    • So, what's your living situation like?
    • Who are the elders of your families? What's their relationship like?
  • This most recent campaign (just wrapped up last week), we had just played 10 Candles, which is a horror/tragedy game. Out of that game came some interesting mythology that involved terrifying Lovecraftian gods. We decided that the gods would be a part of the apocalypse, though how or why we never really discovered. So, the questions were back to some concrete ones about our situation:
    • Where do you guys live? Is it a desert, a forest, a swamp, what?
    • Who do you go to for your coffee? (My character ran a coffee shop)
    • Who's in charge of healing people up? Is there anyone doing that here?

So yeah, you can ask real general questions like DeadmanwalkingXI or much more specific like RangerEd. Up to you. But I'd say this: remember that you have the whole campaign to discover stuff. Don't blow the most interesting things on the first game. Stick to stuff the characters would know, big or small.

Also keep in mind that the old characters (55, 60 years old or more) would probably remember some stuff about it. You can ask them if you want, but keep in mind that their memory would be hazy, as they'd have only been little kids at that time, and the apocalypse was coming to an end at that point anyway. If everyone is younger than 50, cool; then nobody knows anything for real, it's all just hearsay.

Apocalypse World / Frenzy vs. manipulate on crowds
« on: December 10, 2014, 01:36:28 PM »
So I have this conundrum in my game and, although I've mostly come to my own conclusions about it, I'd like to hear anyone's opinion on what the right ruling is here.

The issue is this: my PCs have found themselves trying to sway groups of people as often (more often?) than they try to manipulate individuals. The problem is, since the Hocus retired, no one has frenzy. I was on the fence about even letting them even trigger a move when they try to get a mob on their side (since manipulate is written for a single NPC) but I was at a loss for how to handle it in that case. Unlike, say, augury--it makes sense that you just don't have this capability if you don't have the move--I can't really stop the PCs from yelling at a group of people.

Now the solution would seem obvious: I should allow them to manipulate crowds because frenzy is a better move overall. It has easier trigger conditions ("truth" vs actual "leverage") and it offers up to 3 times more effectiveness with its holds. So there's the incentive to take the move and ditch the unpredictability of the basic moves. I've found that none of my players want to take frenzy since manipulating crowds seems to work just fine. Which should be okay, since they're settling for a lesser move. But...

Here's the twist: advanced manipulate offers the opportunity to gain allies (again, this move was written for individuals...). Add in the fact that allies are perhaps the single most powerful advanced move effect (IMO), and manipulate actually becomes (depending on how you look at it) better than frenzy. I don't like this.

My solution is to allow them to manipulate (and be strict about leverage) but not to allow allies even from advanced manipulates. It's pretty simple, but I feel like there's got to be a better way than to house-rule something. Should I be handling these situations differently in free-play or in terms of the moves they trigger?

Apocalypse World / The Blue: An Apocalypse World Actual Play
« on: September 11, 2014, 03:36:21 PM »
I'm pretty sure that some of my players are lurking in the forums (although they may not have accounts) so I'll keep this spoiler-free. Hopefully I'll keep this up, as my game meets weekly and I'm doing this from memory. If you like it, bug me about it--I'll be more likely to continue if people are vocal that they want more.

The Blue
A waterlogged apocalypse

Our apocalypse is Waterworld meets Wind Waker. Most of the world is ocean, but there are small islands dotting the landscape. The players start near The Rig, an old oil rig sitting not too far from the island of Iluminada (and its town of the same name).

Some quick introductions:

Gribs is a Ruin Runner. His gender is ambiguous because he wears a diving suit and mask all the time. He's a young one with a slight build; his voice is tinny, coming through the speaker of his mask. (n.b. I'll be using the male pronoun here since his player is male. We actually have no idea yet whether he's a dude or not) He's a mellow, laid-back kind of person, but we find out that there's an all-business side to him later in the game. He is a diver--he scours the ocean floor looking for sunken treasure--and he's currently on Grizzle's and Captain Giblet's crew.

Captain Giblet (pronounced with a hard G as in 'go') is a Driver. He's a little older, with salt-and-pepper hair and a lumberjack look (think Joel from The Last of Us). He does the right thing but counts it a burden--and, to be sure, in Apocalypse World, it is. He is a treasure hunter with a family heirloom treasure map. He's been searching for years for this treasure, but he keeps getting sidetracked by his conscience. He's got the transportation for Gribs and Grizzle, and they're sticking together for now. He has a huge boat--200 feet long or more--that is his base of operations. The big one houses a smaller speedboat and a 4x4 jeep for overland treks.

Grizzle is a Savvyhead. He's an old guy, probably around fifty. He's big, he never wears a shirt, and he's quite outgoing. He's seen a lot over the years, and he is currently working as mechanic for Captain Giblet and Gribs. He's got his own boat, a portable workshop.

Chain is a Faceless. He's young and quite fit, but he has a disturbing mask which sits flush with his face and has clamps around his chin and bare scalp that dig into the flesh. He ran afoul of some cult or other and this was his punishment--but he doesn't remember which cult it was. Whatever happened, it turned him into a man of few words who is quick to violence. His name ostensibly comes from the chains he wraps around his arms and torso. He knew Levi long ago, in another life, it seems.

Levi is a Missionary (from the quite good Rogue Trader: Apocalypse hack on these very forums). He is a Mormon, from their City on a Hill. The Mormons, it seems, were well prepared for the apocalypse, and have become the dominant religious force around. We haven't seen any other preachers around, but Levi commands a flock of 20 or so on a small fishing vessel. He is pious; he judges silently but forgives quickly. He is trying to bring the word of God to the people, to heal them of their sins. He wears simple farmer's clothing, has blond hair and open eyes.

Highlights, Hx, and the like, then...

GRIBS, THE CAPTAIN, AND GRIZZLE ARE all sitting having a drink at The Rig's bar. It's a greasy, rusty affair; it used to be the rig's employee mess hall. It smells like cooking booze since the kitchen has been converted into the distillery. Old molded plastic tables and benches are bolted to the floor.

McKinley, The Rig's owner, sidles over. Mulleted and half-toothless, he's as greasy as the bar. "Welcome back, boys. Looks like you got a good haul back there. So, let's talk about my cut."

"Cut? What cut?" says Gribs.

"Well, you dive in my turf, drink at my bar, moor at my rig. A man's allowed to charge for his services, yeah? So, I can take my cut or you can throw down the flat and pay me."

(At this point, we decided that barter in our apocalypse was just stacks of flat shit. CDs, credit cards, IDs, whatever. Plastic doesn't rust or degrade in the ocean.)

Well, they don't really want to give up part of their potentially huge haul, so they offer to simply do a job for McKinley instead. McKinley isn't gonna let them get away that easy, so he...ahem...insists that the goods should stay with him. He'll set his man to open the fuckin thing for them while they're away. Now Gribs isn't about to part with the big black box in his bag either, so he opts to stay. That suits McKinley just fine. Cue several hours of awkward conversation in his office while Asleep tries to crowbar the box open. Grizzle and the Captain head out with a sack to deliver to Saul on Iluminada.

LEVI ON HIS BOAT is returning from a successful mission to a neighboring island. He passes the Heiress, a huge fucking freighter-turned-prison ship. Then from out of nowhere, splash!, Chain plops into the water next to him and clambers into his boat. Now these guys knew each other a long time ago, but all Chain sees is an old friend in strange clothes. His ticket out. The Heiress stops, all the guards lining up over the railing, towering over the small boat Levi has.

Over the PA: "There's a dangerous criminal aboard. Please remain calm and stop your ship. We are coming to assist." That's Arnetta, the owner of the Heiress. People pay her to lock their criminals up, but somehow Chain escaped. Someone obviously paid a whole stack of flat to keep him locked up, though.

Chain and Levi meet up on the bridge. "Collateral!" Chain says. But that was a long time ago, and Collateral is Levi now. A couple of rafts with guards splash down and motor over to the boat. The first one hooks on and the 4 guys move through the crowd of followers. Suddenly, one of them recognizes Levi.

"Look! They're talking! He's gotta be that other fucker what killed those people! Arrest 'em both!"

Shit, thinks Levi. Throttle! They make a beeline away from the bigger ship and manage to shake the second dinghy. But now the 4 guys are about to head up the stairs to the bridge. Chain waits at one door and axes the first guy in the neck, dropping him in the doorway. The other guy at the bottom of the stairs seriously rethinks his tactics. Levi isn't as prone to violence, though. What does he do when shit gets bad? He prays, waiting for the accepting hand of God to guide him. But the acceptance isn't there. He feels judged, abandoned. And the other two guards burst in the other door and grab him before he can do anything.

GRIZZLE AND THE CAPTAIN MOOR UP at one of Iluminada's many docks. Only the rich can afford to live on the mainland, and even then they have to keep their shops and houses well-lit. Something lurks in the woods beyond the wooden gates that only comes out in the dark. Most of the people simply live out in the shallows, in houses on stilts. But Saul is pretty rich--he owns a shop for fine antiques--so he lives in town.

Grizzle can't leave well enough alone. He's gotta know what's in the sack. He touches it but accidentally opens his mind up and someone--something--notices him. Grizzle opens his brain by going to his earliest memory, sitting on a life raft with his parents. The sack is there, right next to him, and a mysterious man is in the raft too. It's Nickolas, the guy who lives way up on the mountain, out of town, above the treeline, right by the mouth of the fucking volcano. Oh fuck.

They'd better get rid of this quick. So they hop in their 4x4 and drive on up to Saul's shop. It, like every shop, is flanked by a pair of hollowed-out palm trees with cool designs carved into them, jack-o-lantern style. At night, these get lit up and the lantern totems keep the streets and shops lit. Inside, Saul greets them like old friends. They've been here before--Saul buys the best of their hauls for a lot of money. He's a bald man with expressive eyebrows and welcoming eyes.

They unload the sack with little fuss and get to talking. They drink some beers and catch up through sundown (bad fucking idea, right?). Saul pauses, lights the lanterns in the trees, and comes back to continue chatting. And behind him is a bulky silhouette. Saul stumbles out of his chair and heads to the back of the shop, looking for his guns....and the stranger steps inside, revealing a scar right across his nose. It's Nickolas. He smells like fish.

CHAIN ISN'T ABOUT TO let his ticket outta here get dragged off. He rushes one of the two guards and slices him across the gut, getting him pretty good, then shoves him into the other. Levi's safe, for now. But then they hear the last guard's voice at the top of the stairs, pointing his gun at both, a couple of hinges loose now that their plans have deteriorated.

"What the fuck are you guys doing?" he screams, an edge of histeria creeping in. "You know the protocol! If we can't arrest 'em, we kill 'em!"

Levi just stares him down and speaks to the guards. "Now, there's no need for bloodshed here. Just go away and we won't harm you. We can all settle this peacefully." As if to punctuate his words, his followers start bandaging up the wounded guy. The guard sees the force of faith in his eyes and nods. They drag the dead and wounded to the raft and take off. Chain and Levi are safe, for now.

"WHAT DO WE DO?" asks Captain Giblet. Grizzle looks around and figures getting outta dodge is best. You don't have to tell the Captain twice.

He points. "What's that over there?" Nickolas turns, and he runs past to grab his 4x4. Grizzle tries to follow him, but he can't let Saul die in the back of the shop, so they finally peel out of there with Nickolas in close pursuit. Problem is, with the gates closed, there aren't many places to go. So they retreat to the Captain's ship. Nickolas waits on the dock, a foreboding shadow. He knows where they're going.

At this point Saul is freaking out. His shop is unattended which means looters, Nickolas, or even worse could just get in no problem. All the guys want is for Saul to vouch for them to McKinley, though.

"Fine, I'll do it, but only if you help me get that sack back. That crazy bastard Nickolas has it now, for sure. No way I'm going out to his house myself!" They want to know what's so important in the sack, but he won't tell. After some hard pressing, he agrees to let them look AFTER they help him retrieve it. So off to The Rig they go.

GRIBS IS SITTING, WAITING for the box to be opened, when McKinley makes him an offer. "Hey, you're a pretty good jumper, yeah? I've got myself a secret place full of good shit, but my guys aren't good enough to get to it. I waited until your friends were gone cuz I figure you don't want to share your take with them. How about it? You be my jumper, and you get the whole take for a normal crew all to yourself."

(At this point, we decided that dives would be called "jumps" for some reason.)

But Gribs isn't biting. He instead tries to weasel any information about the jump out of McKinley, but he's tight-lipped. Somehow, though, he persuades McKinley to allow the whole crew to do the jump, like a trial run.

"Fine...your loss. You could have gotten the whole cut."

Something breaks, finally, and the box opens. It's a pristine typewriter. Like, this is high-quality antique shit. Now, McKinley's eyes light up. Gribs knows he's not gonna let it out of his sight. Gribs slowly packs the box back into his bag while Asleep sidles over to the door and pulls out his shotgun and lounges, real casual-like.

Then there's some real fancy business maneuvering. The typewriter is staying here, protected in the wall safe, says McKinley. I don't trust it out on the waves in a boat. No way, says Gribs. It's coming with us. Then we're all going out there, says McKinley. Fine, says Gribs.

Grizzle and the Cap burst in with Saul. It's a fuckin party. They make Saul vouch for them, but he starts to wilt under McKinleys stare. They try to smooth shit over, but McKinley finally realizes what's up: Saul would never leave his shop for nothing unless he had to get the fuck out real quick.

"It's that Nickolas fucker, the crazy sumbitch that lives up the mountain! YOU FUCK! YOU LED HIM RIGHT TO US!" Now he gets deadly serious. "Now this is what's going to happen." He picks up a radio. "Sheilah?"


"Code 22. I give the word, and you light that boat up, alright?"


"You're going to leave that box here for my trouble, since sure as shit a couple of my guys are gonna die tonight and I gotta pay new ones. You do that and leave now, and we aren't gonna have a problem. But you try anything funny and your boat goes up."

Gribs thinks he can get the drop on McKinley. "You say the word," he says, "and I blow your head off." Out comes the shotgun. McKinley looks real scared for a bit, then drops the act, casually flicks the shotgun aside, and says "DO IT!"

"Nooooo!" Captain Giblet screams. "What's that over there?" Asleep turns. He rushes out, pushing Asleep aside. They all get down to the docks at the base of The Rig, but it's too late: by the time they get there, his Speedboat is fucked. Shielah siphoned gas from the tank into the cabin and set it on fire, the fumes pulling more gas out of the tank. It's burnt to shit. Good news is they got the typewriter and the big ship still works. They get right the fuck outta there.

to be continued . . .

Hx at this point was as expected, except for:

Chain: "I give Levi -1 Hx. He got all soft. What happened to him? Praying?"

Levi: "I give Chain -1 Hx. I grew up. He didn't." (Cue the "OH NO HE DIDN'T! OH SHEEEIT" from the table).

brainstorming & development / Re: Hacking the MC
« on: July 24, 2014, 02:16:07 AM »
Actually, I've found that the MC's side is the MOST IMPORTANT side of the hack. On my (stalled) hack, I've only hacked the MC's ruleset: agenda, principles, moves, threats, fronts, etc.

Think about it this way: the MC's rules, as a single system, do more to shape the way the game is played than anything else. Not the playbooks or even the basic moves. It's the way the MC sets up the game, the moves he uses all the time, the structure of the challenges--hell, even the basic goals of the game!

Not to say that much will be changed, but I found that color and inspiration are as much a part of hacks as mechanics. BUT if you want to look at a couple existing examples side by side....

Apocalypse World has threats, picked form a menu, each with a unique impulse that is different for each type of threat, but common moves for threat types. Threats are organized thematically in fronts as large or small as needed. Fronts--not threats--have dark futures. Threats just help bring that to fruition. Side note: I like this system the best. It seems the most organic. But that's just me.

Monster of the Week has a single monster every week, necessarily with some custom moves. That one monster, plus some SPECIFIC other threats (bystanders, landscapes, etc.) makes up the front for the week. You "solve" the front and move on to a new one. Then, the arc of the longer story is another, slow-burn sort of front, living in the background. This makes for a totally different feel to the game.

Monsterhearts has no formal "fronts" system except for the unique way threats are created. Impulses, moves, and leverage are all chosen separately, creating a mix of different options. There's no thematic groupings, since threats take up more fictional space in the smaller world of school.

So hacking the MC's side doesn't have to be just moves. Changing the agenda and/or principles (take a look at Monsterhearts again for an awesomely different set of those) really changes the focus. And changing the threat impulses totally changes the challenges that the PC's will face.

I will second this, and add that this hack has very much inspired mine, so I hope you'll keep going with it. I especially like the debutante.

brainstorming & development / Re: Uncharted Worlds - Space opera hack
« on: March 19, 2014, 12:03:58 AM »
Hey, I just posted my space opera hack here in the brainstorming & development board. Comparing our two hacks, there's a lot in common but (gah!) you beat me to the punch. Still, I'm happy to mix sauces if you see something cool and want to snag it from me--I'm definitely gonna keep a close eye on yours.

Player Stuff!

Some Playbook Blurbs:

The Scholar: a well-read figure in an age of mass entertainment. Someone who proves that ideas are as important as actions.
The Engineer: the classic tinkerer that every ship needs. Someone to invent the next big thing.
The Executive: a high-powered bigwig with huge sway, but huge responsibilities. Someone who has connections everywhere.
The Pilot: you have to be pretty quick to dodge a missile that travels faster than light. This guy's your man.
The Runner: in and out in a hurry; always stylish deadly. Think Trinity from The Matrix.
The Soldier: bred for combat and outfitted with the latest weapons and armor. A natural-born killer.
The Priest: somehow, the huge blackness of space gets to people and they find religion. Someone who has the answers they seek.
The Diplomat: practically the essence of tactful. Someone who can pull a whole lot of strings.
The Trader: where would the galaxy be without commerce? Someone who knows just where the big money is and how to take advantage.
The Android: they may have less rights than humans, but sometimes being artificial has its advantages. Someone who is in many ways better than human.
The Ultra: why stick to the boring old homo sapiens model when you can have so much more? Someone who takes human to a whole new level.
The Child Prodigy: whether through gene therapy or just pure luck, in a galaxy with trillions of people, someone like this is bound to pop up.
The Cowboy: a hacker extraordinaire. Someone who flies through the datasphere like a fish in a sea.
The Refugee: a tough survivor who's fallen through the cracks and has to pick up somewhere else. Someone who won't let their dark past stop them.
The Gun for Hire: someone who likes a good fight but doesn't like having to think too hard about why.
The Uplifted: maybe that project was scrapped because the genes just didn't match or maybe they didn't like what they saw. Someone who lives life anyway.

I don't have playbooks for all of these (or really any of them, in full). I have some cool moves/ideas for some of them--they're "stubs" for now.

The Stats:

Grounded is how much you live in the moment. Many people’s thoughts are simply elsewhere for their whole lives, so being where you are can make all the difference in the world. Grounded means perceptive, composed, shrewd, opportunistic, or inquisitive.
Basic moves that use Grounded: Assess a Situation, Think Quickly

Quick is how fast your reflexes are. You might not move at the speed of light, but being light on your feet can mean the difference between life and death. Quick means spry, acrobatic, nimble, athletic, graceful, or strong.
Basic moves that use Quick: Offensive Action, Act Quickly

Tactful is how well you get on with others. There are a lot of powerful people out there, and it helps to stay in their good graces. Tactful means social, gregarious, wily, seductive, manipulative, persuasive, or influential.
Basic moves that use Tactful: Size Someone Up, Convince Someone

Technic is how adeptly you use the technology all around you. Almost unlimited power is afforded to those who can truly master the use of the wonders of technology. Technic means savvy, nerdy, trained, weird, or jacked-in.
Basic moves that use Technic: Tap In

Tough is how much old-fashioned grit you’ve got. In this era of high-powered weapons and gene therapy, sometimes you just need to look like you mean business. Tough means brave, stubborn, intimidating, defensive, or stoic.
Basic moves that use Tough: Defensive Action, Threaten Someone

The Basic Moves:

Offensive Action (+quick)
When you take offensive action against an enemy who can fight back, roll+quick. On a hit, you deal your damage and your enemy deals his. On a 10+, choose 2:
-Your attack confers a tactical advantage.
-You take 1 less damage from you enemy.
-You do 1 more damage to your enemy.

Defensive Action (+tough)
When you take defensive action for yourself or others, roll+tough. On a 10+, choose 3; on a 7-9, choose 2:
-Your maneuver confers a tactical advantage.
-You deal 1 damage to your enemy.
-You take 2 less damage, minimum 1.
-You deflect attacks onto yourself, and take 1 less damage from the total
-You don’t lose something valuable or pick up something dangerous.

Threaten Someone (+tough)
When you threaten someone with force with the intent to follow through if necessary, roll+tough. On a 10+, they either do what you want or force your hand and take the hit; on a 7-9, they can instead choose one:
-Get out of your way.
-Secure their position.
-Give you something that you want (or that they think you want)
-Tell you something you want to know (or that they think you want to know).
-Back away slowly, not making any sudden moves.

Convince Someone (+tactful)
When you give an NPC some evidence to convince them of your point of view, roll+tactful. On a 10+, they take your word at face value. On a 7-9, they’ll agree if you back your words up with actions.

Size Someone Up (+tactful)
When you size someone up while interacting with them, roll+tactful. On a 10+, hold 3; on a 7-9, hold 1. During the interaction, you can spend your hold to ask their player a question:
-Is your character lying?
-What is your character feeling?
-What does your character want or intend to do?
-What does your character want me to do?
-How could I get your character to … ?

Assess the Situation (+grounded)
When you assess an extraordinary situation, roll+grounded. On a 10+, ask the GM 3 questions; on a 7-9, ask the GM 1 question:
-What’s my best way in, out, through, or around?
-Which enemy is most vulnerable to me?
-Which enemy is the biggest threat?
-What here isn’t as it seems?
-What here is useful or valuable to me?
When acting on the GM’s answers, take +1 to your rolls.

Think Quickly (+grounded)
When you think quickly to defy danger in a perilous situation, roll+grounded. On a 10+, you do what you set out to do without problems. On a 7-9, you hesitate, choke, or lose control: the GM will offer you a hard choice or a worse outcome.

Act Quickly (+quick)
When you act quickly to defy danger in a perilous situation, roll+quick. On a 10+, you do what you set out to do without problems. On a 7-9, you stall, trip, or falter: the GM will offer you a hard choice or a worse outcome.

Tap In (+technic)
When you have some sort of access to the datasphere and tap in to do some research, roll+technic. On a 10+, you find pertinent information: the GM will tell you what you find. On a 7-9, you find information, but it may be vague or less useful.

GM Stuff! (player stuff in the next post)

GM Agenda:

  • Treat the universe as if it were real.
  • Make the characters’ lives exceptional.
  • Play to find out what happens.
GM Principles:

  • Look at the stars through the eyes of a child.
  • Address the characters, not the players.
  • Begin, follow through, and end with the fiction.
  • Never speak the name of your moves.
  • Think Big.
  • Catalyze change.
  • Think offscreen, too.
  • Be a fan of the player characters.
  • Respond deviously and occasionally generously.
  • Ask big questions and lean on the answers.
  • Sometimes, disclaim decision-making.

And, particularly for the first principle, some elaboration:

Look at the stars through the eyes of a child.
The universe is vast, sublime, and mysterious. “Through the eyes of a child” means not only with a sense of adventure, optimism, and gleeful wonder; but also with an instinctive fear of the unknown and a constant feeling that things are happening beyond your comprehension. Make the players feel like children, too. Give yourself and the players goosebumps. Impress upon them the scale of their surroundings and actions. Relish both the broad sweep and the fine details.

This is not to say that the stories you tell should be juvenile or simple. “Look at the stars” means you describe the universe--not the players in it--like a wide-eyed child. Painting the backdrop in bright colors makes the darkness living in it that much more mysterious and threatening, and allows the characters’ grand deeds to feel at home in their history.

Fronts and Threats!

Creating Fronts:

When you make a front, do these in roughly this order:

  • Choose a Trajectory for your front.
  • Create 3 to 4 threats for your front.
  • Describe the front in a couple sentences.
  • Pose 2 to 4 stakes questions.
  • Write the Event Horizon for your front. (for now, this isn't a thing)

  • Expansion, as in expanding borders or influence
  • Destruction, as in destruction of property or life
  • Evolution, as in evolving beings or technology
  • Decay, as in decaying civilization or decaying energy
  • Assimilation, as in assimilating people or pursuing homogeneity
  • Collision, as in colliding galaxies or incompatible goals

Threat Types:

  • Organizations // structured groups with a coherent goal.
  • Agents // aggressive, powerful individuals with agency in the universe.
  • Conditions // as "afflictions" in ApW
  • Populace // normal people who, in groups, can get in your way.
  • Locales // as "landscapes" in ApW
  • Others // as in aliens or unintelligible forces of the universe.

I have some threats already figured out. I'll post those later.

So I guess I'm far enough into the development of this hack that I feel okay posting what I have here for all your insight and comments. I find I'm most creative when I have a board to bounce my ideas off of (pun intended).

GLORIOUS DAWN is a space opera hack of Apocalypse World. It's basically a love letter to Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos in particular, and a host of other works besides, including Asimov's Foundation trilogy and Alistair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe. It also draws to a lesser degree from Neuromancer, Ringworld, Ender's Game, the Uplift series, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and (as before) more besides.

I'll also give a quick nod to John Ryan's Rogue Trader: Apocalypse hack for being inspirational, as well.

Here's my back-cover pitch for the game, in true lumpley fashion:

Glorious Dawn:
A game about the human race in the far future. A game about dealing with the dark, mysterious, and--above all--unimaginably vast universe and the unknowable motives it has for humanity. A game about a group of people trying to change events that are far greater in size than any of them can imagine. A game about travelling the galaxy. A game about scope.

More info and specifics in the next post!

Apocalypse World / Re: PCs improving too fast?
« on: February 24, 2014, 02:29:00 PM »
Mostly I think the extra XP is coming from soooo many Read Person rolls.

Remember to ask them how they do anything. Read a Person requires that you be in contact (conversation, intimacy, etc.) for a while. You can't just look at someone and read them. So, if they're making rolls for everyone they meet, ask them how they're reading the person. If they don't have a good answer, then don't let them roll.

You can also highlight something else, or (as my group did) use Dungeon World's XP system, which only offers XP on failed rolls. Highlighting is still there, but at the end of the game, you ask yourself, "Was I _____ at least once this game?" (like "Was I hard at least once this game?") and give yourself one point of XP for each highlight.

There's a little more to it than that, and I can elaborate, but it self-balances since the players get less XP when their stats get better.

Dungeon World / Re: Stun, Debilities and taking penalties forward
« on: February 04, 2014, 02:38:47 PM »
Here's an extended example that's popped to mind, and I'm just trying to see if I've got the Moves right: a fighter launches himself at a cave troll.  He attempts to leap onto its back, defying danger--and fails.  Instead of scrambling onto the monster's back, he finds himself plucked out of the air and slammed up against the cave wall and pinned there (Turn their move back on them).

I would consider that more of "Put them in a spot" but I guess "Turn their move back on them" works too. If that's what you're going to do, that doesn't deal damage. Remember, you choose as hard of a move as you'd like, but only one move. So:

"You're slammed up against the cave wall and pinned there. The troll is holding you down. What do you do?"

You let the player have a chance to save himself from damage, if he'd like, probably through another Defy Danger roll. Deal Damage is a distinct move which you could have used but chose not to. An example using "Deal Damage" instead of pinning him down:

"The troll grabs you off his back and slams you against the wall of the cave. Take d10 damage."

Simple, right? The fiction is mostly the same, but the effect is dealing damage instead of putting him a spot.

Could the impact also (or should it be only?) stun him?  In reaction, the fighter wants to fight his way free (his allies being too preoccupied to help.)  Would this be a fair distinction: a -1 to hack and slash as his broadsword is awkward at this range as he tries to pommel smash the troll's wrist?

Or would this be a case of defying danger to break free, rather than hack and slash; if he'd attacked the troll instead, looking to hurt it rather than get free, then that would be hack and slash?  Can he combine the two, hack-and-slashing the arm to get he troll to drop him, but also inflicting harm?  Or should a Defy Danger get mixed in there?

I usually only see stun or debilities happen when you deal damage, since stun is a type of damage. I don't think there's anything that specifically forbids using debilities without dealing damage, but my group usually just does debilities when dealing damage. As for the -1 to Hack and Slash, I would think that a better solution is what you set out later: Defy Danger to break the pin, then Hack and Slash.

My big question is: can he really deal his full die of damage pinned down like that? He would, if he succeeded with the -1 penalty, and pummeling a troll with a pommel doesn't seem right for that. If the fiction doesn't let him, then you shouldn't let him roll. Instead, say:

"You can't bring your sword to bear while you're pinned. What do you do to break out of the pin?"

A little leading question, I grant, but you have to make sure the players are making moves that follow from the fiction, too. I think Vincent has written somewhere about how he used to have penalties and bonuses built in based on how hard things were to do, but he nixed them because they didn't add anything narratively to the game. Either you can do it--then you roll it--or you can't--then you don't.

Say the poor guy fails again; now the troll pitches him across the room (separate them!), where he smashes into the opposite wall: damage that skips armour?  Or rather: he dents his sword against the troll's hide (use up their resources)--would that give it a -1 until he hammers it back into shape or finds a replacement?

One, I don't think "across the room" is really separated. And again, one move on your side, not two or more. It can be a harder move than "Separate Them" though. This is a troll and he's not messing around! Deal some damage, already. As for Ignores Armor, that makes zero sense to me. His armor would definitely protect him from a blunt trauma, even if nothing else. So, some options:

"When you're trying to ________, the troll flings you again into the opposite wall (stunning you?). Take d10 damage. What do you do?"

"You make a huge swing of your sword at the troll and manage to hit him in the crack between his armor plates. Great news! Until...he shifts a bit and your sword CRACKS OFF AT THE HILT. What do you do?"

If you're going to "Use Up Their Resources" don't pussyfoot around. He can repair the sword if he defeats the troll and grabs the other half stuck in the armor, and reforges it. For now, though, a -1 ongoing isn't interesting, it's just annoying. Actually take his sword away from him: he failed a roll and you're trying to fill his life with adventure. Big adventure to try to stop a troll with only a hilt! Or maybe he goes in for the blade and wields it anyway. Who knows what he'll do?

tl;dr: use one move. The move should follow from the fiction: blur the lines a bit between circumstance and mechanics. As Apocalypse World says, "misdirect". Although you might just be dealing damage, you can set up his positioning such that the battle feels dynamic. Don't pull your punches. But you only get one move, as hard and direct as you like, and then you let the players have their turn in the conversation.

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