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Messages - J. Walton

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Apocalypse World / Re: [The Afterborn] YA AW
« on: March 13, 2012, 05:02:58 PM »
Thanks! Not sure how I managed to mess that up. It's been a while since I had to write BB code.

Apocalypse World / Re: [The Afterborn] YA AW
« on: March 13, 2012, 10:16:49 AM »
Thanks! Let me know if you do. I'm itching to know if the moves work like I hope they will.

Apocalypse World / [The Afterborn] YA AW
« on: March 12, 2012, 09:29:24 PM »
So I got inspired and made a thing:

You Carry the Burden of the Future

Apocalypse World is no place to raise children. Sometimes, though, a hardholder or scavenger brood makes a pact—with the blasted heath, with the poisoned ground, with the Psychic Maelstrom itself—and the pact is this: OBEY THE LAW AND YOU WILL SURVIVE.

And so a haven is created amidst all the want and suffering, a hardhold of sorts but something more, something almost civilized. Children are born and raised within its limits, taught to fear the world beyond and to obey the law, taught the means of survival. Generations go by, and yet the people remain.

But humanity is curious and heedless; they do not obey the law but break it—in part or in full—every day. And thus every day the broken world chips away at this mote of security and stability, awaiting the day when it will be consumed in desperation and darkness.

The ones known as the Angel, the Battlebabe, and so on... maybe they were born and raised in a place such as this, a place long ago and far away, a place without the constant fear of death and want, a place long since consumed. If so, these are the stories they tell no one, the stories of what they used to be before the broken world made them hard, cool, hot, and weird, the stories of growing up.

Bibliography: Thanks for These Dark Dreams

- The White Mountains (1967) by John Christopher
- Clay’s Ark (1984) by Octavia E. Butler
- Invitation to the Game (1990) by Monica Hughes
- The Giver (1993) by Lowis Lowry
- Reign of Fire (2002), directed by Rob Bowman
- City of Ember (2003) by Jeanne DuPrau
- The Village (2004), directed by M. Night Shyamalan
- The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009) by Carrie Ryan
- The Passage (2010), parts III-VI, by Justin Cronin
- After the Apocalypse (2011) by Maureen McHugh
 - "The Villager" for Dungeon World (2012) by Jason Morningstar

You can download it here.  I haven't playtested it yet (so take it for what it is) but I plan to do so at Gamestorm later this month, assuming I don't get a chance earlier.  It'll definitely always be a hack that's 2-4 playbooks long, at most, and will never turn into a big commercial hack (I just don't see the need for it, honestly).

Dungeon World / Planarch Codex: A Mini-Supplement
« on: February 06, 2012, 11:34:08 AM »
Here's a new project Hans and I are working on, coming out of an SG thread:

A sample of a half-dozen pages of the alpha draft is available here, if you want to check it out.  Hans and I are still banging out specific options for planes, planar travel, classes, and some alternative basic moves, but what's here is almost playable as is.  It'll be more playable once I finish the "planar Hx" guidelines.

As the first page explains, each section contains options rules that can be used all together or piecemeal. You can easily use the planar travel rules without the city of Dis, or Dis without the Sultana, or the Sultana without the road wardens, or any other combination you like.  There's some links between specific options, like how the new heritage moves show up in a few places so far, but those are easy to remove or hack if you don't want to use them.

Murderous Ghosts / Assembling the Booklets
« on: October 27, 2011, 07:41:19 PM »
Hey Vx, etc.

How do you actually print and bind these booklets? They seem to be in spreads, but in proper sequence like 1-2, 3-4, 5-6... so I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do with them. I was hoping to print them double-sided, fold, and staple, but that seems impossible with this set up.

Maybe I'm just missing something.

Hey, so the Marmot is floating around, right?  Or it will be soon, I guess?

I'd like to trade for it and these are the things I have available:
  • a new supplemental playbook for the Touchstone, created for Elizabeth.  It's called the Mendicant and lets you treat acts of charity as barter.
  • a new micro-supplement called +Insight, containing some things I think about running and hacking AW.
  • a re-skin of AW as a body-horror crusaderpunk dragon-fighting thing called That Ancient Serpent, which uses the standard AW moves, just rearranged.

I'll trade these for other things too, if you've got 'em, though I have the other LE playbooks already, as far as I know. I'm especially interested in custom moves and playbooks that have been written for and actually used in your AW games, but I'll accept just about anything AW-related and a lot of stuff that's not.

Let me know what you've got and we'll work something out.

Hmm, that's a good call, just invoking the normal barter rules, more or less.  I definitely should have considered that, huh? :)

Sometimes this game make me feel so smart, and then other times I feel so dumb, when I miss the obvious things.

Apocalypse World / Re: Advice requested
« on: June 27, 2011, 02:42:41 PM »
If the game's still fun for everybody, then you have a bunch of different options:

-- make some custom Gunlugger-ish moves for him to take
-- make a new playbook that's basically Gunlugger part 2
-- let him keep taking additional moves from another playbook
-- let him take a gang or hold and keep buying options for those

If the game stops being fun (or consistently as fun) for you and the other players, then you're gonna have to talk about it and reach some sort of compromise or just stop playing the game (whether you start a new one later or not).

Apocalypse World / Re: Mapping as Fictional Positioning
« on: June 23, 2011, 10:51:50 AM »
Oh, hey!  I figured out something else about maps, which is really just a clarification of the first post, above.

Sometimes they're impromptu, short-term "workspaces."

Sometimes the MC says, "What do you do?" and a player goes "I'm going to take over this whole cannibal island armed with nothing but a pistol."

And then, rather than tell the PC what they need to do to make that happen (as you would with the normal workspace move), the MC shows them by sketching out a map of the space, showing the buildings and towers, pointing out where the snipers are (before or after the PC reads a charged situation), etc.  And then it's up to the PC to do what needs doing, based on the map, to achieve what they want.

That's pretty neat.

Apocalypse World / Custom Moves for Declining or Corrupted Resources
« on: June 21, 2011, 04:02:34 PM »
One thing I'm having a hard time remembering, in my current game, is to keep track of the declining resources that the PCs have.  They're in space, so it's really easy to run out of oxygen or water or food that hasn't been poisoned by the Lovecraftian "colour out of space" (i.e. radiation).

Yeah, countdown clocks are good, but I'm thinking about some custom moves -- probably session moves, done at the beginning of play -- along the lines of: If you've eaten in the last 24 hours, spend 1 barter worth of non-poisoned foodstuffs. If you choose to save your good stuff and eat irradiated food, your stomach rebels and it takes a fair bit of work just to keep it down: take 1 harm AP and psi-harm.  You cannot begin to heal this harm until you've spent 24 hours eating real food and getting some of the poisons out of your system.

I'm also pondering an Inception + Push inspired hack where you play psychic mercenaries hacking into people's brains for the $$$$ they need to stay one step ahead of the government spooks that are after them. Rather than barter, your financial resources would be measured in "grands."  So you might have a move that's like: When you attempt to put some distance between yourselves and the spooks after you, roll+grands spent on diversions, false trails, informants, safehouses, etc.

Anybody else written custom moves for resources? Has there already been a thread about this that I missed?

Apocalypse World / Re: Mapping as Fictional Positioning
« on: June 21, 2011, 12:52:42 PM »
Actually, thinking about it again, the same thing pretty much happened when I was playing an operator/gunlugger in John's AW game and our crew took over this island full of cannibal slavers.  John pointed out the windows and rooftops where the snipers were and we went room by room, building by building, tracking the dudes down and establishing our hold on the island facility.

Maybe that was figuring prominently in my subconsious this time.  In any event, it's still a cool trick.

It's a bit like a dungeon crawl but, since it's not underground in a linear tunnel or set of tunnels, it feels less constricted and more like a military or police raid (or a video game like Left 4 Dead), seizing specific objectives, moving on to the next ones or trying to hold particular (fictional) points.  And it's all made possible because the map allows for the fictional positioning to be roughly shared among the players.

Apocalypse World / Mapping as Fictional Positioning
« on: June 21, 2011, 12:55:49 AM »
So this may not be revelation to anyone but me...

Last week, the PCs in my near-earth-orbit game responded to a distress signal from this orbital monastic community called Sanctum. The folks who run Sanctum try to help people clear their minds from domination by the Psychic Maelstrom and, thus, escape from a life of reaver-esque cannibal savagery. Our touchstone is a "graduate" of Sanctum's psychic rehab, but apparently not all their recruits took to their training so well (surprise!), so the PCs are basically walking into a bloodbath of insane debauchery and cruelty.

I began making maps like crazy, drawing the main airlock, the cargo room, the corridors leading to the medical facility, the kitchen, the training rooms, the initiates' monastic cells, the flight deck where they launched shuttles, the central meditation chamber, etc.

All this mapping was inspired, for the most part, by our touchstone asking where certain things were, based on her memories, alongside some Reading of a Charged Situation and Opening of Brains. And then, once the PCs starting moving through Sanctum, with the vibe and setting of our game, plus the horrific atmosphere, it felt very much like Geiger Counter, surprisingly enough. Room-by-room, situation by situation, with the sense of danger building.

But what really struck me was that, unlike in some Geiger Counter games I've played, the map really served to ground the fiction in ways I wasn't expecting.  Without the movie-inspired jump cuts that sometimes happen in Geiger, the map really provided some tight constraints on player choices through the fictional positioning that went along with it. Unlike in Geiger or PTA, we weren't thinking about what the next cool scene should be about; instead we looked at the map and were like, okay, clearly we have to go through X place next.

For example: The PCs proceeded first to track down Hugo, the initiate that sent the distress signal, who was in one side of the space station.  But then, having come across some horrific scenes, the touchstone decided that Hugo must be dead and that they should proceed to the training rooms to confront Rufus, the failed initiate who seemed to be orchestrating this descent into base passions.  Consequently, as demanded by the maps and the fiction, they had to make their way across the entire rest of the station to get to where Rufus was. No jump cuts, no excuses. That was clearly what the fiction -- through the map -- demanded.

Sure, the players could have decided to do something else: go out an airlock and walk around the outside of the ship, leave and not fight Rufus, blow up Sanctum, whatever else. But their choices were limited -- in significant ways -- by the little bit of sketching I did of the station.

I guess maybe I'm used to maps as a form of railroading, showing where you clearly must go, or as a series of light cues to help you remember things you've done and preserve consistency in the fiction, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the geography of a map really matter in a game that didn't have wargame-inspired rules for cover or range calculated in squares.

So anyway, I'm thinking about that now and my future play of both AW and Geiger Counter will be better for it.

Terrific responses, cats. Bravo.

P.S. In my next game, whenever that is, I'll probably end up making the Maelstrom a bit more complex from the beginning, rather than a one-note thing, but still try to start by just projecting an attitude or desire. For example, maybe the Maelstrom will embrace people with high weird but plague people with low weird.  Or maybe it'll want something specific and strange, like for everyone to have babies, and then later we can find out why.

Jim, what I've done -- rather than ask the PCs what it looks like when they open their brain -- is instead say, "Okay, how do you do that?"  And some folks take drugs or go into a trance or talk to their faceless mask or whatever.  And the way the players approach the Maelstrom definitely colors the way the Maelstrom communes with them, no question.  But it's not like everyone necessarily has their own personal Maelstrom or even their own personal relationship with it, at least not all the time.

On my end, to give the Maelstrom a sense of identity, I try to start out just projecting an attitude. This means I know what kinds of things the Maelstrom's likely to do and saves a lot of time thinking of questions or what kinds of things to show when people open their brains. But it doesn't pre-define things too much.

For example, the first time I ran the game at PAX, I made the Maelstrom AGGRESSIVELY HELPFUL, assisting the PCs in whatever sort of misdeeds they wanted to get up to, showing them where the crazy tech was, egging them on.

In my current game, I began with the Maelstrom being BROODING AND NIHILISTIC, pushing the PCs towards introspection and doubt.  And that's developed and solidified over time into more concrete traits -- it's a bunch of ghostly echoes that make people crazy and violent! -- but it began as just an attitude.

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