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Topics - David Bowers

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Dungeon World / Levels in the Fiction
« on: March 02, 2012, 01:46:03 AM »
Hey all,

I was just looking over the rules for the Wizard, about how they get a new spell every level, and I thought: what does that mean for the Wizard as a character, as a part of the story. Does he suddenly realize how to do a new spell that he's been studying in his book? Does the power of magic now flow more strongly through him, enabling him to get greater power over it? There are undoubtedly lots of fishy answers we can use to try to make it make sense, but more often than not, we just don't question it -- he just gets the new spell and that's it. Dungeon World is a game at that moment, not a story.

I think I'd need a solid fictional explanation for what's going on with levels to do this game justice as a player or GM, or else... why not just ditch them entirely? Apocalypse World gets along just fine with advancements every 5 xp, but no measure of "levels" as such, why not Dungeon World too? Already, monster levels have been removed because they don't mean anything in terms of fictional positioning.

Are player levels so *core* to the old-school-dungeon-delving fantasy experience that they simply cannot be done without? If so, why not make them integral to the new-school-dungeon-delving fantasy story we still want out of the game?

Earthdawn, that old gem, called them "Circles," and it was something characters actually talked with one another about in the fiction. It was a measure of how powerful and renowned you were to say you were a "10th Circle Beastmaster," in their world, a bit like terms such as, "4-star general," "green beret," or "black belt" in ours.

I suggest we go one way or the other with Dungeon World. Put levels in the fiction or take them out of the game.

blood & guts / ESL Hack: Apocalypse World for Chinese children
« on: November 06, 2010, 12:14:36 AM »
I'm working on a roleplaying game designed specifically as an activity that my students can use to learn English and have a good time doing it. I'm interested in any of you can give me some feedback for how to adapt the AW rules to this purpose. Obviously we wouldn't use the standard AW setting as it is, but something more kid-friendly. First, though, I'm interested in some questions about the rules themselves.

I've found the rules as they are have a 3 problems for ESL with children:

1. The moves are too dense in terms of language processing. For a native speaker to process a move just takes a few seconds and feels quite natural, but for a non-native speaker, it can be a real chore to parse it all, especially more idiomatic terms like "under fire," "read a sitch," and others. I have tried reducing the language to the simplest level possible, but it seems both too vague and too bland: "do something difficult" instead of "act under fire" for instance. I'd like to see if it's possible even to reduce it to a few strong words, drawn in a sort of mind-map or other diagram to show the choices visually instead of as text. Does anyone have an idea how to do this?

2. Cards work better than dice with these kids. Dice tend to get fiddled with a lot and it becomes a distraction, plus students always want to reroll negative results, but cards are final once they get turned over. I've tested both and cards seem like the way to go for me. Is it possible to adapt AW like mechanics to cards?

3. I'm using a system where students get to draw one card for each vocabulary word they use in their narration of how they try to solve a problem or do a move. It's more like Otherkind at the moment, and drawing more cards is sort of like rolling extra dice in that system. It lets me focus only on words instead of numbers, and this is something I'd like to try to keep in my system. Even stats like "cool +1" feel like too much math for my students -- I'd rather they focused on the words more, and I want the system to reward spontaneous language use.

If you have any ideas or suggestions about any of these questions, especially how to preserve the awesomeness of the AW system while still meeting these different needs, or apply some of the awesomeness of the AW system to another system that meets these needs, I'd love to hear them. Thanks in advance!

(As for the background of this project: I live in China, and I'm really enjoying this -- every week I have two classes where I get to playtest my game, and watch how my students, my game, and my own knowledge are all improving every time. I even get paid to do it. I'm hoping to develop this game to the point where I can publish it here and promote it as a tool for learning English, which is very popular in China right now.)

blood & guts / Split Decision
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:45:07 AM »
Daniel Solis came up with a neat idea he calls Split Decision:

It's a dice resolution system very close to that of Apocalypse World, except that instead of rolling just 2d6 and adding them together, you roll 4d6 and choose the two highest. The catch is that you're using 2d6 of one color (say, Blue), and 2d6 of another (say, Red), and the color of the two dice you choose has some sort of effect over the fiction or the mechanics of the game itself.

Has anyone thought of using this in AW? Can you imagine a way to do it that adds more than it takes away? Do you think it would add in too much cognitive decision making about the dice and distract too much from the game as it is meant to be played?

The first thought that came to my mind was actually a sort of Star Wars themed Apocalypse Galaxy, in which someone (such as a really nasty Sith Lord), has caused everything in the galaxy to go kerblooie, and now it's really hard to just scrape by anymore what with the pirates, raiders, and bounty hunters ruling the hyperspace lanes now. The Psychic Maelstrom would be the Force, naturally, and the Blue dice and Red dice would be the Light side and the Dark side, respectively.

blood & guts / Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« on: October 11, 2010, 01:19:10 AM »
Hi everyone,

So I finally have an idea for how I could have a hand at MCing Apocalypse World for my local friends here in Nanjing, but to make it work I think I need to make a change to the sex-oriented "special moves." Some of the participants (including myself) would definitely not be comfortable with the sex rules as they are in the game. It's not that we believe sex is evil or anything, just that it's private and we don't want it to take such a big role in our game night.

So I'm considering changing the sex moves so that they apply to any time you make yourself truly vulnerable to someone else -- if the players really wanted, it could include off-screen sex, I suppose, but it could also involve confiding in someone, sharing your true feelings, revealing something about your past, or any number of other situations that often come up in life. It could be up to the parties involved in the roleplay whether or not their interaction really counts as sharing vulnerability.

I'm also thinking, possibly, this would have to be a mutual thing, so that the characters would both have to make themselves vulnerable to one another, such as both confiding, both sharing feelings, and so on. If only one character makes him or herself vulnerable, then that's really something else entirely, opening up the possibility for one character to take advantage of another.

Would this break the system? Does it absolutely have to be sex and nothing else? What other solutions to this problem haven't I considered?

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