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Topics - Daniel Wood

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the nerve core / Forum troubleshooting?
« on: September 22, 2012, 09:01:45 PM »

So for some reason it looks like all my posts (except one, magically?) to this thread -- -- are being marked as spam? Help?

Apocalypse World / When you sell your soul at the Crossroads...
« on: January 30, 2012, 04:37:28 AM »
So awhile back I was working on a series of custom playbooks which were perhaps best described as The Tom Waits Sessions, and one of them was called The Crossroads: someone who had gone down to the crossroads and traded his soul to the devil for the ability to play the blues. The book never quite came together -- it always ended up feeling a lot like a Skinner add-on -- and part of the problem was that the core concept seemed like something that could happen to any PC, rather than a PC in of itself.

So I decided to just make it into a set of custom moves instead:

The Bargain
When you sell your soul at the Crossroads, you receive an instrument. Choose any move you can make, special or basic, other than Act Under Fire. You no longer roll dice when you do the move; instead, you automatically hit a 10+. You also receive a physical token of the exchange, branded with the sign of the devil and strangely warm to the touch. It may or may not relate to the move you have chosen.

The Devil's Instrument
Whenever you make use of your dearly-bought abilities, roll +cool.

On a 10+, it's ok -- the power flows through you like wildfire, but it remains under control. The MC holds 1.

On a 7-9, it's just too much -- the MC holds 1, and choose one:

* You accidentally hurt somebody you care about.
* A witness to your ability is driven mad.
* A witness becomes deeply suspicious about the origin of your abilities.
* A witness becomes obsessed with you and your talent, beyond all reason.
* You gain a feature of an animal; a snake's tongue, a cat's eyes, a tail, etc.
* The next time you sleep, you wake up five years older.
* A past witness reappears unexpectedly.

On a miss, it's even worse.

The Devil's Due
MC hold accumulated from The Devil's Instrument lasts indefinitely. At any time, whether as part of a hard move, in reaction to a failed roll or mixed result, or just because she wants to, the MC may spend a hold to purchase effects from the 7-9 list, above, on a one for one basis.

If at any point the MC accumulates 5 hold, they may spend all of it to claim the debt's ultimate price. The PC's soul and life are forfeit to the Devil, and he may do with them as he wishes. If the PC misses a Devil's Instrument roll with more than 5 hold already accumulated, the MC has no choice.

Look of the Damned
When you Act Under Fire, don't roll +cool. Instead, roll + the value of the MC's accumulated hold.


The way the moves work, which is hopefully fairly obvious, is that the PC can stave off damnation by tempting the MC to spend her accumulated hold on the 7-9 values, rather than allowing it to build up to the critical 5+ range. (Or, of course, they can use their power relentlessly until they have achieved all that they wanted, and then lose their soul.)

What I need help with is coming up with some more juicy 7-9 choices -- particularly ones that will tempt the MC.

It is also possible that there should be two seperate lists -- one for the 7-9 results, and another longer list of MC options -- but I'd rather avoid that if possible. As such, immediate effects (or effects that can easily be combined with existing MC threats or moves) are ideal.

Monsterhearts / Feedback from Fractured Realities
« on: June 06, 2011, 10:14:46 PM »

Just some kind of gut-level reactions/analysis from finally getting to play Monsterhearts (yay) at Fractured Realities (yay). I'm putting them here instead of email because I figure a bunch of other people at said con also just played the game, so they might have other opinions or other stuff that was cool/bad/weird.

So, point form.

* Hot really, really seemed to dominate the game, both in terms of being awesome and also how much it got used. Strings are the killer app, and Hot feeds into the only basic move that can create strings.

* We had some Shut Someone Down going on, but it was never in response to the presence of Strings and in fact it was never used against anyone who incidentally happened to have Strings on the PC.

* I am also a bit uncertain about the interaction between Shutting Someone Down and Turning Someone On -- is the intention that these will be used back and forth in the fiction, as a kind of direct/immediate counter? This didn't come up in the game at all, just something that occured to me.

* The 7-9 result on Turn Someone On is pretty fantastic. Probably this was moreso in the convention environment, where generally it helps to have a mechanical excuse/prompt if you want your character to just like, suddenly jump somebody's bones (or vice versa.)

* Overall there seemed to be far too many moves where I was getting Hold (exciting!) and then spending all of it to avoid bad stuff, instead of get good stuff (deflating!) I know this is kind of a favourite trope in a lot of hacks/new moves (because it's so fun to have a list that implies both good and bad possibilities) but I am really, really not convinced it is actually good design for the system in general, or Monsterhearts in particular. (Think about how many moves in the original game are like this -- basically none; even the ones that have similar effects are not phrased in that way, they just flat out say 'you get this, but it's not perfect in this other way' as part of a single choice.)

* This was particularly noticeable when Gazing Into the Abyss, though there is so much ambiguity in the things I am choosing that I am not sure it was intentional (see below.) But it really felt like I had to spend 2 moves (which is almost all of my resources on a 10+ hit) just to get a truthful, relevant answer -- and that's really, really frustrating.

* It's possible that 'it tells you what you want' is supposed to be like 'reality bends so that the answer to your question is what you hoped it was' -- but if so that is super-terrible in a completely different way, since it runs counter to the underlying fiction-first ethic of the game. Similarly, I really wasn't sure what 'it could be worse' meant -- if it's the meta-fiction counterpart to 'tells you what you want' then see above -- but my initial read was that it referred to the experience of gazing into the abyss itself. (As in, 'it's not super-traumatizing to do the move this time.') That kind of works, though it's a bit hard to tell as a player what that is going to actually do, at least until you see how the MC deals with it a few times.

* Really, the more I think about it, the less I understand why this move doesn't just work exactly like Open Your Brain, with more or less useful/bizarre visions depending on your hit. It seems like you're making it a lot more complicated with no benefit? I mean, do you see this move as serving a different function than OYB (which is basically an information dump or a 'I dunno what to do next' button wrapped up in awesome colour?)

* Need more hexes! I started making a list during play but got distracted (probably a good sign). Maybe some kind of counterspell thing, or a hex that makes Moves backfire? A hex that gives the Witch strings in a cool way would also be nice (like, say, every time they turn someone on, the Witch also gets a string?)

* I didn't really see the Fey sheet, but it felt like the player playing the Fey was struggling a bit to figure out how to get promises out of people, or how to use his promise-related moves. (Maybe he's around here and will chime in, I forget his name.)

* I really, really wanted to use 'lash out at someone' to lash out emotionally at someone. Every single PC in our game had Volatile highlighted, and it was rolled I think 4 times -- 3 of which were to get out of a situation. And none of those situations were necessarily violent -- it was all stuff like 'avoid detection' or 'postpone consequences'. I know that the source material does have inevitable periods of real physical conflict, so maybe it was just our game that never went there, but somehow I feel like this stat could do double-duty. I think I mentioned this to you and you said that 'shut somebody down' was meant to be the social/emotional equivalent of lashing out -- I can see that, on one level. But on the other level there is no way I pick a stat line with a high 'cold' if I want to lash out at people emotionally -- I pick a high 'volatile', and not just because I see 'lash out' next to it on the character sheet. So this might just be a labelling issue, but I don't know.

It seems to me there's two fictionally distinct ways of hurting someone emotionally at work here: one, by shutting them down or cutting them out or making them feel alone; the other, by overloading them with negative emotions, mocking them aggressively, etc. Like I can call somebody fat in a cold way, where it's like 'why would I even interact with somebody like you?', or I can do it in a volatile way, where it's like 'you are so fucking fat -- how can you look at yourself in the mirror? you disgust me' sort of way. It may just be my predilection for focusing on emotional/social damage in all HS environments, but I think both of those deserve their own stat, and should achieve noticeably different effects.


More as they come to mind.

Apocalypse World / AW illustrations / photo manipulation
« on: July 25, 2010, 04:36:50 PM »

So I have been trawling Flickr for potentially awesome Apocalypse World portraits to use in an upcoming game -- but while I've found a bunch of awesome stuff, using actual photographs for NPCs always seems a little too specific, compared to more abstract line art or illustrations.

Ideally, I'd like to convert the photos I have into something like the AW interior art -- my impression is that these are mostly photos that Vincent has photoshopped into a particular style.

So the question is: Vincent, how did you do it? What filters, layer effects, etc. were used? Non-Vincent people who know what they are doing can also feel free to answer -- or post their own awesome AW NPC art.

(The beginning of my NPC portrait gallery can be found on flickr, here.)

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