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Topics - henrythewhite

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Dungeon World / Counterspell & Monster Spell Level
« on: October 12, 2012, 01:39:18 PM »
I have a player who really wants to take counterspell (and who wouldn't, it seems pretty sweet), but I am not sure how to run it in the game now that monsters no longer have levels.

For reference, here is the counterspell move, from p.147 of the most recent release:

When you attempt to counter an arcane spell that will otherwise affect you, stake one of your prepared spells of equal or higher level on the defense and roll+Int. ?On a 10+, the spell is countered and has no effect on you. ?On a 7-9, the spell is countered and you forget the spell you staked. Your counterspell protects only you; if the countered spell has other targets they get its effects.

The crucial problem that I have run into is "stake one of your prepared spells of equal or higher level on the defense."  Back when monsters had levels, I could just assume that the monster's spells were of the monster's level.  Now, since I run most monster spells as monster moves and avoid using wizard or cleric spells (there being only one Wizard or Cleric, of course), I don't have a baseline by which to judge monster spell level.  I could try to draw a parallel between each monster move and a spell from one of the spell books, but I worry that that would be inconsistent and cumbersome.

What have you folks done?  Do you have a means of determining monster spell level that works well for you?  Is this a move that is going to be reworded as more editing is done?

Dungeon World / Dungeon World a la Guy Ritchie
« on: July 13, 2012, 07:14:59 PM »
There should be an AP coming from one of my players soon, but I'll give you the short version.  My players wanted to be members of the City Watch in a seething metropolis, cutting deals and trying to uphold the law, with large sections done in homage to crime movies and police procedurals.  So we spent one long afternoon coming up with all of the various horrible problems that they would likely be facing and laying the groundwork for a campaign setting that continues to give us joy.

The players are four of the members of a newly created Underwatch, the section of the city watch meant to keep order in and investigate crimes in the city's underground sections.  Their jurisdiction begins and ends at the surface, but the city bureaucracy expects them to keep watch on the *entire* underground.

As the newest members of a terrifyingly large series of overlapping organizations, they receive very little help and even less respect, all while being expected to cater to the whims of their various bureaucratic superiors.  Since they have perhaps 1/6th of the normal funding and staff assigned to a single quarter of the watch, it is a recipe for very exciting disaster.

The first session started with a dead body sitting on the desk of the commander's desk (Commander Marlow, our party's Thief).  It's been pretty much non-stop problem time ever since.  Every time that it seems like they may have solved a problem, I make sure to Show Signs of Doom, either insinuating that there are other problems which are even more pressing or that whatever they did to fix the problem actually had a number of unanticipated side effects.  I love simply being able to look at whatever they've done and build others' responses off of it, more fiction flowing naturally from their own.  I'll leave further explanations to our dear Commander Marlow, who should be posting something here some time soon.

Leaving aside game stories, one thing that we noticed was that XP advancement felt awkward and uneven because of how I was running the game.  Since the game was less of a dungeon crawl and more of a series of criminal investigations with some bursts of action, we found that players had a hard time playing up their character's theoretical party roles.  As a temporary solution we decided to pool XP, but it appears to have worked fairly well.  This rewards each PC for asking for assistance from someone else better suited to solve their problem, and has fostered a sense of teamwork that goes well with the "us against the world" themes of the setting.

I'm not sure what else to mention, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you folks have.

Dungeon World / [AP] In the shadows of Kraktur's Bones
« on: May 15, 2011, 02:17:16 AM »
This was the first time that I've run an Apocalypse World game, much less a Dungeon World one, but my players and I all had fun and we want to continue so we must be doing something right.  Also, to Ethan, Mattias and Gavin, please don't read too much of this.  Below be *spoilers*.

First off, a few notes on typos / other problems:
-We ended up without a paladin, both because the interested player also liked the wizard, and because the only automatic surplus listed for a chapter is hirelings, and there are no hirelings rules in the hack.  We solved this with fiction (too few people at the outpost to give hirelings anyways), but our player had already been seduced by the wizard.
-Thus we also discovered that there are a dearth of positive bonds for wizards.  This might just be a feature, but we started thinking up other bonds that could be used instead.
-I think this has been mentioned elsewhere, but there as of version 11.05.04 there is no reason to be a human bard (there being no complex weapons).  This worked out well enough, since our elven bard is also a spy for the elven kingdoms to the north, but still.

And a quick question: are there rules for groups, and alternate suggestions for fronts / moves / principles in the full version?  I can make it work with AW fronts / moves / principles plus some innovation, but I'm not sure what to do with respect to groups.

Ok, now to the game.

The setting which we came up with was a variation on the West Marches theme, focused on the frontier settlement of Jotunsholm on the northern border of an expanding dwarven empire which rules over many races and lands.  There is a range of mountains to the north, known as Kraktur's Bones (Kraktur being a giant who was supposedly slain by the king who founded the empire), and deep in the range there is rumored to be a place called Kraktur's Eyes, which people understand to grant vision or insight, but where few have gone.  In between the settlement and there are foothills, a forest, and a number of tributary rivers (flowing south), as well as a marsh to the NNE [north-north-east] (feeding one tributary).  There is a cautious / hostile Elven kingdom to the WNW, which is recovering from a civil war.  The players know of old city ruins to the East of Jotunsholm, an old quarry from which which the town's fort was built off to the West, and something very tall in the forested foothills to the North.  There are apparently raiders in the forest, but they haven't attacked in some time and no one knows why.

Our heroes:

We have Belleros, an elven bard from the elven kingdom to the WNW, who was sent to the dwarven empire to act as a spy, watching for troop movements on the northern border.  He was on the winning side in the civil war, and managed to protect his younger sister despite their parents' death.  He thrives on ordering others and manipulating them (he's evil), and is posing as an agent of the Special Internal Commission which runs the dwarven empire's spy and counter-intelligence network.  I look forward to introducing someone who actually works for the Commission, and to seeing all of the ensuing hijinks and attempts to prove one's loyalty that might ensue.  In any case, Belleros knows that there is a drop point for whatever intelligence he can gather to the NW somewhere, deep in the forest, but he hasn't been there yet.

Next we have Kieran, an elven mage and citizen of the dwarven empire, who was apprenticed to a master in the mage cadre of the imperial army.  Unfortunately for Kieran, not too long ago he watched his master lose himself to an extra-planar being that the master had summoned for research.  The thing pulled his master out of this realm and into the thing's own realm.  Kieran managed to get a handle on one of the minor beings which was drawn to the power surge, and has been asking it questions ever since.  However, he's had to do this very quietly since most people are of the belief that people shouldn't have any connection to things not of this plane.  The one exception to that is talking to one's ancestral spirits, but we'll get to that in a moment.  In any case, he headed north in hopes that he might make his way to Kraktur's Eyes and see something that would let him find his master.  Sadly, he was quickly marked as a weakling on the road north and was set upon by some thugs.

Happily, our stolid dwarf fighter Jarl was there to save him.  Jarl had been discharged from his conscripted service, but was told to escort Belleros north to his "assignment" on the frontier.  When he saw such an unfair fight on the road, he quickly evened things out and sent the ruffians packing.  He was feeling quite happy, being ready to return home after his mission was done, until he saw the ruins of his home from the road on his way north.  He only found charred remnants of his house and family, but there was enough there to tell him that a struggle had taken place.  He delayed the journey north, prayed, and conferred with his ancestral spirits at the family tomb.  He was rewarded with a feeling that whatever had killed his family had come from the north, and was told to take up the family axe, which would glow whenever he drew near to something like the thing that had killed his family.  As of yet, he has no idea what that is.

The game began with the travelers' arrival at Jotunsholm, a place with which Jarl was familiar from years ago.  Belleros, still acting in command of Jarl, sent Jarl to find lodgings for them at the local inn, The Cracked Skull (named either for the Horfuss the bartender's old barfight injury, or for the huge tusked skull found in the dirt when the place was first built years ago).  Jarl negotiated an agreement for rooms from his "old friend" Horfuss, with the result that the party now has a tab which they can't yet afford to pay.  He also got a free pint of moonshine out of sympathy for the loss of his family.  Kieran went and visited with the local apothecary Brunhildt, an old blind woman who wishes for younger days.  He tried to ask Brunhildt about Kraktur's Eyes, or other ways through to other realms, but while she was helpful she demanded payment in return.  When he made clear that he had no gold, she told him to come back the next morning, when she would have something for him to do.  Belleros headed into the fort proper and reported to the Commander, asking for a stipend and any mission assignments.  The Commander made clear that he didn't have any room in his budget for an agent's stipend, but told him that he wanted to have someone get out of the town and into the forest to find out what had happened to the usual raiders.  And, of course, the agent would be free to keep 75% of any bounties he brought in while working the empire's business.  Belleros was given access to the Commander's rough map of the area, and heard hints of future troop movements ("Don't bother copying it exactly, its not like there's a scale.  Last time we had good surveyors up here was when they built this fort.  'Course, we should be seeing some of them up here again some time soon.").

**Here start the spoilers**

Sadly, we had to stop there for other commitments.  I realized afterwards that I needed to bring forwards more named NPCs, and give them more conflict inside the outpost itself if I wanted good triangles.  However, I've gone to work on the few people and groups who were introduced and have the beginnings of things sketched out:

Brunhildt is a grotesque: mutant (or maybe a mindfucker?) who wants to be acknowledged as the power that she is.  Since going blind, she has been stuck in the fort and only been able to gather her supplies from safe areas nearby, never ranging far afield like she used to.  As such, her power has declined instead of continuing to grow.  However, she will offer Kieran more information and assistance in exchange for him fetching powerful ingredients for her.  Though she has dreams of ruling the outpost herself as a rejuvenated sorceress queen, what she really wants is recognition of her power and the respect she feels is due (instead of rotting away in a dingy old shack, where people go for a cheap love potion, or its classic companion the cheap contraceptive.

Horfuss is a warlord: collector.  He has already started on his process of owning the new people in town (the PCs) by putting them in his debt.  He eventually wants to bring everyone into his pocket, making him a very wealthy man as proceeds from all of the businesses in Jotunsholm would go towards paying off debts to him.

The Commander is a warlord: dictator, clearly enough.  He owns the fort, and through the fort he controls the land around.  He is actually pretty happy with how things are right now, except that he is running out of money, running out of supplies, and he has no idea where the raiders have gotten off to.  He would be happy about that if he weren't such a pessimistic man: if he hasn't been attacked recently, it is probably because something new and worse is going to happen, not because things have suddenly gotten better.

The garrison, headed up by Sergeant Jindo, are brutes: family.  They are the only ones out here who aren't all from around here, and they look up to the Commander as the head of their family.  They have a duty to keep the place safe, but more important to most of them is keeping each other safe.

All of that is complicated by the fact that the armory and vault are emptying out (affliction: condition).  As such, the garrison will soon be unpaid, without further supplies, and be unable to pay to repair any of its equipment.

The raiders are a group of mixed humans and goblinoids, and are brutes: sybarites.  I have no idea what problems they might be facing up in the woods, but whatever it is can't be pretty.  They've been raiding in order to furnish themselves with what they need to feed and protect themselves, and though they now have someone who is funneling supplies to them from the town (hence the emptying armory), they still haven't come south to make further gains.  I expect I'll come up with something before next session, but ideas would be welcome.

I have two more threats: the dark forest to the north is a landscape: prison, trapping those who venture in.  What all is held in there I don't yet know, but it can't be nice (maybe it should be a breeding pit instead?).  The ruins of the old and forgotten city to the east are a landscape: maze, winding about, crumbling into confusion.  There are certainly cool and valuable things there, but they'll be dangerous to find.

I don't know yet where they are planning to go first, but I should know soon.

I'd love to hear what you guys think.  Is there anything that you can think of that would be fun to throw in?  Further complications to make life interesting?  I expect that our heroes will start off very much in the dark, but I look forward to them slowly realizing what is going on in this outpost, and seeing what they do about it while they still try to fulfill their various goals.  Their conflicting loyalties will be especially interesting to watch (do I let the enemy ship sink, even though I'm on that ship?).  I do worry that this too focused on the conflict within the settlement, but hopefully more exterior challenges will come to the surface as they push into the wilderness.  Future sessions will be posted on this thread!

Apocalypse World / How can I make more realism more fun?
« on: April 03, 2011, 07:17:12 PM »
So, I've had this thought rattling around in my head for a while, and the "Harsh moves following success" thread (sorry for no link, still new at this) moved me to ask:

How can I make potentially punishing realism more fun for my players?  This could go for any number of things, but I've been thinking about all of the ammo that people have been shooting for the past n-years since the world went to shit.

Unless survivors have been finding fresh ammo, or there are ammo factories that still function, a lot of the ammunition that people are using will be made from old pre-fired brass.  I just keep thinking that brass that has been used for who-knows how many years and who-knows how many firings is going to get fucked up some time... and it stands to reason that it will sometimes happen to the PCs.

I know that some of my friends reload their own brass back home, and they don't have big problems, but I'm also willing to bet that they take much better care of their brass than most survivors can afford to.  I've been thinking that this calls for a custom move, maybe:

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.i
When you buy ammo from Le Roy, that scop-eating scrounger, you get it for cheap (half price).

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.ii
When you fire Le Roy's ammo, roll +turns of continuous fire (this gets shaky, but you could just say "number of contiguous moves involving shooting").
On a 10+: Fuck fuck fuck, my gun is a mess
On a 7-9: You can spend time to clear the jam right now, or you have a brand new club
On a miss: No problem.

Having written this up, I'm realizing that it might just be appropriate to disguise "take away their stuff" with a gun jam at an opportune moment.  Or maybe you can change part two to say:

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.ii
When you are using Le Roy's ammo in a fight, the MC gets 1 hold.  The MC keeps it until you clean your gun.  They can spend 1 hold at any time that you are shooting to tell you:
-Your next rounds are duds
-Your gun has jammed
They can spend 3 hold when you are shooting to tell you:
-The brass has ripped in the firing chamber!  You've got a cleaning kit around here somewhere, right?

I don't feel like this is quite right, but it seems like a good jumping off point.  What do you think?

Starting places that occur to me include: why bother making all this fuss when we already have "take away their stuff"?  If you are going to use the above rules, what about autofire / continuous fire weapons?  Would you find this fun, or frustrating?  Both?  Would you decide it was time to get bows and crossbows?

What other similar issues have you folks run into?  Hell, am I wrong to consider introducing such potentially punishing realism?

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