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Topics - zmook

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blood & guts / Mechanics for wealth
« on: January 10, 2015, 01:44:51 PM »
I am pondering running a Cthulhu game.  There are two salient facts:  (a) CoC has an awesome setting and awful rules, and (b) I'm currently most familiar with the PbtA engine.  The Mythos World hack seems pretty straightforward: rename the stats, steal some moves from Apocalypse World and Dungeon World, figure out what to do with Sanity and Magic, copy the list of skills.  I'm not saying I've got it quite all figured out yet, but I think I've already got something I could run better than I could run by-the-book CoC. The thing I *don't* have is a decent system for money and wealth. 

I know I *don't* want everyone to have to know exactly how many dollars they have in their wallet, or in their bank account, or trust fund, or what their annual income is.  And since the broke private investigator and the dilletante heiress are both standard CoC characters, I know I need a system that's approximately equally easy to use for both.

I'm pretty sure that means the wealth rating has to be logarithmic.  (Just abstracting to "1-barter" or "1-profit" doesn't solve anything if one character feels lucky to have 1 or 2, while another has an allowance of thousands.)  For items below your current wealth rating, you can just acquire them without worrying about it.  Items above your current wealth are unavailable, or at least require extraordinary effort.  Items *at* your current wealth might require a roll, where one of the possible outcomes is that you exhaust your funds and have to reduce your wealth level.

It seems like this is likely to be a common issue across any games set in approximately modern worlds, from steampunk to space opera.  I don't want to go re-inventing it if someone else has already written it, but I'm far from familiar with the full range of hacks out there.  Can anyone direct me to a working system?

Dungeon World / NPC counterspell?
« on: December 02, 2012, 09:00:54 PM »
So, suppose you wanted to create an evil sorcerer in DW and give him a counterspell ability -- say, spend a charge from his staff to flashily disrupt an incoming magical attack.  How would you do this?

I suppose I could give the PC wizard -2 ongoing to target the sorcerer, but this doesn't quite create the effect I'm looking for, in the fiction.  An attack penalty feels to me more like magic resistance than counterspell.  But once the PC rolls, the rules no longer allow an opportunity to change the results of the spell:  on 7+, the spell is cast and affects its target;  on 6- it fails.  At best it looks like I can insert a counterattack to put the wizard in a spot, with a 7-9 result.

Is there a way to do this within the structure of how moves are supposed to work?

Dungeon World / Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« on: December 02, 2012, 09:09:18 AM »
I'm pondering how to handle some non-damage combat moves, whether by PCs against the monsters, or by the monsters against the PCs.  A few questions:

1. How should I handle monster disarm moves?  Suppose the paladin is fighting a master duelist, and the duelist disarms him.  The general principle in DW is the NRA rule ("weapons don't do damage -- people do damage"), so it seems wrong to say "you've got no weapon so you can't hurt him any more".  What, he can't punch him in the gut, double him over, and then break his nose with an armored knee strike?  But at the same time, if I as DM just allow full class damage, what was the point of the disarm move in the first place?

It seems to me there needs to be a penalty of some kind applied for losing your weapon, but I can't find a guideline in the rules.  What do y'all do?  I'm not sure where to find the line between making it significant enough to be worth doing, but not so significant as to make the real fighty types seem helpless barehanded.  Half damage?  -1d6 damage?

2.  What about other kinds of "combat disadvantage"?  Suppose the thief takes a move to trip the ogre, with the expectation that the fighter will be able to follow up with some kind of combat advantage.  Now, if he rolled Aid+bond, he could just hand the fighter +1 forward, but hm.  First off, the thief has a +3 DEX, but only +1 bond with the fighter, so he'd rather make the explicit combat move.  And more importantly, "roll Aid" is boring and has no hook whatsoever into the fiction, so I'd rather do the explicit combat move, too.   So, the thief rolls Defy Danger and trips the ogre.  The fighter follows up with Hack & Slash.  Should I follow the cue of Aid and give the fighter +1 forward?   If I do, it seems like it opens up a can of worms for the players to constantly argue for situational bonuses to attacks.  If it's +1 for prone, what about flanking?  disarmed?  stunned?  entangled in a net?  etc. 

From a numbers point of view, if the thief just hit the monster, he could do d8 damage, or 4.5 points on average, minus armor, say 3 points.  If he gives the fighter the +1 forward, that's maybe +14% chance to hit.  For that to really be worthwhile, the fighter would have to be doing something like 21 points of damage on average, egad.  (On the other hand, suppose the target has 4 armor, so the thief is doing only 1.25 damage on average.  Then the fighter only has to be doing 9 on average to make the trip worthwhile.  That seems more plausible.)

Am I asking for trouble going down that road?  I'd like to provide the players with motivation to do things more interesting than just "inflict damage", but the system doesn't provide a lot of guidance.  I'd like to hear what you guys do.

Dungeon World / Know-It-All
« on: November 29, 2012, 07:31:43 PM »
Wizards have an advancement move available at level 2:

When another player’s character comes to you for advice and you tell them what you think is best, they get +1 forward when following your advice and you mark experience if they do.

Hm.  I'm trying to figure out how to adjudicate this move.  It seems easy enough to abuse:  every other character comes to the wizard before they do anything, and hey presto, there are lots of +1 bonuses, and the wizard gains a level every time he turns around.

Clearly, that's abusive.  At least, it's not something I want in my game.  My players are not deliberately abusive, either, but they're going to want some kind of guideline for how often it can be used.  Preferably an in-character guideline.

There's no roll for success, so no opportunity for me to impose hard choices or costs that way.  The move makes no mention of requiring any relevant actual expertise from the wizard (it's even called "know-it-all"!), so as written the wizard could make up any bullshit he likes and still get the bonuses.

Of course, in the fiction, bonuses from the wizard spewing bullshit makes no sense, and I'd have to find some way to limit that.  Maybe by limiting the move trigger to: "When another player’s character comes to you for advice about something on which you have knowledge and you tell them what you think is best" -- but then, how to determine what the wizard does or doesn't have knowledge about? 

I think I'm talking myself into requiring at minimum a Spout Lore roll before Know-It-All can trigger.  Even so, that seems to provide incentive for a lot of goddamn Spout Lore rolls.

Consider: "Oh wise wizard, please advise me of the best way to kill a skeleton!"
"Why certainly, my son: if you thrust up under the jaw, the skull is bound to pop right off, and then they lose all coordination."  Why wouldn't that be legit?  And it seems it would allow every party member to get the same advice, get the +1 for the whole battle ("when following advice"), and then bonus xp also.  Why wouldn't they want to do this all the time?

I must have the wrong end of the stick here somehow.  How do you guys play this move?

Dungeon World / Animal companions
« on: November 28, 2012, 05:36:27 PM »
Getting ready to run a game, I'm looking at the Ranger, and trying to figure out what I'll say when the players ask me about companion trainings.  They're obviously pretty important, but the description is minimal.  How do you guys play them?  This is what they sound like to me:

Hunt:  the animal is trained to cooperate with the ranger in finding, chasing and killing animals, everything from ducks to bison.  In some circumstances (cougar vs hare, perhaps) the animal can be unleashed to hunt on its own, and will return with prey to share.  This training carries through to generally being able to coordinate attacking anything the ranger can point out.  The ranger may be able to get the "attack the same target", "track",  and "take damage" Command benefits in the right circumstance.

Search:  the animal is a skilled tracker, a bloodhound.  Here's the missing person's sock, now let's go.  Or, somewhere near here is a base of bandits - let's find it.  The ranger may be able to get the "track" and "discern realities" Command benefits.

Scout:  the animal can be sent out some distance ahead of the party, and will spot and stalk any potential ambushers.  The ranger may be able to get the "discern realities" Command benefit.

Guard: the animal can be told to protect any friendly person (or group), and will follow them and attack anything that threatens them.  If the animal is guarding the ranger, he can get the "attack" and "take damage" benefits, but if the animal is guarding anyone else, they don't have Command, so they don't get any mechanical benefit, just the advantage that attackers will have to deal with the wolf first.

Fight monsters:  the animal is particularly trained to fight the more horrifying and unnatural sort of opponent, and is much less likely to be cowed or to flee before the undead, demons, slime lords, and the like.  The ranger may be able to get the "attack" and "take damage" benefits.

Perform:  the animal knows entertaining tricks, and may be used to get a good reaction in civilized places (where otherwise a wolf may be completely unwelcome).  [Might "tricks" may extend to such things as snatching items from unexpecting hands, or delivering messages or small packages?  If so, these things seem like the kind of thing where I'd like to see a roll to determine success, but I'm not sure what move it would be.] 

Labor: ???

Travel:  The companion is big enough to ride, and will bear the ranger with unusual swiftness, dexterity and/or endurance.  The ranger may be able to get the "attack", "track", and "take damage" Command benefits in the right circumstances.

Command also offers a bonus to working with a trained companion and Parleying, but I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the circumstance where this would occur.  When can an animal companion help with Parley?  I suppose there's "if you don't do what I want my wolf will rip your throat out", but then why is it +Cunning instead of +Ferocity?

Curious what other people think, before I start making house rules.

Apocalypse World / Exchange harm for harm
« on: February 21, 2012, 12:32:33 PM »
In the list of MC moves, there's "Trade harm for harm (as established)."  On p 119, there are a couple of examples that aren't entirely clear to me, but I think are meant to show that the MC can just say "okay, the outcome is you took a bullet for 2-harm, and one of their guys is down and bleeding", without anyone needing to roll.  It also says to see the Harm & Healing chapter, but if there's anything else there about trading or exchanging harm, I don't see it.

So, how do you guys play it?  "Trade harm for harm" is just like two "Inflict harm" moves, that happen to apply to people on opposite sides of the fight?  Is there any reason that the harm exchanged should be of the same amount?  What does "as established" mean, where it's listed in the MC moves?

At first I thought "exchange harm for harm" might be meant to apply more to a situation more like, "well, the rifle normally does 3-harm, but I'm going to lower it to 1-harm and also smash your relic iPhone."  But as best I can tell, that's not what's implied in the examples.

other lumpley games / Review of Murderous Ghosts?
« on: February 19, 2012, 09:24:57 PM »
So, hm, how to put this -- do I want to buy Murderous Ghosts?  The mechanic sounds like it might be neat ("choose your own adventure, but with the bugs fixed", whatever that means), and I like the idea of a game that can be played with only two players.  On the other hand, intense horror doesn't really sound like my thing.  Or my fiancée's thing. 

Basically, I can't find a review or anything resembling an Actual Play for the game, and Vincent's merch copy ( is very short and very cryptic.  Can anyone who's played the game comment? 

I guess I could just give Vincent his $5 -- I'll probably do that anyway -- but that won't help sell the game to anyone else, right?

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