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Topics - fuseboy

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brainstorming & development / 2G2BT
« on: April 19, 2017, 08:47:32 PM »
I'm writing a short PbtA game about mech-pilot mercenaries as they struggle to gain fame and fortune as they hop from war zone to war zone.

The flavor inspiration is pretty much Battletech 3025 - the tech readout (I love it, mine's falling apart), not the novels (I haven't read any).

The heart of it is directly based on The Regiment, with a small amount of Urban Shadows somewhere in there as well.

brainstorming & development / Playtesting "fiction first" games
« on: October 22, 2013, 02:59:54 PM »
So, spill the beans on playtesting fiction first games.  Strikes me that the job is trickier, since you're not just trying to convey how the mechanics work, but you're trying to affect the GM's unstructured choice-making.

I would think that the main way to get this sort of information across is either by having the would-be GM play in your game, to learn by osmosis (not very scalable), or with "GM advice" essays, of the sort you find on combat in Amber Diceless.  Not mechanics, but persuasive pieces on the GMing principles you imagine are most salient.

The Regiment / More play observations
« on: February 22, 2013, 01:14:26 AM »
Two Characters

Two characters is annoying.  Sean has picked up a second Commando, and we can never tell which one of him is talking or acting, we keep getting mixed up.  At one point he missed something in GM's description and accidentally narrated his two characters into the same micro-situation (sweeping a barber shop), something he'd been trying to avoid.

In discussion, it seems that in base AW, because of the slightly breezier, more plot-centric pacing, two characters are easier to keep apart. The analogy's not great, but this feels more like having two mouse pointers.

Challenges by Playbook

We're having trouble integrating snipers into a busy WWII battlefield.  There's not much time to maneuver, so their vantage points (particularly in villages, where LOS is really obscured) expire quickly as the grunts move forward a block.  Our snipers are winding up with a slightly vague position on the battlefield, drilling mooks one at a time, which is a bit anticlimactic.

One option is just to treat them like soldiers with specialized rifles, able to make hyper-accurate shots, but otherwise running along with the other guys.

The better realization seems to be that we need to mix up the time scales. Break up the action into scenes (we tend to play moment by moment, moving block by block) so that the sniper has a chance to do some forays, get into trouble, report back, etc.

We have a different but similar feeling problem with medics.  I really think that medics need wounded PCs to work on.  For a few sessions, Stephen (GM) was doing more detailed tracking of our NPC platoon members, and they started becoming a sort of 'unit hit points'.  Tim's medic was busy fixing red-shirted ensigns, but this isn't especially dramatic.

I wonder if the lethality is just .. low?  Of five regular players, we've had two Go Home, and a third (my guy) is nearly ready to do so, and no fatalities yet.

My gut tells me that Go Home should be less common than death.

The Regiment / 2.1 meets 2.5 Feedback
« on: February 22, 2013, 12:55:36 AM »
We played our seventh session tonight of our WWII game, run by Stephen.  We tried to layer in some of the changes from 2.5 (though obviously we still have the 2.1 playbooks for WWII). Here's some stuff that happened and some observations.

A. Assaults, Attacks, Covering Fire

The combined covering fire and assault move seems problematic, though in a couple of ways that surprised me.

1. The first came up twice - I was laying down covering fire with my BAR to aid various assaults, and a player (and then the GM) felt it was appropriate to use the Aid mechanic.

This floored me, and seemed like a sort of mechanics usability problem (as covering fire is somewhat buried).  In hindsight, I can see how they got there - covering fire, mechanically, is basically a specialized Aid move (the +1 forward), but which (unlike generic Aid) lets you inflict harm and use weapon tags.

2. The other thing happened twice - once when my soldier was laying down MG fire at ambushing riflemen in windows, and later when our sniper player was shooting into another MG nest.  The oddness is hard to explain, but it feels a bit like choosing Assault (instead of Attack) puts the cart before the horse:

"Tactical advantage" is rather open, in particular because it seems to include the possibility of the enemy losing ground - moving back under a hail of fire. So it seems that I choose Assault if I want my shooting to have the possibility of making the enemy retreat a bit, or to somehow give my friends an advantage.  But it's not obvious to me how I narrate the difference in my actions - either way, I'm just shooting. Then, if we settle on assault, the successful shooter is in the position of being able to decide how the enemies react.  (The shooter isn't moving up, so the pick of "seizure of contested territory" implies enemy retreat.)

To put it in BW terms, it feels like I carry out a task, and then, once I've done it, I choose what my intent was.

(I like it when there are clear physical actions that differentiate moves, rather than merely hopes for how it turns out: e.g. move while firing to claim ground, lay out fire wastefully to rattle 'em, careful controlled shots to kill them.  At the moment, a clear differentiator seems to be the amount of time you shoot for, which gives rise to the gear spend.)

3. Given how liberal the GM should be with incoming VOF, assaulting a position to claim it without inflicting any actual damage an Attack feels really weird to me.

4. The area fire vs. group thing came up when I used the LMG on the soldiers in the windows.  With enemies behind cover, it's a huge advantage if we don't use the "vs. Group" rule, because I can use my area tag to hit them all (potentially taking out the whole bunch if I roll 1W).

B. Rolling VOF against enemies

Tim hates rolling VOF against enemies, he says he doesn't care what happens to them. After play, the group rumbled close to the idea of the GM just adjudicating the effects of weapons during assaults; I'd be sad to see it go that way, I enjoy the gun porn.

In particular, the group seems to have settled on the idea that any VOF against NPCs above Scattered is irrelevant.  NPCs have two generic damage pips, and Direct or better fire always does one pip.

But - nevermind! I see now that we missed the line that it takes two Stress to do a pip of damage to an NPC!


The rules for the effects and removal of suppressed and pinned seem to have been dropped from 2.5.


The gang really likes the new stress track.  As some of us started injured, we didn't migrate to the new wounding system.

The Regiment / Tank vs. Tank
« on: February 08, 2013, 12:13:14 AM »
Tonight we were playing WWII regiment (2.1).  Our infantry platoon was being supported by a Sherman tank, under the instructions of our Officer player.  At one point, we squared off against a Panzer IV, and the anti-vehicle weapons were duly consulted.

It seems that medium tanks can't hurt one another on the front armor.  7d AP against armor 8 seems destined to do no damage.  We struggled with this for a while until deciding that some tank fire might be concentrated.

I'm not sure how a single-shot weapon becomes concentrated, I think it may have to do with aiming time.  (e.g. if you're hull down and stationary and a guy comes through a narrow defile, you'd be shooting concentrated).

Curious how this is usually handled.  (Maybe it's not, being an NPC-on-NPC action?)

brainstorming & development / Reasons to include a move
« on: January 30, 2013, 05:02:29 PM »
So, World of Dungeons is interesting because it only has one move.  As I dance around the edges of a first version of my own AW hack, a question has come to mind:

Given that I have a generic move, why would I include a more specific one?

I've come up with a few reasons so far; I'm interested in comments, your own reasons, etc.

1. Interesting failure/success options - the designer has a wonderful idea for particular kind of success or failure, and including it helps the game 'be about that'.  These might be insights into human behavior, combat, etc. - or they might be genre-appropriate turns of events.  ("On a 7-9, you shoot his hat off.")

2. Suggesting courses of action to the participants.  You might have a general move, but if your players are starting at the option to a) do something b) betray a friend or c) seduce an authority figure, it's clear you're playing a particular kind of tale.

3. Walling off areas of gameplay with fast pacing.  In The Regiment, there are downtime moves.  These neatly communicate that the game includes some downtime, but it isn't really about that - the moves you have are very coarse-grained and so have the effect of helping the game getting lost, waist-deep in camp politics between missions.  Nope - you roll your legwork move and you're back into battle.  Imagine a 'when you go to town to spend your loot' sort of move for a dungeon crawly game.

Similarly, moves give players license to refer to a move when they want accelerated pacing.  For example, if you want to 'launch a startup' and there's a move for that, that gives the participants a nudge you can do this with a certain amount of screen time - the GM might take the hint that she doesn't need to squeeze the players for justification of where they get their starting capital from.  You don't need to know anything about starting a business, you can just describe it in a handwavey kind of way, and the move gives you license for it to work out (or not).

(I think of the sex moves in AW as a fascinating combination of 2 and 3 - they bring sex into the game, but with such an accelerated pace that it can be mechanically/fictionally meaningful without having to describe zippers and orifices.)

4. Conversely, moves can slow down pacing, and zoom in the game.  Playing World of Dungeons, you could theoretically tackle a whole dungeon with a single move.  This is clearly not possible in Dungeon World, since there are moves that trigger on specific portions of dungeon tackling.

5. Nudging the conversation back into a particular fictional concern.  The moves in the Regiment set up a conversation about battlefield position and tactical advantage, despite the fact that these things have no mechanical effect (well, beyond gun range).  There's no movement rate, shooting bonuses from being up high, etc. - but the multiple references to these ideas cause the moves to keep bouncing the participants' conversation back to these topics.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.  (And it's dawning on me that there may be nineteen threads on this very topic.)

The Regiment / Untrained Explosives
« on: January 11, 2013, 11:31:56 AM »
It's come up a few times now that we've wanted to use explosives to blow something up.

We have a Commando, but he doesn't have the 'Explosives Expert' move.

Satchel charges are listed as weapons, which makes it look like the untrained can use them (at least for the purposes of hurting people or vehicles with damage dice, since no other weapons seem to require special training).

a) Combat Action +lucky (this seems the obvious choice, but we didn't think of it during the session)

b) You cannot make explosives detonate without that move

c) You can detonate explosives just fine, but they won't take down structures, only hurt vehicles or people as per the weapon damage rules

d) Oh, that's an oversight

The Regiment / XP for failing to help someone in trouble
« on: January 10, 2013, 11:49:31 PM »
Do you get two xp for failing to help someone in trouble?  That seems like too much for one roll.

The Regiment / Acquiring and Losing Equipment
« on: December 06, 2012, 06:25:45 PM »
Couple of questions from our last session.

1. Our commando's signature weapon ran out of ammo, and we're behind enemy lines (where finding compatible ammo is difficult).  The player was rather attached to it, I gather, and suspect it was a sort of 'playbook entitlement' and that it should continue to work (e.g. in the next session) regardless.

2. Owing to some fast and furious action (on the beach), I found myself burning through four gear in two moves - an assault and a covering fire.  I had been lugging a flamethrower around, and knowing that if I used all my bullets I'd be out of flamer fuel also, I opted to 'be out of bullets'.  Another move with the flamethrower (laying waste to a scout car) left me nearly gearless.  Somehow we wound up with the ruling that you can only donate 'gear points' during a resupply move, though my impression was that it was a little more flexible than that.

a. How does that work, can you just toss someone abstract gear?

b. How do you handle picking up enemy weapons that have been narrated into the game?  Can you just grab the enemy's machine pistol, or do you need to scrounge?

Now that I ask, I suspect the right way is to roll to scrounge. On a miss the weapon might be broken, unless that was far fetched (e.g. there were a half dozen lying around), in which case it might just take a long time.

The Regiment / Six Players
« on: November 23, 2012, 10:42:24 AM »
First of all, hats off to our first-time GM (of anything, ever) Stephen for doing a great job of the chaos!

Seems to me that one of the tricks with six players is managing the 'scale' of everyone's actions - I'll explain.

When it's just three players, it's easy to include most of the 'party' in actions.  Somebody can lay down covering fire, another assaults.  If someone helps either of those two, everybody's rolled dice, even if it's a very tactically simple situation (e.g. your squad vs. their squad).

When you have bigger parties, having the commando or section-8 make an assault roll for the whole shebang seems unsatisfying, so it seems you need to find a way to dole out the action.

Two routes occur to me:

1. Create tactically interesting engagements where the party is tempted to split up to pursue separate, supporting objectives.  We had such a battle where we split into three groups to pincer a german squad car/roadblock/LMG setup that was nestled in some hedgerows.

Here, each group can be free to change their private sub-battlefield quite a bit with (say) Assault (and using naked 'Attack' very little), since a one-roll victory only carries the day for that sub-battle.

2. If you somehow skip this and wind up with an undifferentiated battlefield and/or mob of enemies, "zoom in" a bit.

We were in this situation when we stumbled through a hedge to find ourselves in an orchard, unexpectedly outnumbered by a surprised-looking German section eating at a field kitchen.

Several PCs' shooting actions might just be direct attacks against single enemies, saving the Assault for the explicit heroic attempt by the commando or section-8 to claim some ground, toss a grenade at the kitchen's parafin cannisters, etc.

It also occurs to me that it's sometimes worth polling a few players to see what they're doing to see how to parcel the action into moves.

The Regiment / 2.1 Comments/questions
« on: November 22, 2012, 06:36:56 PM »
In advance of playing tonight, some questions and comments:

* Under recovery/healing, what does 'get worse' mean?  Is this purely narrative, or does it mean boxes get progressively crossed off?

* NPC Action - might be good to say: (contrast w/ unit action)

* Help: the "If you ignore" rule - I assume this is a broader rule than merely refusing to use the help+bond roll.  For example, if someone's trapped across the street and it requires you to expose yourself to enemy fire, this isn't a "Help move" situation, but I think it should be stressing.  Maybe what I'm saying is that refusing help seems like a different move.

* Help: clearing a condition.. even 'Critical'? Even non-medics?

* HEAT: What does +2AP mean?  Is this a bonus to the die roll, or is it about neutralizing armor?  (I can't seem to find the armor rules, that might answer it.)

* I took 'ex' (e.g. under mortar) for Expend, which confused me.  Maybe 'ext' is a better short form for extreme?

* Critical - it doesn't seem to say, but it seems like the implication is that being critical means you can't do much (other than cry for help maybe, and Push Past it).

* Crew: under-crewed weapons do less damage, but are just as effective in assaults (I think that's the implication of -1d)

* Flamethrowers are 'messy' AND 'area'. Is this right?

* GM moves: Thought of two that seem rife in what I've been reading lately:  Shot at by friendlies; Uncertainty whether those guys are friend or foe.

* Well-armed units - what does the 'when you attack' mean.  Is that when the players attack along with their unit?  (It seems weird for a well-armed unit, for example, to boost an individual's attack.)  Or does it mean you're so flush with ammo everyone can go bananas?

* Officer's logistics move: When a unit 'has surplus' does this mean they're restored to the default of 3 supply?


The Regiment / Fog of War
« on: November 09, 2012, 12:50:53 PM »
I was thinking about the Assess move, and it occurred to me that the fog of war of th tactical environment was particularly dense in the 20th century.  In previous eras, you could stand in your formation and look around the battlefield.  But in WWII, firepower was so deadly that to stand up and have a gander puts you at serious risk of being brained by a sniper, or riddled by MG bullets.

In Tonight We Die as Men, there's an account of paratroopers fighting just inland of Normandy against stiff German resistance and it takes them several hours of enduring very heavy fire before they realize that the supporting unit on their flank is no longer there and that they're totally exposed.

Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, radios and GPS become a lot more portable so that while the battlefield might still be horribly messy, more information is available about how units are doing.  (Though I don't want to overstate this.)

I'd love to hear more informed thoughts!

The Regiment / Regiment w/o AW
« on: October 31, 2012, 03:12:31 PM »
So, I was fortunate enough to play in John Harper's 'Bandit Razor' scenario this past weekend, and had a great time.  I'm warming up to running it for my Toronto posse.

1. Is it remotely doable without owning Apocalypse World?  (I have just bought AW PDF, but it has not yet arrived.)  My sense is that TR has drifted a long way from AW, but I'll probably be caught out by a number of conventions.  Ignore any questions below that annoy you for this reason.

2. Is there any kind of limitation on the use of Liberty moves?  Seems you could just pile them on, and some have no downside.  (Or does, say, Blow Off Steam use up your whole downtime?)

3. Is there any kind of roll-up of the rules that are sprinkled around the net?  A forum thread here mentions how to work out OP, and Paul's Market Garden AP thread mentions that it's cool to have multiple characters.  (My guess is no, wait for the game!)

4. What do you do if the players come up with a really crap (or awesome) plan?  For example, the Battle Plans section offers a neat template for the sorts of things the players should consider for various objectives, giving even novice GMs a sense of whether a plan is comprehensive (if not actually good) or myopic.  Does the GM hold this in the narrative cloud in his/her mind (which I suspect)? Do you ever tweak OP for the Engagement roll? Generally not an issue?

5. How do I throw money at you? :-)

6. NPC action vs. Unit Maneuvers - the choice between these is the number of NPCs, I take it?

7. The 'Setup' and 'Loud' weapon tags aren't explained, but the narrative is obvious.

8. Any special way of handling parachuting in?  I suppose it could be a wide variety of things, like the Engagement roll, Maneuver, Are You Crazy, depending on the narrative.

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