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Topics - Rafu

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Quoted from this Tumblr, answering a question from this other Tumblr, via this dirty-pics blog (NSFW, etc.):

why does so much post apocalypse media have people wearing straight up bdsm/fetish gear like. do the kinksters watch the world ending and think “oh boy i can wear my bondage gear in public now”

What I wanna know is why the spiky kink warriors are always the bad evil marauders. They might be into some weird shit and unafraid to show it but that doesn’t mean they want to go around killing dudes. They’re a tight-knit bunch. A lot of them are queer. They understand the importance of community.

If the government collapses and all laws come to an end, the people rampaging around killing and looting are gonna be like, frat boys and 4chan rejects. You can mistrust the bondage raiders all you like but they’re definitely the ones you’re going to run to for help when the neoliberal blood cultists and Nazi meme demons lay siege to your survivor enclave. There’s gonna be gayboy berserkers busting up slaver gangs and burning down warboy frat houses. The assless-chaps leather daddies and weird petplay people are gonna be the accidental peacekeepers of the post-apocalyptic world just because they’re the only motherfuckers who understand the importance of consent anymore.

Listen. Don’t come to me asking how to get the secret cadre of bisexual death commandoes to protect your wretched tent village if you’re scared that we might call in the kinksters for backup. I don’t give a shit if they dress up like dogs and spend all day writing poems about butt plugs. There’s assholes out there acting like Vlad the Impaler on a meth bender and you’re afraid of seeing a nipple. Fuck you. If you really want to get rid of the MRA death gangs you’re going to have to accept that a lesbian chainsaw dominatrix or two might be involved. It’s the fucking post-apocalypse my guy we gotta weigh our priorities here

Freebooting Venus / The moves and me
« on: November 06, 2016, 08:41:59 PM »
After ten or so sessions of GMing Freebooting Venus, I sort of feel qualified to comment on various parts of the game and how well they're working for me and my group. It feels like a natural thing to do - I hope it's going to be useful feedback. I'm going to start with the moves, one by one.

Demand Something
This is one of the moves they most often make (second only to Recover, Regroup & Prepare, but barely). That's probably because it feels like a "versatile" move we can stretch to cover quite a wide range of fictional situation - for example, Enrico's PC Vetin often tries to get her way out of trouble by telling outrageous lies and, more often then not, we resolve that as Vetin effectively demanding that people believe her bullshit. Demands to be left alone are also matter of course.

As a GM, it feels different from any other move, in that it always requires me to inject new content into the current situation - effectively making a move of my own on the PCs - even on a hit. Which is actually great, most of the time: by choosing to roll this move, they only make their situation more complicated. To me, that's always an opportunity to evolve trouble - sometimes escalating it, sometimes creating new connections between previously unrelated situations, and sometimes handing the PCs new "jobs" altogether. These things sometimes spring from my prep, but most of the time it's just content I improvise on the spot (and add to my game prep notebook later): sometimes this marks the beginning of a whole new adventure. That makes it a slightly taxing, but very fruitful move, when observed from the GM side.

Sometimes, though, it felt like a pity there wasn't a superior success option available (on a 12+ or whatever) to have the demand met with absolutely no strings attached - because, once in a while, why not?

The problem with this move is when a PC initiates it in a way that obviously signals their means to their end: when the demand, before rolling, is accompanied by a threat of violence, an extravagant bribe, or phrased as a bluff. The problem being that, as the GM, I find myself effectively having an extra layer of choice to make on top of what the move always asks of me, i.e., whether to give the PC a "free pass" or not. Let's say a PC lies to an NPC and threatens them with violence just before formulating a demand and rolling, and hits in the 7-9 range: I can take the cue and say "They'll do it if you deceive them and threaten them", effectively making it an unmitigated success from the other player's standpoint, or I can choose either 1 or 2 different options, thus complicating the current situation.

OTOH, when I choose "if you deceive them" and the player making the move isn't already performing some kind of bluff, it feels like I'm judging their performance, evaluating whether and when it's enough (and good enough) of a deception.

Freebooting Venus / New Spells
« on: October 23, 2016, 08:40:33 PM »
This thread is for posting any new spells we've designed, and for commenting on them.
I'm started it because I've just written down a spell I want one of my NPCs to have, and it's my first attempt doing so for this game.

In another topic, Paul asked:
In this earlier conversation, Vincent says that FV is a more "rules-first" game than AW (my words, not his):

I'm curious if that's something you've seen in play, or not.
Actually, between my 1st and 2nd session of play, I read most of the threads on this forum, including that one. This one line by Vincent looks especially meaningful:
Freebooting Venus isn't a "fictional triggers" game. Instead, it's all, "here are your moves, make them went you want to."
Knowing this, I really, really try to honor the principle, but I fear I end up only paying lip service to it. Good habits are hard to overcome - and in my case the habit is, when players say, for example, "I interrupt her", I always reply with "Cool! How?"
They know very well, I think, this isn't meant as a "no, you can't", but I'm genuinely asking for their input in making everything as vivid and concrete as possible - especially in case they roll a 6- and I have to come up with something to say.
Since I feel a bit guilty about that, I often remind them verbally that they're entitled to their moves, and similar language. I try to be proactive with such remarks as: "Would you like to Recover Regroup & Prepare, so that you can maybe study the situation and make a plan, perhaps quickly as well, or do you want to just Size Up the situation?"

My players, as well, don't really get this "not a fictional triggers" game. They're used to doing it the other way around. They don't usually name their moves, at all. They tell me "I do this and that", and ask me which move it is. They never go for the dice until it's me who orders them to do so.

Freebooting Venus / What about shields?
« on: October 08, 2016, 03:07:36 AM »
The weapon & armor lists in FV include neither shields nor firearms. Based on my knowledge of real world Terran weaponry, shields were a nigh-universal piece of equipment until personal firearms rendered them obsolete. Thus, I see five possibilities concerning Venus:
  • Firearms do exist on Venus, they just aren't included in FV, but will appear in some other "module" (Banners of War?). They've been widespread as weapons of war for long enough to drive the shield completely out of fashion.
  • Not firearms, but some different, fantastic weapon of war exists which has made shields useless and driven them out of fashion.
  • Firearms don't exist, but shields were never common on Venus or fell out of fashion for unrelated reasons. The only real world example I know of a land where shields don't ever seem to have been used is Japan, and that's quite puzzling: there, it probably has to do with horseback archery being the prime weapon of war for a long time, and their bows being large, so that carrying another large piece of equipment was very impractical; this drove an early evolution of swords towards large size and two-handedness and an evolution of armor towards including oversized shoulder-guards and other parrying pieces, long before the introduction of firearms in the 1500s. But this was a very local phenomenon in a small and very homogeneous culture of war - that it happens planet-wide is surprising.
  • There are shields: as military-grade equipment, they're just implied as part of heavy armor. All suits of armor worth 2-armor are assumed to include a shield, just as they include a helmet, etc.
  • There are shields, but specific rules for them just didn't made it to this first draft. Some possibilities include a shield providing bonuses to the Fight move (such as: extra +1 armor, but only if you've spent at least one on +armor) or negating harm when you sacrifice it, or providing an extra bad experience type to mark: "My shield was destroyed" or such.
The only reason I care is that I've been coming up with a couple shield designs this week, based on one weird general idea I had...

Freebooting Venus / A game I love to prep for
« on: October 05, 2016, 05:34:59 PM »
As a GM, I've never had as much fun preparing as I do with our current weekly Freebooting Venus game. Ever. On workdays, I keep looking forward to the few minutes I'll eventually get to spend in intimacy with my GM notebook like they were the sweetest of treats.
I'm starting this thread as a place to write about my prep (I'm not going to copy and paste my actual notes, especially considering most of them are handwritten, and in Italian) both as a data point (I figure it may be useful to Vincent to know how people are handling this part of the game, especially since more is implied than described in the current draft) and in preparation to eventually blogging about how much lonely fun I'm having.

In examining treasures, yesterday session, doubles were rolled for the first time. Twice.

For an item of historical significance and value, since the circumstances of the PCs acquiring treasure suggested small portable riches and currency (we remembered the treasure coming from re-selling a slain enemy's fine but distinctive weaponry on the black market, specifically to a certain drinking-smoke pusher, while carrying the enemy's corpse, rolled inside a carpet, to its designated disposal site in the worst part of town) I described ancient silver coins, a millennium old or so, with the effigy of an infamous wizard-emperor of yore.
I'm thinking of this as an "adventure hook", in that the PCs are probably going to look for a collector to buy the coins - some named NPC with their own agenda, and maybe not that easy to find - to exchange them with more (than just a unit of) treasure.

For an item of magical potency, I went with an actual magical item in the D&D sense - except I didn't want to mess directly with the rules of the game. Further, it had to be a piece of jewelery, since the treasure being examined was jewelery a wealthy lady had given the PCs in payment for the murder they carried out. I chose something I half-remembered from reading The Seclusium of Orphone: a pair of magical earrings of which the right one allows the bearer to go without sleeping because all their tiredness is transferred to the person wearing the left one, who thus has to sleep most of the time or will die of exhaustion. Needless to say, Nictus - the stern and ambitious necromancer - has plans for how to put these earrings to use already.

Freebooting Venus / Wizardry
« on: October 03, 2016, 03:36:00 AM »
So, the "ambitious necromancer" PC in our group, Nictus, is now one tick from getting the Wizardry skill (and quite determined to get it ASAP). Wizardry will let him resettle unsettled spell tablets, but is also the foundation to creating one's Grimoire -- a part of the game which has yet to be written.
Now, I know I'm being greedy, but, Vincent, would you share a piece of your mind? What's the general principle behind Grimoires which is expected to make them more than just unlimited magic slots? And are there going to be other steps in establishing one, besides being skilled at Wizardry?
I'm hoping you can provide a direction for the next step in Nictus's ambitions, within the framework of play we currently have - something like "amass spell tablets" or "move to spacious and quiet lodgings" - that fits within your general vision of doing wizardry on Venus.
Thanks a lot!

Freebooting Venus / The helpless are hard to kill
« on: September 28, 2016, 10:09:38 AM »
Here's one more...

One of the PCs in our game is an assassin-for-hire type (he started with Stealth and Sword-binding). Sooner or later he's bound to notice that he can't actually manage to murder a healthy human being by rolling the Attack Someone Helpless move!
On a hit, when you "inflict harm per weapon and armor", that's 2-harm minus armor for all listed weapons. Even if you get to choose their bad experience, per strong hit, these are your only options against an unarmored human NPC:
They’re taken aback.
They’re wounded, and flee.
They’re wounded, but press on.
There's no "you murder them" option, you see... Was this done on purpose?

If your target is wearing light armor, you can at best hope to mildly annoy them, while military-grade, heavy armor makes you effectively immune to surprise attacks from nonmagical weapons.

Maybe the conscious design decision is that you want murder to require teamwork:
If another PC helps you, but does not strike a blow of their own, they can add 1 to the harm you inflict.

OTOH, I could see the bad experiences list for NPC humans being broader - like, including 2-harm options that render a person unconscious or leave them at their enemies' mercy.

Freebooting Venus / Writing down your own ambitions?
« on: September 28, 2016, 05:19:09 AM »
When we go through the experience list at the end of a session, one of the players is like: "Nope, none checked - of course. I told you I didn't like swords & sorcery!"
(To which I usually reply: "What about keeping a fellow PC from committing an atrocity? I know you want to do that!", and she's like: "What a hopeless bunch! There's no way I can ever manage to keep them from doing what they enjoy so much.") :)

However, I know for sure she's actually enjoying our game. And this isn't a case of "I've had all the experiences I cared about so the game is over for me", either - actually, I think we all feel like the game has just started.

While responding to all the trouble which has been snowballing since the 1st scene of our 1st session (and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future - I guess I'm just good at making trouble snowball) it's obvious she's setting up objectives for herself. Specifically, her character has developed into a necromancer with issues about his upbringing as a necromancer and who morally disapproves of necromancy the way people in the setting usually employ it - as portrayed by me so far. Thus, he's growing into something like a "reverse necromancer" (that's what the player called it), constantly trying to use his necromancy skills to set right the wrongdoings of other necromancers in the city. And how could I, as a GM, fail to love such a development?

Also, in out-of-game chatter, she has half-jokingly stated some more objectives. She said she'd like her character to get a cat; I told her the easy way was through moving to better lodgings, and that, based on what little we know about cats on Venus, the alternative was bound to be quite the adventure. Considering what a rare, dangerous creature a Venusian cat is, those actually strike me as a perfectly valid, genre-fitting ambition and an equally valid, genre-fitting potential adventure.

What I'm now pondering is: should I customize the big list of experiences, adding a couple ones to validate a player's declared ambitions? I'm thinking such additions as:
  • I have set right a fundamental wrong.
  • I have permanently changed the customs of a city-state and the ways of her people.
  • I have acquired a most extraordinary being as my bound companion.
Vincent, what do you think of going this way? Have you walked it already and walled it off on purpose?

Freebooting Venus / Helping each other on Recover, Regroup & Prepare
« on: September 18, 2016, 06:27:02 PM »
If another PC helps you, both of you roll, and both of you get the effect of the better roll.
So, if three or more PCs all Recover, Regroup & Prepare together, and one of them rolls a 10+, they each get to choose 3 options, separately and independently from each other?
In the moment, it would have made more sense to us if they had to choose just 3 between all of them, and they all got the benefits from all 3 choices... the same 3 choices. This way, if they chose to study the situation and make a plan, they'd all be studying the same situation and making a common plan. But then, one of them wanted to consult with a ghost tutor, and do it quickly, while the others didn't have any ghosts to consult with...

My point is: when three PCs all roll to Recover, Regroup & Prepare in the same situation, they sometimes get the overall net benefits of making a grand total of 9 choices from the move, all applicable to the same situation. OTOH, if I mitigate this by ruling that they all have to choose the same options, I'm effectively ruling out all skill-based options. Should I limit this to a maximum of 2 PCs rolling dice, instead?

Also, it was sometimes a little tricky to judge when two PCs were in a position to help each other with this, because it depended on whether they intended to choose "regroup with your allies" as an outcome. Specifically, when three PCs were all in different parts of the city and they wished to reunite, in  order to exchange information and make a plan, they all rolled +Patient as they were helping each other on the move - it made sense, because they were all trying to meet. Then (only) one of them picked "regroup with your allies" as a choice, and they got to benefit from 8 more choices between the three of them.

One of the PCs has bought an estate with her first treasure roll, and all seem eager to improve their living conditions, so this is bound to become relevant soon enough.

This is from page 12:
Investing in Your Estate
Investing in your estate means employing people to work to improve it. Roll three dice and choose two among them:
1. You employ builders.
2. You employ a guard.
3. You employ laborers.
4. You employ a priest[ess].
5. You employ a servant.
6. You employ a specialist.
When you employ builders, choose 2, but don’t employ builders until you’ve already had laborers dig and lay your foundations. (...)

So it's a minimum of 3 steps before you can move in: buy land, dig foundations, employ builders -- though you'll probably want to employ builders multiple times before you move in, while you might get lucky and get to hire both laborers and builders on the same roll, or get an estate with old usable foundations as its charm.

This is from page 13, first column:
Moving to Your Estate
You can move to your estate as soon as you consider it habitable. Once you’ve done so, it no longer makes sense for you to spend your treasure to move to better lodgings. Now, when you examine your treasure and roll a 4, count it as a 3 to improve your estate.

And this is from page 13, second column:
4. Moving to Better Lodgings
When you move to better lodgings, (...)
If you own an estate, you can choose instead to employ builders, to invest in the improvement of your estate house.

There's actually three different rulings I can make out of it:

For the PC who owns an estate, rolls of 4 when examining treasure count as 3s (and the third quote above is just some fancy wording).

For the PC who owns an estate, a roll of 4 when examining treasure counts as a special case of improving their estate, where they skip the subsequent roll of three dice but they instead get the effects of rolling a 1 on it: to employ builders. This is different from rolling a 3 when examining treasure, in that they only get to employ builders, instead of employing people in 2 different functions, but they're warranted to get builders (thus, the second quote above is imprecise).
To honor the spirit of the law above its word, I'd rule that, for the PC who hasn't had viable foundations dug already, they get to employ laborers to dig the foundations instead of builders.

For the PC who hasn't yet moved into their estate house, same as B above. For the PC who has already moved into it, same as A. Thus, there is no mistake, contradiction or imprecision in the wording of the rules - it's just that the rules are quite intricate.

Which one is it?

Freebooting Venus / Dogs & horses
« on: September 13, 2016, 06:17:18 PM »
Both a question to Vincent and an idea poll.

"Evolution, when allowed its course, runs in certain channels", but exceptions abound, apparently. Bats aside, it looks like Venusian mammals are similar to (future) Terran mammals, but slightly "off".
When I think of a pre-industrial human society, I think of large numbers of canines and equines, the staple working animals, living alongside people and being employed for all manners of everyday tasks. How are Venusian dogs and horses like -- or what other beasts do Venusians breed for steeds, cart-pulling, herding, keeping watch, hunting, etc.?

Freebooting Venus / Playest question: High Living
« on: September 13, 2016, 05:22:06 PM »
Started playing this on Sunday, with the usual suspects - same 4 people I've last played a full season of AW with. We've had a lot of fun so far, those of us who are into swords and sorcery and also Barbara, who doesn't quite like the genre. A lot of the fun during the 1st session came from the lodging random tables: they're wonderful! 2nd session scheduled next Sunday.

Now, for my first question (confirmation?). When we examined treasure (two out of four adventurers had 1 piece of unexamined treasure each), on first read I thought the effects of high living were in addition to any other treasure results - so that one PC rolled two dice for 1 unexamined treasure and got to lay the foundations of an estate plus high living, and the other got to move to better lodgings, also plus high living.

After rereading the rules later, now I think it was supposed to be either what you get from the roll or high living. So, one player on rolling 2 & 3 could have chosen to hire someone's service or to lay the foundations of her estate or high living, while the other on rolling 1 & 5 could have obtained a new piece of equipment or paid off debts or saved ahead (but he had saved ahead already, so chose to spend his savings on new lodgings) or high living.

So, which reading of the rules is right?

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