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Messages - Natalie

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No, unspent Wealth surplus barter goes away at the end of the session. See here.
The way I see it is that the barter you get from the roll doesn't suddenly land in your knee (and then disappear). Rather, it's the amount that we as a group agree that you can just raise, no questions asked, and give away as you see fit. No questions asked, both in-game and out: the amount you get from your surplus is the limit before we have to play out the interaction where you ask your lieutenant to bring up some jingle, and they ask back "okay, who do you suggest I shake down, boss"? It's not necessarily that the surplus barter is physically in the hardholders sole, discretionary custody (like a safe only they have access to), rather it's an abstraction of how the power dynamics and economics of the hardhold work, with the net result: up to X times per session, just say you rustle up 1-barter, and it happens. After that, it's not like your hardhold is depleted and everyone hates you, but if you want to move barter around, play it out.

I don't think so; rather, non-person nouns used to have the feminine and masculine "hon" or "han". See

I'm sorry if this feels like harping on an old topic, but my personal aha moment from reading this thread is this:

If a player rolls for a move, hits the roll, we resolve the hit, and then the player just looks at me asking what happens next... I make a move.

Even if it's immediately after the roll. Even if it was a hit.

After all, the principle is that when the players look at you, expecting you to say something, you choose a move and make it.

A misconception I've had for a long time (unaddressed and unarticulated) is that this can't happen. On a hit, the "hit effect" happens. On a miss, the "miss effect" happens. And on some moves, the "miss effect" includes getting an MC move in the face.

This ignores the time period immediately after a hit. What's the MC doing then? In my case, now that I look back on it, the answer has been "relying on mystical MC skills (i.e. not the game's rules) until the situation has changed a little and I start looking at my moves list again".

This model is (if I read this thread correctly) wrong. Some moves have a miss effect; if so, that happens, then if you turn to the MC they will make a move. Some moves only have "prepare for the worst" – which as a player sort of automatically improves looking at the MC saying "okay, so how fucked am I?" And that's what triggers the MC move.

Now, I'm not saying that the right thing to do is to throw the hardest moves you can think of at the players every time they hit a move. You still want to follow the dramatic rhythm you've got going. And more importantly, when I hit a roll as a player, I'm not likely to look at the MC and ask "so what happens?" Instead, I might go "okay that's great, so now that I'm in the car I wanna..."

I don't think I'm alone in this misconception. And by changing Seize by force from one that doesn't have a miss effect ("the miss effect is a hard move") to one that does ("so what, now we can't do a hard move on a failed Seize?") brought it to the forefront.

Does this seem reasonable?

I'm not sure what you mean by grammatical gender. If you're talking about the way e.g. German has der, das or die for all nouns, where der is masculine and die is feminine, i.e. implicitly giving all objects a gender, then Swedish doesn't have it. We have two grammatical genders, den and det, but neither is either masculine or feminine. So a table is just "it", we just have to types of "it" (and the way we divvy up nouns between them seems pretty arbitrary).

But I can tell you about pronouns!

We do have a lively discussion within Swedish RPG design, and Swedish language generally, about "he/she" and similar constructs; third person singular where gender doesn't matter, isn't known, or doesn't fit into the gender binary. In traditional Swedish written language, there's han (he) and hon (she), and if you want to remove gender you'll have to do (sometimes awkward) reformulations like "the person in question" or "the player" or whatever. But there is the gender-neutral pronoun "hen", first suggested in the 60's but gaining traction in the 2010's. However, there has been an online debate, much more polarizing than one would've hoped was necessary, with "hen" opponents calling it unnecessary or unnatural ("let's face it, every person is either male or female"). Obviously it's both a useful word (for contexts where gender really is unnecessary), a good word (allows non-binary people to assert their identity and have it respected), and a real word (people are using it, so it's a "real" word whatever you happen to think about it).

However, because of the venom spewed on "hen", a lot of people shy away from using it in formal contexts, and it's gained a sort of... visibility. It's like, it has the potential to be this very compact, utilitarian tool in RPG rule text, where you always talk about player A doing something to player B and then the game master does this other thing, and at no point does it have any relevance whatsoever who among them identify using he, she, or otherwise. But if you write a text like this, everyone's first reaction is going to be "wow, they are really using 'hen' a lot in this text" – even readers who themselves support the use of "hen"! It's become noteworthy, and stands out, and will probably have to be eased into written language for quite a while more before it feels natural to read. Which really is a shame. Why the fuck should it be so hard to consider a person divorced from their gender? (Spoiler: because of patriarchy and the gender binary.)

There are similar gender-neutral pronouns in English (e.g. Spivak) but they aren't, in my understanding as common or heavily pushed as "hen" in Swedish. In turn, you have the singular they (with a similar debate, of course). Sadly, it doesn't really work as well in Swedish as in English, probably only due to exposure – it still "sounds wrong" to too many people.

Now, the original AW has decided grammatical genders on most or all of the characters who show up in examples. I think all players and MCs in the examples, and the general "the player" and "the MC", use "she". We're considering different options on how to translate this. We really want to use "hen" – it's sad that this is the case, but using it in a printed book is a political action; one that all of us at Skepnad Studios support; and one that we also feel aligns with the spirit of the game itself. At the same time, we don't want it to get in the way of readability or text flow, so we don't want to overuse it. Bakers' choice to have irrelevant genders consistently be "she" deserves some sort of respect, but I'm also confident in saying that using "hen" won't clash with their intentions either.

After writing all of this, I realised your question might have been prompted by the Tigress, since it's gendered while "the Tiger" would read as ungendered. When it comes to animals, professions and probably a number of other categories of words I can't recall right now, yes, we usually have one male and one female version. Lärare and lärarinna mean teacher and teacheress respectively, for example. However, the evolution of Swedish for quite a long time has been to stop using the female form, and consider the male form universal. So "lärare", while originally/technically male, can be used about a female teacher no problem. For a few exceptions, like "sjuksköterska" (nurse), the female form has become the accepted gender-neutral one.

This means that if you want to construct a playbook name from a verb, like "driver", you would use the "technically male" variant, and no-one would bat an eye. For "förare" (driver), like many others, you could construct the feminine "förarinna" if you really wanted to, but it would just sound archaic or made-up. So other than the battlebabe, all playbook names are nouns or "verb-ers" that are essentially gender-neutral. With the battlebabe though, I really like the fact that the English name is gendered, and would like to preserve this property. And while "tiger" (same word in Swedish) would read as gender-neutral, "tigrinna" (tigress) does have different connotations. There are associations not just to the jungle but to amazons; not just to felines but to cat burglars, Catwoman. A tiger is dangerous, a tigress is dangerous and sexy. It's not perfect, and I'm still unsure on whether it's the best choice, but I do like it. It being gendered, though, is a deliberate choice, and not a limitation of Swedish (more than the fact that "babe" reads as feminine is a limitation of English).

I hope I'm making sense, despite using all these Swedish examples that probably look like, heh, Greek to some of you.

I think the thing that makes me the most unsure of myself is the "spoken language", often ungrammatical, that shows up not as transcripts of dialogue, but in the general explanatory text. Stuff like "You're taking turns, but it's not like taking turns, right?" or "For most of the characters, the special sex moves apply when they have sex with another player's character, not with oh just anybody, but for a few of them, oh just anybody will do."

Because there's a whole spectrum between "ungrammatical in the exact same way as the original", "ungrammatical but that's how I'd actually say it" and "grammatically correct because it actually sounds better that way".

And of course, playbook names. I haven't found a way to translate the Battlebabe by using words for "battle" and "babe" (that aren't really bad puns), so my top contender right now is Tigrinnan – literally "the Tigress". I really like it, but I'm also very afraid that I'm messing up something subtle really bad.

On the whole it's been very fun and rewarding, though!

Apocalypse World
– Undergången kom –

Ingen minns hur eller varför. Det kanske aldrig var någon som visste. De allra äldsta överlevarna har barndomsminnen från när det hände: städer som brann, samhället i kaos och sedan kollaps, familjer som flydde i panik, de sällsamma nätterna när himlen brann som av blodröd midnattssol.

Nu är världen inte längre vad den var. Se dig omkring: tveklöst, bevisligen, inte vad den en gång var. Men också om du sluter ögonen, öppnar din hjärna: något är fel. Där, precis där du inte riktigt kan höra det, något som ylar, ofrånkomligt, fyllt av hat och terror. Från detta, världens psykiska malström, kan ingen av oss skydda sig.

What's this?
It's Apocalypse World translated into Swedish! Today, Skepnad Studios proudly unveil their biggest RPG project ever: the official Swedish translation of Apocalypse World 2nd Ed.

Who are you?
Skepnad Studios are a small but broad publisher, whose previous projects include system-agnostic supplements such as NPCs of the Wasteland and the recently Kickstarted loot cards UNITS.

The translation is done by me, Jonatan Kilhamn. I have been a big AW fan since the first edition came out back in 2010, and was first contacted with the intention of having me consult on how the game works. After working more with the text, I asked if I could do the whole translation!

When will it happen?
The text is translated in full, which means we now start working in earnest on the actual book, with all that entails. Our plan is to have it published sometime this spring, but it's unwise to make any promises at this stage.

One of the first things we need to do now that the text is translated is to proof-read. Do you speak Swedish, and are interested in helping us out? We'd appreciate your help! Read more in this thread over at the Swedish RPG site

Are you hype for AW in Swedish? I'm hype!
Jonatan Kilhamn, at Skepnad Studios

In the basic refbook at, go aggro reads as follows:
"When you go aggro on someone, make it clear what you want them to do and what you’ll do to them. Roll+hard [...]"
In the preview pdf of the 2nd ed book, it has the old reading:
"When you go aggro on someone, roll+hard."

Is this a mistake, or has it been updated again after that refbook was posted?

Also, in 2nd ed, the reading moves say to ask 1 anyway on a miss (and prepare for the worst, i.e. MC move). However, the examples of play for both in the book include an example of a player missing the roll, and only getting an MC move in the face immediately, without asking a question. Maybe the player gets to ask a question after the example ends, but that isn't very clear. If the intention is that the MC can do as in the example, and simply forgo the 1 question, then that should be clear.

Apocalypse World / Re: Weapon Tags (Specifically "Slow")
« on: October 05, 2016, 04:29:04 PM »
(It's the sound of a boomerang, whooshing each time it spins in the air, moving first away and then back to the thrower.)

Apocalypse World / Re: Brain Relay: Argh
« on: September 06, 2016, 06:38:25 AM »
That's a really cool idea – just make sure everyone around the table is aware that you're playing with this possibility, since it's not implied by the exact wording. Some moves operate on "has to be able to see you", and some on "time and physical intimacy". The brain relay makes "able to see the brain relay" work as if it were "able to see you", but doesn't say anything about physical intimacy.

If I were the MC though, I'd allow it, if the brain relay was something that the brainer intended for other people to get intimate with (such as the cuddly doll).

(The violation glove operates on similar logic, allowing "physical contact" to replace "time and physical intimacy". Just to go munchkin on the house-rule of a brain-relay cuddly doll, you could let your brain relay doll wear the violation glove, and then only need the victim to touch the doll('s gloved hand)!)

Apocalypse World / Re: Weapon Tags (Specifically "Slow")
« on: June 11, 2016, 03:18:23 AM »
That line, "take specific action to reload", is the same follow the fiction / the fiction decides as anything.

What it does is differentiate weapons where we don't care about when the reload happens and the ones where we do. With any handgun that doesn't have the reload tag, you just keep shooting during an action scene and if it's even remotely possible that you have enough bullets and time to shove them in, that's just assumed to happen. I mean, you can always construct extreme cases like "I stand overwatch, shooting a steady one round per second, from now until forever", obvs the lack of a reload tag isn't going to keep the MC from having you reload at some point. Same thing as selling infinite knives one by one.

What the "specific action" line gets at is that for those weapons, after using it the player actually has to describe how they reload the weapon. Not in detail, but state that reloading is what they do. If they have the ammo, and have time and safety to do it, that's all there is to it. But the act of stating that at the table means it's something people think about. The player is incentivised to plan their violence so that it allows them that time and safety to reload; so for example, to drive out a whole gang, with an ak47 you can start shooting in their midst but with a shotgun you'd prefer to be behind cover for some up-shoot-down-reload. The MC is prompted to think about what happens during the reload—and again, if it's short and well-planned, maybe the answer is "nothing, it's damn quick". But maybe someone hears it. Maybe an inexperienced character fumbles with the shells, and that means when they pop up, Machete Millions is closer than you thought. Everyone is reminded that yeah, their ammo stores actually dwindles with every combat.

In contrast, non-reload weapons only require ammo inasmuch as the MC and players actively remember to think of it. Otherwise they sort of operate by action movie logic.

The autofire tag is interesting: if you take out people one by one, no-one cares about exactly when one magazine ends and you start on the next one. But lay down sustained fire to get the 'area' effect, and without fail, you're shooting 'til it starts clicking, no more, no less. There is no way in AW to empty the whole mag except for one bullet. After using autofire, the explicitly described fiction (as implied to the fuzzier implied shared fiction) must include that weapon being reloaded if it's to be used again.

So yeah, to repeat Daniel Wood's observation: it doesn't say "take an action" because actions aren't formalised like in DnD where you get X of them each turn. Instead, it says "take action" because it requires you to take action. And to do it, do it.

Apocalypse World / Re: Need a download!
« on: May 18, 2016, 07:15:41 AM »
I'd suggest to get in touch with Baker himself. He has an email address that I'm sure you can find somewhere; it involves his screenname "lumpley".

Apocalypse World / Re: Some character portraits
« on: April 27, 2016, 04:24:16 AM »
I can't see the images (probably an error on my end though), but I just wanted to pop in and say that Mother May I is a fantastic name for a Hocus. Kudos to whoever thought of that one! (Captain Matey is pretty funny too.)

Apocalypse World / Re: A calmer apocalypse?
« on: April 21, 2016, 09:37:05 AM »
I'm actually starting to question what I meant by "the last two times". I have three games that might apply, but one of them was Dream Askew, and one was AW:Fallen Empires.

Last time I played AW, I did exactly what I describe. It was a group where one of the players had played with me several times before, two were new to AW, and one new to roleplaying in general. I talked a bit about the maelstrom: what it's defined to be, what it can possibly turn out to be, highlighting the high variance both in terms of behaviour (does it only ever allow people to gain information, or does it take over people's actions, manifest physically etc) and possible explanations (can it be explained as a "collective unconscious", a field generated by alien psychic satellites, is it practically magic). I stressed that we need not ever decide on a plausible explanation during the game, and if we do we need not reveal it, but I brought up the point that in different games, the maelstrom varies along that axis of explicability.

I also said that despite what I said about my preferences, I would obviously be a fan of any Brainer or Hocus, and allow them the full results of using the maelstrom to further their agenda; I wouldn't want to cripple them in the interest of grounding the maelstrom.

At least one player was still eyeing the Brainer for a long time, but in the end they chose the Maestro D', Angel, Battlebabe and Savvyhead.

Some of them opened their brains at various times – I don't remember very well now. I did the usual thing of asking what it was like for them, and it sort of coalesced into visions and sounds. I did remind them that different people are allowed to experience the maelstrom differently, that's why I ask every character the first time they do it – but they ended up using pretty similar descriptions. This might have been a consequence of wanting to keep it grounded; I guess it feels more gonzo to claim that it's the same thing but it's perceived completely different for different people.

Now, I did decide after about a session what I wanted the maelstrom to be, and kept it in the background until I had sort of given the players a few chances to provide input that might disrupt it. When they didn't, I started treating it as my prep, in the sense that I say what my prep demands. The idea was one that had been kicking about in my mind for a while, namely on wireless computer-to-brain interfaces. I imagined that in the Golden Age, the technology that today only allows a human with electrodes on their head to controla computer, eventually grew wireless, and then bridged the gap in the other direction, so a computer could induce sensory stimuli in the human brain. When this technology had become ubiquitous (a mind-router in every home), some sort of virus or cyber-attack catalysed the end of the world (details unknown).

The Savvyhead found one of these mind-routers, without knowing what it was, and most of her workspacing ended up centering around that. She took Augury pretty quickly. An old woman showed up, drawn to the signals. She was addicted to the higher level of being she had had as a cyborg, so she felt crippled trapped in her human-baseline senses. Long story short, the town distrusted the mind-machine and rallied in a lynch mob to take it from the Savvyhead and destroy it. This was sort of the "Savvyhead's subplot", while the other three were more involved in the snow scooter raiders threatening the town. After the raiders had been taken care of, we spent the last session wrapping up the mind-machine plot.

The mind-machine had every potential for making the Savvyhead Charles Xavier, and turning the game into X-Men. By discussing our preferences beforehand, we all pulled in the same direction, which was that the maelstrom should be mystical, weird, but on the purely physical plain I guess non-impressive. If the correct reaction to the maelstrom had been "oh my god this changes everything we know about the world, and if I can harness this I will rule the wasteland", well, then the game pretty quickly turns into that. I like the maelstrom, but I don't want the premise of every AW game to be "the world's gone to shit, but there's this maelstrom that has the potential to change everything – who will control it?" That's a cool game, but sometimes I want "the world's gone to shit, you're playing the coolest people around, can you make something that will last?" In the same way that we can have a Chopper with really cool bikes without having the entire game revolve around who gets the bikes, I want the maelstrom to be part of the setting without being the most important resource in the world.

It was an important element to our game and narrative, don't get me wrong. The story of the old woman who wanted her old computer-augmented life back, and the Savvyhead eager to help and curious to understand, was a quite gripping tale, pushing the same buttons for me as e.g. Ghost in the Shell.

I don't know how well my solution generalises. The end result, the exact maelstrom we got, was pretty much the product of my own mind; it was apocalyptica that I dreamed up but waited a few sessions before inflicting on the game.

What actually happens when you do "the talk" beforehand like I did, I think, is that you limit the players' view of their choices. Without it, someone might open their brain, experience it as an alternative dimension, fine. Then next time, they ask "can I bring someone else into that dimension?" The next time, "I open my brain and try to find person X". The next time, "I want to open my brain, and when I'm in the maelstrom, I want to focus my entire being on hurting person X". And so on. And before you know it, superpowers. It can be cool, but what I don't like is that the game sort of naturally gravitates towards it – mostly since it can never move in the other direction; you can never de-power the maelstrom during the game. It's a genie-bottle situation.

As I said, we had a Dream Askew game that was pretty similar, maelstrom-wise. I don't care to recall details, this post is long enough. We also played Fallen Empires, and we had a Mystic (Savvyhead) who talked to spirits. That maelstrom pretty quickly became a spirit phone – "sure, we'll just commune with spirit X!" but it was kept limited to that kind of communication, and more importantly, it was only available to the Mystic. In fact, it was the first time I felt that I really manages to make the Savvyhead cool – since "can I do X with magic" "sure! You just need X, Y and Z" is easier for me to use to encourage doing cool stuff, than the corresponding "can I do X with weird tech". I think I'm just not very good at thinking in terms of weird tech (I might be too grounded). But yeah, non-Mystic characters opening their brains kept it to passively listening to the spirits in their vicinity, sort of.

Apocalypse World / Re: A calmer apocalypse?
« on: April 18, 2016, 05:57:49 PM »
I like to bring up my long-standing beef with how gonzo the maelstrom often turns out. I solved it the last two times by describing hat usually happens, saying that I don't like it or at least would like to try something more grounded, and checking the groups reactions. They seemed to agree, or at least not having much stake in the whole thing so accepting that we play a more grounded maelstrom. And then we did.

I think the same thing is possible here. Start out the first session, before even picking playbooks, by describing as you did in the OP what it is you are growing tired of. Chances are your group will be able to work with you to keep things grounded; to play their characters as realer people (or rather, as people who are closer to real modern-day sensible people, rather then real 50-years-after-the-apocalypse people in that they respond to anything with violence); to keep their maelstrom conspiracies slow-cooking.

I didn't read the thread very carefully but I saw people were talking about slowing down the rate of XP. If that's something you think help, then I can personally attest for the "if you've shown your [highlighted stat side] this session, mark xp" approach. It works like a charm for us, and a highlight becomes an incentive more to generally "try approaching things with this in mind", rather than "find a scene where you can roll this stat as many times as possible". We mark twice for each highlight fulfilled at the end of session, but you could bring it down to only once if you really wanted a slow-burning game.

As an MC, allow yourself to sometimes respond with... I don't want to say a boring move, but something that brings more of a feeling of slow creeping dread and hopelessness, rather than in-your-face "that's gotta hurt" or panic. Moves snowball, sure, but sometimes the urge to keep moves snowballing means escalating up to violence every time, and suddenly your holding is in flames even though it's just the third session. Eschew the "when in doubt, ninjas attack", don't escalate the situation. Have a failed roll sometimes mean they spend the entire day wasting their efforts on a dead end approach, and they return to the holding late at night after they've run out of food and water. Cut to the next day. That's not really a snowball, but it can be very effective at conveying that sometimes, life just moves on, except you're in a slightly worse position than you were yesterday, you can't keep this up forever, what do you do today? Obviously, only sometimes. You'd pretty quick get into making the characters' lives boring if every failed roll was met with hopelessness and attrition.

Apocalypse World / Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« on: December 27, 2015, 08:50:02 AM »
One point (maybe mentioned above) is that post-apocalyptic people are, as a rule, good at some thing and really shit at others. There are exceptions, but that's the rule. And it's shown through the read a sitch questions. You're in a canyon and catch wind of an ambush? Just roll+sharp and you might get just the answers you needed. You find a corpse with the murderer long gone? It's fully within your rights to tense up and start scanning the scene for hidden enemies, noting your best escape route, pulse racing... But it ain't gonna help you keep your head cold and solve the murder. You need a savvyhead perhaps, with things speak (I think I'd judge a fresh corpse to be "something interesting"), or maybe you could open your brain. But reading a charged situation, as others have said, doesn't cover a cool, collected crime scene investigation.

Your problem with the Gunlugger situation isn't that read a sitch ought to cover those kinds of questions. They're very limited because they speak of a limited mindset and skillset of post-apocalypse people. Your problem is that in addition to reading sitches like other sharp people of their setting, that Gunlugger (your group seems to agree) ought to a good tracker. My solutions: if they had high weird, I would have suggested handling tracking by brain-opening. I could also whip up a custom move, or simply say "yeah, you're a hunter, obviously you have no trouble following blood trails" and then just give them answers, no move. Especially if your answers, as you say, are rife with off-screen and future badness. That's pretty much textbook "everyone looks at you, expectantly", i.e. you get to make moves.

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