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Messages - Vasco A. Brown

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Apocalypse World / Re: Images [visual] of Apocalypse World
« on: October 03, 2011, 04:17:36 PM »
This Mad Max fan gathering took place only about three hours from where I live. I'm seriously considering going next year.

Apocalypse World / A Custom "Seize By Force" Move
« on: January 18, 2011, 03:46:23 PM »
'm currently putting together my fronts for the second session of my group's new Apocalypse World campaign, and I put together the following reworded Seize by Force move in order to address the issue I have it. Specifically, that the character making the move is guaranteed to take harm even on a 10+.

I very nearly ported in John Harper's engage in violence move from his Eye of Chaos hack as a custom move (supplemental to Go Aggro and Seize by Force), but I ened up going with the move detailed below.

I still plan on using the standard Seize by Force move as written in the book for the remainder of our campaign to see how it works in extended play before making any changes. However, I wanted to share it here because I was curious if anyone else with the same issue did something similar for their game. Or if not, what reasons they decided to keep the move as written.


When you try to seize something by force, or to secure your hold on something, roll+hard. On a hit choose 2. On a 10+, you outmaneuver your opponent, avoiding harm and inflicting it as established. On a 7-9, you and your opponent(s) trade harm as established.

  • you take definite hold of it.
  • you suffer little harm. Take -1 harm.
  • you inflict terrible harm. Take +1 harm.
  • you impress, dismay or frighten your enemy.

brainstorming & development / Re: Sorcerous World
« on: December 03, 2010, 10:38:18 PM »
Note that it's not "roll +sharp" or "roll +cool" or anything. It's just roll.
So long as you don't turn to the demonic arts, your life is hard, but straightforward.
With demons in the mix, things are easy, but everything's a complicated mess.

That is intriguing. I like how it functions like Act Under Fire, except with 7-9 element of sorcerous temptation. At the moment, I'm coming up short on examples in my mind of how to put a demonic spin on the 7-9 results, but I feel this (or some variation) is probably the best way to go.

Similarly, I was thinking about basing the Command a Demon move on Act Under Fire as well:

Command a Demon

When you command a rebellious demon to do your bidding, roll+need. On a 10+, the demon bends and obeys your will. On 7-9, the demon hesitates, or stalls: the MC can offer you a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice.

This of course emphasizes that the more a demon is in need, the harder it is to control. On the other hand, I could reverse the context and structure of the move and emphasize that powerful demons are hardest to control:

When a rebellious demon resists you command, roll+power. The demon acts directly against you, the MC will make hard move against you. On 7-9, the demon hesitates, or stalls: the MC can offer you a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice. On a miss, the demons bends and obeys to your will.

What if the Sorcerers don't have playbooks, but the demons do? Maybe take each demon type, and create two playbooks from it... like, Objects could form two different playbooks: Weapon & Relic, say.

An excellent idea. In taking the route you suggest, my instinct is to let the demon types be the playbooks themselves. I'll see about playing around with both implementations.

Thanks for your feedback!

brainstorming & development / Sorcerous World
« on: November 30, 2010, 03:26:50 AM »
My buddies and I decided to start a game of Sorcerer using the Apocalypse World rules, and it looks I've been tasked with the rules-heavy lifting. Below are only some preliminary ideas of how to implement the hack, so any comments or suggestions are very welcome.


It seems like in a game like Sorcerer, it's assumed that all the characters will be "weird" to some degree. Does it makes sense to keep it as a dedicated stat? I'm thinking about replacing weird with adept, representing sorcerous lore and experience. It might just be an exercise in semantics, but I'm going to try and tie increased adeptness in sorcerer to the humanity mechanics.


One way to handle moves would be to use the standard ApW moves, with specific sorcerous peripheral moves added. The other would be to, dump the standard ApW moves, have the new basic moves be all about sorcery, with one general "act under fire" move to catch everything else.

Either way, it's easy to see that the necessary moves are:

Contact a Demon: When you reach over to the other side and  contact a demon, roll+sharp. On a 10+, you contact a demon that matches you expectations. On a 7-9, you contact a demon close to what you desire, choose 1:

- the demon has a different desire.
- the demon has a different need.
- has different powers.

The MC will choose the new desire, need or powers as necessary.

Summon a Demon


Bind a Demon


Punish a Demon


Banish a Demon


Contain a Demon


Oh, and Open Your Brain works great as the demon move Hint.


Since over the course of the story the characters will be summoning and binding various demons, how necessary is it to have dedicated playbooks? I did notice that in the Sorcerer books Ron briefly mentions a few general archetypes (Fugitive, Seeker, Snoop, True Adept, and Warrior). Those do look interesting, specifically in they each might have various moves that give they advantages when dealing with various types of demons in various situations (bonus to summoning/banishing for the true adept, or bonus harm against demons for the warrior).


This would probably start at 0 and range from -4 to +4, with the two associated moves:

Humanity Gain: When you reaffirm your humanity, roll+humanity. On a 10+, you regain a piece of what it means to be human, +1humanity. On a 7-9, you gain nothing.

Humanity Loss: When you compromise your humanity, roll+demon's power (if summoning), or otherwise roll+adept. On a 10+, you loose yourself in a gratuitous display of inhumanity; -1humanity. On a 7-9, you lose a piece of yourself but otherwise maintain control, -1humanity. On a miss, you manage to hold to hold on just a little bit longer.


They only need one stat Power, ranging from -1 to +3. Here are a few of converted abilities/moves:

Armor: your demon gives you 2-armor. If you wear armor, use that instead, they dont add.

Big: your demon may gain or confer an increase of size ranging from a bear to an elephant.

Boost: your demon may confer +1 to any of your stats, except adept. While boosting, your demon is power=-1.

Hint: when you open you mind to your demon, roll+ sharp. On a hit, the MC will tell you something new and interesting about the current situation, and might ask you a question or two; answer them. On a 10+, the MC will give you good detail. On a 7–9, the MC will give you an impression. If you already know all there is to know, the MC will tell you that.

Hold: you can roll+ adept to have your demon restrain a target from moving. On a 10+, the target is completely paralyzed, unable to make even the smallest movements. On a 7-9, the target is immobile but still able to thrash and move it limbs.

Hop: your possesor demon is not bound to it's host until their physical death, and may change hosts at will, leaving behind either a shaken but basically ok host or a corpse, as appropriate. The demon must be able to touch it's new host unless it also has the Ranged move; the hop effect is visible and obvious unless it also has the Cloak move.

Link: you and your demon are aware of each others whereabouts and surroundings at all times. You may command your demon to return to you at any time, but cannot communicate otherwise.

Psychic Force: you can roll+ adept to have your demon unleash a psychic attack on the minds of your enemies (1-harm ap close loud-optional).

Ranged: your demon may attack (or use Special Damage, Hold or Hop) at distance (close).

Shadow: through your demon, you can control the degree of illumination in the immediate area (close), ranging from strong, indirect sunlight to absolute darkness.

Transport: your demon may carry others comfortablely during movement, including Travel; the passengers must not exceed ...

Warp: you may command your demon to alter the shape of unliving material. The effects lasts ... The demon must have Special Damage for there to be any damage done by this act.

I'll post more once I've had a chance to look over the Sorcerer book further.

brainstorming & development / Re: World of Conan
« on: November 19, 2010, 09:03:21 PM »
Hope I'm not to late to the party. I'd love to get in on the ground floor of something like this.

On a related note, I was browsing some Conan-related blogs and I thought these cultural archetypes might be of interest.

Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Ferris
« on: September 23, 2010, 09:59:53 PM »
Session 1, cont.

Kite climbs back up onto the pier and heads back towards Miss Emmy’s dinner. Along the way, she’s stopped by Princy and Abondo (from Twice’s gang) who ask what the gunfire was about. Kite says that she found some ‘intruders’ sneaking around under the pier, but that she took care of it. Princy is convinced the ‘intruders’ are raider scouts and prepares to go sound the alarm.

At that moment, Burroughs walks past singing an old tune his mother sang to him as a child and the strangeness of it causes Kite’s brain to open to the world’s psychic maelstrom [missing her roll]. Kite passes through a turbulent storm that whips and ravages her. Finally the maelstrom asks her “who do you regret killing?”

Kite is then suddenly in the wasteland as a small girl with her brother. The two are alone, starving, and near death from thirst. Kite is holding a bloody rock and a small canteen with their last swallow of water. Next to her, her brother is staring at her with wide eyes, blood streaming from a mortal wound on his head. “Why,” he asks over and over again, “Why?”

Kite collapses in front of Princy and Abondo. Burroughs sees this and direct-brain whispers for Princy and Abondo “not to say anything”. The two walk back to their barracks without speaking to anyone and Burroughs carries Kite back to Miss Emmy’s diner. As he places her in her bed, she  mumbles “I’m sorry. I was so thirsty”. Burroughs consoles, “Its it’s not your fault.”

The following morning, Burroughs is bathing on the beach underneath the pier when Missed’s body washes up on the shore. Burroughs pulls the body onto the sand and heads back up onto the pier towards Harridan’s place.

At the door to Harridan’s place, two members of Twice’s gang harass Burroughs. Burroughs says he found a body on the beach and one of the guards runs off to investigate. The other blocks Burroughs from entering, saying that since Harridan hadn’t called for Burroughs he must not want to see him. Burroughs tries to direct-brain whisper, but Pierre pistol-whips him for his efforts [missed roll]. Pierre puts the gun to Burrough's head and asks him what he's going to do about it. Burroughs responds that if Pierre hurts him Harridan will do worse to Pierre since Buroughs skills are much more valuable.Pierre finally backs off and lets Burroughs inside.

Inside Harridan’s place, Burroughs sees Dudley (one of Missed’s boyfriends who fled the ambush on Kite the night before). After hiding from Kite all night, Dudley is telling Twice that Kite killed Keeton (Missed's other boyfriend) and that he can’t find Missed. Burroughs tells them he found the body of a female on he beach, and the two rush down to investigate as well.

In the marketplace, Kite -- finally recovered from her experience with the maelstrom -- goes to see Matilda. Matilda handles the trade of the oddments scavenged by Wisher from the wasteland ruins. She has an ear for gossip and knows just about everything that happens in the hold. Kite asks Matilda to help her identify her attacker’s from the previous night. Matilda says she will, if Kite agrees to have sex with her, again. The two begin to undress; fade to black.

Back at Miss Emmy’s diner, Mercer wakes her to say that Casper (Cybell’s boyfriend) wants to talk to her. Casper says that Rum deserves to die for what he did to Cybell and that he hears Harridan won’t allow it. Miss Emmy explains that Harridan will deal with Rum fairly. Casper responds that Harridan had better, or else the people in Ferris who don’t agree with him will make sure of it.

Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Ferris
« on: September 23, 2010, 09:59:03 PM »
Session 1

It’s late evening. Rum (the bodyguard for Wisher, the local scavenger/trader) runs up to Kite the battlebabe outside Miss Emmy’s diner. He begs her to hide him because Twice’s gang (who run security for Harridan, the hold’s leader) is trying to kill him. Kite hides him under a tarp, behind some nearby barrels.

Inside her diner, Miss Emmy the maestro ‘d has her son/bouncer Mercer throw out Toyota because she’s getting fighting-drunk, again.

Outside, Missed, Princy and Abondo (from Twice’s gang) arrive shortly there afterward and ask Kite where Rum went. When Kite asks why they want him, Missed explains that Rum tried to rape Cybell and cut her up pretty bad in the process. Kite pulls Rum out of his hiding place, but Rum manages to kick free, knocking Kite down and runs off towards the end of the pier.

On the pier, Burroughs the brainer is taking his evening stroll. He sees Rum barreling towards him and hears Missed yelling for him to stop Rum.

Burroughs direct-brain whispers for Rum to “stop” [and rolls a 10+]. Rum sucks it up and whirls around wide-eyed, blood streaming from his eyes and nose, but he keeps backing away towards the end of the pier. Missed, Princy and Abondo catch up and surround Rum, and tell him they’re taking him to Harridan, alive.

Burroughs whispers again for Rum not to resist, and Rum goes semi-catatonic, mumbling for them to keep Burroughs away from him. Abondo carries Rum away while Missed and Princy follow.

When passing Miss Emmy’s diner, Missed tells Miss Emmy that Harridan wants to talk to her and to meet him at the usual place. As she's leaving Missed makes a smart comment about Kite being unable to handle Rum. Kite responds in kind and the two get in each other's faces. Missed takes a swing, but Kite easily avoid it. Kite intimidates Missed into backing down, but gives her a look as she walks away that says 'this isn't over'.

Missy Emmy gets ready to go see Harridan and asks Kite to accompany her.

The two arrive at Harridan’s place and Kite stays downstairs with the partying groupies while Miss Emmy goes upstairs. Harridan embraces her warmly and asks her to back him on an important play he's about to make. Emmy asks what it is and Harridan signals Twice to bring a tied up Rum down from the roof.

Inside, Harridan explains that yesterday, Newton, a representative from the Scarsdale settlement (a slaver camp, operating out of an old maximum-security prison) arrived in Ferris. Newton has offered to negotiate an arrangement of ‘protection’ for Ferris from the wasteland raiders. All they have to do is agree to send a regular tribute of slaves back to Scarsdale.

Harridan says that he can kill two birds with one stone by sending Rum as a slave to Scarsdale as punishment for raping Cybell. Emmy agrees to back him up at the meet he plans to hold the following day.

Harridan says that Buzz the local ‘fixer’ doesn’t have the equipment needed to help the injured Cybell, but Ruth the doc from Treble Hill might.

Just then, Burroughs, who had entered the room unnoticed, opens his brain to the world’s psychic maelstrom and sees Treble Hill presently being burned and pillaged by raiders. He relates this vision to the rest. Word of raider attacks is no surprise, but never this close to Ferris.

Miss Emmy says that as much as they desire to save Cybell, any group sent out for aid would certainly run afoul of the raiders. Harridan orders Twice and her gang to patrol the hold for the rest to the night.

Miss Emmy convinces Harridan to spend the night with her in her diner, promising to give him the best portion of her next crop of weed.

Twice rounds up her gang and tells Kite to come with them. Twice leads them to the armory and passes out weapons. She divides them into pairs and tasks them with watching the perimeter. Kite and Missed are paired up.

As they walk the hold, Missed suggest they check under the pier and Kite follows. Underneath, Kite is ambushed by two assailants. She shotguns and kills one, causing the other to flee in fear, leaving herself and Missed alone in a standoff. The two take cover behind the wooden struts of the pier as Missed fires of bullets and insults at Kite.

Using the darkness as cover, Kite sneaks around to flank Missed and the two grapple. Missed manages to wrest away Kite’s shotgun, knocking her to the ground. Kite throws sand in Missed’s eyes as she fires, and the glancing shot is stopped by Kite’s armor. Kite gets to her feet and attacks the blinded Missed, savagely beating her unconscious. Kite throws Missed facedown into the ocean and buries the other assailant’s body in the sand.

Apocalypse World / AP: Ferris
« on: September 23, 2010, 09:57:12 PM »
Things went extremely well for our first session. The group took to the rules swimmingly and were quite forgiving when I took a moment or two to think about my moves. Next time I definitely want to try and barf forth more apocalyptica and get my bloody fingerprints on everything.

The setting

The apocalypse left the world a blasted desert wasteland; sand, dirt and ash (think Mad Max meets Book of Eli). Getting anything to grow on a scale larger than a small garden is largely futile, and even that is difficult.

The hold of Ferris is a moderately-sized settlement located on a pier overlooking the ocean. The inhabitants have repurposed many of the old restaurants and buildings for shelter and other uses (what’s left of the old ferris wheel is used as a lookout tower, for example). Otherwise, the pier is littered with tents and other makeshift shelters used by the people.

Ferris is lead by a man named Harridan. A woman named Twice and her gang handle security.

Ferris’ primary resources are: the bazaar where Wisher sells and trades the oddments he and his crew scavenge from the wasteland ruins; the fish caught from the ocean by Fisher and his family; and the diner, run by Miss Emmy the maestro ‘d where there is much food and marijuana.

The cast

Miss Emmy, the maestro d'. A motherly, fifty-five year-old woman who enjoys providing rich food  and recreational drugs for people of Ferris.

Burroughs, the brainer. A mysterious young man, wrapped head to toe in layer upon layer of desert wear. Works for Harridan, the guy in charge of Ferris, as a kept brainer.

Kite, the battlebabe. Androgynous, twenty-year old wanderer who sells her deadly skills to make her scratch. She looks a lot younger (teenaged) than she actually is. Currently she helps out with security at Miss Emmys diner in return for room and board, as well as trouble-shooting for Harridan.


In our first session, the following relationships were established while setting Hx. Burroughs used to live in Ferris as a boy. He used to hang around Miss Emmy's diner while his parents went out scavenging in the wasteland. One day, when Burroughs was 12, they didn't come back. Soon afterward, Burroughs disappeared as well, going off to look for them. He has only recently returned to Ferris in the last few months. Burroughs has taken to hanging around Miss Emmy's diner regularly. He remembers her kindness from childhood and trusts her, but nevertheless has watched her carefully in secret on more than one ocassion.

Miss Emmy has taken special interest in Kite. This is partly because her own daughter, whom she lost at a young age would be about Kite's age. Also because she feels she can break through Kite's tough exterior to the vulnerable little girl inside.

Both Kite Burroughs both used to live and work in the Shills a hold several days walk from Ferris that has a reputation for exclusivity and luxe. The hold is run by a close-knit group called the elite, and headed by a man named Brain, the Shill's 'mayor'. The two worked for Dustwich, the Shill's former 'marshal'. Dustwich made a play to takeover the Shills and enlisted Kite and Burroughs' aid. When things went south, Dustwich was exiled, but Kite and Burroughs had each (separately) skipped some time before things actually hit the fan. They later recognized one other after running into each other in Ferris.

Apocalypse World / Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« on: September 13, 2010, 06:35:06 PM »
Peter, I think the thing to remember is that once the brainer has used up their hold 'punishing' their target for not following the command, they no longer have the 'stick' to force obedience. I think that's the built in limiter that keeps the move from getting out of hand.

As a rule of thumb, I figure the default is that a npc should generally follow In-Brain Puppet String commands unless it is something they are particularly adverse to doing. Of course, the specifics of the fiction always helps to make those distinctions.

On an related note; yesterday, in our first session, our brainer Burroughs got a lot of milage out of Direct-Brain Whisper Projection. At one point, Rum an attempted rapist was evading capture by the npc hardholder's goons and he ran by Burroughs as he was walking the pier. Burroughs whispered "Stop," to Rum and rolled a 10+.

I figured that Rum was convinced that the armed goons (Princy, Missed and Abondo) were going to kill him if immediately if he was caught, so he forced Burroughs hand and sucked it up. I described this as Rum whirling around to look at Burroughs, stumbling backward away from him as blood streamed from his eyes and nose.

After the goons surrounded Rum, telling him that they were taking him to the hardholder alive Burroughs whispered again for Rum "not resist," and again got a 10+. This time Rum went semi catatonic, mumbling for them to keep Burroughs away from him as they carried him away.

Apocalypse World / Re: manipulate and acting under fire
« on: September 10, 2010, 10:38:02 PM »
Let me see if I have a handle on this...

So, Proust and Ozair are PCs. Proust is trying to get Ozair to let him borrow Ozair's car. Proust rolls a 7-9 to Manipulate Ozair and chooses "if you don't do it, it's Acting Under Fire." Ozair says "Screw that! The last time you brought it back I had to replace two doors and a tire!", and stalks off.

So is it kosher for the MC to ask Ozair what he's doing next, instead of helping out Proust, and have him Act Under Fire on that (if it's a move, of course)? What if it's not a move? Like he says he just goes back to his bunk, gets drunk and goes to sleep? Would it be fair for the MC to save/hold that Act Under Fire until he makes his next move, or should it always follow immediately after the Seduce or Manipulate move?

Apocalypse World / Re: Another Go Aggro vs. Seize by Force question
« on: September 08, 2010, 05:03:31 PM »
Well, if we're looking at NPCs through cross-hairs, then I guess that's the golden opportunity to do so.

brainstorming & development / Re: Tribe 8 hack
« on: September 04, 2010, 03:01:21 PM »
First off, let me say that using the Outlooks as advancement sets is perfect, Bret. I wish I'd thought of that.

If you're concerned about the power of synthesis use, you could look closer at how trances will work. I believe the default assumption in T8 was that if you weren't taking the time to enter a trance (ie. conducting a snap trance) you were at a penalty to preform conjunctional synthesis.

Let's also not forget that missing a roll to "Touch he River of Dream" is no laughing matter either. The effects can be as mild as a slight blur of your perception between dream and reality (-1 ongoing), to being completely unable to distinguish between reality and the river (MC makes hard moves against you), to getting lost in the River of Dream completely.

As far as the differentiation between Jackers and Herites, one small suggestion might be to allow Jackers to advance to gang and Leadership rather than gang and Pack Alpha like the Herites do.

Looking over the rest, it seems to me like you've done an excellent job of translating the tribal aspects into moves. The following would be my suggestions:

Manifestation and Dance of Masks: On a 7-9, hold 2. The MC may spend 1 hold at any time to represent imperfections or inaccuracies in your disguise/deception.

Puppet Show: Shouldn't that be s-harm on a 10+ roll? Then again, I don't have my books in front of me.

Curse of Dream: On a 7-9 choose 1:

- Their appearance is altered in some unpleasant way for a session, -1-Hot for a sesion.
- They take -1 for a session
- They take 1-harm (ap)

I'm not sure what you can do with Eminences at the moment. I'll definitel chime in if I manage to think of something.

Apocalypse World / Re: Gaining Gangs, Followers and Holdings
« on: September 04, 2010, 02:10:55 PM »
Thanks for the response. I totally get what you're saying about moves as 'insurance' as to how they are able to affect the fiction. This was my thinking as well.

The primary reason I'm not to concerned about a PC gaining say, a gang and not having Pack Alpha is because of how Improvements work in the game. If a player really wants to be able to keep a tight lid on that gang and establish themselves as the leader, they can easily gain enough experience marks to advance in a single session (or two).

Apocalypse World / Gaining Gangs, Followers and Holdings
« on: September 04, 2010, 04:13:13 AM »
So, today I was re-reading Improvement chapter in preparation for running a new game next weekend and I pondered something that you all might help clarify for me. My current understanding is that a gangs, followers and holdings are 'things' in the sense that bikes, cars, guns are 'crap'/gear: they are not intrinsic parts of a character.

For that reason it would seem that you could gain a gang, followers or a holding through the fiction without marking experience and buying it with an advance - you just wouldn't get the Pack Alpha, Fortune or Wealth move go along with it.

Is this a correct understanding of the proscriptive and descriptive nature of the game, or am I completely off base here?

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