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Messages - Arvid

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Apocalypse World / Re: Announcement: The End of Limited Edition Playbooks
« on: September 14, 2013, 06:34:57 PM »
Can we still make silly challenges and give away these playbooks (that are being sold for money) as rewards?

Apocalypse World / Playbook focus: The Savvyhead
« on: September 13, 2013, 01:27:47 PM »
Jesus, these things just keep getting bigger!

If there’s one fucking thing you can count on in Apocalypse World, it’s:
things break.

The Savvyhead is an inventor, a mad genius. His moves emphazise intuition and spookiness, and his defining feature is the workspace, which lets him potentially build, discover or engineer anything. His primary stat is Weird.

My take on it
First off, I love the workspace! It's almost like a little MC move and principles package in itself: Have the player tell you what they want, then offer an oppertunity and a cost for doing it. What is so awesome about the Savvyhead is that given time, he could potentially solve the apocalypse with his workspace – And I definitely feel he should give it a shot!

So, the first thing to do as a Savvyhead, unless something more urgent pops up, is to tell the MC ”I want to stop the acid rain” or ”I want to reverse the grey goo that's eating up our land” or ”I want to neutralize the technohound threat”, or ”I want to control the maelstrom” or what have you. The MC will tell you what you need to do, and it'll surely require risk, time, resources and intel or contacts, but hey – you're on your way to save the world.
History's greatest Savvyhead certainly tried to save the world.

Alternately, if utilitarism is not your thing, tell the MC ”I want to build a battlestation to take control of this sad ravine”, ”I want to make a maelstrom-based spy drone system to find out everyone's dirty secrets”, or ”I want to build an army and/or harem of cyberpuppets”
”They're my friends, I made them” indeed

If you want it, if you're ready to work and suffer for it, you've got it! Even weird imaginative stuff that we would never expect to work or even exist. ”Hey, just how does this work? Eh, it's Apocalypse World!”

Vincent writes to the MC (The characters' crap page 248) that for a too difficult project, you might as well say no, but I feel you should always say ”yes” to the Savvyhead's projects. Actually, you are not just saying ”yes”, but saying ”yes, and...” and then you add to the player's idea with interesting and challenging steps to completing the project – It's the ultimate improv device!

Remember that huge projects can have nested projects consisting of expanding one's workspace (page 249) or creating prototypes or confirming working hyptotheses, and if the Savvyhead has to enlist the help of other characters, that's just a boon.

All too often when MC'ing Apocalypse World one shots at conventions I see the Savvyhead picked by a player who wants to hang back, stay out of trouble and relate to things instead of people. You could take this for a feature rather than a bug, since it gives the slightly timid and nerdy player some space to play in. But if you're relying on all of your players to be proactive in the fiction it could be a problem, and for the Savvyhead concept to really get going, I think it should be played boldly.

That the Savvyhead invites safe solo play is no surprise though. First we have th Hx options, which basically says ”I'm weird, leave me alone”. Then there's the workspace. I mean, the Savvyhead is defined by the tech-cave or tech-mobile he is holed up in. So, make sure you ask about how the Savvy keeps her workspace working, how does he get food, water, tech, and security from tech-stealing scumbags? Who helps him? Of course the workspace in itself gives golden opportunities for this: Go get this thing from this person, go get this person to help you, etc.

And also ask about the tech-cave, have the player make it a magical and eerie and interesting place that other players love to visit with their characters . I'm talking Willy Wonka shit here, or maybe rather Alice's wonderland shit. There are lots of weird characters, but the Savvyhead is defined by their space, so make that space weird too. Just as the church of the Hocus can be a horrifying, serene or awesome (in the classical sense) place, the workspace of the Savvyhead should be something special.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Savvyhead blurs the line between technology and mysticism, which I feel is a brilliant take on it, and somewhat unique I think. It's hard to find this archetype in western media, most often it's the mad scientist stereotype; I had to go to anime to find my film clips for this article.

And it's not just the typical electricity and cogs, the Savvyhead transcends that shit and also deal with relics, organics and stuff of maelstrom. The line between mystic and scientist is irrelevant to the genius of the Savvyhead. All weird characters have a heavy say in what the maelstrom is, but the Savvyhead most of all. Presumably driven by curiosity and mastery, the Savvyhead actually has a bid to understand, systemize and control the maelstrom.

Don't we all feel alternately comforted and mystified by technology? Right now I'm sitting in a local coffee house, writing this. I look around me, and most people sitting here by themselves are immersed in the glow of their smartphones, tablets and laptops, safe in the lullabys of gizmos and the digital music flowing out of the establishment's speakers. I look at my laptop screen. It's busted, a screw is missing and a lever is off, but it's hold in place with a bent paper clip, a clothes peg and some duct tape. The place has free wifi, but trying to connect to it does nothing, my laptop just searches for the connection, fails, tries another wifi located a few hundred metres away, don't ask me why as I've already removed that network from the settings, and then starts anew to my befuddlement.

I think the Savvyhead holds a special place in our technology-satuated society of today. Technology can't love you back, but it can soothe you and you can make it do exactly what you want as long as you're smart enough. Not like unpredictable real persons. Merge with it, and you're omnipresent. It's like the psychoanalytic mother; let her womb embrace you.

Here's some real nice existentialism (or at least existentiobabble) wrapped in technology:
Did I just link to the entire Ghost in the Shell movie? Oh yes I did. It's all good. Yeah okay, except the robotic fanservice maybe, but I'm sure you can make some kind of maternity-technology-sexuality parable out of it.

Why the Savvyhead is the best playbook to play:
With a vision and the endurance to push it through, you can save the world, or anything else you want to do. You get to be a weird visionary genius and enslave the maelstrom with your genius. Sure, everyone can open their brain, but you're a scientist, in some weird way, and can apply methodology to map out, contain and control the maelstrom. You have a big say in defining and exploring it.

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
A possibility. A rabbit hole into the maelstrom and beyond the maelstrom. A rabbit hole which can be explored. A chance to redefine this miserable burnt-out world, or maybe escape it.

A space in the world that is not just measured in miles or kilometres, just as space is just a matter of ”eat me” and ”drink me” in Alice's wonderland. Yeah, that's what your workspace should be like, a rabbit hole open to you and the other players to discover the wonders and horrors of science-mysticism. Even the prosaic works of the Savvyhead, like creating a surviellance and defense system, a food production or a way to cross the acid lakes change the very world the characters live in and the conditions they have to deal with.

Fundamental scarcities of the playbook:
So, there's a real risk the rabbit stays in his hole, that needs to be either addressed or the game needs to adjust. The playbook doesn't really communicate the aggressive, visionary play that I advocate in this article, and maybe it's not intended to either. Either way, I believe the Savvyhead if anyone should be proactive and fired up about his projects, ready to take an active role in the world, place himself in the social web that is Apocalypse World and adventure/negotiate/swoon/steal his way to the components and help he needs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, just like the Operator, the Savvyhead needs some time for his projects to pay off, so there needs to be a certain scale of time to the game. In that way I get what Vincent is saying about nixing to difficult projects, there's no fun in working on a single project that never ends. Roleplaying needs to have continous feedback to be fun and interesting, so have the Savvyhead complete or get new things or possibilities continuesly, MC letters are good tool for giving the Savvyhead new toys, possibilites and problems. And if they want to make a single thing for a specific purpose, like a spy-droid, maybe they can complete it in downtime or a single day, just let them choose between spending jingle, owing Rolfball one and making a perilous journey, summarize the effects and cut to the end result, kind of like Moonlighting.

One thing you could try is to really boost the Savvyhead's output of stuff to make them a power factor in themselves. Like, here is King Barnum of Salt Flats, there is the oracle Lost whom the Maelstrom God speaks through, and over there is Honeytree and her devotees, and then there is Ozair, the guy with the mecha war-spider that hatches tiny robot spiders that latch on to peoples' heads and mind-control them. Or Leah, the gal who uses a machine to teleport wherevere she likes and steal peoples things, or teleport into their head and steal there memories. Or Spector, the ambigously gendered person who purifies water, which gather people from miles around them. Just remember to keep their kind of power something different from the power base of other playbooks in play (so the war-spider is maybe a bad example, what with the Hardholder and Gunlugger having military power) and not make it to easy to create tech that solves all the problems. Tech that creates new problems is okay.

Moves and crap analysis:
The Savvyhead playbook is one my favorites when it comes to the moves, on par with the Brainer and Battlebabe.

Bonefeel is an absolutely wonderful move to get involved in stuff, and then there's Spooky intense which lets you roll Acting under fire with +weird which is fucking A. Both of these moves encourage a Savvyhead that gets out and gets into interesting situations, which I feel is great. Take Spooky intense and Deep insights at character creation, and you'll be acting under fire like a Battlebabe! Oftener right also encourage you to get involved with other characters. Thing's speak is also a great move, both in terms of driving home the point of your mystic weirdness and the sheer flexibility of stuff it let's you do with it. Reality's fraying edge lets you deal with the maelstrom, that's the key to wonderland.

The workspace I've already talked extensively about, so let's move on to other playbook moves.

A no shit driver and Daredevil are cool moves if you want to pilot your inventions. My other car is a tank, and then put the workspace in there, maybe? Acquisitive eye and Appraising eye are good for finding sweet tech. Brainer moves are also a cool direction to take to play up the weirdness. Infirmary is a given, if the MC doesn't rule that you can already do that with your workspace.

Maybe take the Hocus' Seeing souls and embrace it? Make a strong point of getting involved and invaluable in other people's business and trouble. Combos in a great way with Bonefeel! Here comes the Savvyhead to the aid again, out of nowhere, in just the right moment and with the right tool. Or vice versa, here comes the Savvyhead to fuck things up, out of nowhere, at just the wrong moment with the tools he needs... again! What a fucking asshole!

Relationships and dynamics:
Help the Savvyhead getting out and meeting people. Don't just make the Savvyhead realize how awesome they are, but make everyone else realize it as well so they want to enroll savvy in their schemes. One simple way to connect the Savvyhead to others is to have him supply something they need at the start of the game, like chemicals, drugs, technology, electricity, or the like. That's not very interesting in itself, but it's a good spring board for setting up scenes with other characters and making NPC-PC triangles. Maybe the Savvyhead at one point has to choose between supplying the Hardholder or his lover for instance.

Ask questions about the workspace. Keep them perceptual, grounded in the senses or in symboles to evoke imagery and make it a fascinating place. Like How does it smell? What does it sound like? What is it like to sleep there? What is the first thing that catches ones attention when one walk in there? If your home/workspace was a creature, what creature would it be, a cold slimy woodlouse or a jungle-feverish tiger?

Ask questions about other characters to connect them, try to mix up Savvyhead relationship with Savvyhead projects to raise the relevance of both. Who relies on you? Who disturbs your work on your projects? Who do you love/fear/envy? Who are you making a gift for? What is the gift? Who has something you consider yours? Who usually comes over to visit your workspace? Who have you stolen a thing from, and how do you feel about that?

The Driver and the Chopper rely on motors, so there is a great match. They can also make expeditions to the radiated lands for the tech scrounge you need.

The Angel also easily becomes a lone progressive force. One thing I think could be interesting is to team up the Savvyhead and the Angel and have them take up a common agenda in a fierce way. Both have the job of bringing things/people in and fixing them, sometimes these things overlap. MC, allow them to do really crazy interesting stuff if they put both their minds to it, and raise the stakes accordingly.

The Operator is a great match for you, being a part of their crew is not as overbearing as working for the Hardholder. If you are the Hardholder's vassal, make sure you are part of the Hardholder's court so there are some different ambitions going around there, and not just a single guy telling you what to do. The Operator is also a good partner for brokering deals and the like, speeding up the progress and profit of your projects during downtime.

The Brainer, Hoarder and Hocus are interesting matches. You apply control to weirdness, is that something they benefit from, or does it create animosity? (Anti-brainer gear!) I can totally see the Hoarder and Savvyhead bickering over gizmos and constantly stealing from each other, they are, like, the worst roomies evar

A Savvyhead with a vision benefits greatly from having a Battlebabe, Gunlugger, Touchstone or Operator to help them out.

The Skinner? That's an interesting one. I suppose the obvious choice would be to use their relationship to highlight the contrast of someone relating to people and someone relating to tech. In other words, to play through your own trauma of being a nerd in love with someone who is hot and amazing. Yay!

In our last game, the Savvyhead and the Maestro 'D where mortal enemies, with the savvy representing progress and the maestro representing decadence. You could easily switch that around, if the Maestro 'D is feeding the poor and the Savvyhead is building doomsday devices and killer drones. Or put them in the same place for an establishment of engineered drugs and cyber-dreams. And then you start implanting mind commands in the addicted customers. I can only see great things coming from this!

Savvyhead + Quarantine? Game Over, you won, I guess.

Savvyhead vs Quarantine? That's really interesting! Like, the Savvyhead wants to get his hands on the Quarantines ancient technology for his own ends, the Quarantine uses his military abilities to resist. Let's say the Quarantine gets Followers, well-armed ones and the Savvyhead is a powerhungry sunnovabitch with the know-how for domination, the next thing you know you got killer drones and laser beams against guys in modern infantry armor and assault rifles, fighting for territory. Awesome.

Okay, this is silly and I don't know where to put it, but I want to include it, so:

Apocalypse World / Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« on: September 09, 2013, 06:35:11 PM »
After a little bump in productivity, I'm looking to finish of this series of focus articles with the Savvyhead, the Angel and the Chopper, and then return later with limited edition playbooks and three little special articles.

But what about the Skinner? I've never actually had a chance to grokk them, so I don't feel I have enough to write about them. Here's to hoping that someone will pick the Skinner in our next game that starts on sunday - If someone does, I'll make sure to collect enough experience to write about it. In the meantime, if anyone would like to share their thoughts on the Skinner, here or through private messages, that's very welcome!

Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook focus: The Operator
« on: September 05, 2013, 04:19:55 PM »
My actual experience with the Operator is limited, but I don't see this as the trading, get-rich-quick Playbook. Like, at all. I actually have a lot to say about the Operator, in part because economics is a hobby and I know just enough to have opinions without actually being correct.

I see the Operator as the premier networker in Apocalypse World.  He's the guy who knows a guy.  In the broken-down market economy of AW that seems to be the default, he works more like a fence than a regular merchant.  If you just need leather chaps and seaweed crackers, you can just go into the marketplace with some jingle and buy them.  If you need something specialized, like forbidden tech/drugs/weapons/vices, or a special service, then the Operator's your friend.  Barter is just the currency that keeps things going, but especially if you've got an Operator in the game, you should probably work out some actual barter system that's appropriate for the setting with a cheet sheet that tells you roughly how many widgets things are worth, so that you can put some teeth into negotiations.  But I really don't think you should make barter the focus of the Operator's game.  He is all about the connections, the network of mutual obligations and benefits, keeping people happy and keeping his good name.  That's why his sex move is all about obligation, for the Operator everything is a gig and when he takes it on, he has to deliver.

His whole gig is keeping a network of reciprocation going across the fractured landscape and divergent cultures of AW.  Like it says in the playbook's flavor text, the Operator is guy who can look around him, find an insane doomsday cult on one side, and a paranoid dictator on the other, and figure out what each one needs that the other can provide.  The operator might not own a warehouse full of shit people want, but he's really good at figuring out who might want the shit which is in abundance in town X and how to make a profit arranging trade.  That abundance could be lots of rat meat, or a really skilled Brainer who needs work, or the service of a motorcycle gang to burn out some bandits in the hills that are messing up traffic. 

This seems like an impossible job, but you have to assume that the Operator is really, really good at what he does, maybe even supernaturally good, like how the Skinner can make a roomful of people stop shooting at each other just by taking off his/her sweater.  They are just awesome natural salemen and negotiators who can walk up to some paranoid bastard's fortified enclave with a business proposal and end up getting invited to lunch instead of getting shot right there on the driveway.  If you don't have that understanding of the Operator, I think the playbook won't work as well because the player will be afraid to put his guy in dicey situations. 

The Operator can be a good asset for the MC, I think, because, by their very nature, they have lots of reasons to go out and meet people and travel to interesting locations instead of holing up behind their walls like the Savvyhead or Hardholder.  The Operator also provides lots of hooks to other PC's, since it's one of the Playbooks that gives structure and makes it easy to define party relationships.  A Driver, Gunlugger and Operator would make an awesome trio for a road-based game, I think, though I haven't tried it.  You can also split the Operator against the other PC's by having him/her do business with the enemy or rivals of the PC's.  There's plenty of ways that the Operator's gigs can cut against the interests of other PC's or their NPC friends.  And heck, all it takes is one spoiled NPC boyfriend/girlfriend demanding discounts from the Operator on the stuff they want because  of their PC partner, and you've got a hassle for the characters to deal with.  Too easy. 

"What do you mean, you just sold Dremmer a rocket launcher?  He's a maniac!"

Finally, the Operator is one of the few characters who's got a strong interest in keeping the peace in Apocalypse World.  He/she doesn't want war, usually, because it's bad for business -- unless it's war to force open new markets. 

Fictional Operators that might be inspiring:
The Finn, from William Gibson's cyberpunk fiction
Yuri Orlov, the Nicholas Cage character from Lord of War (a good counterexample to what I was saying above about Operators being peace-loving)
Fagin: he's an Operator, and the kids are his crew, and you love him somehow even though he's a complete bastard. 
Henry Hill from Goodfellas.  Yes, he also pulled heists and did lots of other stuff, but all through the movie you see him schmoozing people, making deals, and above all, handling situations when things go wrong and business is about to suffer for it. If you're MC'ing a game with an Operator in it, watch Goodfellas again and take notes on how shit just goes haywire for the poor guy, mostly because of stuff his boss and crew do.
Mal from Firefly, well, yeah... sort of.  If we'd had the full five seasons, we'd have a lot more to point to with Mal doing business with people and taking care of things that go wrong.  As it is, we do seem him 
taking the Firefly all over the 'Verse to trade cargos and haggling with Badger and Niska, both of whom could be Operators in their own right.  This also illustrates how the Operator's gigs can help structure the relationship of the PC's and drive the story, even if the other PC's don't all work for the Operator the way they do in Firefly. 

tl;dr: Make the Operator all about mutually beneficial relationships and obligations, not just barter.  And keep the Operator's life interesting by making his business partners and crew demanding and occasionally unreliable, but don't make the world so hostile to him that he can't do business. In most holdings, there's going to be people who need him, and won't want to see him get shot.  He's more like to acquire new obligations in a sticky spot then get shot or tortured.

This is gold! My mantra as a roleplayer and improv player is "make it about the relationship", but I didn't connect it in my flailing attempts to nail the Operator down.

The part about making the Operator a contact or friend with everyone, on both sides of a huge hostility or schism (both the hunger cult and the dictator) is brilliant, will definitely bring that with me if there's an Operator in our next game.

Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook focus: The Operator
« on: September 03, 2013, 03:47:38 PM »
I think I'm kind of in the middle between Lukas' and Daniel's position here. While I do believe that the deal-making Operator and Maestro 'D does bring a kind of higher economy to Aocalypse World, one where barter flows a little more freely...

But at the same time I'm kind of at the assumption that no matter how destitute and decayed, any place with a reasonable number of inhabitants will hold at least a few individuals who are wiling and able to pay for special services, if not by virtue of being wealthy, by virtue of desperation.

Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook focus: The Operator
« on: September 03, 2013, 03:38:42 PM »
That's a good point, Daniel! I'd like to reiterate that I had a hard time grokking the Operator, and these comments help me understand the further nuances of it.

While I don't think the Operator is predisposed to care for those around here, there is absolutely a good possibility to go that way with her. The obligation gigs could just as well reflect the fact that she gets caught up in things and live a stressful life, I think. Still they are, just as you say, obligations.

I'd make barter the abiity to "get things done" the central tenent when MC'ing an Operator, and then leave it up to the player what exactly to do with this power, whether to help or conquer. One thing that's nice about Apocalypse World is the different scales that characters operate on, an Operator that is played for drama could have a very different but equally fulfilling story arc as the Hardholders story of conquest and grand decisions, if the group payed proper attention and investment in the Operator's relationshps relationship, even if the Operator can't compare to the Hardholder in story/mechanical effectiviness.

Dungeon World / Re: Players want a more Gameist Combat
« on: September 03, 2013, 12:05:04 PM »
I'm with Scrape here, there is room for a lot of clever manouvering, even though that manouvering doesn't happen on a visual grid. Have you checked this article out?

David Bower's suggestion about zones is cool, I would love to read about how that worked out if someone tried it in Dungeon World.

Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook focus: The Hocus
« on: August 29, 2013, 08:21:14 AM »
I must say this isn't at all my experience with hocusii. The way I've seen them play it's pretty much Frenzy Frenzy Frenzy Frenzy which in my opinion is the most powerful move in the game. The cult gives you shit to do and is a good source of drama but isn't really what the character does (which is whipping people into a Frenzy).

Fuck! I forgot to write about Frenzy!

It was such an obviously cool move that I focused my attention on the other moves. :D

Okay, I'm going to join the analysis once I've replayed the game.

Apocalypse World / Playbook focus: The Operator
« on: August 28, 2013, 07:04:36 PM »

In Apocalypse World, here’s what you’ve got, right? You’ve got Dremmer
and Balls on one side, warlord slaver and his skinny fucking enforcer,
raiding from their stronghold of concrete and iron spikes. On the other side
you’ve got the barge people, living their short disease-crippled lives up and
down the dead poisoned river. Further along and you’ve got Lighthouse, a
men-and-women hunger cult gone wrong barricaded in on the edge of the
breeding pit burn flats.

You, you just want to make your way and have some freedom — but this is
what you’ve got to work with. Not fucking rosy.

The Operator is a dealer, schemer, fixer, boss, worker, operator. She juggles gigs for jingle and surrounds herself with a crew or a net of contacts for this purpose. The Operator is not a strong in concept, moves or gear as other playbooks, but is a master in amassing barter, or at least will be if you're willing to work the game a little. Her primary stat is Cool which helps her deal with sticky situations. These situations tends to come up.
Mal from Firefly

My take on it
For the longest time, I did not get the Operator. Other playbooks jump at me with their style, their moves and their crap, but what makes the Operator awesome and compelling is not at all as clear. When examining the playbook for this series of focus articles, I looked to the space on the back flap, you know, beneath the fluff text where peripheral rules relevant to the playbook is printed. Anyway, the Operator has the barter peripheral rules printed in this space, and that was when I grokked it.

The Operator is all about the barter. To give the Operator style and substance, you need to give barter style and weight. Let me go on a tangent about that:

The scarcity of Apocalypse World
Make Apocalypse World an uncomfortable place, and scarcity a real thing in the post-apocalypse. Ask the characters what their greatest scarcities are (for instance food, clean water, ammo, gas, protection from people trying to rob them of above mentioned) and make moves on that. Frame scenes like this one, when the fiction calls for it: “You wake up and your stomach hurts for not having eaten for two days. What do you do?”

With 0-barter, you’ll starve within the month. 1-barter, you’ll live, maybe not comfortably though and with no margin of security. Maintenance, repairs, ammo or gas? That’s going to need barter too. Unexpected shit always come up. I don’t think anyone of us reading these articles have been in real  danger of starvation, but I’m sure most of us has been at a point in our lives with no real financial buffert or margin, where dough is just enough to pull through the month, but all of a sudden something needs replacing or repairing or medical attention, and that is just the shit. So yeah, also have things go wrong for the characters, have things get stolen or need repair, have shit happen to people they care about and they could really use a barter worth of clean water right fucking now. Remember the move “Make them pay”! Make it so that when the characters have 1 or 2-barter to spare, they feel really good about it.

Also, if you turn barter into essential for survival, you also turn barter into power, power to get people to do things for you. Offer people barter, and you offer them life. People will dirty or dangerous things for survival, or just straight up desire you and kiss up to you if you’re sitting on a pile of jingle.

In short, make the players desire barter for their survival and safety, for the survival and safety of their loved ones, and for the luxe and envy and desire that will come their way when they have mucho jingle.

What emerges from this is an Operator who quickly realises that cash is king, and who quickly gets a higher juggling and start juggling risky but well-paying jobs to get to where they want. Given that is their reaction, that says a lot about the Operator as a person: Determined for barter, she is a person who is ready to get herself into complicated situations and juggle them by the handfuls. But for the Operator to really shine, I think you have to be generous with her.

Moonlighting is a really cool move in that it instantly sets you up with interesting situations and lets you step in when the interesting stuff happens - Not the preparation, but the climax or the aftermath. I recommend being generous with what you can do with Moonlighting. When the Operator starts off she works maybe a 1-barter or 2-barter gig plus one operation gig, and while I presume her crew/contacts gets the majority of their pay from the client, they also want a piece of the Operator's personal barter. (Check the Operator's paragraph on what 1-barter covers). You could also be flexible with what Moonlighting lets you do, let them choose ad hoc gigs with effects rather than barter payoff, such as “get intel on Dremmers stronghold (you get information / your crew is caught in the act)” or “find and waste Ramen (you corner Ramen / Ramen corners you)" as long as they pay the barter their crew or contacts is asking for for working on it. That's a cool feature that makes the Operator capable of handling any situation given help from their crew and contacts and time to plan and prepare, which I feel is totally in line with the playbook concept. And remember, Moonlighting is more effective the more downtime there is in the game. For Moonlighting to really work, the game needs to take place over months rather than days, fictionally, and you need to be generous on how often there's a little downtime so the Operator can make those rolls - You could let the crew do most of the work off-camera if the Operator really can't get her hands free.

And I’d recommend being generous with what the crew and contacts are good for. The rules says you should describe everyone individually with one line of description, and also consider them threats. I say go one step longer: The crew and contacts are the Operator’s crap, so I think it should carry the same weight in the story as the Savvyhead’s workspace or the Hardholder’s hold. Make the crew/contacts real, proactive people, not as interesting and effective as player characters, but just one notch below! Have them save the Operators poor ass sometimes. Have them go behind her back sometimes. Have them approach the Operator with opportunities, things like ”I found this goon in our camp, staking us out for the Hardholder no doubt. What do you want me to do with him?” or “Hey, I heard that weirdo Lucas is boarded up in the tower ruin with a fuckton of barter. You want to go take it? If you want to, I could make a map out of the other ruin and it should map out his place as well”
I love it when a plan comes together

And be generous with what things she can get when she go(es) into a holding's bustling market[/i] and when she make(s) known that you (she) want(s) a thing and drop jingle to speed it on it's way[/i]. Maybe she can get intel or new contacts as well as things, such as someone can hook her up with the right guy or a map to where the high tech device can be find. Make it clear that with enough barter you can get anything available in this world, kind of how the Savvyhead can get anything they want through the workspace, given enough time. What about when you give 1-barter to someone, but with strings attached? Ehh, fuck it. It doesn't make sense to me, seeing as the barter should be leverage in a manipulation roll, not its automatic success? I don't know, seems off to me.

Anyway, if you’re generous with the Operator, she should be start getting pretty rich once she has picked up another gig and +1juggling or two. This should attracting interest from greedy or hungry PCs and NPCs alike. This’ll generate tension to play off.

Perhaps the Hardholder becomes interested in shutting down the other power factor in the area. Perhas the Operator hires the Gunlugger for around the clock protection and guard duty. Perhaps she starts dropping jingle over the Skinner in return for pleasure. Perhaps she starts paying the Savvyhead to construct that thing she needs to…

To what? We’ve established that the Operator shines when she’s ruthlessly pursuing barter, but what does she want the barter for, beyond mere survival? The playbook doesn’t offer any answers, but I think you need an answer to this question if the Operator’s struggle is to be interesting and compelling. What is her grand plan? Why should we care? Who is she, and why is she what she is? I know, right? I believe you really need to provide these answers so you can play your character, obviously, and so your Moonlighting has some actual stakes in the world, because the playbook doesn't really help you much figuring out who the Operator is. And the obligation gig is just an interesting problem, it's not enough to build character motivation on.

Or, in a rough enough apocalypse, perhaps survival is enough. The fluff text seem to imply it, but every other playbook is about something more than survival, they’re about also being awesome in some way. The Operator should be the same. (The Hardholder and the Maestro ‘D doesn’t even have to worry about their day to day needs as long as their hold or establishment is in working condition)

Why the Operator is the best playbook to play:
There is something really appealling of gritting your teeth and pulling off that thing you really want. Moonlighting will make sure you're never bored. It's cool to sprinkle cash around you. And it's great fun to be a leader and take care of all your crew and contacts.

And for a final argument, check out what +2cool looks like:
(How come all the Operator clips I can find are portraying chauvinistic men?)

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
The Operator is in interesting nexus for the a campaign as every other character could potentially deal with or work with the Operator, or be the target of the Operator's gig. The Operator can introduce an interesting dynamic of fiscal power and greed if she is succesful in earning barter, for instance, if the Gunlugger is out of barter, she can always go ask the Operator for a job which brings characters into interaction. Same with NPCs, of course. Moonlighting is also a fun move to get you framing scenes and bringing dynamic changes to the post-apocalyptic world.

Fundamental scarcities of the playbook:
Okay, so this entire focus was a guide on how to make the Operator an interesting playbook. To summarize:
  • Find out what the Operator wants
  • Make scarcity a real thing
  • Make barter into power
  • Make the crew and contacts interesting, capable and proactive
  • Be generous with Moonlighting
  • Have the game play out over months rather than days
  • Be generous with the barter peripheral moves. Except give 1-barter to someone, but with strings attached, I don't use it.
That's a lot of instructions, and in a way I feel the Operator is a flawed playbook for not providing the solutions itself. On the other hand, I think your game will improve if you follow these suggestions.

Oh, and make sure you don't get bogged down in the details of Moonlighting if you roll it most every session, although I recommend asking what deal they're brokering or what person they're murdering before rolling, to set up the stakes.

Moves and crap analysis:
Eye on the door is a great move for someone who keeps finding themselves in sticky situations, which Moonlighting tend to bring. Easy to trust and Reputation can make you quite competent at dealing socially with others, even though you're not a primarily Hot playbook.

As for other playbook moves, the Battlebabe has some great moves for you: Merciless is good as you are only armed with a modest weapon from the start, and things will get violent sooner or later. Ice cold is great for aggroing yourself out of a difficult situation or get the results you need from someone. Perfect instincts should also fit your needs, and your Sharp is probably +1.

Just as I recommend the Driver to get Moonlighting, an Operator with a car and A no shit driver is a fun combo. The Driver's Weather eye is good too, for opening your brain.

Just about all the Hoarder moves are good deals if you want to play up the greed aspect. Except Greed, paradoxically.

The Maestro 'D's Everybody eats, even that guy is good, but Fingers in every pie is something you can already do, by dropping jingle to get a thing you want.

Inspiring from the Quarantine is a good choice if you want to tie player characters to you as crew members.

Relationships and dynamics:
The Operator makes a good nexus for a game, seeing as potentially any other character could be an employer, a crew member, an adversary or a freelancer for the Operator. I'd start off by asking the other players what kind of talents they offer up to the Operator for barter/what kind of jobs they rely on the Operator for.

Other things to ask the Operator to get her going: What do you hope to achieve within one year? What would you do if you had a windfall of 10-barter, right now? What places you one notch above the rest? What is the best/worst thing that happened to you today? Who in your crew/contacts do you trust the most/the least? Fox left you a gift today, why?

The Hocus and the Hardholder has a wide influence in the world through their followers. (and to a lesser extent, the Maestro 'D and the Chopper) This can make interesting ambivalent relationships, if you have them rely on the Operator for something, but also put some of the Operator gigs at cross-purposes with them.

The Skinner and the Maestro 'D knows people, use that. When the Operator is trying to get to someone, they might want to go through these characters.

The Touchstone's strong moral code can put them indiffirent to some of the Operator's gigs, and firmly opposed to others. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?

The Chopper makes for an interesting and potentially unreliable partner, in that they and their gang are very specialised att violence, raiding and riding, making them both thankful employers for things they need done but don't know how to do, and interesting goons to send out to get the job done. When the Chopper gets into his head to extract protection money from all the Operator's venues, that'll be fun too.
The Brainer and the Hoarder both have unique resources, and are also potentially outcast weirdos, making them good as both employees and employers for shit they can't handle. They could also make great adversaries, driven by weird motivations to control people and collect things that the Operator is trying to help or deliver. A hell-bent proactive Brainer is both a great villain and employer!

The Savvyhead always needs stuff delivered to him, prepared for work, guarded from thieves. Consider making the Savvyhead a part of the crew! The Savvyhead benefits from being placed in a context, and as a part of the Operators crew could be a lot more dynamic and balanced power-wise than being the bitch of the local Hardholder. Same deal with the Driver, a specialised character that benefits from being part of a crew.

The Driver or a nomadic Faceless could make a nice antagonist that keeps interfering with the Operators Moonlighting for their own random motivations.

The Battlebabe and The Gunlugger are good, competent additions to a team, but if you play up the scarcity, these might also become threats, trying to rob your barter from you.


Freaky example of a Savvyhead from eXistenZ.

That's not a bad angle!

I dig Hotline Miami, finished it yesterday.

Haha, oh my god, how about this thing?

I'll take  a break after the original playbooks and return to the LE playbooks later. The Faceless is one of the easy ones to find clips of, it's a real movie trope.

I'm thinking maybe Hannibal (A-team) for an Operator and McGyver for a Savvyhead. 80's time!

Operators are hard.
The only one I can think of is Tony Soprano which on the other hand is the ultimate operator imho. Though I don't know the series well enough to pick a good clip. But the intro is quite iconic.

Came up with another Savyhead that can help illustrate that the savyhead doesn't have to be a techie cooped up in a workshop

The Savvyhead link is the same as the Soprano one!

Will think about Operators.

Genius! Keep 'em coming!

the nerve core / Re: Searching for a thread
« on: August 26, 2013, 04:31:11 AM »
That's pretty cool! Lumpley, what are your thoughts on Apocalypse World and these goals looking back?


Are there any clips of Savvyheads or Operators out there?

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