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Messages - Arvid

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Apocalypse World / Playbook focus: The Hardholder
« on: August 04, 2013, 02:25:46 PM »

There is no government, no society, in Apocalypse World. When hardholders
ruled whole continents, when they waged war on the other side of the world
instead of with the hold across the burn-flat, when their armies numbered
in the hundreds of thousands and they had fucking boats to hold their
airplanes on, that was the golden age of legend. Now, anyone with a
concrete compound and a gang of gunluggers can claim the title. What other
authority is there?

The Hardholder is a warlord ruling a local settlement of people. His biggest strength is his gang, a small army (as far as the post-apocalypse goes, it is an army) of armed people doing his bidding. His primary stat is Hard, and he gets two moves: Wealth, which brings him the profit of his hardhold on a good day, and the trouble and wants of his hardhold on a bad day, and Leadership, which is for leading his gang into battle. The Hardholder is one of the leader-type playbooks, who have people working for them. Leaders are good for generating interesting trouble and relationships, and makes a good center for the story in that other characters can work for them, or at least have to relate to their significant presence.

My take on it:
The Hardholder is all about owning it. The postapocalypse is an infected, frozen or burnt out wasteland, everything is scarcity, but what there is, you own it. And if you don't own it... Well, do you want it? Take it. You have the stats and manpower to back it up. It is not Sharp or Hot that's the hardholders primary stats, but Hard, and I love the Hardholder for it. This isn't the world where brilliant or suave men and women rise to power, but the world where determined ones do. That is not to say that hardholders are stupid, uncouth or brutish. They do not even have to be ruthless, but they have to be determined. They are the ones to make ugly choices concerning peoples survival without flinching, and then sticking to these choices. That's why they're hard.

I played Barnum the Hardholder, a burly guy maintaining a small hold of people and their workshop in the cold and wild pine forests. At night, he and his gang huddled up together to sleep to conserve warmth, so there was literally a lot of warmth coming from him, a kind of family man. But his hold needed him to be an authoritative father, or it would surely perish to the evil of the forests.

Or you can go all out the other way and play a cruel dictator, relish in your own power. I mean, who the fuck is going to stop you? In Apocalypse World, you are King. And there is certainly the lure of it! This is your chance to be autocratic, to come down hard on slights of your authority, to harshly punish transgressions of your law, to bully lesser holds into giving you what you want, and it's all justified because we live in a fucked up world. You can certainly use your character to play up and further the madness of the post-apocalypse. In one game, the Hardholde was a straight up warlord/dictator a la Idi Amin, as seen in Last King of Scotland, with his gang being his person cult. A friend of mine played in a game where the hold had a jeopardy wheel to determine punishment for crimes. Death, mutilation or a party! The fucking thing kept stopping on ”party” all the time, almost drove the hold to ruin...

Oh yeah, and don't think the hardholder is invincible, he certainly isn't. No other playbook has this much trouble and headache to deal with. The water is running out, food is running out, the hocus is turning people to his death-cult, his own gang is turning against him... You will need that +2hard stat. Fact of the matter is, almost all of the hardholders improvements are stat improvements.

Why the Hardholder is the best playbook to play:
You get to define the world! You decide what the hold looks like, how it works, what the people living in it are like. And the other characters will probably be living in your hold, (they absolutely should, if you ask me) and you can put them in positions of power, like the Battlebabe is your sheriff, or the Operator is your go-to-guy.  Also, your underlings will be a constant source of lovely drama, when there is stuff missing from the armory or when your trusted lieutenant joins the cult of your rival the hocus. And of course, the thrill of being the boss, telling people what to do and taking what you want from them.

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
The Hardholder brings scale to Apocalypse World. The map of your world will probably grow to encompass neighbouring holds and dangers, to put your hold in a relation to the surroundings. It also bring some sort of social awareness. People around you are not just NPCs anymore, they're a part of your hold. And for your hold to function and survive, people need to get along, be healthy and fed. Suddenly, threats are not just psychos with chainsaws, but also diseases or a broken water pump.

Fundamental scarcities of the Hardholder:
For the playbook to work, the MC needs to push for the problems and threats of the hold. Play the people in the hold like real people, not like mindless underlings. Bring morality and complex issues to the hardholder, use loyalty, disloyalty and other relationships to make the people working for the Hardholder become real people and not just resources. Being a Hardholder should be a double-edged sword: You have the most power, but also the most responsibility.

Moves and crap analysis:
The Hardholder is all about Fictional effectiveness as lumpley calls it. Play a hardholder and you won't get the most Mechanically effective and minmaxed character, but you'll get tons of possibility to influence the world, both in game prep and also through your actions. Every other character, if they do not work for the Hardholder, has to somehow relate to their presence in the world, they can't escape it.

The Hardholder has only two moves, Wealth (which is trouble as much as it is a blessing) and Leadership. Interesting thing about Wealth is that you do not get to save up the barter you earn between sessions, it resets everytime you make the roll. Kind of makes sense, as you are the bank –  Don't buy stuff, make people do it for you instead. If you want to play rich, play The Operator.

Leadership is an interesting move, in that it gives you hold to spend when your gang encounters a point that really puts their morale to the test. The rest of the time, they're assumed to do basically what you tell them to. This is important, and I'll tell you why: I was taking a nap a few days back, idly thinking about how I wanted to make this write-up. I have just started practicing zazen, zen meditation. Zazen is a very simple thing, you just sit and pay attention to your breath. It is simple, but not easy, because of course thoughts, tensions, emotions, and pain all come up and you have to deal with it. Well, Apocalypse World is kind of the same thing, as your character does whatever you say he or she does, and a good improv MC will go with whatever you say and ”Yes, and...” it. Basically, you could freeform it all. But when resistance comes up in the form of you fucking people up and they're resisting, or other people fucking you up and you're resisting, that's when you take out the rules and roll dice. Leadership exemplifies this well. Fiction dictates that your gang will do what you tell them to do and perform as can be expected by them, until they meet specific kinds of resistance, and thats when you need to spend hold to deal with it. It's very clear to me, I don't know if that makes sense to you guys, but there it is anyway. :)

As for other playbook moves, there are a lot of routes a Hardholder could take. He could go with NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH or Bloodcrazed from the gunlugger to become an even bigger force of power. He could take Fingers in every pie or Just give me a motive from Maestro D' to go more for a scheming route, or maybe as Barnum did, get Touched by Death or Infirmary from the Angel if he tries his best to take care of his subjects.

Ah, fuck it, why wait? I'll put up the first playbook focus right away, and we'll see what comes of it!

Apocalypse World / Songs, film clips and videos portraying playbooks?
« on: August 04, 2013, 11:39:45 AM »
On a local (swedish) roleplaying internet forum, I'm starting a series of features on the different playbooks of Apocalypse World. Short analysis of moves and crap, my take on them, what I feel they bring to the table, what I feel you need to consider when MC:ing them, and so on. I'm planning to attach one or two youtube links to songs, videos, movie clips etc to each to portray what I feel the playbook is all about.

Do you have any suggestions for good media? First up is the Hardholder and Battlebabe. For the Hardholder I got this so far:

For the Battlebabe, I'm not so sure. This, maybe?

My second question is, how do you feel about this idea? If there's an interest I'll write the series in english and post them on this board as well.

Apocalypse World / Re: Questions about running an AW one shot
« on: August 03, 2013, 04:13:51 PM »
I think my problem is that when you say things like "letting the Gunlugger be a part of the Hocus's followers..." I get all geeked up thinking how cool that would be, and I want to MAKE that the HX instead of letting the player decide.  I need to step back and let things happen organically. 

Ask questions, leading questions! Allow yourself to make offers. Like, "which of you are part of the hocus cult?" If your players are game, they'll yes, and... it. :)

Rogue Trader: Apocalypse / Re: In Progress: Beta 3.0
« on: June 07, 2013, 06:04:06 AM »
There absolutely is new stuff! Version 4.0 is out at the moment, although honestly it's more like version 3.5; I think version 5 might more directly switch up some of the basic moves.

And I always, always love feedback.

It looks great, that's for sure. I want to play this! Maybe you should update the original post, I spent my time reading version 3 before I found your post about version 4. :)

Dungeon World / Re: Clock spell list
« on: June 06, 2013, 04:28:12 PM »
Rust makes me want to play a very strong, very large Wizard who can lift vehicles, golems and so on!

Have you checked out the level 1 spell Erode? I took it as my Prodigy spell, making it a cantrip. Woo hoo!

Future self (level 7) is probably my favorite right now, though

Dungeon World / Re: Clock spell list
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:52:09 PM »
I've added and revised a bunch of spells to the list btw, after searching through the internet for D&D chronomancer variants.

Dungeon World / Re: Clock spell list
« on: May 24, 2013, 11:19:23 AM »
Thank you! Most are written by Jonatan, btw.

Time is such a rich concept, I would like to write spells that are heavy in theme and make statements about what time is. It's hard though, would love suggestions.

Urd's Favour is strong I feel. It tells us that time is change - Sometimes we're weak, sometimes we're strong, sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong.

Hour's in a day could also be strong, in that it says that "time is money", I spend my time to create or achieve something in an instant.


I switched because of gameplay and balance issues. The GM felt that The Mage deviated from fiction first in that a wizard has a set of tools he has to figure out how to apply to the situation, while the mage can always use magic, he just describes how. The wizard interacts in a problem solving-way with concrete parameters, the mage makes it up as he goes along in a storytelling sort of way. Kind of hard to describe, I guess.

The other thing was the balance. My character did some pretty epic shit which changed the scope of things: Instead of acting within the scene I kept changing the very parameters of the scene. It was like having a Mage: The Awakening character in a D&D party.

We discussed raising the stakes and making magic much, much more dangerous, but I didn't feel like playing a walking bomb.

Dungeon World / Clock spell list
« on: May 20, 2013, 04:13:48 AM »
Hey all! I've been playing a clock mage (Custom playbook "The Mage") for some sessions now. Me and the GM has decided to convert the character to a wizard though, so we started writing a wizard spell list for clock spells in Google Drive -> LINK

What do you think? Constructive criticism or new ideas? I'm thinking maybe there should be some more direct attack spells. The comments are currently in swedish, but feel free to comment in english.

Dungeon World / Clock wizard spell list
« on: May 15, 2013, 09:57:45 AM »
Hey all! I've been playing a clock mage (Custom playbook "The Mage") for some sessions now. Me and the GM has decided to convert the character to a wizard though, so we started writing a spell list for clock spells. What do you think? Constructive criticism or new ideas? I'm thinking maybe there should be some more direct attack spells.

The comments are currently in swedish, but feel free to comment in english.

Dungeon World / Clock spell list
« on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:11 AM »
Hey all! I've been playing a clock mage (Custom playbook "The Mage") for some sessions now. Me and the GM has decided to convert the character to a wizard though, so we started writing a spell list for clock spells. What do you think? Constructive criticism or new ideas? I'm thinking maybe there should be some more direct attack spells.

The comments are currently in swedish, but feel free to comment in english.

Dungeon World / Healing and the need for it
« on: February 11, 2013, 04:47:59 PM »
We're wrapping up our latest game of Apocalypse World, and talking about playing Dungeon World next. Looking through the classes, I'm wondering whether a cleric's healing is mandatory for a party, like in D&D? How does one need to approach healing and the need for healing in DW?

Apocalypse World / Re: Going too far?
« on: January 05, 2013, 11:02:44 AM »
That sounds like giving too much agency to them. You basically want the players (and not their characters!) to be complicit in the murder of their favorite NPCs, without even being upfront about it.

You probably already know what their favorite NPCs are by now anyway. If you need to, kill them yourself. It's perfectly fine to - people die all the time in Apocalypse World. But it's your job to do it, not theirs.

Seconded. What I would do if I did something like this is writing start of session letters where the characters can make choices of what to do with their time, who or what to protect etc.

Apocalypse World / Re: Are separate story lines normal?
« on: January 03, 2013, 01:35:24 PM »
Yes, fundamentally the game is about a bunch of individuals and their relationships and relationship triangles. I try to focus on or cut to the parts where at least two PCs are involved. Those are usually the most interesting.

Yes, you can totally "cut to the chase" and frame scenes about the parts you find most interesting, The Operator's move "Moonlighting" is a good example of this.

blood & guts / Re: Player Types (long, long long...)
« on: December 20, 2012, 04:10:53 PM »
For a more prosaic take on the savvyhead player type; I've seen the savvyhead being picked by players who are new, shy and/or feel in need of control.

Makes sense, seeing as the savvyhead is potentially set up to enjoy solitude and safety in their lair, only seeking others out to trade.

It's a double-edged sword I think: On one hand, it allows the players to feel more comfortable with the game. On the other hand, a savvyhead that plays safe can slow down the game and screw with the principles: It's harder to balance out screen time, trouble and rewards in a way which feels fair when one player isn't playing boldly, ( ) and I think playing the other 'books eases one into this mindset more succesfully.

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