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Messages - Dabrainbox

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Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Steel City
« on: October 20, 2016, 11:40:39 AM »
I found this; a good representation of the aesthetic of Lancer's Lot. Enjoy!

Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Steel City
« on: October 20, 2016, 11:34:42 AM »
Third session begins!

Our Savvyhead player couldn't make it for this session, so not for the first time Spector disappeared without warning. This created a bit of an awkward situation, as the group had arrived at the power station at his request. Not wanting to waste the trip, Vega and Phoenix led the way inside. After a slow and tense journey down a dark corridor, where Nif heard the clatter of metal feet skittering in the vents they reached a closed door. From various attempts to read the sitch and open their brains, they only knew that something hungry lived on the other side, and that the car they had parked outside had just been stolen. While Phoenix ran outside in a futile attempt to catch it, Rhythm opened the door. An ancient turbine was spinning slowly, through a hole in the casing they could see blood coating the blades. Stomp asked his mask for advice, but Norman just reminded him of what he already knew; power must be payed for in blood.

As they examined the machine, one of Tum Tum (Grotesques - Mindfuckers) came through the door behind them and asked if they had come to feed the Great Old One. As he bowed to them he revealed the rifle on his back, and they realised he was the sniper from outside. Without pause, Vega reacted, grabbing him by the collar and heaving him through the hole into the turbine. As the blades chewed up the body, Nif heard a scream through the maelstrom, but nevertheless the turbine increased in speed, and the power stabilised.

Nif retreated into the maelstrom, taking Phoenix with him and attempting to bring them out again in the new position of the car. Vega led the other two on a search for alternative transport, finding a working truck. Ploughing on through the night and heedless of Lancer's Lot trying to stop them the truck made it back to the hold, where a body was hanging above the gate, swinging in the breeze.

Nif and Phoenix popped out in the middle of the road, the pickup that had been stolen in front of them. Wary of an ambush, Nif hopped into the buildings on the side of the road and ran across the other of Tum Tum, one eye blood-red and leaking from the loss of her other half. The rest of Tum Tum's gang all piled in, Phoenix took advantage of the situation to steal back his car; ramming the gang and picking up Nif, they set off for home.

Investigating the swinging body, Rhythm spotted two more hanged from the central tower where Vega lives. Asking around it turned out that two of them, Mercer the storemaster and Peppering, had been lynched for personal slights. Nobody seemed to know why poor Millions was hanging by her neck. Stomp went looking for work, and was hired by Princy to take out a rival market vendor, Winkle. After seducing the poor guy into an alleyway, Stomp barely paused from slicing off his face to listen to Vega announcing over the loudspeakers that she wouldn't put up with any more murders. Mimi was acting shifty, having been left in charge Vega was not happy with her performance, but it wasn't until Nif did some sniffing around that anyone worked out that she had been the one who strung up Millions.

As convening in Vega's office, the group waited patiently for Mimi to show up, but she never did. Phoenix spotted a figure retreating down the road, way off in the distance. Vega decided that since she was down a lieutenant, she needed a new one. For some inexplicable reason, she decided Stomp was the best fit and we left the session there.

The players seem to have handled the transition to more typical Apocalypse World style of play pretty well, which I was glad to see. They all picked up their own goals organically and split off from there, though I may need to prod Rhythm to come up with some sort of scheme to work on; without the start-of-session gigs as stepping off points the Show lacks motivating factors even worse than the Skinner. Since Forge has a large, savage population and only a small gang, it's going to be interesting to see Stomp and Vega attempt to instil order on them, especially if the start-of-session Wealth roll goes badly next week.

Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Steel City
« on: October 13, 2016, 06:44:57 AM »
Second session report! (Oops, seems I was lying when I said these would be shorter. Oh well)

We kicked off right back in the action with our captured Savvyhead, Spector. I didn't want him to just Bonefeel out of there in the first scene without squeezing a bit of drama out of it first, so starting with him made sense. Threats and questions were immediately flying at him, a woman with a sledgehammer glaring at him and wanting to know who he was travelling with ("This is Newton, she's in charge of this hold and the Wild Dogs gang. You know her by reputation; small, wiry, and angry like a chihuahua" Warlord - Slaver). When he attempted to shrug off the questions, she threatened to break his kneecaps, to which he said "Go on then." With that opportunity served to me on a silver platter, Newton did indeed smash him in the knees with her hammer, and following a bad roll on the harm move, he was gagged and blindfolded and dragged away, thrown in the back of a truck. After a series of awful rolls on the dice this session and the last, the player was afraid to make moves in case something bad happened, so I broke from play for a bit to remind him that I wasn't out to get him, and that while waiting passively meant his was less likely to have bad stuff happen to him (but not no bad stuff) it also meant less good stuff and a generally less interesting experience.

Back with the other players, Nif withdrew into the maelstrom to heal his wounds and Vega led the rest through the alley towards the holding. With three blocks of flats around them, Rhythm opened his brain while the others made a beeline towards someone standing by a dog kennel. Failing the roll, the horrible, discordant music in Rhythm's heart began to blare out across the courtyard, driving the dogs in the kennel mad. Phoenix attempted to threaten the information out of the dog-handler, but he ran away, so they followed him into the building. Finding some locals, Stomp tried to be nice to them, which somehow worked, and they found their way to Newton in the underground parking lot of the building. One unsuccessful attempt at bartering for the savvyhead later, Phoenix tried to ram Newton with a car, despite his comrades standing right next to her. On a partial success on Go Aggro, Newton got the hell out of the way and took off in the truck. Stomp tried to dodge, but was too slow, Vega didn't even attempt to get out of the way as she tried to shoot Newton in the back. I probably should have looked up the rules for vehicle damage beforehand, but with 5-harm (ap) from a direct hit, Stomp's life became untenable and Vega was at death's door.

Leaving the two others bleeding on the floor, Rhythm and Phoenix followed after Newton. Spector wriggled free of his blindfold and leapt from the back of the truck to the pursuing car, being barely caught by Rhythm. Nif popped back into existence just in time to see the two vehicles careen past, but just shrugged and went off scavenging in the nearest building. I introduced a custom move, which I've used a variation on before in another game where scavenging was important: When you try to find something in the ruins, roll +Sharp. On a hit: you find something. On a 7-9: something or someone finds you. On a miss: you don't find anything useful, but something or someone finds you. Nif hit the roll on a 7-9, so found some valuables to pay his way for another couple of sessions, but the truck - now missing its cargo - came back, and he realised it was a wolf (wolves are machines under their disguises).

Vega left the parking lot, but didn't make it far before succumbing to her wounds. Stomp woke up shortly after, and followed a guide presented by the maelstrom (Landscape - Mirage) to Vega's body. Not knowing any first aid, he asked his mask for advice, but Norman (Grotesque - Pain Addict) simply suggested to him that Vega had too many fingers. Spector used Bonefeel to get into the scene to help, but found that the "right tools for the job" in this case consisted of a tourniquet and a pair of boltcutters. Unable to stop Stomp, Spector just sat and watched as Vega woke up screaming and missing a pinkie. Stomp apologised profusely, very upset at what he'd done; weirdly, cutting off Vega's finger seems to have gotten her interested in him (relationships are strange in the Apocalypse World).

Phoenix pulled up in the car -having already rescued Nif from the wolf - and the roadtrip continued. Nif ate Vega's missing finger as a light snack. Yum.

They stopped at an old hospital to scrounge for medical supplies, and all managed to patch themselves up to varying degrees. Spector grabbed a pressurised canister of some unknown gas to take with him. At this point, the sound of bike engines and a distant "Huzzah!" reached Phoenix's ears; Lancer's Lot (Brutes - Enforcers) showed up. A biker gang based out of a history museum, wearing plate armor and wielding lances, swords, and WWI rifles. The players loved these guys and gals, so they'll definitely be appearing again. Evidently, the players were on their territory; however, wanting to avoid a confrontation, Rhythm and Phoenix rode out to give them a mobile concert and draw them away. Unable to outpace the bikes, Phoenix thought fast and led them back to the rest of the group to talk it out. The players agreed to leave peacefully, and rode off into the sunset.

Finally arriving at the power station they set out to find, they got pinned down by a sniper on a gantry. Spector used the tank of gas he had taken earlier as a very makeshift mortar, taking some serious damage from the explosion when he knocked the cap off the canister but managing to scare away the sniper. We finished there and then.

That was an incredibly fun session. I'm slightly worried that it seems to be playing like a traditional, party-based adventure, but the players are having fun and I'm having fun, so I'm not that bothered. I'm loving the relationships the players are forming between each other, I can't wait to mess with them using PC-NPC-PC triangles when they're not constantly running away from all the NPCs they meet.

The new players are definitely getting the hang of the syste - the small changes in wordings and rulings for the most common moves make it much easier to teach than I was expecting, especially Seize by Force. The 2nd edition "Road War" moves are a godsend, so thank you very much Vincent; I suggest you always keep them in mind when playing with vehicles in your games. It's hilarious and brilliant how much awesome gameplay has come out of a power station I made up due to an Augury roll and a gang and holding I made up because of a failed Read a Sitch; play to find out is an important agenda for a reason. Oh, and with regards to the levelling: the rate seems about right for now, though Stomp and Vega got a hell of a boost from that +5-Hx with Phoenix when he ran them over.

See you next week!

In terms of how I play it, always give the AP precedence. Armor piercing weaponry either relies on ap bullets (which are rare) or deal harm in a way that just doesn't care about armor at all (like the pain wave projector hurting you directly in your brain). The players have already payed the opportunity cost to pick up this ap capability, let them use it. Any old chump can hide behind metal plating and pretend to be invulnerable, it's hard to get your hands on something that gets through it so let it be useful. Maybe, on a case by case basis, I'd let Battlefield Grace et. al. immune to armor piercing bullets, since that's a bit weird in the fiction, but it's easier to just let the ap happen than essentially reword the move to "You get +1-armor, unless it turns out being graceful won't help."

In terms of NPCs who've got their hands on ap rounds; just let the ap do its thing, but only occasionally. You're telling me you don't want to see the look on your players face when they find out those armor bonuses they've been stacking don't mean shit? You don't want to see them panicking as they realise that this time they're actually in danger? Obviously don't make every enemy have ap weaponry (again, ap rounds are hard to find, and don't deny the players their bonuses just because), but just enough to make them worry when they see Jackabacka rolling up with his ap rifle.

Alternatively, you could just say that only one armor bonus can apply at a time. They get their base armor, and +3 for being part of a large gang and that's it. Personally, I'm not a fan of this method; if the players get into a situation where they have 9-armor then by the gods let them have 9-armor. Describe how the bullets barely touch them, and those that do just ping right off. Let them feel badass. Just keep the ap weapons in the wings for when you want them to know who's a serious threat to them.

Side note: The pain wave projector ignores the gang bonus anyway, because it's area. The extra armor of a bigger gang comes from there being more of them than you can shoot at and +area mitigates that. I tend to use the 1st edition rules for gangs in 2nd edition when it seems more convenient (naughty, I know) which said "you deal 1 less harm for each size they are bigger" rather than giving the defending gang bonus armor. This stops the weird situation where an ap pistol does more damage against a gang who aren't wearing any armor (you could say it blows through, collateral damage?) but leaves you with the weird situation where a shotgun somehow doesn't deal any damage whatsoever to a large gang (you could say there's too many, you can't get a clear shot?). I'd stick to the 2nd edition rules as written if I were you.

Hope this helped! Armor and ap is one of the stranger interactions in Apocalypse World, general advice is always: "Trust Vincent, he knows what he's doing. Play the rules as written and only change it if it seems wrong."

the nerve core / Re: New to RPG's
« on: October 10, 2016, 05:16:24 AM »
Everything you need is in the core book, but it's worth printing off the playbooks and references, found here for free:
The only other things you need are at least two 6-sided dice (preferably a pair for each player but two will do), a pencil and an eraser.

The playbooks are character sheets, and tell the players all they need to know to play the game. The MC (the one who runs the game) needs to be familiar with the core book but the other players are fine without. The references are sheets with  commonly used rules so you don't have to keep looking them up in the core book. Browsing this website once you've read the book is a good idea, a lot of people point out ways to fix common problems, and the author of the book is very active on the forums (look for Lumpley).

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

Apocalypse World / Re: AP: Steel City
« on: October 07, 2016, 01:38:32 PM »
I tried to keep this brief, but found that I had a lot to say. It should be shorter for future sessions. Enjoy!

Let's start with character creation. First of all, there's a huge list for your players to pick from if you include the extended playbooks, so I found it helpful to put together a list of the names, descriptions, reasons to play and reasons not to play for each playbook. After they all picked their characters I ran through the "say this first and often" and "setting expectations" sections of the MC's guide as they looked over the sheets, which went down very well.
The Savvyhead asked the rules for Augury so I fished out the peripheral moves sheet, it might be worth having this on hand when your players pick their moves if it could be relevant to their decisions.
For the players new to the system, I gave a brief description of the the stats and the basic moves so they knew what they were picking. I also found it worth mentioning the scale of Harm with regards to NPCs so they knew how kickass their weapons were.

While doing Hx, Asking questions like crazy was the most important thing. The players were all really enthusiastic about it, springboarding off each other's answers with minimal nudging and giving me plenty of fodder for interesting NPC triangles.

We started out with Phoenix driving Stomp and Rhythm out into the suburbs to do a bit of scavenging, looking for batteries at Spector's request. After finding a likely looking ruin, Phoenix and Rhythm said they wanted to search the building and both picked up their dice; they were both very surprised when I said that there was no "perception check" in PbtA games. Phoenix rummaged through drawers and cupboards finding some old scissors and notebooks and general office paraphernalia worth 1-barter, Rhythm searched around for an old boy band poster, sandwiching it between two bits of white-board for protection. Stomp asked Norman for advice, and failed the roll, Norman decided he wanted this place ruined. I'll definitely make Norman a threat for next session, probably a Pain Addict. Sledding down the rubble on the whiteboards and using the winch on Phoenix's truck to tear down the building, they set off back.

Meanwhile, back in Forge, the population was idle. Corbett was hanging around Vega's office just because he had nothing better to do. Spector used his Augury to try and search the maelstrom for electricity, and he found a power station somewhere out in the city that was still running somehow, and was connected to the maelstrom in some way. As he found it, the lights started to flicker. In Vega's office, Corbett got pissed at the fluctuating power, but Vega scared him off with the threat of her gang, especially her lieutenant sniper, Mimi (I think we'll see Corbett more in future).

Nif opened his brain looking for treats, and followed a crazy blue-green thread of twine through the compound to Spector, who was just going to fetch help to go and investigate the power station. Spector bluffed his way into Vega's office past Hugo, who was under orders to not let any dickheads in after Corbett caused problems. They found Vega sniffing "sofa" the local drug that was made from the stuffing of old couches. Nif heard the grinding noise that meant a Wolf was nearby, and spent the meeting jumping out of his skin. When Mimi spotted Phoenix returning, they all agreed to go and talk to him about transport.

All the players wanted to go see what was up, so with nobody left to look after things Vega left Mimi in charge, just as Nif realised that she was a Wolf under her disguise. Spector directed them in the direction he remembered for the power station. This turned out to take them through Newton's territory, home of the Wild Dog gang. Reading the Sitch for his best route and failing, Phoenix inadvertently led  them into a trap. Rhythm played a stunning rendition of "The wheels on the bus" to give Phoenix an extra choice while he seized the road by force. Spector attempted to assist by blowing oil into the engine Fury Road-style, but failed. Phoenix blew through the blockade and was clear, but nobody had any idea where Spector had gone.

At this point, I chose to spend Spector's failed Bonefeel roll from the start of the session to have him captured by Wild Dogs. His hands chained behind his back and his ass wedged into the frame of a chair with the seat removed. He saw two people pacing around the room but managed to pretend to be unconscious. He tried to throw himself into the nearest one and dive out the window, but failed his go aggro roll and only managed to alert them that he was awake.

The rest of the players turned around and snuck back to the ambush site. Nif failed to Open his brain, and started mindlessly following a thread back into the thick of it. Stomp and Rhythm followed to back him up while Phoenix and Vega ran for the truck. The fight was a bloodbath, with retrospect I should have had one of them take the lead and the others help, maybe with the new optional battle moves, rather than all of them rolling separately and dealing 10 (fucking ten) harm to a small gang. Having run a lot of 1st edition I keep forgetting that these new moves exist, but they definitely seem useful. We ended the session there due to running out of time, so I need to remember to have the players do Hx next session.

With so many players, progress was slow, and until they grouped up it was hard to give them all enough screen time. When we change the highlights, I'll try and make sure they end up with their best stat highlighted more often than not, and either Sharp or Weird so that they earn improvements slightly more regularly, it would take two or three sessions at the current rate, I'm aiming for one or two as the average.

Apocalypse World / AP: Steel City
« on: October 07, 2016, 06:28:41 AM »
It's been a long while since an AP was posted on these forums, but I always found them helpful when preparing for a session, so I thought people might appreciate a playthrough of 2nd Edition.

Our setting is based loosely on the city we all live in (Sheffield, UK) which is famous for its steel industry, and surrounded by the rolling hills and valleys of the Peak District interspersed with the occasional village. Let's meet the cast!
Phoenix - The Driver, cool as a winter morning and willing to do whatever it takes to make a quick buck. Once tied someone to his pickup truck and played tug of war as a form of torture at the behest of...

Stomp - The Faceless, wears a face of leather, which was probably other peoples' faces at some point. Utterly deferential to his mask, Norman, and very self-conscious of how scary he is. Gets along well with those that aren't frightened of him, such as...

Nif - The Child Thing, nobody quite remembers when or how he showed up, but he's often seen wandering around the place, following balls of twine nobody else can see. Gets into places no matter how well they try and fortify them, and has used this to steal from...

Vega - The Hardholder, reluctant ruler of Forge. Once a no-nonsense freedom fighter, she overthrew the warlord who used to run this place, and then ended up having to take care of it when nobody stepped up to the plate. She was got all the arms and armour for her resistance movement from...

Spector - The Savvyhead, likes weird and wacky weaponry. Currently trying to find a battery strong enough to power a machete taser. Built a huge, automatic shotgun, which is the favourite instrument of...

Rhythm - The Show, attempting to cross-breed 80s synth-pop with hair-metal, even though nobody knows what those things mean anymore. Phoenix currently holds his leash, and does his best to look after this strange musician who seems to have become attached to him.

That's it for now. It's a big group, which is proving a handful, but I think it's working out alright. I'll write up a short summary of the first session and some lessons learned later today. Let me know if you're interested!

Thanks for this feedback, Dabrainbox. I don't find it over-critical at all, it's actually very important.

It was not my intention to give new MCs the impression that they can deny players of what they earned, but I guess that can be construed from what I wrote and especially the example I gave. My intention was to indicate the points at which MCs have an opportunity to make a move or influence the game and the last point is there to let new MCs know that they don't need to wait for a miss to make a move. The question of which move they will make is a different one -- one that you addressed very accurately.

So I think I will change the example in the last point.

That's quite alright, I see what you were going for there now you've addressed it but maybe a different example is in order. You can absolutely make a move in response to a player's success ("make a move whenever everyone looks to you to say something"), just not usually a hard move and never to deny them what they were going for when they made the move.

It's good to see members of the community doing stuff like this, so much of a good PbtA game is based on how and when to do stuff; I would have loved to have an article like that to read when I played my first game as an MC.

Keep up the good work :-)

Not sure I agree with the "Any time you deem right" section. You make a move as an MC whenever there's a lull in the conversation or everybody looks to you to say something which already gives you plenty of options to influence the story. 

The example given is to "introduce the villian’s [sic] new sidekick/horrible weapon/escape plan immediately as the player’s move resolves, without waiting for a failed roll" if it looks like they might defeat your villain too early. This doesn't really seem to be looking at everything though crosshairs and flies in the face of always give the players what they work towards. It's probably something else new MCs miss a lot - that while you never roll any dice and your moves are all very open-ended you can absolutely still cheat, which isn't fair to your players.

The correct thing to do in a situation where they're killing your villain "too early" is to let them, but put your bloody fingerprints all over it. Have the villain's daughter run up to the body and start crying and hugging it. Skip forward in time a few days to when refugees from the villain's hardhold are showing up demanding food and water, since you killed the guy who was providing them with it up until now. Have the bigger, badder chick from out across the burn flats show up, moving into the power vacuum that was left. None of this fails to make your players life not boring but also none  of it denies them what they worked towards.

What you should never do is have the villain survive just because you like them, especially when the players are involved (if it's between NPCs, sure - having them show how badass they are is fine, but they're never more badass than the players). I did that for the first game I ran, had one of the Solace's "Wolves of the Maelstrom" be a young girl called Grandma who'd taken over an army base and filled it with obedient soldiers using her ability to command people to do what she wanted straight into their brains; awesome character but she nearly ruined the story, because all the players kept being like "Oh, well I want to go do this awesome thing, but if I do then Grandma will have me killed."

Sorry if I seem overly critical, the rest of the article is fantastic; just that last point that seems exactly the opposite of what PbtA games are supposed to be. If you meant something else, then let me know, but if that's the case then it could do with wording better so nobody interprets it the same way I did.

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