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Messages - StormKnight

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(Oh! Monster of the Week calls the GM the "Keeper". AW calls the GM the "MC". I mixed them up in my post. Hopefully you can sort that out! MC = GM = Keeper.)

Heh heh. I keep trying to remember to type "Keeper" and not "GM". But yeah, MC, Keeper, GM, DM, Storyteller, referee...whatever. :D

Now we're getting into some specifics of Monster of the Week, and I've never read or played it, so someone else will have to respond to you. (From the way you're describing some of the game, it sounds to me like bad design. But, without having the text in front of me, I can't say whether that's the game or if you're misreading it in some way. For example, I have the 'basic moves' in front of me here - they're available online for free - and the "manipulate" move doesn't say anything about a miss condition.)

I think there are a few separate threads of conversation here, so I'm going to try to break them out into different posts.

The more important (well, from my point of view) thread at the moment is "how to use the player moves", so I'll give some examples a shot here.

Investigate a Mystery is the move that is giving us the most trouble. It seems to logically come up a lot, but we're whenever it does its always a struggle. It allows the PC to ask either one or two questions from:
* What happened here?
* What sort of creature is it?
* What can it do?
* Can can hurt it?
* Where did it go?
* What was it going to do?
* What is being concealed here?

You are supposed to justify with the narrative how each question gets answered. Invariably, we make the roll then kind of sit there staring at each other, and then try to figure out "well, could we come up with an answer to any of these?" Its awkward and confusing.

The miss result is equally confusing; "on a miss, you reveal some information to the monster of whoever you are talking to". We almost never have a good idea for to make that make any sense or be meaningful in play.


(From the included intro scenario) The investigators arrive and talk to the sheriff (the Professional works with the FBI, so he's said its related to a case they are investigating). They get access to the police reports from people that have been assaulted and are looking at these and discussing them with the sheriff. We really struggled to find questions that fit or made sense. The adventure specified that the victim's couldn't remember what happened. There was no real physical evidence. So...what can they find out from that?

Oh, except for "what happened here", which is very confusing as a question to me - usually "what happened here" is pretty obvious and would be the sort of thing I'd include in the description without calling for any sort of roll. Often, that's pretty well established before people even start looking around. I mean, if they didn't know that "people are being attacked by a mysterious assailant that no one can seem to remember" (which is WHAT HAPPENED HERE) they wouldn't have come to investigate in the first place!

A miss didn't happen, but I would have been pretty lost here. How would the monster find anything out from this? What would it find out? The sheriff could find things out, but...what that would make any difference in play?

Essentially any time we've used the move, we hit the same problems.

However, these are kind of hard to give 'examples' for, since an investigate move generally involves potentially a lot of detail.

Example 2:

Investigating people that have vanished from a mental health institution. The monster  behind it is a Corpseweed; a faerie plant that, if it grows into a corpse can create a simulacrum of that person. It is offering patients and doctors "wishes", getting them to go through doors that it enchants to then lead to what they want - which can either be strange but fine for the person, or utterly horrifying, or even lethal, depending on what they wanted and how much it likes them. Its greater goal is that creating these doors from human desire is weakening the veil between the human and fey world (part of the 'season arc').

I didn't make just talking to patients an Investigate move, though it really could have been by the description; I just couldn't see how that would lead to answering those questions.

Searching through the empty. not-in-use part of a mental institution where they suspect something is lurking, looking for traces and clues.
In this case, I decided to, rather than having what the character had done so far answer the question, to set up a situation that would answer the question; the monster lured the character through one of the portals it had been creating, which was intended to get her out of the way - but brought her to a faerie with more info. However, this was really a cop-out, since that situation was likely to happen anyway. And if she hadn't gone through the portal, it wouldn't have led to the info. And this answered more than just that one question!

Example 3:
Investigation a mysterious murder. First investigation was looking through the police files. Really hard to answer any of the questions from a single incident. Even harder on a failed roll; how does looking through files in a record room reveal information to the monster, or to anyone else?

Being on-site for the second body led to a lot of the same problems. I could give plenty of info for what they were finding, but most of the questions just don't seem answerable.

Manipulate Someone
Pretty sure we're totally misusing it in situations we're not supposed to. Still works fine, except for the 7-9 result, which we just have no idea how to interpret.

Example 1:
PC leaps down and confronts the ogre heading for town, and informs him that she (the PC) has come with a message from Oberon and that the ogre is to return at once; his job is done. What would a 7-9 mean  here? (I opted to have Bonecrusher fall for it long enough to reveal a bit of info, and then realize it was a trick and attack her).

Example 2:
Someone fired shots at the investigators; when captured, he explained that he wasn't trying to hurt them, but had been paid to scare them off. PC confronts the guy (a doctor) she thinks is behind the attack and claims her partner has just been killed, wanting to judge his response. No idea what to do on a 7-9. (She failed; he didn't think the was nearly distressed enough and figured she was up to something. While talking to her, suddenly injects her with a tranquilizer and takes her prisoner).

Example 3:
Later, when she's awake, she's learned that the doctor is killing people that he believes are "aliens" disguised as humans; he's just run tests on her to verify that she's human, but now he doesn't know what to do with her. She explains that she's after the aliens as well; that she and her partner are from a secret branch of the FBI that defends against alien threats. Again, no idea what would happen if it had been a 7-9.

Aid Another
Generally fine, but confusing about what a failure result leads to when the person is helping with Investigation or something else where there is no immediate threat.

Read a Bad Situation
We tried to use this when a PC was looking for a) where the monster was likely to come from and b) where would be good to ambush it from; neither question seemed to be covered, so I guess that's a bad use.

Second use was when they were shot at (mentioned above); wanted to find out where the attack was coming from, and a good way to get to him without being exposed to more shots. Worked OK here.

Really just not intuitive. I wonder if that's because I'm used to one of two options for how this sort of stuff is normally handled in RPGs:
A) tactical/miniature based RPG; you've got a map and stuff, and figuring out things like this is all part of the game; the answers are all there on the board, and trying to figure them out is half the fun.
B) Heavily narrative RPG; the complete other side, where a PC would just add to the environment as needed (unless there was a big reason for what they decided to add to not be there). So a PC might just say "I'm going to hit a button to close the sliding door, protecting the bystanders!" without needing to ask the GM if there is a sliding door or a button.

Well, interesting! I'm seeing a bunch of different things in your responses now, and it might clear up the mess if we dig to the bottom of it.

First of all, I stand by the assertion that PbtA games just aren't *that* different from other games you've played... for the most part. If you and/or your group have some specific problems which have been holding you back, and the game you're playing addresses those problems, then playing a well-designed PbtA game can really feel nothing short of magical. But it depends on what comes naturally and easily to your group and what doesn't. Some people play and they go "Oh, wow!", whereas others go, "Hey, how is this different from what I've doing all along?"

Not too surprisingly, it depends a great deal on how you've been playing "all along". The rules certainly do "do some things for you"; if you're not seeing that, you're either playing it "wrong", or they are things you and your group already have been doing without trouble.

Second, I'm not familiar with Monster of the Week in particular, so it's possible there are some poorly designed moves or some badly written text or some assumptions of play which are tripping you up. It sounds like the game is fairly well-liked, so I'll assume that's not the case, but it's entirely possible.

Finally, it DOES seem to me that you're having some kind of disconnect with the philosophical approach to playing with these rules, and addressing that might be the root of the problem. Your description of things feeling overly limiting in some places and far too wide-open may be a personal preference... or it may mean that you're interpreting something entirely wrong (or at least differently).
Yeah, there's definitely a big disconnect going on here! :)

Now, your comments about things being limited - particularly, in your example, "why can't a monster capture someone"? This makes no sense to me. I've never seen a PbtA game really limit your options in this kind of sense. I can't imagine that MotW does, either. Where did you get the idea that a monster can't capture someone?

Are there lists of things that a monster *might* do, which you've interpreted as the *only* things a monster *can* do at all?
The rules are very much written as restrictions; though I'm gathering people don't seem to play them that way!
For example, the Threat Moves section explains:
"Each type of threat has its own set of special moves it can make. Use these as well as the basic Keeper moves when you're describing what a threat is doing".
"Capture someone" is specifically a Minion move and not a monster move; so as written a monster cannot capture someone.

I've seen a few situations where a move demanding a specific outcome which didn't fit the fiction. Generally, this means that you shouldn't have used that move in the first place, or, occasionally, that it's a badly designed move. Look over the game's "advice text" on how and when to apply the moves: sometimes there are some counterintuitive bits in there, and learning when best to use the moves is a big part of getting that to work for you. (It's the main "system mastery" involved in learning the game.)
Its possible we're using the PC moves when its inappropriate, but we're barely using them as is! And I think the situation generally fits.

For example, the Investigate a Mystery move reads:
"Investigating can be done any number of ways; following tracks, interviewing witnesses, forensic analysis, looking up old folklore in the library, typing the monsters name into google, capturing the monster and conducting tests on it Anything that might give you more information about what's going on is fair game for an investigate move".
OK, so we've used it more than once when interviewing witnesses and locals, looking through the police files for a case and examining the scene of a murder; all of those seem well within the scope, but we usually can't get from there to most of the questions the move allows you to ask, and miss of "you reveal some information to the monster or whoever you are talking to" rarely seems to apply.

However, I don't think you should ever feel like you have creative ideas you can't use. Can you give some examples? I find it hard to imagine. (Again, it's possible that, for example, MotW's list of MC moves is terrible.)
As mentioned, some of the moves have very specific results, which would then block up anything that isn't that specific result. So, for example, as we've been discussing, a failed Manipulate Someone roll leads to a very specific result - "you offend or anger the target" - but there are a ton of other things that could happen instead of that!

I'm not sure what you mean by the last bit about monster escape - is there actually a rule or move like that in the text? Most PbtA games don't have such things, but perhaps MotW does for a specific reason, and understanding it in context might be helpful.
Yep. There is a monster move that is literally "Escape, no matter how well contained it is".

Many player moves allow the characters a specific chance of succeeding at certain tasks. Furthermore, since there are no "modifiers" or "difficulty numbers", the MC can't adjust the rolls so those outcomes are impossible. This means that, as long as you play by the rules, you - the MC - can't prevent certain outcomes to "preserve" a plot.

For example, let's say I set up a trap for a monster (maybe a vampire who we have established will die if exposed to sunlight, and I've made a hole in the ceiling, so a beam of light comes through onto the floor), and then I go into a fight with it. We will probably roll "Kick Some Ass", right? Well, on a 10+, I can choose "You force them where you want them", and push the vampire into the beam of light.

Short of really obvious cheating, you, the MC, cannot hedge the game so that the vampire isn't pushed into that beam of light and destroyed.
Well, in most RPGs, if an attack did enough damage to take down a target, short of obvious cheating the GM couldn't just keep the target up anyway. :)

"You shove the vampire into the sunlight, and it screams in terror, turns into mist and flees" (Escaping no matter how well contained it is). It is quite unlikely you've defined that one touch of sunlight just kills a vampire anyway. :p

However, I'd put something like that squarely in the realm of "bad" GMing; you shouldn't be doing stuff like that, in any game.

The game guarantees me a chance of success.

Similarly so for many other moves - especially consider how the investigation and "read a situation" moves allow players guaranteed access to certain pieces of information.
But if you, for example, plan that, say, there are journals detailing past encounters with the monster, then when the PCs investigate and everyone is going "umm, hmm, I don't know how we get that info from here" instead of joining in the "I have no clue", you say "well, one of the books you discovered..."
Good planning is just coming up with plans to handle situations that might be difficult or bog down during play, not coming up with plans to limit what's going to happen.

Now, here, again, you've lost me. Aren't we talking about the Manipulate move? (I could have lost track, of course...)

If so, how does it specify that a failure is someone getting mad or upset at you? That sounds very odd. (I certainly wouldn't want it to! That sounds rather boring.)
Yep, the manipulate move Miss is "your approach is completely wrong and you anger or offend the target".

You know, I'm not sure what you mean by "game" in this context. AW isn't that different, in this respect, from a lot of mainstream roleplaying games.
Yeah, I guess I just had unreasonable expectations. So many people talked about PbtA games being radically different from other RPGs, and the rules producing such 'magical' (their literal word, on more than one occasion) experiences, and the rules are written in such a strangely rigid way, it seemed like they ought to DO things for you. To provide mechanics that actually drive the game, and help with uncertain situations or pacing, or, well, anything that might hang up a GM during a normal game.

Instead, all you've really got from the GM's point of view are a large amount of very high level suggestions of things that could possibly happen. An I don't think I've ever, while GMing any game, thought, "gosh, I could really use a big list of very vague things that could possibly happen here". That's just not useful. And the ways it limits things don't really make any sense; why, for example, can't a monster capture someone? Monsters do that all the time!

I feel like it tells me not to be creative when I have creative ideas ("ooh, this could lead to X happening...oh, but X isn't the defined result, or isn't an allowed GM move"), then demands very specific creativity when I don't have ideas ("the PC gets in are far away from any possible trouble, the monster isn't anywhere nearby (or even aware of this), and there's really nobody but the other PCs around").

You're absolutely right in that trying to plot specific encounters in specific locations (especially in a specific order) is an exercise in folly. PbtA games will not only not help you in this regard, they almost actively fight you.
Um...I never said that, so I'm certainly not right about it. :)

I don't know what you mean by actively fighting you though; PbtA games - or at least MotW - don't really DO anything (from the GMs point of view). I don't see how they'd "fight" having something planned.
Indeed, numerous things that are classical examples of poor planning/railroading in RPGs - such as pre-determining that PCs are going to get captured, or that an NPC is absolutely going to escape - are much easier to pull off in MotW, since the GM moves explicitly allow them with no possibility of PC interference. You don't have to worry about your PCs coming up with a good plan that will mess up the monster escaping when the rules tell you that you can have the monster escape "no matter how well contained it is".

No, it's not "try again" or "try harder" - it's "try something different." The 7-9 clause on manipulate stipulates that the person you're trying to manipulate wants something from you first. It makes success conditional or costly, and in that regard is almost exactly like the 7-9 result on act under pressure.
It very much reads to me as a "try harder"; "do something know to show them you mean it" to me definitely means you are still using the same approach.  When I can even make sense of it; honestly, it doesn't make much sense to me in most situations.
The 7-9 under act under pressure, on the other hand, seems like a great generic mechanic; it could easily be the 7-9 result for the whole game! I'm really baffled about why the game isn't set up that way. Something like "when you attempt something in which the outcome is uncertain, the Keeper selects an appropriate stat. Roll 2d6 and add the stat:
6 or less: Something goes badly wrong.
7-9: You accomplish what you wanted, but there's a complication, you get into trouble, or have a hard choice to make.
10+: You accomplish what you wanted to."
With the given moves then as examples of possible moves. Since it sounds like people "make" custom moves as is, it sounds like they are basically playing this way anyway.

Also, hilariously, many of your "success complications" are the kinds of things I'd actually apply to straight-up misses. Like, "yeah, OK, you missed the roll - but the reporter gives you the film anyway. But she does so by giving you a link to where she's published it on her Facebook page; it looks like that shit's already gone viral." So sure, you get what you asked for - which is sort of like a success - but upon further reflection it wasn't really what you wanted. In AW parlance, that's called "putting your bloody fingerprints all over something" and is one of the best parts of the game.
Technically, they wouldn't be allowed as failures either, since a fail is just specifically that they get mad or upset at you. :)

Hey again all. I appreciate all the attempts at help. After more attempts at playing, I think that unfortunately I'm just on a track that doesn't go anywhere. I thought that I just didn't "get" the game, and just needed to learn to play it properly. Increasingly, I don't think its that simple. It seems that there's really no "game" here - the game is really just all "inspiration", and if it doesn't inspire you, or the sorts of "stories" you tend to tell don't sync up with the stories it wants you to tell, I'm just not sure if there's any way around that.

So I'm not sure all this quibbling over details really accomplishes all that much, if it ever was going to in the first place. :(

Yeah, it tells you not to, then it tells you to decide in advance what is going to happen at each location. Sorta. Like "this place is a crossroads, so you are going to meet someone there". Which seems like a lot of "plot" to me. Kinda. I'm really confused about the whole thing.
Oh, oh, hang on - I think I see the issue here; you don't have to make this decision about a particular move in the place in advance. If the PCs are in a location that you have decided is a Crossroads (let's say the local cop bar), then if you're struggling to decide what happens next, you take a quick look at the moves that go along with that location, pick one, and start building a scene around it.
OK, I think I see one difference in our discussion here - MotW locations don't have moves associated with them. There's nothing but a "motivation" and a brief description of what that "motivation" means.

But also, most of the stuff you are giving as examples, like:
"You wander around the tunnels for over an hour, but after just a short time, things all start to look sort of the same. At some point, you realize you're right back where you started, probably arguing about who screwed up and how you got turned around. What do you do?"
Is exactly what I said seems more useful; coming up with concrete things to happen that give the feeling of the place. :)

Yeah, it absolutely leads to a failure, and that's OK. It should be harder to bluff someone with a fake gun.

Should it? What if you were trying to threaten someone, got a 7-9 and decide to "escalate" the situation and show them you are serious by pushing the lighter in your pocket against their back and saying you are going to shoot them? Its all relative. A 7-9 is supposed to be "partial success" or "success with complications".

But here's one of the most important things to understand about PbtA games: failure is OK. Failure more often than not drives the story forward. Failure (or partial success) provides the complications that make the characters' lives interesting. It provides the dramatic tension. If the PCs always succeed, the game really loses something.
But the loss situation you are describing doesn't really move the game forward; it just amounts to "try again" or "try a bit harder". And there are so many potentially interesting results for "manipulate someone". Maybe the person you are threatening does what you want, but then has a heart attack from fear and now you need to help them. Maybe the person you casually seduce goes along with it, but then becomes obsessed with you. The reporter you are trying to get the film from hands it over, but decides to also post it on the internet, letting some enemies know about you - none of which are permitted results as written!

StormKnight, you're right to point out that MotW asks for substantially more preparation than vanilla AW.
I wasn't comparing to AW, which I never played. Just to "traditional" RPGs. Though stating out enemies is way, way easier in MotW! :D

However, MotW does *not* ask you to prepare a plot.
Yeah, it tells you not to, then it tells you to decide in advance what is going to happen at each location. Sorta. Like "this place is a crossroads, so you are going to meet someone there". Which seems like a lot of "plot" to me. Kinda. I'm really confused about the whole thing.

I feel like trying to set up games as it describes, I'm doing a lot of useless work and not a lot of useful work. For example, deciding what will happen if the PCs aren't there...that all usually gets completely scrapped in the first 30 seconds as soon as the PCs interact with things in any way. So what does that accomplish?

It asks you to define what a place is. So I define a place as a "maze". But I don't spend any time thinking of what sort of things that will happen there that will make it feel like a maze, so when it actually comes up in game, it doesn't wind up feeling like one.

I get that its trying to give a set of tools here, but I really haven't the faintest idea how to use them. I don't know if its that they are badly explained or just that it doesn't work well with me. Or that I'm just dense.

It is obvious this DOES work well for a lot of people I guess.

Getting into that locked room is a perfect example of an inconsequential roll; don't do that.
Right. Totally. But what I was trying to figure out was whether people would insist on making a Keeper move in response to that. To me, I'd just be inclined to say much what you said - you get it open, doesn't look important, you guess he was just confused. Though, I guess one could say that the move is 'make them investigate' since they need to keep looking.

Where the monster moves versus minion moves are important is in shaping the scenes. So attack with stealth and calculation describes how the monster makes its approach - but minions don't attack that way because they aren't smart enough.
I really don't think that's intended; monster and minion just define the role of the character within the story, as made very clear in the sample story where there's a minion that is INCREDIBLE clever, powerful and smart. You could easily have a bunch of ninja assassins as minions who pretty much "attack with stealth and calculation" by default.

All of which is moot if one just takes the moves as suggestions, which I'm increasingly thinking is how most people run the game.

But don't you see? Seduction is "I'll give you seX if you give me Y." ;) An emotional appeal is "You'll make me happy if you do Y." A bluff is faking that you have a gun and saying "Do Y and I won't shoot you." A bribe is straight-up "I'll give you X if you do Y." Blackmail is "Do Y or I'll e-mail these photos to your wife." These are all cases of an "exchange," and manipulate someone is the appropriate move for all of them. You just need to be more open-minded about what you're treating as the "currency" used to make that exchange.
I really disagree with your assessment, though had a good laugh at your pun. :p
In your example of faking the gun, a 7-9 result would mean that "they'll do it, but only if you do something for them right now to show them you mean it". Well, I suppose you could show them the gun you don't have...which kind of leads to failure. :p

Basically, the result is just really narrow that stops making a lot of sense outside the basic negotiation range. And its really limiting - there are so many interesting things that could happen in a "manipulate someone" situation that don't fit that narrow result!

I guess I'm winding up at the point where I should maybe just use the player rules (which I mostly like), but rewrite some of the results to allow more flexibility and basically ignore the Keeper rules...but I guess I'm not getting whatever makes MotW special that way. :(

So, with 'Investigate a mystery' is the intent is that you design the mystery around the move, planning situations where the questions will logically make sense and can be answered by the available info?

The sample mystery really didn't do that though...the witnesses don't know anything, and there's no 'crime scene' to investigate.

So I'm kind of thinking that I've been taking the keeper moves as restrictions, whereas most people see them as suggestions. I very much got the idea from the book that the intent was that the keeper ONLY performs the listed moves, and shouldn't do something if its not a move. I mean, if there's a different list for 'monster  moves' and 'minion moves', doesn't that mean that a minion should NOT do something on the monster move list?

Thank you for all the responses, especially Munin for the very long response - so sorry it got deleted. I hate it when that happens!

I feel like I'm just having a mental jam here. Some things just don't compute, down to the whole concept of the game. Maybe I'm just thinking about it too hard.

For example:
What do you have to unlearn? The main thing might be just trusting the rules. In many "trad RPGs", the GM applies rules flexibly, to achieve their agenda, particularly when they have a specific plot in mind. (For example, consider "fudging".)
Isn't PbtA all about "applying rules flexibly"? I mean, very little is defined to any mechanical extent; most of the game is based on GM fiat. Like, in a traditional RPG, the GM might "fudge" to let a villain escape (likely an example of "bad" fudging). In MotW, they rules tell the keeper 'sure, have a monster escape no matter how well contained it is'. Its a move. I can't think of much that you'd "fudge" to do in traditional RPG that you can't just do by the rules in MotW.

If you come with a "prepared plot" in mind, the rules will fight you.
I've seen a lot of comments like this and am still confused by it. The MotW rules actually recommend a lot more preparation that I often do for games! You are figuring out what will happen in each place, what the role of each NPC is, how the monster will be defeated...lots of stuff that I wouldn't normally plan in advance!

In practice, I think you *could* skip some opportunities to make moves, but, generally speaking, it's a good idea not to.
So, if a "move" is basically "say something"...what would "skipping" a move look like?

Like, in last game the PCs decided they wanted to get into a locked room that was actually totally irrelevant; they'd seen a "bad guy" try the door, but that was because he was confused about which door he was supposed to use. So, was having there be nothing interesting in that room be "skipping" a move?

In terms of what moves are appropriate for minions or monsters, your basic Keeper moves are always appropriate. It's totally cool to have the minion stab a PC with a syringe full of sedatives - that's you inflicting harm as established, one of your basic MC moves.
Wouldn't 'harm' be the game keyword? I figured that was for doing damage with weapons, per the comments about how to handle things if one party in a fight isn't fighting back.

And its not a minion move, which I assume are meant to limit what minions can do.

Why is that a monster can 'attack with stealth and calculation' while a minion cannot?

This move is all about using leverage to get someone to do what you want. The important part here is the leverage...
From what I've heard, 'leverage' is used in other PbtA games, but it isn't mentioned in MotW. The 'manipulate someone' move seems to be all about 'I'll give you X if you do Y'. Now there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Its just that, when I was talking with my wife whose been playing RPGs with me for about 20 years about this, neither of us could remember a single occasional in an RPG where "I'll give you X for Y" happened in a game. This doesn't mean its never happened for us, just that it was never memorable or interesting. Whereas occasions where a character has tricked someone, bluffed someone, seduced someone, made an emotional appeal to someone...that's like pretty much every session!

So I guess I understand this move just doesn't really work for us.

* Read a Bad Situation: This is a move you use when shit's about to get real and you need to form an exit strategy. It's for when things are tense you're looking for any small advantage to help you get out the other side of it. That's why acting on this information gives you +1 forward - forewarned is forearmed, so to speak. So for instance, your conversation with the cultists is getting tense, but by reading a bad situation you suss out that they all look to Professor Calder for leadership ("who's really in charge here?").
"Who's really in charge here" isn't a question in MotW. :)

* Weapon Tags: Most of these are relatively self-explanatory, but where they really come into play is in helping to work with the fiction to either describe what can happen or what has happened (prescriptive versus descriptive). So if you have a weapon that has a tag of "hand," but your enemy isn't within arm's reach, you can't use that weapon to hurt them (prescriptive).
Yeah, but as you mentioned, there's no definitive timing or location. So "I dash across the room to stab them" isn't "harder' in any sense than "I reach out my arm and stab him".
There are a few situations where I can see the 'range' tags applying (one person is restrained, there's an obstacle in the way, the monster is going to splash acid when cut so you really don't want to be next to it). But 'balanced'? I haven't a clue!

These are chiefly for you, the Keeper. Isn't that nice?
Hmm. I feel like I'm struggling to fit places into these odd terms that don't really mean anything or tell me anything useful. It just isn't a concept that makes sense to me.

I recently got a copy of Monster of the Week. I'm got a lot of experience with traditional RPGs and freeform roleplaying, but the more 'narrative' RPGs are still a mystery to me. Unfortunately, MotW isn't really helping with that. I've run three games, but I feel more like I'm forcing the system to act like a traditional RPG that I'm used to than actually taking advantage of it. I love the simplicity of the system. The character archetypes are all very cool, and making characters is fun. But I'm being pretty stumped with running it. I've got a lot of questions here. I tried asking these over on RPGG, but got pretty mixed responses - a lot of people giving opposite opinions!

* At a high level, can anyone provide any advice on what I need to unlearn from traditional RPGs for playing MotW? Like, what I should do differently in MotW than a regular RPG?

* I find it very confusing when the Keepers should be performing 'moves'. "When its your turn in the conversation" doesn't make a lot of sense.

* Do Keepers generally actually bother making a "move" every time they say something significant? It seems like the system is designed around that, but having to ponder that out every step of the way seems like it would really slow things down. It also gets confusing in that the huge number of Keeper moves can cover almost anything that could happen...but not quite. I have no idea if the omissions are intentional part of the system or oversights, as they really seem to be more "things that fell through the cracks".

For example, in our first play a minion nicked a player with a magical dagger putting him into an enchanted sleep. This could be the keeper move "Use a supernatural power". But if instead of a magic dagger the minion had a gotten their hands on a powerful sedative in a syringe, as far as I understand the minion couldn't use that on a character, since no minion move covers that. So should a minion not do that?

* Several moves just don't seem to match up well with how we are trying to play the game:
  + Manipulate Someone: The descriptions make this sound more like "make a deal with someone"; you offer something in return for something else. But this doesn't match up well with what we perceive as how characters normally "manipulate someone"; usually characters want to trick people, or make more emotional/forceful appeals. That it doesn't work on monsters baffles us - tricking or making deals with monsters seems like an absolute staple of the genre!

  + Act Under Pressure: This one makes sense.
  + Help Out: Also makes sense.

  + Investigate a Mystery: Conceptually this makes sense, and I love the "get to ask questions" concept. But the questions you are supposed to ask just never seem to match up well with what is going on when character's do things that logically trigger "investigate a mystery". Its like we're always fumbling to come up with how any of the questions could be answered in the current situation.
Last session I tried stretching things around and had investigating a mystery lead to an answer a bit later. But then, since the "answer" was in the form of meeting someone with info, it logically led to just more than one question worth being answered! And it felt a "railroady"; the PC doing the checking could easily have not gone down the specific route of actions that led to the person, and then I wouldn't have had a clue how to provide the info.

  + Read a Bad Situation: I have no idea in what sort of context people would do this. It just doesn't seem to represent anything that I've seen come up in RPGs before.

  + Kick Some Ass: works fine, though it seems like you easily wind up in situations where its just sort of "And...I hit it again..." a few times in a row.

  + Protect someone: hasn't come up, but makes sense.

  + Use Magic: No clue how this is intended. Can anyone just "use" magic? Do you need to find spellbooks? Obviously some characters should be able to just use magic by default, like the Spell-Slinger, but what about the Chosen who takes the stats focused on Weird? What about a Professional? We've got an entire stat that I've never yet used!
I read through the forums before posting, and saw a thread where someone compared it to "use wifi" - you have to have magic around to use it. But I have no idea what that means. When is magic around? How do characters know if magic is around? If you are on a ley-line should even the Mundane be able to use magic?

* Weapon tags...we've got too page of these and no explanation of how they get used in play. Something like "loud" or "messy" I can readily see results/applications for, but something like "balanced"? I have no clue on that, or how the difference between things like "close" or "intimate" might translate meaningfully into play.

* Motivations for bystanders and locations. Really confused about these. Is the intent that a bystander/location never "acts" out of character for its motivation? Like, if a place is a 'maze', you will never meet a helpful friend there, you can only do that at a crossroads? I have no idea what is accomplished by assigning a motivation to locations, or how that is used in game.

Sorry, that's a big handful of questions. Any responses and help would be appreciated.

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