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Messages - KidDublin

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SO...I think that perhaps that you assume players will take actions that really interest them, whereas what I've seen is that players take actions that are what they think their character would do in that situation. So, to you, if a player says "I'm going to look through the files", that means they want looking through the files to be important. While I can very well see a player saying that because it would be careless NOT to look through the files, and their character is a smart and organized person so of course they would do it, but not really having much interest in the details of that.

Related: in MotW, if a character starts looking through some files that could reasonably be related to the mystery at hand, that's definitely investigate a mystery. Like, it's not a choice whether or not we roll the move at that point--them's the rules. The character asks a question--"What kind of monster is it?"--and I provide a response. Maybe the documents detail some strange experiments with gene-splicing, creating human-cockroach hybrids. I might not have known that those documents had that information when the character started rifling around, but the rules say I have to make an honest stab at answering the character's question. That's not GM fiat--that's improvisation guided by rules.

Also, you contend that the rules don't make unexpected things happen.

But nothing ever happens unless you decide it does, and there's very few mechanics covering most of that. That's why I get the feel that MotW is much LESS about "finding out what happens" than most RPGs. None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat.

This is an example of the rules allowing unexpected things to happen! I didn't expect these files to be important, but the rules are now telling me that, in some fashion, they're important. Yes, I decide how they're important, but that decision is driven by player input (unless you're a mind-reader your players will do unexpected things which trigger the game's mechanics) and the fiction.

I think this particular thread has gotten way too off track; I keep thinking I should try some more specific questions, but I don't know if it will help. Its clear I don't even have a good grasp for the overall format for what a fight would like and play like, or how an "investigative" scene would go.

I'm with you on this. Do you think it would help if we identify the main avenues you're having issues with, and then explode those out into separate threads? That way we could really dig into the specifics. Right now it seems we keep bouncing back and forth between different areas of the game you're struggling with, without ever fully addressing your questions. I could see a few possible threads:
1. Combat in MotW
2. Investigations in MotW
3. Mysteries and the Role of Prep in MotW

Any others you'd want to add, or modifications you'd want to make? For the mysteries thread, it might even be fun to write a collaborative mystery, so you can see the decision process for MotW prep yourself.

GM fiat is the GM making a decision, as opposed to a rule or mechanic doing so.
A pistol doing 2 damage is a rule.
A collapsing bridge doing 10 damage is GM fiat.

In some RPGs, whether or not a monster can get out of a trap (especially if there don't happen to be PCs around) might be decided by a check for the monster - a rule.
In MotW, that question would just be decided by "whether or not the GM thinks it should get out" - GM fiat.

Deciding what is behind a door with a wandering monster table would be using a rule.
Deciding what is behind a door by making up something to be behind the door - GM fiat.

Is there a better word?

This is a misunderstanding of how the rules in MotW/PbtA work. By your definition, "things the rules tell you" =/= "GM fiat," while "things the GM decides outside the rules" = "GM fiat." BUT, in MotW the rules (and agenda, and principles) should always inform what the GM adds to the fiction. The GM doesn't just up and decide that a monster escapes no matter how well contained. However, if the outcome of a move would allow that to happen, the GM is following the rules if they narrate the monster escaping. Using the phrase "GM fiat" suggests that GM improvisation should be arbitrary--it shouldn't. When the GM invents or improvises, it's always in the context of the rules.

GM: Illyana, the beholder you have trapped in that ritual circle is getting agitated, and flexing its magical prowess. Looks like it's trying to bust out. What do you do?
Illyana: I'm going to reinforce the circle with my holy magic, so it can't escape.
GM: Cool, that sounds like use magic, gimme the roll. (She misses. Like, it's not even close.) Illy, you push your powers farther than you've ever done before, and... it doesn't work. The beholder busts out of the ritual circle in a flash of crimson energy. Oh, and now it's looking directly at you.

Can you see how that's not GM fiat? How that hard move only happened because the outcome of the missed use magic--combined with the fictional situation--allowed it to? If Illy had hit on that roll I wouldn't have the creature escape, because the rules tell me that's not the time for a hard move. (However, on a 7-9 hit I might have asked her to sacrifice a touch of lifeforce--1-harm's worth--to keep it imprisoned.)

brainstorming & development / Re: Pulp Adventure Hacks
« on: April 28, 2017, 10:24:50 AM »
Yeah, SotC hits on many of the character archetypes I'd like to include, but doesn't have quite as strong a hand with the setting. I'm specifically imagining an alt-history 1930s which, by default, is open to mad science/archaeology/masked vigliantism/etc.

For the limited world-building I'm particularly inspired by Monkeyfun Studios' "Spirit of '77." ( In describing their fictional 1977 they do an excellent job getting the feel of the era down, without wedding themselves to every historical detail. I'd like to do a similar thing for the '30s with my hack.

For example: in Spirit of '77 Nixon has managed to dodge impeachment, the U.S. still has a military base in Saigon, and a sport called "Rollerball" "Derbyball" is just as beloved as baseball or football. But, gas is still crazy expensive (for the time).

In my '30s hack, the world would have Tesla-esque scientists and explorers discovering entire civilizations beneath the planet's crust... all while the Great Depression is still in full swing.

Which way to you actually play? Do you treat failed/partial Kick Some Ass results as open opportunities to do something unpleasant, or do you always deal damage?

On a partial, the rules are clear that the hunter and whatever they're attacking trade harm. As part of that harm, I can make a harm move choice that disarms the hunter, and fictionally, I can narrate that disarmament as "the hunter drops their weapon because of the pain" or "the monster grabs the hunter's weapon." I don't see that latter choice as being any different that disarming a hunter as the result of an attack.

On a miss, I absolutely use that as an opportunity to do something unpleasant. Sometimes that "unpleasant" is direct harm, sometimes it's indirect--say, I have the monster throw the hunter into a big rusty pile of bear traps. I'm separating the hunter from his buddies (and from fighting me), and I'm absolutely applying harm as established.

I think we've pretty well established that nobody here actually strictly follows the rules. :)

I disagree! We've established that the rules are written and applied broadly, by design. When we tell you that the investigate a mystery questions can apply to many different kinds of clue, that's not a deviation from the rules--those questions are meant to work that way.

But once again your comment kind of confuses me - you say that I "just let your players ask whatever they want and see how it works" - but aren't you advocating that that's exactly how its supposed to work?

I made that suggestion for two reasons. 1) Because it's your game, and if one component isn't working for you you can ignore it. In this case, I think if you ignored the question list it wouldn't "break" the game, as long as you demand fictional details for whatever question the hunters try to answer. HOWEVER... 2) I also think that if you ignore the move's list your hunters will still ask variations on the kinds of questions supplied there. They may not literally say "What kind of monster is it?", but that will be the point behind some of their questions anyway.

Often, when I run MotW, my hunters will roll investigate and ask something as their character--"Say, where do these big heating vents lead to?" They've not asked a question straight from the list, but we both know that the choice from investigate a mystery would be something like "Where did it go?" or "What is being concealed here." As keeper, I answer as though they'd made an explicit choice from the list.

But, its not like the PCs couldn't meet someone somewhere else, right? A motivation defines what is most likely to happen there, which to me is exactly what the prep for a normal RPG is doing - except that in a normal RPG, you'd spend time on figuring out the useful details, which increases the odds that things will be consistent, won't be skipped over or bogged down, etc.

I agree! Of course the PCs could meet someone somewhere else! But, the motivation serves as a reminder for you that--in this case--this specific location has fictional underpinnings that make it particularly good at providing opportunities for meet-ups.

I'm not sure what useful details you'd supply in a "normal RPG" that you wouldn't in MotW--can you elaborate?

Whether or not the PCs "MUST" go there is highly situation. There won't be many places that PCs MUST go..but if, for example, there's a swarm of alien bugs and they need to destroy the hive, it is very, very, very likely that they will go to the location of the hive to resolve the situation. That's pretty much a "must", and its going to be in MotW as well as in anything else, right?

They might go to the hive. They might not. I'm playing to find out what happens, and I'm not making any assumptions about what the hunters need to do. I've written the hive up in case they go there (and, yeah, my writing it up certainly means I think they're likely to visit), but I'm not doing any extra legwork outside my agenda/moves/principles to get them there.

Maybe the Professional calls in an orbital strike, nuking the hive from the comfort of his home. Maybe they ignore the hive and the entire world is overrun by giant larvae (at which point we port all the hunters over to Apocalypse World and keep going). Who knows? Certainly not the keeper.

Wait, that's not fighting me - I WANT the PC to go there! That's the point! The NPC has noticed this transmission because this is info that I really want the PC to have, so I'm thinking in advance about how the PC will get that information. If the PC gets to it another way, that's great.

I agree! My point was that if you followed your "plot" strictly and forced the hunters to go to the city before discovering the signal, the rules would fight you, because the rules demand answers even when you hadn't planned on giving them. Since you wouldn't ever run a session like that, you're in agreement with PbtA/MotW principles here.

Good planning isn't meant to limit, its meant to keep you from being stumped in the middle of a game!

Yep. That's the sort of planning MotW asks for.

Well, players can do ridiculous, suicidal or absurd things in any game system, but I think its reasonable to assume that you'll be playing with people interested in doing reasonable things with their characters, and invested in pursuing the genre. But yeah, in D&D you could set up a city and dungeons and whatnot and have the player decide to go be merchants in a far off land. In Call of Cthulhu your characters could decide to immediately flee the country at the first hint of something supernatural. You Star Wars pilot could decide to vent all the air on the spaceship just because. In any of those cases, its a good time to stop and check your expectations. :)

I agree, to a point. MotW has a specific "buy-in" the players need to agree on--you will be monster hunters, the main action of most sessions will be investigating and killing monsters, and monsters are particularly tough creatures with special weaknesses you need to exploit. Just FYI, other PbtA games aren't as stringent with their buy-in. In Apocalypse World, if your players want to up and leave the big, multi-faction war that's been brewing for ten sessions, and drive off to the next state over, they're entitled to do so.

There's nothing unique about players being able to interfere with things though. Getting information is based around being able to logically do so; most RPGs would have you able to use skills to get info logically available. Setting up to kill a protected person is probably easier in MotW than in, say, D&D 4e where a determined party can set up some really effective - and very mechanically defined defenses. An NPC you want to keep alive in MotW can probably take way more damage than PCs can dish out before they can escape and there's not going to be any huge damage swings, while in Savage Worlds damage rolls can explode out to any value, so a stray thrown knife could get insanely lucky and kill an elder god!

Yes, many other games let players find information if it's logical to do so, and available. MotW lets players find information when the keeper has only a dim sense of its availability. If a hunter hits on investigate and supplies the right fictional explanation, I'm obliged to give them an answer, even if I didn't consider that the vampire left some bloody rags at the scene of its last attack.

I might have no sense of the availability of that clue before the hunter starts investigating, but their fictional positioning and the rules compel me to make those rags (or something like them) appear. My prep informs the sorts of things the hunters can investigate and roll for but, likewise, the results of their moves inform what information is and isn't available. The rules forbid me from saying "you find nothing" when a hunter hits on investigate.

Your second point about "protecting" NPCs and "keeping them alive" is a little unclear--could you explain a bit more about the comparison you're drawing between MotW and "most RPGs"? To me it seems you're saying it's easier, in MotW, to apply the rules for bystander, minion, and monster creation to create an NPC that the hunters cannot eventually kill (or otherwise remove from the action).

That may well be true! However it's not an issue, because your principles say that "nothing is safe." Even if you can protect an NPC using the rules, you shouldn't, because your agenda is to "play to find out what happens" and to make sure that nothing is safe.

Page 166:
"To help you make your decisions about what happens next whenever the outcome is uncertain, the rules restrict you to certain options. These parts of the conversation are called "moves".

Fair enough--the book does literally say that. I don't see the keeper moves as "restrictive," so much as a guide for focusing on the sorts of things that *should* happen in monster hunting game.

I'm referring to several moves that result in asking specific questions, such as Investigate a Mystery and Read a Bad Situation. They specify exact questions.

They do, but, again, I think the other players in this thread have all done an excellent job demonstrating how those exact questions can be interpreted and applied in wildly different ways, depending on the in-game situation. Then again, if you want to go ahead and just let your players ask whatever they want, do that and see how it works! I'd be willing to bet that they still ask variations on those same questions. Just make sure you have them back up those questions with the appropriate fictional posturing--testing blood samples, collecting bone fragments, and so on.

In similar fashion, most of the player moves gives very definite results on what happens. A 7-9 result on Kick Some Ass means you take damage, and that's it. The opponent can't disarm you or do something else. Just do damage back.

The harm move lets you have a hunter "drop something" when they get hurt--even if it's a 0-harm "hurt". (In fact, the harm move lets you drop all kinds of nasty consequences!) That drop could be because they stumble and let go of their dagger, or because the werewolf wrenched the weapon out of their hand while attacking. Also, you're allowed to have a monster just try and disarm a hunter on its own! Describe how that zombie looks like it's trying to grab Zoe's baseball bat, and give them a chance to act under pressure. If they botch it, you're well within your rights to take away some of the hunters' stuff by having that zed grab the slugger.

A 'crossroads' is a place to meet someone, so you are pre-defining that the PCs will meet someone there.

Not exactly. You're making a place where the PCs could meet someone, and maybe you're populating that place with some bystanders they're likely to meet if they go there. But, you're not saying that they must go there to find or kill the monster. Playing to find out what happens means--in part, for MotW--having stuff ready, using it when it makes fictional sense, and ignoring it otherwise.

Mostly I just have no idea how the system would "fight" you if you pre-determined a "plot", which is something people keep saying. Maybe we're just talking about totally different things. For example, this is basically what I "planned" for the first few sessions of one of the last non-MotW games I ran; a time-traveling action/adventure game using Savage Worlds:

1) PC is in a remote cave when massive apocalypse occurs. Part of backstory and set-up.
2) Nearest city has one building that is surrounded with wrecked military vehicles and has a flag with 'SOS Survivor" or something like that hanging out of the window. Inside is a wounded but stable soldier (with name, personality, stats).
3) Soldier has been picking up radio transmissions urging that if anyone is alive they should go to the Amelion Institute, with locations.
4) Amelion institute is run by an AI with limited abilities, and has a time travel device. Automated defense are in place that it cannot turn off.

So the assumed plot is that:
1) PC will go to nearest city.
2) PC will meet up with survivor.
3) They will go to investigate transmissions.
4) They will get into the institute.
5) They will use the time travel device.

Now, if that was my "plot" (again, just for the first bit) and I was running this in MotW, how would the system fight me on any of that?

In Monster of the Week, a good investigate a mystery might let a hunter discover the transmissions/Amelion Institute without ever going to the city or talking to the soldier. And that would be completely fine! MotW has a move that--if the hunter gives appropriate fictional justification--forces the Keeper to make with some juicy info. If you only dole out info when you planned to, you're fighting the game and your hunters will be salty.

In vanilla Apocalypse World (which this example gels with better, I think) you've got an even harder time of it. Your PCs might just walk off into the desert, in the opposite direction of the town, completely ignoring your plot. You're playing to find out what happens, so you're obliged to follow them. You're not obliged to punish them for ignoring those plot hooks, and you absolutely shouldn't try to guide them back to that lone city.

StormKnight, regardless of how many diehards like me tell you otherwise, if a game isn't fun for you, then it's not fun for you, and it's fine to admit that and move on. If you're still interested, though, we can keep trying to address some of your issues.

Actually, the book LITERALLY describes the keeper moves as being restrictions on the Keeper's actions, and the phrasing in the book is very consistent for them being restrictions. It never says things like "ask a question such as". Everything is written as a limitation, a restriction.

Can you provide the exact quote from the book where it says this? I can't see a passage where the Keeper moves are presented in this fashion. Here's what I found which best describes the general principles behind Keeper moves.

“For the hunters, their moves cover specific cases. Hunter moves say that when a hunter does this, it is resolved like so. Your Keeper moves are more general, giving you broad but definite options.”

So broad, but definite, which doesn't quite equal "restrictions." Also, you say that the book never tells the Keeper to "ask a question, such as." That's not accurate. The below is from the Keeper moves section, describing what a Keeper can do when they're not sure what move to make.

“Mostly it will be obvious what should happen next, and picking your move is easy. Other times it’s not so obvious, and you might need to think a little about what you will do. That’s fine, take a moment if you need to. Or you can just ask the hunters what they do—that’s a good default move when you can’t think of anything right now.

If you can’t decide, you can always fall back on your Keeper principles or your agenda, and describe something consistent with them.”

Those two passages are key ones to keep in mind while running MotW. You should also keep in mind that the minion and monster moves are meant to be used in addition to the Keeper's basic moves, and those are written broadly enough that it's difficult (for me, at least) to think of a story beat that doesn't fit one of the basic moves.

Paul T's advice is absolutely in keeping with the spirit of the game. The question you seem to be hung up on is "Are the Keeper moves rules that I have to follow, or advice for good roleplaying?" The answer is: both. In PbtA, the rules are often indistinguishable from advice. What a move like "separate them" is really saying is that it's often a neat story beat to have the PCs separated.

When it comes to the "forcing a plot" issue, I'm not sure what else to say to convince you that MotW isn't asking for a plot. You say MotW seems like a game that wants you to pre-plan a rigid series of events, but at no point does the book ask you to do that. Can you go over the section on mystery planning again, and provide the specific examples from the text that are leading you to the conclusion that MotW isn't about "playing to find out what happens"?

brainstorming & development / Pulp Adventure Hacks
« on: April 10, 2017, 02:45:53 PM »
I'm considering a stab at my own PbtA hack, themed around 1930s pulp magazines and comics. I want to go relatively broad with it. Depending on the chosen playbooks, an adventure could include Indiana Jones-style archaeology, Flash Gordon space antics, plucky corruption-exposing journalism, and so on.

I'm aware of City of Myst, and I'm sure this hack wouldn't have much overlap with that game (though I do want a "masked vigilante" playbook). Are there other PbtA hacks that tackle 1930s pulp well? I don't want to step on any toes if this setting has been done justice already. 

So this brings up another question - would  you tend to have everyone PC who is there make an investigate roll? Have some of them 'Help Out'? or just have one person make it?

If everyone's doing different sorts of things, sure. If the Expert's taking the lead and, like, the Meddling Kid is taking notes as they talk, I might count that as a Help Out from the Kid.

Also, how does this actually tend to work out for you in play? We started with a lot of roleplayed conversation which covered a lot of the "basics" - stuff that you categorized in "what happened here". After all that, we used to move to dig deeper and get more answers - or we tried to at least.

In play, what usually happens is  one person triggers the move by engaging in some clear snooping. If my Meddling Kid is pacing around the crime scene, and pulls out her magnifying glass--boom, gimme investigate a mystery. If they hit, that doesn't mean all my answers need to be related to magnifying something--we might roleplay something where the Kid brings that glass right up to someone's face... and then asks them a question which could reasonably stand-in for one of the move's questions. There's still room to negotiate exactly what a hunter is doing as they ask those questions, but they need to start poking around before the dice roll.

But several answers we just covered in conversation; like I said "what's going on here" doesn't seem like the sort of thing you need to roll for. Same with the victims not knowing what happened. And the 'random stuff breaking and strange stuff going on' was part of what drew their attention to the area in the first place, so that really wouldn't be news to them.

If you don't need to roll to find something out, then you don't roll for it. It's not investigating a mystery if you already know exactly what you're looking for. By the same token, I wouldn't spend a hunter's hold for a "What happened here?" question if I didn't give them any new information! However, I can imagine a scenario where "What's happened here?" is a totally valid question.

Keeper: "You all walk into the town square. Everyone is wearing demon masks and riding around on tricycles, on fire. There's one normal-looking fella cowering by the garbage cans."
Roy: "I pull out my P.K.E. meter." *Rolls investigate a mystery, hits* "What the hell happened here?"

The thread in the wounds is a good idea - my mental image is that he was cutting them, and then 'draining' the blood into his cap. Your idea leads to better clues. This is why I tend to think that advance planning (which MotW says not to do!) is a good idea - some things lead more easily to clues than others!

This is me leveraging the limited preparation MotW asks for, in order to improvise. The mystery never says how the Redcap colors his hat (pouring is just as effective as dipping, one imagines). However, in that moment I decided the Redcap was leaving those threads behind, because it was an honest, fictionally appropriate way to answer Roy's question.

Nothing about huge footprints is mentioned in the write-up (which really does make it sound like there's basically no evidence at all!), and again that seems like that would be pretty obvious - not something that should require a roll to discover.

Just because it's not explicitly mentioned in the mystery text doesn't mean it can't happen--that's a feature of the game, not a bug. You're right that there's no mention of the footprints--I made those up because, again, it was an honest, fictionally appropriate way to answer Roy.

We actually pondered over "what can hurt it", and I said that since it was cutting all of the victims it must need blood. I was told that this was an extreme jump of logic, which I agree with. :p

For a normal person? Totally. For a crew of seasoned monster killers who literally do this kind of thing every week? Not at all, my dude.

Let me give your first scenario a shot StormKnight, since I'm familiar with that example mystery. But, before I do, a suggestion: download the reference sheets here, if you don't have them already: . The archive you want is "Monster of the Week revised files". Take a look at the shared moves in the hunter reference sheet--they don't have any miss (6-) stipulations listed. Does it alleviate any of your problems if, instead of doing a specific thing on a miss, you instead just choose to make a hard keeper move, as described on page 174?

The problem, I think, is that the full book includes some unnecessary descriptions of what to do on a miss. In vanilla AW 2nd edition, the miss for almost all the shared moves is "on a miss, be prepared for the worst." Try thinking about misses that way, instead, and see if that makes the system more palatable.

Anyway... your first example. Let's say it's Roy the Professional who's taking the lead on this investigation.

(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!

What happened here?
Keeper: Roy, you have a pretty good rapport with this sheriff, yeah? He thinks you're a fed?
Roy: Absolutely.
Keeper: Cool. He makes good with the details--who, what, where, when, and so on. *I give Roy a big ol' info dump* Also, the sheriff stresses that each victim was cut in the same way, with significant--but not life-threatening--blood loss.

What sort of creature is it?
Roy: "You have any pictures from the scene?"
Sheriff: "Sure. Take a look."
Keeper: He hands you some crime photos. There are some close-ups of footprints in the mud. Big ones. Deep, too. Wow, whatever made those must be huge. There are some notes attached from the CSI team. We're talking, like, seven, eight feet? 300-something pounds?

What can it do?
Roy: "Not one of the victims remembers anything?"
Sheriff: "It's the damnedest thing. I can figure one, maybe even two people might forget an assault. Post-traumatic stress, ya know? But all of the victims? Doesn't make sense. Maybe our doer did something to 'em."

What can hurt it?
(You're right that this question doesn't fit this particular investigation--that's okay! The below is how you can work that out with a hunter without just saying "no.")
Keeper: Roy, how would you find that out?
Roy: I, uh, I guess I couldn't, huh? Let me try something else...

Where did it go?
Roy: "Any pattern to these attacks?"
Sheriff: "Well, most happened around this area..."
Keeper: The sheriff circles a few areas right around the nature reserve.

What was it going to do?
Roy: "Anything odd about the wounds on these victims?"
Sheriff: "Well, we did find a few of these. Lab guys can't tell what kind of thread it is, but it's covered in blood. Soaked, actually."
Keeper: He holds up an evidence bag with some crusty, dark red strings in it.
Sheriff: "These were deep in the cuts. Like some kind of cloth was jammed in there."

What is being concealed here?
Keeper: Roy, you look over and see that the Sheriff's microwave has been thrown in the trash, as well as an electric shaver and a laptop.
Roy: "Tech problems, Sheriff?"
Sheriff: "Yeah. Just up and quit on me these past few days. Had a guy try and take a look at it--he said it looked perfectly fine, 'cept it didn't turn on. Same thing happened to my cousin. And Bette down at the grocer, too. Strangest thing--stuff's breaking all over town it seems."

Does the above make sense, StormKnight? If you were a player, would you be satisfied with these answers? I could keep going with your examples, but I want to see if you have any issues with what I've written above.

Ah, that does sound a bit limiting. I prefer to be able to do something like "you succeed... but it turns out to be bad news for you" on a miss, like in the examples StormKnight brought up. It's a useful tool, in my experience - among other things, it allows you to roll comfortably in situations where it just wouldn't be *fun* to have the character fail, and still have that roll matter.

I'd still play it that way, honestly. This additional miss text in the main book seems misleading, as the reference sheets make it clear that the shared hunters moves don't have explicit miss conditions (which, if memory serves, is the same in vanilla AW).

I think the "offend or anger the target" is a "suggestion" in the true sense of the word, as opposed to "a move which dovetails with good roleplaying principles."

Also, I'll add that the manipulate someone move does have a miss condition suggestion in the 2nd edition book that isn't in the hunter reference sheet. Specifically, it says:

On a miss, your approach is completely wrong: you offend or anger the target.

I agree that this can read as limiting. However, it's important to note that this guidance doesn't supplant the general rule for making hard moves.

As well as a failed attempt to deal with a soft move, events in play can turn out so that a hard move is appropriate. Specifically:
• When the hunters hand you a golden opportunity
• When a hunter misses a roll (that is, rolls a 6 or less)
• When a hunter has used up all their Luck.

Missing a roll (with a total of six or less) is always a time when you can make a hard move. The hunter’s screwed something up badly, so do whatever you need to. For example, if a hunter tries to protect someone and blows it, then you can inflict harm on the victim, maybe even kill them: make whatever was threatened come to pass.

In the case of a failed manipulate someone, it stands to reason that whoever you're chatting up is unconvinced. But their being unconvinced doesn't have to be your hard move--in fact, I'd say it shouldn't be. The rules as written allow you to snowball that failure any way you want as long as it follows from the fiction, because the rules as written say you're always allowed to make a hard move on a miss.

* First of all, a specific example from actual play would be REALLY helpful here. PbtA games rely a LOT more than other games on the specifics of the way you're playing, and the fiction that's happening when moves are rolled. This can seem frustrating when you're trying to get answers online, but it's really, really helpful to get into the specifics. Often, establishing some fictional details makes the difference between making the rules work and having them feel weird or out of place.

I agree that we need some specific examples. StormKnight, it seems like one of your major issues with PbtA/MotW is that the move outcomes *feel* limiting. As a proponent of the system, my argument basically boils down to "but they're not, in practice." The best way to get that across is if you can come up with clear examples. Give us some fictional situations that you consider troublesome, and we can show you how we might call them as MCs/Keepers. (If you want, start with some MotW-specific ones.)

Additionally, I think it's important to keep a clear separation between PbtA "problems" and MotW ones. StormKnight, if I understand correctly you're still trying to get on board with Apocalypse World/Powered by the Apocalypse *in general*. Jumping to Monster of the Week complicates that, as Monster of the Week (like many good PbtA hacks) diverges significantly from AW in a few places. The "panic button" Keeper moves you mention--such as escape, no matter how well contained--and the notion of monster weaknesses are the most prominent examples of that.

I consider those elements to be what makes MotW fun, but they're also part of the game's buy-in. If you and your players aren't on the same page about how monsters (or investigations, or minions) work in MotW, you're not going to have a good time. Maybe you don't want to play a game where the monster can always slip away (given the right fictional positioning)--that's fine! A move like that wouldn't work *at all* in vanilla AW, because AW is about badasses carving their way through a topsy-turvy post-apocalypse, and it's not about badasses hunting down monsters every week. The games are about different things, and MotW has rules specific to what it's about.

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.

Don't think of your location motivations as things that will happen, but things that could happen, given the appropriate push in the fiction. That isn't really "plot" , is it? No more than the "plot" of Raiders of the Lost Ark is Temple (Deathtrap), University (Crossroads), Tavern (Wilds), Nazi Dig Site (Fortress).

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.

The countdown is your tool for applying pressure. Yes, it changes as soon as the hunters start mucking about, but that's by design (and even an interrupted countdown gives you a good sense for what sorts of things the monster might try.)  Locations don't function like that, though. You don't need to advance a "hellgate" if the hunters neglect it--unless, of course, your countdown has something like "Dusk--Hellgate goes into overdrive."

When it comes to making locations fit their motivation, the keeper section of the rules recommends the creation of custom moves. For example, here's one I used for a "lab" location:

Any hunter that looks for something cool in R&D rolls +Sharp. On a 10+, they find something useful. On a 7-9 they find something potentially useful, and get to decide if they activate it. On a miss, they find something useless and dangerous, and turn it on by mistake.

See how that fits the R&D/Lab location without planning for anything specifically? The move only triggers if the hunters choose to poke around (of course, I fully expect them to do that, because they're #SillyPCs), and it leaves plenty open for improvisation and collaborative decision making. If the hunters don't visit R&D I don't do anything with that location, because it's not important to the story we're telling and nobody is there to trigger my custom move.

StormKnight, you're right to point out that MotW asks for substantially more preparation than vanilla AW. AW lends itself to big, sweeping, cinematic stories, while MotW is explicitly aiming for the feel of an episodic television series. It really helps the game's pacing when you can start a new session and be ready to roll with a fresh bag of tricks.

However, MotW does *not* ask you to prepare a plot. It asks  you to stat up at least one big-bad monster; probably some minions, bystanders, and locations; hooks for the hunters; and the countdown. Those things inform the plot, but they aren't the plot itself. You're playing along with the hunters to discover the plot, and the hunters will take or leave what you have on your mystery sheet. Even if you put "Hawkins' Middle School" down on paper, you absolutely can't think that it's your job as the keeper to get the hunters there--they might not go to the school at all, but still manage to solve the mystery. Likewise, the mystery countdown is what *would* happen if the hunters don't interfere. It should inform your choices as keeper and guide how you put pressure on the hunters over time, but it's not a list of set-pieces that you're driving the hunters towards.

This is where "investigate a mystery" comes in. You can--and should--sketch out specific mystery elements and their solutions. Just remember that those notes aren't the plot, and aren't the only things the hunters will try to investigate.

For example, let's look at the sample mystery again, "Dream Away the Time." When I ran this for my hunters, they went to question one of the redcap's victims, Alice Rigsdale. In the course of their interrogation, my Expert got her hands on Alice's phone, and used some killer hacking skills to access the camera.

I ruled that as "investigate a mystery," and called for the roll. Expert gets a soft hit, meaning one question: "What can it do?" Now, in other systems it's possible to separate the success of an action from the outcome the player wanted--sure, you passed the skill check to hack the phone, but you don't find anything useful. PbtA/MotW doesn't work like that, though, and just saying "you don't do it/find it" is rarely a good keeper move.

Instead, I described how Alice's camera flipped on when the redcap attacked her. The video was blurry, but my Expert managed to briefly see the  outline of some sort of hulking figure before it disappeared in a shadowy (clearly supernatural) fog.

Now, almost none of that stuff is in the mystery sheet. There's no line saying "hunters can find a blurry video of the redcap on Alice's phone," and Alice herself isn't even given a full bystander paragraph. But, that investigation made sense with the established fiction, so I answered the Expert's question honestly, revealing that the monster can cloak itself in shadow.

Absolutely, but keep in mind that if Mort's player is creative, the exchange might go like this:

Morton, the Mundane: "I'm going to use magic to locate the missing children."
GM: "Woah, really? Aren't you a plumber Mort? Where'd you learn to do arcane geo-positioning?"
Morton: "I apprenticed under this crusty old master plumber who also dug wells. He used dowsing rods to find the best spot. Swore by them. I mostly thought it was bullshit at the time, but after some of the crap I've seen in the past eight months, I'm not so sure. And at this point, we're out of leads, so I'm gonna bend a couple of metal hangars into dowsing rods, hold them loosely in my hands the way he showed me, and focus my mind on the kids."
GM: "Fantastic! Roll+Weird!"

Yeah you're spot-on Munin. My usual mode for RPing a Mundane is "sad-sack monster hunting newbie," but there are always other options, as you've shown.

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