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Messages - Daniel Wood

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Other scavengers, whether competing groups from related societies or alien scavengers with incomprehensible cultural priorities. (E.g. they scavenge food but not technology; or they scavenge food and actively attempt to destroy technology. Or they bring all the scavenge in an area to one central point and then just leave it there.)

'Blood rivers' and living below the surface makes me think about the danger of flooding from above, and the intricacies of water tables (psychic or otherwise.) Open the wrong elevator shaft and maybe you let something in, something that's not necessarily visible to everyone. This makes skeleton keys as dangerous as they are useful.

Someone has a dream of the surface, of what the surface could be, that has been keeping them intact all this time. Maybe now is the time to start telling people about it.

Someone else has a secret way to the surface that nobody knows about, that has been keeping them (and their family) alive all this time. They know some things -- some dangerous things -- about the surface that sound crazy when you say them out loud. Will they reveal their secret, if it makes people listen to the warnings?

Apocalypse World / Re: When there's no PC hardholder...
« on: January 06, 2017, 11:11:04 PM »
I feel strongly that NPC hardholders can either be highly competent or have good intentions, but generally not both. This can be a problem when your players sneakily set up a Very Status Quo set of relationships (we're married! this place has been around for years under the same leadership! etc.) and you have to figure out how the leader in question has secretly been a Threat all along -- or what sort of Threat they are that has been manageable up until now, when it suddenly isn't any more.

Most of my positive experiences with NPC authorities involve their being too ambitious for their own good, or too cruel for anyone else's, or both. Crazy is also a good one, but that is usually easier for NPCs who start slightly out of the picture, not people who the other PCs have known for an extended period of time.

So for example, one of the last games I ran featured a local 'boss' called Twice, as in 'don't make her say it...' I decided early on that Twice's primary interest in life was to hunt down and destroy anything that made the mistake of presenting as likely, or particularly interesting, prey -- a sort of elite-ops/small-scale version of a Warlord/Alpha Wolf. But it had also been established that Twice was the stabilizing force in the area (a loosely organized commercial hub based around a semi-collapsed mall), so she had to be selective enough in her pursuit of that goal that -- for those not directly in her way -- she could be seen as an authority, a sort of necessary evil floating around, useful mostly because of its penchant for eating any lesser evils that happened to stop by.

So the other NPCs treated Twice and her pack of savages like you might treat a volcano -- a sacrifice may be necessary from time to time, but if you keep on your toes then it probably won't be you. And anyone who rolled into town like they were big shit? You just ducked and smiled, because you knew what happened to people who got Twice's attention.

But because we were playing the actual game now, Twice's place in the situation had to be unstable. Since the portrait I had chosen for Twice was of a woman in her 50s at least, I decided that, as she grew older, her desire to live had simply been increasingly eclipsed by her desire to hunt -- to hunt things that were not, properly speaking, prey. Or at least, that weren't the sort of prey that lead to stable local politics.

Apocalypse World / Re: Confused about Pack Alpha (Chopper)
« on: January 06, 2017, 05:31:41 PM »
I'm still lost as to why you'd ever choose anything other than "They do what you want," on a 7-9.

Well the most obvious answer is 'you were hoping to roll a 10+'. You do have +2 hard, after all.

A 7-9 result is a push-comes-to-shove question: now that you understand this is gonna be a struggle, what part of that struggle is most important to avoid? If you can't see why a Chopper wouldn't want to avoid having to make an example of their gang, or avoid generalized dissent -- I dunno what to say, except think about a few more situations and I am guessing it'll become clear. Sometimes discipline is more important than effectiveness; sometimes you only have six gang members left and you need them all in working order; sometimes the thing you wanted them to do wasn't as important as making them do it.

I mean... group power dynamics are complicated! If that's not true of your Chopper's gang yet, don't worry -- it will be after a few more 7-9 Pack Alpha results, especially if you just keep choosing 'they do the thing.'

Apocalypse World / Re: AP ammo against vehicles and gangs in a hardhold
« on: January 04, 2017, 01:03:46 AM »
Our hardholder has taken the Shit garage option so I know that is somewhere I can Push , but again I'm worried about lugger being able to one shot a tank.

How would you 'one shot' a tank with a silenced sniper rifle? Like, even in a world where we have decided to respond to our Gunlugger being the ultimate murderer by trying to invent Things They Might Find Slightly Harder to Murder, this does not make sense. I mean, a silenced sniper rifle already makes very little sense... but back to the tank, things in AW don't have hit points. They take harm. The thing harming them has to be able to actually harm them. That harm has to actually be debilitating to debilitate them. No amount of stepping really hard on someone's toe is going to kill them, even if technically stomping on someone's toe might do 1 harm in any particular circumstance.

Obviously this is a figurative example but I assure you this response works figuratively as well: respond honestly and take the fiction seriously and concerns about metaphorically destroying a metaphorical tank with a single action should also vanish.

If you have ended up in a world where your Gunlugger actually can just shoot a tank with a sniper rifle and have it explode because the numbers add up that way, that's cool too -- but probably 'bigger tanks with even more armour' is not gonna help at that point.

Apocalypse World / Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« on: January 02, 2017, 09:10:05 PM »

I like 'The Show' option and also 'the Battlebabe chooses if it happens or not.' The latter has more thematic distortion -- like, it seems a very different thing than the default, and is also just strictly 'better' -- than the former, but it may feel like more of a 'move' in a way that encourages the player(s)/signals that a real adjustment has been made.

But I also don't have a lot of direct experience with this, other than having played a Battlebabe and been at least a little sad when I didn't get to do something extra after hooking up with someone. That said, my Battlebabe was sexy af and didn't need a move to explain that to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen; he also never slept with any other PCs, so I didn't have that anti-climactic experience -- which I agree can be a bummer.

Apocalypse World / Re: Messing With Assumptions: No Gas, No Bullets
« on: December 23, 2016, 05:36:07 AM »
I mean, sure, why not. But I think there are two things being proposed here: an Apocalypse based on a different set of genre assumptions, and an Apocalypse without gas or bullets. Just taking away cars and guns is not going to turn AW away from its roots in the distinctly American version of post-apocalyptic fiction, even if it might push players towards a less trope-heavy implementation of the same.

Which is super-fun and a worthwhile thing to attempt, of course, but if you want a genuinely different genre (or version of the genre) I think you are going to need to do more than adjust the technological veneer -- AW is designed in accordance with a lot of pretty specific notions of violence, community etc. that are, IMO, fundamentally engaged with the exact sort of genre tropes and themes that you describe. And while 'engaged with' is very, very different than 'unquestioningly in favour of', if you want a game that is not about that kind of apocalypse you are probably going to need to start changing the Moves and the Principles and everything else before you're likely to get all that far.

Personally I would love to see variations on the genre that aim for something closer to the British tradition of post-apocalyptic fiction, or other things entirely. But they would be very different games, and it's not even obvious that they would be best as PbtA games.

Apocalypse World / Re: Gunlugger + grenades = problem
« on: December 18, 2016, 12:44:15 AM »

Do grenades have the 'unlimited' tag in 2nd edition or something?

I mean, if they have a lot of grenades, they must be getting them from somewhere? Seems interesting enough. These aren't just bullets or knives, after all, someone needs to know what they're doing to make a bunch of grenades.

But, like, 'the Gunlugger is overshadowing everyone else because they're so good at murdering NPCs' is not particularly a problem with grenades. Would it somehow be different if they were shooting everyone with a pistol or something? Because NPCs die from 2 harm just as much as 4, in most circumstances. Shoving a grenade in someone's mouth and then kicking them around seems pretty stylish, if prone to catastrophic error.

Apocalypse World / Re: Confused about Pack Alpha (Chopper)
« on: December 13, 2016, 03:33:08 AM »

Really, guys? You think if someone doesn't pick 'they do what you want' the gang should just... do what they wanted anyways? But do a slightly worse job?

I mean, if there is some particular way they can still do it and fuck it up, sure, that's one of the many ways they could not actually do what you want. But mostly this just seems like a wilful misreading of the text because you don't like how harsh the move is on a 7-9.

Apocalypse World / Re: NTBFW and Going Aggro (2nd ed)....
« on: December 07, 2016, 08:54:15 PM »
It means Going Aggro in a battle. As for examples, take any example that would be covered by Going Aggro, and have it happen during a battle, like so:

A battle is raging, gunfire everywhere. Ampersand the Gunlugger sees Rolfball, the treacherous rat, running across the battlefield -- he's trying to get to a jeep somebody abandoned during the fighting! Ampersand's player is like "fuck no, Rolfball, you are not getting away that easy -- I fire a warning shot from my AK right in front of his nose and shout out 'Get the fuck back inside, Rolfball -- I'll deal with you later!'"

or another battle is raging, explosions and bullets flying everywhere. Klaxon bursts in through the doors of the previously secure bunker where the enemy hardholder's mostly-not-that-armed civilians are cowering. Though some of the civvies are armed they clearly weren't expecting this, and they definitely aren't going to fight back, at least not right in the moment. Brandishing her flamethrower she shouts 'put your hands where I can fuckin' see 'em!'

I mean, anything can happen as part of a battle, generally speaking, and so NTBFW means that if the PC ends up Going Aggro in such a context, they're gonna do extra harm at the very least. Arguably, as in the second example, you might decide that NTBFW allows them to Go Aggro on a larger group of people than might otherwise be reasonable.

Apocalypse World / Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« on: December 01, 2016, 10:20:22 PM »
One question:

Why do they feel the need to "guide the conversation" this way? Why don't they just ask the question immediately? Is it something you enforce at the table, a "principled play" thing, or something else?

Some of the questions address a specific context -- you can't just ask 'is he lying?' immediately if he hasn't said anything you're interested in knowing the truth about. Or maybe you want to bring up a particular person or topic before asking how they're feeling. Things like that.

Apocalypse World / Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« on: December 01, 2016, 07:59:33 PM »
Most of the time, but it depends on when the move gets rolled, whether they hit a 10+, and many other things besides. It's pretty common in my experience for someone to decide to Read a Person due to something that has come up in a conversation -- e.g. to discover if what they just said is truthful or not -- but it is also common to use the move because someone is generally acting suspicious, and then to engage in conversation; in the latter case, holding your questions makes the most sense.

I also think players often have one main question in mind when they roll the move, and so 10+ results mean that they run out of immediate, obvious questions before using up their three hold -- this can happen in both the general cases described above. Extending the conversation allows them to both see if anything else comes up OR specifically guide the conversation towards something they'd like to use their last (few) hold on.

Probably the most common time I see the hold mechanic being used is when PCs are reading other PCs, because that's the most common case where the roll seems valuable as a purely speculative roll -- you're practically guaranteed to want to know something about another PC over the course of a scene, especially if that scene has dramatic charge.

Sometimes this is done to clarify to what degree the character understands what is obvious to the player -- since the player often has a much better idea of how the other PC is feeling, having watched all their previous scenes, etc. So sometimes I will see players decide to Read the other PC and then use a question to confirm that they definitely know, as a character, that the other PC is upset/lying/whatever. But other times they will just roll the move to indicate a general curiousity or wariness, and in that case the hold mechanic is particularly useful.


The 'to do it, do it' approach still applies to Read a Situation. If a player declares that they are reading a situation, make sure you figure out what that looks like in this particular case. Then, as MC, your job is to make whatever answers you give fit the particular case. Sometimes that means they will get more or less specific versions of the same answer, depending on what their PC is actually doing -- but they should always get a real answer, that provides new, useful information.

Given that 'who's in control here' includes the word 'here', I'm actually not sure what sort of situations you are thinking of, where this information would somehow be out of reach of a PC reading a situation; for 'my enemy's true position', remember that 'there aren't really any enemies here' or 'your enemy's true position is elsewhere' are both real answers that provide real information to the PC.

It might help if you provided some examples of situations where you think certain answers would be off-limits or hard to square with the fiction?

Apocalypse World / Re: Love Letters of Scuzz Town
« on: November 25, 2016, 08:09:31 PM »
After a running my first session I'm now gearing up to send out the players' love letters. The first session went well, though I made a few slip-ups and poor choices, so I'd like to start the next session off a little better.

I admit my first question here would be why you are sending love letters after a single session. Is your intention to do these every session? Did a significant amount of time elapse? Do you want to skip over the immediate consequences of whatever happened last session, or does it feel like not enough things happened, or?

I am significantly less enthused than most MCs seem to be about the love letter technology -- I think that when they're good, they're pretty great, but that they should be deployed sparingly and in particular circumstances. It seems particularly difficult to come up with good love letters after only a single session, since there really isn't that much happening yet, and love letters generally excel at either fast-forwarding existing things to a point of crisis or resolving things that are well-developed but keep falling just outside the scope of an individual session.

But anyways, that's my bias, on to the letters.

Dear Saffron,

The market will be back on it's feet in the morning, but last night's disruption will have messed with your supply lines. Roll +hot to touch base with old suppliers and make new connections. 10+ pick 3, 7-9 pick 2, miss pick 1
-You resupply on coffee and drugs
-Some of your people don't get poached by water-slavers
-You fleece some sucker for 3 barter
-You show your face enough that those scuzzers don't think they can get away with selling the password to your place
-You pick up a hot tip (you get to ask one question from the read a sitch/person list for free at any time).
[That last option I'm not 100% on, but not sure of a better way to portray getting good gossip.

Well, more bias: I am not a fan of 'avoid a negative consequence that did not exist until I wrote it down as an option on this move' as an option on love letters. But everyone else seems to absolutely love them, so I can only plead for you to at least phrase them as a positive character activity or achievement rather than the passively-voiced suggestion that the hand of fate just randomly decided to spare them.

For example, instead of 'Some of your people don't get poached by water-slavers', something like 'You interrupt some water-slavers trying to poach some of your people.' By making it something the PC actually did in the fiction, you not only are more likely to get interesting consequences out of it -- you could start the session with the scene where the poachers are being interrupted, for example -- but you at least obfuscate the fact that you just made up a way to screw the player and then let them spend their hard-earned currency to stop you from doing it.

(Note that much of my dislike of this form of move does not apply if these are well-established threats -- things you have set up with previous moves and foreshadowing, and the player has consciously left unaddressed. It seems unlikely that this applies after a single session.)

The last option seems fine to me, another version could be 'take 1 forward to read a situation.'

Dear Lost Rabbit,
Well, that was a hell of a party last night and the chaos has opened up some opportunities. Pick whose toes you're stepping on for each of these then roll +weird:
-You fortify the warren [TRADERS or SAFFRON]
-You recruit new students [BABIES or SAFFRON]
-You wrangle 2 barter's worth of booze [BABIES or TRADERS]
On a 10+ pick 1 option that pisses off the group in question, for the rest you talk your way in/out of/around it. On a 7-9 pick 2. On a miss, they're all pissed off.

I actually just straight up can't figure out what this means, or how this move works. Is Lost Rabbit doing all those things, no matter what? Are they only doing one, that they're picking? When are they picking it? Why are you telling them all the things they are doing in a love letter -- did the player express an intention to do all these things? Aside from the confusion of how it is phrased I feel like this letter is really short on meaningful player choice.

Dear Spice Lion,

After last night's brush with the biker gang, it's time to work your magic and make some friends. Pick a group: BABIES; TRADERS; THE AUTHORITY; SAFFRON's STAFF and roll +hot. 10+ pick 3, 7-9 pick 2, miss pick 1.
-You Hypnotise an influential member of the group (I'll tell you who) with 2 hold.
-You don't draw attention from that group's enemies
-You ingratiate yourself to the group as a whole, ensuring they will be friendly to you
-You don't piss off the troublemaker of the group
-You get some dirt on another group, which you can use for leverage.
[Spice Lion came from out of town, so I want to get some connections going and setup some triangles]

This seems fine, though again 'you don't do a thing' or 'a thing doesn't happen' never feels like a particularly fun choice to me. These just seem like miss options dressed up as hits -- if I was the player I would basically never choose these options, especially if very little has been established yet about the group in question (does the player even know who the 'enemies' of each group are, at this point? Do you?)

Similarly, the 'on a miss, pick 1' thing for this and the first letter seems kind of meh to me. I would suggest rephrasing/conceptualizing it as something like 'On a miss, pick 1 and I'll tell you how it goes wrong.'

Dear Stinky Baby,
While the market knits itself back together, you need to get out there and get something to trade. Get 5 barter's worth and roll +hard. 10+ pick 1, 7-9 pick 2, miss pick 3.
-You get shafted by a scuzz trader, get -2 barter
-Happy baby and Slappy baby went and got treatment for their wounds, you owe the local doc 2 barter.
-A victim gets away, now they're out for revenge.
-The water you trade for is Nasty. You and the babies are bleeding from the eyes unless you spend 2 barter on upkeep.
[The Babies (his gang) get by raiding outside town and trading what they get at market. Nasty water is an affliction, but eye-bleeding isn't immediately harmful]

Barter seems to be much more relevant in the new edition, so can't really comment on this other than to say that the barter parts of these choices seem the least interesting. Luckily most of the options are solid enough choices on their own -- though the player is presumably guaranteed to pick the option where his gang members get medical attention before the one where he just straight up loses 2 barter. I would suggest adding something to the 'you get shafted' option -- a potential upside, or just interesting apocalyptica that makes it seem like a cooler option.

Dear Amiette,
Maybe it was the smoke, maybe it was the bodies, maybe it was the maelstrom, but now you can hear dead people. Specifically, you can use Deep Brain Scan on dead bodies. If the cause of death was beheading, you automatically get 10+.
[Amiette's player won't be able to make it next session, so I figured I'd give them a custom that'd get them excited to come back and use it]

Interesting option -- do we know, at least, that Amiette's player is interested in Amiette being able to scan dead bodies? This seems to potentially imply a lot about the Maelstrom and the PC's relation with it in particular, depending on how much has been established so far. Otherwise, sounds neat.

Apocalypse World / Re: Question about Small Holdings
« on: November 11, 2016, 04:37:16 PM »

It depends why Marie has this responsibility. It depends what those people were doing before she ended up in charge. Maybe Marie is a huge bad-ass with lots of Barter from other sources, and this new Hold used to be a group of diseased refugees -- maybe the story right now is about the trade-off Marie is having to make to try and support this new 'Hold, to try and make it profitable. Maybe Marie is naive about what it means to have responsibility for people, and so is not doing the things a real Hardholder would have to do to make this work. In all these circumstances, and dozens of others, 'being a fan' means being honest about the consequences of Marie's actions and seeing what happens as a result -- it doesn't mean worrying about whether Marie's mechanical advance is 'worth it' on a mechanical level.

I mean, almost nobody adopts a Hardhold because they want barter -- and when they do, it should be obvious and there should be a reason it makes sense. But usually they do it for some other reason -- some thing it makes possible in the fiction, some expansion of their reach and also their obligations in the community. I understand that lifestyle-barter is a bigger thing in AW2 (don't ask me why), so maybe one should be generous for that reason -- but most people are not born Hardholders, and most Hardholds are not functional producers of wealth. It's the apocalypse, after all.

Apocalypse World / Re: Custom Playbook: The Jinx
« on: November 06, 2016, 02:08:33 PM »
It's just, like, all the same thing over and over, in twelve different moves, and then plus a curse. I'd rather play any other playbook who just happens to be 'jinxed/cursed' -- have you considered turning this into a playbook expansion of some kind?

Alternately I feel like you need to find another dimension for this playbook, other than making everything shitty for everyone in the most straightforwardly mechanical way possible. Like, the curse is fictionally interesting, but every other move feels like it's just penalty to roll, harm, extra harm, you die!, you die!, etc. Would suggest reviewing Johnstone Metzger's 'Heralds of Hell' playbooks if you can track down a digital copy, for ideas on villainous/bad news playbooks that are still iconic.

Also, Black Magic's 7-9 sounds like a miss to me. A 7-9 should still involve success of some kind.

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