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Messages - DWeird

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Apocalypse World / Re: Can Apocalypse World have a happy ending?
« on: January 13, 2013, 03:49:32 PM »

The playbooks all have advancement that increases their heft in the game, and the game doesn't really do anything to systematically counter this.

5 advancements and beyond you have a bunch of characters who are the most competent and important people around. This leads to them being in position to pretty much settle the major problems they face - a happy ending.

There's also the fact that you get not only powerful (i.e., hurt dudes better) but transformative abilities opened up beyond 5 advancements, like removing threat status from NPCs or seeing beyond the maelstrom.

Of course, this only means that it's likely that player characters will (eventually) get what they really want. It might be that they want something that doesn't mesh well with what we'd call a happy ending. It might also be the case that the PC's wishes conflict, in which case you'll likely have a more dramatic ending.

Beyond that, though, I seriously doubt the world's ability to resits the PCs is all that great. AW's inherently a bit of a "making a home" story.

Apocalypse World / Re: Can Apocalypse World have a happy ending?
« on: January 13, 2013, 10:20:58 AM »
I have an inkling that it's a happy end more often than not, just because of the way character advancement is structured.

Apocalypse World / Re: Going too far?
« on: January 05, 2013, 12:09:39 PM »
Yep, that's pretty much it.

Framing the question in terms of who the PCs choose to save is legit for AW.

Framing it in terms of which NPCs the PCs want not to die is not.

Apocalypse World / Re: Going too far?
« on: January 05, 2013, 05:51:25 AM »
That sounds like giving too much agency to them. You basically want the players (and not their characters!) to be complicit in the murder of their favorite NPCs, without even being upfront about it.

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

There is a kind of mechanic I was considering for using for long-term playbooks, especially the savvyhead, that I never got to try but might prove useful to you.

I'll write in terms of the savvyhead because that's what I thought most about, but I believe it should work well enough for the hardholder, too.

Basically, it's a kind of reverse front - you start at the basic proof of concept, then make a prototype, and then you make the actual thing which in turn makes a big splash in the world.

Say you're a Savvy, you want to take control of the tornados that ravage the land. First, I ask - is that even possible? How? The Savvy needs to do something concrete that tells me that he can pull this off - maybe he tries to take a chunk of the maelstorm and manipulate the winds with it. If that doesn't work out somehow, that's it, the question's settled - no one in the setting at hand can control the tornados. You might be able to cope with them by hiding or building shelters, but control is downright impossible. The game is now about how you deal with this.

But say the maelstorm thing works. Then you have to actually make a machine that controls a real tornado and test it out. If the best effort to do that doesn't work - the crucial machine part is destroyed, lost, or goes out of control, that's it - this is now a world of hope and possibility, but not the ability for actual change.

Finally, if it does work? Well, what does it mean to be able to control tornados? How is this ability used? Are you really better off when your best efforts come through? The thing you made is now recognised and used by the community, and you deal with the ways it does so.

Is this different from what you normally do as MC? I think it is. The problem with these kind of long-term fictionful character arcs, like making a thing that controls tornados, or building a society on a vision, are based mostly on the fact that the MC allows it or not. Can you control tornadoes? Are your insights into what would make a community work accurate enough to have even the chance to work?

If you don't get that assent early in the game, the game becomes about something else, which is well enough. More worryingly, actually getting that assent might mean that the game is no longer about a question of what your character can do, because you've already settled that question, implicitly or explicitly. Is a Lockean post-apocalyptic society viable? You already know.

Not already knowing but being able to find out is valuable, I think. If I was a braver man, I'd even say it's necessary to have anything worth calling a game at all.

So the idea is to set yourself as MC a kind of explicit framework of questions that controls what's possible in principle in the game you're playing, and develops that through the success or failure of player actions.

Is the idea proposed possible in principle?
If yes, is the idea proposed workable right here and now, with what you have to work with?
If yes, what are the real, concrete, longterm or wide-spread results of what you just did? Is it really the thing that you wanted?

Specifically for your case, I'd just let the Hardholder do the trading mission as soon as possible, think about all of the things that could make trade completelly impossible, have the Hardholder deal with (or accept) them, and see where it goes from there.

Of course, you know your game better, so it's really your best guess whether the trading thing is something the Hardholder is putting great hopes in, or if there's something else interesting around.

Paul - I'm not gonna lie, I'm secretly hoping that my words flow like a magnificient rainbow and you're just too awestruck to see their majestic beauty clearly.

But yeah. There is actually an important reason why I want to keep the 'go aggro' phrase in there.

Let me begin with an example. Compare:

You're a Gunlugger. Before you is a gang of bikers, along with their leader. They attack you.

You're a Gunlugger. Before you is a gang of bikers lead by a Chopper. He goes aggro on you using his gang, and they attack you.

Which one registers as something that would matter more, in the context of AW?

In AW, there is a PC way of doing things and a NPC way of doing things. The NPC way of doing things generally crumples when it gets in the way of PCs. Mostly this doesn't matter because who really cares about NPCs, right? But this matters for cases where the NPCs are part of a player's ability. If a PC has an ability that gets a bunch of aggressive NPCs on another PC, but does not take away at least part of the players right to initiative, it'll be a NPC-like move in it's effectiveness.

My worry is that if an Abacus uses a move with your phrasing, it'll be like:

"Hey, Driver, a bunch of dudes show up to beat you up, like the Abacus said they would." "I run them over. *dice rattle*"

As compared to:

"Hey, Driver, a bunch of dudes sent by the Abacus have just beat you up. What do you do?"

So it's not just clarity that's at stake, it's the question of mechanical bite as well. Phrasing the move in terms of go aggro lets the Abacus get some of that bite at least some of the times.

Danny - fair enough! I didn't want "disrupting" to mean "intentionally disrupting", but that Hx option is definitelly the most flailing sentence of the group.

"One of them has skills, resources or people that would be managed far more profitably if you were in charge of them. Tell that player Hx+3."


Subtext is hard! Especially since the volume of text is an issue.

If it's any help, if you're playing the Abacus, imagine you're this guy (because I do):

I don't watch Mad Men, mind, so I'm working solely off the image. I wouldn't be surprised if the show supports the archetype I'm aiming for, though.

Anyway, regarding Swimming with sharks... I don't know. It's not that different from using your own gang as a weapon, is it? I'm sure I'm stretching go aggro a bit, but not by much. I'll leave it as is, phrasing aside, until someone who played it tells me it doesn't work.

I'll consider adding a PC version for In the pocket, that should solve most problems.

As is, I don't think the special is that problematic - either you fuck with the Abacus to use him, or you fuck him 'cause you like him, in which case he gets to use you. You get to choose whether or not the Abacus gets to use you, so you should generally be good with things he asks you to do.

Still, would this phrasing be any better?

In the pocket - at the beggining of a session, roll +cool. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend your hold 1 for 1 to have someone in your network act on prior orders or established duties and make a move on your behalf as if you were there to do it yourself.

You use the Abacus's stats. Ever had a job where you followed orders even where the task was pointless or counterproductive, using not your own best judgement, but your boss's? This is that.

Spread around in Options means 'spend', yeah. It also means that the target of the spending is not necessarily well-defined. I think one of the barter moves shares this usage, more or less with the meaning of "give a little to everyone."

Swimming with sharks is triggered with you threatening other people with gang members that are close enough in the fictional timespace.

So, if you threaten a farmer with violence and he tells you to fuck off, maybe you have like a week to have local toughs fuck him up.

If you're locked in the farmer's closet and he's sharpening his skinning knife, there has better be a bruiser within shouting distance.

Also, if you have Swimming with sharks, you immediatelly skip all of the steps that you'd normally have to take to do something similar with a regular character - actually convincing the harholder, actually convincing members of her gang, making them care about the exact worth of their debt to you, etc.

Also, the debt owed by the authority needn't be be barter. When I made most of the moves, I kept thinking how other playbooks could use them - in the case of Swimming with sharks, it's definitelly a move intented for Angels or Drivers, people who the authorities might be indebted to because of the valuable service they provide, not the money you lend them directly. You're important, is the thing - whether by providing healing, or transportation, or brokering deals for hard to get stuff. It's like being rich and white and calling for the police. So you could even get away with using the gang without the local authority's direct knowledge - only you'd lose face with them if it was something against their interests.

Does the above make the intended use of the move clear?

With that in mind, how about this phrasing:

Swimming with sharks - as long as you remain on good terms with whoever is in charge, you can roll +sharp instead of +hard to aggro, using members of their gang as a weapon.

The Abacus is going to get an option to get another Network options as advancement, maintenance-free. If I make the parts of Abacus's network a more uncertain gamble as you're proposing, I might give him a bigger list to choose from as well as more options, though.

Vondas - a fair complaint!

I don't want to use manipulation for it because it's not bluffing - if you refuse an Abacus or his agent, well, the local toughs are going to have a field day with you. In fact, direct access thugs is the only new thing the move adds - you could manipulate people using your powerful friends as leverage before this.

Still, go aggro doesn't really do "violence will inevitably come some time later", so I guess I need a rephrase?

Swimming with sharks - if whoever's in charge around here owes you, you can cash in the debt to use +sharp instead of +hard to aggro, using part of their gang as a weapon.

So it's now your job to make sure there are gang members around you if it's a highly fictionally detailed situation. Better?

Cool! I'll try to get this guy up to spec faster, then.

Here's some gear & Hx.

In addition to your network, you get:
* 1 failsafe weapon.
* Oddments worth 5-barter.
* Fashion suitable to your look, including at your option a piece worth 1-armor (you detail).

Failsafe weapons:
* .38 revolver (2-harm close reload loud)
* 9mm (2-harm close loud)
* antique handgun (2-harm close reload loud valuable)
* shotgun (3-harm close messy)
* machette (3-harm hand messy)

On your turn (choose however many you want):

One of them owes you for services rendered. Tell that player Hx+2.
One of them owes you, because you said so. Tell that player Hx+2.
Tell everyone else Hx-1. You don't advertise - unless you do, in which case tell everyone Hx+1.

On the others' turns:

One of them has refused you access to their assets or is disrupting a profitable venture. Whatever number that players tells you, ignore it and write down Hx+3 next to their character name instead.
Everyone else, whatever number they tell you, add +1 to it and write it next to their character's name. You stay informed.

Keeping tabs means you've got an ear out for things you bought or invested in. The Abacus is positioned as a well-connected person, so you can bring in NPCs to convey the information.

Abacus is not likely to get much in terms of things that fuck him, network-wise. Unlike a Hardholder (who's a boss or authority) or a Hocus (who's a center of a cult) or a Chopper (who's, well, pack alpha), an Abacus is nothing special on his own. What makes an Abacus an Abacus is that he has access to all these different important, useful people. Losing that access hurts the player of an Abacus more than missing a Wealth or Fortunes roll does. Plus, I think that particular mechanic (barter on hit, trouble on miss) has seen plenty of use already.

Mechanically, an Abacus is more like a Gunlugger or Skinner than a Hardholder or Operator, really.

Anyway. I get the general concern. My plan is to make the Abacus not need so much 'sour' on his sheet by making the Abacus *be* the sour, if that makes any sense. I'll try to relay this with Hx and they ways he gets his barter.

For example. You probably know how, if you have a Gunlugger in your game, the profile of your NPCs changes - even if you're a player who's NOT a Gunlugger, you're far more likely to deal with violence from other NPCs?

An Abacus should have a similar effect, only with abusive, organized gain-orientated social relationships instead of violence. With the added effect that the Abacus is far more likely to be on the initiating end of a relationship that hurts another PC or NPC they care about.

So, basically, as an Abacus you have to make your own trouble, but that's easy because you're very good at making trouble for others.

Hey Paul! Merry Christmas!

Currently, I'm thinking organized extortion, a cut of deals made, and constant employment as some kind of accountant. I'm figuring maybe a simple "Barter" section, like in the other 'books, would do for getting that accross. Then again, who really reads those...


What if I gave the Abacus a ledger full of people who owe him, as stuff? If he runs out of money... He goes aknocking on other people's doors, which could be interesting.

Not fully sure yet.

Oh, and yeah! Definitelly tell me what's not clear with the moves.

Thanks for the interest! An Abacus is definitelly a 'nicer cut' kind of guy, and the comparison to Badger is quite apt (as both the menacing first episode material and the comedic relief of later ones).

As for the maintenance cost... I wanted money, employment and bartering to matter when the Abacus is in play. AW doesn't have terribly good tools for that as far as I'm concerned - in every game I've played, barter was mostly handled off-screen if at all.

Moves that give you barter wouldn't make you care about it - you only really ever care about things you don't have. The 2-barter maintenance cost is kind of steep, but it makes the Abacus's player care about the in-fiction flows of goods very much. I hope so at least! And I'd rather err on the side of too much for playtest purposes .

Apocalypse World / New playbook: The Abacus (evil middlemanager edition)
« on: December 22, 2012, 04:04:46 PM »
You might know about my earlier attempt at a playbook, the Abacus, who was a kind of stealthy hitman type. That one failed to take off - mostly because no one, including myself, was able to point at what exactly the playbook was supposed to be doing.

Well, now I've redone it completelly. Instead of being a cool loner assassin type, instead he's now basically a middle manager - a guy who is all about social leverage and the inability to use it gracefully.

You will find yourself caring a lot more about where and how barter is flowing, and you will be very capable of putting other people into trouble while remaining relativelly safe yourself. You lack the ability to have a "final say" in matters, though, and things ought to get away from you unless you take care of various troublesome details well in advance.

You can play post-apoc middlemanagers, loan sharks, dealers and brokers with him.

Inspirations were the Wolf from Pulp Fiction, Buddy from Swimming with Sharks, Fennyman from Shakespear in love, and my own burning inner desire to make a jerk playbook that doesn't screw the other characters.


Joe, Gray, Moss, Pierce, Case, Jules, Mirth, Rain.

Adams, Bach, Carter, Evans, Young, Thomas, White, Price.
QED, Once, Boss's Man, Mirror, Thirteen, Pi, Carver.


Man, Woman, or concealed.

Formal wear, vintage wear, casual wear, signature wear, or luxe wear.

Concealed face, sharp face, stern face, fat face or forgettable face.

Deep eyes, dead eyes, calculating eyes, wise eyes, weary eyes.

Tall body, wiry body, pudgy body, crippled body, hard body.

Cool+2 Hard-1 Hot-2 Sharp+2 Weird+1
Cool+2 Hard0 Hot-1 Sharp+1 Weird+1
Cool+2 Hard+1 Hot0 Sharp+1 Weird-1
Cool+2 Hard+1 Hot+1 Sharp-1 Weird0

Abacus's network -

By default, your network costs 2-barter maintenance per session and provides you with services as per your professional agreement. Missing payments means no more service, no more respect. Pick two:
* You've got a rare contact (maybe Milk) for something luxe or rare, like weapons, drugs or transportation.
* You've got two no-nonsense enforcers (maybe Vega and Ezekiel).
* You've got an understanding with the local warlord (maybe Jonathan) that you're the gatekeeper of something necessary, like food, medicine, or gear.
* You've got a front or a patsy (maybe Quentin).
* You've got cachet and an envoy (maybe Trigger) with the distant looming threat (maybe Greer's gang).

Pick two:

In the pocket - at the beggining of a session, roll +cool. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend your hold 1 for 1 to have someone in your network make a move for you as if you were there to do it.

Swimming with sharks - if whoever's in charge around here owes you, you can cash in the debt to use +sharp instead of +hard to aggro, using their retribution as a weapon.

Options - you can spread 1 barter around once per session, getting 1 extra hold any time you get hold for the rest of the session.

Keeping tabs - you can read the sitch regarding anything you spent barter on, even if you're not there.

Served cold - when using time and manpower to pursue someone, roll +cool. On a hit, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend hold 1 for 1 throughout your pursuit to:
* Find the least loyal member of their group.
* Trap, imprison them or remove an escape route.
* Put something left unprotected in danger.
* Hide something important or dangerous in plain view.

When you have sex with someone, either you get 1 hold on them or they get 1 hold on your network as per In the pocket rules, their choice.

Advancement: The usual, details pending, plus:
Retire as a threat.

You also get some unimpressive weaponry to start with, and a whopping 5 barter. Improvements might get you a small hold or a moonlighting crew, both of which will benefit from the Network move.

Apocalypse World / Re: Default +stat, info +stat: a forum game!
« on: December 19, 2012, 12:44:44 PM »
Info stat: Hard. It's not about knowing - it's about making truth so. How hard can you push your vision of reality? Will you dare to fuck up other people's minds and reason to do it?

Default stat: Weird. The world is a mess, strange and fucked up. The more oddball you are, the more what happens washes over you without leaving scars.

I dunno. Planescape noire? I'd imagine the playbooks would be more antagonistic than they are now.

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