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Topics - HyveMynd

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Monsterhearts / The Oni & The Kitsune - 50% Proceeds to SPLC & PP
« on: February 06, 2017, 01:47:57 AM »
Abusive, dominating, violent, brutal. The Oni is all about enforcing unity within the group by punishing those who don’t fit in.

Deceptive, mischievous, seductive, trapped. The Kitsune is about being unable to tell the truth, even when it would be the best choice to do so.

In an effort to help do something about the current state of the US from over here in Japan, I have revised both my Oni and Kitsune Skins. They are now up on PayHip for $4 each and, until further notice, 50% of all the proceeds made from sales of The Oni will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center ( and 50% of all the proceeds made from sales of the Kitsune will go to Planned Parenthood (

Monster of the Week / How to make Mysteries more mysterious.
« on: June 13, 2013, 11:56:09 PM »
I finally got to run a game of Monster of the Week last night. I'd been wanting to do so for a while, and the stars finally aligned, granting my wish. Unfortunately it was a bit last minute, and real life responsibilities only allowed me very minimal prep time. So instead of being able to create a new Mystery for my Hunters, I just used the examples from the book. My plan was to start them off in media res fighting the last Mongolian Death Worm, and then and then move on to the "real" case of the ghost and haunted house. I figured a quick fight would give my players a feel for how the game worked. We're all familiar with the Apocalypse World Engine (though I wouldn't call us experts), but as the Moves in MotW are different from say Monsterhearts and Dungeon World, a little fight would show them how MotW worked.

Things went well, though the Death Worm fight went longer than I expected. The Hunters turned it into a mini-Mystery, as they wanted to gather some clues first before just kicking down the door and fighting. Although this was intended as a one-shot to give our usual Monsterhearts MC a break, we're probably going to turn this into a campaign with me as Keeper. Which is fine, as I had a blast running the game and everyone enjoyed playing. I did have a few questions though, especially about legwork and investigation.

After the game, one of my players said that he didn't think the investigation part of the game was very strong. We then discussed how, as the premise of the game is monster hunting, there will always be some sort of supernatural creature behind the events the Hunters look into. Obviously this is not a problem (it's the premise), but the player then pointed out that the questions players get to ask from the Investigate a Mystery Move are very straight forward. Getting to ask "What kind of monster is it?" pretty much solves the Mystery with a single die roll.

I said that while that is true (and it is something I'm struggling with a bit), the problem the Hunters will be dealing with isn't really what, but how. OK. You're pretty sure that you're dealing with a ghost here based on the information you've gathered. The big question is how are you going to deal with it? So far, both with the Mongolian Death Worm and the haunted house (the Hunters are currently sitting in their car at the foot of the house's driveway), the Hunters immediately knew exactly where the monster was. They didn't have to worry about how they'd track it down or locate it. I intend to make that an issue in future Mysteries.

But that being said, do more experienced Keepers have some advice about how to make the legwork/investigation part of the Mystery be a bit more, well... mysterious? I understand that the Mystery is (almost) always leading up to a fight with the monster. That's just what the game is. I also understand that if the players come up with reasonable ways to obtain answers to the Investigate a Mystery Move questions, that I should provide them. I'm not trying to play "gotcha" with the players and stonewall them. I need to provide them with usable information so they can make informed decisions. However, it does seem a bit anti-climatic when a player can just make a single die roll and ask "What kind of creature is it?". Maybe I'm not sure how much and what kind of information to give when someone asks this question. My players actually avoided asking it because they thought it would end things too quickly.

I'm also curious how to increase the mystery part of the Mystery in general terms. When Director Murdock slapped the ghost case file in front of the team and told them to check it out, one of the players immediately said "Ghost." I had described how the families who had lived in the house were always reporting "break ins" and "things being moved" but police never found any evidence. Yeah, that's pretty obviously a ghost, but I was still a little miffed my players hit on the answer so easily. As I said before though, the real issue isn't discovering that they have to get rid of a ghost, but figuring out how they'll do it. Still, I'd like there to be a bit more "what are we dealing with" at the beginning of future Mysteries.

Any advice on how to do that?

Monsterhearts / The Oni
« on: February 06, 2013, 02:05:41 AM »
My friend and I are both big, big fans of Monsterhearts and we both like to tinker with rules. We've hacked a bunch of games, but never really finished anything or produced anything worth sharing.

Until now.

We've come up with the idea of making several new Skins based on monsters from Japanese mythology (as we've both been living in Kansai for several years now). Here is the first Skin: The Oni.

Everything's done except for the "intro text" on the front cover and a flavorful name for the Gang Advance option.

We'd love to hear feedback on The Oni, whether you simply read it over or if you actually use it a your table. How clear are the moves? Do they work as intended? Do the make sense for the Oni's nature? Are some of the moves broken or overpowered? Does something feel "off"? We just need more pairs of eyes on this Skin to spot any problems we may have overlooked. Thanks.

Monsterhearts / Promise them something you want.
« on: January 24, 2013, 11:12:38 PM »
So  finally got a chance to play Monsterhearts last night instead of running it. It was great. But we had a rules issue crop up, which I'm looking for some guidance on.

Here's the situation. My Hollow was paired up with the Ghoul (another PC) as dissection partners in biology class. I lean down to hold the dogfish we're cutting open, giving him an unobstructed view down my slightly too unbuttoned shirt. My roll to Turn Someone On is an 8, so he gets to choose one of the usual options.

We were teaching the game to the Ghoul's player and showing him the importance of Strings. He didn't want to give me a String (which I wanted) and didn't think he's character would act on my invitation right there in biology class. So he chose to promise me something he thought I wanted. In this case it was a promise to get his girlfriend to stop spreading rumors about me. Cool. I did want that.

After the exchange he turns to us as players and asks "Do I have to keep that promise?" I and the MC (who was MCing for the first time) were unsure how to answer. On the one hand, saying yes takes away some of the player's autonomy by forcing him to take a specific action. Holding someone to a promise like that is also stepping on the toes of the Fae Skin a bit. But if he can break or ignore the promise he made to me with no consequences, I feel that robs me of my roll. I didn't miss, I got a hit and I feel I should get something out of it.

How do other MCs handle this? Is the benefit I get for my soft hit simply the fictional guilt and shame I can leverage on the Ghoul for breaking a promise he made to me?

Dungeon World / Campaign Starter Booklets
« on: January 06, 2013, 10:45:41 PM »
Hey guys, I have something of a selfish question. See, I'm thinking about putting together a "published" campaign starter, sort of like an adventure module. I'm thinking it'll contain a short description of an area, notable locations and NPCs, a few Fronts with related Dangers and Grim Portents, new items and monsters, and a bunch of set up questions to get things rolling. Mease19's dungeon starters are great, but I really don't just want to just copy what he did.

So, my question is this: When you've run a Dungeon World game from a "module" what have been the most useful elements? I realize different people get inspired by different things, but I want to be sure that I'm including enough material for module to be useful while still leaving "blanks to be filled in".

Dungeon World / Fronts, needed for a one shot dungeon crawl?
« on: December 24, 2012, 10:37:21 PM »
Over the coming weeks I'll be running some Dungeon World games for people over Skype. Many of them are first timers to DW and AW-based games, but all are role players. I'm mining old Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd edition adventure modules for maps and ideas, and am wondering:

Do I even need to make  Fronts for these games?

I mean, I probably will make one just because Fronts are a GM note organizing tool and I like to (at least attempt to) be organized. But as these are one shot games, I plan to have the players make their characters as a group, then give a little "boxed text" introduction of why they're outside this particular dungeon and what they"re looking for, then shove them through the door. There won't really be any follow up after the sessions finish. What I mean is, the world will change based on the actions of the characters, but as we probably won't be going back to that world again the players will never see those changes. So it's sort of a moot point to record them, except as "lonely fun" for me as GM.

So how do you guys and girls run first sessions? With a Front or without, and why?

Monsterhearts / The Mortal's Lover
« on: December 11, 2012, 10:32:23 PM »
So I'm going through the Skins again as we might be playing Monsterhearts again soon, with me finally getting to be a player. Yes.

I'm leaning towards the Mortal, and noticed their True Love, Mess With Me, Mess With Him, and Excuses Are My Armor Moves as well as their Backstory has the word "lover" in italics. "You always have exactly one lover.", "You always carry 1 forward to earning your lover's heart or fancy." for example. Does that mean "lover" is a Condition? I'm pretty sure that Conditions and Moves are always presented in italics throughout the Monsterhearts book leading me to believe I'm right, but I could be dead wrong.

Can someone help me out on this?

Dungeon World / First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
« on: December 09, 2012, 09:39:17 PM »
This is going to be a long post, as it's a combination of an actual play report and my thoughts on running the game for the first time.

So I finally ran a session of Dungeon World last Thursday night. I've MCed a few sessions of both Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, but I've been itching to run DW for a while now. Both because it's one the easier AW-Powered games to get people to try (no Sex Moves, no over sexual overtones, and a well know setting/premise), and because I've wanted to stack it up against other fantasy RPGs (namely D&D Next).

Unlike other AW-Powered games, Dungeon World requires the GM to show up with an adventure (or at least the skeleton of one) all ready to go, much like a "traditional" game. So the night before our session I grabbed an old school D&D module, read through it, printed out its map, stocked the dungeon with some appropriate monsters and enemies from the DW book, and then made an Adventure Front with a few Dangers.

In the session I ran I created a single Front, The Cult of the Reptile God, which was composed of two Dangers, the Cult lead by an evil priest and the Reptile God. The human cultists were an Ambitious Organization: Cult (duh), while the Reptile God was a Planar Force: God (even though the entity wasn't actually a god, but a naga posing as one). So, with my Fronts, Dangers, map, and monsters ready, I was prepared to toss the characters into the thick of things.

I started the 3 PCs (the Dwarf Cleric Bjorn, the Elf FIghter Cadeus, and the Elf Wizard Galadiir) hot on the train of the evil Snake Cult who had kidnapped several townspeople from the village they'd been passing through. They'd already investigated and ransacked the local temple, killing the priest who turned out to be part of the evil Snake Cult, too! (That adventure didn’t actually happen, but it added some context and a motivation to a situation the PCs would otherwise have no reason to get involved with.) I asked each of the characters a question about the Snake Cult to establish some fiction. I asked Bjorn "What did you learn about the Snake Cult from ransacking that corrupted temple?" He replied, "They have giant snakes! As big as your leg, laddie!" Pretty much a given, but it made sense. (This particular player always uses a bad Scottish accent for his Dwarves.) I asked Cadeus "Why did you swear revenge on the Snake Cult?" and got "They killed my sister." as a response. I asked Galadiir "What arcane knowledge did you learn about the Snake Cult?" and didn't get an answer. As the guy playing Galadiir the Wizard is only a casual gamer at best and the least familiar with RPGs in general, I told him he could hold his answer until he thought of something. Looking back, I wish I had come up with better questions (ones that front loaded more information) or followed up with more questions to get more details.

I explained that the journey through the stinking, fetid mire of the Rushmoor swamp following the trail of the Snake Cult would take two days. I told the players to make the Undertake A Perilous Journey Move. This required a lot of out of character explaining, as they needed to know what the three "jobs" of the Move were. They finally decided Galadiir would take the role of quartermaster, Bjorn would be trailblazer, and Cadeus would be the scout. This is one of the Moves that is kind of hard to "wrap in fiction", especially in the beginning. Once the players know they are going to travel through hostile territory and understand what the three roles of the Move are, I imagine it'll flow a bit better. All three rolled weak hits and the journey took the predicted amount of time, used up the predicted amount of supplies, and nothing got the drop on them as they travelled. An uneventful, but wet, stinky, and miserable two days to the lair of the Snake Cult.

The adventurers found the entrance to the underground complex with no problem as the cultist weren't expecting to be followed and hadn't bothered to cover their tracks. They gathered just outside a rough tunnel with a slimy wooden staircase leading down into the soggy earth and discussed what to do. Bjorn, seeing the darkness they were about to descend into, found a rock and Cast A Spell to make it glow. The player rolled a weak hit and chose to attract unwanted attention. I was kind of stumped about what kind of attention he had attracted for a bit. Looking back, I could've had some sort of nasty swamp denizen spot the party and set up an ambush or start to threaten them somehow. I thought that was a bit cheap though, and so decided the party had made enough noise preparing themselves that they had alerted the cultists at the bottom of the stairs to their presence. I told Cadeus, who was closest to the entrance, that he heard faint voices and the clink of metal coming up the steps of the tunnel. This was me making the Show signs of an approaching threat GM Move.

Cadeus relayed this information to his companions and then took up an ambush position on the opposite side of the tunnel entrance. Bjorn unslung his shield and stood in front of Galadiir , who was busy preparing an offensive spell. The only Move that was triggered was by Cadeus, who I had make a Defy Danger Move with either Dexterity or Intelligence, his choice. In this situation, the danger Cadeus was defying was being immediately spotted as the cultists came out of the tunnel. He nailed the Move with a strong hit and was essentially invisible. After taking up their positions, all three of the players looked at me expectantly.

Realizing it was my turn in the conversation, I described a group of four cultists with scavenged, rusty weapons and black robes emerging from the tunnel entrance. Bjorn and Galariir had made no attempt to conceal themselves and were immediately spotted. The cultists rushed forward, eager to capture more prisoners for their god. Having taken my “turn” in the conversation, I asked the players what they did. Cadeus lept forward, sword in hand, and struck a cultist dead in a single blow. No dice roll or Move required. In this case, the cultists had absolutely no idea Cadeus was behind them and were not expecting the attack. Result? Instant death.

Bjorn roared “Norris!” and raised his hammer to crack the skull of an approaching cultist. The Cleric swung, but the cultist flowed sinuously out of the way causing Bjorn to strike the swampy ground, spattering fetid water everywhere. Blinded by the muck his hammer threw up, he felt the cultist’s dagger scrape across his shield. (The player got a miss on his Hack and Slash Move. I Put him in a Spot as my GM Move. I also rolled damage for the cultist, but rolled less than the amount of armor the character was wearing.) Galadiir stepped forward and sent a searing lance of white light through another cultist’s heart, leaving him a half charred corpse slowly sinking into the muck of the Rushmoor swamp. (The player rolled a strong hit on his Cast a Spell Move, throwing out a Magic Missile for 2d4 damage. Cultists have 3 HP and 0 Armor.) That left two cultists alive and headed for the blinded dwarf. Seeing that Bjorn and Galadiir were in danger, Cadeus ran to their aid. I told the player that would be a Defy Danger Move using Dexterity. The danger in this case was not being able to reach his comrades in time. The player rolled and got a weak hit, meaning I had to give him a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice. Cadeus rushed forward but stumbled because of the thick muck of the swamp, sending his sword spinning from his grasp. He could either reach Bjorn in time but engage the cultist weaponless, or check his advance to retrieve his sword. Like the heroic fighter he was, Cadeus continued forward to grapple the cultist. This flowed into a Hack and Slash Move, which resulted in another weak hit. Cadeus connected with a solid hit with his mailed fist, but the cultist was able to bring his sword to bear, dealing a superficial wound to the Fighter.

Meanwhile, Bjorn attempted to shake the slime from his eyes while both avoiding the cultists and protecting Galadiir. He needed to Defy Danger, the danger in this case being the cultist who would easily take advantage of the situation. The player convinced me that he could use Wisdom to Defy Danger, as that is the perception related stat. I agreed, and the player got a weak hit. Time for another worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice from me. I told Bjorn that he could wipe the slime from his eyes but find himself a few steps from where he was, thereby exposing Galadiir to danger. Or he could remain blinded and just raise his shield in the correct direction, hoping for the best. He chose the latter. It didn’t really matter that much, as Galadiir let fly with another Magic Missile from his Cast A Spell Move and dropped the cultist with another smoking crater in his chest. Cadeus continued to grapple the cultist, suffering more damage from the foe’s scavenged sword (another Hack and Slash Move with a weak hit result). Feeling something slump near his feet, Bjorn finally cleared his vision and saw Cadeus locked in melee combat with the last cultist. Shouting “Norris!” again, he charged forward, grabbed the foe’s head, and snapped his neck with a sharp twist. This didn’t even require a Move, as once again, the last cultist was completely unaware of the attack and certainly wasn’t expecting one, as he was preoccupied with Cadeus. No chance of exposing yourself to danger or damage means no Hack and Slash Move; you just do it.

Apocalypse World / Apocalypse World Review on Idle Red Hands Podcast
« on: June 24, 2012, 11:49:41 PM »
After failing miserably as an MC and having our Apocalypse World game go belly up after just three one-hour sessions, my co-hosts and I decided to record Idle Red Hands Episode 73: Campaign Confessions: Apocalypse World. It's a pretty balanced review in that one host loves the game, one is kinda neutral, and one didn't care for it very much. We're also evenly divided about the profanity and writing style of the book, and evenly divided about whether we'd give it another shot or not.

While collecting my thoughts for the episode I realized all the stuff I did wrong as an MC. Listening to my mistakes and the other host's comments may help burgeoning Apocalypse World MCs out there. If my screw ups can help other people succeed when running this game, then my failure will not have been in vain. 

If people have the time and inclination to give us a listen, I'd love to hear comments on what I could have done better, or how you set up your own successful games. Thanks.

Monsterhearts / Ghoul's Hunger
« on: June 19, 2012, 10:20:28 PM »
Apologies if this has been addressed elsewhere on the forums. If so, feel free to call me a lazy ass and point me in the right direction.

I MCed the first session of our three player Skype game last night (four, if you include me). It was mostly us talking about the characters, me asking a few questions, and trying to make sure that everyone was on the same page about what the game was. Our Apocalypse World game died after only three sessions since everyone was expecting different things, so I'm trying really hard to not have that happen again here. Despite me repeatedly saying that Monsterhearts was a "supernatural teen horror romance" game and referencing media like Jennifer's Body, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Jawbreaker (I refrained from mentioning Twilight) some people seemed to think their PCs would have super powers.

Anyway. One of my players chose The Ghoul with a hunger for flesh (which is the coolest choice, in my opinion). Now I'm just wondering  how often those feeding opportunities should pop up. Of course the answers are "whenever it's dramatically appropriate" and/or "whenever the player misses a roll and hands you a golden opportunity", but I want to pick other people's brains about this. I've played Vampire: the Requiem and we used little glass drops (red, of course) to track our blood points. If you dropped to half your total you were hungry, down to a quarter and you were ravenous. It let both the players and the Storyteller note when they should be making Frenzy checks, or at least when the fiction should start focusing more on how tasty people started looking.

So what have other Monsterheart MCs done with the Ghoul's feeding opportunities? My player chose the skin so he could play as Megan Fox from Jennifer's Body (because she is totally a Ghoul), so part of me thinks he should get hungry at regular intervals. I think it was around a month in that movie, which is far too long for a game. Once a day? At "regular" meal times? Any thoughts?

Monsterhearts / New Skin: The Kitsune
« on: June 18, 2012, 02:21:41 AM »
Even though I'm still kicking around ideas for a collection of different vampire skins, the Shinto spirit Inari Okami dropped an idea into my brain that won't go away; The Kitsune. Since I've been a resident of Japan for the last 6 years I figured it was kind of my duty to make this skin happen.

For those who aren't familiar with them, kitsune (pronounced kit-sue-nay) are Japanese fox spirits noted for their ability to assume human form, to step into people's dreams, to possess people, and for their role as consumate tricksters and/or protectors. The form most often taken by kitsune are young girls or beautiful women, and Japanese folklore is rife with stories of men taking "fox wives" who often pass on some sort of magical or supernatural ability to their children. The fact that this romantic (or at least sexual) aspect is already present in their legend makes me think they'd make a great Monsterhearts skin. Of course they wouldn't only be limited to assuming a female shape in the game.

I'm still brainstorming ideas, so this thread will slowly grow as I add to it. I'm trying to decide what aspects of the kitsune to set in stone (making them mandatory moves) and which should be optional. Part of what makes the other skins so great is that they capture many different (sometimes disparate) aspects of the creature they're emulating.

This Kistune Skin Move (or some variation of it) would be mandatory.
Fox's Mask
Choose one:
  • a bundle of reeds
  • a broad, flat leaf
  • an animal skull
As long as you wear your chosen item on your head, you may assume human form. You can appear however you wish, and your form may include functional clothing, jewelry, and personal accessories. You may change your appearance each time you transform, though you cannot take the form of a specific individual. Once placed, the chosen item will not fall off under normal circumstances, but whenever you suffer damage or encounter dogs while in human form, you must either hold steady or run away.

I toyed around with making the loss of your item it's own separate "roll with Cold" move. On a 10 up you were fine, on a 7-9 someone saw your fox tail or shadow and gained a String on you, and on a Miss everyone got a String since they all saw you. It just got too clunky though and didn't seem to make sense for both dogs and losing your special item.

In Japanese folklore, the fox woman almost invariable flees when her cover is blown (usually leaving behind her husband and children) so giving the player the option to run away seems appropriate. I couldn't figure out how to work a "you stand your ground" option into the 10 up result of the move though, which is why I gave the player a choice about which one they want to try. Maybe that's being too nice. Maybe the player shouldn't have a choice about what they do, but should have to hold steady after suffering harm and run away when confronted by dogs. Or maybe just always run away. Hmm.

Monsterhearts / Consentual
« on: June 14, 2012, 03:09:17 AM »
I think I've finally snagged three players to play Monsterhearts with me. After telling one of my players that I was going to push them into situations where their Moves would get them into trouble and using the Chosen's Sex Move as an example, one of them asked "So the choice will be either going to the hospital or raping someone?"

I thought about that and was sure I remembered someone saying that Sex Moves only triggered when the sex was consensual. Is that right? I couldn't seem to find that anywhere in the book though. Is that a rule, or is it intentionally left vague so that play groups can have their own, varying "comfort zones"?

Also, I just wanted to check the Fae's Sex Move. All the other Skins (except the Vampire) explicitly say "When you have sex..." while the Fae's says "When you lie naked with another..." One of my players read this literally and assumed the move will only trigger when you actually lie naked with another person. I said that I saw it as just another way to say "get it on" and it would be triggered from having sex just like the other Skin's moves. He agreed, but now I'm not so sure. Simply because all the other skins specifically say "when you have sex".

So is it meant to be a literal interpretation? Or is it just another way of saying "sleep with"? I'm pretty sure it's the latter, but clarification would be nice. :)

Monsterhearts / Vampires, vampires everywhere
« on: June 12, 2012, 02:44:40 AM »
After listening to episode 81 of the Actual People Actual Play podcast where mcdaldno ran the group through a game of Monsterhearts at MonsterParty, I've been kicking around the idea of a Vampire: the Requiem hack. He mentioned that Monsterhearts could be used to play something similar to Vampire, so long as the characters still acted like (or still were) teenagers.

That got me thinking about translating the five different clans of the Vampire: the Requiem setting (Daeva, Gangrel, Mehket, Nosferatu, and Ventrue) into Monsterheart Skins books. The clans seem to be different enough in outlook, ability, and method that I imagine they'd play differently enough to warrant the different Skin books. I'd have to change the names of course, something like The Desired, The Feral, The Hidden, The Cursed, and The Regal. Stats and Moves would reflect each clan's outlook, method, and abilities. The Desired = Hot+ Cold+; The Feral = Hot+ Volatile+; The Hidden = Hot+ Dark+; The Cursed = Cold+ Volatile+; and the Regal = Cold + Dark+. The Moves in the Skin book would also (hopefully) highlight their differences.

Speaking of Moves, I also though it would be interesting to create separate "faction books" (based on the five Covenants from V:tR). Whenever a player is entitled to an advance, instead of choosing one from their Clan playbook, they could take one from their faction playbook instead. It'd be kind of clunky to have two books for a character (clan and faction) but I don't see how to make the faction moves available to everyone/anyone without making them a separate book.


Dungeon World / Advanced Moves; Requires vs. Replaces
« on: June 10, 2012, 11:31:08 PM »
Sorry if this has been asked before in a previous thread. If so, people can just point me in the right direction rather than repeat it all again here.

I've been making my own Dungeon World Playbooks for the classes in the Beta rules (Japan uses A4 paper, not letter) and saw something interesting in the Advanced Moves. Some moves note that they require the player to have chosen a certain move before they can be taken, while other moves say that they replace certain moves. I'm wondering what the difference is, and if it's even necessary.

"Requires" is fairly easy to understand. You can only take the better version of the Move (usually in the level 6-10 Advances list) if you've already taken the lesser version of the Move (usually found in the 2-5 Advances list). The Requires Move usually adds an additional effect to the "base" Move, allows you to choose a second option, or somehow builds on the "base" Move.

"Replaces" is a bit more confusing though. Does "replace" mean that the player crosses the "replaced" move off their sheet only if they've taken it as a previous advance? Or does it mean they cross the "replaced" move off of the list of advances even if they haven't taken it as a previous advance? I know the result is the same; a better version of a previous move, but I'm anal retentive and like to know exactly how things work.

brainstorming & development / Apocalypse Warrens (working title)
« on: April 23, 2012, 12:00:58 AM »
So after my friends and I recorded our most recent podcast about animals in literature and how you can use them in your games (which you can listen to  here), I went back and listened to the Watership Down audio book again. Then I watched the Plague Dogs animated movie. I also listened to the interview Mr. Baker did on The Walking Eye podcast about Apocalypse World back in 2011, as well as their review of the game. Oh, and I'm finally running an AW game for my group.

All these things combined in my head over the weekend, and fueled by an abundance of coffee and boredom, they slowly solidified into the germ of an idea for an Apocalypse World  hack. I'm currently calling it Apocalypse Warrens for lack of a better title.

The premise of Apocalypse Warrens is that players would play as real animals in the real world; similar to the rabbits in Watership Down or the dogs in Plague Dogs. There may even be a touch of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH in the idea as well. The characters would have their own personalities, language, mythology and beliefs, but also have all the limitations and abilities of real animals. Including a limited ability to comprehend the "human" world around them. The characters will not be the hind leg walking, tool manipulating, clothing wearing, armor making, sword wielding "animals" of the Brian Jaques Redwall book series;. Those aren't real animals; they're just people in animal costumes. Despite being considered children's books, both Watership Down and Plague Dogs are violent, bloody, and intense. The character's futures are unsure, just like in Apocalypse World.

I don't really have much in terms of concrete mechanical stuff at this point. It's still just a lot of ideas and images floating around in my head right now. I'm playing around with what the Basic Moves should be, as well as how many and what stats I'll need. I remember Mr. Baker saying that the first thing he does when thinking of a hack is to rewrite the MC's Agenda. He then refers to that during the creation process to keep things on theme. That much at least I have done.

MC's Agenda
- Present the world as it would be perceived by an animal.
- Make the player's character's lives unsure and dangerous.
- Play to see what happens.

I think that first one is the most important, which it why I put it first. Duh. Anyone who's familiar with Richard Adam's books knows that certain things are simply beyond the character's comprehension. The bulldozer that destroys the Sandleford warren in Watership Down is described as "a great yellow monster that buried it's head in the earth and ate up the ground"; the poison gas was "bad air that turned you silly". Humans are ultimately alien and unknowable to the animals in the books, much like the Great Old Ones or Elder Gods in an H.P. Lovecraft story. In Apocalypse Warrens it's going to be the MC's job to present and describe the world to the players as such.

I was originally going to do only rabbits, but have since expanded this. I'm now thinking about doing mice, rats and other rodents, dogs and similar animals (like wolves and foxes), horses and mules, and possibly birds. Maybe even big cats like lions (yes, I guess you could do The Lion King RPG if you really wanted to), and hyenas (which I know are their own species). You wouldn't have a "mixed party" of animals though (no wolves and rabbits in the same group), since their diet and behavior would be too different. Certain stats and Moves might even have to be different for the different species to reflect their behavior. For example, a rabbit or mouse could "Go To Ground" and hide but a horse couldn't. The different Playbooks would be based on skill sets or archetypes found in the books (Seer, Protector, Motivator, Grokker, etc.) and again there would probably have to be different ones for the different animals species, as not all of them will be appropriate. It doesn't make sense to have a Hunter or Stalker themed Playbook for herbivorous animals like horses and rabbits, now does it?

My (overly ambitious goal) is to eventually produce a stand alone book, similar to Joe McDaldno's Monsterhearts or Dungeon World. We'll see how far I get.

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