Carousing Moves

  • 6 Replies


  • 24
Carousing Moves
« on: August 19, 2010, 11:45:33 AM »
I'm gearing up to use some basic moves in my next OD&D session on Sunday, and have created some custom moves for carousing. Some notes:

- the goal is to be an add-on to the OD&D rules; we're still using its system of experience points, level advancement, etc.

- these may replace or be an alternative to our existing rules, in which you first roll a d6, d8, or d12 depending on the size of the carousing town to see how many hundreds of gold pieces you can spend to gain XP (1:1 ratio) and then, if the result is higher than your PC's level, roll a saving throw to avoid negative consequences

- these are usually handled via forum, and are assumed to have a zoomed-out time/space so that the carousing roll summarizes roughly a week's off-stage activities

- these are generally minor tweaks of others' moves, adapted for the above

Here is the spending framework, for compatibility with the OD&D experience:

First, decide whether the carousing is "provincial" (village-level, 1d6 x 100), "metropolitan" (town-level, 1d8 x 125), or "cosmopolitan" (city-level, 1d12 x 150).

Then break each of these die ranges into three to figure out how much bonus to the roll you get per spend, e.g.:

200 gp, +1
400 gp, +2
600 gp, +3

600 gp, +1
1200 gp, +2
1800 gp, +3

Here, then, are the moves:

When you throw a big party, roll + spend. On a 7-9 choose 1, on a 10+ choose 3. In any case you earn XP equal to the spend.
  • You befriend a useful contact
  • There's gold left over when all's said and done
  • You gain a reputation; +1 to a future roll related to this carouse
  • Gain useful information
  • You do not do or say anything you might later regret while in your cups
  • Neither you nor the locale of your carousing is worse for wear in the morning

When you investigate a person, roll + spend. You earn XP equal to the spend. On a 7-9 hold 1, on a 10+ hold 3. Spend one hold to ask one of the following questions concerning that person:
  • Can any of their statements to you be proven false?
  • How have they treated others?
  • What are their likely goals?
  • Is there something they want to keep hidden?
  • How could you get them to do X?

The default assumption is that on a failure, word that you've been asking about them reaches the target; on a success (7+) no one brings word to the target, but the traces are there if they look. After the roll, you can use 1 hold or add 1 spend to prevent either of these; you don't get XP from that spend.

When you investigate a situation, roll+spend. You gain XP equal to the spend. On a 7+, you
can ask the DM questions. Whenever you act on one of the MC’s answers, take +1 to your next roll.
On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7–9, ask 1:

  • where’s my best way to approach, retreat from, or bypass this?
  • who else is interested in this?
  • who stands to benefit from this?
  • what should I be on the lookout for?
  • who’s in control here?
  • what’s the history here?

When you lavish gifts on someone, roll + spend. You earn XP equal to the spend. On a 7-9 hold 1, on a 10+ hold 3. Spend one hold for one of the following:

  • They do something that's in their power to help you
  • They provide information
  • One of your trespasses against them is forgiven
  • You can spend unguarded private time with them
  • They give you valuable gifts in return
  • No one else will know
  • Gratitude: +1 to a future roll related to this largesse



  • 24
Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2010, 09:00:14 AM »
Some new moves, more original as we start using them for carousing and between-session events in the Red Box forums.

One that's not based on spending - "+bright" is the descriptor that we use to mean high intelligence (this could be "-dim" except I know the PC in question is a magic-user and thus automatically bright, even if also dim).

When you **spy using an invisible stalker**, roll + bright. On a 10+, all 3; on a 7-9, choose 1. On a failure, the stalker brings you information you wish you hadn't learned. In any case, you gain a report from the stalker concerning its activities, as per the spell description.
 * The stalker goes beyond simple observation, using initiative and cunning to delve beneath the surface.
 * The stalker's interest in venality generates information which you will also find interesting.
 * The stalker avoids encountering or leaving traces for anyone who might detect its presence.

This one riffs off a spell invented by the player whose move involved an invisible stalker:

Invisible Stalker
Like the more powerful level 6 spell, Invisible Stalker conjures an extra-dimensional monster which can be controlled by the Magic-User who summoned it. This lesser monster is suited only for the task of spying. The caster designates one creature, and the stalker will spy on the target for up to two days, then return to the caster to report on what it saw and heard. The invisible stalker is a twisted creature obsessed with corruption and venality. If sent to stalk a good or virtuous creature it will become bored and quickly return with a perfunctory report. If, however, its target engages in violent or lewd acts, it will watch as long as possible, and give a disgusting, vivid, overly-detailed account of all that it saw. In no event will the stalker attack – if attacked it instantly returns to the caster or the non-dimension from whence it came.

Here are some trial carouses for spending gold to learn info:

The iffy element in the general "open your mind" move as a carouse is what you spend the money on (magic mushrooms? offerings to a spirit guide? entry fee to a delphic oracle?)

When you open yourself to mystic revelation, roll + spend. On a hit, the DM will tell you something new and interesting about the lore you seek, and might ask you a question or two: answer them. On a 10+, the DM will give you good detail. On a 7-9, the DM will give you an impression. If you already know all there is to know, the DM will tell you that.

The next two are my revisions of one suggested by Oban:

One has the flavor of spending to get access to private libraries full of contradictory sources, booksellers with possible forgeries, payments to unreliable sages, etc.

When you delve into occult secrets, roll + spend. You earn XP equal to the spend. On a 10+, you can choose 3; On a 7-9, only 1.
You learn a fragment of truth without the context that makes its meaning clear.
You gain two bits of lore; one is true and one is false, but you don't know which.
You test the truth of your theories; the DM asks you five questions, and then either confirms the truth of all your answers or supplies a disproof of one.
You discover what you already know that is relevant to the object of your search.
You decide what you most want to know, and identify where you'd have to go to learn it.

One that seems most appropriate for streetwise-type investigations - paying informants, spreading cash to see who can lead you to what you want to know, offering rewards for info, etc.

When you hunt for information, roll + spend. You earn XP equal to the spend. On a 10+, you can ask 3 questions of the DM; on a 7-9, ask 1.
Who knows the most about this?
What source of useful knowledge about this is the most accessible to me?
Who wants to keep this from being known?
Who else is looking for this?
What do those who know this want that I could supply?

One that responds to a player's specific goal of seeking a bird of prey for his ranger:

When you seek a remarkable bird of prey, roll + spend. You gain XP equal to your spend. 10+, choose 3; 7-9, choose 1. In any case, they are at minimum fine examples of their species, able to follow basic commands like stay, circle overhead, stay on watch, attack, etc.
One of the birds has a supernatural ability of your choice.
You buy a number of birds before selecting the ones you wish to keep; selling the others gives you gold equal to half your spend.
One of the birds remembers intriguing sights or experiences from its time with a former owner.
Remarkable bond; you gain a +1 to moves involving these birds.
In the course of making your purchases, you meet a contact who you feel may be useful; the DM will ask you questions about why this is so.



  • 24
Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2010, 12:07:01 PM »
One created by Greengoat, whose PC died, went to Carceri, and was resurrected:

When you Ruminate On Your Resurrection, roll + spend. You earn XP equal to the spend. On a 10+ choose a combination of three results. On a 7-9, choose one.

* Lucid dreams of the afterlife: You recall your time on the god-plane in vivid detail.
* Made in hell/Crafted in heaven: You can sense, by touch, the influence of the god-plane on an object.
* One of us: You can sense, by touch, the influence of the god-plane on a person.
* Old friends: You have a small chance of calling a native servant from the god-plane.
* On a failed roll - Looking for you: You did not have permission to leave, a servant from the god-plane will come looking for you.

As I was saying in the source thread, I would limit it to a one-time sense by touch or call on old friends per carouse move and, although I think that while looking for you is a great possibility of failure, it'd be more flexible to say that some aspect of your post-death experience clings to you (which might or might not be a servant).

Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2010, 11:22:17 PM »
These are really cool. You have a good sense of the back-and-forth that Vincent is going for in AW moves. Here's some comments:

When you throw a party and there's gold left over, how much? Does the DM say how much, do you roll for it, do you roll d% to see how much is left, what?

When you lavish gifts on someone, shouldn't how much you spend be related to their economic status, as opposed to whether they live in a city or not. I don't think the Emperor cares too much about that 1600gp, right? That's my initial reaction. Or is it mostly for normal people and stuff?

The invisible stalker choices are really vague. Maybe you know what they mean, but I don't really get it just from what you've written. The results that really matter are what it brings back, not so much what it does, right? Play should still be about the spellcaster, not the spirit.

Using initiative and cunning: Does that mean it brings back more information? Does that mean it brings back actual stuff that it stole? Like, it uses initiative and cunning as opposed to what? What would I get if I didn't choose this one? That's not clear.

Interest in venality: Does this mean it brings back gory and vivid detail of vice and wrongdoing? Then write that instead. Don't tell me this thing is a sick voyeuristic perv, show me.

Undetected: That choice is good as it is, though.

As for the iffy element in mystic revelation, consider re-wording it to:

When you open your mind to mystic revelation, say how, and roll+spend.

It's not much, but it will reinforce the fiction-first, if you do it do it ethos.

Also, back-and-forth is good, but five questions is a bit much. You have a one-thing choice, then a two-thing choice, I'd suggest cutting this one down to a three-thing choice, though the "all are true or X is wrong and here's why" is really good.

I would re-word hunting for information slightly:

When you search for secret knowledge, say how and roll+spend. Ask 3 or 1:
* Where, or from whom, can I learn more?
* Who stands to benefit from this knowledge staying secret/becoming public?
* Who else is interested in this knowledge?
* What do those who possess this knowledge need or desire?

When you ruminate on your resurrection, are these all supposed to happen once, during the rumination? Some of these feel like they could also work as a hold and spend during play style of move.

Perhaps, when you contact a god-plane, roll+wise/unwise and hold 3 or 1.

You can spend your holds 1-for-1 to:
* Experience visions of the god-plane (e.g. you time in the afterlife).
* Make contact with or summon a spirit or native from the god-plane.

The DM can spend your holds 1-for-1 to:
* Have you sense the influence of the god-plane on a person, place, or thing.

On a miss, you bring something back with you, leave something behind, or attract the unwanted attention of the god-plane's inhabitants. Or any other hard move, at the DM's discretion.

And a resurrected dude can make contact with his god-plane by ruminating on his resurrection.

What do you think?



  • 24
Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2010, 10:21:25 PM »
Thanks! Your comments are very helpful - I will make those changes in our next revision, and clarify the things that are unclear.

The issue of spending is going to change in the next revision - it's a hangover from our old carousing system, but in actual (forum) play:
- being able to spend more to get a +3 bonus means there's less interesting failure than I'd like
- there's already an incentive to spend more, because you earn XP for each GP spent
- the relationship between how much you spend and the task you want to achieve doesn't always make sense in the fiction (this is true for our old system as well).

I think the way I should handle the invisible stalker is that the spell tells you the kind of information the stalker acquires; the move tells you how well you can benefit from it. For example, on a partial success choose 1:
- you learn everything there is to know from the stalker's report
- the stalker's interest in venality does not cause you to learn anything you don't want to know
- the stalker is undetected

So far, spending aside I'm very pleased with the way carousing is working out for us, and your revisions are making at least some of the moves feel as solid and polished as the AW gold standard. I'll be interested to see tomorrow how & when we use AW moves in table play, but I think the prognosis is good for carousing as an add-on to anybody's D&D that fits into the back-in-town zone that's normally unstructured.

Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2010, 09:16:46 AM »
Glad to help, man. Of course, I'll be stealing all your stuff for my own games.



  • 24
Re: Carousing Moves
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2010, 10:53:25 AM »
In actual OD&D play last night, we only used one AW-type move, which we created on the fly:

If you have been impersonating a high-level magic-user and are then incinerated in another dimension [aka a different Red Box campaign] & reduced to death's door, roll + Constitution. 10+, all 3; 6-9, choose 1:
- you are not possessed by the ghost of a warlord you smothered with a pillow
- your impersonation scam is not imperiled when the M-U's servants rescue you
- you are not debilitated (1 hit point per physical HD for the session)

The player chose not to be debilitated, so we decided that being possessed by the warlord caused the rescue team to be uncertain whether they'd gotten the right person & observe him more closely, upping the pressure on the imposter.

Overall, I think we didn't reach for AW structure more often because:
- with 10 people at the table, the comfortable groove is a team-focused heist movie where the gang breaks in somewhere, makes for their objective, loots and fights, and retreats; these align well with the OD&D rules layer we're used to
- we've evolved other, more-direct ways of gathering info and revealing the hidden complexity of the situation (paying 100 gold to a sphinx per question); using this at the table lets it move faster & gets the whole group to the heist faster w/o introducing individual complexity
- we're happy with some trad DM conventions, like where I use a module ("The Halls of Tizun Thane", from Best of White Dwarf) that has, if not plots, then lots of information that pre-dates the players, and use that to spring stuff like "so, you're touching the pile of gold? it liquifies and oozes into your pores; make a saving throw, oops you die" that far exceeds what I'd do as a MC

I think the reason AW moves are transforming the way we carouse online, but haven't so far strongly impacted the way we play in person, is that:

- online there's a lot of zoomed-out action, that prevents the tabletop level of detail where I go "so tell me exactly how you're loading this pile of gold" and build tension that makes dying by creeping coins seem fair: "oh, right, here were all the times the DM checked to be sure I didn't want to be more cautious". In carousing we'd miss all the detailed choices between you posting "I want to find a pile of gold" and me saying "alas you fail your saving throw and die."

- at the tabletop we tend to do stuff that's constrained strongly by a very local environment (there are bare-assed baboons coming from a hole in the roof over here, it's raining and you might fall off the roof and die, the windows in the tower are over there and hard to reach, there's a predictable chance of random encounters every turn) which I discover from the module and interpret for the players. In carousing we tend to do stuff that's more large-scale, where the threats and consequences deal with a scope that can't be feasibly described by a pre-planned environment, so the constraints of AW moves give it a satisfying structure that's otherwise lacking.

- online is where we tend to do some stuff that AW does at the table, like having characters generate details of the world in the course of carousing ("ask questions" has proved to be really useful here) and steer themselves into their own world of hurt (we try, West Marches-style, to decide "where do you go and what threats do you confront" as part of the online effort to schedule the session). AW moves & philosophy fits into this wide-open sandbox phase, which gives us lots of cool material & background to carry into the zoomed-in phase of going into a particular danger.

One thing that we've been wanting to do is some old-school hex-crawling, and the adventurers are interested in exploring an underground river system they've discovered. This seems like it'd be a situation where AW moves would really impact our tabletop experience:

- the OD&D rules structure (saving throws/ability checks, tracking resources, random encounters) doesn't feel like it'd give me as much structure as I'd want to screw the players over questions like "can you forage for cave fish" and "can you tell whether that water is safe to drink"; some of our group played Mouse Guard together & really liked how it was able to make the process of a wilderness journey a rigorous, evocative challenge, and I think an AW hack is the answer for how to do that w/o adding pieces that don't feel old-school to me

- the scale of things is zoomed-out; I'd want to be able to evoke consequences that echoed throughout the cave system, awakened ancient spirits, etc. and since won't be able to map out the underworld in a 10' level of detail I'll want to reach for AW moves to decide when I can or can't bring down the grimdark horrors.

- the party is all together in little river-boats; each player's moves (like the ranger's forage attempt) can create consequences for all 10 people at the table, instead of spinning off in individual directions we could only handle online with such a big group