How can I make more realism more fun?

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How can I make more realism more fun?
« on: April 03, 2011, 07:17:12 PM »
So, I've had this thought rattling around in my head for a while, and the "Harsh moves following success" thread (sorry for no link, still new at this) moved me to ask:

How can I make potentially punishing realism more fun for my players?  This could go for any number of things, but I've been thinking about all of the ammo that people have been shooting for the past n-years since the world went to shit.

Unless survivors have been finding fresh ammo, or there are ammo factories that still function, a lot of the ammunition that people are using will be made from old pre-fired brass.  I just keep thinking that brass that has been used for who-knows how many years and who-knows how many firings is going to get fucked up some time... and it stands to reason that it will sometimes happen to the PCs.

I know that some of my friends reload their own brass back home, and they don't have big problems, but I'm also willing to bet that they take much better care of their brass than most survivors can afford to.  I've been thinking that this calls for a custom move, maybe:

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.i
When you buy ammo from Le Roy, that scop-eating scrounger, you get it for cheap (half price).

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.ii
When you fire Le Roy's ammo, roll +turns of continuous fire (this gets shaky, but you could just say "number of contiguous moves involving shooting").
On a 10+: Fuck fuck fuck, my gun is a mess
On a 7-9: You can spend time to clear the jam right now, or you have a brand new club
On a miss: No problem.

Having written this up, I'm realizing that it might just be appropriate to disguise "take away their stuff" with a gun jam at an opportune moment.  Or maybe you can change part two to say:

Too Bad You're So Cheap, pt.ii
When you are using Le Roy's ammo in a fight, the MC gets 1 hold.  The MC keeps it until you clean your gun.  They can spend 1 hold at any time that you are shooting to tell you:
-Your next rounds are duds
-Your gun has jammed
They can spend 3 hold when you are shooting to tell you:
-The brass has ripped in the firing chamber!  You've got a cleaning kit around here somewhere, right?

I don't feel like this is quite right, but it seems like a good jumping off point.  What do you think?

Starting places that occur to me include: why bother making all this fuss when we already have "take away their stuff"?  If you are going to use the above rules, what about autofire / continuous fire weapons?  Would you find this fun, or frustrating?  Both?  Would you decide it was time to get bows and crossbows?

What other similar issues have you folks run into?  Hell, am I wrong to consider introducing such potentially punishing realism?

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 08:46:13 PM »
Hmmm good stuff, and much of this thinking is spot on to my previous thread. 

It feels like sometimes the MCs Principles, Moves and Agendas are in conflict.  It's certainly not as clear cut, I think, as some might state.

I may start another thread about this on a theory level later :)

BTW there is a move that covers ammo and jamming in firearms. I've been dying to "activate their stuff's bad side" for unreliable and reload gear :)

Thanks,
-Don

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 11:15:17 PM »
You're not *wrong*, per se, but you're making a game that isn't really AW any longer.  Right on the back of the book, it says there's not enough of anything except gasoline and bullets, and now you're saying 'don't count on bullets, bucko.'  It's a bigger change than you might imagine, for a smaller benefit than you might imagine.  The ramifications, from adding another dice roll every round of gunfire combat to making players make do with less jingle than they otherwise would now that they have to pay for ammo too, are fairly serious, and I'd strongly consider how this is going to make the game more fun.

Does this make the game more fun?  Not for me.  Counting bullets is fun in a survival horror game, where any method of self-defense is rare, unreliable, or as dangerous to you as to your enemies... but not in AW, where the guns are already liable to jam up or run out of ammo on a failed roll or even a 7-9.

Would it work for your game?  Ask your players.  If somebody says no, I wouldn't use the rules.  If they're all as enthusiastic as you are about it, go nuts!

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 12:29:09 AM »
Heh.  I hadn't even thought of that.  It does kind of specify that there are more than enough bullets to go around, doesn't it?

I also hadn't thought of it as being an omni-present difficulty: more like, the players find out at the worst possible moment that someone (one person in particular) has been selling them shitty ammo.  What do you do?

But I can definitely see where you're coming from on the "too many rolls" front.  I dislike systems that force you to make lots of rolls... which is why I thought about using Take away their stuff instead.  The truth is, I haven't even had a chance to run AW yet.  So I'm curious: in your games, do you see people having to deal with their guns being unreliable already?  Just from the MC's hard moves?

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 01:20:36 AM »
Cool stuff, Henry.

I like the idea that the MC gets to take a hold on you when you bring shitty ammo to a fight. That's golden.

I feel like this is definitely the sort of thing you want to have maximum buy-in from players on, before proceeding. If you sprung the shitty ammo scenario on me, I'd feel a bit screwed over. If you said, "Hey, let's play an Apocalypse World campaign where ammo counts and scarcity is hard-coded into everything," then I could probably get pumped for that.

I want to have rules about preparing meat and other dangerous food stuff. I so want to be navigating the possibility of food poisoning and infection. Not with a crunchy mechanical interlocking move set, but with some loose countdown clocks and a simple custom move.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 02:44:24 AM »
Having written this up, I'm realizing that it might just be appropriate to disguise "take away their stuff" with a gun jam at an opportune moment.

This right here. You are making it too complicated on yourself. Why? You are looking for excuses. "I didn't make your gun jam, the rules did." If somebody goes aggro and rolls a 2? Take away their stuff.

You already have rules to tell you when to do that. With your hold 1 scheme, the MC can use it "at any time," which basically includes cock-blocking a player from rolling to decide what happens. You should wait until either a) they roll a 6 or less or b) they hand you an opportunity on a silver platter, like "I set myself on fire" or "I stuff my 9mm in my pants and dive into the filthy, muddy water."**

And then if dude wants to like clear the water out of his pistol before, say, the charging attack dog gets to him, he can roll+cool to do that under fire.

How to make it more fun? The whole point of saying something like that is to make the character more awesome. Oh, you flubbed the roll? You didn't fail though. I mean, your character didn't fuck up. You totally would have hit that guy right between the eyes, except some dickwad sold you crappy ammo. I mean, how do you test for that? You can only fire a bullet once. Also, this pushes the story forward, because now once the PC gets out of whatever mess he's in, he's got a vendetta to settle with some dude who prevented him from being the awesome he normally is, and you didn't have to think that up until the point when he flubbed the roll.

Short version: You don't need to introduce realism this way through rules, because you can do it by introducing fiction at appropriate points. The very fact that you went to the trouble of writing these up convinces me you know how to introduce realistic firearm problems when it's your turn to say something. Stick with that and you will be fine.

**Or, y'know, they voluntarily take one of those moves that lets you hold 1 against them if they fuck it up. They knew what was what going into it.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 06:34:48 PM »
I've run exactly one session of AW, without parental supervision, so my 'experience' may not count for much, but:

If you don't want to make it an omnipresent difficulty, then you definitely want to restrict it to a hard move like taking away their stuff.  The less rules I have to invent or call upon, the better.  Personally, I usually find more interesting moves to make like splitting the party or capturing somebody, and I only take away their stuff when I can't think of anything more interesting.

Stuff, to me, is... stuff.  Meh.  If it's their only gun, they probably don't rely on it overmuch anyhow, and have other ways to survive the conflict at hand.  If it's not their only gun, well, they're just gonna haul out the next one and worry about it later, when it's a lot less important.  It's just not that interesting to me.

You might find a situation where it *does* get interesting, though... or think up a place which *makes* taking away stuff interesting.  In that case, go nuts.

For example:  If you fail a +hard roll fighting atop the Cliffs of Denver, you drop whatever you were going hard with... and it's a long, long way down.  You wouldn't be the first, chump, and you probably won't be the last.  Come to think of it, if you *could* make it down there, who knows what sort of oddments others have dropped or tossed?

Landscapes are threats.  Threats get custom moves.  Custom moves are good times.  Or hey, maybe it's just interesting to you when guns jam up.  Give it a try, see how it works for you.  Antique stuff, automatic or semiauto stuff, stuff you've got to reload- all of that is liable to jam up.  Johnstone's got it right- missing is for suckers.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 09:36:21 PM »
There's also "activate their stuff's downsides", which is maybe a better option.

When you buy ammo from Le Roy, it's half price but when using it your guns are +unreliable.

For ammo scarecity, I'd use a more general move like:

1-ammo costs 1-barter, for yourself or for a gang (the gang chips in for their own ammo).

After a gunfight (more than one shot each way), roll +ammo.
10+ you're fine
7-9 you're running low, ammo -1
On a miss, you're all out of bullets.

And then maybe some moves like:

Minute Madness:
When you sieze by force or go aggro with a weapon that has +autofire, you can roll +ammo instead of +hard. Afterwards, ammo -1.

Or shit, you could just make all moves with guns roll +ammo, if you wanted to be cruel.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2011, 01:07:27 AM »
There's also "activate their stuff's downsides", which is maybe a better option.

When you buy ammo from Le Roy, it's half price but when using it your guns are +unreliable.

Honestly, I think that right there is the closest to what I was looking for.  I wasn't trying to introduce ammo scarcity as much as I wanted there to be variable quality of ammunition.  I want to see something more like Johnstone's scenario:

Oh, you flubbed the roll? You didn't fail though. I mean, your character didn't fuck up. You totally would have hit that guy right between the eyes, except some dickwad sold you crappy ammo. I mean, how do you test for that? You can only fire a bullet once. Also, this pushes the story forward, because now once the PC gets out of whatever mess he's in, he's got a vendetta to settle with some dude who prevented him from being the awesome he normally is, and you didn't have to think that up until the point when he flubbed the roll.

Then you have ensuing drama, and fun can be had by all.  And hopefully, the PCs aren't stuck trying to shoot Le Roy with his own ammunition!

I do like the +ammo suggestion that you made, Simon, but I agree that it could be cruel.  Especially if you sprang it on your players as a surprise.  Actually, that would really just suck.  Perhaps it would work in the context of a survival horror, as suggested by Amphiprison.

I'd love to see something where the MC had a hold on you when you bring shitty ammo to a fight, but I agree that my previous formulation of it could just result in the players feeling punished.

Which brings me to another quick question: when do you introduce the custom move?  I presume this would vary depending on the move.  My instinct says that I wouldn't tell them about their guns being unreliable until it happened, since this is less like Dogs' shared narrative, and that custom move might be part of the home threat.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 01:34:45 AM »
Which brings me to another quick question: when do you introduce the custom move?  I presume this would vary depending on the move.  My instinct says that I wouldn't tell them about their guns being unreliable until it happened, since this is less like Dogs' shared narrative, and that custom move might be part of the home threat.

Maybe you wait until they fire the bullet. I have had good results from telling people "hey, there's a custom move for when you go down to the river/go into the ruins/etc". I regard it as a way to reveal future badness, really.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 02:37:46 AM »
Hah!  When you announce future badness, misdirect and say: "Huh, that's funny.  This powder smells a little odd to you.  Whatever.  You certainly shot the hell out of that guy now didn't you?"

I suppose that is less than straightforward, considering that there is a custom move involved, but I can just imagine the players remembering it later when their gun jams.  THEN they can have their "Why that rat-fink son of a bitch!" moment.  And just to hammer it home, say something like "Remember that weird smell you were noticing?  This round, the one that didn't fire? It stank all wrong."

For location custom moves, saying that there is one sounds like a really good way to entice the players, which is both cool and tricksy.  I'll have to keep that in mind.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 04:47:53 PM »
Also, a threat can be:

Affliction: Condition (impulse: to expose people to danger)

"A condition is any bad practical circumstance. The holding's water filtration breaks down? A bomb-blast weakens the infirmary's foundation? [...] Conditions."

Page 140 has the goods on Conditions. It seems like "your ammo is shit and your whole armory is composed of second-hand weaponry" is a good threat, possibly built into a Front called: Outmanned and Outgunned.


Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2011, 04:49:12 PM »
Good thinking Joe! That's smart.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2011, 05:19:14 PM »
Yeah, totally!  I have a hard time wrapping my head around Conditions, and I think I need more time and practice coming up with and/or recognizing them, but that seems like the perfect use for them.

Re: How can I make more realism more fun?
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2011, 08:49:46 PM »
Afflictions in general are difficult for me to conceptualize, which is why it took me until this far in the thread to think about it as a possibility.

Most of my threats are Warlords and Grotesques, with an occasional Brute. I need to learn to branch out, to take more environmental and circumstantial things and turn them into Front situations.