New Playbook: The Scholar

  • 17 Replies
New Playbook: The Scholar
« on: June 09, 2011, 10:47:14 AM »
Hi, folks.  Trying my hand at a new playbook.  I was trying to get it a little more "Indiana Jones" and a little less "Hardholder's scribe," so any suggestions on that path would be appreciated.

Some of the things I'd be interested in hearing are opinions on the moves.  I wanted to make the character worthwhile as a stand alone choice, but are the moves "good enough" that you would take them as your improvement choice from another playbook?  Are they too specialized for other playbooks to want?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!


Back in the Golden Age, everybody was happy and everybody had enough.  That's what the hoopla-heads say anyway.  The truth wasn't that shiny, but they sure as shit had more and better than we do now.  You know this for a fact because you've actually read honest-to-god books from back then.

All the gear and ideas from the Golden Age are still around waiting for someone with the brains to come along and find them.  You've just got to know where to look.

---Creating a Scholar---
To create your Scholar, choose name, look, stats, moves, gear, and Hx.  Choose in any order you like.

Egghead, Brain, Pinky, The Head, Book, Word, Deacon, Dean, Monkey, Touch, Moon, Cloudy
Newton, Milton, Calvin, Hobbes, Clarke, Luther, Orwell, Marshall, Dyson, Marion, Ursula, Shelly

Man, Woman, Ambiguous, Transgressing
Casual, robes, Golden Age uniform, appropriate environmental gear
Old face, worn face, curious face, open face, closed face
Bright eyes, cagey eyes, hard eyes, kind eyes
Tall body, short body, thin body, soft body
Glasses, gimpy limb, hearing aid, speech impediment

Cool=0 Hard-1 Hot+1 Sharp+2 Weird=0
Cool+1 Hard=0 Hot=0 Sharp+2 Weird-1
Cool=0 Hard+1 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird-1
Cool+1 Hard-2 Hot=0 Sharp+2 Weird+1

The Scholar gets all the Basic Moves.  You get “Librarian” and then pick 2 Scholar Moves.

Scholar Moves
Librarian: You have a library of Golden Age books and/or maps.  Detail it's size and portability as you see fit.  Choose two regions that the library covers.  Each region is either: far but relatively safe, close but dangerous or on the other side of some obstacle.
Ten Barter Words: when you roll to Manipulate another character, roll Sharp instead of Hot.
Professor: when a character comes to you for advice, consult your library and tell them what you think is the best course of action.  If they follow your advice, they take +1 ongoing in that task and you mark an experience circle.
Archeologist: when you scavenge in a Golden Age ruin, roll + Sharp.
On a 10+, find an oddment worth 1 barter and choose 2;
On a 7-9, find an oddment worth 1 barter and choose 1;
You find it quickly.
You find it with relatively little trouble.
You find an item that is valuable.
You find an item that is hi-tech.
Book Learning: you can roll to Read a Sitch from maps, books or secondhand accounts without actually being there.
Ear to the Ground: when you meet someone important (your call), roll + Sharp.  On a hit, you've heard about them, tell the MC one thing you've heard.  On a 10+, you get +1 Forward with them.  On a Miss, the MC will tell you what you've heard about them.
Intellectual: you get +1 Sharp (Sharp +3).

One antique weapon, gun (2Harm Close Loud Reload Valuable) or hand (2Harm Hand Valuable), detail as you like
Oddments worth 2 Barter

Everyone introduces their characters by name, look and outlook.
Take your turn.
List the other characters’ names.
Go around again for Hx. On your turn, choose a character you think is smarter than they look; tell that player Hx+2. Tell everyone else Hx+1 if you share your recovered knowledge easily or Hx-1 if you keep the knowledge for your own purposes.
On the others’ turns, choose the oldest character; whatever number that player tells you, add +1 to it instead. Everyone else, write whatever number they tell you, as you take people at face value.
At the end, find the character with the highest Hx on your sheet.  Ask that player which of your stats is most interesting, and highlight it. The MC will have you highlight a second stat too.

Scholar Special
When you have sex with another character, you inspire them with stories of the Golden Age and encourage them to learn new things.  They take +1 Sharp forward.

Scholar Improvement
_+1 Cool (Max 3)
_+1 Hard (Max 3)
_+1 Hot (Max 3)
_+1 Weird (Max 3)
_Get a new Scholar Move
_Add a Region to your Library
_Add a Region to your Library
_Get Followers and Fortunes
_Get a Move from another playbook
_Get a Move from another playbook

1-barter will cover a month’s living expenses, if your tastes aren’t too grand. 1-barter will also cover a month's service as an adviser and scribe to someone important.
As a one-time expenditure, and very subject to availability, 1-barter might count for: a night in high luxury and company; any weapon, gear or fashion not valuable or hi-tech; the material costs of a crash resuscitation by an angel; a week’s hire of the protective companionship of a battlebabe or gunlugger; repair of a piece of hitech gear by a savvyhead; a year’s tribute to a warlord; a month’s maintenance and repairs for a hi-performance vehicle well-used; bribes, fees and gifts sufficient to get you into almost anyone’s presence.
For better stuff, you should expect to make particular arrangements.
You can’t just wander around the commons of some hardhold with oddments ajangle and expect to find hi-tech or luxe eternal.

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 07:00:59 AM »
My original thought was that something about this writeup felt 'too nice' for AW.  But thinking about it, and about the post apocalyptic genre in general, I realized that not every campaign need be quite so dark. So now I actually rather like it. I can't speak for "balance", since that's not my strong suit, but I think I'd certainly try it out as it now stands, depending on the Apocalypse in question.



  • 41
Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2011, 08:49:49 AM »
I saw somewhere a fan-made playbook called The Ruin Runner by Jeff Russel which had some similar ideas. You might want to look at it.

Cool idea, though, and I absolutely love the contribution to the setting that comes along with the library.

My opinion on the moves:
Librarian. This, I think, is better off at the crap / peripheral section of the playbook rather than with the other moves. Maybe add some concrete options instead of "Detail it's size and portability as you see fit". Maybe choose 2 good options (portable, comprehensive, hidden, duplicate documents you can occasionally sell, etc.), and 1 bad option (coveted, vulnerable, requires power etc.). I'd also love a list of place names: Dog's Head, the Flytrap, the Pits, etc. Having library staff or research assistants is also a cool option.

Ten Barter Words. This one is a little bland. Maybe you could change the name of the move to something like "I know you" or "piercing gaze", and/or add some restrictions, such as "When you manipulate, and your intention is simple enough to convey in two or three words..."
Mechanically, I think my players would love such a move.

Professor. The Savvyhead have a somewhat similar move, and this one is a little out of context when chosen by another character type, since other character types usually have no libraries. Maybe when willingly following the Scholar's advice, the Scholar may remotely aid or interfere, succeeding automatically.

Archeologist. This looks more like a generic custom move; it doesn't say a lot about the archaeologist. Maybe something that begins with "when you find an item of the Golden age", or "when you encounter trouble in a region marked in your library". The part about finding barter in ruins could go under the barter section: 1-barter is the going rate for one non-valuable, non-high tech item scavenged from a ruin, your crew's cut from a successful haul, etc.

Book Learning. This one is my favorite. It says a lot about the character, and is super-useful even for non-scholars.

Ear to the Ground. This one might disrupt the flow of the game for groups like mine, that don't play with the retroactive moves. Maybe change it a little, so that on 10+ the MC must tell the player whether the player-created rumor is true or false.

Sex Move. This one is a little bland, and is subsumed by the Gunlugger's move. If I can make a suggestion, I'll offer this instead:
When you and another character have sex, it counts as if you manipulated them to either go with you on or the stay the fuck away from your next expedition (your choice) with an 10+ result.

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2011, 09:23:47 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, elkin!  One thing I think I realized by trying to make a playbook was I was in a very "mechanical" head-space.  I should have been thinking more Narrative in my approach.

I had some feedback from the other players in Chroma's group and they all liked "Book Learning" best too.  Maybe I can salvage some ideas from this puppy yet.

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 08:51:25 AM »
Hmm. I don't actually mind ten-barter words. That said, if you want to change it as per the previous poster's recommendation, I would add an additional suggestion for a replacement: I see right through you. When you seduce or manipulate another player, roll+Hx. When you seduce or manipulate an NPC, roll+sharp.

I can see not liking the roll+Hx part, in which case, I'd restrict it to manipulation only and straight-up roll+sharp like the mechanics you were using to begin with. My logic is twofold: one, other moves that allow for substitution of both seduction and manipulation use the +Hx/+stat split (see the Operator's easy to trust), while moves that allow for straight-up +stat substitution allow it for either seduction or manipulation (see: the brainer's unnatural lust fixation or the hocus's charismatic); two, it's based upon how well the user understands the target, which wouldn't only be Sharp--it could just as easily be Hx.

I would, however, add that the statlines are pretty weak. They only add up to +2, and they should be adding up to +3 (exception: a statline with two stats at +2 adds up to only +2 total; the battlebabe and driver also have their own shit going on which doesn't really apply in the scholar's case). So go back through the statlines and give them a bonus point somewhere. (For no particular reason, I'll quietly recommend one Cool+1 Hard+1 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird=0 statline.)

I'd also try to find something to drop among the improvements to make room for a second line of "get a new scholar move." Also, stat improvements cap at +2, not +3, unless they're the veteran +1 to any stat (max+3) that all classes get or the class gets its "improve your main stat to +3" in its improvements rather than in its moves. Neither of these apply to the scholar, so its stat improvements should cap at +2.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 09:08:24 AM by Allison »

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 12:00:53 PM »
I think there is alot of gold if you focus on the library and archeologist moves.

How about?

You have a library of maps and info regarding a region both as it was during the golden age and as it is now. Choose X regions that are Y and Z etc.

When you consult your maps regarding a region roll+sharp
10+ The MC will draw you a map and tell you something interesting about the location
7-9 The MC will draw you a map but will ommit one vital piece of information¨
6- You draw a map of the region but the MC decides how accurate it is

I think the Archeologist move should be less about scavenging, because that's something every does in AW, and more about the special knowledge the Scholar has. Something like things speak but with the questions more geared towards how a thing used to work and what it says about the culture of the golden age. Also excavation! Anyone can rip a piece of fiber optics from ground and make a pretty necklace but you know if you follow it it will lead you to something cooler and more valuable.

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2011, 05:29:35 PM »
Since this thread's a little quiet I'll throw something else out there:

You listed glasses in the scholar's looks. Perhaps the scholar should have the option to take eyeglasses (worn valuable) as per the skinner luxe gear if they also choose for the scholar to need the eyeglasses to see properly (+1sharp when sight counts and the glasses are being worn, but -1sharp when sight counts and they aren't being worn)?

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2011, 03:05:04 PM »
Because I don't want the thread/concept dying, and this just popped into my head.

The scholar is a prime candidate for a move like the touchstone's long history that lets it take a move from any other class. In fact, I came up with a name for it: broad study. I also came up with a few examples of ways to use it to play to type, not unlike the suggestions for long history in the touchstone playbook.

Examples: The angel's professional compassion (roll+sharp instead of +hx to aid another character: you excel at using your knowledge to help others), the battlebabe's perfect instincts (take +2 instead of +1 when following the MC's advice after reading a sitch: you can think your way out of any tight spot you find your way into--I think this one fits so well it should also be considered as a straight-up scholar move), the driver's good in the clinch (roll+sharp instead of +cool to act under fire: even when you're shitting bricks, your wits never leave you) or weather eye (roll+sharp instead of +weird to open your brain: you have studied the phenomenon of opening one's brain to the psychic maelstrom and can do it well through knowledge rather than by instinct or talent), the gunlugger's prepared for the inevitable (you get a first aid kit that works like an angel kit with a capacity of 2-stock: your studies include medicine as well as less hands-on academic endeavours), the savvyhead's deep insights (+1weird, to a maximum of +3: kind of like the driver's weather eye, only you've studied maelstrom-related weirdness in general rather than just the opening of one's brain, and you're starting to understand it, at least as well as anyone does), and the skinner's artful & gracious (roll+hot to perform with special effects upon NPC audience members: your studies include hands-on art and culture, such as music, painting, fine crafts, or whatever, and what do you know, you're really fucking good at it). From other fan-made classes: Mike Sands's/Matt Strickling's juggernaut's spyfly (you have a little flying drone and can roll+sharp to find things out with it), the ruin runner's good enough! (roll+sharp to repair things: your studies include mechanics and electronics and whatever the fuck else), and Dragonraven's tribal's somewhere out there (roll+sharp to know where to find people, places, or things out in the wastes: your studies include a lot of contemporary geography and whatnot).

Just thought I'd throw that out there.



  • 259
Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2011, 04:54:04 PM »
Any more progress being made on this?
"If you get shot enough times, your body will actually build up immunity to bullets. The real trick lies in surviving the first dozen or so..."

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 05:16:25 AM »
Any more progress being made on this?

After 1 year, 3 months, and 10 days... yes.

I like the concept of the Library, but I agree with elkin that it should have some more broad and narrative concepts added to it. I also like krippler's idea of making it tied to a genuine move, this gives the Scholar an exclusivity with the library that another character can't achieve. I think the library could be similar to the Savvyhead's workspace, it's a place you go into and research to figure something out or make a deduction.
Example: "The Burn Flats used to be part of some golden age city, and that asshole Windows always comes back from there with weird little pieces of white glass. What's that about?"
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Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 07:52:34 AM »
Rereading this I think Book Learning and Ear to the Ground are the coolest moves.

However Ear to the Ground crosses the MC/Player authority boundary for me with the player being able to make up whatever as a move without being prompted by someone else at the table. Being a reversed Reputation is cool as hell but I wonder if there is some other way to do it.

Maybe the MC always tells you something about them but on a miss they know that you know? You still get knowledge (and accurate knowledge) but it puts you in trouble instead of at an advantage.

Minor aesthetic thing: The Scholar should obviously be able to have a concealed gender! Especially with the Ear to the Ground move, seeing without being seen.

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 09:06:59 AM »
How about this?

Ear to the Ground: when you meet someone important (your call), roll+sharp.  On a hit, you've heard about them, the MC will tell you one thing.  On a 10+, you get +1 Forward with them.  On a Miss, you describe what you've heard and the MC will (secretly) decide whether or not it's true.
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Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2013, 10:27:15 AM »
That was the exact move I was thinking about before the one I suggested. It has a different flavor since what puts the scholar in trouble is heeding false rumors rather than having accurate but dangerous information.

I think which move is better depends on how good the MC is to come up with either misinformation or true information than puts you in a spot. The way I imagine the fiction a Scholar that misses and get's a maybe true answer will not act on the information till it is confirmed rendering it less punchy (maybe investigation is what you want to see this playbook care about?).

Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 03:47:04 PM »
I think which move is better depends on how good the MC is to come up with either misinformation or true information than puts you in a spot.

It also depends upon the player being able to know they failed the roll and just running with the information as if they accept it as truth. I tend to play with sch players so I never worry about people "playing it correctly" when I write something.

I don't think it really needs a lot to put a player into a spot. You could even give half-truths as part of the answer so it doesn't feel like a complete botch. I like the ambiguous nature of it.
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Re: New Playbook: The Scholar
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 02:16:57 AM »
So, I made another trifold.

In general, I fixed everything to conform to the basic 11 playbooks, but in some cases I feel I should point out what I changed:
- fixed the Stat lines to add up to +3
- added both weapons to gear (instead of choosing between them), also added fashion
- changed the name of "Ten Barter Words" since there was dissent about the name
- expanded "Archaeologist" to be more broadly useful
- used elkin's version of the Special
- used elkin and krippler's suggestions for expanding the Librarian move and the Library feature
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 02:22:26 AM by nerdwerds »
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