[Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff

  • 27 Replies
[Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« on: July 19, 2010, 06:30:34 PM »
I'm hoping my previous thread went as ignored as it did because I didn't include a tag in the subject indicating what it was about... and said almost nothing inside the post as well.

Like everyone else, it seems, one of the things I love about AW is that it has a very cool, basic, flexible structure.  It's not that this game takes a low amount of WORK to hack, but that the rules text makes it so obvious how to pull parts out and change them or replace them.

So anyway, I've started idly working on a hack to do a Wraith-esque (that is, a game in which the PCs are spirits of dead humans, a la White Wolf's Wraith: the Oblivion) game.  I started by making up some new stats, then I attempted to write a playbook for a character type but when I got to the part about picking moves I had to stop.  It seemed clear I needed some Basic Moves before I could figure out moves for a particular playbook.  And then I got a little stymied on the Basic Moves.  But anyway!  Here's what I've got so far.  I'd love feedback or input from anyone who's interested.

Quick, meaning spry, fast, nimble, and in-tune with the world of the living
Dead, meaning numb, tough, unyielding, and in-tune with the, yeah, world of the dead
Passionate, meaning fiery, volatile, angry, joyous, and in-tune with your creative-self
Spiteful, meaning hateful, strong, violent, ruthless, and in-tune with your destructive-self
Centered, meaning focused, calm, thoughtful, zen-like, and in-tune with your higher nature
Ties, meaning connections and shared history with other ghosts

Ties is basically renamed Hx (and I'm not totally stuck on the names of ANY of these yet) but the rest don't have direct analogs to any of the standard AW stats.

the moves I have so far I'm even less convinced about (except for the first one, which I feel is pretty solid) and the last two I haven't even thought of any mechanics for at all yet... but still, i offer them for consideration...

Basic Moves:
Communicate with the living
When you communicate with the living, roll+quick.  On a 10+ choose 3. On a 7-9 choose 1:
  • They can see you
  • They can hear you
  • They aren’t terrified
  • You convey your message clearly

Hold your form together
When you try to hold your form together, roll+dead.  On a 10+ you are rock solid and unalterable, eternal as death. On a 7-9 choose: either suffer harm (as established) but hold your form, or suffer form breakdown and go unharmed.

Adapt your form
When you want to adapt your form to new circumstances, roll+passionate. On a 10+ choose 3. On a 7-9 choose 1:
  • Hardened form: +2armor
  • Dangerous form: +2harm
  • Harmless form: take +1 ongoing when you communicate with the living
  • Fluid form: take +1 ongoing when you remember who you are
  • Destructive form: take +1 ongoing when you destroy something beautiful
  • Calcified form: take +1 ongoing when you hold your form together
  • Regenerative form: hold 1. Spend at any time to reset harm to 6:00, then lose this form
  • Standard form: lose all adapted forms and heal 1 harm for each.

Destroy something beautiful
When you try to destroy something beautiful, roll+spiteful.

Remember who you are
When you need to remember who you are, roll+centered.

I have a few other thoughts as well that I haven't written down before yet.  Such as I suspect I will probably base the equivalent of "passions and fetters" from Wraith on AW gigs and probably call them something like "chains."  It seems like it should work quite well.  After all, gigs are something that can give your character a useful,  spendable resource, but can also complicate your life, especially if it goes wrong.  A ghosts continued attachment to, say, his house, where he died, could function similarly.  If you spend some time hanging around the house, you may get points of some kind of resource (which I haven't thought of a good name for yet) but it could also create problems.

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2010, 09:01:24 PM »
More idle thoughts, on the Shadow.  At the moment, I'm not totally sure if I want to bother with a Shadow.  I know most people would say that it's "not really Wraith" if there's no Shadow, and you'll get no argument from me on that; I'm not necessarily trying to recreate Wraith here, just do something with a similar spirit and feel to it.  After all, to the best of my knowledge, there aren't really any other RPGs out there in which the PCs are ghosts.

But whatever.  A few ideas for easy things you COULD do with the Shadow.
Make other PCs Shadowguides as per normal Wraith.  Characters get Ties with the other PCs, and all character's Shadows have Ties with them, but not vice versa (probably).  Shadows ties to their character maybe should be set permanent at some high number (like +3 or +4).  Assume that a character's Shadow can ALWAYS help or interfere with pretty much any roll.  Viola. Shadows can now screw and assist PCs quite easily.  There probably needs to be more to it than this, though... in Wraith, IIRC, accepting bonus dice from the Shadow resulted in the Shadow gaining "angst" which were points they could spend to fuel their evil powers (usually for fucking over the character in some way).  It would probably be good to have some element of that here.  The PC should probably be able to reject help from the Shadow, and the Shadow should probably get something out of it if the PC agrees.

I AM pretty sure I feel that Shadows should be kept pretty simple.  One or two stats at most, and maybe some custom moves.

But I'm not entirely sure about the necessity of them to my vision anyway.  There is a reason, after all, that Spiteful is currently one of the stats.  The idea was that the darker side of the soul was already built into the character.
But I did always love the idea of the Shadow in old Wraith...

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2010, 09:49:49 AM »
I've also been thinking about hold your form together because something felt "wrong" about it, and I think I realized what it is: none of the basic moves (or, i'm pretty sure, even playbook moves) in AW are "defensive" or "reactive."  But hold your form together is basically a fucking saving throw.  

I'm pretty sure this is wrong, at least for a basic move.  I suspect that basic moves should all be things where, as the player is going along, describing what his character does, the MC might say, "There, pause a moment, sounds like you're going aggro on him."  Whereas my move is the kind of thing where it's all MC: "The spectre scratches you and the ichor from his claws sizzles and begins to disolve your corpus.  Roll to hold your form together."  

So now I'm thinking I need to flip it around and make it an attack like "when you warp a ghost's form roll+(something... either passionate or spiteful, i think). On a 10+ both, on a 7-9 choose 1: deal harm as established or cause form breakdown"

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2010, 09:55:51 AM »
There is a move in the Apocalypse World book that is totally reactive... when you suffer harm. I thought hold your form together was a clever equivalent for this hack.
+++THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Ambition knows no bounds.+++

Rogue Trader: Apocalypse

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2010, 10:02:07 AM »
Hmmm, that's a really good point.  I was just thinking of the basic moves, not the peripheral moves.  Plus I always see the harm move as, essentially, the harm being the thing making the move, not the character.

Hold your form together could be a new version of that... I think it would still require rejiggering in that case, but a different sort of rejiggering.  hmm...

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2010, 12:16:38 PM »
So, without having ever played Wraith, just having conversations with friends who were enthusiastic fans, and based on what you say here, I've got a couple thoughts:

First, looking at your basic stats, with a teeny bit of shuffling, you could have something that works kind of like how Gregor's stats work in "Sagas of the Icelanders" or similar to how I understand Trollbabe works (my copy's at home and I am not :) ). Quick and Dead, and Spiteful and Centered make logical opposed pairs. Perhaps you can only increase one at the cost of the other (in Sagas of the Icelanders, for example, when you increase "versed" you lose "young"). Passionate then sits out there as a big focus stat since it can affect whichever way your pairs go (e.g. you can be passionate about being dead and centered or quick and spiteful, or whatever). Come to think of it, you might not need any shuffling at all.

Second, with the Shadow, why not just make the shadows threats as part of the 'wraith front' or the 'humanity front' or whatever? Sure, that'd take away the shared antagonism of having PCs control the 'dark side', but it'd give you a good avenue for making their not-lives not-boring via fuckery :) Then, you could have one custom move (or more) per player reflecting the nature of his shadow. I think that'd be the 'less hacked' way to go about it, but a more significant change might differentiate the game more.

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2010, 12:56:57 PM »
Thanks for the input, Jeff! I have to confess, I've only glanced at a few of the other hacks on this forum, and the Icelanders isn't one of them.  :)  I'll have to check it out now.

I originally was thinking of the stats as pairs.  Though I was originally thinking of Centered as being in the, well, center, and Spiteful and Passionate being pairs, I can see it the other way too.  The current pairings are pretty obvious in the final descriptors of the stats: "living vs dead" "creative vs destructive"

But either way... I'm not totally sure how I feel about the idea of one limiting the other... but it could be cool.  I really like that aspect of Greg Stolze's game A Dirty World.  I'll have to look at the Icelanders hack and see how it works there.

MC runs all the Shadows?  Could work... and it's an option that didn't really occur to me.  But it sounds like it might, possibly, be a lot of work to heap on the MC.  One of the things I liked about Shadows in Wraith was that one player was able to lean over to another and say, nice and soft, "Hey, you know you can't handle this on your own.  Let me help you.  We can work together.  It'll be fi-iiine" while rattling them tempting handful of evil bonus dice.  And I'm not sure I like the idea of the MC both putting the PC into a tough spot AND being the one to make the offer of tainted assistance.  It feels a little wrong to me.

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2010, 02:11:16 PM »
Hey, no problem, like I said, it's coming from a pretty inexperienced standpoint :)

In 'Sagas of the Icelanders' there are ways to transcend the limitations of the pairings through playbook moves and the like, and 'wyrd' (weird) starts at zero but can go up to 3 without affecting the other stuff. I guess it depends on what you want out of the game, but it makes for some pretty stark decisions when you can't be more destructive without being less creative and such like.

That's a good point about the shadows, I hadn't thought of it. I'm reminded of one of the playtest 'ungiven future' advancements that is gone now from the final version: the assistant/co-MC. Rather than having that as an advancement option, maybe from the get go you farm out some limited MCing type responsibilities for the shadow player. You give them a list of shadow principles ("offer temptation, play to the dark side of their characteristics, et cetera") maybe a little threat of their own to manage, and maybe a custom "evil bonus" move or something. I'm not sure how different that would be from having mini-characters for the shadows, but I really, really like the methodology for MCing :)

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2010, 02:40:17 PM »
Are you talking about one player who doesn't have a normal character but ONLY plays everyone's Shadows?  That seems like that could be a good optional rule for a large group, but I wouldn't want it to be the primary option.  With a small group, or if you didn't want the Shadows to have a tremendous, constant role, I think it could be problematic.

And, incidentally, I'm neither an expert with Wraith nor AW.  I'm just super-enthused about AW right now, and I've always loved the concept of Wraith. I never got to play much with it, and these days I have no stomach for the old White Wolf systems.  I've always thought the idea of a game in which the PCs are ghosts was very cool... though apparently I'm one of the few and/or games like that just don't sell well.

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2010, 02:47:58 PM »
Oh, sorry, I was vague and unclear, I need to work on that!

What I meant was that the idea of "an assistant MC" inspired the idea of "assistant MCing in general" and then I imagined every player having a small slice of MC-ish responsibilities vis-a-vis the shadow for one other character. That would make shadows even more constant and tremendous (except that everyone is also busy with his own character) and be lots of juggling for the PCs. Just a thought, though!

Maybe one of the MC moves, or some of the move options could just explicitly be offering a successful outcome at the price of your shadow's assistance, for a more streamlined, in the background role.

And yeah, my impression of Wraith is that it wasn't ever very popular, but the people who liked it absolutely loved it. And that's the beauty of making your own hack, you only have to worry about what you want out of it, unless you're dead set on selling it eventually :)

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2010, 04:26:45 PM »
Oh, gotcha!  In that case, if Shadows are done like they were in Wraith, that would be the norm.  In Wraith, every player had his own character as well as the Shadow of another character.  Shadow's are simpler, mechanically, than full characters, and they also aren't expected to always be involved and active, so I think it works out okay.

I've done more thinking about possible mechanics for the Shadow.  The problem is there are so many ways to tweak things, all of which would be slightly different!  But I guess that's why you're supposed to playtest stuff, right?

In Wraith, probably the most important thing a Shadow could do was offer bonus dice to their wraiths, for which they received points of "angst" if the offer was accepted (IIRC, anyway. it's been awhile since i read the book and I don't currently have it with me.)  With AW mechanics, it seems like the best way to do this would be to just allow the Shadow player to offer a straight up bonus of between, say, +1 and +3 to a roll, and I'm thinking one of two (or three) things would happen if the offer is accepted.  Either the Shadow gets to mark experience (and if this is the only way of doing that, the Shadow should probably get to improve maybe after 3 marks instead of 5... maybe.) or he gets an equivalent bonus to his stat for helping/interfering with the character either for just the next attempt or permanently.

In general, I'm thinking Shadows need to be simple, mechanically.  They should have one or two stats at most, and probably only start with one special "Shadow move."

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2010, 04:39:52 PM »
Hmmm, maybe the Shadow is only a Hx (or equivalent) stat with a character (and vice versa)? This doesn't give the Shadow's player much incentive beyond interesting fiction to be tempting/antagonistic/whatever, though.

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2010, 04:55:16 PM »
Well, I don't think there is any reason for the wraith to have an Hx with his Shadow.  But yeah, at the moment the only stat I'm thinking of for the Shadow is an Hx for the wraith.  But I DO think the Shadow needs some special moves.  In Wraith, IIRC, all shadows had were permanent and temporary Angst scores and special powers called "thorns."  Temporary angst was an expendable resource.  Permanent angst... did... stuff.  It was bad to let it build up, and it may have acted as dice pools for some of the thorns.

I'm not sure if there is a good reason to bother with an expendable resource in the AW system.  There MAY be a reason for another stat that would essentially be analogous to permanent angst.

There is definitely, I think, a good reason for moves that would be equivalent to thorns.  They would make the shadows feel different, mechanically.  I haven't given much thought to Shadow moves yet (and I probably won't until I nail down basic moves for PCs a little better) but I did think of one as I was considering the tempting/bargaining thing that I think is crucial to the Shadow/wraith dynamic.

I think in general the offer of a bonus to a roll from the Shadow needs to me made and accepted or rejected before the player makes the roll.  But one simple and interesting "shadow move" would be to allow the Shadow player to make the offer AFTER the roll.  Because it's one thing to say "Hey, we both know that guy is one stubborn bastard.  I can help you to 'convince' him, if you want" and it's another to say, "Boy!  you really fucking blew it big time!  But I can still pull your ass out of the fire!"

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2010, 11:22:20 PM »
Off-the-cuff (and, as it turns out, surprisingly extensive) thoughts, since I did love Shadows:

A Shadow can offer a +1 forward pretty much at will.  And, yeah, I think you're right - offer after the wraith player's roll.  Except maybe the Shadow doesn't roll anything, and it can just flat-out offer the bonus, as it did back in Wraith?  Then, if the wraith accepts, it gets 1 hold which it can spend later to tell the wraith to do something.  Pick: (a) if the wraith does it, he marks xp or (b) if he refuses, he's acting under fire (or something equivalent).

I'd personally avoid having the Shadow roll dice, since Apocalypse World favors putting the dice in player hands alone (and while Shadow players can be called 'players', they're really going to be more like mini-MCs).  Most of the stuff that a Shadow needs to be able to do can be handled with straight Faustian bargains and by gaining and spending points of hold.

You could probably work something out if you really wanted to give the Shadow players something to do with their hands, but it'd be important to make sure that something interesting still happens on a failure ... when a wraith player blows a roll, he's going to provoke a hard move from the MC, but what happens when the Shadow does the same?

Whatever you end up doing with playbooks, you could give each a playbook-specific Shadow move that gives the Shadow an additional way to gain or spend hold.  Or maybe a way for the playbook's Shadow to mark experience?

Somewhere around here, there's a hack that has a mechanic that lets you 'corrupt' a move (or something like that), so that each playbook move comes in two versions: the standard version, which you acquire normally, and the corrupted version, which the standard version can twist into on a certain trigger.

You could do something like that.  Give the Shadow ways to mark experience (determined by playbook? it should probably mark xp less often than a wraith), and it qualifies for an advance at every 5th mark.  Also, each playbook move includes an extra Thorn trait ... if you have the move, your Shadow can spend an advance to get the Thorn.

Then, every time you use the move, your Shadow gets to do something, probably involving gaining or spending its hold.  Like, whenever you use your Keening move, your Shadow can spend 1 hold to speak into the minds of any spectres in your general vicinity.  Or, whenever you use your Moliate move, the natural weapons it lets you grow are at +1harm if you let your Shadow gain 1 hold.

Heck, you could do this with basic moves also/instead, but that'd put broader power in the Shadow's hands.  In that case, you'd probably disassociate Shadows from playbooks.  Instead, maybe each wraith picks something like a tiny 'Shadow playbook', which includes a special Shadow move dictating how that Shadow marks xp, plus the specific Thorns that that kind of Shadow can attach to each of the basic moves.

I'm sort of assuming here that your playbooks are things like Artificer, Puppeteer, and so forth, and the playbook moves are basically Arcanoi.  But I don't know ... you might not even have playbooks?  Still, the general idea applies.

Do you want it to be possible for a Shadow to grow strong enough to consume its wraith and become a spectre?  If you do, I have no suggestions as to how that would work (vague idea of there being some kind of countdown clock involved), but its worth consideration.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2010, 11:27:27 PM by Michael Loy »

Re: [Wraith] Thoughts on hacking, ideas, stuff
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2010, 11:48:32 PM »
Wow, Michael!  This is a lot of stuff to think about!
You've got a lot of really great ideas here and, at least right now, I'm not going to respond to them on a point by point basis.

I originally assumed that Shadows would have the equivalent of Hx with their wraiths and they could roll that like any other player to attempt to help or interfere with the wraith.  I liked the idea that the Shadow could offer help or hindrance outside of the Faustian bargains, but it wouldn't have any guarantee of having an effect.
As to what would happen if it failed?  Probably a mechanical penalty of some sort, accompanied by a description of the Shadow over exerting itself or the wraith's psyche feeling a surge of self-confidence that allows it to shut out the Shadow's yammering.

But you might be right.  It might be better if the Shadowguide didn't roll dice...  and as to the hold ideas: I think you're definitely right there; most of the "thorns" (or whatever I end up calling them... for that matter, as long as I'm filing off serial numbers, I don't want to call them "shadows" either.  Any suggestions?) could probably work in that way.  I haven't given much thought to hold-based moves yet.  The lists are easier to internalize.  :)

I had been thinking that there would either just be a generic "shadow playbook" or there would be a small batch of them.  Shadow's had, I think, in Wraith different archetypes that described out they kind of... behaved?  Like one person's Wraith acted like an abusive parent, while another was a manic psychopath, right?

But the idea of tying the shadows and their powers into the regular PC playbooks sound goddman brilliant!  I LOVE the idea of the shadow's being only able to gain powers that are somehow twisted reflections of the powers the PC is acquiring.

And, yes, I did plan on making playbooks.  I actually started (at least after making up the stats) by trying to write up the playbook for the Haunter, but then when I got to the "pick your moves" section, I realized, "I can't really make up kit-specific moves when I don't have basic moves" so I went back to that.