New Playbook: The Abacus

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DWeird

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New Playbook: The Abacus
« on: January 05, 2012, 01:16:45 PM »
So I wanted to do a playbook that toys with the definition of Cool as "rational" for a while now. This idea has been tossing around in my head for a while now, but only recently the general idea "clicked."

You know James Bond, right? So that's basically a Battlebabe. James Bond is cool because he is the master of his sexuality, which in turn makes him a master at killing things. Sex and lives don't matter to James Battlebond, that's why they're easy things to take.

Now, I'm interested in the converse - someone who achieves control of his life not by mastering their sexuality (or emotions in general), but by by suffocating it, removing it from their lives altogether. So, Leon, the dude from Equillibrium, and such. They're dudes who are cold, calculating, professional but who don't necessarily *want* to be such. So if there's any ideas or criticism, keep the general thrust of the idea in mind, okay?


Names:

Joe, Gray, Moss, Pierce, Case, Jules, Mirth, Rain.

Adams, Bach, Carter, Evans, Young, Thomas, White, Price.
 
QED, Once, Boss's Man, Mirror, Thirteen, Pi, Carver.

Looks:

Man, Woman, or concealed.

Formal wear, vintage wear, utility wear, casual wear, signature wear, or luxe wear.

Concealed face, sharp face, stern face, scarred face, striking face or featureless face.

Deep eyes, dead eyes, calculating eyes, wise eyes, weary eyes.

Tall body, wiry body, crippled body, hard body, or fit body.

Stats:
Cool+2 Hard-1 Hot-2 Sharp+2 Weird+1
Cool+2 Hard0 Hot-1 Sharp+1 Weird+1
Cool+2 Hard+1 Hot0 Sharp+1 Weird-1
Cool+2 Hard+2 Hot-2 Sharp+1 Weird-2

Hx:
(needs work)

Moves:

Thorough - for every 2-harm you inflict, choose one of the following:
* You break something important.
* You learn something (get 1-hold for read a person/sitch)
* You keep your target from escaping.

Like a ghost - always ignore gang size bonuses. Also, when going for the leader in a battle, roll +cool. On a 10+, you're there ready for a perfect shot, on a 7-9 you're there ready for a shot, but you risk exposure.

Aware - roll +cool instead of +weird to open your brain.

Eye for detail - get a +2 bonus instead of +1 for read a person.
Tools of the trade - get a workshop and stock for making hi-tech weapons or explosives.
Lethal - whether using a weapon or not, always do at least Cool-harm. If there's a weakspot you know of, also do ap-harm.

Special move:
When you have sex, you lose your control. Your partner can have you wake up anyplace they want, good or bad.

Advancement: The usual, details pending, plus:
Retire as a threat.
Cool+3.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 02:56:59 PM »
I'm not sure I really get the type that this playbook is producing.  But it feels like a one-trick (combat: battle, especially) pony.  Is that intentional?

Also, if I'm thorough and some other PC is attempting to seize by force control of the battlefield, how does their right to take definite hold and my right to keep them from escaping interact?  I can imagine scenarios where both things happening makes good sense, but also situations where one precludes the other.

Is eye for detail supposed to alter reading a sitch?

I like retire as a threat

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 06:10:45 PM »
Any special reason why the Abacus can't look transgressing or ambigious?

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DWeird

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Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2012, 02:59:47 PM »
Lack o' genders - no reason other than me forgetting. Consider them added. Eunuch too, maybe?

Christopher, yes and no. An Abacus is supposed to be very dangerous if you're alone in a room with him, not that good in direct combat (think of the times that an "I attack him!" is resolved not by go aggro or seize by force, but by acting under fire of getting caught, and you get a good idea of ), and also good at getting and acting on information.

The getting and acting on information is not really there from the moves as is! I'd love something that would interface with either Aware or Eye for Detail (or just generally having read-hold), but haven't thought of anything good.

Oh, and yeah. Eye for Detail is for reading people, not sitches. An Abacus has difficulties getting people to do what he wants, but he understands them quite well.

I'm not fully happy with the last pick for Thorough - the player-to-player thingies are always an issue regardless of the move in AW, and they get worked through by paying closer attention to what exactly is going on in the fiction. There is a problem in that it runs against the AW principle of letting the other player have a choice in the matter though, I guess? It creates a roadblock and not a pricetag for an action.

Thorough as a move idea I like, though - it lets an Abacus learn about an opponent... And also doubles up as a lot more violent version of a Brainer's Deep Brain Scan.

As for 'getting' the Abacus... Yeah, it's difficult, right? There's nothing on the sheet as is that says what an Abacus *does* in the fiction, which all of the other AW default playbooks cover.

What I'm imagining is mostly this: there is a warlord or some other person of power in the setting, and the Abacus is his problem-solver. He either 'solves' problems by direct application of murder, or is the guy the warlord asks for advice ("and, as you can see from this chart, that's how many slaves you need to kill to solve the insufficient food problem"). Whether or not he likes that is another question, but solving problems for someone power is his function.

I'm thinking that maybe I should add a 'Employer' section to the sheet, which will show what kind of boss and work responsibilities the Abacus has. Should all something be highly profitable, but very grey-black on the moral spectrum.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2012, 04:52:09 PM »
I'm still tripping over eye for detail.  Since reading a person doesn't confer a +1, what does this modification of it do?

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 05:31:52 PM »
I'm still musing over it, but I did want to say, based on what you've said, I very strongly support the idea of having an area for 'Employer' (or 'Boss', or whatever).  Having a boss seems like a key concept for this character, so it makes sense to treat it as centrally as the Maestro's business, so you can end up with stuff like:
'At the beginning of each session, roll +cool . . .'
and you select options for surplus and want, like:
Surplus
+Open-handed
+Pliable
+Violent
Want
+Panicing
+led astray
+flights of murderous fancy

Or whatever.
(Obviously done through options, like 'Your boss thinks with his fists.  Surplus + violent.  Want + flights of murderous fancy.', etc.)

But I will say that Like a Ghost and Lethal alone make them arguably more dangerous than a gunlugger (unless Lethal applies before armour, but even then, thorough can deal with that pretty easily).  (This is mostly Like a Ghost.  It's like the Gunlugger's NTBFW on jawjack, with a nice bonus on top.)

In fact, Thorough concerns me just for the sheer 'fuck you' factor it can give to other PCs who are highly dependent of 'stuff' for effectiveness/fun (drivers spring to mind, but gunluggers and a few others as well)

Like I said, I'm still mulling it over, but, at least as I understand your concept, you seem to have waaaay more in the way of directly battlefield-related moves than I would.  Not that I'd recommend stealing them, but the Tribal's 'Bushwack' or the Ruin Runner's 'They'd be crazy to follow us in here' seem like much more along the lines I would expect - using planning, cunning and forethought to win a fight, rather than pure brute force.

Also, your last stat line seems one short.  Deliberate?

Regardless, interesting.  I'll see where this one goes.

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DWeird

  • 166
Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2012, 08:35:20 PM »
Waaait, reading a person doesn't confer a +1? News to me.

Like a Ghost has problems, yeah. My original intention was to just say "you never fight gangs, just people", to illustrate the personal nature of violence for the guy. But that's weird because getting shot by six 2-harm pistols can be worse than getting shot by a 2-harm small gang.

How about this?

Like a Ghost - when you appear from nowhere to inflict violence, roll +cool. On a 10+, you get your shot off before getting spotted. On a 7-9, one of them notices you - either hightail it or trade fire.

This preserves the thematic core of the move, but makes it a less roll-for-results-alone and more of a longer setup thing, possibly influenced by other players' moves, too. You need to get hidden, which will usually call for an under fire roll, and opposing player characters (but not NPCs) will be able to render the "appear from nowhere" prerequisite null by a simple read the sitch roll. The move itself is now basically a version of act under fire, with the only change being from "the rules allow this interpretation" to "you can totally do this."


Lethal isn't that powerful, really. 2-harm (or 3-harm after two advancements) isn't really that high, and the ap-thing is just a rule that's already around (if you shoot someone in their exposed face, their body armor doesn't help). Plus, it still needs another move to actually inflict the violence. Dangerous on a character a few advancements in, but then again, isn't everything?


Thorough I like! It's all about the Abacus changing the world or learning about it by making it worse. The move has its problems, but "break something important" is actually one of my more favorite bits. "Break" doesn't mean "destroyed", after all. Oh, and yeah, you actually have to *inflict* the damage done, so if armor negates it, tough luck for the Abacus.


That statline is a miscalculation, thanks. Should be, say, Cool+2 Hard+2 Hot-1 Sharp+1 Weird-2.


Tools of the trade I think I'm just going to get rid of, by the way. Abacus is not about guns nor making them.


Which means I need a replacement move.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2012, 08:07:49 AM »
Not my argument, but I would point out that yes, read a *sitch* gives +1, read a person just gives info.

Updated Like a Ghost: massive improvement thematically.  I stand by my assessment that straight-up fighting is the gunlugger's domain.  This really demonstrates the difference between their styles.
Unfortunately, I fail to see what this move allows that 'act under fire' doesn't.  The only difference this move seems to make is to say 'if you don't have this move, you can't ambush', which is silly.

The way I read lethal (but I fully appreciate that there are 2 ways of doing so) is 'Abacus (with 3 Cool) stabs using a knife (2-harm) person B.  Person B has 1-armour.  Therefore, Abacus inflicts 1-harm, upgraded to 3 by Lethal.'
I fully admit my views are biased by having played a gunlugger with an AP assault rifle, but that is truly monstrous, and pushes the character up to the battlefield effectiveness of a Gunlugger, as well as them having other schticks.  And, to my mind, it shouldn't.  Gunluggers are about being the kings of the battlefield, abacuses (abaci?) are about solving problems through whatever means necessary (correct me if my interpretation is wrong).
I should point out that I do really like the 'if you know a weakspot, do AP' part of the move - that really plays up the 'uses knowledge and planning to fight' part of the character.

'Thorough', to me, is like looking up at the sky on an overcast day.  There's 'something' (the sun/a good idea) there, I just can't quite see it clearly at the moment.

I think my problem is conceptual.  Looking at the playbooks, consider their concept and domain.  It's *tight*.  Each has a definite area.  Everything ties into that, and each is distinct.
This, I like the concept as I read it, and some of the moves tie into it really well, but there is fat that needs trimming (as you've started to do, with removing 'Tools') and you've really only focused on one part of the concept - killing.
I don't want to hijack your playbook, so feel free to ignore this, but a defining feature of this concept is he has a boss, so where's the move 'when trying to convince someone to follow a plan of yours, roll +cool instead of +hot (or +Hx for PCs, and they gain XP if they do on a hit),' or anything along those lines?
If you want to go wilder, there's the possibility of 'when you have information and time, you can treat a threat(/front?) as a person and read them.'
I haven't balanced/thought these ideas through.  But for my understanding of the concept, more non-combat-specific moves are what is required to make it more consistent between fluff & crunch.  You may disagree.  But those are my thoughts at the moment.

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DWeird

  • 166
Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 09:21:09 AM »
Naw, Lethal is comparably weaksauce (aside from the possible ap tag). You do the cool-harm as normal and then it gets modified by the armor as usual (unless the ap rule applies). It doesn't really do much in regards of increasing an Abacus mechanical killitude, as 2-3 harm is already baseline harm for most weapons.

What it does is make the Abacus impossible to disarm, and he can do cool things like kill dudes with bare hands or random household objects. It's a lot like a Battlebabe's Impossible Reflexes in that regard - it gives a bonus that's already covered by Battlebabe gear, but is thematically apropriate and has a few possible uses in the fiction.

The current iteration of Like a Ghost is exactly like a specific interpretation of Acting under fire, yeah. Generic acting under fire is very much a "it depends" move, though, and Like a Ghost tells you "hell yes, you can do this." It's a bit like taking an optional move and making it a playbook move instead (like the Maestro'D does). Here's a small change to further clarify the general idea here:


Like a Ghost - when you appear from nowhere to inflict violence, roll +cool. On a 10+, you get your shot off before getting spotted and inflict harm as appropriate. On a 7-9, one of them notices you - either hightail it or trade fire.


An Abacus shouldn't very good in a battlefield, but he should be good at killing, which is different. As far as I can see now, an Abacus *can* be as good at violence as a Gunlugger is, but to achieve that, it will usually take him two or more moves to a Gunlugger's one - an Abacus needs to set up properly for violence, hide and learn the opponent's weaknesses, the Gunlugger does not.


Oh, and I'm thinking about about the Employer section, but haven't yet picked how exactly that will work.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 09:55:27 AM »
Waaait, reading a person doesn't confer a +1? News to me.
Is this something we need to talk about more or are you good now?

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 02:49:09 PM »
Seeing the "thorough" move makes me think this is a guy who uses violence to extract information.

So maybe he's got some kind of interrogation chamber-type space, and the move might belong there?

I also like the idea of "thorough" but am not 100% sure of the implementation.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 03:19:10 PM »
Right.  Objection to lethal removed, then.  But I feel it's important to just add the note '(before armour)' to the description.  It's ambiguous otherwise, and makes a *huge* difference.

Also, now happy with 'Like a Ghost'.  No further changes suggested.

Eye for Detail, aside from the mechanical problems, seems opposed to your 'has difficulty getting people to do what he wants' concept, since that's exactly what it's used for.

You still need a replacement for Tools of the trade.  So, what did you think of my two rough move ideas?  Any good?

Still chewing on 'Thorough'.

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DWeird

  • 166
Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 06:25:13 PM »
Yeah Christopher, I'm good. I'll think of a variation for Eye for Detail, then. How about this:

Bloodhound - all you need to read a person is something personal of theirs, they don't need to be near you.

Less mechanically useful, more fictionally useful. Not in love with the name - the meaning fits perfect, but putting 'blood' in anything makes it about something visecral, which an Abacus is not. Ideas?

(Oh, and - The Scholar playbook has a very similar move. I've actually thought of the general gist of the idea independently, but the Scholar was certainly the first to put it in a playbook!)


Here's the new wording for Lethal - whether using a weapon or not, always inflict at least Cool-harm, before armour. If there's a weakspot you know of, ignore that armour and do ap-harm instead.


For the Tools replacement move... Wanted something that depends on a relationship with someone else (possibly a PC). Something like the Savvyhead's Oftener right, but not really:

Problem solver - as long as you're doing your job, when someone who employs you gets profit in barter, they get +1 barter. When you get paid, you get +1 barter too.

Might get the Abacus easier to find a new job after his old boss inevitably bites it, and explains why he gets employed, too. Barter's not always really a good incentive for players, though... And "doing your job is vague", as it's not clear when you fail at doing your job.


Here's the problem with Thorough, I think (thanks for the observation, Paul - that was what jostled me into this insight):

It's a move like Merciless or Bloodthirsty are moves, which is to say... Not really a move. It's not at all clear what's changes in the fiction when it applies, and it has an insanely wide area of application, because it's an addon to any actual violence move you can make.

For example, when I was thinking of Thorough, I thought of three possible situations where I'd like it to apply - a fair fight, a bloody interrogation, and demolishing a building with explosives. The result - the move is wishy washy, and does two things where it should probably be doing one. First, it allows the Abacus to basically score "critical hits." Second, it allows the Abacus to learn stuff from someone by hurting them.

I like both of these two things. The fictionally-defined damage one I like because I like fictionally defined damage. Violence can be fairly easily forgotten after it happens in AW, but a run in with an Abacus leaves scars. The learning by hurting I like because it says something about how the Abacus approaches the world - method, not trust. Not sure how I get them yet, though.

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2012, 08:47:02 PM »
Yeah Christopher, I'm good. I'll think of a variation for Eye for Detail, then. How about this:

Bloodhound - all you need to read a person is something personal of theirs, they don't need to be near you.

Less mechanically useful, more fictionally useful. Not in love with the name - the meaning fits perfect, but putting 'blood' in anything makes it about something visecral, which an Abacus is not. Ideas?

I love the move!

I would call it, "Sherlock".

Re: New Playbook: The Abacus
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2012, 08:06:55 AM »
Violence can be fairly easily forgotten after it happens in AW, but a run in with an Abacus leaves scars.
The Abacus is the rust monster of Apocalypse world.  Always hated those gits.

I like Bloodhound.  (The move, not the name.)

The problem with problem solver is that 1 barter is not an inconsiderable amount of money.  It's a month's reasonable living expenses.  Being able to make money from 'nothing' (effectively) makes sense for a Hardholder with the resources of the hardhold available, less so here.
Plus, I don't find barter or getting paid interesting.  Oftener right encourages something that perhaps characters wouldn't do otherwise (ask for help).  But paying poeple for work is something they'd do already.  It doesn't add anything to the narrative.  You seem to have dismissed my 'putting forward a plan' move as an alternative, and I don't have anything better to put forward yet.  Maybe later.