Touched by Death

  • 9 Replies
Touched by Death
« on: January 27, 2012, 10:59:32 PM »
So a Touchstone player (Hi Nomad!) wanted to take Touched by Death as their first advance, and I said, "sure, but it won't do you any good unless you also take either Healing Touch, or Prepared for the Inevitable".

<Quote pg 217><b>Touched by death:</b> whenever someone in your care dies, you get +1weird (max +3).
If the angel kills her on purpose, no, that doesn’t really count as “in her care.” Just being in the angel’s presence doesn’t count as in her care either.</quote>

We've established that Nike (the Touchstone) helps the Angel in their infirmary, so they do sometimes, sort of, take care of people. It's the "in your care" part that I'm stuck on. In my mind you have to be actively working on the person for it to count, you have to be invested in their survival. "Invested" as in, "paying for the treatment" in some way, either through Stock, or through Healing Touch.

Without this interpretation, Touched by Death is a really cheap (ie inexpensive) way to get up to +4 to their weird for one single advance.  As long as the player says they put a band-aid on someone who is dying, and who will die because NPC's die all the time, they get a +1 Weird.  And given how often NPC's die, this could happen very quickly, especially since only the Angel can actually do anything mechanically to influence healing or survival.

What do you all think?

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 12:24:37 AM »
I would just note that in the Touchstone's section of Moves from other playbooks, Battlefield Grace is one of the suggested ones. That's the other caring for others Angel move. That one might make more sense since Indomitable allows for moves that directly protect others from harm. Honestly, I'm on the fence myself. As a rule, though, Weird does seem pretty easy to come by compared to Sharp (for example).

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2012, 12:54:51 AM »
You know, at first I recoiled at thought of the Touchstone player taking that advance, but then I thought, why is it not ok for the Touchstone to take it but for the Angel it is? What prevents the Angel from being incompetent all the time with his care?

And then I thought, well, make sure the player is actually attempting to take care of that patient, and ask the Touchstone what he/she is doing to do actual care. It's probably just the same as with the Angel. With an Angel, what would you consider real care? Rolling +0stock with his Angel kit?

Also, this is a perfect opportunity for the MC to put his/her bloody fingerprints all over everything. I mean, now that the Touchstone wants to take care of everyone or get Weird, as an MC I would make sure that everyone the Touchstone cares about are in my crosshairs.

I can imagine the Touchstone's favorite NPC lying on a gurney in the infirmary, and some SOB that hated the NPC comes storming in to shoot the poor sap. The MC can then ask the Touchstone, so, let him die so you can get your +1Weird?

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2012, 03:04:59 AM »
As a player, I LOVE that last bit. Forget the roll. Given the choice between saving your friend and getting weird, what do you do? Whether its an Angel, Gunlugger, Touchstone or whatever I don't think gaining +1 weird through Touched By Death should ever be easy on the character.

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2012, 04:27:27 AM »

I am curious if anyone out there has seen an Angel gain more than +1 weird from Touched By Death, and if so over how many sessions. In my experience this move looks like the killer min-max combo for Healing Touch (take -1 Weird, 'accidentally' kill lots of patients, become super-Paladin!), but in actual play it rarely seems to manifest. The first PC I ever played was an Angel with this move, and I think the game ran about 18 sessions -- during which time I gained +1 to Weird from this move.

You know why? Because if I'm a PC, I don't let people I'm caring for die, that's fucking why. In fact the game ended with my hunting down the NPC responsible for that +1 weird and convincing him to commit suicide. I guess I can see things going otherwise -- certainly my Angel was remarkably non-cynical and hard-boiled in her pursuit of altruism -- but I am wondering if it ever really happens.



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Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2012, 05:55:37 AM »
Yes, when I read Vincent's note saying he took it as a personal mission to get a character Touched by death up to +3 Wierd, I thought "Ah, I get it! It's like the player saying 'go ahead: give me tragedy' "

So, make sure the the Touchstone cares about the NPCs, not just cares for them.

I played a Hardholder with Touched by death once.



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Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2012, 07:50:17 AM »
Since when are you supposed to care about balance?

There is no caring 'about' NPC on the move as written, nor is there anything on the move as written about them having to die while you're healing them.

It says that a NPC *in the PC's care* needs to die to get the +1 Weird, and that means exactly what it says.

Hardholder's people, an Operator's crew, a Hocus's followers, a Chopper's gang, someone a Gunlugger or Battlebabe are protecting, a passenger the Driver is carrying to safety, the person the Brainer is in love with... All of these people count as being in the PCs' care, and you can tell that they are by seeing how the PCs care for them in play.

So yes, it is completelly possible for some playbooks (the ones that get a bunch of people who are both in their care and at risk to begin with) to vault to +3 Weird in seconds. Who cares? First, and most important, you can play this up in the game - the dude just became weird because of a bunch of deaths, so maybe his mind is haunted by ghosts or he sees blood everywhere in his every waking moment. Weird now, wasn't before - why? Gold for the MC.

Second, if we suddenly *do* start caring about balance, a +3 Weird is not that big a deal. For most of the playbooks, it just lets you open your brain with greater success, which is neat but usually of no great significance 'power' wise, and, since the character already burned one get-a-move-from-another-playbook move on getting Touched by Death, the best they can get is a single other neat weird-based move.

Touchstone and Quarantine could go further with this, sure, but not too far. And even if they do, that has some awesome fictional implications. The future of the world, as personified by the Touchstone or Quarantine, has the psychic maelstorm as its integral part.

And if you're already a Weird-based playbook, Touched by Death is completelly superflous.

So... maybe just go put as much pressure on that move as you can instead of worrying what its implications might be.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 09:39:52 AM by DWeird »

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 02:44:21 AM »
You kinda touched on something there, DWeird, if a bit indirectly. Touchstones are Hard based but most hard moves from other playbooks are about being more badass. Actually, on second check, Fuck This Shit is the main Hard based move. Most of the rest of the Hard type moves are bonus damage, armor, NTBFW or whatever. None of these really goes well with the maternal sort of kickass I have in mind. Touchstones are also weird declined with a universal weird -1 and can get no more than weird=0 with basic advances.

Now the Touchstone effectively has three out of book moves available (Long History plus the two other playbook advances). So I thought "wouldn't it be neat to break the mold and go with Weird." Touchstones naturally want to protect people, so Touched By Death seemed like a really logical choice. First, it gives me the player an incentive to have people in the character's care. After all, they're no use dead otherwise. Second and sort of playing to find out, IF she winds up being really weird, it opens up some unusual possibilities that aren't normally part of a Hard based character's repertoire.

For example - Healing Touch is the obvious choice. But the Touchstone already has Indomitable to control the battlefield. Visions of Death, Scent of Blood and Bonefeel would create an otherworldly presence on the battlefield. Any of the Hocus moves fit the Touchstone touched by Weird (and possibly falling out of Touchstone-ness to be a Hocus for real), especially if they have the followers advance. A Touchstone with a couple of Brainer moves and/or Frenzy and Towering Presence is scary in her ability to motivate (ie control) people without Hot. Which way would I go? Well, it depends on what happens between here and there but it'd make a really weird trip.

Now, trying to step back and imagine being an MC faced with this. Player says:
I want to take Touched By Death so I can take Visions of Death and Bonefeel. (to use that example)
Translation: I would like the MC to visit tragedy on people that my character cares about (and for). A result of this tragedy is that my character now has visions of who will live and who will die when there's a battle (a love note to the MC as the book says) and to be able to spookily appear out of nowhere, ready for whatever situation (I want the MC to drop me in the middle of things).

That's kinda creepy, as I read it. My first warning from my MC self to my Player self is "this is going to SUCK for your character. Touchstones are based on spreading hope and you're asking to have that tested even harder than most Touchstones do."
Now, as MC I don't want to plan too far ahead. No setting up a love interest or whatever with the intention of killing them off. But if the Touchstone's doing plenty of leaping to the rescue and/or Go Aggro/Sieze by force, sooner or later someone's going to target her friends for revenge. Now I don't want to make it too easy. "Jane gets drilled, she's dead, Weird +1". Oh no, its "The bullet goes through her neck, back to front. Not quite the carotid, not quite the throat. There's thick blood pouring out around her hand. Her eyes go wide and her breath hitches as she realizes what's happened. What do you do?"
Does the player drag her feet or run for a medic? Does she try first aid or hold Jane while she dies? And what about that sniper?
If she does die, what's Touched By Death feel like/ What's the link between her departing soul and the psychic maelstrom? What's it feel like to have the curtain pulled back by your best friend's departing spirit as its devoured by the angry ghosts of the other side?



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Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2012, 01:52:44 PM »
My 2 cents: as an MC, I figure the moves do what they say on the tin, no prerequisites.

I agree that "in your care" should be read as active care: Tum Tum comes in a with a gut wound and you tried all night but couldn't save him, or the enemy scout gets hurt during capture, the character tries to patch up their wounds, and can only watch as the pissed-off Faceless beats them to death right there in the infirmary.  That kind of thing.  

So get to that +3 Weird, the character will have to spend a lot of time in the infirmary, orchestrate the deaths of infirmary patients, or rouse up enough trouble to guarantee a good supply of critically wounded people that are likely to die on the table.  And they'll have their fingerprints all over 3 or 4 people's deaths.  That's a lot of leeway for fuckery!

EDIT: Is the Angel in this game a PC or NPC?  I think that could set up some nice triangles either way.

Re: Touched by Death
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 10:24:00 AM »
Well, it's a flag, isn't it? If you take that move, you're telling the MC: "I would like you to try to kill people in my care. I will do my damnedest to keep them alive (on account of caring for them and being a big damn hero of Grey's Apocalypse), and fun will be had by all!"

My angel (now savvyhead) recently made it from -1 weird to +3 on account of touched by death. What with my MC making it seem real, putting on bloody fingerprints and fucking with us, I've had disturbing amounts of fun out of that move. We're still dealing with fallout from the deaths that took me from 0 to +1, and the more recent +2 to +3.

Also, there's bloody fun to be had with the notion that death is twisting you and making you weird. That's not just for the MC to slap the player around with, but for the player to use.