[Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback

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[Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« on: May 31, 2012, 07:19:10 PM »
Okay, to give context to this, I'm playing in the PbP advertised here (http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2734.0), using the Dark Galaxy hack.

While I have been giving the MC a steady stream of comments about the playbook I'm using (the Commander), the Death Dancer also caught my eye.  That can (hopefully) be found here:
https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B06M_51wBJSFNzY1MDhmY2EtYzA1Ny00NDU4LThhMDktYmZjOTVmODlhNzg0/edit?pli=1&docId=1XTj_vScoWCoB6Q7I6P5OVSPyVrseInwXDVA7BWfnly4.

Unfortunately, he's not the one who made that playbook, so suggested I hash my thoughts out with the author here (they know to look here).  I can't speak for the author as to how open they'd be about others offering their thoughts, but if he'd accept mine, there's no reason why he wouldn't listen to other people (though you may with to wait for them to confirm/deny that).


Okay, so that's the situation, the suggestions:

There's lots of good, inspiring stuff there, but I do feel it has some flaws.  The big one is, it has 9 moves.  Nine!

Dance of death
It's not just murder, it's an art
Swear an Oath
Ice Cold Charm
Surgical Precision
Eye on the Door
Hypnotise
Deliver death
Death lab

And a character can only get 5 of them max (without then changing character and using other playbook move advances to get more, or something equally silly).

So, I had some suggestions for how you might want to cut the numbers down a bit.

Firstly, 'It's not just murder' and 'Deliver death' are similar enough to combine.  Deliver death can be used against PCs (implicitly), and 'not just murder' can't, but that's the only loss I see in just cutting Deliver death out, and it's one I actually prefer - poisoning PCs shouldn't (IMO) be a one-move thing.  Oh, and you could technically use non-lethal poisons using 'deliver death' (ironically enough), so a small rephrase of 'not just murder' might be needed to avoid losing that.

I feel death lab should either be standard, or a non-move advance, preferably standard.  Mostly because, assuming it works like a savvyhead's workbench, it doesn't get cool stuff in and of itself, but it gives you more avenues to get cool stuff, and makes you always want stuff to build your latest 'toys'.  Wanting stuff is good.

Swear an oath, while arguable, I say should be another standard feature (yes, they're getting a lot of standard features, but other classes get ships and armies, so it's not ridiculously excessive).  With the caveat that the sacrifice should be non-trivial, and the more dangerous the mission, the more specific the sacrifice has to be, and the harder it is/more consequenceful it is to acquire.  One key reason is, it ensures the temptation to make the sacrifice is always there, rather than having the 'barrier' of having to buy the move first.

And that takes it down to 6 moves, which is, I believe, fairly standard.


Other points:
There's no way to gain more killing edges.  I feel an advance could be useful to add a couple more options.

Under 'looks', there are options for signature weapons which don't appear later (such as 'bow').


There are a few other minor things, but we're not talking anything that affects mechanics, so it's not important.

*

NilsH

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Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 12:08:40 PM »
I´ve written and played The Death Dancer, so I will try to give som feedback. First: these playbooks are work in progress.

I think you have some good points.

I don´t think the nine moves in itself is a problem. The Trooper also has nine moves, and that hasn´t been a problem in any way in our campaign. (The Psyker has eleven moves, and it has worked nicely...) This is the form of this game- you simply have more moves in these playbooks. (The Inquisitor has seven. )

Deliver death and It´s not murder should absolutely be one move, good thinking!!

Maybe the Death lab should be standard, and not a move. I´m not sure. I wanted to give the possibility to build really different killers. I play a gun-slinging Matrix-agent who sacrifices souls to the Death-Sister, but you could play an assassin who kills with poison which you brew in your basement. But it´s the same playbook.

But sure, my Gun-slinger could probably use a death-lab. The "maybe" is that I don´t want characters to have stuff they don´t use, things that doesn´t really fit the character.

Swear an oath maybe should be standard move. I´m not sure. I don´t think it is a problem that the Death Dancer is not as powerful as many other playbooks. That´s fine. I mean The Trooper can´t really compete with The Commander...

I don´t think it´s a problem that you can´t get all the moves. You will have to make some tough choices, that’s part of the game.

I really agree that you should be able to gain more killing edges. I´m not sure though if it should be in- game, (as in: "I steal his canon and use it against the enemies") or as an experience ("I take... a canon, now how will we explain that in fiction...?")

Bows was discussed with Simon, don´t remember if we erased it or not... Is it cool enough for the death dancer?

/ Nils

Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 02:23:05 PM »
Regarding number of moves: it is certainly true that I was comparing that to base AW, rather than other DG playbooks.


To expand a little on a point I made, to hopefully make my reasoning clearer:

If there's no barrier between the character and being able to do cool stuff, it isn't cool (the 'if everyone's special, no-one is' rule).

One barrier to place is 'you have to buy this move to do X'.  This is stuff like 'Eye on the Door'.  You pay the price to remove the barrier, and suddenly you can (try to!) make a smooth exit whenever you want.

Another barrier is fetch quests.  This is stuff like the Savvyhead working on tech.  The barrier is 'yes, you can do X, but you need A, B and C.'

My problem with Death lab and swear an oath is that it has *both* barriers, and the rewards aren't so special as to be worth the double-barrier investment, so the character gains nothing from having these cool things so hidden away.

You may disagree, but that's the angle I was coming from.


I'm very much of the mindset of 'if you build it, they will come'.  You say 'I don´t want characters to have stuff they don´t use'.  I feel that if they have the option right there, they will probably use it sooner or later.  Not often, maybe.  But they could well come across a circumstance when they need something special, and then they have the Death lab handy, ready to give them a new fetch quest.
Also, with stuff like 'swear an oath', it makes it a definite choice for that character if they know they can get power through sacrifices, and they choose to turn their back on that temptation.  But the power is always there, just a single victim away.


Incidentally, you say that the Trooper cannot really compete with the Commander, but you have to consider the circumstances - the vast majority of the Commander's power is externalised in his men, while the Trooper's power is inherent in himself (and, admittedly, his gear).  In other words, the commander has drama and situations getting in the way of his power that the trooper doesn't have (the chopper/gunlugger divide, writ large).

But that's rather beside the point.  The point I was trying to make was even if the DD gets all this extra 'free' stuff, they still fall within the standard 'power bracket' of the playbooks, in other words, they wouldn't be overpowered compared to the rest (IMO, anyway).


Remember that new advances stuff is both prescriptive and descriptive.  Many advances (such as 'better weapons for gang', 'larger cult', etc.) can be achieved through *both* xp expenditure and narrative actions.  I see no reason why killing edges should be treated any differently.


Bows can be cool (if a player's just seen 'The Avengers' and thought Hawkeye was cool, for example).  Probably the best justification for using one would be in combination with a Death lab, creating lots of custom arrows (like Hawkeye uses!) for specific circumstances.
But that could just be me.


All the above just my opinion, naturally.

*

NilsH

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Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2012, 04:12:09 AM »
Great stuff!

I have made some changes in the play book.

Moving today so don´t really have time to write about it.

Short version. All DDs have a Death Lab. Like Blade with his companion or Batman (maybe he´s an investigator...) with his cave and Alfred.

Fewer moves.

No praying-move. It sounds like a Signature move, but it´s not the right s-move for a DD. So it goes away.

The Signature weapen-move and dance of death becomes one move. But it should be written so nobody else can take that move. ÖLike: u gotta have a signature weapon to use the move.

Only one kill-NPCs-move. Maybe it should be standard? (maybe it should be erased, it´s a boring way to kill, and this character is a killer...?)

Bow- absolutely! The DD had a bow in earlier versions, will past it back in.

Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2012, 10:01:46 AM »
All those changes seem like good ones, but the playbook now only has 5 moves, which I feel is a bit too severe (yes, I know, I'm never happy ;) ).

So, some ideas for replacement moves:

Inquisition (cf deep brain scan/in-brain puppet strings)
When you have an NPC restrained and at your mercy, roll +cool.  On a 10+ hold 3, on 7-9 hold 1.  You can spend a hold to ask a question relating to security (what are the watchmen shift rotas, where are the cameras, are there food tasters, etc.).  If they answer, they do so honestly.  If your victim can't or won't answer the question, you automatically inflict 1-harm ap on them. On a miss, they escape their bonds!

Ahead of the game (cf Bonefeel)
At the beginning of the session, roll +Sharp.  On a 10+, hold 1+1.  On 7-9 hold 1.  At any time, either you or the MC can spend your hold to have you already be there, with the proper tools and knowledge, with or without any clear explanation why. If your hold was 1+1, take +1 forward now. On a miss, the MC holds 1, and can spend it to have you already be there, but somehow pinned, caught or trapped.

Found (cf Lost)
When you whisper someone's name into the warp, roll +Twisted.  On a hit, you know precisely where they are right now.  On a 10+, you even know where they'll be for the next few hours.  On a miss, they know where you are, and that you're coming for them.

Everybody eats, even that guy

Old Ghosts (cf This Ends Now from the fan-made 'Loner' prestige class)
During a period of downtime, roll +Hard (?) (It's a bad stat, so probably not, but putting it forwards).  On a 10+, things are just peachy.  Take +1 forwards due to your good mood.  On a 7-9, turns out a previous matter you thought closed isn't quite.  The MC will tell you about one final score that needs settling to put it behind you.  On a miss, something from your past blows up in your face, big time.

Next two are basically copy/pasted from the 'Abacus' playbook, found here: http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2218.30.  While I do like the 'not just murder' move as it is, these are alternatives, since you said you may remove it.

Served cold - when you take your time to settle a score, roll +cool. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1. On a miss, they get to choose 1 on you.
* You catch them where they're alone or vulnerable.
* They don't know you're there until you show yourself.
* It doesn't take you until next session.

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.


Obviously choosing all of these would be ridiculous move bloat.  But you can hopefully find a couple there that fit your image of the playbook, to get the count back up to a reasonable number.

*

NilsH

  • 79
Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2012, 11:58:30 AM »
Ha ha :) Never satisfied....

When I count it´s seven moves? (5 optional). It´s still a lot of moves to keep track on.

In my opinion the number of moves is not a reason to give the Playbook more moves. The moves that are used should simple be the concept.

I´m sorry but I don´t think you need these moves to play Blade, or Punisher or Black widow or some Ninja guy... 

Like a ghost seems right, but it´s the same as Act under fire or go aggro, to do the same thing, with the same Stat, probably.

Maybe Whisper someones name?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 12:04:37 PM by NilsH »

Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2012, 02:39:05 PM »
True that I was only counting the optional moves.

In the 'writing playbooks guide' http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2248.0, it mentions that 'First, your moves have to be ones other playbooks could take'.  Now, since this is for a hack, rather than 'pure' AW, you could just ignore that, but it does seem like good advice to me, especially when there are relatively few playbooks, so Dance of Death is making me give it suspicious looks.  You are clearly trading in versatility for power.  This is the only move of the DD that references signature weapons, so why isn't it 'Choose a weapon as your signature weapon.  When you're using it, it has +1 harm and you have 1-armour (if you're wearing armour, use that instead)'?  That lets other playbooks take it.  If you're concerned over it being too powerful, then I feel the move should be altered, rather than limited in who can take it.  Your choice, of course.

I do really like what you did with 'bow'.  Although counting arrows I feel doesn't add enough to be worth the effort.  How about 'after using a special arrow, roll +Cool.  10+: you're fine. 7-9: one left.  Miss: all gone!' Or something, so you don't have 2 additional number to keep track of.  (Also, it probably needs 'far')

I also like what you've done with Death Lab, but you comment about being able to create items with killing edge did present me with the amusing mental image of literally constructing an alibi or crew.  More seriously, that does increase the use of taking edges like 'alibi' and 'crew' in your initial two, which cannot (presumably) be made in the Death Lab.

Interesting that you feel that a dramatic entrance where he shouldn't be strikes you as something Blade wouldn't do (Ahead of the Game), but fair enough.  They were just quick ideas thrown out for inspiration.
(Something that I would point out is that 'Old Ghosts' is largely equivalent to 'Hunted', save for not being vulnerable to 'not just murder', which I just noticed.  Having an NPC hunt you with the ability to kill any NPC off-screen does not a deadly (to you!) combination make.)


And so we're clear, for all that I seem to be criticising it, I do really like it.

*

NilsH

  • 79
Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2012, 05:09:30 AM »
Good points. Signature weapons should probably be a move everyone can have, but I think it should be restricted to the DD´s weapon. You can´t have Machine gun as a signature weapon.

Like your idea with the arrows, great!

Constructing an alibi with a Death Lab. Hmmmm. No, probably not. But it could be fun though, if you think of the DL as Batmans´s cave more than a laboratory. It´s in this safe haven the DD does her thinking, making plans of death and stealth.

"I need an alibi."
"Fine. First you have to hack in to the computer network and steal and ID, and then you have to bribe a high-ranking officer of the Administration."
"Great- let´s get to work!"

or

"I need some help."
"Fine, what kind of help?"
etc.

I think Ahead of the game is great but then you get one move to kill NPCs instantly, one move to know where they are, and one move to be there with all the killing stuff. Somethings maybe should be done the ordinary way with act under fire to sneak in, manipulate etc. ???

Don´t fell criticised at all- this is great stuff! (I think maybe I´ll ask Simon if I can alter my own DD Orcus....) :)

Re: [Dark Galaxy]Death Dancer Playbook Feedback
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2012, 05:23:15 AM »
Ah, yes.  So: 'Choose a weapon from the list below as your signature weapon.  When you're using it, it has +1 harm and you have 1-armour (if you're wearing armour, use that instead)'?

You are right about the Death lab.  Given the mechanics, it actually works.  For an alibi: 'It'll cost you, take days of work, it'll be weak and unreliable.'  For example.  That doesn't need any changes at all.

That's certainly a fair enough reason to not take AotG.  The one you stated before was a bit odd to me, was all.

The one point you didn't cover, which I think should be in some way, was that you have both an NPC hunting you, and an easy way to kill NPCs off-camera.  That doesn't result in a particularly dangerous threat to you as-is.