Help me "get" the basic moves.

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Help me "get" the basic moves.
« on: April 04, 2012, 02:34:05 PM »
Really a "when a player announces an action, which of these moves do I call it?" question, about the various modes of force/coercion (Go Aggro, Seize By Force, Seduce/Manipulate).

Is Go Aggro always basically coercion by threat of force? Is the only difference between Go Aggro and Manipulate the difference between physical force and some other kind of force ("out of my way or I'll knife you" vs. "out of my way or I'll tell Duke how you've been sleeping with his girl")? Either way, with Go Aggro or Seduce/Manipulate, there's always a "choose A or B" element to it, where you're sticking somebody with a tough choice?

Is the consequence of a move ever another move? (i.e., if I Go Aggro on someone to try to bully them into giving me a case of supplies, and they decide to force my hand and suck it up, can I decide that my consequence is, instead of inflicting harm or whatever, to Seize the supplies By Force? Or is that stupid, and I should have just skipped directly to SBF if that was going to be my ultimate intent?)

What about situations where a character wants to use violence, and that's it-- no ultimatum like GA, no motive to acquire something like SBF? If Tom's a psychotic bastard and somebody needs to put him down, and I decide that somebody's got to be me... what's my move? Am I Seizing (his life) By Force?

*

Chroma

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Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 02:39:28 PM »
Really a "when a player announces an action, which of these moves do I call it?" question, about the various modes of force/coercion (Go Aggro, Seize By Force, Seduce/Manipulate).

While there is some debate about some minor points, the needlessly complex AW diagram may help you in flowchart form!
"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..."
-- Pope Nag, RPG.net - UNKNOWN ARMIES

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 03:34:43 PM »

Is Go Aggro always basically coercion by threat of force? Is the only difference between Go Aggro and Manipulate the difference between physical force and some other kind of force ("out of my way or I'll knife you" vs. "out of my way or I'll tell Duke how you've been sleeping with his girl")? Either way, with Go Aggro or Seduce/Manipulate, there's always a "choose A or B" element to it, where you're sticking somebody with a tough choice?

Yes, Go Aggro is coercion by threat of force. One of the key differences between Go Aggro and Manipulate is that, when you Go Aggro, you can't be bluffing; you always do the harm you are threatening to do.

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Is the consequence of a move ever another move? (i.e., if I Go Aggro on someone to try to bully them into giving me a case of supplies, and they decide to force my hand and suck it up, can I decide that my consequence is, instead of inflicting harm or whatever, to Seize the supplies By Force? Or is that stupid, and I should have just skipped directly to SBF if that was going to be my ultimate intent?)

You do the harm, but I think you could just do another move to Seize By Force afterward

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What about situations where a character wants to use violence, and that's it-- no ultimatum like GA, no motive to acquire something like SBF? If Tom's a psychotic bastard and somebody needs to put him down, and I decide that somebody's got to be me... what's my move? Am I Seizing (his life) By Force?

There doesn't need to be a move every time. Though in situations where you don't want something from them and you're not in any real physical danger from them, I like to use Act Under Fire to get away with it clean.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 05:03:37 PM »
So if Tom really isn't a threat and we're more or less executing him, then violence against him is either not really a move (if it goes smoothly), or Act Under Fire (depending on how many things could go wrong with it)?

(And Act Under Fire is an all-purpose move for any time a player does something stressful/tense that might go wrong, and that isn't already covered by another type of move?)

But if Tom is a threat and he's fighting back, it's best to treat it as SBF?


Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2012, 05:21:30 PM »
I personally think SBF is a terrible move and you should avoid using it at all costs. In the early playtests it did not exist and I did not perceive a gap in the moves. As far as I can tell, all it does is create ambiguity about whether you should use it or GA.

When you just want to do harm to a guy, no ifs ands or buts, there's an MC move for it. It is, "Do as honesty demands" or whatever. If the PCs have set up a situation so that there is no way that it can happen otherwise than Disco Fries dies in a horrible cheese accident, then he damn well dies in a horrible cheese accident, no roll.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2012, 04:13:55 AM »
I personally think SBF is a terrible move and you should avoid using it at all costs.

I don't get the hate. I mean, yeah, we could do without, but it does come handy.

I mean, it's all scarcity, of course some people, PC and NPC alike, are going to skip the "asking" part (manipulate, go aggro) and simply take your stuff because they can handle whatever you can throw at them.

We use it maybe once a session, but I like it. It does what it's meant to. Some of our game sessions would have been drastically less interesting without it, like that time the group sieged another holding.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2012, 10:55:01 AM »
Well, it's multiply problematic, and I'll tell you why:

AW tells you that all its actions should be grounded in the fiction, right? You execute a move, mechanically, iff you perform an appropriate descriptive action.

Then it goes and like a lying serpent, it tells you that you should use Act Under Fire abstractly and people take a cue from that to abstract SBF as well - but no other move.

Consider: When in your entire life has someone been like "man I am so under fire from this one person's persuasion...?" That is a thing that no native English speaker would say. Note the parallel oddness of saying, "That dude was in between me and that chaise lounge, so I seized his life by force and had a nice long sunbathe in that son of a bitch." That and the previous are idiotic things to say, and that should indicate that they are idiotic ways to use your moves. Notice that "That dude was in between me and that mai tai, so I was forced to seize it by force," is still kind of stilted and odd, but it does not seem to be a shameful misuse of language. I think this is important! The moves are expressed in conversational language, so one should expect that, if described in conversational language, they make sense and don't sound stupid.

I think this gross contortion of language and the tendency to abstract the target of Seize by Force are clear and obvious indicators that something is wrong with SBF.

Usually that "something wrong" is that people misread the move, not least because like all the moves it lacks a procedural description of what you must do in the fiction, and leads players to believe that it's the move for "doing violence for its own sake." There's no move for that in AW; SBF comes closest, but systematically the game presents violence as something you do when you run out of easier options.

The move (along with the persuade/manipulate/act under fire precedent) lead to bad, principle-violating uses of the moves that lead to unsatisfying and confusing cases. By removing the license to abstract, or removing the move entirely, you eliminate these confusing cases. The latter is preferable! If you want to lay a siege, you still have the (entirely reasonable) peripheral moves for battle.

You lose exactly nothing, and gain clarity and elegance, by removing the move, so why use it?

(Edit: I find it equally damning that the only thing one can say in defense of SBF is, "But I'd have to have an even bigger and more awesome fight, if I don't have a move to charge in guns-blazing all on my lonesome! Because NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH is that move, buddy.)
« Last Edit: April 05, 2012, 11:00:55 AM by Shreyas »

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2012, 12:31:13 PM »
So here is my honest theory, and feel free to ignore it:

I feel like in a lot of games violence is used, or implemented in systems, as an end in itself, rather than as a tool to use in resolving a conflict, because:

* violence is the most fun subsystem
* the reward mechanism of the game expects violence
* violence is both genre- and medium-appropriate

I feel like this can cause a play problem in AW where people perceive the enemy they want to "kill" before they perceive the reason they want to kill them -- to maintain order in the camp, to take away their followers, to acquire their resources, whatever. This question comes up repeatedly in this forum: "well, what if I just want to kill him?" It's always a little confusing to me. I regularly see players play sociopathic murderers, but usually they're not actually homicidal maniacs -- they're not killing people because their dog tells them to, it's because they have a PLAN, even if that plan is not fully clear to the character, and killing that person is a step in that plan. Just having a motivation is a plan (albeit kind of a poorly fleshed out one). So you don't just want to kill him, you want to kill him for a reason. That reason is what you seize. By force.

There's a second problem, too, which is that people love mechanics. This is fine -- I love mechanics too! But there are at least two examples in the text of players attempting an assault which could easily be "seize by force without a target" in which Vincent's reaction is...trade harm for harm (as established). Apocalypse World is a heavily MCed game, even though at first read it may not be that obvious, and not everything requires a die roll to resolve -- sometimes the MC just applies their judgement. (There is at least one example of Vincent making somebody roll in the same situation, so, judgement.)

Now, Vincent clarifies, and it's become forum wisdom, that in those (few!) situations where you really, really, don't have ANYTHING ELSE that you could conceivably want in the situation, AND you need a die roll, just use seize by force to fight people. Note that this is not really meaningfully different from just saying "when you are totally whacking on a dude and he's whacking on you and you're just hitting each other like whoa, roll +hard, choose from some options," i.e., in the majority of situations, it may as well be a separate move! Hard is the stat for killing dudes for most characters, if you want to kill a dude, and for some reason you feel like a die roll is required, roll +hard. But seize by force doesn't have to be your go-to problem-solving move for fights, just you don't actually need to make people act under fire to do anything difficult. The move you want to use in that situation is "refer to the fiction" and "ask clarifying questions." And "to do it, do it." Simplify the situation, apply MC judgement, and if you really can't resolve something into one of the existing moves, THEN use seize by force (or act under fire).

In your example I would definitely be like, well, why do you want to kill Tom? Why do you CARE that he's a psychotic bastard? Are you trying to protect something from him? That's what you're seizing by force. On a hit, that's what he has to relinquish control of or access to. If there's really nothing? Trade harm for harm. Because I don't really care about Tom, let him die. Tom's brother is just around the corner.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2012, 01:14:38 AM »
I like Seize by Force for the options it gives a PC, e.g. doing additional harm or taking less harm. If the situation calls for the PC making quick tactical decisions while bringing the hurt, try SBF. Otherwise, something less complicated.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2012, 05:42:50 AM »
Woah, I had no idea Seize by Force was at the center of such controversy. Damn.

I mean, we never had any problem with either Seize : you want to take something, but it's not yours and they won't just give it to you, and you're ready to hurt people to get it. Is all. Just like any other moves, it does what it says on the tin.

I kinda see what the deal is, but it doesn't seem that big from here.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2012, 07:58:49 PM »
I've been thinking about just trading harm for harm when someone is "just fighting" and not doing a flanking manuever or something. Being lazy about combat is something you can afford when you outgun people big time.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2012, 02:55:44 AM »

Getting to roll moves is the main way most PCs 'outgun' NPCs - just trading harm with NPCs is a good way to end up seriously damaged, if there is any sort of sustained violence in the situation.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2012, 05:28:05 PM »
Yes, it would be an incentive to attack from an angle or time they won't suffer return fire and make combat move around more as they jockey for position. If you're hard as hell you'll just storm the front in an attempt to sieze the enemy position by force which leads to yay melee! I'll post about it if it works especially good/bad.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2012, 09:07:05 AM »
Shreyas: I think you're on to something, but I don't think that Acting Under Fire breaks the rule that when you do it, you do it - Its just abstract. Abstract things happen in the fiction. "Bebop Cola cowboys up" is a more abstract fictional occurrence than "Bebop Cola owns a 9mm pistol". Acting Under Fire is just so abstract, that there isn't a great phrase to universally describe when it happens (Acting Under Fire isn't one), but that doesn't mean that it isn't a consistent fictional occurrence.

I would say that AW is designed such that you kinda have to know how a Move works mechanically to know when its happening - Players don't arrive with a perfect understanding of what Going Aggro means, Seizing By Force doesn't necessarily require that you're really trying to acquire anything, but it does require that your target is fighting back, for instance. Maybe the learning curve is worth it, maybe it kind of sucks.

Re: Help me "get" the basic moves.
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2012, 11:49:28 AM »
Acting Under Fire is just so abstract, that there isn't a great phrase to universally describe when it happens (Acting Under Fire isn't one), but that doesn't mean that it isn't a consistent fictional occurrence.
Well, isn't that because it's abstracted? "Being under fire" is actually a phrase that means something, (I take it to mean, "being in the line of fire of something that is actively dangerous to your body") and when we extend the move out past that meaning, the extended usage makes less sense. That's my argument with SBF too - it's fine when you use it within its natural-language meaning (although, frankly, "seize" contains "by force" in its meaning so I find it to be an onerous pleonasm) but when you extend it out past that, it becomes harmful to the game.

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I would say that AW is designed such that you kinda have to know how a Move works mechanically to know when its happening - Players don't arrive with a perfect understanding of what Going Aggro means, Seizing By Force doesn't necessarily require that you're really trying to acquire anything, but it does require that your target is fighting back, for instance. Maybe the learning curve is worth it, maybe it kind of sucks.
It kinda sucks, because there's nothing that prevented it from being written more clearly. The book is huuuge and there's basically no imaginable excuse for it not including simple, clear language like, "Go aggro is the move you use when you're threatening someone with violence but you're not executing violence yet, and Seize is the move you use when a guy has something you want, and you're violently taking it (see how I used the definition of "seize" there) from him."

My better half Elizabeth SOME PERSON wisely suggested that V likes to write examples of play about edge cases, and the Seize example is one such edge case. I think that person is right, and that's highly problematic unless you're quite familiar with Vincent's opus and you are conscious of this tendency. If you don't have that corona of knowledge, the example is misleading, and there's no example of a core case usage of Seize, to compound the problem. Familiarity with a writer's tics and bad habits should not be a prerequisite to playing a game effectively. The move is not precisely mechanically bad, but it's mounted in this surround of badly written instruction and examples that confound it.