sell me on weird

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sell me on weird
« on: August 21, 2010, 10:03:34 PM »
So, like, think about this:

You bump into a dude on your way home, and drop your bag. It sticks in your mind because he was dressed exactly like you were. Later when you're in your place, you look in the bag and it turns out to be a very precise replica of yours, all the stains and patches in the right places, but there are no holes under the patches, and the stains smell like paint instead of blood and grease. It's full of things that look like your things, but aren't: an empty locket, a notebook well-beaten on the outside but filled with blank pages, a penknife without a sharpened edge.

There's also a small pile of drawings. The fortune's worth of paper notwithstanding, they are shocking: they're beautiful, meticulously observed scenes from your life. You remember that oddly-shaped vegetable you found at the market the other day. You remember your struggle to find pins to hang all your clothes on the line. These are the works of a genius artist. Only, in all the drawings, he's in the picture instead of you.

That's weird!

It's at the root of the Weird stat, too: all the Weird-focused playbooks are about the basic not-okayness of humans. The Brainer is every abusive girlfriend ever—the Hocus is every quack faith healer and BS-spewing TV preacher.

But they've got powers for some reason!

I dunno why that is. It seems to put a lot of unnecessary distance between their weirdness and their emotional importance. Plus, opening your brain is just kinda weird. I dunno. Why does the Weird stat give you crazy powers? Why doesn't it just, say, allow you to overstep your social inhibitions?

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 03:39:25 AM »
To some people, awesome supernatural powers are a plus, not a minus. I personally look at Brainer and think "Fuck yeah creepy psychics!" not "Fuck yeah dysfunctional relationships!" regardless of how impressively brainers model the latter using the former. (Like how Deep Brain Scan isn't mind reading, it just lets you know how they're vulnerable and weak, and leaves it up to you as to how to use that information, and how Puppet Strings isn't mind control, it's an ultimatum.)

I mean, if you're not a fan, you're not a fan. But I don't think weird was intended to model human brokenness, and just happened to accidentally get attached to a bunch of supernatural powers. I think it's the supernatural-powers ability, and that's just an interpretation of it that you would much rather see, yeah? It'd definitely be an interesting hack I wouldn't mind seeing, though.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 08:26:21 AM »
I feel like Weird is basically using Something Else's Sharp.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2010, 12:11:57 PM »
To my mind, using weird is hooking into the same thing(s) that make(s) the psychic maelstrom even possible. How do you feel about the maelstrom, given your misgivings about weird?

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2010, 07:54:14 PM »
But I don't think weird was intended to model human brokenness, and just happened to accidentally get attached to a bunch of supernatural powers.
I'm not sure it was accidental! I dunno. Vincent? If it's not an accident it seems rather striking that the pattern is so strong—angels are the only weird-heavy splat I can think of that aren't socially dysfunctional by definition, and they're weird-secondary, right?

I do generally find the psychic maelstrom to be the least interesting part of the game. It often seems too easy to me when a character opens his brain rather than doing some challenging legwork.

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Chris

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Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2010, 08:22:16 PM »
I do generally find the psychic maelstrom to be the least interesting part of the game. It often seems too easy to me when a character opens his brain rather than doing some challenging legwork.

That's why you have to bring it, as a MC, when they miss a open your brain. You've got to make the hardest of moves.

And the questions you have to answer, whether you succeed or not? Make 'em count.

I love the maelstrom not just as flavor. It's the part of the setting that explains things. It:

•  Reveals something to someone.
•  Displays something for all to see.
•  Hides something.
•  Bars the way.
•  Opens the way.
•  Provides another way.
•  Shifts, moves, rearranges.
•  Offers a guide.
•  Presents a guardian.
•  Disgorges something.
•  Takes something away: lost, used up, destroyed.

...at least in my game. It's not the driving force of the game; it's a spotlight on the rest of it. It cuts, mutilates, refashions the characters preconceptions of what's happened, what is happening, or what's going to happen.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2010, 11:57:26 AM »
Is this a chicken/egg thing?  I mean, I tend to think those characters are at least in part socially dysfunctional because they are so heavily hooked in to the psychic maelstrom.  It's hard to remember which fork is for the salad when you have a three hundred pound toad in a top hat and the face of your first lover sitting in the center of the table telling you in exquisite detail every lustful thought that passes through the minds of any of the guests.

To me, it's part of what makes the world not-this-one.  it's one of the in-built unanswered questions of the setting, and Weird is how much it has to do with you in particular.

I would also point out that social dysfunction is not only a thing for the Weird-heavy characters.  Sure, the Hardholder, Chopper, Operator and Skinner need to at least function societaly, but that doesn't mean they aren't dysfunctional as hell.  And Battle Babes and Drivers don't strike me as "normal."  Rob Bohl played a fantastic dysfunctional battle babe in our Gencon game.

Besides,  the player doesn't get to ask the Maelstrom anything.  it isn't an option for them to go looking for specific information, it's a chance for the MC to root around and find something fun.  They probably are hoping for something in particular when they do open their mind, and I'm likely to give them something to help them, but I might just throw them another direction altogether.

Ah, here's what I didn't say directly:  The higher someones weird is, the more I throw weird stuff at them.  Just because you didn't voluntarily open you mind to the Maelstrom doesn't mean you can't hear it.  Like hearing people in the hallway outside your door.  The higher your score, the better your ears (or the thinner the door).
My real name is Timo

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DannyK

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Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2010, 04:04:18 PM »
I dunno Shreyas, if you took away the psychic powers, the Brainer would just be a creepy guy in inappropriate clothing.

I actually think Vincent is doing the Lacuna thing and giving us ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces to keep us working to fit them together, but here's my take on it:
The angel, the savvyhead and the brainer are all linked to mastery of things that the pre-apocalyptic oldtimers took for granted: medicine, machines, the mind.  Now all those things are tweaked and broken, just like the world and the psychic landscape. And that's what Weird is all about, shards of the broken past.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2010, 08:17:57 PM »
I love the maelstrom not just as flavor. It's the part of the setting that explains things. It:

(cut)
What I'm saying is that the maelstrom doesn't enable any of that stuff. As an MC I can still do that stuff without psychic silliness. I am not disabled (in the sense of, I do not lose ability) by the loss of the maelstrom. It's not elegant.

I think it would be better for the Brainer to just be a guy in creepy inappropriate clothing. I mean, that guy is here, now, and he creeps me the fuck out. You see him at Dreamation. You see him at Gencon. You see him at the mall sometimes. There's no need to give him sparkly brain-magic because he's already consumed by obsession and delusion. It just distances the players from the truth of his condition.

ps, I think the big difference between, say, a Skinner and a Brainer is that the Brainer is obliged to be dysfunctional, whereas the Skinner isn't.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2010, 09:34:22 PM »
Yeah, but then you'd have a game which didn't have creepy psychic powers in it.

This strikes me as obviously a matter of preference. You can't argue that the Brainer really is just a creepy guy, and that the powers just distract from that. The Brainer is the Brainer, and removing his powers would make him a fundamentally different character, albeit one that you might enjoy more.

Personally, I like the psychic maelstrom a lot. It adds a really nice weird edge to things, and makes the player characters even more fucking hot.

You, apparently, would prefer a more mundane game. That's fine. In fact, I could really see myself enjoying that game too. It would take substantial work to make AW more grounded, but you could do it and it might be awesome.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 09:38:07 PM by PeterBB »

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2010, 09:46:54 PM »
First post woot!

So I've only played a couple sessions so far but, in our game with a Brainer, the Brainer is definitely a creepy outcast. Some of that I think is emergent from the sorts of power/influence he has in the game. Puppet strings isn't something a "normal" person would find any use for. It's abusive and awful and, well, creepy. I'm not sure a high-Weird character would otherwise be so creepy without something (read: mechanical) in the game to facilitate/prompt that behavior.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2010, 10:26:10 PM »
Aside:

On the "brainers are always creepy" front, I looked at the possibilities and worked out that you can make one without any really nasty brain powers.

You take the +1 weird move and the "use weird to read a person" move, deep-ear plugs and brain relay for gear. This gives you someone who is very good at reading people and opening their brain, but who could otherwise be perfectly normal (as much as anyone is normal in Apocalypse World, anyhow).

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Orion

  • 69
Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 03:10:08 AM »
Mike,

Considering that anyone can get 2 moves from another playbook, I really don't see the point in rolling up that character as a Brainer.  If you're never taking any further Brainer moves, I imagine you're jumping ship to another career ASAP.  So you take 2 moves form other playbooks, then... what?  Moonlighting and +2 Hard?  Why not just start out in whatever playbook you would be taking moves from and take the necessary brainer moves from there? 

An angel with one advance can have +3 Sharp and Sixth Sense, which duplicates the trick.

A starting driver with Weather Eye has +2 on those rolls, plus all the awesome driving. 

A hocus can start with Wacknut and take Receptivity as his first advance. 

The bottom line is, the intuitive psychic concept is great for AW, but not for the brainer playbook. 

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 12:03:40 PM »
Because then you're not The Brainer, your The Driver or The Angel or whatever. It's not just about mechanics.

Besides, on the mechanical side, you can't roll+sharp instead of weird for anything except opening your brain with Sixth Sense/Weather Eye, so that subtle Brainer design would still be the master of every other weird circumstance.

Re: sell me on weird
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2010, 01:52:01 PM »
Shreyas, I don't understand this thread at all.

This is like going to a Star Wars forum and saying "Sell me on the Force."
"I don't care what Wilson says." -- some slanderous bastard on the internet