Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing

  • 32 Replies
Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2012, 05:53:24 PM »
I definitely do want violence to feel like it matters in this game, that there are consequences to it. Much of that comes from the fiction, given that it's a modern day setting. (Where will we hide the body? What will we tell the cops?) Some of that comes from the peripheral mechanics. (Other angels and demons in the neighborhood can hear it whenever you injure anybody or break anything.)

Yeah, that sounds like something to incorporate into your Principles or MC moves, rather than the basic moves.

I do want it to be reflected in the moves, too, but I want to make sure I'm not just taking stuff from Apocalypse World whole cloth if it overcomplicates things, and I'm concerned Go Aggro as written (and its inflexibility on whether you're ready to commit violence) may work better for the post-apocalypse than modern-day social interaction.

I agree, I think Go Aggro in its primary application is very specific to how violence (and violent coercion) works in Apocalypse World, and I'm not surprised that lots of hacks don't use it. That said, all those games that I am familiar with also significantly (or radically) rework Seize by Force, because the AW-version of Seize by Force by itself doesn't necessarily do the best job of modelling a lot of violent situations. (Or, as in Monsterhearts, they just don't feature violence as centrally, or worry about modelling it as comprehensively.)

Go Aggro is a really useful catch-all for, as Johnstone mentioned, situations where someone is trying to hurt someone or get something through directly-violent means, and the target of the violence both a) cannot fight back and b) is not completely vulnerable, either. If they can fight back, Seize by Force is fine -- if they're completely vulnerable, you don't need to roll, the violence succeeds. But there are a whole lot of situations in which both a) and b) are true, and where you want an unpredictable or risky outcome, and that's a major (if still secondary) role of Go Aggro.

So if you want to jettison Go Aggro then you will also probably need to either add a move to replace it or somehow modify Seize by Force to cover a wider variety of situations.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2012, 07:03:49 PM »
So I actually disagree that you would need to substantially change the other violence move if you left one of them out. You can use either move as your sole violence move with not a whole lot of modification and while violence will feel quite different, it won't "break the game" or anything (well, depending on the setting/genre, of course).

Go Aggro and Seize by Force are just two different perspectives on violence. I think Vincent said he wrote Go Aggro first and added Seize by Force to fill a gap that was left over? (could be wrong--but I seem to remember Go Aggro being the first significant rules example he brought up in podcast interviews when discussing AW). There's all the stuff that's been mentioned already, but there's also a difference between the two moves in when you roll the dice, by which I mean what point in the narrative of violence you roll dice to see what happens (sorta like that IIEE stuff).

With Go Aggro, you roll the dice as soon as you commit to violent action, ie when you demonstrate that you are willing to use force. This could be when you pull the trigger, or it could be when you stick the gun in someone's face and make demands. While it puts the choice over onto the other person, if you use just this move on it's own, it rewards taking the initiative, because you get to dish out your harm before your opponent can react.

With Seize by Force, you roll dice after mutual use of force has been established in the fiction. It means there is no mechanical weight to the threat you make when you put a gun in somebody's face and demand the microfilm. He can do whatever he wants until you pull the trigger and even then there's room for him to decide if he's fighting back or not, and only then do you roll dice. There's more risk to initiating violent action with just Seize by Force, but on the other hand, if your opponent is not in a position to fight back immediately, it makes violence more deadly.

Let's imagine two other situations, coercive violence and attempted murder:

On patrol, Wilkinson takes a hit to the leg and goes down, out in the open. He can't move so he's a sitting duck. Parker rushes out to grab him and carry him back to the squad, so I decide to lay down some suppressive fire so the enemy stays under cover instead of picking off Wilkinson and Parker both.

If we use Go Aggro for this I roll when I declare my suppressive fire action. If I roll a hit, the enemy can either stay behind cover or they can suffer harm. Basically, in order to get a shot off at Wilkinson and Parker (or me), they will have to take my harm first. They can go back to shooting after, when my turn to say stuff is done, but Parker will have gotten Wilkinson back by then. Maybe our attempts to take cover from their return fire will be us acting under fire. But notice that they have an "out," because I am trying to influence their behaviour: They can just do what I want (stay behind cover and not shoot) and they suffer no harm. This move has a forgiving nature and tries to accommodate those who want to avoid bloodshed.

If we use Seize by Force, I don't roll until the enemy decides how they react, because they have the opportunity of shooting back written right into the move. The move also encourages them to fight back, because otherwise I don't need to choose to suffer little harm (because I'm not suffering any harm at all) so I'm free to inflict terrible harm and scare the bejesus out of them both. Or seize their position and drive them back, even. So there is no "out" with this move: the best tactic here is actually to fight back and refuse to be coerced.

But what if I see you and I shoot you to death and that's it? If we use Go Aggro I roll as soon as I say I shoot you to death. On a strong hit, you can either be shot to death or suffer harm based on my gun. Being "shot to death" could literally be that or it might just be suffering harm based on my gun. On a weak hit, you might be able to escape, though (you have an "out" on a 7-9, but not on a 10+). This is good for games that have a lot of bullets hitting walls and people almost getting shot in the face before they duck back under cover and run away. This might make a 7-9 feel like a miss, although I'd argue that making your enemy run away instead of shoot you is probably a good thing.

If we use Seize by Force I don't roll until we know what you are doing. So, as above, it's probably a better idea for you to shoot back, and then we resolve me shooting you to death and you shooting me to death, all in one roll. If you try to run away, then I get to hurt you even more effectively.


Does all that make sense? We've mostly been discussing the intents and the fictional stuff that leads to a player rolling either of these moves (or manipulate), so I figured it's probably a good idea to discuss the effect the actual move architecture has on the fiction. You can see why Dungeon World uses a modified Seize by Force for melee fighting and a modified Go Aggro for ranged weapon attacks, for instance.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2012, 07:47:03 PM »

I think that analysis makes sense except that it's a bit weird to talk about what the NPC 'chooses to do' based on a mechanical incentive -- because that's not really how the game/fiction/moves work. The NPCs (and PCs) choose to do whatever they do based on the fiction, and that in turn decides what move (if any) is taking place. It doesn't make sense for a PC to say 'I am seizing by force!' and then the MC to be like 'okay, well then they better fight back' -- if they weren't fighting back, then there would be no seizing by force in the first place.

Unless the suggestion is there's some kind of like meta-fictional decision-making where the MC is like 'well clearly most of the NPCs who are still alive have figured out they should fight back because otherwise they're dead already' and so Seize By Force suggests that people in the world operate a certain way. But to my mind you have to go with how people react in the fiction first, and that will determine what move is going on. Like for the cover fire example, it's not about which move the player decides to use, it's about what they actually describe themselves doing, and how the MC decides the NPCs react. Possibly this is what Johnstone is already saying, and I am talking to myself, but the phrasing seemed strange.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2012, 08:42:59 PM »
Like for the cover fire example, it's not about which move the player decides to use, it's about what they actually describe themselves doing, and how the MC decides the NPCs react. Possibly this is what Johnstone is already saying, and I am talking to myself, but the phrasing seemed strange.

No, I'm saying these are how the game will play out based on the game designer's choice to use only one move for violence. No part of my examples above include the player choosing one move over the other, they are examples of players choosing different games.

(Edit: Hm. On re-reading I guess that's not clear in my last post. But the point was to see the different perspectives offered by the mechanics and possible outcomes as a basis for hacking, as opposed to the fictional trigger for the move.)

Although on that note, I see the moves as describing what kind of world the characters inhabit, and I don't see an awareness of that as outside a character's POV, or meta-gaming at all. Rules can be based on the type of story they are designed to be emulating, or based on the life experiences of the game designer (ie "realism"), but if they don't reflect the lives of the characters in the game, that's kind of weird. Which isn't to say they know the ins and outs of the mechanics, but they should be aware of the outcomes generally produced by the mechanics, because that's the fiction they inhabit. Unless the character's perspective of the fiction is sadly at odds with the author's perspective (which is also a legitimate stance to take, of course).

I mean, yeah, you should be going to a move based on actions in the fiction, but even so, it may not always be clear what certain actions are supposed to be. You may be intending to Go Aggro and you might describe your actions in line with what you think triggers that move, and your MC might think another move is more appropriate. Like a lot of the moves in Monsterhearts require the MC to ask, like "so it sounds like you're shutting someone down here, yeah?" And you might say "oh, no no, I wanted to lash out physically, that's why I grabbed her arm." Or something. Anyway, I think I'm off on a tangent now.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 08:47:41 PM by Johnstone »

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2012, 12:19:57 PM »
These examples are interesting because they're leading me to wonder whether I'd be better off with a modified version of Go Aggro than a modified version of Seize By Force (the latter of which being what most of the hacks mentioned above use).

What bugs me about using Go Aggro as written is the fact that you can use it before the shooting starts. I don't picture this setting as a lawless wasteland where your instincts take over if the enemy you threaten makes the wrong move. In this setting, when you threaten somebody, you should get to decide afterward – or perhaps better yet, realize afterward – that you're not actually willing to follow through with violence. This is why I'd rather have intimidation mechanics grouped under the Manipulation move, as some other hacks have done.

What I really do like about Go Aggro as described in Johnstone's examples, however, is that it involves actually opening fire, but is still described as a means to an end. Choosing to "suck it up" can even be a tactical decision from NPCs who want to fire back and do you harm. That actually feels more flexible than Seize by Force, but I wonder whether hacks have avoided adapting Go Aggro for that because the move can be so confusing. Maybe if you were using something like Go Aggro as your only combat move, you'd just need to make it more explicit in the wording of the move that you CAN still deal damage on a 7-9 if your opponent decides to suck it up in exchange for the option to shoot back. Looked at that way – assuming I get the move now – every time you use the move is an implied invitation to your enemy to surrender and end the fight, but still leaves open the opportunity to exchange fire until someone actually gets disabled. That may be a little higher-risk than how this move is normally used, though...

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2012, 04:58:11 PM »
So I did some playtesting for World of Algol last night, specifically to test out violence moves, as that is my most important current dilemma (now you know why I have so much to say on this topic!).

I started off using the less-complicated violence move (which is more like Seize by Force):

When you make an attack, declare your intentions and roll+mighty. On a hit, your enemy must choose to allow your maneuver, give in to your demands, or suffer harm as determined by your weapon. Additionally, on a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
 * You force your enemy to move.
 * You inflict +1 harm.
 * You suffer -1 harm.
 * You take definite hold of something.

We started off with a fight in a bar. The PC was a Bravo, laden down with mighty weapons. The first round of the fight he attacked the gang leader with his magic sword while two minions with mundane swords tried to hack him up. He threatened the leader with 4-harm but his maneuver was to break the guy's cybernetic arm, so I took that option. The two swordsmen couldn't get through his armour, because he chose to suffer -1 harm.

The guy in the corner with the laserpistol was trying to blast him, so he charged and took a laser blast he didn't even notice. But he skewered the gunman and threw him at the other swordsmen. Then he charged them, killed one and knocked the sword out of the other's hand. He had to make the harm move here, and his accumulated wounds meant that he stumbled and dropped his sword.

He managed to make his recover move and triumphed in the end. He used his stun whip to knock them unconscious and I was a bit uncertain as to whether they should be able to attack him back, seeing as the stun whip has a longer reach (which is definitely something for me to think about). Overall, it was pretty brutal

Then a fat merchant came out and said he passed the test. The merchant wanted a might warrior to retrieve some magical purple rocks from a wizard who had stolen them. So the Bravo, after healing up, went off to the wizard's tower and we switched to the more complicated violence move (which is a bit more like Go Aggro):

When you make an attack, declare your intentions and roll+mighty. On a hit, your enemy must choose 1:
 * Allow your maneuver.
 * Back off or flee (if an escape route is available).
 * Suffer harm, as determined by your weapon.
 * Take cover and stay there (if cover is available).
Additionally, on a 10+, you may choose 1:
 * You cut off any chance of escape.
 * You force your enemy to move.
 * You inflict +1 harm.
On a 7-9, unless you have some superior advantage in terms of position, surprise, or weaponry, if you inflict harm the GM may choose 1:
 * You make yourself vulnerable to counterattack.
 * You need to move to a new position.
 * You strain or overextend yourself, your gear, or your other resources.
 * Your attack causes collateral damage.

So the Bravo got ambushed outside the tower. A sniper with a lasergun tried to pick him off, so he pulled out his needlegun rifle, took what little cover was available, and fired back. With his 10+, he forced his opponent to move, so the sniper bugged off the hilltop right quick -- needleguns do little damage but are designed to deliver poison.

At that moment five riders on bird-steeds carrying lances came over the opposite ridge and charged the Bravo. He pulled out his disruptor ray and when the riders were close enough and blasted them. Unfortunately (because of a miss), the magical forces emanating from the wizard's tower turned the disruptor blast into a psychic storm that engulfed everybody. The Bravo fell unconscious.

He awoke with his hands bound inside the wizard's tower, all his gear on a table a ways away. When the wizard tried to use a spell on him, he charged past the wizard and through the riders standing around, snapped his bonds and took up his magic sword. One of the guards leaped onto his back while the others drew their short swords. The Bravo threw the guard off and fled through a doorway, into a store room. His attempt to block the door with a barrel went awry when one of the guards slashed his chest and he fell beneath a barrel. He managed to recover immediately (10+ on his recover roll) and flailing wildly, he pushed past the guards and out of the store room. In the main room, the Bravo grabbed the wizard and used him as a hostage. When the guards dropped their swords, the Bravo threw the wizard aside and charged them and chopped some of them up, but the rest tried to wrestle his sword away from him. He dropped his sword and ran to his gear, picked up his stun whip and went to town. The wizard fled and the Bravo mercilessly dispatched the unconscious riders.

I wanted to try some more ranged combat, so I had the sniper and the wizard ambush the Bravo in town. He saw the sniper poking his laser rifle from around the corner of a shack, with the wizard exhorting him in a rage. The Bravo threw his spear and the sniper dropped his gun and fled (again). The wizard began to cast a spell, but since the Bravo was mounted on one of the bird-steeds, he ran him down and trampled him. then he made a deal with him that he would take him to a healer if he would reveal what the purple rocks do. The Bravo didn't like the answer and began to think twice about returning them to the fat merchant.


There was more repeat rolling of the attack move in the second fight, but ironically it felt like there was more tactical positioning in that fight and less repetition. The first fight felt like the two sides meet and exchange blows and the player rolls. There was a bit of an "attrition" feeling to it, and since in one fight the Bravo had armour and in the other he didn't, the player really noticed how effective it was (I use harm similar to AW, I don't use HP and rolled damage like DW does). After a few times using the simple move, the player said he could sort of see how a certain situation was going to go before even rolling -- the complicated move had more back-and-forth.

In the second fight, there was more instances of enemies fleeing or backing off and letting the Bravo maneuver his way around the battle. There was more back-and-forth, too. The wizard cast a magic missile at the Bravo, he went into danger and rolled a 7-9, so I said he could reach the wizard if he was affected by the spell, or he could dodge away in the opposite direction. He dodged into the storeroom. After taking a wound in the storeroom, he charged out of the room, past the riders trying to get into the room. He rolled good, so the riders backed away from his wildly-swinging sword blade and he got out of the storeroom. Then the Bravo charged the wizard and tried to grab him, and rolled 10+. I looked at taking 3-harm from his magic sword and decided the wizard would flee down the stairs behind him instead. The player chose to cut off his escape route, and so I decided he managed to grab the wizard.

I had already used a move similar to this complicated one the last time we playtested World of Algol and in that game there was a lot of just choosing the same options every time an attack was made. This time, not so much. In any case, it wasn't conclusive exactly, but still good data for how a single PC uses both of these moves.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2012, 10:18:33 PM »
Thanks for sharing how those moves worked out. Really interesting to see some details that differ from what I've seen elsewhere.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2012, 04:24:47 PM »
I'm wondering if there's a way to mix Go Aggro and Seize by Force into something relatively simple and versatile. Like:

When you attack someone capable of fighting back, roll+hard. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2.
  • Deal harm. (But they can make a move in response.)
  • If you deal harm, increase harm by 1.
  • If they attack in response, reduce harm by 1.
  • Gain some advantage or deal some disadvantage to them (e.g., maneuver them someplace dangerous, hobble them, disarm them, make an impression on them, etc.).
  • Give them the option to take no effects from this move if they take cover or otherwise forgo making a move of their own in response.

(Edited to fix an issue I found in this.)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2012, 04:39:11 PM by JasonT »

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2012, 02:41:45 AM »
I feel like it's a bit too fiddly, and there's some false choice in there. To me, it looks like my simple violence move except the initial choice offered to the enemy (allow your maneuver, submit to your demands, or suffer harm) has been put into the choices, which means that just allowing your enemy a way out weakens your leverage for coercing them to actually take that way out. And then +1 harm can't be chosen unless deal harm is chosen, but the choices are presented as if they have no prerequisites (also, Daniel will criticize you for this if I don't). It feels less user-friendly to me, but then again I'm not one of your players, so...

I do like the phrasing of giving yourself an advantage in terms of positioning or disadvantaging your opponent in some way. I would probably make them different options, actually (so I can put him into a headlock AND drag him through the poison ivy).

Also, an aside: So like I know you state it clearly in the OP, and I saw you x-posting this on Story Games and all that, but it was only literally just now that I saw the thread you necro'd on and realized... this is an In Nomine hack... and not a Nobilis hack. Hilarious!

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2012, 09:30:51 AM »
Also, an aside: So like I know you state it clearly in the OP, and I saw you x-posting this on Story Games and all that, but it was only literally just now that I saw the thread you necro'd on and realized... this is an In Nomine hack... and not a Nobilis hack. Hilarious!

Isn't somebody working on a Nobilis hack already? Then again, you can't put anything past a dude who cross-posts a question to three totally different websites, nercros a thread on one of them, and posts in the totally wrong forum on another one. (I just remembered I said I'd move this discussion to the hacks forum, too, so I think I'll do that now.)

Response to your post in summary: Yeah, you identified some problems, but at least one part identified as a weakness was meant to be a strength, given demands of the setting. I do need to rework it, though.

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2012, 03:50:27 PM »
Isn't somebody working on a Nobilis hack already?

I'm sure I've seen something. If I had to bet money off the top of my head, I'd go with Jonathan Walton maybe? Anyway...

Lettuce go to uthah thread!



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Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2014, 06:00:50 PM »
I thought for a bit before I decided to perform necromancy on this thread, but I think that given this subforum's intended purpose as a study for hacking it seemed appropriate to put my comments here such that further hackers can find it one thread rather than two.  So, without further ado...

I think the separation between Seize By Force, Go Aggro, and Seduce or Manipulate is very intriguing.  Each move occupies its own very specific niche within the fiction, and there are very specific circumstances where each is appropriate.  I think what got lost in the early part of this discussion is not so much the structure of the moves themselves, but rather the stats upon which they are based.

Seize By Force represents the conscious commission of violence.  AW is interesting in its use of violence in that it's one of the few games I've encountered that makes no allowance for the kinds of things that most RPGs care about when you talk about smacking people (speed, strength, skill, etc).  In AW, violence is all about having the will and aggressiveness to hurt somebody else in order to achieve your goal.  With everyone walking around packing guns, this sort of makes sense.  Any idiot can pull a trigger, but do you really have the stones to look a man in the eye and take his life?  It all boils down to how Hard you are, and the governing stat makes sense.

By the same token, Go Aggro is about being absolutely ready and willing to commit vioence, but still giving the other guy the option to back down.  But if he doesn't you're not going to waste a second thought to hurting him. You have already decided you're willing (and able) to hurt him.  You're not hesitating for your sake, you're giving him an out.  And maybe the only reason you're doing so is because this jackass isn't worth the bullet you're about to put into him and you're trying to save yourself some jingle on ammo.  But either way you are committed, and your opponent knows it.  He can look you in the eye, know that you are Hard, and know that if he doesn't do what you want he's going to suffer for it.

As an aside, I feel like a lot of the difference between which of these two moves is appropriate comes out in the fiction.  If I can realistically narrate that I've got the drop on you, then Go Aggro is appropriate, because I'll get a chance to inflict Harm before you can do anything.  But if we're already all guns-in-hand and looking at each other Mexican-standoff style waiting for someone to twitch, then if I choose to resort to violence I must put myself at risk.  I can maybe do things to minimize that risk (i.e. choose to "suffer little Harm" and narrate my actions appropriately), but I'm not getting out of this without a few holes in my hide.

But Seduce or Manipulate isn't about your Hard, it's about your Hot.  I've always seen Hot as how socially adroit you are, how much interpersonal acumen you have.  If you are threatening someone using Go Aggro, the other guy already knows you're serious.  If you're threatening someone using Manipulate, you trying to make the other guy believe you're serious.  Your threat is intrinsically empty because you have no intention of actually committing violence (because if you did, you'd be using Hard).  But the other guy doesn't know that, and you're using everything you know about how people tick to get him to buy what you're selling.

Anecdote time: I know a guy who illustrated this principle very well.  Picture if you will a crowded bar in a college town.  A big dude knocks into my associate, precipitating the spilling of some of the associate's drink on said big guy.

The big dude says, "What the fuck is your problem?"

My associate says, "You are, you idiot.  Watch where you're going."

Big dude: "Yeah?  How about I pound your fucking face in, you little twerp?"

Associate (looking over said huge dude): "Dude, do you play football?"

Big Dude (flexing): "Yeah, I'm a linebacker and I crush people for breakfast.  And I'm about to fuck you up.  Whaddya have to say about that?"

Associate: "Only that before you beat me down I'm gonna make damn sure I get in one good hit.  And I'm going to make sure that that hit explodes your knee and ends your career.  So let's get started whenever you're ready, tough guy."

Now my associate was no prize physical specimen, hadn't ever been in a serious fight, and had perhaps only the vaguest inkling of how to actually break a knee.  I'm not even sure he'd have been willing to try if push came to shove.  But he was so good at sizing the other guy up, deducing his motivations, and playing on his opponent's fears (i.e. ending his career, losing his scholarship, ruining his chances of going pro) that he was able to effectively bluff.  And he made himself seem more Hard than he actually was (more willing to actually put up a fight).  Had the big dude not bought the lie, he would have beaten my associate to a bleeding pulp and suffered no injury to himself.  But he hesitated, and ultimately backed down.  In my mind this is a perfect example of using the (empty) threat of violence to Manipulate someone.

Right, so the reason I bring all this up is as a prelude to hacking myself.  I'm thinking of going sort of feudal Japan in flavor, with traits like Honor, Composure, Passion, Insight, and Fury.  And I'm trying to decide how best to span the dimensions of attributes and basic moves to capture some of this same nuance.  I'm thinking of separating Go Aggro into two separate moves, those being Impose Your Will and Strike Without Warning.  This would split off the kind of "sniping from an elevated position" aspect off from Go Aggro, and let me do things like introduce some more finely-tuned stat-substitution moves (like the hypothetical Ninja playbook, which might let someone use Insight rather than Fury to Strike Without Warning, meaning that the Ninja is good at observing his opponent as a prelude to a surprise attack, but which doesn't also make him better at threatening people).

Seduce is obviously off Passion, that's a no-brainer.  But when I get to manipulation, deceit, and driving bargains, I'm at a little bit of a loss.  Hot is kind of cool in that it's sort of all things social, and includes figuring out how to apply what you know about how people tick to achieve the effect you want.  But some of that is Insight as well (i.e. Read a Person).  Do I have Passion serve as a direct substitute for Hot and tie both Seduce and Manipulate to the same stat just like in AW?  I don't really want to tie it to Insight, but I'd hate to have another stat just for lying.

Ironically, Honor might be the best stat here.  When you are lying to someone, roll-Honor.  So slimy characters who lack honor are good at lying, but upstanding dudes who care about their own integrity have a harder time with it.  And Reputation (one of the potential currencies within the game) certainly enters the equation - if I have a reputation for being an upstanding dude but am actually a slimy bastard, it should be a) easy for me to lie to you and b) more likely for you to believe it.  But then again not all manipulation is based on lies, so I'm kind of going in circles in my head.

Thoughts, suggestions, or ideas?

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2014, 03:01:35 PM »
On your shogun-era game's manipulate:

First, why not Insight? In your college bar example that's exactly what's at issue:

But he was so good at sizing the other guy up, deducing his motivations, and playing on his opponent's fears (i.e. ending his career, losing his scholarship, ruining his chances of going pro) that he was able to effectively bluff

How is this not Insight? Now, one could certainly argue that the knowledge of how to manipulate someone doesn't translate into the chutzpah to actually do it; I suspect that I, myself, might well have had the insight that the linebacker would be loath to risk his ACL tendon, but I know for sure that I wouldn't have had the recklessness and self-confident to turn that knowledge into an empty threat. But that's me. Note that in your description of the encounter, you're emphasizing the knowledge of how to manipulate.

When you write the kind of game that an AW hack is, you're not trying to model all of possible reality (here, social reality): rather, you're creating a kind of engine to create a certain kind of story, full of the kinds of characters who inhabit that kind of story. AW's parsing of seize/go aggro/seduce&manipulate creates a specific world, full of characters who know full well when they lift the gun that if the fucker doesn't back down they'll pull the trigger, and others who know full well that they're bluffing. Those are the people that that world is full of, the people left here after what happened. The fact that those moves constrain and channel the possibilities of who the characters get to be is a virtue, not a flaw. Monsterhearts' turn someone on/shut someone down/lash out physically (and, late in the game, its corresponding Growing Up moves) structure that space totally differently, which makes the stories that game produces distinctly different. AW is full of Hot characters who turn others on knowing full well what that will accomplish, where to go from there, and use it efficaciously to further their goals. MH is full of Hot characters who turn others (especially other PCs) on, not fully understanding or in control of the consequences. (For a more overt example, MH explicitly drops helping moves, so that the characters won't have much luck helping each other).

If I was in that bar with the jock, there is no way in hell I would have threatened his knee. But nor would I have been the slightest bit scared of him. I would have been charming, and the conversation would have ended with him laughing at his own overreaction. Now, you can model that in AW, with some effort, as manipulate with some kind of marginal leverage (my approval? the relaxed attention of another human being? him not looking like an asshole for hitting someone so clearly being friendly?), and those all reference some of the de-escalatory tactics I might have employed, but they would do so only with some effort, by pushing the narrative into a different frame than the one it inhabits in my head (and, as I say, this is a virtue -- because I don't live in Apocalypse World). This is not unrelated to the fact that, in my game, the relevant stat is Charming.

So -- if you actually see manipulation as largely a matter of insight into people, you might consider going with that. If your concern is that that messes up game balance -- because Insight is already the root of various other moves -- I'd say maybe don't try and balance too early. It's better to have an unbalanced game that expresses something interesting than a balanced game with a muddy heart.

By that same token, "roll-honor" is cool too. It's a sort of fundamental hack (but an interesting one) to start having stats that work both ways, benefiting some rolls and hurting others. You have to think carefully what that does, because it has ripple effects throughout the game. AW has a relatively simple structure in that every single stat is a thing which, if it goes up, will straightforwardly push you away from 6- territory and towards 10+ territory. It's a profound shift to change that. It makes "honor" what we might call a Trollbabe stat. That's cool, and, for that matter, you might actually want to build on it. In a game set in a Buddhist cultural context it would make perfect sense for Passion to be a Trollbabe stat too: monks deriving power from nonattachment want it low, while maybe poets, bar-room wrestlers, and tempestuous warlords want it high.

(Or maybe I misconstrue what Passion is. You say Passion would be the no-brainer stat for Seduce, but that's not at all clear to me. If this is like AW's seduce -- not sex for sex's sake, but sex to get something -- then inspiring passion in others, but keeping my own head cool and not falling for the guy myself, seem to be pretty fundamental. I don't imagine a character who is himself utterly Passionate at being adept at employing sex hardheartedly as a tool. Inspiring great tragic romances, yes; strategizing who will be the most useful to glean information from during pillow talk, no. But maybe your insights about the human condition, or your read on the characters the genre is peopled with, differ here. Maybe you want to explicitly push characters who are adept at getting others to fall in love with them manipulatively, to also be at risk of falling in love right back themselves. Maybe you want the stat to tie "desiring" and "being desired" together, on purpose, because that's part of what you're saying with the game, or what kind of characters you want to inhabit it).

If you go with Trollbabe stats, I wonder if you actually need Composure: could it be the flip side of Passion? Or do they, instead, work together somehow: Composure is the capacity to control Passion, so the higher your Passion, the more you find yourself in need of Composure? A zen monk who has excised Passion from himself has little need of Composure, a swordsman whose blood boils at every insult and whose heart belongs to his liege's lady has enormous need for it? If so, that's also an interesting relationship between stats, right? It's sort of like how Sharp affords other stats in AW, but in reverse....

Or, hmm, is it Composure and Fury which relate in this manner? What's the border between Passion and Fury? Because, just looking at the words, fury seems like one of the passions. But perhaps you mean by passion something more like "the profound appreciation of beauty" and by fury "the righteous wrath of the warrior unleashed". (Did you ever see Emily Care Boss's game City of the Moon? It's set in Heian-era Japan. There was a playtest version up at one point, seems to have been taken down now. The stats were miyabi -- elegance, refinement -- and aware -- sensitivity to the impermanence of things.)

I know I'm totally running off with your game in a direction you never intended by talking about Trollbabe stats -- I just wanted to illustrate how one innocent little "roll-stat" does begin to change everything. And I kind of like the idea of tradeoff stats in a game in this setting, and if you imply about honor that it's a help in some contexts and a hindrance in others, it raises the question of what other aspects of a person's character are like that too? There would be something elegant about making all the stats Trollbabe stats, like: Honor (high for winning reputation and the respect of the wise, perhaps that of the very universe; low for manipulating, perhaps for manipulating fools particularly), Passion (high for unleashing warrior Fury and for falling in tragic and mutual love; low for monkish nonattachment, composure, Buddhist metaphysical attainment, but also for coldhearted manipulation without becoming attached), perhaps Simplicity (high for Taoist immediate natural insight into people and things and the harmony of the universe; low for Confucian legalistic complexity and erudition, courtly graces)...

Well anyway.

As for reputation: is it a currency? As with stats, currencies in AW are straightforward. A stat in AW is something which, if it gets better, you get better at doing stuff. A currency in AW is something which, if you have it, you can spend it, to effect. There are no moves in AW, afaik, which go "roll+barter, but you don't have to spend the barter" or "roll+stock, but don't spend the stock".

I also have a reputation currency in Shtetl World, and it doesn't quite follow this rule -- there are times when your static reputation matters, without having to spend it. But there's at least one basic move, rebuke, which is "roll+reputation spent"; the fiction being, if you don't have any real leverage to control someone, you can simply curse and revile and start a blatant public feud with them, savaging their reputation, but it's a negative-sum game; you put their name in the mouths of the shtetl's gossips only by putting your own in their too ("did you hear what Gittel said about Feigele? I can't believe..." etc.) I wanted to make this move attractive, in order to fill Shtetl World with the kind of divisive, brutal, corrosive gossip and quarrels which have characterized Jewish social life since Talmudic times (the sages spend an enormous amount of time discussing gossip and its effects)... and which makes sense in a historical context for a society which has largely had to police itself internally without much recourse to a state-like monopoly on violence. But I digress.

Point is, reputation is a currency if you can both earn, and also spend it.  In Shtetl World it's a quasi-currency, because you can earn and spend it, but it's also used as a bonus or limiting factor for certain moves. Thus, when trying to persuade someone from the shtetl (i.e., someone for whom your reputation stat is relevant), if you have a rep above [threshold], take +1; if  you have a rep below [threshold], take -1. That kind of thing.

I guess my main advice is to think about what kind of characters inhabit this world, and how they manipulate and seduce each other, rather than trying to capture manipulation and seduction in general. Is manipulating someone a matter of sacrificing your honor? (Maybe honor is a currency!) Kind of like how, in Monsterhearts, doing violence is a matter of losing control, of lashing out, showing yourself to be volatile -- something which is mechanically effective (kinda) but fictionally positioned as a lack. Is that -- the cost -- what you want to foreground when characters manipulate each other? Or is it a matter of keen understanding, of reading the other, knowing where to push? (So Insight?) So then the game is full of devilishly keen observers whose daring in putting their insights into practice goes without saying, like your friend in the bar. Or is it about being charming and suave, or refined and elegant? Or is manipulating someone a matter of leveraging your position, your power over them?

Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2014, 06:34:30 PM »
Whoah, memories...

Why not use one move for convincing/manipulating but use one stat for when you are telling the truth, and another stat for when you are lying? I dunno what all your basic moves are, but I might combine Passion and Fury, so there's just Honour, Composure, Passion, and Insight. Use passion to seduce, convince, command, or inspire when you are telling the truth. Use insight to do the same when you are lying.



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Re: Regrouping Go Aggro/Manipulate around Coercion/Convincing
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2014, 10:03:55 AM »
Or use Composure to lie/bluff, and Insight to read a person.