How does In-brain puppet strings work?

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How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« on: September 11, 2010, 05:03:17 PM »
Ok, so my Angel just switched playbooks to Brainer, and took in-brain puppet strings as one of her moves. This is awesome, because it means she'll be doing even more brain fuckery, but I don't quite get how the move is supposed to work.

First off, what sorts of commands are acceptable? Her first use of it was a pretty open-ended one, timewise ("don't leave the building"). At what point does that command become "fulfilled"? Or is that not an acceptable command, because it doesn't have an obvious criterion for fulfillment?

Secondly, what happens if they don't fulfill the command? Does the brainer get the right to brainfry them for the rest of their life, or is there some sort of time limit?

The specific situation: My player ("Ace") decided to command her brother, who is currently possessed by a ghost named Megan, not to leave the building. Ace later got into a situation where it made sense to have Megan around, and used Lost on her. So she came to Ace, and Ace had no reason to fry her brain. However, by the rules as written, it seems like she now has permanent leverage over Megan. She can't fulfill the command ever, so there's no way for her to use up Ace's hold. Ace can just threaten to brainfry her if she doesn't do everything she says.

That seems like it's almost certainly not intended behavior, am I missing something? If not, any suggestions for a fix?

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Chris

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Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2010, 05:24:36 PM »
Yeah, there's definitely room for abuse. And maybe that's part of the game and the class. Giving the command "die" means that until the character dies, they're in the hands of the brainer.
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 - "......"

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2010, 05:46:20 PM »
That is, in fact, exactly the way the move works.

Megan's an NPC?

Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2010, 05:56:25 PM »
Yes, she is. And yeah, crosshairs and all that. It just seems weird that a brainer could give an impossible order, and then have lethal psychic blackmail on that person forever.

It's not that I think, necessarily, that it's "overpowered" or that I don't want to give the player the full benefit of his moves. It just seems like it's so much better than the "normal" use of that move that I wonder why anyone would ever bother using it in the (presumable) intended way. Why give someone a reasonable order which would loosen your hold on them, instead of giving them an impossible order and then giving them whatever reasonable orders you want for the rest of both of your lives?

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 06:15:34 PM »
Does Megan know she's been puppet-stringed?
Does she know what it means, generally?
Does she know precisely how bad it is?
How do the puppet strings feel in her brain?
Can she live with them?
Does she think Ace might be bluffing?
How long is she willing to continue like this?
What leverage does she have over Ace?
How could she get more, to maybe level the playing field?
Is there anyone who can help her?
What is she willing to do to be rid of the puppet strings?

If Ace uses one hold to prove that she has the power, and Megan recovers from it, then Ace doesn't have the power to kill her anymore, right?

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2010, 06:33:59 PM »
Oh! But what you're looking for is "take away their stuff." No, puppet strings aren't necessarily permanent. No, impossible orders don't necessarily count. It's your call. Don't make the call on a whim, though, of course; make it according to your principles.

Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2010, 06:41:53 PM »
I can work with all of that, for sure. It's not that I think it's a terrible thing for Ace to have power over Megan, or that I can't find ways to make that super complicated for everyone involved.

In fact, one of the "fixes" I had in mind was to just remove the "if they obey, it uses up your hold" clause. Just let Ace have psychic blackmail on whomever she wants (and can successfully roll against).

I guess my real question is why the current move is better than one without the whole "command" deal. It seems to add a weird gamist element, where Ace is rewarded for making sure people don't obey her...

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2010, 07:15:25 PM »
Oh pf. The move is the way it is because the brainer's supposed to tell people what to do, and they're supposed to use up the brainer's hold by doing it.

What happens when a player messes that up? Then you and that player sort it out, establishing precedent which you then subsequently confirm or revisit. I recommend that you don't be too stickly about it at any given time, but over time tend toward the move as written.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 07:17:08 PM by lumpley »

Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2010, 06:35:06 PM »
Peter, I think the thing to remember is that once the brainer has used up their hold 'punishing' their target for not following the command, they no longer have the 'stick' to force obedience. I think that's the built in limiter that keeps the move from getting out of hand.

As a rule of thumb, I figure the default is that a npc should generally follow In-Brain Puppet String commands unless it is something they are particularly adverse to doing. Of course, the specifics of the fiction always helps to make those distinctions.

On an related note; yesterday, in our first session, our brainer Burroughs got a lot of milage out of Direct-Brain Whisper Projection. At one point, Rum an attempted rapist was evading capture by the npc hardholder's goons and he ran by Burroughs as he was walking the pier. Burroughs whispered "Stop," to Rum and rolled a 10+.

I figured that Rum was convinced that the armed goons (Princy, Missed and Abondo) were going to kill him if immediately if he was caught, so he forced Burroughs hand and sucked it up. I described this as Rum whirling around to look at Burroughs, stumbling backward away from him as blood streamed from his eyes and nose.

After the goons surrounded Rum, telling him that they were taking him to the hardholder alive Burroughs whispered again for Rum "not resist," and again got a 10+. This time Rum went semi catatonic, mumbling for them to keep Burroughs away from him as they carried him away.

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Chris

  • 342
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2010, 09:52:00 AM »
My brainer uses this ALL the time to interrogate. When you run into commands that give, like, a feedback loop or are "unsolvable", that's great.

What happens when you have this nagging thing in your head that is telling, threatening, guilting, pleading with you to do something that is simply impossible?

What happens when Avarice tells an NPC to "fly away, little bird"?
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 - "......"

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DannyK

  • 157
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 08:30:59 PM »
Quick note: I'm coming to the conclusion that what Brainers are actually best at is making people very, very angry.  If the Brainer in your game goes around putting time bombs in 10 people's brains, he just created ten people who are pissed at him.  That's MC gold right there.

Case in point: Jones, the awesome twisted white-knight Brainer in my online game, went from drinking tea in the shade to being carried through the streets by an angry mob after one successful Puppet-Strings roll and one failed Act Under Fire roll. 

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Chris

  • 342
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2010, 08:45:27 PM »
Quick note: I'm coming to the conclusion that what Brainers are actually best at is making people very, very angry.  If the Brainer in your game goes around putting time bombs in 10 people's brains, he just created ten people who are pissed at him.  That's MC gold right there.

Case in point: Jones, the awesome twisted white-knight Brainer in my online game, went from drinking tea in the shade to being carried through the streets by an angry mob after one successful Puppet-Strings roll and one failed Act Under Fire roll. 

Oh, yeah. Like some other classes, I think as a brainer, you need to live in the shadow of a holder. That of course brings in its own conflicts, but so many of the moves need that one or two sided intimacy and having the use of the holder's gang makes it so much easier.
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 - "......"

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Orion

  • 69
Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2010, 03:02:22 AM »
Yeah, Brainers can't get no satisfaction.  Just take a look at their sex move: automatically use deep brain scan on anyone you sleep with.

Thing ins, you don't automatically *succeed*--and a missed brain scan inflcits 1-harm ap.  No wonder brainers are lonely. 

Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2010, 09:07:46 AM »
Whoa, I hadn't considered that Orion. That's effed up and cool as all hell!

Re: How does In-brain puppet strings work?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2010, 02:37:15 PM »
Yeah, Brainers can't get no satisfaction.
Except from Battlebabes?