modular playbooks

  • 4 Replies
modular playbooks
« on: September 15, 2012, 12:31:49 AM »
For some reason i keep brainstorming about ideas for AW hacks based on old world of darkness games.this started with wraith (i have a subforum for that here, though i haven't used it for a long time), then i toyed with werewolf ideas for awhile, now I'm back on wraith.

One idea i had while on the werewolf kick was modular playbooks. One of the big parts of chargen in the old wod game was picking which group you belonged to for 3 different kinds of groups ( a tribe,  moon phase, and whether you were born to wolf, human, our were parents) and this would affect you're starting stats as well as which magic powers you had easy access to. Thinking about this gave me the idea to do something similar for the hack. Rather than picking one big playbook, you could answer a couple questions, and each answer would give you access to a small set of moves and adjust your stats a bit. In practice, of course, there would still be a group of  playbooks, since there would be a limited number of combinations, but i kind odd liked the idea.

As i said, I'm focused on the wraith stuff again, but I'm thinking about trying this idea there, too (though so far the only question I've thought of is "who do you blame for your death?"), but I'm wondering if there are any really big disadvantages to this that i haven't thought of? The only major one I've thought of so far its I'd lose out on handy, cool, easily self-contained playbooks. What am i missing? 

Re: modular playbooks
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 10:38:22 PM »
I have been thinking about this a lot as I work (slowly) on an In Nomine hack, as that game has characters with two major "elements" to them (the type of angel you are and the domain of the Archangel you serve). The main drawback I keep running into is one of layout and organization: It will be a pain for players to have to flip between multiple sheets just to review all of their moves during play. Nothing new to RPGs in general, of course, but kind of a bummer compared to the neat and tidy playbook approach. I'm strongly considering going the route Dungeon World uses, where you just pick one playbook (class/Archangel) that lets you pick a special move depending on your personal background (race/angelic Choir).

Also, I have been hoping to find some WoD hacks, so please do keep me posted.

Re: modular playbooks
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 02:22:41 PM »
Well, if you like wraith stuff, i have a subforum here called necrology (i want to change the name, but I'm hesitant to ask Vx to do so until I'm more sure what i want the name to be) but i haven't posted in it for a long time. Once i feel better about the basic moves and such, I'm going to post about them there.

Re: modular playbooks
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2012, 04:15:37 AM »
Playbooks are ostensibly about niche protection, right? Only one gunlugger in the game, so no one else steps on her toes, ditto for the hocus and the operator, etc.

If you want to introduce modularity, I think you could make it work if you had two independent dimensions of niche you wanted to protect.

D&D 4e might offer an interesting example. It had at least two mini-games, offering two dimensions of niche: the combat mini-game, and the skills mini-game. The classes were categorized by their combat niche, which was called its role: striker, defender, leader, controller. Each class had a specific take on its role, and that's a cool part of the game. But the skills also form clusters that offer niches, too: every party wants a face, an athlete, a burglar, a nature dude, and a lore dude.

The 4e solution to this problem, was a complex system of classes, each of which combined a primary combat role, a 2ary combat role, and an area of expertise in their class skill selection. These niches were loosely correlated with role (eg. strikers are often burglars, defenders are often athletic types, etc.), and loosely correlated with power source (arcane dudes tend to make good faces or good lore masters, primal types are often good nature dudes, etc.).

But another solution would have been, of course, to make the two dimensions of niche completely independent. That seems to be the direction they're talking about for D&D Next. So, if you want a tank who can sneak and disarm traps, you just pick a tank class to set one dial, and pick thiefy theme and background to set the other dial. In AW terms, you'd want each playbook to offer moves that pertain to different aspects of the game, only loosely connected to one another.

In a Werewolf game, I'd look at each splat-category (especially tribe and auspice, probably not breed), and figure out: which aspect of the game is this supposed to influence the most? Auspice is essentially a werewolf's caste in Lupine society. So, I would expect my choice of Auspice to determine how I advance politically, perhaps by providing moves that let me increase Renown in given circumstances appropriate for my Auspice.

Tribe, on the other hand, has a lot to do with the relationship to the spirit world via a specific totem, and by implication, the werewolf's relationship to human society and to nature. So I would think that would give each tribe a certain domain in which they could be masters, eg. Glass Walkers in the middle and upper classes of human society, Black Furies among women and the oppressed, Fianna among romantics and artists, etc.

(Breed doesn't really fit this pattern, but I don't think you'd want a playbook approach to breed anyway. You wouldn't want only one homid, only one lupus, or only one metis in the game, right? So breed is probably a tertiary option that you can add to any other auspice + tribe combination.)

Does this help? Is this the sort of thing you're thinking about?

Re: modular playbooks
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 05:11:08 AM »
My take on niche protection and playset construction is to allow the group a number of ways to cover all the basic roles in the group. One playbook will be good at combat with an option to also be a decent mechanic and gunsmith; another has good negotiation skills - with a certain sort - and is lethal in a dark alley; a third has good general social skills, a little psi, and wings; a fourth is a combat role that has leadership skills to pull together a militia out of any local population with a cause. By designing each playbook to have a definite primary and one or two secondary roles I think I end up encouraging group diversity. With 10 or so playbooks I don't ever expect to see two groups with the same mix of characters.

The bad news is I need to write another playbook with some medical skills.