Sex moves => vulnerability moves

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Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« on: October 11, 2010, 01:19:10 AM »
Hi everyone,

So I finally have an idea for how I could have a hand at MCing Apocalypse World for my local friends here in Nanjing, but to make it work I think I need to make a change to the sex-oriented "special moves." Some of the participants (including myself) would definitely not be comfortable with the sex rules as they are in the game. It's not that we believe sex is evil or anything, just that it's private and we don't want it to take such a big role in our game night.

So I'm considering changing the sex moves so that they apply to any time you make yourself truly vulnerable to someone else -- if the players really wanted, it could include off-screen sex, I suppose, but it could also involve confiding in someone, sharing your true feelings, revealing something about your past, or any number of other situations that often come up in life. It could be up to the parties involved in the roleplay whether or not their interaction really counts as sharing vulnerability.

I'm also thinking, possibly, this would have to be a mutual thing, so that the characters would both have to make themselves vulnerable to one another, such as both confiding, both sharing feelings, and so on. If only one character makes him or herself vulnerable, then that's really something else entirely, opening up the possibility for one character to take advantage of another.

Would this break the system? Does it absolutely have to be sex and nothing else? What other solutions to this problem haven't I considered?

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 05:58:15 AM »
Sounds fine to me. I mean, every aspect of the game screams intimacy, so having the sex moves apply when two characters are equally intimate in any other way kinda fits.

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 10:03:21 AM »
See the prior "Sex Moves" thread, but also:

Consider that the sex move is iconic because it encompasses a pretty small category of actions, and so you know that, if two characters are going to bed, something important's happening. So I would choose one of your suggested intimacy activities and make that the trigger, or something.

Or just get over your sex hangups. It's not like you need to describe what they did, you just say, "And the next morning (hardholder) gives (other character) a box full of rusty gardening tools as a token of affection."

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 10:36:37 AM »
Thanks Johnstone. :)

Hey Shreyas, I looked at the "sex moves" thread. There's some good suggestions in there too, but I'm looking to make a relatively minor change here -- one that isn't really a "hack" as such, but rather just lets me play the game as it is in a way I'm comfortable with.

I don't consider this a "sex hangup" either. I just don't want sex to take such a prominent role in my gaming the same way you might not want teletubbies to take a prominent role in yours. I'd prefer not to debate whether or not I'm liberal enough for this game -- let's just start with the assumption that the sex moves as written in the book don't work for my group and see what we can do about it.

That said, I described "vulnerability" in a rather vague way, leaving it up to the players, because I didn't want to limit the game to my own vision of what it could mean. It seemed like it would be interesting to see what "vulnerable" means to them.

What do you think is the significance of a small category of actions being spotlighted this way, as opposed to making it generalized? Would it be in-line with your thinking if I changed "when you have sex" to "when you tell someone a secret and they tell you one back" or "when you and someone else decide to trust one another with your lives?"

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 03:20:12 PM »
Specificity of action is good because it makes it clear and unambiguous when the move is invoked. It's good to base it on actions, rather than feelings, because sometimes you can't or don't want to pin down what the character is feeling.

Sex is, by definition, mutual, while vulnerability can be more one-sided. That's probably an important difference too.

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 07:45:10 PM »
Something like "When you and another character confide in each other..." would probably work well for you.

There's a certain amount of interpretation to all the moves, so you don't need to be absolutely, completely specific. I think that should cover situations where characters are vulnerable to each other (including sex, incidentally, at least the first time), and it also pushes the story or characterization, because now the players need to have something to confide, right?

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2010, 04:25:47 AM »
I went through the sex moves in the book, and considering that together with your feedback, I'm thinking "whenever you enter a bond of trust with someone..." fits pretty nicely. This could include confiding something important to someone, or making a serious promise, or even getting married. This could work even if it's one sided, as in: you tell a secret, and they promise not to spread it around; that's a bond of trust, if the secret is important enough. You could "escalate" a bond of trust with someone to get the move's effect again, such as going from "dating" to "engaged" to "married" or sharing a bigger secret or trusting someone with your life.

This is narratively more interesting to me than sex anyway, and I like it because it doesn't preclude the possibility of sex happening in the game, but instead gives it a narrative weight between the characters if it does happen -- now they "trust" each other.

And it prompts us to ask the question: will the bond last? Will these characters continue to trust one another? Or will one of them break that trust? If and when they do, what will the consequences be? That would be interesting to find out.

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lumpley

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Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 11:30:18 AM »
I don't understand! Why do you want the effects of having sex, without the sex?

It's like if you said "I want my character to get pregnant, but I don't want sex to be part of the game. Here are my alternate rules: a character can get pregnant by entering into a bond of trust with someone." It's a head-scratcher.

-Vincent

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2010, 12:46:15 PM »
Hm.. I must have miscommunicated. I don't want "the effects of having sex." I want something to take the place of the sex moves which still drives the game forward in a positive way. I also don't want to make extensive changes to the moves themselves -- just the "when you..." part. It should fit in that spot with the rest of the language, and the setting, and everything.  I don't want to pretend sex doesn't exist, I want to make it more of a side-issue rather than center stage.

Of course, the effect of "entering a bond of trust" would be quite a bit different from "the effects of having sex," though it some cases they may converge. If it works in this form, it may suit me and my group better.

It's more like "I want characters to have dynamic relationships, but I don't want casual sex to be driving us down that road. Maybe bonds of trust could drive us instead, and move the relationships in different directions that I would enjoy exploring more."

But gosh, if one of the characters actually wanted to get pregnant, of course sex would be part of that. Maybe a bond of trust too, maybe not.

Is that a bit clearer?

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2010, 01:04:43 PM »
Sort of! The sex moves as written don't do what you think they do.

The game already has very good rules for dynamic relationships and for entering into bonds of trust with other characters. They aren't named, because they're built into the interactions of a bunch of other rules. The sex moves play a role in them, but a minor one; overall, they're a lot more interesting and subtle than the sex moves are.

Misapplying the effects of having sex the way you're proposing will short circuit those other existing rules.

I suggest that you leave the sex moves the way they are, and if the characters don't have sex, just don't use them. If the characters don't have sex, you won't miss them anyway.

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lumpley

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Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2010, 01:13:20 PM »
Now, alternately, they'll still work fine if you scale back the sex-as-such - "when you and another character kiss..." for instance. But they're designed specifically to fit within the limits of sexual/romantic relationships, and I think it's a bad idea to bust them out of those limits.

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2010, 01:27:11 PM »
Hmm. Okay. So if I made it more like "when you and another character get romantic..." that could work too? I'm comfortable with that.

Does it need to be a specific action like sex or kissing? Or can it be more generalized and open to interpretation?

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2010, 01:40:31 PM »
Good question. My gut says that a specific, concrete act is what's called for, but I have a hard time figuring out why.

My stock answer, then, is: I don't know! Give it a try and let us know what works.

Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2010, 02:04:22 PM »
I don't want to pretend sex doesn't exist, I want to make it more of a side-issue rather than center stage.
There's no reason to assume that sex is going to take center stage if you play the game as is.  I'm playing the game as is, and there has been exactly one time a sex move fired off in the half-dozen sessions we've played so far.  PCs have attempted to have sex with someone exactly twice.

In my opinion, very few of the sex moves are of the Holy Shit Awesome! variety.  They are all interesting, but only a couple are things that seem like they'd make people aim for sex just to get the effect.  I suspect that with most groups, sex will be roughly as prominent in Apocalypse World as it would be in a game without any special rules for it.

But I'm regularly shown to be wrong and crazy when it comes to this game, so ya know... grains of salt and all that.

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2010, 02:07:32 PM »
I think you're right and non-crazy!