Reasons to include a move

  • 4 Replies
Reasons to include a move
« on: January 30, 2013, 05:02:29 PM »
So, World of Dungeons is interesting because it only has one move.  As I dance around the edges of a first version of my own AW hack, a question has come to mind:

Given that I have a generic move, why would I include a more specific one?

I've come up with a few reasons so far; I'm interested in comments, your own reasons, etc.

1. Interesting failure/success options - the designer has a wonderful idea for particular kind of success or failure, and including it helps the game 'be about that'.  These might be insights into human behavior, combat, etc. - or they might be genre-appropriate turns of events.  ("On a 7-9, you shoot his hat off.")

2. Suggesting courses of action to the participants.  You might have a general move, but if your players are starting at the option to a) do something b) betray a friend or c) seduce an authority figure, it's clear you're playing a particular kind of tale.

3. Walling off areas of gameplay with fast pacing.  In The Regiment, there are downtime moves.  These neatly communicate that the game includes some downtime, but it isn't really about that - the moves you have are very coarse-grained and so have the effect of helping the game getting lost, waist-deep in camp politics between missions.  Nope - you roll your legwork move and you're back into battle.  Imagine a 'when you go to town to spend your loot' sort of move for a dungeon crawly game.

Similarly, moves give players license to refer to a move when they want accelerated pacing.  For example, if you want to 'launch a startup' and there's a move for that, that gives the participants a nudge you can do this with a certain amount of screen time - the GM might take the hint that she doesn't need to squeeze the players for justification of where they get their starting capital from.  You don't need to know anything about starting a business, you can just describe it in a handwavey kind of way, and the move gives you license for it to work out (or not).

(I think of the sex moves in AW as a fascinating combination of 2 and 3 - they bring sex into the game, but with such an accelerated pace that it can be mechanically/fictionally meaningful without having to describe zippers and orifices.)

4. Conversely, moves can slow down pacing, and zoom in the game.  Playing World of Dungeons, you could theoretically tackle a whole dungeon with a single move.  This is clearly not possible in Dungeon World, since there are moves that trigger on specific portions of dungeon tackling.

5. Nudging the conversation back into a particular fictional concern.  The moves in the Regiment set up a conversation about battlefield position and tactical advantage, despite the fact that these things have no mechanical effect (well, beyond gun range).  There's no movement rate, shooting bonuses from being up high, etc. - but the multiple references to these ideas cause the moves to keep bouncing the participants' conversation back to these topics.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.  (And it's dawning on me that there may be nineteen threads on this very topic.)

Re: Reasons to include a move
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 07:23:52 AM »
One more thing: to make the impossible possible. One basic idea of AW is that things that aren't covered by moves fall either in the "you just do it" camp and the "you can't do it" camp. So for example, your Driver can cheerfully open a can of peaches without rolling any dice; but he can't flap her wings and fly under any circumstances.

So we use moves to mess around with the physics and the metaphysics. Open your Brain in Apocalypse World basically signals that in this setting, everyone is wired into the psychic maelstrom. Similarly with Use Magic in Monster of the Week and the similarly-constructed Work Magic in my own hack. Especially in a game mixing the mundane and the supernatural, having those moves helps establish that the characters aren't mundane people.

This is also why a lot of playbook moves exist - in AW, Brainers can mess with people's heads and Savvyheads can talk to technology, and so on.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 07:28:09 AM by Sequitur »

Re: Reasons to include a move
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 10:08:26 AM »
Ah yes, that's good stuff. Thank you!

Re: Reasons to include a move
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 02:26:50 PM »
Also you might want to give certain characters a move that is flat-out better than the generic move.

Like maybe everybody has the move "do something dangerous (that isn't another move) roll+dangerous" and it goes: On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
* You do it properly.
* You avoid any circumstantial consequences.
* You avoid any trouble somebody else is trying to give you.

And then you have a Bruiser character who has the move "when you beat somebody up roll+dangerous" that goes like this: On a 10+, you beat them up how you want them beat up and no harm comes to you. On a 7-9, you beat them up but also choose 1:
* Things around you get smashed and broken.
* You get scuffed up too.
* You cause a real big commotion.

So not only is it more specific fiction-wise (the zoom in) but it's clearly better. If a guy pulls a gun on your character and you go to beat him up, on a 10+ with the generic move you could either a) get shot, b) see someone else get shot, or c) fail to beat him up properly. But if you are a Bruiser it's all good, it goes down exactly how you say it goes down. On a 7-9, with the generic move you can't even beat him up properly without getting shot, but if you're a Bruiser the worst that can happen to you is you get scuffed up (or maybe arrested if you cause a commotion).

Even somebody with the generic move and dangerous+2 is still not as good at beating people up as a Bruiser with dangerous+0 is.

Re: Reasons to include a move
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 03:16:28 PM »
Also, having something be a basic move lets you build specificity into how different playbooks make that move. My hack has a generic "work magic" move that's used for more or less every type of supernatural power, but the different magic-oriented playbooks have moves that change the rules of how that move works:

Magical Prodigy: When you work magic to cast a Forces spell, on a 7-9, you can take 1-harm and treat the roll as a 10.

Hermetic Magic: When you work magic to cast a Ritual spell, with access to your research materials and books, roll +grave instead of +hidden.

Appetite for Destruction: Your Forces spells that inflict harm are treated as 2-harm close auto ignore-armor. You can spend holds from your power source to inflict +1-harm.

Blood Magic: When you work magic, before you roll +Hidden, you can choose to open a vein (Yours or a willing victim's). This inflicts 1-harm; you get +1 on your +Hidden roll. After you roll to work magic, you may continue the bloodletting: For each 1-harm suffered, increase the result of the roll by 1. You must do this at least until the total roll is 7.

Similarly, the playbooks oriented towards phsyical violence tend to modify the basic "inflict harm" move. Vampires fight better in melee where they can use their unnatural strength, for example.

This would be a lot more complicated if I wanted to give each playbook its own magic-using move, or if I folded magic-using into a more generic move. Oh, and this is important because playbooks blend together with off-playbook advances, it makes it so those moves interact with one another in ways that are more evident for the player.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 03:36:52 PM by Sequitur »