Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?

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Can we brainstorm this? Because I've wanted to find a satisfying system to run a Stormbringer game for decades now, and the more I think about it, the more Apocalypse World might be it.

I've been re-reading the novels and short stories, to see how conflicts are resolved. So far I've found some common trends that I think are moves (see below) but I'd love it if people could either suggest some crunch or details for these moves, or suggest other moves I've missed. Here's what I've got:

... when you battle something mortal: roll+steel
... when you battle an eldritch thing: roll+steel

I'm pretty interested in John Harper's 'when you engage in violence' move; I'm seeing a real role for having a basic fighting move with a bit of detail in it.

There also seems to be a difference between fighting mortals and fighting demons (which are definitely tougher and less vulnerable).


... when you call on the demons for aid: roll+doom
... when you call on the elementals for aid: roll+secrets
I'm not sure if two separate moves are called for, but they have pretty different effects when you look at stories like The Dreaming City and The Stealer of Souls.

I think, however, when you call on the demons for aid you need leverage on them; you need to know what the demons want. The obvious example: blood and souls for Arioch. So to find out what they want you need a move like ...


... when you draw forth secrets: roll+secrets
This is about finding out the history and dark secrets about locations, people and things. I see it as a broader version of Reading a Sitch, coupled with the Quarantine's 'Past' move. I don't think there's a place for the by-the-book versions of Reading a Sitch or Reading a Person in the source material - but I might be wrong.


... when you use sorcerous knowledge: roll+secrets
Every once in a while the stories throw up an impassable doors, a minor illusion, or a creature that needs to be commanded with a specific word. Maybe this isn't a separate move; maybe it should get rolled into Draw forth secrets. Or maybe 'Sorcery' is a playbook-specific move, fuelled by the secrets that you've drawn forth.


... when you commit treachery: roll+doom
Seriously, there are a whole bunch of conflicts that are resolved or initiated via this move. And really interesting consequences always spin off from them. It feels like it should be a move.


... when you seek to escape a deadly situation: roll+doom
Elric consistently gets faced with death traps and inescapable situations that he escapes at great cost. On the one hand, this may not actually be a separate move: he's usually using sorcerous knowledge, battling something mortal or calling on the demons for aid to get out of things. On the other hand, it seriously happens all the time, and the situation usually gets altered in interesting ways as a result.


... when you lead soldiers into battle: roll+command
This may not be a basic move, but it shows up all the time. It's inspired by Simon's '... when you lead your armies into battle' move from his World of Conan hack. On the other hand, maybe this hack just needs a simplied version of the optional battle rules in Apocalypse World. Or maybe it's just about applying the rules for gangs. I dunno.


... when you debate a course of action: roll+command
In the stories there's a lot of plotting attacks and battle strategies, and a few Burning Wheel-esque duels of wits to convince your audience that you're in the right. Something like Vincent's 'sit in council' custom move from page 278 of the rulebook, giving these conversations a mechanical effect, might be nice.

... when you seduce or manipulate: roll+ ... I'm not sure yet
Yeah. This happens.


So that's what I have so far, when it comes to the basics. Anyone got any ideas about how to flesh out these moves?

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2010, 02:03:20 PM »
I think that "Seduce and Manipulate" can be the default move for trucking with demons. You offer them something you think they might want and they (through the MC) say "yeah cool, that's something I want" or "nah, not interested".

Now, "bringing forth" demons and elementals in order to treat with them, that could be a different move. If it were me, I'd make it a no-roll move:

"Sorcerous Lore"
You know the languages and rites of demons and their elemental kin, and they await your call. You can use Seduce and Manipulate to bring forth and command demons and elementals.

A possible third move involves characters like Elric, who are heirs to a bunch of ancient contracts and pacts with various beings, and sometimes he can call on them just by right of those - he always has leverage over them.

I liked John's "Violence" move as well. I think you can shape how combat looks in your game by how the moves are phrased. There's a lot of scope between:

"When you strike with your weapon or fist"
and
"When you engage in violence"

Whereabouts on that scale is combat in Elric? In Dungeonfuckers, I've set up my moves to be closer to the former. The fiction focuses on individual moments; each swing and parry and counterattack is a seperate roll. What's right for Elric?

"Commit Treachery" is cool. I kind of like the effect of this. Possibly it needs to be a more concrete action? What's the conflict it resolves?

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2010, 12:51:47 AM »
That's good stuff, Simon. I think there's definitely a place for Seduce and Manipulate in the dealing with demons rules.

Here's what I'm currently excited about: I was going to use the Savvyhead's workspace rules to deal with creating demonic weapons and armour, but what if you applied the Workspace move to everything? Maybe something like this ...

When you call on the demons, roll+secrets. On a hit, the MC tells you succeed in your aim, but ...

On a 10+ the MC chooses 2.
On a 7-9 the MC chooses 5.
On a miss, the MC chooses as many as she wants and can make a hard move right now

+ you will have to remain in a mystical trance for several minutes/hours/days
+ you will have to sacrifice something you hold dear
+ you need to discover the appropriate leverage
+ the effort means you take 1-3 harm (to mind and body)
+ you will have to jeopardize yourself (and your companions)
+ you will have to promise your soul
+ you will have to promise to _________________
+ you will have to journey to ____________________
+ you will need knowledge contained in ____________
+ you need to draw forth the secret of ___________
+ you will need to stretch your mind into a higher dimension
+ you will need to increase your Doom by +1
+ you will need to find the true name of the demon/eldritch thing you seek to summon
+ you will need to swear servitude to the thing you've summoned
+ you will need to seduce or manipulate the thing you've summoned; on a 10+ you can choose whether or not to honour your promise; on a 7-9 it needs a concrete assurance right now.

Just like with the Workspace move, these can be connected with 'and' or 'or'. The less the character is familiar with sorcery, the more inclined to use 'and' the MC should be.

After achieving all this, you get what you want. At that point, the MC will probably design a custom move to reflect the spell or object or agreement you've just created.

*

Chris

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Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2010, 12:07:52 PM »
... when you lead soldiers into battle: roll+command
This may not be a basic move, but it shows up all the time. It's inspired by Simon's '... when you lead your armies into battle' move from his World of Conan hack. On the other hand, maybe this hack just needs a simplied version of the optional battle rules in Apocalypse World. Or maybe it's just about applying the rules for gangs. I dunno.

War Room

When you go into your war room and dedicate your army to taking an objective,  decide what and tell the MC. The MC will tell you “sure, no problem, but…” and then several of the following:
•  it’s going to take hours/days/weeks/months of planning;
•  first you’ll have to get/build/figure out ___;
•  you’re going to need ___ to help you with it;
•  it’s going to cost you a fuckton of jingle;
•  it’s going to mean exposing your army to
serious danger;
•  you’re going to have to add ___ to your army first;
•  it’s going to take several/dozens/hundreds of tries;

The MC might connect them all with “and,” or several "or"s.

Once you’ve accomplished the necessaries, you've got the objective.
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 - "......"

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2010, 12:59:06 PM »
I like it, Chris!

  • You will need to find a weak spot in their defences
  • You will need to defend yourselves on tactically weaker ground
  • You will need to engage in one-on-one combat
  • You will find yourself alone and outnumbered
  • One of you will have to put yourself into jeopardy

*

Chris

  • 342
Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2010, 02:12:55 PM »
I like it, Chris!

Yeah, a problem is that it needs some MC advice, because if it is too specific, it can feel like railroading, in that the MC is saying "This is the only solution."

But it's for situations where a king is in there with his generals and they are giving him options. So lots of ORs. And center the options around rolls that will need to be made. 
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 - "......"

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2010, 03:13:05 PM »
Here's what I think:

You need to have, in your mind, a clear vision of the kind of fiction you want to see in the game, and then design for that. That should be inspired by the Elric stories, but I think you can go wrong thinking that you need to emulate every thing in the books in your game.

So, what are the core concerns for characters in the game? Who are the characters? What sorts of things do they do? Are we playing characters like Elric and Moonglum and such, or are we playing more ordinary denizens of the Young Kingdoms?

What are some playbooks?

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2010, 09:02:09 PM »
I’ll bear your advice in mind, Simon. At the moment I’m still just enjoying re-reading the short stories and novels and playing around with ideas, so I’m not taking this hack super-seriously, you know? (This is more fun noodling than a firm ‘I’m posting at The Forge’ design commitment.)

Given all that, here are my  answers: I’m thinking about moving away from standard Apocalypse World with this one; this hack could be more of a doom-drenched fantasy heartbreaker for running short story style adventures / episodes. The moves we’re coming up with capture some of what I’m interested in about the central Stormbringer stories, but – like I say – I’m still reading and keen to hear other ideas.

Everyone’s character uses the same playbook: The Adventurer. There are numerous moves to choose, most of which are arranged into very lightly-structured lifepaths.

Adventures take a lot of stuff from Apocalypse World, The Shadow of Yesterday, Sorceror & Sword and Charnel Gods. The basic components of a session are:

+ A beginning of session move that starts everybody in media res
+ Two to four custom moves prepared by the MC to represent different locations; these are prepped ala your cyberpunk game – a couple of locations the players agree to interact with
+ An individual Doom front for each character
+ A world-map that starts blank and gets gradually filled in with locations

As the sessions go on, continuity between ‘adventures’ is provided by:

+ Fronts
+ A future timeline (as the shapes of characters’ Dooms become clearer)
+ Player requests for next session / Their characters’ ambitions.

(I don’t think I’m very ready to discuss this stuff at the moment, though; it’s all still baking in my brain.)

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2010, 09:34:21 PM »
I'm all like YES about this.

I love the combination of a blank world that gets filled in as you go, and a doom front that follows you everywhere. That's SO Elric, and also feels like something I haven't seen before.

My advice is: Keep noodling!

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2010, 10:10:18 PM »
I also reckon your 'what do the adventurers do' question is a great one for thinking about moves. Here's some stuff that I think is relevant:

- steal treasure
- rule your kingdom
- live a peaceful life happily ever after with the people you love without anything horrible ever happening to them
- seek revenge ...

... and, like, other stuff.

Re: Apocalypse Kingdoms: What are the basic moves in the world of Elric?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2010, 12:14:44 AM »
When you commit treachery, add 1 to Doom, and choose one:
  • hold 3 and spend them on any rolls made to enact your treachery
  • mark experience (or, perhaps, 'take an advance').

This is my starting muse about the treachery move. Simon, I don't know what sorts of conflicts treachery resolves yet (I'll have a think about it more), but I know it's a move characters make in this fiction. Maybe it needs to be more concrete, or maybe it's a 'you know it when you see it' kinda thing?

It'd be cool if this was a really desireable move, so I think there should be a lot of incentives in here.

I don't know if it's phrased as 'hold' or 'take forward', and I don't know if 3 if the right number. Maybe it's more.

I wanted to call this move, "When you betray a friend or ally", but 'friend or ally' seems implicit in the idea of treachery.