Custom Playbook: The Synthetic

  • 29 Replies


  • 777
Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2010, 06:26:12 PM »
Danny, I love that idea! Pure narrative awesomeness! How could we work it into the playbook? Any ideas?

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2010, 06:37:52 PM »
What if Sentience was a Front, with a countdown clock?

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2013, 05:03:04 AM »
I like the concepts present here, there are a lot of great ideas, but in practice I think this is a really buff playbook, almost broken.

I'm going to make a Synthetic, a kill-slut merc-droid used to infiltrate enemy gangs and bring information back to a hardhold. With my starting upgrades I take Built to Kill, Built to Fuck, Built to Talk, and Genetically Engineered so my stats are
Cool +2
Hard -2
Hot +2
Sharp +2
Weird +1
Sentience -1
Armor +1 (implanted), Armor+1 from fashion, +1 no-nonsense weapon, +1 close combat (handy?) weapon, +1-barter

then with my last upgrade I take the Programmed for Diplomacy, er... program. I have all of the moves necessary for infiltrating an enemy faction and escaping when things get tough (act under fire, read a person, seduce/manipulate). I am colossally better at everything than most people (except fighting). On top of all of this I don't have to worry about the Hasta La Vista move deactivating me. If I spend a lot of time getting to know people (with my +2 Hot and +2 Sharp) then I'll probably be able to work up the upgrades to raise my Hard out of a negative digit or pick up the rest of the basic moves.

This brings up an interesting line of questioning: is +2 the maximum for all of the stats? can all of the stats reach +3 (beyond human limitations)? is sentience the only stat that can get to +3 (and why would anyone ever try to do that)?

I think the improvement system for this playbook is laborious and unnecessary. Character creation already seems like it takes too many steps. The upgrade system could be improved by making hard choices complicate what is available, and then cutting it off so it can't be upgraded later. The Hasta La Vista move could be improved with a countdown clock (as already mentioned), and the number of moves available to the Synthetic seems sparse. Only three? They start with one and then the list of Improvement say they can get 4 more, so shouldn't there be at least 3 more?

I've put together a pdf of what's been written so far so that it's easier to read

(the only thing I changed in transcribing this were the improvements, I didn't have enough room to put the "pay for your improvement" rules in there)
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2013, 05:03:28 AM »
Character creation feels a little bloated and unnecessarily complex. While I like the concept that the Synthetic starts with a baseline of zero in all stats, but the manufactured upgrades seem a little arbitrary and powerful.

I think putting the numbers into a traditional playbook is fine, and you can still make it feel unique by including the descriptive text of the manufacturing:
Built to Kill: +2hard, +1cool
Built to Fuck: +2hot, +1hard
Built to Talk: +2sharp, +1hot
Built to Work: +2cool, +1sharp

Gear is no longer included, and since it looks like you've changed your mind about the usefulness of Sentience it's easy to drop that as well. This makes the beginning stat choices a pretty simple question of "What's my specialty?"

Hasta La Vista Baby! can then be turned into a move that relies on choice and has a countdown clock ticking away to impending finality.
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2013, 09:24:31 AM »
I am finally liking where this is going!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2013, 03:23:41 AM »
I think the whole Upgrades-Programs-Prime Directive mechanic is too complex! Verbose too. We want simple and concise.

These are all great ideas, but they don't need to be separated out into different columns. The Prime Directives and the Programs can be collapsed together, and while I think the idea of giving a limited number of the basic moves is novel, I don't think it should be connected to this mechanic. Either the player should have a hard choice of four moves or their Stats choice alone will determine what moves are available (as a part of their design). The Directives go away and become just "Programs," and this leads to HX needing to be altered, but we'll get there in a second.

Hasta La Vista Baby! we keep, but we change it into a countdown clock which we're going to call Sentience. And we're rolling Weird so there's no way the player can switch this up and get a penalty or bonus with their starting stats, since all of their stat options leave Weird at +0.
So now it reads:
At the start of each session roll+weird.  On a hit, ask the MC one question about your purpose, programming, hidden directive or maker and they will answer with detail, or mark an experience (your choice). On a 10+, you can feel the impending finality, mark a section of your Sentience clock. On a 7-9 You Hold 1. Spend it to nullify violating your programming. On a miss, you are none the wiser about your origins.

How does the Sentience clock work? Well, I was thinking long and hard about this and I think it should mean either that the character is about to die OR they are about to discover emotions. But this should be left up to the player based on their starting moves.

Starting Moves now reads:
You get hasta la vista baby! and your choice of either memories or pinocchio. You get one more synthetic move.

Memories: You have been programmed with memories, they are yours alone or somebody else's. These memories guide you and make you seem almost real. You get all of the basic moves. Nobody knows you are Synthetic unless you share it with them or you are obviously and visibly not a living person. When your Sentience clock fills up, your internal hardware collapses and you will die.

Pinocchio: You don't really understand other people. You get four basic moves of your choice. You can still use the other moves, but if you miss the roll it's treated as violating your programming. When your Sentience clock fills up you have discovered your emotions and immediately change your playbook to a new type. You may now also use all of the basic moves without violating your programming.

I haven't figured out how closely violating your programming is going to hew to acting against your programming. It will probably be identical, except no roll. You violate your programming and you pay a cost. Probably in oil.

Oh yeah, and HX?
Now it says this:
Go around again for Hx. On your turn:
• One of the characters is your friend (but not your Maker). They know your programming – show them your Programs and tell them to pick 2. Tell them Hx+3.

Tell everyone else Hx -1 They are afraid, derisive or treat you like a toy.

On the others' turns, choose one or both:
• You are curious about one of them. Ignore what they tell you and write Hx+3.
• One of them is essential to your programming. Add +1 to whatever number they tell you.
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2013, 04:16:14 AM »
I forgot to include Programs:

This is your purpose, your reason for being, and/or your immediate goals. You don’t choose it, one of the other players does as detailed in Hx:
• You are to Terminate one of the other Characters.
• You are to Protect & Hide one of the other Characters.
• You are to Serve & Obey one of the other Characters.
• You are to Build or Create Something.
• You are to Collect or Catalogue Something.
• You are to Destroy or Dispose of Something.
• You are to serve the Hardhold, protect the innocent and uphold the law

You might also have a hidden directive that you do not know about.

When you complete a Program, tell the player with the current highest Hx with you to pick a new one and mark a section of your Sentience clock.

When you deliberately do something that counteracts, delays, or prevents you from completing a Program, you are violating your programming. Choose 1:
Internal Logic Error: you force yourself to continue on and ignore the feedback in your system the best you can. Take 2-harm ap, but at least you're still standing.
Override: you've found a way to justify your decision by deleting some programming. Take a debility.
Reboot: your programming shuts down and you are prone and vulnerable while your system comes back online.


This might seem harsh, but that's why you do not violate your programming! (see Robocop)

I'm thinking that instead of just dying, a Synthetic with memories ought to be violating their programming when their Sentience clock is filled up at the end of every session that they're still alive. (see the ending of Blade Runner)
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!



  • 777
Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2013, 12:17:25 AM »
Nice man, real succinct and much less convoluted :)
I approve! Thanks so much for revisiting this and getting me all excited again about this playbook. You rawk!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2013, 12:42:35 AM »
I wrote a couple of new moves to take advantage of the fact that the Synthetic has no inherent specialty (i.e. a stat that goes to +3). I owe a lot to the Advanced Fuckery chapter.

I think I have a finished copy of the trifold now. As soon as I get a decent picture in for the portrait I'll post it here.
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2013, 08:08:43 AM »
I made this the other day for you actually.

I left the top open for the title.

(BTW, i the top right circle cut out and the being slightly grey over black is how AW does theirs, so I added that.)

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2013, 06:53:04 PM »
So, here's the final version with trayburn's artwork.

Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2013, 07:03:31 PM »
Some notes:
- the Genetic Engineering and External Layer of Living Tissue became one Upgrade
- Recharging got defined more solidly
- Violating Your Programming became an active choice of the player (when it occurs)
- some of the Upgrades were tinkered with to fit the new Program paradigm
- added three moves to give the Synthetic broader capabilities in hot, cool, and sharp (since any non-Weird stat can be 'specialized'), and those are:

Not Very Good With People: when you attempt to seduce or manipulate and fail the roll, mark experience.

Precision Instrument: when you attempt to heal somebody without medicine or aid, roll+sharp. On a hit, you've stabilized them and they're going to be okay. On a 10+, somehow you've managed to heal 1 segment. On a miss, something's glitched and you actually inflict +1harm instead.

5 months, 6 days, 11 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds: when you find yourself cornered or trapped declare that you prepared for this inevitability and roll+cool. On a 10+, you are set up exactly the way you want to be. On a 7-9, the MC will introduce a complication or delay. On a miss, your predictions were off and you're not prepared at all.
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2013, 08:13:32 PM »
Holy shit that turned out sweet.

Re: Custom Playbook: The Synthetic
« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2013, 04:24:17 PM »
Hi noofy.

I'm the guy who translates Apocalypse World into Russian. You can check out some fruits of our efforts here (
I'd like to ask your permission to translate The Synthetic to Russian and make a tri-fold of it if you don't mind. I don't plan to sell it or charge for it in any way - it will be posted online for anyone to use.