Playbook focus: The Battlebabe

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Arvid

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Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« on: August 08, 2013, 06:42:58 PM »


Even in a place as dangerous as Apocalypse World, battlebabes are, well.
They’re the ones you should walk away from, eyes down, but you can’t.
They’re the ones like the seductive blue crackling light, y’know? You
mistake looking at them for falling in love, and you get too close and it’s a
zillion volts and your wings burn off like paper.

Dangerous .

The Battlebabe is designed to be an interesting protagonist. Like a stranger in town, they have no inherent connections to the world in the form of facilities or people working for them. They have moves to survive danger and socially dominate situations. Their primary stat is Cool, which is used to keep their head cool, avoid trouble, stay in control.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UQyPXbjL-A

My take on it:
Battlebabes can be a little tricky to pin down. Their name implies that they're the ”baddest ass” of the apocalypse, but that spot belongs to the Gunlugger. Other playbooks are very clear what your character does everyday, like, the Driver drives, the Hardholder rules, the Operator does jobs, the Skinner does art, and so on. But the Battlebabe playbook doesn't give you anything to start with, the Battlebabe has no given place in the post-apocalyptic society. She really is the stranger.

I think the key to understanding the Battlebabe is instead looking to her stats. She has a crap score for Hard, which means that straight-up confrontational violence will probably end in pain for her. She has a +1 Hot, which means there is a lot of possibilities for you to push your will through with people through manipulation or seduction. Foremost, she has a whopping +3 Cool, (every other playbook starts with +2 in their primary stat) which means she can deal with (through the basic move acting under fire) almost any danger or trouble you throw at her.

What emerges from all this is a cocky, independent motherfucker who does whatever she feels like, and never let's other get the drop on her. When you play a Battlebabe, take a strong stance for what you want, and don't let anyone stop you – Play your passion! Vincent writes ”when you want to play someone dangerous and provocative, play a Battlebabe”, and I think he's spot on. Above all, be brave! Be provocative!

(okay, one paragraph on the Zen of Apocalypse World again)
See, it's easy to consider Acting under fire a reactive move, seeing as you use it to deal with shit that comes up, but as I expanded on in the Hardholder focus, when you play Apocalypse World, you narrate your character however you want until resistance comes up, right? So, that's how you should play the Battlebabe. Do whatever you want. Be cocky. Be assertive. When things become difficult, the MC will have you roll acting under fire, and you'll most likely make the roll, because you're the goddamn battlebabe, you're cool as ice.

Use this to your advantage. You're great at acting under fire, so start a fire. Bring the heat. Escalate, and other people just won't be able to keep up like you do. Pick the really maverick arenas, like running on roofs, chicken-racing motorcycles or wrestling on a volcano, I don't know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTyWfbvX0xQ

Vincent talks about Battlebabes having primarily Mindshare effectiveness rather than Fictional effectiveness or Mechanical effectiveness. That means they make good protagonists, and they should recieve the space in the story to match. Tying back to the fact that Battlebabes lack strong connections to the world at the start, they really start at square one and work themselves up. So, when you do fail that cool, hot or hard roll and end up broken, betrayed, broken or lost along the way it is just a part of the rising hero's arc. The first time I felt I really pushed the envelope as a new-fledged MC was when I made a hard move on the Battlebabe in our group, had her captured and a forced witness to the perverted dog-orgies of the hyena cult. This sexual/violative content was something new in our gaming group, but it worked, and the Battlebabe escaped with a sworn promise to bring these fucknuts down, or something to that extent.

Battlebabes can pretty much find any niche, I've seen the motorcycle helmet psychopathic killer, the hot but immature and impulsive woodsman with a sniper rifle, and the good-hearted white knight of the hardhold. I imagine they're all rootless wanderers at heart, though, who wasn't born to their place in the world, they found their way through chance or grim determination. If you where pressed me to tell what the Battlebabes ”job” in the post-apocalypse was, I would probably say adventurer and troublemaker. Which, of course, is easily recogniseable, movies and games are abound with Battlebabes. Maybe take a look at The Fifth Element for two hours of two Battlebabes, or maybe Hamlet – The most classic Battlebabe of them all?

Why the Battlebabe is the best playbook to play:
You get to be the hero, and you can be whatever you want! You got sweet moves and sweet gear, what the hell are you waiting for? The apocalypse world is your oyster, and you can take a little food poisoning.

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
If you really play on the Battlebabes potential for protagonism, it can bring a main character of sorts and character arc to your game. So what kind of Battlebabe you play also says something about the story as a whole, what your Battlebabe struggles with can inform what the world struggles with. Individualism versus Loyalty? Sanity versus Madness? Compassion versus Cruelty? Authority versus Revolution?

If you play your Battlebabe boldly, it'll be a force of flux in the world, bringing change, chaos and/or interesting events to it. Also, since the Battlebabe is connected to nothing and everything, you have a character that can be brought into almost any situation.

Fundamental scarcities of the playbook:
Of course, the lack of a clearly defined place in the world is a double-edged sword. You must find your drive for your Battlebabe, beyond mere boredom and troublemaking. You have to make bold decisions and then go for them, you have to trust that the MC and your +3cool will back you up. If you feel lost or intimidated at the start of your first game of Apocalypse World, the Battlebabe might not be able to carry you.

Moves and crap analysis:
Dangerous & sexy and Ice cold firmly establishes you as able to dominate or intimidate people by sheer presence. Rolling +cool to go aggro (threatening with violence) is so deliciously sweet, especially as your hard is to crap.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmtuRRhtGQw

Perfect instincts and Impossible reflexes are really neat as they ensure that even if you're ambushed or attacked in your bed, you're still present and ready to deal with it. Visions of death is just awesome, I mean, you get to decide someone who lives or dies in an upcoming encounter. What other game does that? That's yours, Battlebabe. Enjoy it!

The Battlebabe also gets to customize her own weapons. making them quite deadly if wielded correctly. In sheer force, the Gunlugger wins, of course, but this gives an element of style to your fighting. In battle, you'll try to avoid head-on-collision as much as possible. Always try to manouever to a position where you can easily win the fight, or use the surroundings to your advantage, be creative. Roll +cool, not +hard.

Hell, even intimacy leaves the Battlebabe unfazed, as her special move cancels out any other character's special move (special moves are triggered by sex). This means others have nothing on you, sexually. If you sleep with someone it's because you want to, not because you need to. Battlebabes never get chosen, they're the ones choosing. An alternative way to interpret it to play up the world-weariness of your character could be that for your Battlebabe, sex is a dull affair. But that sounds a little boring. Related, Suna asked this on Barf forth apocalyptica:

Quote
It's an oddity, but I had 4 PCs made a four-way sex move. Thgere was a Battlebabe involved. How do you rule this case? Every sex moves is nullified? OR only the sex move of each PC with the BB, while we can consider valid the sex moves bteween the other PC?

And it's the best rules question EVER!

When it comes to taking moves from other playbooks, you can go anyway, really. Daredevil or A no shit driver from the Driver playbook helps you play even more agressively. Healing touch of the Angel or Bonefeel of the Savvyhead if you want to play up the weird, Moonlighting from the Operator is always a good choice,  A devil with a blade from the Maestro D' if you want to be a blade-wielding warrior, or maybe Prepared for the inevitable from the Gunlugger to take care of yourself?+

Dynamics and relationships
Good questions to ask the Battlebabe: ”What makes you angry?” ”Who do you hate? Who do you fear? Who do you love?” ”What is your most serious scarcity right now?” ”Where do you sleep? Where did you come from?” Good questions to find and rouse the Battlebabe to passion and action.

You can easily be a part of the Chopper's gang, the Hardholder's gang, the Operator's crew or the Hocus' cult, and that'll give you relationships and interesting things to do. Or even better, get your own gang as your first improvement and set out to crush the tyranny of the Hardholder or the Hocus, play the magnetic revolutionary striking out from ambushes and rousing the people with your hotness! The Battlebabe is a natural rebel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJnT3u01k18

The Driver makes a great ally, with the mobility and brute force to complement your presence. You are both free spirits, but your playbooks also need people around you to bounce off of, and if you're sleeping together it's never problematic like it usually is with the Driver. It's like a perfect match! The Angel is another playbook who needs a friend (or enemy) and if medical supplies is a scarcity, I bet the Battlebabe can hook him up, same with The Savvyhead. All these three playbooks really benefit from another character bringing trouble and/or passion to their lives, so form strong (positive, negative or ambivalent) relationships to them.

I have no idea what the relationship to the Brainer or Skinner would be like, but I imagine it would be explosive. And I can't imagine you having anything but passion for The Maestro D' and their establishment. Pure passion, or passion mixed with hate or contempt for the decadence, your pick.

The Battlebabe is the strong lone survivor type of character, which means you won't need a Touchstone, Gunlugger or Faceless to fill that slot. If you do have a group with both a Battlebabe and one of these, they might be the most interesting as rivals or enemies, or with a strong difference in status – Maybe the Gunlugger or Touchstone is your mentor? Maybe you are the brain and the face and the Faceless is the meat, which would make a truely frightening duo.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 07:03:56 PM by Arvid »

Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2013, 09:34:08 PM »
The Battlebabe is the playbook I've had the most trouble with as an MC. My MC-style is throwing shit at the players till something sticks and nothing ever sticks to the Battlebabe and while this is totally in line with the playbook their players don't seem to have as good of a time as the rest. This is doubly troubling because it's such a popular playbook, especially with people who play the game for the first time. Anyone have any good experiences with the Battlebabe?

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Arvid

  • 262
Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 07:13:32 AM »
The Battlebabe is the playbook I've had the most trouble with as an MC. My MC-style is throwing shit at the players till something sticks and nothing ever sticks to the Battlebabe and while this is totally in line with the playbook their players don't seem to have as good of a time as the rest. This is doubly troubling because it's such a popular playbook, especially with people who play the game for the first time. Anyone have any good experiences with the Battlebabe?

What is throwing? Presenting trouble? Presenting opportunities? Asking provocative questions? Moral dilemmas? All of the above?

What doesn't stick? Motivations? Relationships? Trouble? Ideals? All of the above?

Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 07:39:42 AM »
I think the problem is the archetype brings in other tropes like being a loner with no family and no strong values except perhaps egoism. Being a classic violent adventuring type that jumps around and shoots shit up is cool but it seems to carry less weight when the bb does it than the gunlugger. It's like all the other players are doing Pulp Fiction and they're doing Kill Bill 3. This has happened with 5 different players some of which I know play incredibly well in other formats. I think the solution will be having a warning sticker on the playbook and telling the player to find something to engage in fictionally.

Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 02:22:42 PM »
The Battlebabe is the playbook I've had the most trouble with as an MC. My MC-style is throwing shit at the players till something sticks and nothing ever sticks to the Battlebabe and while this is totally in line with the playbook their players don't seem to have as good of a time as the rest.

The main thing to throw at a Battlebabe as MC are provocative questions and complicated opportunities. As Arvid so astutely points out, the missing ingredient for a great Battlebabe is passion, or more generally some sort of personal agenda. The Battlebabe has to want stuff. Ideally impossible stuff.

Offer an opportunity is IMO the single best Battlebabe-engaging MC move. It should almost always be an opportunity with a cost -- ideally a cost that for any other PC would be huge, but for the Battlebabe is merely inconvenient. For example, offer a romantic relationship with the most beautiful wo/man in the post-apocalypse, who also happens to be a princess of a protective death-cult of cannibals. Or offer some amazing hi-tech score, that is protected by some seemingly impenetrable security. Or whatever. The point is, +3 Cool makes things tolerable for a Battlebabe that are intolerable for others, and the key to having fun with the playbook is to enter clear-eyed (as a player) into as many of those situations as possible. Even better if it means trouble for all the Battlebabe's allies (which is to say, all the PCs).

Nothing in the Apocalypse can force the Battlebabe to do anything, which is why it's so important that the Battlebabe choose their connections, their friendships, their allegiances. That requires that the player have some idea about what they might want to choose, and also that the MC assists by providing plenty of things to choose from. And remember that as a minimum they have chosen the PCs: the game explicitly mandates that all the PCs are allies, even if they are not friends.

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Arvid

  • 262
Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 01:16:06 PM »
Anyone have any good experiences with the Battlebabe?

We had a Battlebabe as a white hat sheriff working for the black hat (gas mask) Hardholder. Her motivation stemmed from here morality, I'd say. She spent a lot of time as a captive of the warlord raising an army to topple the Hardholder, and became more and more doubtful on her alliance. Eventually the Hardholder retired and she changed playbook to Angel.

Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2013, 03:35:55 PM »
You've obliquely referred to this comment, but for the sake of those who missed the talk of the z-axis the first time round (hidden as it is in a totally different board):
http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=132.0
And some further commentary:
http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=472.0

For the record, I've played a battlebabe before, and am running a game with one in at the moment, and I've not had any problems.  But in each case, the character was deeply involved with others.  (By choice, naturally.)  The one I played was the 2IC in a PC Chopper's gang, and actually walked away from the gang after the chopper's death, then spent the rest of the campaign trying to undo the consequences of that terrible, terrible mistake.  The BB in the game I'm running is a part of the (PC) Operator's crew.

Point is, they're only a loner if they want to be.  Basically, I agree 100% with and wish to emphasise this:
[. . .]it's so important that the Battlebabe choose their connections, their friendships, their allegiances.

Re: Playbook focus: The Battlebabe
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2013, 02:31:56 AM »
I'm playing a Battlebabe right now. He was brought into the hold in the first session as a merc running from an outbreak of some kind of plague in his last hold. By the end of just the first session, he ended up haggling with the hardholder over the specifics of his lieutenant-ship (get a gang and leadership). It was difficult to reconcile my BBs longing for freedom and mobility with the new ties, but ultimately I found that his fiction demanded that he try out this new life.

My MC played to the battlebabe's protagonism (?) with NPCs with strong personalities but without immediately obvious driving motivations of their own (beyond loyalty to various leaders). This allowed the battlebabe to provide an inciting force in the world and remain interesting.