The Sprawl: Beta version

  • 40 Replies
Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2013, 02:15:50 PM »
Those are sweet !
Glad you like it.

I'm not really sure on the legalities of using art in this way. I suspect for a set of free playbooks for a playtest version it would be pretty much okay, but that's a hunch with no basis in specific legal knowledge.

Erf, I hoped you were more aware of it than me.

I guess you are right, but I'll ask a specialist of this issue.

Quick survey :
Pusher, Driver, Tech and the Soldier I am working on are too far from their source to even be recognized. They may be considered a new work. As to me, Hunter, Fixer and Reporter are tangent. Infiltrator is tangent but on the bad side on the line, I guess. Killer and Hacker are very close (but sometimes, a simple mention of the author in the credits is enough : they are deviant art works).

We can consider this question later.

For playbooks, I usually prefer having a generic basic move sheet which is not linked to a specific playbook (This is the way AW does it), but some people definitely seem to prefer the way you've done it. So I would have a separate Move sheet with Basic moves on one side and special moves on the other, then playbooks. Does that solve that problem? I know the playbooks come out to quite different lengths, so that's something I'll have to work on as well.

The Basic move are 2/3 page lenght. In the present version, each first page is a generic sheet with a specific illustration.
For some, the problem is solved. For others, there is no room anymore for an illustration.

The header font in the game text is AR Destine. I like the Bladerunner one... is that free?

I found it on Dafont so I guess it is free for non-commercial use.

Something to bear in mind is that a lot of the design and layout decisions in the text are purely for my convenience with the barest shade of thematic consideration. Later on in the process I will have the whole thing professionally laid out and then I'll really be making design decisions on fonts and the like.

My players fault. They asked me to solve the 3-sheets problem and one told me : "why don't you talk about it with the author and diffuse your work ? It's good, other players need it too."

So I did.

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2014, 10:03:38 AM »
Dude! This hack is the SHIT! Totally want to help in some way.

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 06:43:25 PM »
awesome work, do you plan to make any playbooks in character sheet form?

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2014, 07:29:05 PM »

I certainly intend for there to be "official" character-sheet-style playbooks at some point, but graphic design isn't my forte, so I'll probably leave that until I'm having the book laid out.

Until then, feel free to make your own and share links here as Macbesse and others have done.

In terms of help, play the game, get other people to play the game, and let me know what worked and what didn't! In particular, I haven't had much chance to run an ongoing game, so I'm particularly interested in how the playbooks work over multiple sessions.

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2014, 09:42:52 AM »
Hi! I found Sprawl through the Apocalypse World thread on SomethingAwful's trad games subforum, and I'm thinking of running a game there. That much said, some questions/nitpicks (fair warning, some of these are largely my opinions, but others are error sightings):

-Blend In from the Tech playbook seems more like a move suited for the Infiltrator, and on that note the Infiltrator seems a bit lacking in moves compared to the other playbooks. Switching Blend In to the Infiltrator would benefit both playbooks as Tech already has a bunch of moves and is not lacking for utility.
-It's not 100% clear what one can do with the Pusher's associates from the Believers move (no explanation of what gangs can *do* in The Sprawl, like how their Harm moves and whatnot were defined in base ApocWorld), and furthermore I think the Pusher's capabilities/modus operandi aren't as clearly defined as the other playbooks. It seems like a midway of the Fixer and the Reporter, but I can't 100% tell.
-The heavy revolver in the Hunter's 1st loadout choice doesn't have +reload for unknown reasons. (Also various other tag-related bugaboos in the book, I'll report them here as I find them.) I just figure consistency's a good thing to have.
-I think it would make more sense for the Infiltrator's CQC loadout to have the chameleon suit than for the sniper to have one, as the sniper's already got the advantage of long distance on his/her side in order to remain hidden. (Also, lack of silenced weapons for the sniper loadout seems odd.)
-Is the Mil Specs move for the Killer even necessary given how many cybernetics already let a character use +Synth for their Mix It Up move?
-Maybe I'm too used to at minimum some number or another being attached to a move, but it's *slightly* unclear what the Reporter's Live And On The Air move accomplishes from a mechanical perspective.
-Would make sense for the cyberarm implant weaponry list to also include the monowhip and assassination implant. Currently it doesn't.
-Targeting Suite adds your +Synth to the Harm inflicted with firearms, but Muscle Grafts doesn't do the same with melee attacks. Having the two have equivalent capabilities within their specialties would make more sense and also satisfy those of us who want to put the 'samurai' back in street samurai. :P
-Does the define-area-of-effect feature for the targeting suite include rifle grenades/rockets/assault cannon rounds? Or vehicle weapons?
-Skillwires description mentions an Acquire Cyberware move, but no such move is listed elsewhere in the PDF.
-LMG should either be +area or +autofire/-reload as the whole thing about beltfed weapons is having to reload less often. :P Otherwise it doesn't seem that much different from an assault rifle.
-Would airburst rounds have any effect on already +area weapons?

That's it for now! I hope I didn't come across as unduly critical because I do love this hack and even in its current state it's cool as ice. Furthermore, I compliment your taste in music. :P

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2014, 12:24:29 PM »
Hi Grunto! No, not overly critical at all. You make a lot of good points, point out some areas where different revisions haven't consistently revised everything, and show me some things that need further explanation in the final text (and there are a lot of these--I still view the beta as very bare bones).


Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2014, 02:12:48 PM »
Hi Grunto! No, not overly critical at all. You make a lot of good points, point out some areas where different revisions haven't consistently revised everything, and show me some things that need further explanation in the final text (and there are a lot of these--I still view the beta as very bare bones).


Glad I could help!

Also, humbly requesting/suggesting a loadout for the Infiltrator that includes a sword and throwing stars. :P

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2014, 11:40:22 PM »

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2014, 03:07:35 PM »
Running this tonight for a group of 6. Starting off as a one-shot, but might make something longer if it doesn't interfere with our Dark Heresy game.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2014, 01:52:39 AM »

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2014, 10:26:19 PM »
I don't have a full play report that's fully fleshed, but it went really well. Better than I expected.

Player conclusions / quotes:
"I like this more than Dark Heresy."
"This is fucking amazing."
"It's like Deus Ex and Neuromancer had a threesome with Payday (the PC game)."

I enjoyed running it as well.

Party consisted of:
Dee - Female Infiltrator with hacking skills. Skillchips for Parkour.
Sashko - Male Driver with a decommisioned Russian attack helicopter playing
Caleb - Male Killer with implanted Chainsaws on his arms. Drives a moped.
Heimar - Male Soldier. Disgruntled ex-CCO of a corporation. Basically George Clooney with an assault rifle.

The one-shot mission was a plane hijacking (I called the mission "Your In-flight Movie") that involved disposing of security personnel, stealing corporate designs for a rival corp, disabling electronics with a surreal, Neuromancer-esque hacking scene, and flying the plane for a private aircraft carrier.

I liked being able to use the floorplan to a VC-25 for the game.

I still need to read it over more / playtest, but I think Soldier is a bad term for the class. Executive or Officer works better based on the "leadership" idea.

I'll let you know if I have more suggestions after I DM it again next week. I'm currently designing a half-dozen missions so my players can pick the one they like best based on risk-reward (I'm toying with forcing them to wager an extra amount of cred for high-profile jobs.)

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2014, 11:22:32 PM »
That sounds awesome, Samej!

The name "Soldier" is a Gibson reference, so I'm quite attached to it, but I take your point. I'll definitely think about the name and presentation.

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2014, 02:02:22 AM »
This is a vote heavily in favor of the name "Soldier." To me it painted an excellent picture--a veteran, an expert, a professional fighter. Someone not just good at what they do, but used to doing it. Thats what comes through in the moves and I think the name encapsulates it nicely. :)

I never got around to doing a proper write up, sadly, but a few things I will note:

When we played, we changed a few of the moves.

We made Maneuver a little more seize-by-force-y, allowing you to spend hold to "Impress, dissuade, confuse or embolden" your enemies instead of taking +AP which seemed a little uninteresting especially since the rest of the move was already heavily weighted towards combat math. Taking +AP frequently works out so as to merely be a +1 or +2 harm--+2 is a lot, but again it felt like redundancy in the move.

We made some slight modifications to the Research questions:

•Where would I find _____?
• How secure is ______?
• What is the relationship between _____ and ______?
• Who or what is most closely related to______?
• Who or what is ______ most valuable to?
• Who else has an interest in ______?

These are mostly just changes of wording that made it more apparent to us what each question was doing and how it could be abstracted to less literal purposes--a keystone of the Apocalypse World system.

And the Check it Out questions:

• What should I be on the lookout for?
• What is being concealed from me here?
• How is _______ vulnerable to me?
• What is my best way in/way out/way past?
• Who or what is my biggest threat?
• Who or what is in control here?

Our logic here was to shore up some things we thought were missing or not differentiated enough. Since Check it Out is for both reading people and reading a situation, we wanted to make it less abstracted when dealing with people. We also wanted to respect that reading people is quite clearly harder. We thought, aesthetically, characters in this world are interested in needs and values and movements more so than feelings and thoughts--so we wanted to reflect that by adding "What is being concealed from me here?" as a nice multi-purpose question. We also combined "What Just Happened" and "What is about to happen" back together into "what should I be on the lookout for?" because we didn't see the point of the distinction. "What just happened?" we reasoned reflects that the charged situation is already over and the move can't trigger in the first place and/or that there is clear evidence something of interest happened and thus that the MC or the players have every reason to simply play the scene out and ask-and-answer more organically. These questions don't, we felt, add anything to the discussion between the player and the MC. Every question needs to hold up to the player trying to choose between them when they have a limited hold to spend. Choosing between "What just happened" and "What is about to happen" means you either you have to read the MC's mind as to whether the upcoming future or the immediate past is of more interest and import or you're leading the MC to establish an interesting past or an exciting future ... but seeing as doing those two things is one of the core guidances of the entire game system, leading the MC to do either of those things in that particular way is somewhat redundant. "What should I be on the lookout for" still works as a generic question that allows the MC to feed things to the PCs and the PCs to prompt the MC for information of interest just as it does in AW, but our question list becomes more efficient. Finally, by asking "What does ____ want?" we take up an entire spot in the list with something that is tricky for many players to apply outside of Read a Person contexts and we get access to information that, in The Sprawl's setting I feel, should be more guarded (and mechanically, ought to be more guarded if we want Research to important); by changing it to "What is being concealed from me here?" we create instant-intrigue with the word "concealed", allow for the unveiling of social information AND of non-social information, and get the MC thinking about concealment and secrets throughout more of the game.

Finally, we changed Play Hardball so that it was just a renamed go-aggro. We wanted to make a different move ... but we weren't sure how to and we didn't like Play Hardball. I'd be curious to hear what you were going for--from where we stood, it seemed like a very-slightly less interesting Go Aggro. We contemplated simply shortening the move by condensing the repetitive options to a single one: "Back down [calmly, angrily, or fearfully]" but once we did that, we added "barricade themselves securely in" back because it was already so close to Go Aggro we couldn't see the change doing much fictionally for the game to justify providing less choice. The MC can already decide if someone backs down angrily, clamly, or fearfully. A good MC makes that kind of choice all the time; we didn't understand why Play Hardball made that choice explicitly mechanical or what the justification was for removing "barricade themselves securely in." Again I'd be curious to have your thoughts on that.

We also used very-slightly-altered versions of Paul Taliesin's variant harm moves instead of the default harm system. I like how much more brutal and interesting it feels, and the finality of it really strengthened the ruthless feeling of The Sprawl for me. :)

That's all of the tweaks I can remember though there well may have been more. Our characters were plunked down in Union City, a floating city in the Atlantic with a New Hengsha-style Upper and Lower city (the lower being underwater and relying entirely on artificial light). Almost the entire game took place below. Union City's main function is as one of the biggest food producers in the world with a lot of local food production (fish farming and hydroponics), and brutal lordship over a lot of regional food production. The city's movers and shakers were the Son's of Posidon (a cult-like anarchic organization bent on reclaiming Union City and in particular the food production chain from global corporations), Emerald Blue (genetically modified food company, focus on massive fishery industry and trying to develop a working relationship with Union City via the Ocean Party), The Ocean Party/Formerly Democratically Elected Party of Union City (a ham-fisted proxy government cobbled together from various interests that successfully ousted the legitimate government after losing an election cycle ... technically the ouster was legitimate but that was mostly because it was rigged by ...) The Union City Gazette (a megalomaniacal power broker that's also a news agency; they engineered the election away from the Reconstruction Party (now in exile elsewhere drumming up support for a military reconquest) and have a hand in everything), Phi Comm (a communications giant that has rather big plans), Jinteki (clone worker company inspired by Netrunner and banned from function in many city-states but grudgingly allowed to do it's least acceptable research locally by the malfunctioning illicit government of Union City due to desperation for cash and a desire to ask as few questions as possible), and a few other choice ones but this list is getting long. We had six players, so lots of stuff going on!

The players themselves were led by a corporate clean-up enforcer/logistics expert Lysistrata (Soldier), lover of a not-quite-top-dog at Phi Comm who was at the center of some plottings that I thought the players would get in the way of but that they ended up just ... not getting involved in not so much out of disinterest as happenstance. I love apocalypse world so much because it taught me how to stop worrying about railroading and enjoy watching evil/intrigue go on offscreen. It was cool to watch not-exactly-evil triumph without fanfare not because it was hidden but simply because I followed the principles: what would these people do? What's their next step? From the player view, there was lots of intrigue and it felt like a web of wild conspiracy ... but I didn't have to work that hard to make it happen! I didn't have to plant red-herrings and make up complexity. It's just that the simple 1-2-3 dealings of massive entities look very different from the ground-floor. It was such a cool experience for me. Player number two was a gifted if terribly immature teenage hacker named Colonel_Panik! who lives with his parents (he got screwed up by some Black Ice and forgot who his mom was near the end of the game leading to him running away and being reported as a missing person to the cops which caused all kinds of problems ... it was glorious). The next player was a sociopathic tech named Zelazny who kept lying his way into a tangled mess of mistrust and double-dealing. Then, after Lysistrata, our only other successful and put-together player--an infiltrator going by Swift. Rounding things off we had two absolutely bat-shit Killers--Count Jack (who sold people-parts to a chop-shop-doc Knockout and famously spent most of his in-game time running around with a lifted cybernetic arm off a Lynd-Reiss rent-a-cop trying to get the tracking software out of it so he could sell the thing) and Kumara Rain (boyfriend of the next-in-line regional operator for Emerald Blue and wanted contract killer and public menace across pretty much all of Union City ... who ended up with said arm installed on his body and ended up in an epic an terrifying bro-mance with Count Jack (by that point an NPC) for the finale ... and eviscerated most of Zelazny's gang and almost himself in one shot with his horrifying mono-filament bola-launcher).

Ah. Good times. There were also advertisement whales with bio-electric skin that occasionally get hacked by teenagers for highly illicit but highly spectacular whale fights in the under city's park/aquarium/central-square thing, and a chuckee-cheese-alike, Flippy's (mascot is a whale with thumbs) that puts a designer neurochemical in their food that causes people to give the trademark thumbs-up-and-grin gesture and that systematically reprograms problem teenagers into good employees (including most of Colonel_Panik!'s friends by the end of the game). My favorite thing about Flippy's is that all of the most horrible things about that company were jokes made by the players--I just did the name and the chuckee-cheese comparison ... everything else was some little detail someone else made a one-off joke about that I ran with much to their horror. :P

It was a lot of fun. Sorry this is only semi-coherent; the game was quite some time ago now.

Thanks for the hack! It's a lot of fun to play with. :D

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2014, 08:39:24 AM »
The one-shot mission was a plane hijacking (I called the mission "Your In-flight Movie") that involved disposing of security personnel, stealing corporate designs for a rival corp, disabling electronics with a surreal, Neuromancer-esque hacking scene, and flying the plane for a private aircraft carrier.

I liked being able to use the floorplan to a VC-25 for the game.
Great. Now I want to run this scenario. As if I didn't have enough to run! I'm drowning in good things! Argh!

As an aside, if you get the time/energy to put together a short adventure seed pdf, I'd be very interested. Thanks for the inspiration/motivation!

Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2014, 10:48:08 PM »
Thanks for the detailed comments, Gwathdring! There are some good tweaks and thoughts in there that I will definitely ponder as I start going over the text again next week.

Play Hardball will definitely be changing. I'm not happy with it as it currently stands. Any suggestions on how to put a cyberpunk tweak on Go Aggro will be gratefully received.

Do you have a link to Paul Taliesin's variant harm moves? I don't think I've encountered those before. Those in The Sprawl are slightly tweaked from AW, obviously.