Playbook focus: The Gunlugger

  • 11 Replies
  • 17477 Views
*

Arvid

  • 262
Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« on: August 20, 2013, 05:45:15 AM »


Apocalypse World is a mean, ugly, violent place. Law and society have broken down completely. What’s yours is yours only while you can hold it in your hands. There’s no peace. There’s no stability but what you carve, inch by inch, out of the concrete and dirt, and then defend with murder and blood. Sometimes the obvious move is the right one.

The Gunlugger has the best weapons, the most weapons and the best armor. Their moves are focused on survival and violence. Their primary stat is Hard. Simply put, no-one can stand up to the Gunlugger in a fight. When it comes to social competence, they're shit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt7hKx99PYk
Leon

My take on it:
The Gunlugger is both simple and tricky. Simple in that it is completely obvious what it is about. We live with a culture of violence surrounding us. Action films, action video games, and action roleplaying games, all abound with gunluggers. There is a lot of familarity with violent men (and to a lesser extent, women) to draw from, and Apocalypse World is a violent place where guns are often an obvious solution.

The tricky part is making a very violent and powerful character work in a world where everyone has a name and relationships to other people, where a persons death has consequences. Even evil men who are out to kill, plunder and rape you and your friends, and these men are of no scarcity in the post apocalypse, have friends and a place in the world. Their death might bring vengeance, bitterness, and chaos in the power vacuum.

The Gunlugger should kill! The Gunlugger should destroy! And the Gunlugger should threaten with death and destruction!

It is her nature, her strength, it is awesome, and it brings good drama. You can try not to kill and hurt people around you, but you'd be in a world of trouble for it, as you would be laying down your one strength, your one means of survival. You can delay it, get your results by going aggro rather than siezing by force, restraining your power. But your power will be there, waiting for you to unleash it.

As long as the threat of violence is just something implied, kept in check by restraint, you can let this tension build, like a storm slowly building up. Building tension like this with rival characters and NPCs who are also powerful and Hard works great.

See, this is the beautiful dilemma of the Gunlugger. Violence begets violence, but survival also begets violence. When you use your guns you rule supreme, but you also also invite chaos and loss of control. Chaos, since you can never predict how the immediate moments will play out (even Gunluggers miss!) and neither can you predict how the aftermath will play out. Vengeance, power vacuum, collateral damage, and new scarcities are all potential snowballing threats when killing someone. Savour the tension that is the Gunlugger's life!

Unless of course, your Gunlugger is a sociopath who wouldn't give a damn about anything, in which case, begone! Begone from my focus thread! I can teach you nothing more, go forth and be glorious!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_z4IuxAqpE
Scarface

Why the Gunlugger is the best playbook to play:
You're the hardest there is! If your definition of a cool rpg character is that they can kick butt, you're going to be the coolest of them all. If you don't mind the consequences, if you're not one for subtlety, you can exterminate any NPC you dislike from the face of the earth, and you can bully around any character with your guns and not give a fuck. Excerting power through hotness, weirdness or sharpness is a lot more demanding on player, but behing Hard is simple. You can give a beating and take a beating, if you love playing hardball with the MC, this is the one for you.

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
Sudden, brutal death. Also, interesting tension between characters, especially other Hard characters. And make sure to keep a kill count, that tends to be interesting!

Fundamental scarcities of the playbook:
The Gunlugger needs enough resistance to play with. A singular tough NPC won't faze them as a threat, as an MC you need to think in terms of gangs of enemies, well-equiped and coordinated death squads, raiders mounted on trucks or bikes, fortified bunkers, mobs of disgruntled post-apocalyptic denizens, guys with knives and pipewrenches attacking the Gunlugger naked and unarmed in her bed, tanks, monsters, mechas or robots. Don't be afraid of dealing a little harm (i.e making them mad), they can take it. Consider the Gunlugger an invitation to harm. Having your Gunlugger face truely frightening opposition and having them get hurt in the process only serves to make them look more badass.

Also, give them trouble that they can't solve through violence, and trouble that they could solve through violence but they'd rather not.

Remember that moves are not magic, and neither is armor. I had a Gunlugger with 2-armor sieze a gang by force by calmly walking up to their leader and smacking him. The gang was firing guns for all their worth at her, but the player choose to suffer little harm and with armor took no harm at all. While this served to make the character look absolutely frightening (which is good), I think it lowered the stakes of the world in the long run. Instead, play firefights like a real thing. Armor wont help you if you give your enemies every opportunity to take aim at your face. Sieze by force is when you use your outmost capability as a Hard person to take your objective. Suffer little harm is taking cover and a measure of luck, not standing straight up in the firing field. Heck, you might even argue that sieze by force is not possible to use in such a situation, you might ask the player to get into a position where it is feasable first. Don't be a dick, though. Be honest with your playes, and they'll appriciate the reality and trustworthiness of the world. Remember the words of the prophet: Fiction first, and To do it, do it!

Finally, do not be intimidated by your player playing a weapon of mass destruction, explore it and draw out the tension, the awesome and humanity out of it, and remember to look at your NPCs through crosshairs.

Moves and crap analysis:
True to her name, the Gunlugger is a walking armory. The weight of her gear should not be underestimated: Firstly, she get a fuck-off big gun, sniper rifle, machine gun, assault rifle or grenade launcher. Find yourself on the wrong end of that gun, and I'd call your chances of survival slim at best. Secondly, she gets two serious guns and/or gun upgrades, and finally a backup weapon: 9mm, big-ass knife, machete, grenades or an infinite number of knives; Picture the scene in The Dark Night where the police officer body-searches the Joker.

Though you're Hard, your Hot score is terrible, so socially you're something of a train wreck. If you want to benefit from your special move, I guess you're going to need a wingman.

Battle-hardened is quite powerful as you want to roll well on Acting under fire. Fuck this shit and Prepared for the inevitable are super-useful for survivability. Battlefield instincts could really give flair to your character if you use it consistently. Bloodcrazed raises the tension of violence even more, as it makes you even deadlier. NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH is not only a move with a sweet as hell name, but a move that changes scale: You go from being a guy on a battlefield to counting as a small gang. Awesome if your game has a lot of large-scale battles. ”Okay, so here's the chopper gang, here's the people trying to hold the palissade, and here's Uncle's armored force” ”What's that over there?” ”Oh, that's Fido”. Remember, it's only for real battles though!

Regarding other playbook moves, The Battlebabe, The Touchstone and The Operator are good places to look. Dangerous & Sexy and Perfect instincts can raise your character's presence when entering a room, Visions of death makes her more of a weird angel of death, Impossible reflexes lets you play a scantily clad Gunlugger. The Touchstone moves are all good too, if you want to go in that direction. The Operator's Moonlighting is attractive to me, just because I like the idea of a Gunlugger conducting (or trying to conduct) business in an orderly and professional manner. Reputation can also be a good pick to find other dimensions to your Gunlugger, and Easy to trust is good if you want to be able to at least manage yourself in social negotiation. The Hardholder's Leadership is a good addition if you get a gang together. The Quarantine's Disciplined engagement is wicked useful, if the MC lets you pick it - In a way it loses the tension and unconditional consequences of violence. If you want to play up yourself as unstoppable, take a look at the Faceless moves. NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH + Indomitable + Oh yeah! would make you a true force of nature.
 
Relationships and dynamics:
To create contrast, I like to ask Gunluggers about their ordinary life. ”What's the place where you sleep like?” ”What is your morning routine?” ”What is your favorite meal?” ”How do you relax?” ”What is your pet?” ”What is your favorite trinket or posession?” ”Who do you like or admire?” ”Who makes you awkward?” There's just something about the daily life of a killer that still is fascinating to me, and it helps ground the Gunlugger in a relationship to the world and people around him.

A Driver with a tank, with the guns manned by a Gunlugger is probably the scariest thing you'll encounter in Apocalypse World, so consider doing just that. The Angel could also be your best friend. The Hocus could be your monstrosity and humanity if you joined their cult. The Hoarder could be a source of jobs and weapon deals for you – Just wait until they get it into their head they have to procure your fuck-off gun for their collection! Your relationship with The Quarantine could also become a classic – I'm thinking good cop / bad cop!

The Skinner and the Maestro D', there's some great potential for contrast. Maybe they're the only one you trust. Maybe they're the only one with power over you.

The Hardholder and The Chopper might not individually be as tough as you are, but they're backed up with gangs with lots of hurt. Should it come to deadly blows, they can keep toe-to-toe with you and kill you, but not before you kill them or have their gang suffer severe losses. This makes them interesting rivals. I played a game as a Chopper, and the Gunlugger was a constant source of unease. The last thing I wanted was open confrontation, but I also refused to yield to him to remain an authority to my gang. That made for some great, tense, roleplaying. The Faceless too, could probably bring you down in a suicide attack if you incurred his wrath. The Quarantine could be your best worst enemy if you're ideologically opposed.

Consider working for the Operator or the Savvyhead. A Savvyhead with real military power to back them up could make a really interesting presence in the world of the apocalypse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUrZr4-NXcs
I was going to open this focus with this clip, until I realized William Blake is not the Gunlugger. He is the Battlebabe with Visions of Death. For Johnny Depp playing a Gunlugger, watch him as John Dillinger in Public Enemies.

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 12:24:31 PM »
I've lurked on these boards for a long time but I've only just now registered to tell you that these playbook focus threads are really cool and I hope you keep doing them. Thank you!

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 04:40:41 PM »
I've lurked on these boards for a long time but I've only just now registered to tell you that these playbook focus threads are really cool and I hope you keep doing them. Thank you!

I second this!

*

Scrape

  • 378
Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 12:49:35 PM »
The best part about having a Gunlugger in the game is watching the player slowly realize that he can't kill his way out of every problem... and in fact, the current problem is a direct result of him killing someone. The same holds true for the Skinner or Hocus realizing they can't talk their way out of this one. It's delightful to watch the Gunlugger thrashing about like "just tell me who to shoot to fix this!" And his friends have to be like "I don't think that's gonna work this time."

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 03:23:55 PM »
Shit, man. I can't figure out if Fiona Glenanne is a Gunlugger or an operator. I just looked at the playbook, and of course, she's a Gunlugger with Moonlighting. I need to find a group, because the best way to get to know a game it to actually play it.

*

Arvid

  • 262
Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 05:23:06 PM »
I've lurked on these boards for a long time but I've only just now registered to tell you that these playbook focus threads are really cool and I hope you keep doing them. Thank you!

I second this!

Thank you guys! This made my day!

*

Arvid

  • 262
Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 05:26:33 PM »
The best part about having a Gunlugger in the game is watching the player slowly realize that he can't kill his way out of every problem... and in fact, the current problem is a direct result of him killing someone. The same holds true for the Skinner or Hocus realizing they can't talk their way out of this one. It's delightful to watch the Gunlugger thrashing about like "just tell me who to shoot to fix this!" And his friends have to be like "I don't think that's gonna work this time."

I notice that some play advice seems to re-occur as I write these focus articles, and one of them is to mix challenges for the characters: Both the ones where they really shine, and those that put them in a vulnerable position, where they need to do things outside their expertise or trust someone else to help them with it. Anyway, i think this is particularly prominent with the Gunlugger.

Think I'll write up 2-3 principles of my own once these focus articles are finished.

*

Lukas

  • 53
Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 03:48:54 AM »
Something interesting I noticed about the statlines: the gunlugger is the only playbook that can start with Weird+2 without it being their primary stat. Has anyone done anything with the Weird potential of the gunlugger?

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2013, 02:03:55 AM »
The weird tends to be  represented as PTSD or being "lucky" from surviving all hell breaking loose in gunfire all the time. I think giving them weird moves can give them a sweet twist as long as it fits the games logic. Scent of Blood for a blood thirsty marauder looking for the ultimate high and Frenzy can make a Revolutionary Leader in a pinch.

In one of our campaigns we had some PvP with two sides scouting each other. The Gunlugger picked up Bonefeel the session before and used it to be right where he needed to be. I caught a grenade to the face within the first five minutes of the second session. He pulled himself out of so many certain (or at least highly probable) death scenarios using that move.

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 02:24:48 PM »
Oh man! A Gunlugger with Brain Whisper Projection and bloodthirsty. He's so damn scary that when he looks at someone they either run away or keel over dead of fright on the spot!

*

DannyK

  • 157
Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2013, 12:16:56 AM »
A Gunlugger who takes that one move (blanking on the name) that lets you open your mind with +Hard, but only in combat, can be an awesome thing. Hit or miss, it's an open invitation to the MC to spew forth whatever grim visions of apocalypse they can think of, plus maybe some useful info.  If the player is willing to risk a bad brain opening roll in the middle of combat, they should get something nice for their troubles.

Re: Playbook focus: The Gunlugger
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2013, 04:01:45 PM »
I've lurked on these boards for a long time but I've only just now registered to tell you that these playbook focus threads are really cool and I hope you keep doing them. Thank you!
Like the others, i'd have to agree. These are great! thank you.