Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?

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Arvid

  • 262
Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« on: September 09, 2013, 06:35:11 PM »
After a little bump in productivity, I'm looking to finish of this series of focus articles with the Savvyhead, the Angel and the Chopper, and then return later with limited edition playbooks and three little special articles.

But what about the Skinner? I've never actually had a chance to grokk them, so I don't feel I have enough to write about them. Here's to hoping that someone will pick the Skinner in our next game that starts on sunday - If someone does, I'll make sure to collect enough experience to write about it. In the meantime, if anyone would like to share their thoughts on the Skinner, here or through private messages, that's very welcome!

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 07:10:15 PM »
One of the coolest things I've seen in Apocalypse World was how a Skinner who was the eternal tease after several sessions (at which point she had something like 5 courtiers who were all proper NPCs she had sunk her claws in) got the cult advance. Obviously her cult was her courtiers, they just didn't know it. Obviously their surplus was violence when they started beating each other up and challenging each other to car duels and whatnot.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 09:31:54 PM »
What it Brings to the world of the Apocalypse:

This is always my favorite part of these focus articles, I think it really gets at the heart of why the playbook is important in relation to the setting and what it reflects about the other playbooks. I'd love to take a stab at that for the skinner.

Culture. For me at least, this is the biggest contribution of this playbook to the setting. The presence of a skinner is automatically going to bring luxe gear into the game, and the value of those items comes from people's ability to recognize their beauty. That an artist of any expression can be as effective in the world as a gunlugger or an angel shows that people are still clutching for their humanity.

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DannyK

  • 157
Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 04:39:40 PM »
Every Skinner I've encountered in a game so far has been a beautiful lady.  I'd still like to see the Yo-Yo Ma as Skinner character that was discussed by somebody really smart, a long time ago. Or even a boy-toy; every beautiful boy I've seen in AW has been a Battlebabe. The playbook seems more gendered, at least in people's minds, than most.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 05:30:28 PM »
@DannyK: most of the Skinners I've seen have been David Bowie-like.

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Lukas

  • 53
Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 05:53:34 PM »
One interesting thing is that the Skinner, which is all about seducing and manipulating, also has the perfectly earnest "one of them is your friend" Hx option. From most of the other playbooks, you get the feeling that Apocalypse World is a place which has camaraderie, as in "people you've been through bad shit with", and attraction, but precious little actual friendship. The Skinner brings that to the table.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 12:59:21 PM »
One interesting thing is that the Skinner, which is all about seducing and manipulating, also has the perfectly earnest "one of them is your friend" Hx option. From most of the other playbooks, you get the feeling that Apocalypse World is a place which has camaraderie, as in "people you've been through bad shit with", and attraction, but precious little actual friendship. The Skinner brings that to the table.

I've always understood that option primarily in terms of its subtext: you only have one friend (if you're lucky,) because everyone else is a tool. The Skinner's moves encourage them to be completely mercenary in their social dealings. They're all about unilaterally making somebody act like your friend, while making it impossible for them to actually be your friend. And not because they stop the other person from being friendly, but because they make you, the character, treat them in a way that eliminates the possibility for a real relationship.

Basically the Skinner and the Brainer are having a fight to see who can be the most socially dysfunctional, but at least the Brainer is obvious about it.

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Lukas

  • 53
Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 04:54:02 PM »
One interesting thing is that the Skinner, which is all about seducing and manipulating, also has the perfectly earnest "one of them is your friend" Hx option. From most of the other playbooks, you get the feeling that Apocalypse World is a place which has camaraderie, as in "people you've been through bad shit with", and attraction, but precious little actual friendship. The Skinner brings that to the table.

I've always understood that option primarily in terms of its subtext: you only have one friend (if you're lucky,) because everyone else is a tool. The Skinner's moves encourage them to be completely mercenary in their social dealings. They're all about unilaterally making somebody act like your friend, while making it impossible for them to actually be your friend. And not because they stop the other person from being friendly, but because they make you, the character, treat them in a way that eliminates the possibility for a real relationship.

Basically the Skinner and the Brainer are having a fight to see who can be the most socially dysfunctional, but at least the Brainer is obvious about it.

That's not really the way I'm reading it, mostly because most other Hx options in other playbooks are just as focused on how the other person has been or will be useful or threatening. "Tool" is the default state for most characters, but the skinners have something other than that (when we played, the relationship between my maestro d' and her friend the skinner was very much one between equals, so that might colour my perception somewhat). The skinner isn't, at its core, about manipulation. It's about beauty, which also happens to make it good at manipulation.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2013, 06:59:56 PM »
That's not really the way I'm reading it, mostly because most other Hx options in other playbooks are just as focused on how the other person has been or will be useful or threatening. "Tool" is the default state for most characters, but the skinners have something other than that (when we played, the relationship between my maestro d' and her friend the skinner was very much one between equals, so that might colour my perception somewhat). The skinner isn't, at its core, about manipulation. It's about beauty, which also happens to make it good at manipulation.

I tend to agree with this sentiment. A strong example of this is the failed roll result for Artful and Gracious. It's the only time you can blow a roll and the MC does not get to make a move. "On a miss, you gain no benefit, but suffer no harm or lost opportunity. You simply perform very well."

I think something else to remember is that manipulation could be used toward a good an pure end. As with all the playbooks, there are an infinite number of ways you could play the character. Just because you are charming and beautiful doesn't mean you have to be a socially defunct monster.

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zefir

  • 36
Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 06:49:59 PM »
To be honest, I was seeing the "friend" option, more in terms of someone who got friendzoned by skinner. Although, that's more fitting for the person who is in love (as being lover is different option).

We are playing campaign with MC+2 characters, Hardholder and Skinner, with HH being in love with Skinner. It's quite interesting, as Skinner has to balance between keeping group of followers, and making HH feel important and exceptional. And of course, getting hold on NPCs is lot's of fun, as each reacts in his own way.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 09:06:35 PM »
I always assumed the name of this playbook was a reference to B. F. Skinner, the father of behavioral psychology.

-- 77IM

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 12:38:26 AM »
I hope you plan to continue this series soon, ive really enjoyed them and id love to hear your thoughts about the hoarder and the faceless.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2013, 02:24:02 AM »
There's something really fascinating about the entire game's attitude to the line between friendship and manipulation, as evinced by the fact that the only way you can, mechanically, make an NPC start functioning like an actual friend and ally rather than a threat, is by hitting a 12+ advanced seduce or manipulate.

Contrast this with the Growing Up moves from Monsterhearts, where you start actually supporting your friends by figuring out how to do something *other* than manipulate them.

We're left with a choice between optimistic and pessimistic readings of the move (and by inference, of the Skinner's character, since the Skinner is archetypically central for seduce and manipulate -- the Skinner is to seduce what the Gunlugger is to seize by force, right?).

Optimistically, the move -- or at least its advanced version -- has to be read broadly, to include not just actual manipulation of people as tools, but every social dealing which alters your relationship with them. In this reading, the AW characters are already grown ups and have the equivalent of MH's grownup moves, so seduce/manip can mean calling people on their shit, making them feel beautiful, standing up to them, telling them the truth about themselves, inspiring them, showing them true beauty that lifts them out of their selfish defensive isolation, authentically revealing our own vulnerability and sharing our own pain and our compassion for theirs, etc. All the things you would actually do to turn someone from a potential threat to a true confidante/ally/etc.

The pessimistic reading is that seduce/manipulate means what it says on the jar, that manipulate means treating people as tools and seduce is specifically not sex for its own sake but sex in order to get something, and that therefore the 12+ option simply underlines the dark truth of AW's social relations -- everyone is a threat, and the only people (or at least the only NPCs, but let's not kid ourselves, the other PCs are always a threat too in this game) who aren't a threat are the poor fools you've super-seduced into permanently putting your interests before their own -- and however much affection you might have for them in return, it should never be forgotten that the relationship is based on an instance of manipulation, that they are necessarily suckers, your tools first and your friends second.

I'm not sure which reading I favor; maybe what's most intended is the tension between them, and being the Skinner means never being entirely easy in those relationships, even the ones you really hope are really friendships, because their core lies uncomfortably close to your powers of manipulation...

And all this stuff is if anything even more interesting with the Yo-Yo-Ma skinner who seduces by creating beautiful art and not by showing some leg.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2013, 05:54:34 AM »
I fall somewhere towards the pessimistic end of the spectrum. You roll seduce/manipulate when you want something from a person. And to get to make the roll, you need leverage. You are trying to force your interests upon the person.

Now you might be a nice person, and you might have the best interests of your victim at heart, but when you use manipulate, you are looking at a person, trying to figure out what you can do to or for him to make him do what you want, and then following through (either with a promise or concrete assurance).

As the expanded explanation of the move says:
"Absent leverage, they’re just talking, and you should have your NPCs agree or accede, decline or refuse, according to their own self-interests."

Now that doesn't mean a skinner can't have a person's best interests at heart, or can't make them feel beautiful. But in most cases you won't be using manipulate. You'll just be talking ( And if you are using manipulate, you are making a calculated "I want to stop Dogshead from hurting himself. What if I promise to be his friend. Would that be enough, or do I need to promise more? Is my wish for Dogshead not to hurt himself large enough for me to give what is needed?"

I'm thinking that a good-hearted Skinner might be a bit like a good-hearted Brainer. They want to do good, but if they use their moves to do so it is actually kinda perverse.

Re: Playbook focus season 2, and what about the Skinner?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 05:30:22 PM »
Figured this'd be the best thread for this thing.

Setting is a western apocalypse. all complex technology has failed and civilization has returned to a wild west frontier; gunslingers and pony express style mail and all.

My Skinner went by Arthur Grinn. A golden eyed, walrus mustached, young man who was a gunsmith by trade. He used the local cathouse to start parties and get connections to wealthy clients and through some in game events became deputized and achieved local rock star status.

Our MC's weird fronts came to a head where the townsfolk burned down the cat house, and later went berserk during a fundraising party run by Grinn to rebuild said cathouse. The two PC's Grinn and Nergal ended taking out the possessed townsfolk and the only surviving NPC's from the town are about a dozen or so prostitutes and the Sheriff Allgood.

I'm planning on changing the playbook to Chopper with the survivors as his gang at the beginning of our next session.

Yes he's a fast talking hedonistic salesman but he wants people to be happy and safe, giving generously and worked with what he had. Thoughts?