Impressions of the basic moves

  • 11 Replies
Impressions of the basic moves
« on: March 07, 2014, 06:43:24 PM »
Here's my thoughts on the basic moves.

First, a small linguistic pedantistry: You’ve added a standard phrase to misses, telling the players that the MC may hit them hard: “…expect the MC to do worse.” I like having a phrase spelling out the consequences for missing, but I’m not sure I’m a fan of this one. The MC will do worse than what? Worse than you’ve just done? Look, pal, the MC can’t do no worse!
Speaking of misses, I do like that there is usually some kind of benefit, even in failure – a little choose/mark 1.
The Basic moves:

  • Hold Steady: I assume this is a replacement for Act under fire. It’s different in two major ways, as far as I can tell. The first is that you’ve moved “You do it” down to 7-9, and added a +1 forward to the 10+ one. The second is that it seems to cover different – and less – ground than act under fire. Holding steady seems more… heavy, in a sense. It doesn’t immediately seem to apply to, for instance, sneaking up on someone, something expressly covered by acting under fire, and which I don’t see anywhere else.
    Claim your right: This seems to be a mix of Going Aggro and Manipulate. It is Going Aggro in a society where there is less “might makes right” and more “right makes might”.  I do think the move presupposes a superior stance that is not written into the move. What happens if I claim my right from my rightful king? I might write into the move that you need some footing on which to base your claim. Also, what happens if your opponent stalls, begs or disputes your right? Can you then claim your right again? Can you Hold Steady on your claim? The +1 you get from being refused at a 10+ I interpret as a reflection of the breach of protocol inherent in calling someone a liar or a fool, and the fact that you have a casus belli to go into battle with them. I’m wondering which other options there would be. Drawing them out?
    Go into battle: I was considering why there was no other moves for attacking people, like going Aggro - but really, you can claim your right, then go straight to this move, and you’ve basically got going aggro, but with an option for retaliation. Also, if you go into battle with someone unarmed, their established damage is none I assume? One thing I may have to wrap my head around is the scope of this move. Is it a few blows, or a long exchange? I know that can be variable, but I’m also considering what happens if you have several rounds of going into battle. What happens if I fight one of the other players? I choose to disarm him. Can he then lunge for his weapon to try to get it back next round? Would we both be going into battle, or would he be holding steady? How does holding steady interlock with this move? How about Drawing out?
    Draw someone out: So, this is a place where my background as a non-native speaker gives me a bit of a disadvantage, because I’m not entirely sure what this move is for. I can see it is a variant of reading a person. But what does “…to draw them out…” entail? Is it just reading a person? Am I trying to expose them? Am I negotiating with them? Does this move also replace manipulate/seduce? A small comment regarding layout: when the marks are on the rules sheet, you (theoretically) need a rules sheet for each player. Could they fit in the playbooks?
    Take stock/ take bearings: These moves seem to be mostly the same, except for the circumstances of their use and the questions you get to ask. In AW, you have “read a charged situation”, which is all about reacting to some circumstance. With this division, you have the tactical take bearings, where you look for options in your current situation, and the strategic take stock, which I imagine taking either at home at the planning table, or over the campfire at night, thinking about your options. I like that many of the questions incite story, and that many of them not only reveal strengths and opportunities, but also weaknesses and threats. Your options for your +1 seem a little slim, however, what with the missing manipulate and act under force. But maybe that’s because I’m missing something there.
    Pray: I’m not entirely sure what I think of this. It’s more straightforward than open your mind, which is in some ways a relief. But... if the gods accept your offering, will they tell you how you might conceivably make something come to pass, or will they tell you what to do to make them help you? Also, it seems that 7-9 is a pure MC fiat result – the MC will give it to you if he feels like. That seems counter to how you usually do things. Finally, I’m surprised that you just have to say what you offer the gods. What if I offer the gods something clearly inappropriate or inadequate? I assume the MC will just say so?
    Helping: I like the idea that helping is not just a bonus, but a second chance. It means you can do it on your own, but if you don’t quite make it, you can get help. A quick calculation says the average bonus you gain is 1.9 if you roll with a +0 stat, 2.3 with -1, 1.4 with +1 and 1.06 with +2. In other words, slightly better than gaining a straight +1. On the other hand, the move also underlines the need to actually do something to help, so there’s a bigger reward for a bigger effort. I like all of that – it makes it more significant to help. My biggest issue is that the timing and causality will be a bit confused – I fail, so you tell me you will help me by doing something before I do my move.

Have you considered a social “attack”? Shaming someone, for instance. It’s built into Claim your right, but you might be able to go into battle on words.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 07:08:43 PM »
Here's my thoughts on the basic moves.

My thoughts on your thoughts :)

Hold Steady: sneaking up on somebody sounds like acting in the face of danger/urgency to me. Depends on the fiction of course.

Claim Your Right: if you walk up to the king and claim your right I'd assume he'd laugh at you and tell you you're a fool and then tell his guards to kill you. What is that +1 going to be good for then? Claiming doesn't make it true. Unless it is, then you'll have to do a lot more than just claim I'd think to get a king to give up his throne.

Draw Someone Out: note that the character has to interact patiently and attentively. And the stat HOT means your character is talking to them and getting them to open up, not cold reading them.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 07:13:37 PM »
My thoughts on social attacks: Both Claim Your Right and Draw Someone Out could be used for social attacks, depending on whether you want out of the social attack.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 07:19:55 PM »
Oh, and to clarify the idiom "to draw someone out" means to get them to expose themselves. The way I interpret Vincent's use of it, that might be in conversation, or in a duel, or in a war, or whatever context.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 12:14:16 AM »
Well, "claim your right" against someone doesn't have to mean you're saying you're the boss of them! Feudal systems involve two-way oaths and obligations, so it's perfectly okay for a vassal to claim his right against a king in certain contexts. "I've served you loyally but now my lands are threatened, I want you to lend me extra troops." "Tell Lord So-and-so to keep his grubby paws off my fishing villages, his claim to that piece of land is bullshit and everyone knows it."

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 01:25:09 AM »
Ditto Tael. Feudal relationships, at least in theory (a theory which people in the Dark Ages took very seriously, as seriously as we take all our theories about democracy and the free market and socialism and whatnot), involved rights in both directions, though always asymmetrical. The serf owes the lord labor, the lord owes the serf protection. If the bandits are raiding the peasantry, while the lord sits in his manor hall feasting and making merry, the most doughty of the peasants can stride into the firelit hall and Claim His Right: "great father, how much longer can you ignore our suffering? are you our protector to whom we look, or are you not?"

One thing that's way better about the move than Go Aggro is that the +1 means the follow-up is flexible. It's perfectly clear that the serf's next move is not Go Into Battle. But if the lord, his face turns purple, his fist clenching around the gravy-soaked drumstick, stands up from the table and shouts "fool of a villein! how dare you question me! Hargis, Vinter -- seize this worthless cur and toss him in irons!", the serf has +1 forward. His next move might be Draw Someone Out, asking the lord's player, "how can I get you to commit your troops to defending the peasantry?" -- or, perhaps Draw Someone Out on the lord's brother-in-law who is silently observing and is known to covet the lord's land, locking eyes with him as if to say "how can I get you to invade? you see that the people are with you!" Or, his next action might be to take stock, take his bearings, pray, or hold steady.

That said, the lack of any Manipulate type move does seem to be somewhat glaring here. What if the peasant's next action is to incite a rebellion? It seems very natural that your having Claimed Your Right vis-a-vis the lord should give a +1 to a roll to  do this, but to what roll? As written, you can spend it to get information which might help, but that's about it. Actually going among the people and saying "we've had enough of this, it's time to get our pitchforks and storm the manor" (something that happened quite a bit in the middle ages, at least) doesn't seem to have an obvious mechanical hook. Hold Steady doesn't seem to fit the way that even Act under Fire would -- as the OP noted, it's less of a catchall.

There's nothing wrong with it just being in the fiction (or left to playbook moves, for an appropriate class), it's just sort of surprising.

"Okay, I gather my friends at my barn, and tell them that it's time to rebel against the vile baron!"

"Well, that doesn't trigger a move." Everyone looks at the MC, who makes an MC move.

Alternatively, I guess gathering the friends at the barn could be ALSO Claiming Your Right. "Too long have we suffered at his hands -- I call upon you, friends, brothers, by our rights as ancient dwellers in this land before the usurpers came..." So then the whole community of peasants is "your counterpart" and on a 10+ they can choose to call you a fool and you have +1 to ask the MC "how could I get them to rebel..."

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 04:10:52 AM »
Hold Steady: sneaking up on somebody sounds like acting in the face of danger/urgency to me. Depends on the fiction of course.

It could do, I guess. It doesn't exactly ring exactly true to me, though. It's only urgency if you need to do it fast - what if you have all day? Danger... well, depending on the circumstance, it might only be the danger of being found out. Of course, that IS a kind of danger.

Drawing out: It does not seem to be a social combat move. Also, do you need to talk to people, or can it be used in, say, combat? Does non-verbal interaction count? The rules don't state precisely.

Claiming your right: That makes sense. But like you say, I would like some kind of "active" social move with a consequence. Drawing out seems to be a perceptive move, and it seems like claiming your right lacks an outlet that's not claiming your right and going into battle.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 05:24:21 AM »
What if I offer the gods something clearly inappropriate or inadequate? I assume the MC will just say so?

You roll the move. On a 10+ it gets accepted, on a 7-9 the gods will tell you this is not enough.



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Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 08:19:06 AM »
On claiming your right: do remember that the basic moves are for PCs, not for everyone in the fictional game world. NPCs interact with each other in a completely different way. Considering the basic moves in isolation from character moves will always leave you with an incomplete view.

For Plausiblefabulist's peasant-vs-lord example to apply in any way, we need to know which playbook the peasant's player is using. THEN we can talk about the peasant's options for followthrough.

On drawing someone out: you can draw your enemy out in battle, yes.


Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2014, 10:31:31 AM »
@eliashelfer: I don't really know what you mean by social combat. I interpret it as "social conflict" in order to understand it, and there are three moves here that can definitely be used for social conflict:

  • Hold Steady, for not revealing your emotions when someone tries to make you angry or whatever.
  • Claim Your Right, for claiming a right that you have or think you have, but also for "insisting on your way" and "standing up for yourself." If you're shaming someone, it's probably this.
  • Draw Someone Out, for when you interact patiently and attentively with someone (but not necessarily nicely, it could represent a subtle insult). This can get you either information about the other person, or it can get them to do something you want, with the question "How could my character get yours to do ___?". I think this move replaces Seduce/Manipulate in most situations.

I think maybe you want a move that is specifically about making someone lose face, and while Claim Your Right can potentially do that, it won't necessarily. I think there isn't a move for that, because the Dark Age doesn't have a culture where face is a palpable thing that can be easily harmed, like Rokugan or High School. If your Dark Age was, I guess you could import Shut Someone Down (and also conditions) from Monsterhearts?

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2014, 06:44:09 PM »
@Vincent: Right. So you could follow up with Commanding Presence from Troll-Killer, or you could actually do the incite-the-mob thing with Frenzy from Dragon-Herald. That makes sense. I guess I was, to some extent, seeing the Basic moves as a "complete set", covering everything I need to be able to do. Not everyone has moves like that, though - the Outlaw Heir doesn't that I can see (but I guess it is slightly appropriate that he'll have a harder time claiming his right; seems to be what he is all about).

@Adams Tower: I am a bit surprised at your statement that there is no face to lose - I would see face as extremely important in this kind of setting. To me, that is what the 10+ options on claiming your right is about: Do you give them what they want, or insult them and force them to stand up for themselves?

I still can't see drawing someone out as an active conflict move. It is a social interaction move, of course.

Re: Impressions of the basic moves
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2014, 07:14:03 PM »
I think there's some sense of honor, but not of face. Their insulting you helps you, giving you +1 to your next action, because it means they showed they were actually affected by your claim. If this were a society where face were important, then it would be the reverse? I guess that sense of honor is a kind of face. I get the impression that in this society, it doesn't matter that much to be called a bad king. It does matter to be called a false king.

I don't think that insulting someone in response to Claim Your Right forces the claimant to stand up for themselves. They're already standing up for themselves, that's one of the triggers for Claim Your Right. They can respond to your insult however they like, and whatever they do, they get +1 forward.

About drawing someone out as an active conflict move, the way I see it, all of the basic moves are active conflict moves, except maybe Take Stock and Take Your Bearings, and Pray. Their AW equivalents read more like Conflict Resolution, since they have to be used in charged situations, or against the potentially inimical Psychic Maelstrom. But, I'm trying to learn to play Sorcerer right now, and that affects the way I'm thinking about things. Draw Someone Out is clearly a conflict to me, because it's used to get information from someone who would rather not give it to you. If they would be willing to just give it to you, you wouldn't need to draw them out, you could just ask them directly. If you wanted to insult someone into doing something, using it, what you could do is ask "What would you do if I called your mother a whore?", and then, knowing that, call their mother a whore.

It occurs to me, that maybe what I mean about face not being a part of the setting, is that I see a character wanting to make another character lose face. The character might want another character to do something, to reveal something, to admit something, but not just to make them lose face.

On the other hand, I think maybe revealing emotion is bad in some circumstances, since it's something you have to Hold Steady against, and if you do it in response to Claim Your Right, the claimant gets +1 forward.

So, I rambled a bit as I collected my thoughts. I think the TL;DR is: a concept of face is present in the Dark Age, as revealed by the basic moves, but it's not a concept of face where an insult hurts, like in Monsterhearts's high school.