Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)

  • 11 Replies
Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« on: March 28, 2014, 08:36:57 AM »
Hey, is this move too similar to Open your Brain?  Should we just let Open your Brain take care of the use of this drug?

Focus? Man, focus makes memories into lucid dreams and it’s like, bam, you’re right there in it again, but this time it can go different, but sometimes it makes dreams into memories, and that’s not always so good. Grace can hook you up with it as a side thing, and it makes sense for her.  An hour with Grace? That’s something you want to do again and again.

When you drop focus, roll +weird. On a hit, you experience a memory again and choose two. On a 10+, all three. On a miss, the MC will change your memories somehow and make a move as hard as he likes.
  • you choose which memory to experience
    you can do things differently this time
    you're in no danger

So, for example, Camel could drop focus to go back to the underground shopping mall where he heard footsteps and coughing. If he chose to do things differently this time, he could go check out the footsteps, but he might be in danger. You can die for real in a focus trip, man. I even thought about saying there's some kind of monster in memories that might get you. Maybe that's why we forget things - the monsters ate them.

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2014, 10:21:13 AM »
I think this is a pretty cool move. I feel like there needs to be more of cost though. Seems real easy to max out weird and drop focus a bunch to rewrite you mind (or reality...). Perhaps even on 10+ you should lack something or have some downside.

Really like the concept though.  It would make a cool reason for the apocalypse.

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2014, 10:37:02 AM »
Ah, I had not intended that it change the result of things that happened in the past... only that you could sort of find out what might have happened.  If you drop focus, go back to that time you and your sister drove across the burn flats, and kill your sister in the memory, your sister is still alive when you come out of the trip.  You just find out what might have happened if you had killed her.  It would let us set scenes in the past, and could be limited by the supply of Focus.

There are no high-Weird characters in our game, although I suppose someone could build their focus up.

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 04:27:46 PM »
Tying in with what derendal said with the high weird being a set back, you could make it harm move of sorts. The higher you roll the worse off you are- you tripped to hard and dreamed to far. That might give low weird characters an incentive to expand their mind with Focus, its effects are something they can't get anywhere else.



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Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 09:44:40 AM »
Well, I'd honestly just suggest you remove you'll not be in danger option. Danger sounds like its suppose to be part of the package, but as a choice with so many selections even on a half hit, it looks like it'll never occur. On that note, your second option seems a bit off too, you can do things different this time? This one is more an issue between the game and the reality of running it. Memories cannot repeat -exactly- its part of what makes them memories. They rewrite and you are none the wiser. So even if you wanted to show them exactly the same thing again, you will be hard pressed to do so. This could prove to be problematic, especially if you and the player remembered the thing differently in your minds eye.

I'd also expand upon the trigger for the move. If this is something they can just do anywhere, whenever, where-ever, then maybe opening their mind might be a better option. Although this move does seem like its attempting something from inception. Which is very cool. So let me provide you an example, maybe it'll help, maybe you shouldn't listen to me. :)

The Narrative broken down:
You have a world where people lose themselves in the past, repeating memories, changing what they did in them, forgetting both the present and their reality. This is like a drug. Addictive, nostalgic, dangerous for a number of reasons. If you relive a memory a hundred times, do you still remember what it was like the first time? You know... the time where it actually happened, where you actually made connections with those people? Sure you might fall in love with that beauty,maybe you even married her, but in reality? She doesn't even know your name, hell, maybe she finds out about the drug and hate you for it, maybe she's found someone else, better, in all the time you've been wasting away dreaming. Not to mention, dreaming backwards is dangerous, sometimes people just close their eyes and die.

First, if you do this, you'll have to realize that you're playing a very solitary game here. The people that keep going into the dream aren't interacting in any PC-NPC-PC triangles that'll stay when they wake up. The players wont be dreaming together, they'll be taking turns either doing something for real or drugging themselves up for their own memory baths. So you need to be very careful how you decide to employ this. Nothing like saying you can die in your recall, but nothing you do there matters.

Really if this was just a little threat, something cool that's also in your story, then I'd treat it like a sickness. It doesn't really matter what they go back to or for, its better then whatever it is now. You might wanna keep the focus on the REAL and let the memories take a backseat:

When you drop focus for the first time, draw an addiction clock mark the first segment and roll+weird. On a hit take +1 forward as your memories offer you some insight. On a 10+ you've learned something new in your recall, ask the MC a question about something that happened, he'll give you an answer. On a 7–9, pass out in the street and sleep for a long time or suffer 2 harm (ap) right now. Your memories either tried to kill you, or you -really- enjoyed the experience. On a miss: mark a tick on the addiction clock, suffer 2-harm (ap), and the MC can tell you something about your memory that you believe actually happened.

Addiction Clock. Once you've dropped focus... you never quite regain it. At the beginning of each session roll +addiction. (starting with a +3 before 3pm, then going around the clock marks +2 before 6pm, +1 before 9pm, +0 before 10pm, -1 before 11pm, -2 before high noon.) On a 10+ you gain 2 hold. On a 7–9 you gain 1 hold. On a miss, your MC gains a hold over you. Spend your at any time hold to look back into the past, roll a drop focus roll. The person that spends the hold determines the memory. If you have any hold remaining at the end of the session, lose them and erase a segment on your addiction clock. If your addiction clock becomes empty, you recover. If you hit high noon however... well you learn if there are monsters in your memories...

Now, I just threw that together, making it simpler, cleaner and befitting your game is essential. I don't really know what your game is like or what role this drug is playing. But this way it keeps the characters RPing in the now rather then alone inside their character's head.

Keep in mind...

you die in your dream
you get caught by monsters in your dream
you recall what you wanted to experience, not what was really ever there
you get lost in the world you've dreamed up (where things happened differently) –addiction
you are unconscious for a hell of a lot longer then you thought you'd be, maybe weeks, maybe months?
someone in the real life who hated you walked up to your unconscious self and decided to...

Losing Focus
When you drop focus while thinking about a memory, roll +weird. On a hit, you experience that memory againOn a 10+, choose 3, 7–9, choose 2. On a miss choose 1, but... the MC can make any move as hard as they like.

    you don't suffer 2-harm (ap)
    you don't lose long periods of time doing so
    you get a +1 forward after experiencing that
    you learn something new, important, relevant

This way the memory itself is less of a scene where they're the only meaningful actor, and more straight forward. You witness this, you witness more like this (let the player imagine), your threats are built into the fiction. If they take harm, then you get to say how, why, when... was it monsters? was it their best friend with a gun? NEVER tell the players if what they experienced was real or true. EXCEPT if they choose to pick the, you learn something, because that THAT option is always true.

What I'd do...

Honestly however, if this is a universal curse upon the world that mightve caused its destruction, you could go with opening your mind as written. That way their memories might actually change the world for those around them, cause rifts in the maelstrom, be pretty involving all around. Plus they wont be actively rolling in the scenes of the past... it's be more like the scenes of the past are coming up to meet them (as a group). If they miss, well, monsters and shit. I would recommend this course of action anyway, just because you can hide important details in the past (like how to stop this), and many classes could build off it in interesting ways.

Maybe sometimes they experience memories (malformed or not) of nearby people, maybe read a person lets you learn something they dream about, maybe they sometimes see memories of the great collapse, maybe they can if they brave the maelstrom fix the world, or wall it off from areas with other drugs... I dunno. I think that would make those questions you get to ask the player all the more potent to the fictions reality, rather then focusing your limited play time on dreamy drug induced recall.

Its up to you. What is your maelstrom? If this is part of it, then it should be an open your brain. If its not, then it should probably play a much smaller roll, custom move sure, but don't move the focus off the game itself.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 10:08:36 AM by Ebok »

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 12:38:32 PM »
Awesome post Ebok! I'm probably going to raid some of that for when I do my own game.

Ten and I are both players in this game. It's being played through forums over on Mythweavers.

Focus is just a sideline that came up in the round of questions, the apocalypse is something about bad water and grey fungus and petrified trees. Ten came up with the move, because our GM was wondering what Focus was and how it worked.

It's the first game for our GM and many of the players, though there is a deep and abiding love for the system all around. So there were a lot of questions being thrown around in the pre-game, a majority of which were player to player questions.

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2014, 03:44:09 PM »
There are a lot of different ways to go about this which is awesome because that means your group can customize things any way you want.

For me, the move is so much like opening your brain, that it might actually be how your group opens your brain in the fiction. As an MC, I might push for this because it really ties in your fiction with the mechanics. Want to open your brain? Well, first you have to figure out who the new dealer of focus is, because you just shot your current one.

On the other hand, I'd also be tempted to make addiction the focus of focus, so I'd make a custom move that when you use focus, you automatically act as if you rolled 10+ on open your brain, but now you have to worry about addiction with a custom countdown clock or a custom move like the harm move.

It all depends on what the MC and the group finds interesting.


As If

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Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2014, 08:31:27 PM »
Once you're addicted, it may be difficult to tell when a memory is first-edition, second-edition, etc, or even a memory at all - maybe a dream, and you cannot tell whether you remember your own past the way it actually happened.  On a failed roll, the MC gives your character to another player to act out the memory scene.  You are helpless to watch as you say and do things you feel are "wrong" but nope - turns out YOU'RE the one who remembered it wrong.  Whatever the other player "re"-enacts?  That's how it REALLY happened.

Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2014, 10:22:03 AM »
Thanks, Ebok, for the long thoughtful post.  I think you've got some good ideas there, but I think your version won't tempt anyone to use it and it will end up an NPC drug epidemic that the PCs solve like Robocop.  I think that for the drug to mean something to PCs it has to seduce the players.  They have to think they can handle it, can manage the risks, you know?  Just like real drug users.

What As If is saying is pretty much what I'm after.  Focus is subtle, and the changes it makes can be subtle, but they start to add up.  Ebok, you said Inception-like, and just like the way that ideas implanted during sleep in that movie could motivate behavior in the waking world.  You trust Keeler because she had your back that time.  You can trade with Balls' people because last time you met him you guys worked things out.  Sheriff burned your car - that bitch is bad news.  Two of those things are true.

I do also have a nagging doubt about the "no danger" option.  Maybe a "you don't get x immediate bad result" would be better.

I should have mentioned that it's a play by post game, so spotlight sharing is easy.  We can RP in threads together or alone at the same time.

We've added another option to the menu, "get +1Hx or -1Hx to one of the PCs that features in your memory, her choice."



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Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2014, 12:00:54 PM »
Well, if you guys can handle it, then go for it. In my experience sitting around a table with other people, watching someone play through a memory –possibly repeatedly– would be very boring for them. I suppose the forums solves a few of these issues, as no one is waiting specifically for anything, multiple posts on differently people doing different things can happen in the same time frame, and its all written down and referable so you don't have people recalling different versions of the same scene.

I will say ahead of time that if this drug does everything you're suggesting it does, it needs to play a major roll for all of the characters. I would consider tying it into one aspect of the maelstrom and making up some "drug" specific hard moves you can push on them with a miss. That way it wont dissuade anyone, and anyone that wants to open their brain can see it happen.

The big thing about tying anything into the opening your brain move, is that you're saying that this move is directly linked the maelstrom. The Maelstrom which should be defined and otherwise a threat. So if your maelstrom is about things going gray and petrifying, either the drug is just something on the side (and shouldn't be more attractive then playing only in the present) or maybe they're somehow linked. You should also consider that when someone opens their brain to something without the focus drug... maybe they recall vaguely or clearly how other people on focus have "looked back" on them before. Maybe they open their brain while looking at a barkeep, and ... "remember" faintly, the barkeep waving a gun at them, them on the ground somewhere, not close (the desert?)... a specific car in the background–and then remember one line of something he said. As an open your brain mechanic, it could allow people to *see* into other's alternate realities on focus. This makes it more interesting, because it ties the npc's trips into the players on a different level.

Anyway how people react is fluid. If the actions that made a guy burn up your car were emotional–avoiding whatever situation caused his wrath could make your impression of him very different. Just because a guy dislikes you once, doesn't mean he'd dislike you in another situation. This means that the focus drug may not always portray what you'd expect it to. However, the drug is insanely useful, for example... You want to know whats in the safe, or if so-so the cute barmaid can be charmed into getting you to it. You set up a scene, play it safe, watch for security etc. Leave, focus, go back and find out exactly whats in the safe, avoiding security, and learning her behaviors. Now you've cased out the joint twice or more times, and maybe the people involved have some inkling of mistrust for you... but what if that was just for fun? What if it didn't matter to you? These risks and rationale need to be understood by everyone so its clear what doing what entails.

Another example: A guy pisses you off, you dunk focus to shoot the hell of him to relieve stress. Does he know when you wake? Why? How? Does the fact that you shot him while frustrated under focus mean something different then if you shot him while in the real world? Only one of those times it mattered. Maybe it wasn't anything personal, or Now, its all good. C

Anyhow! Was just another idea. I'm always willing to spout off things. I'm glad you liked some of what was above, and I totally understand what you mean. The players are clear on the meaning, how it works, and the forums allow fun memory games to a much more accurate extent then PnP. So it looks like you guys are on the right track.

I brought up the choice that puts them in harms way because I had a move that was similar a ways back, and the fact that my players would ALWAYS choose it– well, I found it both allowed them to whitewash the risk and limited what they could experience meanwhile. Make the choices personal, how they are effected, not necessarily how the world is effected. So like, if you are making a roll to do something, and choosing three, all three of those involve how you handle it personally, rather then dictating how the world reacted in anyway. That's just my gut feeling on the subject anyhow.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 12:11:23 PM by Ebok »


As If

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Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2014, 01:03:39 PM »
What it made me think of, more than Inception, was Memento.  Imagine this...  You walk into a room and someone you don't recognize tosses you a gun and says "About time you got here.  They're expecting us.  What did you find out?"



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Re: Custom Move: Drop Focus (a drug)
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2014, 12:27:10 AM »
I've actually run a game over the forums where the character was involved and experiencing a linear story in a nonlinear way. It felt a lot like that. He would be introduced into a scene where the character knew why he was there, but the player did not. So everything that was happening was played through as if the player did. Anytime he ran into someone that looked back and said, "did you bring it?", He would have a choice, "yes" or "no". If he said yes, then the scene would assume he did, and they'd move forward a ways. The next scene might actually be before he found whatever it was, back when he was first meeting on the people in the room. Or getting the thing they asked for, and each time it would reveal more about what he was there for.

It was a single player labyrinth puzzle I put together, and we both saw to life. It was by and far one of the more interesting short stories I've run, but it was only possible on the forum. Where everything was saved, where things could be linked together, where he or I could start a scene anywhere and both just run with it no matter what.

It can be a rewarding experience... I'm however very well aware that once that type of stuff happens, everyone will want to be involved in it in some way. So you create a situation where in this case, their ability to do it is based on a single ability score. That's... I dunno, I just feel like something that profound should be center stage and more involved then just a drug, or a single weird roll. Mind you different elements of it should certainly be dispersed. But again, that's entire dependent on your crew. I just hope you guys have gleamed something you like out of my rambling. ^_^