New playbook for DA: the spymaster.

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New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« on: September 16, 2014, 03:34:58 PM »
Well, i found Dark Age lacking of a roguish playbook, someone who could be a spy like Varys (from Game of thrones) or a thief like Garrett (from thief) as the player chooses. I felt the need of a spy in my playtest campaign, and since vincent suggested me to create one, here i am :)
This is the first draft of the playbook, if you like it, please help me making it better, a couple of rights aren't of my exact liking but it's a start. Since english is not my first language i could use some help refining the various sentences. Comments and critiques are very welcomed.

Here's the playbook: http://www.mediafire.com/view/cbl76g006a1obdn/Spymaster.jpg

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 05:06:33 PM »
I very much like the look of this (I was thinking of creating a similar playbook, actually).

Just to check, you came up with these rights whole cloth, not by picking from the existing ones, right?

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 05:17:35 PM »
New rights (except one that's from aw).

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 05:19:24 PM »
A lot to like here!  I'd also been missing a roguish playbook, and thinking about creating one. 

The right to remain silent is especially great.

Your single combat right seems over-powered, in that it gives an existing right (the right to spend 1 more than your roll would allow, that the War-Captain and others already get), plus more.  Being able to roll +Wary alone seems like a good enough right.

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2014, 05:22:46 PM »
About the single combat, it's true it could be op BUT, you can't have shield and armor, you have to use an Harm 2 weapon (increased to 3 by the right) and ask for fighting dirty. The war captain can choose to have any weapon and armour (like a 3harm sword +1 extra harm from shield +2armour +1extra armour from shield) and can choose an extra option from any single combat option. Imho it's less powerful, but i need to playtest it.

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 05:28:28 PM »
remain silent sounds cool, but seems not to fit and also not particularly narratively interesting. I would think the opposite would be better. You have to right to know secrets or something.

Fight dirty is way too powerful. It seems like two or perhaps even 3 combined.

Safe hideout....should only specify 1 I think. Or it could be a move to roll wary and choose 1 from the list on a miss, 2 on 7-9, and 3 on 10+.

I like the vanish into shadows. Might be underpowered by preventing the inspiration.

Not sure about the win someone over one. I would call it the right to lie by the way.

Like the something physical caution and skill. I'm definitely adding that as a right in the Wider World for my group to use. We may end up using it to replace the basic move Size someone up. It seems like a better basic move.

The right to a spy network seems to occupy the space I was thinking for right to secrets.

The declare retroactively is neat, but I'm not sure if a batman ability fits this game. I'm also not sure it doesn't.
There is some things after life. It's called death.
-Ringo

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 06:11:16 PM »
1) remain silent: it's also useful to resist torture and not tell what you know. If people knows that you know something, they'll try to take it from you... and with this right, you can keep your mouth shut. You can't be won over, you can't be tortured and so on. Ok, there is no narrative behind you keeping your mouth shut, but it saves your ass when your cover is blown.

2) Fight dirty: i don't understand why people thinks it's op. 3harm and 1 extra option, without the possibility to use shields and armor, it's way worse then the war champion one (which has 1 extra option on top of 3 or 4harm weapon, a shield and an armour and maybe even a warhorse). But you can use Wary, and this part is powerful. But in a straight fight war-champion vs spy, the spy loses most of the times.

3) Safe hideout: it's one of each, you specify the hideout when you need it the first time. Without rolling because i hate too many rolls.

4) Vanish into shadows: I thought this was the most powerfull trick in the spymaster slevees. So i'm a bit puzzled right now :p

5) Lie: well, i have my doubts about it. There is no "lying" move in this game like in AW where you roll to manipulate someone. The win someone over is the read a person move. I wanted the manipulate move into the spy. I should write it better perhaps.

6) Pyshical caution: yes i created this playbook just to have this move :p

7) Spy network: i need it if i want a Varys type and it adds some risk when you use it. Ok you can remain silent, but your spies can't: what do you do?

8) Declare retroactively: you know things, so you are prepared to the worst case scenario. That's what i thought. Perhaps this move is too batman-y, but i need to test it.

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2014, 04:59:37 AM »
Cool playbook ! Many good ideas, but I think there some improvement to do in order to make the rights more elegant.

- Remain silent seems okays, but is maybe lacking sexiness or fun, sounding like "you have the right of not-doing-something". An idea : "you have the right to receive and keep the secrets from your allies and relatives". Now your character spend his time winning everybody around him over, asking them their secrets, invoking right denied if they don't.

- Safe hideout : a little like the previous one, sounds like "you have the right to avoid problems". But PCs have to shine, not to hide. Moreover, if your Stronghold has "deep cellars, crypts and bolt-holes" it is a little like if everybody already own a weaker version of this.

- Fight dirty : OP and out of setting. The proof is you have to override to much rules to make your right stand, rules reflecting setting and balance aswell. The dagger rogue who can win any knight with his talents (except a PC knight), it sounds too powerful and too much fantasy for me.

- Vanish : leap into action seems inappropriate. I would either make a special move, or no roll at all.

- Lies : you should choose between using Bold instead of Good for win someone over, or something different. Or maybe an additionnal special option on win someone over ?

- Caution action : sounds way too much like a basic move. Also, 2 harm is huge !

- Spy network : cool. Once per session and per stronghold sounds a little inelegant (I would remove the limit or make it once per session). And a remark : does not Consult the Other World do the same, without the risk of having a spy be captured ? Then maybe you could rewrite your move as : "When you consult your spy network, treat it as Consult the Other World but roll Wary instead".

- Retroaction : same remark as addicted2aa.

Other thoughts :

- The playbook clearly lacks narrative rights.

- Maybe a master of spies (like Varys) and a master spy himself (like Garrett) are too much different characters to fit into a single playbook : see the War-Captain and the War-Champion for example. I would focus on the master of spies, remove the roguish rights (vanish, fight...) and replace them with narrative rights.

- Otherwise, the wicker-wise poison right seems totally appropriate.

Hope it helps !

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 07:54:43 AM »
- Caution action : sounds way too much like a basic move. Also, 2 harm is huge !

- Spy network : cool. Once per session and per stronghold sounds a little inelegant (I would remove the limit or make it once per session). And a remark : does not Consult the Other World do the same, without the risk of having a spy be captured ? Then maybe you could rewrite your move as : "When you consult your spy network, treat it as Consult the Other World but roll Wary instead".

The caution action IS a basic move, except there isn't a basic move to do that. There isn't a move to pick a lock, pick pockets, sneak behind the guards, deactivate traps and so on. Nothing of the sort. And i needed that.

The spy network is somewhat similar to consult the other world, but don't have the supernatural drawbacks in doing it (appropriate place, if you fail you don't face supernatural hazards and so on). Your solution could be more elegant, but it still need something to differentiate it more.

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 08:07:40 AM »
The caution action IS a basic move, except there isn't a basic move to do that. There isn't a move to pick a lock, pick pockets, sneak behind the guards, deactivate traps and so on. Nothing of the sort. And i needed that.

But, why is there no move to pick a lock, pick pockets, sneak behind the guards, deactivate traps ? My guess is : because this is not what DA is about. Dungeon World is.

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2014, 08:34:04 AM »
This is nonsense. So in a medieval world it should be impossible to sneak behind the guards because the game "isn't about sneaking"? Are you serious? If there is a guarded gate i should change game or else i can't get even try to get in unnoticed?

Edit:
One of my players in my playtest wanted to speak with a prisoner without the consent of the war captain. So she wanted to distract the guards, sneak behind them and have a late night chat with that prisoner because she thought he was a threat and he made himself prisoner with a purpose (spread lies about an attack in a specific place to draw the war company out of the safety of the walls). So since the game isn't about sneaking and we aren't playing dungeonworld, this move was impossible to do and i had to say that she couldn't sneak behind the guards OR that she sneaked behind the guards without rolling and risking anything because there is no move to do it.
That move isn't an "action" move, is a "narrative" one. And if you plan to play a social intrigue campaign is NEEDED i think.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 08:42:48 AM by Ereshkigal »

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Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2014, 09:04:20 AM »
Undertaking labor is supposed to cover it.

I may revise the move in the future, or may just clarify it, but that's where sneaking past the guards currently fits.

-Vincent

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2014, 09:42:44 AM »
Reading "Labor" i thought something about stress and pain, not accuracy. And my thought was reinforced by the "strong" attribute. I think a better explaining it's due because in my playtest group no one understood that "Undertake Great Labor" could be used to sneak, pickpocket and so on.

BUT

If this move exists (and it does), i need to revise a couple of things in the spy. But then... why a full armored war champion can sneak behind guards better then an outranger?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 10:07:29 AM by Ereshkigal »

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2014, 10:57:20 AM »
In reverse order
Undertaking labor is supposed to cover it.

I may revise the move in the future, or may just clarify it, but that's where sneaking past the guards currently fits.

-Vincent

Yeah, that was what I thought too, but no one at the table like it, especially because it meant our Outranger, whose basically a hunter and guide, with no strength was not very good at it. I could have told him he just picked his stats wrong, but other than that they fit his concept.

I think there really should be a sneaky option. Personally I'm of the opinion that you don't need and shouldn't have Size Someone Up. Good seems to cover all forms of interpersonal action fine and in fact beyond the healing move (that seems like it should be weird anyway) that is all it does. Having Wary work the same way as a basic move seems repetitive and almost seems to make Good irrelevant(especially since you can already take a move to do it with Bold if you're Wary sucks). If I had the preference I'd prefer to see a move closer to what's detailed here for Sneaking, rather than see Size Someone Up remain.

The caution action IS a basic move, except there isn't a basic move to do that. There isn't a move to pick a lock, pick pockets, sneak behind the guards, deactivate traps and so on. Nothing of the sort. And i needed that.

But, why is there no move to pick a lock, pick pockets, sneak behind the guards, deactivate traps ? My guess is : because this is not what DA is about. Dungeon World is.

Perhaps. But perhaps it should be. There's a fair amount of sneaking in Game of Thrones, Arya, for example. Not sure about the others, but it seems to a common trope, especially in low magic gritty settings.

The spy network is somewhat similar to consult the other world, but don't have the supernatural drawbacks in doing it (appropriate place, if you fail you don't face supernatural hazards and so on). Your solution could be more elegant, but it still need something to differentiate it more.

Why do you feel the need to differentiate it more?

- Caution action : sounds way too much like a basic move. Also, 2 harm is huge !

Agree with everything else (especially your agreement with me) but this seems fine to me. Maybe 1 harm is enough, but with this it makes it FAR more likely that you'll pick one of the other options, which are all narrative more interesting than, succeed but get hurt(btw, OP, I think you should remove the leave traces behind bit). The only time you'll pick this is when something is worth perhaps more than your life to accomplish well.

1) remain silent: it's also useful to resist torture and not tell what you know. If people knows that you know something, they'll try to take it from you... and with this right, you can keep your mouth shut. You can't be won over, you can't be tortured and so on. Ok, there is no narrative behind you keeping your mouth shut, but it saves your ass when your cover is blown.

Well, my original objection is it only seemed to apply to when having been captured and tortured you had a right not to talk, which, having no mechanical weight behind it, seemed meaningless. Why would your torturers respect that right, ever?
But then I thought about it some more. If the people asking you the question know they are in the wrong trying to get you to talk, it implies there is a protected "class" almost of people who you simply do not ask questions of. Sort of a MAD. We don't fuck with your spy master and you don't fuck with ours. That seems pretty neat.

I still don't particularly like the phrasing. It's too knoweldgable of our world. Almost tongue in cheek, a wink and a nudge. It also doesn't seem evocative enough as I didn't realize the implications until I tried to phrase an argument about why I didn't like it.  I think  jimmeu is onto something with the "keep and receive secrets." Its evocative of more than an interrogation room or torture cell which really doesn't seem like it would come up that often.


2) Fight dirty: i don't understand why people thinks it's op. 3harm and 1 extra option, without the possibility to use shields and armor, it's way worse then the war champion one (which has 1 extra option on top of 3 or 4harm weapon, a shield and an armour and maybe even a warhorse). But you can use Wary, and this part is powerful. But in a straight fight war-champion vs spy, the spy loses most of the times.

It's OP for two reasons. 1) It gives an extra harm and an extra spend, which is mechanically very powerful and 2) it gives more "stuff" than any other right.

On it's own it's more mechanically powerful than the War Champion's option. The War Champion has to take extra things to be more powerful, AT THE THING HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEST AT. Now, it's pretty much always going to be the case that he takes those options, but still, you may have now made you're spy the second best fighter in the game. A free spend on position is alot, even if the spy isn't wearing armor. Which by the way, he shouldn't be anyway. You're not making a sacrifice when most of the time it wouldn't make sense for a spy or spymaster to be wearing armor.

This also isn't a game about mechanical sacrifice for bonuses. It's not meant to be, well if I sacrifice this +1 here, I'll get another +2 over there. So the mechanics of the move don't fit the rest of the game. Particularly when it gives so much.  One right usually gives a substitution move. Another right usually gives a spend. Another right still might make a +1 harm in exchange for armor. That's essentially 3 rights combined into one. 2 at the very least. Which makes it by OP in that it gives more stuff than any other right. If you were to list out the things that make your character awesome, taking this right gives you a 3-1 on everybody else. And part of this game is just how Awesome your rights make you on the narrative level.

It also doesn't seem to fit the fiction or particularly make sense. Why would a person have to be unarmored to have the right to fight dirty? Seems like something a person who fights dirty should and would want to do all the time, so why not give them the right, all the time?

That's not all. The idea of duel wielding dagger sneaky guy also coming close to beating fully armed and armored bad ass warrior, fits neither the fiction we're trying to emulate nor real life combat. In a straight up fight, where both fighters are aware of each other and there is no interference(which is how I see Single Combat working) dagger dude gets trounced, 100% of the time, occasionally being able to stick the real fighter before being murderated. In fictional representations we're emulating, they might be able to hold their own enough to get away, but that's it.

3) Safe hideout: it's one of each, you specify the hideout when you need it the first time. Without rolling because i hate too many rolls.

Worth noting, most players enjoy rolling. But regardless, it seems like it should either be a thing you have and explain at the beginning, or something you have a chance of having later and being exactly what you need. Not waiting till the last moment and having the guarantee that you'll get exactly what you want and need.

4) Vanish into shadows: I thought this was the most powerfull trick in the spymaster slevees. So i'm a bit puzzled right now :p

Well, you're replacing inspire others, which basically means the spy guy has no real move to get other people to go to fight, RIGHT NOW, in this moment, beyond trying to talk them into it. So you're taking out a pretty useful thing. Yes you get a useful thing in return, but most rights just give you stuff, they don't make you sacrifice for them. Again, this isn't the type of game where you trade a +1 for a -1 there. At least it doesn't appear to be.

5) Lie: well, i have my doubts about it. There is no "lying" move in this game like in AW where you roll to manipulate someone. The win someone over is the read a person move. I wanted the manipulate move into the spy. I should write it better perhaps.

So, I understand the desire to include manipulation but currently Size Someone Up works just as well. You get the information you need to manipulate them the same as you do with Win Someone Over. So really this just a way of establishing mechanically that your lie is believed, instead of leaving it up to the narration(or the other player making their own move) and one that will actually make you worse at the roll than the normal manipulation, since Wary is +2 and bold is +1 at most.

I like it better if it's you have the right to spread lies and rumors and leave it with no mechanics. You might add something like, in pursuit of your holdings interest. Or you might not. 


8) Declare retroactively: you know things, so you are prepared to the worst case scenario. That's what i thought. Perhaps this move is too batman-y, but i need to test it.

So I see this as working in 3 narrative ways in fiction.

There's the original Oceans 11 way, where we see the entire set up of the plan from beginning to end and then we see it go off. My interpretation is you have a right to make a plan and execute it, tell it to the MC. Roll +Wary. On 10+ It will work perfectly provided no unforeseen interference. On a 7-9 it will work out mostly, bu one crucial detail will go wrong. On a miss, prepare for the worst.

There is what I know call the Dresden way, based on Jim Butchers insistent to continually fall back on it to add tension. This is where we see that the Hero is setting up a plan, but the plan itself is never revealed until the last moment. Mechanically it could work as, You have the Right to Plan and Prepare for anything. Roll +wary. On a 10+ Mark 3 and spend them at any time. On a 7-9 mark 2 and spend at any time. On a miss, Mark 1 but expect your plan to backfire.
-Your plan protects your holding from harm, explain how now.
-Your plan eliminates a potential enemy, explain how now.
-Your plan protects you and a close ally, explain how now.
-Your plan exposes someone for who they really are, explain how now.

Lastly, there is Dues Ex BatMachina. Where you never see the hero prepare, it's never implied, in fact there may not even possibly have been time in the story for him to have been off screen preparing or any reason to cause him to prepare, but somehow, in the nick of time, his plan goes off and reverses everything. That's where yours is.

I see the first as something that works in a Spy or Criminal setting. Something where narrative things should be hard, set, and understood. I see the last as working in Superheroic stories. Which leaves the middle one, which makes sense as often we don't see the reveal of long term planning(Ala littlefinger) until after that planning has come to fruition. However the whole time, we see and know they are planning. We just don't know what.
There is some things after life. It's called death.
-Ringo

Re: New playbook for DA: the spymaster.
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2014, 11:13:16 AM »
About the "retroactive part", it's straight from AW book btw. Did aw felt too superheroistic by the existance of that move? (and everyone could use that)