AW Playbook/Character Assessment

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AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« on: September 18, 2015, 06:50:25 PM »
The first document contains just the questions, the second contains the information for scoring based on the answers.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BVS-QGKmH86NJC1PIiELtcf6CJDwBLP87LI8Tj-fLgs/edit?usp=sharing
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dCxIvACBRR8VnP_VmIQe46iYnc6q_Xz4OKmtK_OrSIE/edit?usp=sharing

Guide: The numbers before the playbook name indicate "points."
You add up points based on the selected answer to each question to help determine a class for someone's idea of a character.

Intro: I was running an AW game yesterday and one of our players had a hard time choosing a playbook. One of my friends playing with us jokingly said I should come up with a personality assessment to determine which playbook a player should use, kinda like Fallout. Today, this. I figured some groups have that player who just can never decide. This is for those people/MCs who have to deal with those people. It's my first time doing something like this so it's very far from perfect, but hey, maybe one single person on the internet will find it useful. If you've got any thoughts, please put them in a comment below.

Edit: I just noticed that I missed Brainer options in 2 of the questions. Major oversight on my part. I'll fix that within 24 hours.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 11:06:55 PM by RetryAgain »

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2015, 09:00:53 AM »
The big issue with this idea is that playbooks aren't really personality types. They have a bit more to do with modus operandi (ie: how the character solves problems), but even that's not really what they do; they primarily define the character's place in the world. Their position in the fiction. The Hardholder is the one with a Holding, not the one who 'does X' or 'is a control freak'.

A Hardholder can have any personality you like, from ruthless dictator to friendly den-mother type, and can focus on almost any stat to go with their Hard, making even their problem solving strategies pretty varied. The same is true of most playbooks, especially with stat-substitution moves available (even a -2 Hot Gunlugger is only 5xp and either Charismatic or Easy To Trust away from being pretty solid at social stuff).

With the test as it is, a friendly and reasonable Gunlugger with a personal mission is pretty much impossible, for example. And yet that's a very reasonable character type. Likewise, a Hardholder who trusts their people and wants to build a real community. Or, to go the other way, a viciously vindictive and homicidal Battlebabe or Driver.

And that's sort of a problem.

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2015, 12:39:29 AM »
Deadman: Of course you can play almost every playbook however you want to, but some obviously lean towards specific personality types, although I admit how heavily they lean varies. I read the moves not only for their descriptions, but also for what the name of the move itself implies. Also, this assessment is not for people who know what playbook they want to use, it's for the new players who don't want to look through every playbook or don't have the time. And of course you can always choose to take moves from other playbooks later to fit your character idea, but this assessment is to help new players start off as close to what they want as possible.

Let's take your idea for a Gunlugger, for example. 3 out of the 7 moves imply you're kind of crazy/violent. None of the other basic playbooks have that many moves pointing you in that direction. You've also got weapons called "Fuck Off Weapons." Starting off with your Hard as the highest stat isn't an accident either. The playbook definitely gives off a certain vibe. Can you be a friendly and reasonable Gunlugger without much difficulty? Yes, but let's be honest, few people are going to take the Gunlugger for "Prepared for the Inevitable." Can you play an Angel that kills everyone who arrives in their infirmary and never heals anyone, including PCs? Can you play a Brainer who never fucks with anyone's mind and respects the sanctity of free will? Can you play a Solace who wants to stir shit up? Yes, but that's not what they are designed towards.

Granted, some playbooks are much harder to tie to a personality type to than others. Hardholders and Operators for instance can be played just about any way, as their moves don't really highlight a personality. I don't think you're wrong about the playbooks primarily being about your place in the world, either, but I don't think that's all there is to it. If someone wants to decide what playbook to use based on the character's overall role (mechanic, medic, gang leader), then that's done easily enough without an assessment and I encourage them to do so as it's definitely a smart way to choose a playbook. There are also a minority without clearly defined roles; the Gunlugger, Faceless, and Skinner (stripper?).
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 12:50:58 AM by RetryAgain »

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 07:25:02 AM »
Deadman: Of course you can play almost every playbook however you want to, but some obviously lean towards specific personality types, although I admit how heavily they lean varies. I read the moves not only for their descriptions, but also for what the name of the move itself implies. Also, this assessment is not for people who know what playbook they want to use, it's for the new players who don't want to look through every playbook or don't have the time. And of course you can always choose to take moves from other playbooks later to fit your character idea, but this assessment is to help new players start off as close to what they want as possible.

But that's the thing: The Playbooks don't really enable particular personality types, so basing which of them you play on that is counterproductive to the players enjoying the experience. Especially new players, since they'll rapidly get the idea that all Brainers or Battlebabes or whatever have the same personality type, which is not a good thing. You'll wind up with stuff like someone who really wants psychic powers, but also wants to play a nice guy, never getting to play a Brainer, despite the fact that Brainer does everything he wants to do and has no requirement that you play a complete bastard.

It's actively counterproductive to force (or even strongly encourage) people to play a particular playbook based on a personality questionnaire, because the playbooks are based partially on what they can do well, and even more their position in the fiction.

Let's take your idea for a Gunlugger, for example. 3 out of the 7 moves imply you're kind of crazy/violent. None of the other basic playbooks have that many moves pointing you in that direction. You've also got weapons called "Fuck Off Weapons." Starting off with your Hard as the highest stat isn't an accident either. The playbook definitely gives off a certain vibe. Can you be a friendly and reasonable Gunlugger without much difficulty? Yes, but let's be honest, few people are going to take the Gunlugger for "Prepared for the Inevitable."

But now you're talking capabilities, not personality. The Gunlugger is exceptional at violence, you're absolutely right, and people should play it in order to be 'the baddest ass' as the book says. But that's a skill set, not a personality type. Personality-wise, he can be anything from an honorable and chivalrous knight in service to the local Hardholder, to a depraved violence junkie with no conscience at all and those make just as much sense and, indeed, could be mechanically identical characters.

And I mentioned that making the quiz more 'How do you solve problems?' than 'What's your personality like?' would be better, there'd just still be some problems even then. And, as you note later, it's definitely less necessary.

Can you play an Angel that kills everyone who arrives in their infirmary and never heals anyone, including PCs? Can you play a Brainer who never fucks with anyone's mind and respects the sanctity of free will? Can you play a Solace who wants to stir shit up? Yes, but that's not what they are designed towards.

Those aren't personalities, though. Not really. They're a refusal to use the skill set given in the playbook. Which is a personality trait, sure, but the problem isn't an atypical personality, it's the refusal. An Angel can easily be a complete bastard...but only if he's a stupid bastard will he refuse to treat people if offered proper compensation. You can absolutely play a moral and nice Brainer. It's even pretty easy, you just only use your powers under the same circumstances you'd shoot someone or use other more mundane violence. A Solace can easily be a manipulative and selfish coward. And so on.

Granted, some playbooks are much harder to tie to a personality type to than others. Hardholders and Operators for instance can be played just about any way, as their moves don't really highlight a personality.

Those are some of the ones I'd list with most variable capabilities, too. Huh.

I don't think you're wrong about the playbooks primarily being about your place in the world, either, but I don't think that's all there is to it. If someone wants to decide what playbook to use based on the character's overall role (mechanic, medic, gang leader), then that's done easily enough without an assessment and I encourage them to do so as it's definitely a smart way to choose a playbook.

Oh, I don't disagree with that at all. That's a very valid way to decide on characters. I just don't think personality is nearly as good.

There are also a minority without clearly defined roles; the Gunlugger, Faceless, and Skinner (stripper?).

Huh? Those all have clearly defined roles:

The Gunlugger is the baddest motherfucker in the room. That's a pretty solid fictional role.

The Facless is the psycho-killer in a mask ala Michael Myers, or monstrous mutant ala Lord Humungus (or possibly a slightly more friendly version of either).

The Skinner is an artist. They certainly can be a stripper or prostitute but can just as easily (by skipping Arresting Skinner) be a traveling musician, or a painter, or an actor. Or, to take another tack someone important's lover/the power behind a throne.

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 01:25:05 PM »
Fair enough. We have some differences in opinion. A Gunlugger can take Insano Like Draino, Bloodcrazed, and NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH and be a chivalrous knight, but when looking at the moves descriptively that's not the picture you arrive at naturally. It's also up for debate whether "Baddest ass in the room" is a fair role when there's also a Faceless in the room. Here's the intro for the Brainer: "Brainers are the weird psycho psychic mindfucks of Apocalypse World. They have brain control, puppet strings, creepy hearts, dead souls, and eyes like broken things. They stand in your peripheral vision and whisper into your head, staring. They clamp lenses over your eyes and read your secrets." Doesn't read like nice guy, though you can make a Brainer into one.

I'll acquiesce to your other points. If you want to play a nice guy with psychic powers that specifically allow you to read people, then absolutely play a Brainer! It's the only playbook with those options! If you want to play a person who operates an entire hold, absolutely play a Hardholder! That's the only playbook that gives you that option! This is kind of common sense.

Again, this is for the player who doesn't know exactly what they want or can't choose between two options, and the MC who has done everything they can to help them choose. This assessment is meant to serve as a problem solver, not an option limiter. I want to make clear that we both agree that autonomous choice of playbook is ideal.

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2015, 02:36:31 PM »
Solid side note: I want to someday see a brainer who's nice, pleasant, moral, and innocent, and all of their weird powers are subconscious. (Or, a non-brainer who takes brainer moves as their supernatural subconscious awakens.)

- Alex

Re: AW Playbook/Character Assessment
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2015, 01:23:04 PM »
Solid side note: I want to someday see a brainer who's nice, pleasant, moral, and innocent, and all of their weird powers are subconscious. (Or, a non-brainer who takes brainer moves as their supernatural subconscious awakens.)

- Alex

I agree! That'd be really cool! The Midas of Apocalypse World would be a pretty neat concept!