Apocalypse World - Waterworld

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Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« on: July 26, 2016, 12:48:51 PM »
I'll be starting an Apocalypse World (hopefully 2nd ed) in later August.  We're planning on using Waterworld as inspiration for the setting; land is very rare, water everywhere.  Getting place to place by boat, possibly swimming.  Not sure if "Smokers" will show up or not. 

I kind of want offer a special "move" allowed only during character creation that would allow a character to have gills and webbed hands and feet for better swimming.  It wouldn't necessarily allow them to do extra deep (like below 60 meters), but would allow for actions that otherwise wouldn't be as feasible. 
I'm not sure how to handle this with Apocalypse World.  I feel like it should be a special move, but admittedly, this will only be my second time working with the system. 

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2016, 07:06:24 PM »
I'd be interested in answering that question as well, as I am working on a system in which cybernetic implants would be a thing, and I wonder how to deal with them. I think both ask for systematically similar solutions. So here are my thoughts on the subject:

DISCLAIMER : Not only is this a wall of text, this is a very « didactic sounding » wall of text. I know the tone I took here may sound patronizing or cringeworthy to some. It was obviously not the point and it turned out this way because of, you know, force of habit and stuff. I also have no idea what waterworld is about so I decided to take it as though we were designing gills for lovecraftian fishmen. Just sayin'.

Two things can be linked to a character: A move or a piece of gear. Both must be named. I think "Webbed hands, breathing neck" is a cool name that fits both gear and moves, so I'll pick that for the sake of example.

Let's first try it as a move. A move can :

- Provide a flat bonus to a stat. Think : +1 Cool. Problem: I can't see any stat that this would reasonably add a flat bonus to.

- Provide a conditional bonus to a stat (Not something that really exists in apocalypse world I think). You'd have something like:

   "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water you reveal the extent of your weirdness and get +1 Cool. This bonus goes away once you get on solid ground".

Problem: Once more, can't see the stat that this would give a bonus to.

- Provide a conditional +1 forward or +1 ongoing.

  "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water you reveal the extent of your weirdness and may take +1 forward/ongoing. You loose the +1 forward once on solid ground (+1 forward text only)".

This starts looking like something that is usable. Problem: The +1 forward/ongoing applies to anything and everything, including, for example, « open your brain ». This I think is actually fairly cool in a « the water is my home » kinda way. But you may desire to avoid it. Also note that +1 Forward requires one more line of text (Stop condition) and is, as a result, slightly more awkward. However it also is considerably less « powerful » than the +1 ongoing.

- Change circumstances directly.
Think « Acting under fire ». These types of move must have fairly specific activators and outcomes, and tend to be the longest and hardest to develop in my opinion. An example of what this may look like :

   "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water and you need to reveal the extent of your weirdness roll +Cool. On a 10+, choose 2. On a, 7-9 choose 1 :
  • You get to your destination, fast.
  • You get a hold of something and bring it back to the surface, unscathed
  • You make sure something stays under the waves, for good.
  • You do not draw unwanted attention
These type of moves are the heart and souls of Apocalypse World and, besides making the players feel cool as heck (Which is a big deal), they drive the conversation forward by inviting the G.M to make new moves on a 7-9 or 6-. Problem : That's a bit specific for my liking, clearly having gills and webbed hands has tons of implications, and these type of moves are more about « What would characters with gills and webbed hands can do that is cool? » and maybe not about « That character has gills and webbed hands, what does this imply ? »

- Substitute or invoke another move. You may decide that having gills affect how some other moves behave. The most obvious culprit here is « Do something under fire ». Our move may look like this :

   "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water and you do something under fire you may reveal the extent of your weirdness and treat the result as a 10+.

Or like this :

   "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water you reveal the extent of your weirdness and you may do something under fire without triggering the move.

Problem : This move is slightly awkward (Especially the first version) and is a « stick in the cogs » for one of the most important apocalypse world mechanics.

As a final note on moves : You may make them as complex as you like by just combining some of them together. I think a good candidate for that move would be a combination of a substitution move and a circumstance move. Example :

   "Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water and you do something under fire (or seize by force?) you may choose not to trigger the move and instead reveal the extent of your weirdness. Roll +Cool. On a 10+, choose 3. On a, 7-9 choose 2 :
  • You get to your destination, fast.
  • You get a hold of something and bring it back to the surface, unscathed
  • You make sure something stays under the waves, for good.
  • You do not draw unwanted attention.
  • You do not get hurt.
This move obviously needs more polish and playtest though. I am sure it doesn't properly covers what « do something under fire » covers, or that it is an interesting move to even have in the state it is in.


Another interesting option for that type of stuff is to make it gear. All gear has tags that can be activated by the G.M by one of his moves, which makes it cool game-wise. For example you can get it a « weird » tag, which would allow you to introduce interesting social situations. Gear is also mostly acquired at character creation and you may prevent later gear acquisition with tags that have more than one meaning. This kind of makes gear perfect for what you are trying to do. Example :

  • Webbed hands, breathing neck (Organ/Implant, weird, birthright)
Now what can gear do ?

- Modify or invoke moves. They can modify their activators for example. Think « violation glove ». In this way they are very much like moves themselves. Actually we can recreate some of the previous moves by making them gear, without changing much :

Examples :

  • Webbed hands, breathing neck (Organ/Implant, weird, birthright): You have+1 ongoing while underwater.
  • Webbed hands, breathing neck (Organ/Implant, weird, birthright): While underwater, you may do something under fire without triggering the move.
Problem : Same as the moves these pieces of gear « copy ».

- Affect fictional positioning. Gear in dungeon world works, in the words of the creators, not to modify moves, but to allow you to make moves. For example you may have the « stone of Alambrah » and use it to roll a « hack and slash » against a magical invincible golem. Note : You would not have been able to roll the hack and slash without the stone. In this sense they have no « direct mechanical effect » and only affect fictional positioning, which is used to make moves work in PbtA games. How is it relevant for us ? Because gills could be understood as « allowing you to make moves » where others couldn't. Consider someone seeing a small boat escape. If they didn't have gills they couldn't even try to do something under fire to catch up with it. Same thing if you wanted to escape a shark by swimming, or stay in the water for 15 minutes. These objects, to work, must have a definition that gives a fairly clear idea to the player of « what they can do » in the fiction. A such that piece of gear could look like this :

  • Webbed hands, breathing neck (Organ/Implanted, weird, birthright): You can swim faster, go deeper and hold your breath longer than others. You fucking abomination.
This solution is probably both the most elegant and the easiest to implement. Problem : It is also fairly « unclear » what it does, and this may trouble some players. A solution would be to « get specific » : You can swim at 12km/h and hold your breath for 60 minutes and... But this is not a very « apocalypse worldsy » thing to do.

There is a third solution, obviously, and that is making « the guy who has gills » a class in and out of itself. And this may be a fun exercise, but obviously requires a ton more work.

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Spwack

  • 138
Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2016, 11:48:27 PM »
Quote
Webbed hands, breathing neck (Organ/Implanted, weird, birthright): You can swim faster, go deeper and hold your breath longer than others. You fucking abomination.

This solution is probably both the most elegant and the easiest to implement. Problem : It is also fairly « unclear » what it does, and this may trouble some players. A solution would be to « get specific » : You can swim at 12km/h and hold your breath for 60 minutes and... But this is not a very « apocalypse worldsy » thing to do.

I somewhat disagree. I think that this is perfectly clear, and that the onus is on the player to understand that the description and the tags are not necessarily more important than specific stats, they are specific stats. And if they have some extra cost, or the "weirdness" is going to be activated in social situations etc., then adding a "take +1 whenever these modifications help you deal with an underwater threat". In this case, the increase in swimming speed, being able to hold breath longer, is represented by a flat +1, so long as the player can justify it.

Also, great post in general. It's a good checklist to work through for creating a new move/item/effect. Keep it up.

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 03:59:23 AM »
I think I'm a fan of the

Quote
"Webbed hands, breathing neck: Whenever you are in the water and you need to reveal the extent of your weirdness roll +Cool. On a 10+, choose 2. On a, 7-9 choose 1 :
You get to your destination, fast.
You get a hold of something and bring it back to the surface, unscathed
You make sure something stays under the waves, for good.
You do not draw unwanted attention

Just change the start to: "You are adapted to a life underwater. When underwater you can breathe through your gills and swim as easily as the underwater native you are. Also whenever you are in the water.."

It informs the reader that the move is descriptive (you have webbed hands and gills, you can use them), and provides a sweet move for the character to do extra awesome.


*

Hildy

  • 25
Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2016, 08:05:17 AM »
I'm wow'd by Tatourmi's excellent response. It's one of those "if we wrote a whole book on hacking, this would be in it" posts.

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2016, 05:48:11 PM »
I somewhat disagree. I think that this is perfectly clear, and that the onus is on the player to understand that the description and the tags are not necessarily more important than specific stats, they are specific stats.

Agreed.

And if they have some extra cost, or the "weirdness" is going to be activated in social situations etc., then adding a "take +1 whenever these modifications help you deal with an underwater threat". In this case, the increase in swimming speed, being able to hold breath longer, is represented by a flat +1, so long as the player can justify it.

I think these +1 are a bit overboard. They are super-powerful effects in and out of themselves in a game with 2d6 and I don't think they are required here. I mean a bad tag is not that much of a downside anyways, by the rules (Only activated by one of the G.M moves, fair chance of never being activated by that move if my experience serves me right. « birthright » might be nighmare fuel if activated in a lovecraftian game though), and if gills are supposed to come up in social situations (Which in that hypothetical lovecraftian hack they sure as hell should), then it will steer fiction this way anyways.



Just change the start to: "You are adapted to a life underwater. When underwater you can breathe through your gills and swim as easily as the underwater native you are. Also whenever you are in the water.."

It informs the reader that the move is descriptive (you have webbed hands and gills, you can use them), and provides a sweet move for the character to do extra awesome.

That is such a cool idea i'm stealing it for my hack ! And this raises an interesting point : I think you can do what you propose « by the rules » by combining a move that « gives you » gear (Like « my other car is a tank » and a move that « changes circumstances directly » in a complex move. But I do not think you can do it the way you did it. Which is weird. And it makes me feel a bit strange about apocalypse world about something I thought was strange for a while now (two WHOLE weeks !).

See, what you made is not a legal move I think. Moves in apocalypse world work by reacting to fictional positioning. « When you do x » (Fiction) « y happens » (Reaction). They also encourage the player to affect fictional positioning in certain ways (Brainer moves encourage brainers to tie people to chairs for example). Moves are reactive : It is all about setting yourself up and triggering them. They do NOT, afaik, affect fictional positioning directly.

This role is given to gear. But moves can add gear to the player though. So why even keep that distinction in place ? The way you wrote that moves breaks that wall. You have a move that reacts, encourages AND affects fictional positioning. Which is a hack in itself. This might be a cool idea or recipe for disaster but I am definitely stealing it for the way I'll be writing moves in my hack. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities I'll try to give feedback about how it went, but it might take some time.

I'm wow'd by Tatourmi's excellent response. It's one of those "if we wrote a whole book on hacking, this would be in it" posts.

Also, great post in general. It's a good checklist to work through for creating a new move/item/effect. Keep it up.

Hey, thanks !

I have to point out though : this was not meant to be a checklist for every move you can create, I just wanted to make a checklist for moves that reflect the character « being physically different » in some way. For more general pointers I think the « Advanced Fuckery » chapter in the rulebook is already pretty great. P281 (Moves architecture in the First ed) in particular is a must-read and basically IS that checklist. Just keep in mind that just making stuff gear is an option though!

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2016, 07:02:32 AM »

... I think you can do what you propose « by the rules » by combining a move that « gives you » gear (Like « my other car is a tank » and a move that « changes circumstances directly » in a complex move. But I do not think you can do it the way you did it. Which is weird. And it makes me feel a bit strange about apocalypse world about something I thought was strange for a while now (two WHOLE weeks !).

See, what you made is not a legal move I think. Moves in apocalypse world work by reacting to fictional positioning. « When you do x » (Fiction) « y happens » (Reaction). They also encourage the player to affect fictional positioning in certain ways (Brainer moves encourage brainers to tie people to chairs for example). Moves are reactive : It is all about setting yourself up and triggering them. They do NOT, afaik, affect fictional positioning directly.

Well.. I may agree that the move packs more into itself than most. But I don't think it breaks any rules.

First, I think the word "Move" is actually used in two ways. A Move as defined in advancement, and a Move as defined in doing stuff.

During advancement, you can take a move from your playbook or another one. That may give you a "doing stuff" move, or may increase your stats, or may give you gear, or may in a few cases do other stuff.

During play, you can use your "doing stuff" moves, which all require you to do something, and often requires you to roll. But those are a different kind of move.

The advancement moves are the blocks of text next to the circle, and can theoretically do anything, as long as it is some ability, gear or something that can be acquired through advancement. The "doing stuff" moves are the rule sections, sometimes included in an advancement move, and sometimes located elsewhere (how to use a first aid kit, what happens when you go shopping).


That isn't to say that my Webbed hands, breathing neck doesn't get a bit weird. Mostly because it tries to load some of the stuff that would normally be in the playbook into the move (since this is an advancement move that can be taken by any playbook). I don't think there is any advancement moves in the base game, that doesn't belong to a playbook.

If we did have an Aquaman playbook, then the gills and webbed feet would be a feature of the playbook, and the "doing stuff" move would be an advancement move. Kinda like in the base game, where you can take the A no shit driver move, but it really doesn't do a lot unless you have a car.

Drawing on gear, though, you could still make the move "Webbed hands, breathing neck: You have webbed hands and gills." and then as peripheral moves/gear tell what webbed hands and gills does. But that is really just moving stuff around.

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2016, 09:25:04 AM »
I do still think it breaks the rules, if only by doing things no other moves does. I don't think it is dramatic or inappropriate, far from it, it just does not work the way I think Apocalypse World views how moves should work.

I also do not entirely agree with your analysis of moves in terms of "advancement moves" vs "doing stuff moves", even though I do agree that my wording was off.

First, you are right, not all moves get triggered by fictional positioning. I did not think about advancement moves. Yet I do still think that all moves only have an effect on fictional positioning when triggered. Advancement moves are triggered as well and have a "from now on" or "right now and done" status (As seen in p281 of the first ed book). And they do not affect fictional positioning except indirectly through "right now and done" means (Get a gang, get gear, get a move that gets you gear...) and they do so by reaction.

When you use the gang you got from advancement, you do not use the move to modify your fictional positioning, you use the gang or gear it gave you to modify fictional positioning. As you said it gives you new stuff on your playbook to mess with. My argument would be that anything a player does to directly affect fictional positioning is "on the playbook" and never "on a move". Which is why I think you broke the rules slightly.

Yet, as I mentioned, I think it's interesting stuff to break the rules this way. I don't see a strong reason, apart from elegance of design, to keep these things separate when a ton of moves already modify fictional positioning in some indirect way.

Actually maybe I see one: I think moves in Apocalypse World are never something you are supposed to lose. Once you have them, they are an integral part of your character. Yet Apocalypse World is all about affecting the "fictional status quo", that is one of its most important tricks, and it may be in the basic doctrine that anything that modifies the fiction should be something you can lose. Thus no moves should exist that directly modify fictional positioning? This is the best I can come up with.

Also: Obviously, yes, the very nature of the move McArgent gets him into hacking territory :)

EDIT: I like the "moving stuff around" option though. That is: Giving gills as gear and making the move available to everyone who can justify its use. It would be like making no shit driver a special move, making cars infinitely more desirable. The reason I like this a lot is that it gives, say, a Savyhead the option to make a kick ass underwater suit that gives him access to the special move.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 09:30:50 AM by Tatourmi »

Re: Apocalypse World - Waterworld
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2016, 01:06:28 PM »
I was just talking the other day about how waterworld would make a cool setting for an RPG.

I agree with the suggestion to simply make it an equip item, OR make a custom playbook called the outcast or something, and allow them different sorts of benefits like this.

Im curious what other sorts of additions you were considering. I mean for the most part vanilla AW would work as is in waterworld, but I know there are some other structural things, the Chopper has a gang of thugs on seadoos? The Driver is a sailor?