Extended playbooks - yay or nay?

  • 4 Replies
Extended playbooks - yay or nay?
« on: May 10, 2017, 09:50:02 AM »
I've been pondering about the extended playbooks and have come to a crossroads in regards to whether to allow the players to use them in a game that's about to start.

On one hand, I like what the playbooks offer (the child thing and the quarantine comes to mind), although I have not had any experience using them so I don't know drastic they change the game (also I have a couple of new player as well and don't want to daunt them with more choice), this is my first time running the 2nd edition hence why I'm being extra cautious.

What's your experience been with playing/running with these books? Does anyone have any advice in running with these books?

Re: Extended playbooks - yay or nay?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2017, 08:32:48 PM »
The more unorthodox extended playbooks would be the Child thing and Quarantine, because they bring some immediate impact to the fiction, with the wolves and memories, but they aren't super-crazy like some of the first edition ones (Solace, Maculoso,etc). They aren't more challenging to play, but explain how they work since they don't have that little explanation the core ones have. The Show's pretty nuts but is probably easy to play since it's pure Id.

Something like
The Faceless: Unstable even by apocalyptic standards, the Faceless is a very scary opponent to be around. Remember that you've got some very powerful and +Weird moves, but not the stats to make them reliable. Just think about what's really under your mask.
The Quarantine: An awoken survivor from before the apocalypse, your greatest strength is that you're sane, ethical and belong to a better world. These are also your greatest weaknesses.
The Waterbearer: A leader in control of something precious, and in charge of protecting it from the evils of the world, but without much direct power. Try to stop the world dragging you down to it's level.
The Child Thing: The creepiest fucker in the book. You're going to need to rely on your smarts and weirdness to protect yourself from the wolves, unless you can drag the adults into the hunt.
The News: A social powerhouse with a great sway over the public, but beholden to those above you for barter instead of those beneath you. Decide how important the truth is to you.
The Show: Ruin everyone's lives by being really fucking metal. Remember that all the consequences for cracking open the world are going to get everyone in a lot of trouble.

I had a new player go Quarantine, and it worked pretty well for them. It's a fairly approachable archetype because you don't have to go hard into Crazy Apocalypse Asshole (which is half the fun but whatever) It was a bit of an odd dynamic though since a couple of players set up pre-apoc survivors and were fairly friendly with each other. It's not an especially complicated character to play, just keep an eye on the Start of Session and income rules since they've got some important ones.

Re: Extended playbooks - yay or nay?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2017, 12:09:45 AM »
I'm quite fond of the Quarantine, but haven't tried the others.

The thing about the Quarantine which is quite genius is that it's all about discovering the past.

As you play, your character remembers bits and pieces, and the group starts building up past events and learning what came before, and how things came to be.

If you like that focus, and watching it slowly unravel, it's fantastic. Otherwise, it doesn't do anything to dramatically change the scope or style of the game, so it won't disturb your play or cause problems.

Re: Extended playbooks - yay or nay?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2017, 05:08:33 PM »
I don't count the Faceless in any of the following. The Faceless is a weird heavy but not too far outside the basic playbooks.

I feel like the Extended playbooks say more about their world by their very existence than any of the basic ones. Each one brings a big theme that echoes across everything else. I probably wouldn't allow more than two (preferably one) in any game, just as a way of making sure each one's weirdness can get enough screen time. It might be fun to see all of them crash together but I think two is the maximum for me where it's more fun than headache.

The Quarantine brings some information about the before time, some really cool materials, maybe even eventually the cause of everything. Personally, I'd always let a player start with the psi-null Weird, because it implies something about the people of now. The Waterbearer has a place of law and healing in a world of chaos. They both provide a contrast for the players and characters to the rest of the setting.

The Show's ability to crack open the world is so evocative of an entire world to me. The fact that even one person can use music to wield this sort of raw, unrestrained power means you're not in Mad Max land anymore. You're over in the world of Metalocalypse, Six String Samurai and Brutal Legend. The Show brings an epic quality to the table even if his day to day may be more Spinal Tap and that's before ancient death satellites and souls of the dead. He can change an entire town into fanatical hunters. . .or just a hole in the ground. He almost demands a rival rocker - Tim Curry to his Jack Black, Death to his Buddy or vice versa. Imagine a battle scene where, in addition to the normal gangs of gun toting thugs, two rock gods square off on opposite hills, cracking the world.

The News says there's radio. This isn't something that's normally assumed. All of a sudden there's The Media and everyone gets to have an opinion on it and be effected by it. Breaking Now alone is going to have a huge impact on the game. Now the session starts with EVERYONE knowing that Ba and the Rippers are massing in Radon Canyon for a huge assault on the player's home town. . .and Ba knows that everyone knows!

Then you've got the Child Thing of the Maelstrom. He hides in it, he runs from the invisible Terminator Wolves who want him dead. Your threats just got a lot weirder.

Re: Extended playbooks - yay or nay?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2017, 12:45:40 AM »
I treat the Extended Playbooks like the Expert Rules of D&D. Once the players have unlocked the ability to change playbooks or make another character I introduce the Extended Playbooks as if they've "leveled up" to those playbooks.

My reasoning: The original Basic rules of D&D allow you to get to level 3, but no farther, and the Expert rules allowed you to get to level 14. The Extended Playbooks are like those extra levels. That's a meaty part of the game that everyone wants to have access to!
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