Battlebabe Sex Move

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Battlebabe Sex Move
« on: January 02, 2017, 05:57:30 AM »
I have a group that's about 5 sessions into a game - I'm the only one who's played Apocalypse World before, but things are going very well. Everyone's taken to the game, everyone's having a blast, and everyone's understanding the mechanics and enjoying all of the interesting things they lead to.

The one sticking point is the Battlebabe sex move.

It's very evocative when you read the playbook - it really helps you to understand who the Battlebabe is - and I can see how it pushes people to think about sex and relationships from a purely freeform, character/plot perspective: the sex moves never push the Battlebabe to say yes or no to sex.

But in practice it doesn't seem to be working very well. For one, there's no way any of the players would turn down sex between characters to avoid triggering the other character's sex move anyway - if anything they're looking forward to the moves, to seeing what they do, what they tell them, how they change things. I've heard people say that it opens up further opportunities for the Battlebabe to seduce people since they're not facing negative consequences, but (a) seducing people into sex isn't as incentivized when it doesn't apply a sex move of your own and (b) again, none of the players were going to avoid seducing each other for fear of one another's sex moves anyway. Admittedly, this might be because none of the other playbooks in our game (Gunlugger, Driver, Maestro D', News) have particularly one-sided sex moves for the Battlebabe to worry about, but either way that's the situation.

So when characters have sex and it triggers the special moves, all of the players look to the special moves excitedly. They read off the interesting thing that happens. The Gunlugger reads off his move and starts deciding whether he's going to give his partner the bonus and what that means. And then the Battlebabe says "Oh, sorry, nope. Nothing happens.". And all the excitement over triggering the special moves just evaporates into disappointment. It's even worse with the Maestro D' since they already don't have a move that triggers during sex and nothing special happens when they hook the Battlebabe up either.

One of the consequences has been that the other players' characters just aren't seeking out the Battlebabe. There's no incentive. The wild, sexy-as-death character is functionally-speaking the least attractive to the other players. The mechanics certainly aren't pushing players to "mistake looking at them for falling in love". The Battlebabe doesn't get much out of it either and, socially, I think the player is avoiding sex in the game because it just feels bad to get people excited about engaging their playbook's special move only to negate it (I think this because the player has told me exactly this).

It seems especially obtrusive when virtually everything else in Apocalypse World goes so far out of its way to avoid things that simply cancel other things out. A partial hit is still a hit and things keep going. A miss doesn't stop the action - you never say "You missed the shot? Okay, what do you want to do now?" - the MC rules exist in part to prevent exactly this kind of thing where one mechanic would make something happen and another's only function is to make it not happen, leaving you right back where you started. And I get that the Battlebabe exists in part to "break the rules" (or at least expectations generated by the other rules), but this one particular mechanic seems to be souring people every single time it's come up in the game.

So I have three specific questions:

1. Is there something I'm missing about the battlebabe sex move that would ameliorate these specific concerns and maybe get the players more engaged and less discouraged by the mechanic (especially the Battlebabe)? (I say "these specific concerns" to emphasize that it isn't very helpful, for instance, to just say "It means the player will never be tempted to say no to avoid the negative repercussions of other players' special moves!", since the players don't seem to be worrying at all about avoiding each other's sex moves anyway.)

2. Does anyone have any decent alternatives? I searched here and on google and the only one I could find was "The Battlebabe chooses what sex means to them, so they can choose any sex move from any playbook.". I'm not really very fond of that - even though we don't have a Skinner in the current game, it seems like it steps on that playbook's toes and makes sex profoundly stronger, playing a very different role that doesn't really fit the Battlebabe. I'm wondering if other people have used other alternatives.

3. What about Battlebabes acting as sexual mirrors? Something like: "If you and another character have sex, make their special move as though you had their playbook (instead of them making it). If the effects of the special move are unchanged (i.e., if the special move was reciprocal), only one person experiences the effects - your choice." The Skinner thinks they're gaining some control over the Battlebabe, but the Battlebabe is really gaining control over them. When the Driver fucks a Battlebabe, they're so cool that the Battlebabe might have to prove it was no big deal. The Hardholder is used to being the one who gives people things, so they're shocked when the Battlebabe gives them something. The Hocus and the Battlebabe don't get entangled like usual - the relationship is only one way and it's whatever way the Battlebabe wants it to be. The News is used to asking for information and offering it in equal parts, but the Battlebabe either offers information without asking (after all, she doesn't really care what your deal is) or asks without offering (after all, her business is none of yours). Sex with a Battlebabe is never what you expect. The Battlebabe upends every relationship.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 06:16:05 AM by ModusPwnens »

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2017, 07:35:23 AM »
1. I don't think so in your game specifically. I mean, the Move is interesting and advantageous in some games, but since people aren't finding it that way in yours, I'd say swapping it out (or figuring out another option) is valid.

2. My first thought for an alternate option from an existing playbook is actually The Show, whose Special Move is: "If you and another character have sex, sweet." That preserves some of the Battlebabe's vibe, in that sex isn't inherently meaningful (not with NPCs anyway) without being too powerful or making people feel bad that their Move doesn't trigger. Or, alternately, to emphasize their hypnotic beauty, give them only the 'auto-hypnotize' option from Skinner (that still leaves Skinners with several more options than them).

3. That's an interesting option, I suppose, but a very different vibe from the default, and perhaps too powerful. My inclination if going with something other than an existing special move would be to have the Battlebabe move still be basically the same, but with them having the ability to turn it on or off at will. So they can make the Driver not freak out, or the Skinner not hypnotize them, but can also get the benefits of having sex with the Gunlugger or Hardholder.

One solution I'd definitely apply when it comes up, is to have their Special Move change when they switch playbooks (which characters do sorta inevitably do). The Battlebabe in my current game just switched to The News as a new playbook, and the Special Move switch was pretty cool as an indication of that. He's starting to be more open with his emotions and intentions, which is very character-appropriate given that particular character's life and goals.

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 08:28:33 AM »
My first thought on reading this was the "Battlebabe as a sexual mirror", which you wrote, above. I think it would be worth trying.

But I'd like to hear more people's opinions and experiences on this, first. I've seen fairly few Battlebabes in play.

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2017, 09:10:05 PM »

I like 'The Show' option and also 'the Battlebabe chooses if it happens or not.' The latter has more thematic distortion -- like, it seems a very different thing than the default, and is also just strictly 'better' -- than the former, but it may feel like more of a 'move' in a way that encourages the player(s)/signals that a real adjustment has been made.

But I also don't have a lot of direct experience with this, other than having played a Battlebabe and been at least a little sad when I didn't get to do something extra after hooking up with someone. That said, my Battlebabe was sexy af and didn't need a move to explain that to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen; he also never slept with any other PCs, so I didn't have that anti-climactic experience -- which I agree can be a bummer.

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Spwack

  • 138
Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2017, 09:30:49 AM »
My initial thought: "When you have sex with someone, choose if their sex move doesn't happen, or if it happens twice with strings seriously attached for everyone involved."

Either walk away, or burn up.

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2017, 12:55:02 AM »
If you go to some of the movie characters who inspired the Battlebabe, I think you see a lot of the result you're getting. The NPCs want to have sex with the Battlebabe because she's (or he but I'm sticking with she) hot but she's also always in control of that decision. The Skinner is the one you want and can have if you've got something to offer. The Battlebabe is the one you want (and there are several moves that can play as sexual tension) but you can't have unless she comes for you. Sexy but asexual is a perfectly valid way to play it.

For a really good example, check out Gail Simone's run on Red Sonja. She's got the classic chain mail bikini, fights with cunning instead of overwhelming force (as opposed to, say, Conan), she's a hunter, not a warrior, is well aware of how sexy she is and clearly has sexual motivations but always, always picks only people who can hold her interest and it's never people in her immediate adventuring group, ie the PCs.

Now, if your campaign places some degree of importance on the PC's having sex, if that's what your group wants, the Battlebabe is great if others in the party are taking playbooks with potentially complicated sex moves. She's the one person the Brainer, Savvyhead, Quarantine and the News can't read (and therefore she has no reason to be afraid of having sex with them), the Driver doesn't have to prove he's not attached to, the semi-hostile Gunlugger and Hocus won't have an easier time hurting later (and vice versa). Sometimes not being complicated means getting laid less often but sometimes it's just refreshing.

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Ebok

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Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 12:44:33 AM »
There are other motivations for all of the characters to become intimate, or to avoid doing so. But the moves are just that, bits of motivation. They're not meant for just random shagging to farm a move or something. They have narrative impact, and should have some type of meaning for the characters involved.

People sleep with the hard-holder because they get things, not because they love him or even like him. It's a shallow vestige. People sleep with the skinner because the skinner tells them to, because they have to, because the skinner controls their desires when they're around him/her. The brainer sleeps with people because he can get into their heads. The driver sleeps with people because he's starting to settle down, and then might spin out of control and freak out thinking about all the freedoms that might be gone. These motivations should be in character, whereas, people sleep with the battlebabe because they want to, because there is no pressure, because they dont have to pay her, because she doesn't ask them to marry her. She's free to move and be with whoever she wants to.

That's a pretty cool thing. For a Cool class, I'm pretty sure this is exactly the point. If your group is just trying max up their ooc stats, maybe you need to draw that into the fiction more. Find out what kind of complications are crated by this. Who is left out. Whether the battlebabe really wants to to part of that soulless material cycle.

For me, I also tend to let sexual moves play on NPCs, when there is enough at stake anyway, or when it's narratively important, or when its on scene (and it makes them important). I also tend to have other types of sex moves on certain NPCs, ways for them to get into things, get what they want, take control, lose control. This can be an interesting way to make the power of negation important. Or, perhaps you just need to take a cue from the class and use those opportunities to make the Battlebabe seem even Cooler, barf forth Cool into the scene.

That's probably the best way to go about this. Make the scene fucking cool.

Dunno, in most games I've played these don't occur often, not a pressing need really.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 12:48:34 AM by Ebok »

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 02:46:15 AM »
People sleep with the hard-holder because they get things, not because they love him or even like him. It's a shallow vestige. People sleep with the skinner because the skinner tells them to, because they have to, because the skinner controls their desires when they're around him/her. The brainer sleeps with people because he can get into their heads. The driver sleeps with people because he's starting to settle down, and then might spin out of control and freak out thinking about all the freedoms that might be gone. These motivations should be in character, whereas, people sleep with the battlebabe because they want to, because there is no pressure, because they dont have to pay her, because she doesn't ask them to marry her. She's free to move and be with whoever she wants to.

I think this is a bit too simplistic. Very few of these are remotely the only reason people sleep with the character in question, or the only reason they sleep with people. It's way more complicated than that. Firstly, the characters are all fucking hot and that's enough reason to sleep with them right there, and secondly, they're people with emotions that can very much become engaged in regards to something like this. No, the reasons people sleep with another PC can just easily have to do with the character's interpersonal relationship or dynamic, or their libido, as they do with their own special move or that of the person they're sleeping with.

That said, I do agree that they are real in-world things and need to be taken into account. Yeah, the barter isn't the only reason people sleep with a Hardholder, but nobody turns it down, and the Hardholder is always gonna wonder if that's why people are sleeping with them, if it's just for the barter, just because of their wealth and power. It's not always true, but it's a concern. Except the Battlebabe, if they sleep with the Hardholder, the Hardholder knows it's because they wanted to. No other reason at all.

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Ebok

  • 415
Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 08:15:54 PM »
That's my point entirely. The bonuses suggest a motivation, but by suggesting there is no other motivation for the battle babe, that means something all by itself. It was never meant to imply these are the only reasons that happens.

Honestly, once the players are more used to AW, and the stories are what's compelling them rather then the "oh look shiney" bonuses... I don't think you'll have any issue with the special moves feeling like they're leaving anyone out.

Re: Battlebabe Sex Move
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2017, 01:19:27 PM »
I'll just add to the "I enjoy the sex" (i.e. sex scenes), and I recognize that that the Playbook special is to give sex a "this happened"-feel. I for one do not care about drawing the curtains*, but a friend of mine said that the rules made him more enthused about sex in roleplaying games - and he actually designed his character for hooking up.

The Battlebabe is awesome, and is so because of the special. In my last campaign I played a driver with a battlebabe friend - and while we were just that friends who hung together because we both got what we needed from eachother; (the battlebabe couldn't trust my driver, and I got someone to get me out of heat), we all knew that any potential hook ups would actually NOT fuck up our relationship/friendship, as it did with everyone else.

Hell, aren't half of the specials at least only one-sided in upsides? I mean, the Battlebabe is so cool s/he can fuck the Brainer and not worry about mental and emotional health.

*)  We describe violence, why should we not describe sex?