Making perception more interesting: Moving it to playbooks

  • 2 Replies
Making perception more interesting: Moving it to playbooks
« on: March 28, 2017, 05:00:22 PM »
Hi guys,

I was thinking about hacking Mage: The Ascension as the original rules don't appeal to me, nor do any houserules I did in the past. Thinking about what to do about the Traditions, it hit me: Mage is a game about perception. So move the perception move, which is pretty standardized over many games, into the splats. So the move is always the same, but the questions to be asked are different. I like this idea very well, because even if all players want to look at things, they can still roll.

Things I came up with include:

The Hermetic
What here has been touched by the Art?
What forces bind them?
To what form can this be distilled?

The Ecstatic
What holds them back?
Where can I find bliss?
What's going to happen next?

The Virtual Adept / Mercurial Elite
What information is encoded here?
How can we communicate?
How can I overcome this?

The Verbena
What here is pure or wicked?
What sickness afflicts them?

I'm not sure about how this strategy fits other PbtA games, but I always thought about how "investigating a mystery" in MotW got same-y quite fast.



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Re: Making perception more interesting: Moving it to playbooks
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 07:11:09 PM »
The idea of the "perception check" is a little tricky in fiction-first games like AW. While Dungeon World (through discern reality) and Monster of the Week (through investigate a mystery) have them, I'm not convinced they're a good idea in general. AW itself pretty much disposes with them - read a sitch and read a person moves aren't about simply perceiving things, they're specific to charged situations. They represent not general awareness of one's environment, but rather the PCs spotting opportunities that crop up in the moment. In AW, absent any kind of tension the answer to "Are there any secret doors here?" is an honest yes or no.

The question you always need to be asking is, "what happens if the PCs do or do not gain this information?" That should probably immediately be followed by, "how will the PCs glean this information?"

It occurs to me that what might be better for a Mage hack is to replace open your brain with something that is more "flavored" to the way different Mages relate to the world around them. That move is how PCs in Apocalypse World gain access to information that they otherwise would not know/have, and it's the closest thing AW has to a "perception check." Whether each school of magic needs its own variant or whether simply changing the nature of how you narrate the outcome of the move is up to you - I could see it going either way.

Re: Making perception more interesting: Moving it to playbooks
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 04:25:31 PM »
I try to think of "Search" moves like scenes in a movie -- what's not interesting is whether or not they find it, but what happens when they find it.  A good example in AW as it exists is the "Fucking Thieves" move from the Chopper, where a miss results in a plot thread to pull at.

When they ask to search, this seems like a fair opportunity for the MC to make a soft move:"You find it, BUT THERE'S A SLEEPING GUARD IN THE WAY," or something like that.  A dice roll is dramatic, but a skill check is less dramatic than some sort of situational pressure ("Will they find the key before the mutant lurker catches them?")

tl;dr: I'd think about what the dramatic outcomes of the failures of the perception/searching moves are.

EDIT: Or allow them to search but require them to make a dramatic move in order to search, like the "sleeping guard" example.