Seize by force - to kill

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Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 10, 2017, 03:49:07 PM »
Hi all,

I've read the previous topic about 2nd seize by force and couldn't find discussion about a question I have. Apologies if it is already written somewhere.

I'm MCing the game and I still have trouble with Seize by force in a specific situation: when a PC's intention is to kill somebody in battle situation. Can we consider that he seizes the NPC's life by force?

In this case, he can still miss and take the NPC's life by force. Or, for instance, he wants to keeps the NPC's head by force, with a chainsaw (generally, they aim for a leader). We're not in a 1vs1 situation here, really in battle situation.

Currently I play with this interpretation but want to be sure if there are other ways? Sometimes it feel weird.

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2017, 06:35:04 PM »
Most of the time, sure!

Some of the time, I think it's fair for the MC to ask if the character has the right fictional positioning to do something. Obviously, there are some things a player could ask to seize by force where the MC would go "uh, no? At least, not until you...". Like, the MacGuffin that is hidden somewhere in a bustling marketplace ("Cool, but you have to find it first"), the Hardhold across the sea ("Cool, how do you get there?"), the psychic maelstrom ("Cool, but, uh, how?"). If the character is in one trench a rifle shot away from the enemy trench, and beyond that is Dog Head's fortress of spikes and girders, and all of his gang in between, there's probably a couple more steps before "I seize him!" makes sense (depending on the scale you were playing the scene on). If Dog Head is leading his gang into battle from the front? Sure, of course. If the character is fighting Dog Head's gang, but Dog Head is hanging at the back, mmm, it depends (easier with a sniper rifle than a chainsaw). I might make them break the gang first, or use a trickier non-seize move to get close enough to Dog Head to seize him.

tl;dr Yes, but if it feels weird, ask questions, and if any of the players' answers sound like another move should come first or also, make them roll that.



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Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2017, 11:20:05 PM »
No. I disagree. This is never okay.

You may use seize by force to seize his escape by force, to prevent him from getting away from you. But the only way to determine whether or not you killed someone is by dealing harm to them. If you're hitting the whole gang, you don't get to pick which one is dead unless you're the battle babe with visions of death.

If you want to hit just one guy, then you can seize the opportunity to make a move just against him. Be warned, his buddies might still be helping, meaning you're exchanging harm against this guy, and the entire gang is exchanging the harm back. If you're going for the surprise attack, Sucker Someone has the details.

If the fiction seems like, sure this guy could reasonably be up front, maybe, I'd let someone seize that guy by force, but that would only ensure that he is one of the gang members that was injured. It is the gang's harm clock that says how many are dead (if any).

If you wanted to skip the first seize and try to act under fire to get to the guy, okay. Lets go step by step. You act under fire as you rush them, pushing through the first guys and jumping into the middle with your target... You hit with a 10+, so no body saw you coming or stopped you, or hurt you on the way. But now you're RIGHT were you asked to be.... in the middle of the gang with guns trying to kill their boss. Okay, now make your seize by force, also under fire of all these guys trying to stop you / kill you. You're acting under fire here not to fight, but to ensure you have the chance to deal that single combat against him. If he's trying to run, then it's sucker someone's version of go aggro instead.

If you hit with the act under fire, no one manages to stop what comes next. You make a seize by force against the boss. You are dealing harm just against him, not the gang. He's exchange back however is probably using the gang as a weapon, so you'll be taking the full brunt of the them. If you hit a partial, maybe you suffer more harm from the gang because you were exposed, or maybe he suffers less harm because the gang tries to protect him, or maybe you can do it, but you'll be way out of position afterwards for a clean escape. On a miss, you get the downsides, except you cannot target just your guy, and now you'll have to fight through them all to get to him, and you better seize his escape by force there.

If you have the chance to just drop in on all of them, then the first act under fire to break the lines and get to him isn't needed. You can just do the seize by force while under fire.

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 12:21:39 PM »

Thank you for your replies.

Ebok, I kinda had something like this in mind, to deal with "act under fire". But now that I read this and I think of it, some things come in my mind, a more complicated option, and a simpler one :

Option 1)  I want to to kill the strongest guy or their boss. I do something like read a stich to have this information. The boss like.. Dremmer. Then I go in battle : I want to seize Dremmer by force. We are in battle and I act under fire to go this guy .. I hit partially, I'm in the front of Dremmer and now separated from my crew (or I took damage, whatever).  Now I want to seize his life by force. But he's in a fight so .. Are we not in a 1vs1 where acting together under fire, finally ?

Option 2) I want to kill Dremmer. Can I seize his life by force ? - Hmm No, says the MC : you should take Dremmer by force first. - I seize Dremmer by force using my gang as a weapon, we rush with shotguns and chainsaws tayaaaa. Roll+Hard. I miss. We exchange harm as established but I still choose an option from the list, and I want to take take definite and undeniable control of him. Now we have Dremmer but we are still fighting its gang. Now I want to kill him. He's helpless but its still a fight. So i'm gonna Sucker him but as we are still in battle, the MC decides that instead of treating it as go aggro, it's still seize by force, but now we are seizing Dremmer's life by force. Dremmer himself is helpless but his gang is responding. So I seize Dremmer's life by force, I miss (I'm a battlebabe, not gunlugger :D), we exchange harm as established and Dremmer's dead.

Another option could be, instead of continuing battle, everything freezes when I seized Dremmer by force from his gang and we treat it as go aggro, something like "Stop or I kill him".

Finally all of this are just customing the battle moves for a special situation?

I think I prefer this option 2. What do you thing, does it seems legit?

Edit : I don't consider missing seize by force leads to a hard move, as stated by Vincent in the other post, so there's no bad input when missing this move in my example.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 12:28:29 PM by arakn_e »



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Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 05:06:04 PM »
I basically follow a new rule for my battles. Every time I'm allowed to speak, it's a hard move. So, yeah it doesn't matter if they hit or miss, whats matters is how many complications are in the field and what are they all going to do next.

In both of your options, you keep saying I seize his life by force. This is how first edition seize by force was handled, but I don't think it's necessary. If you captured their leader in a big old gun fight, I'm not sure that he is automatically helpless. Just that you have him definitely. If you want to kill him an he's helpless, and the gang tries to stop you... I think you could have your gang defend this position by force, and if they succeed and take casualties or whatever, you have the time then to do what you need to do with the boss. If he is helpless shoot him. If he isn't then fight him. If you want words, have them. etc.

The most important thing isn't that the moves handle the same every time, but that the fiction's logic took priority. If you could do this, then you can try to do it with a roll if one is needed. But also remember, if you could not do it like this, they can't just say they do it anyway. They have to fight scratch and claw their way to it.

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2017, 01:25:50 PM »
I agree that the first edition's example of "seizing their life by force" was somewhat misleading. I know what Vincent was going for, I think - he likes using colourful figurative language to get an idea across in very few words - but here it's not being helpful.

To me, the key to playing AW (and related games) is to remain solidly fixed *in the fiction*. Abstracting the rules and moves will (not always, but often) lead to strange dilemmas like these. Think of the fiction first, not the other way around, and keep getting clarifying details until it makes sense.

Instead of looking at the rule and trying to ponder how it maps to the fiction, always get some more details about what's happening, and then engage the rules. THAT, for me, almost always resolves the difficulty, particularly with this move.

So, what does it mean to 'seize someone's life'? I don't know, and I don't care.

What I want to know, instead, is:

* What is your character doing?

* Where are they standing? Where is the enemy? How are they moving?

* How exactly are they going about it, and what are they going to do about _________?

Instead of dealing with an abstraction like "seizing someone's life", now you're dealing with a tangible outcome, like "I rush forward, and I want to get him in a headlock", or maybe "So you're just running into the open, screaming, and throwing that grenade? You're going to have to get past the bikers, though, to get close enough..."

Now we can fruitfully decide which move to engage and how the move's outcomes map to what happens next.

Treating "you take definite hold" as a placeholder for "you achieve a tactical objective you were going for" will usually work. The other options are generally easy enough to parse, although "dismay or frighten" may sometimes require more clarification, as well.

For example, in the first example, above, clearly that option will tell us whether you manage to get your arms around Dremmer's throat, or not. There's no difficulty knowing what that means, right? We can all picture it, we know what's happening "on-screen", and the ambiguities of trying to parse what "seizing someone's life" are left behind in the dust.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 11:21:15 PM by Paul T. »

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2017, 03:10:32 PM »
My general outlook:
1. Fictional positioning is everything.
2. Don't roll abstract concepts like "someone's life" into "seize by force."

If you want to seize someone in a battle, you're seizing them bodily. Then you can off them because they're helpless.

Or maybe you can't grab them bodily, from where you're standing, so first you need to use seize by force (or act under fire, &c.) to establish that.

If you're just trying to snipe someone, imo, perhaps a better move is lay down fire. Establish that you've got a good vantage, then "take an opportune shot, inflicting harm (but -1harm) on an enemy within your reach."

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2017, 05:10:58 PM »
Paul T wins the "that sounds like what I meant, but better" award. The only thing I'd add is that you can zoom out and abstract the action, or not; you've got all these specific questions you can ask and moves you can use if you want, but you don't have to. maybe Dog head and his boyz are a bunch of gnats whose immediate future is being a greasy spot in the dust, if that's what the PCs choose, and fighting them is just a single seize by force move. If not, if it's more interesting or more real, you have total authority as MC to zoom in on the action more than that.

Wrt to seizing someone's "life," I agree generally about not seizing abstractions, but I remember the 1st edition thing being "their meat," which is what I assumed that people meant when they were saying "life." I wouldn't tell a player "no, never!" if they asked to seize Dremmer's life, I'd just do like I'd do if they asked a question for read a sitch that's not on the list, and direct them to what I think they mean.

If you seize so-and-so, and take definite hold, you've got them in your hands and at your mercy. If you say you waste them, well, inflict harm as established (on top of whatever seizing dealt). I wouldn't mess around with their success, their definite hold, by making the act under fire to inflict more harm (that sounds indefinite -- although they did not seize an escape route, so post-wasting I may ask them to do any number of things). If the fiction says it shouldn't be that easy to waste Dog head, then that should be established before seizing Dog head is a move that gets rolled.

Wrt to lay down fire: I'm also not sure 100% of the time I'd let an opportune shot pick out single NPC, again, all depending. I haven't played a lot with the battle moves yet, but when I have, I think what I'm gravitating towards is that in the chaos of a fight with a dozen+ people, there's some set-up before you can pick out just one person (at which point, maybe seize, maybe sucker, maybe go aggro, etc., depending). I've made the PCs act under fire most commonly, or use one of the subterfuge moves, or have their friend use one of the battle moves that lets them move and act freely, etc.

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2017, 11:23:02 PM »
Also, by the way:

Ebok, this latest phrasing of how you're handling "in battle" is the best and cleanest yet! That's a really clear and easy-to-follow formulation. Makes sense to me! You may consider our early discussion finally settled.

(If by any chance you've been playing and using your Seize by Force hack, I invite you to post about your experiences in the appropriate thread.)



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Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 03:09:11 AM »
( I have been, there isn't much to say other then the players love it, and it's only helped in a real way make a 10+ feel like a 10+. )

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2017, 06:19:56 PM »
Really thank you all for your insight. Still I'm not sure everything is clear for me. Let me phrase in a clearest way and simplest situation:

What is the move for "I shoot in Dremmer's head", while Dremmer is ready for it?

"What's your intent?" "To kill him, with a bullet in the head."

If it's 1vs1, well it's a 1vs1 combat move.

But if Dremmer has a gang? The fight has not started yet, but still it's not aggro, everybody is prepared? Do we stick with the act under fire/seize by force discussion?



  • 415
Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2017, 02:58:33 PM »
I'm going to answer, but please know that this isn't the only answer. The moves have triggers that take place in the narrative and how zoomed in and cinematic it is. The fiction decides. That said:

If we remove most fictional cinematics... and assume Dremmer and the PC are in the scene.

A) [PC]Bob vs Dremmer
Bob wants to kill Dremmer, Dremmer is prepared to fight back. The Move: Single Combat

B) [PC]Bob vs Dremmer
Bob wants to kill Dremmer, Dremmer is prepared to run the fuck away. The Move: Seize by Force or Cat and Mouse

How this works varies a lot depending on the complications Dremmer can involve in his escape. Please note that there should be complications unless Dremmer literally has no where to go. First you ask, who has the advantage. If the PC has the upper hand, I'd probably go straight to seize by force, where Dremmer escapes unless the PC either deals 3+ harm after armor or picks to seize definitely Dremmer's escape. 2harm, Dremmer escapes but probably wont be around much longer. 1harm Dremmer is in the wind. Cat and Mouse can follow this if appropriate, but if Bob catches him again, there might not need to be another seize by force to end him.

If Dremmer has the advantage, then Dremmer just Runs. In order to catch him Cat and Mouse happens (with Bob as the Cat). If Bob gets to pick where he catches him, then Dremmer's got no way out and it's Single Combat time. Otherwise if Dremmer gets to pick where, it might be seize by force or it might be something else, depending on where (or who) Dremmer gets to.

C) [PC]Bob vs Dremmer & Gang
Bob wants to kill Dremmer, Dremmer and gang are prepared to fight back. The Move: Single Combat

Single combat doesn't mean one person vs one person, it applies just as easily to one person vs one gang of people.
The PC does not get the option, I just kill Dremmer. They have to fight through bodies to kill him, and those bodies are actively getting in the way / fucking Bob up. Deal harm to the gang, and the leadership will start to crumble, the fiction comes in and asks are these boys ready to die for Dremmer? If so, then fight on, if not, maybe they scatter and now its PC vs Dremmer, refer to scenarios A or B.

D) [PC]Bob vs Dremmer & Gang
Bob wants to kill Dremmer, Dremmer uses his gang to help him escape. The Move: Seize by Force

Bob has to fight his way through to even START chasing after Dremmer. That's seize by force, definite hold is definitely fighting through the gang. Interestingly this is actually the best way for Dremmer to survive and tends to deal less damage to his gang, because the PC's focus is getting past them not kill all of them to take Dremmer down too. Still: Dremmer Runs. Bob has to fight through the gang, the gang will break if enough harm is dealt... but they might break in the same direction the PC wants to go, thus, to keep them out of the way, seizing a way through is essential. Followup, Cat and Mouse (see scenario B), unless the PC didnt make it through with one move, in that case, Dremmer's gone.

E) [PC]Bob vs Dremmer & Gang
Bob just wants to kill Dremmer, Dremmer fights or runs. The Move: Seize by Force under Fire
Seize Dremmer's escape (running), or seize a way through (fighting) the gang to Dremmer, while acting under fire of all the people trying to stop Bob. Re: old post. I would probably play scenario C and D more often then not. This is AW, people in the way of killing, probably get killed. If the gang is ready and staring you down, you're probably not going to assassinate the guy out of the middle of them without serious Cool rolls. And even if you do, you have to Cool/Hard you way back out too. Note: I, after thinking it over, REALLY dislike this option.

The thing to note here is that if there are no other complications in the field, no people getting in the way, positioning or tactical shit that matters, and the killing needs a roll, it's probably single combat. If they cannot run, they will fight, and a cornered person fights much harder then one who can run. Same goes for a gang. If they're trapped, they will fight until they're all dead.  If Bob is attacking a gang of people, Dremmer can use that gang's health pool to stay alive all the way until it either cracks under pressure or is crushed. 5(maybe4) harm to the gang is when I'd deal 1-harm to the Dremmer. 6(maybe5) harm to the gang, Dremmer's dying in there too. 6+ Dremmer's been dead.

This actually makes the battle babe even cooler. Visions of Death: Dremmer Dies. Battlebabe hits the gang with one exchange of harm (preferably from go aggro, but seize by force too) and chooses all the get away, suffer less harm, frightens them options. Because, the battle babe already killed Dremmer out from the middle of them (visions of death) and only had to trade harm to make sure the battle happened, so her focus is actually on escaping.

That's my 2-cents.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 03:16:27 PM by Ebok »

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2017, 06:27:41 PM »
That's a good, thorough reply by Ebok.

I'll share a shorter reply:

1. Apocalypse World quite intentionally doesn't have a dedicated "I just wanna hurt someone" move. The idea is that violence generally has a purpose - something you want.

2. Very often, just shooting (or otherwise attacking) someone isn't a move at all. It's just something you do, the same way you can say, "I walk towards the stairs and pick up the shovel," and it just happens.

If we've established that Dremmer is visible to you, in range, and you have time to get your gun out and shoot him, I think that this will often be the case. You say "I shoot him," and the MC describes the results.

The MC describing the results is just her making a move. Likely it will be "inflict harm" (on Dremmer), but it could be something else (like offering you an opportunity, or stating the consequences and asking a question).

3. If that doesn't seem right - things are tense or uncertain - then we need to know more. Is someone trying to stop you? If so, how? Are there guards with guns who could shoot when they see you pull your gun up?

That's probably an "act under fire", where we roll to see if you can gun down Dremmer before they riddle you with bullets. (You're literally acting under fire, after all.)

4. If you have the drop on him, but your relationship with Dremmer is such that we can imagine you having a conversation or holding back because of how he reacts, then maybe "go aggro" is a better fit.

5. Finally, if it's definitely a battle, it may be that you're doing something like Seizing the opportunity to shoot him. If it's not clear that you can just shoot him *like that*, you might be seizing the opportunity. That sounds vague and abstract, but I actually think it could be perfect for a situation where you're facing off against a gang and trying to get at Dremmer.

(If you had the drop on the gang, or the element of surprise, you might even be "going aggro" on them!)

I would try applying these roughly in this order.

Ultimately, the basic flow of effective AW play (and PbtA in general) is one where the group negotiates the question of which more to apply together. The way you do this is by talking about the fiction and asking questions. Over time, the elements necessary for a particular move emerge from that negotiation.

For example, you might ask about the guards, and I might describe them nervously hefting their weapons and eyeing you, fingers restless on their triggers. "So, I guess if I shoot him, I'm acting under fire, aren't I?", you ask. "Yep!"

As another example, I might ask, "So, you're going to shoot him, just like that? What are you hoping he doesn't do?" And you might answer, "Oh, I really hope the bastard doesn't get away; I want to talk to the fucker."

Bam! Suddenly it's clear that this is "go aggro" - you're pulling your gun on him, and what you want is for him to submit to you. (If he wants to run away, he's taking your bullet in the back!)

It's more art than science, but delving into the details of the situation more and more makes it concrete almost every time. Always go back to this if you're floundering, until it becomes clear.

Again, if no one is getting in your way and you're not in danger, it's probably #2, from above. It's the *consequences* of the action which will be interesting, not the success of the task you're attempting.



  • 1293
Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2017, 09:46:40 PM »
When a PC shoots someone, it's always a move. It's suckering them, going aggro on them, or a battle move, depending on the circumstances, but it's always a move.

To answer your original question, arakn_e: No, don't use "seize someone's life" to kill them. The only way to kill someone in Apocalypse World is to inflict harm.

As a player, you can do battle with someone and hope that they're killed in the exchange of harm, or you can go aggro on them and hope that they choose to force your hand and suck up the harm. In neither case is it your choice, though. You make your move and you hope for the best. And if they're in a gang, the rules on page 211 mean that you're REALLY just hoping.

The only way to make sure you inflict harm on someone is to sucker them. Suckering an individual enemy in battle isn't automatically something you can do, so you'll have to try to set it up somehow.

Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to get into a position to sucker Dremmer while he and his gang are doing battle with your friends, for instance. Like maybe you can get up onto a watchtower with your sniper rifle. Getting into that position might be easy, it might require you to act under fire, if might require you to seize the watchtower by force, who knows what it might require.

Or you might go ahead and seize Dremmer himself by force. As Alex says, above, this means that now you've captured him from his gang and gotten hold of him, NOT that you inflict harm on him in particular. It's still the MC's call whether he suffers any injury in the exchange of harm. But getting him helpless is one way to put yourself in a position to sucker him.

As MC, here's what you say:

"Going aggro or seizing by force, you might kill Dremmer, you might not, it's not your call. To make sure you can kill him, you'll have to somehow get into a position to sucker him. What's your plan?"

« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 08:03:49 AM by lumpley »

Re: Seize by force - to kill
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2017, 05:46:04 PM »
Well, Vincent presumably knows what he's talking about, so listen to him!


Since "sucker someone" now includes a clause for "if you couldn't miss, the MC just inflicts harm on the NPC" (or something like that; I'm not quoting verbatim), does that align fairly well with the way this might have been done in 1st Ed?

(In other words, "violence is not always a move you roll" is contiguous with, "in the new version, it's always a move; just sometimes the move is that you just do it," because of the wording of the new move "Sucker Someone".)