Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor

  • 18 Replies
Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« on: May 04, 2020, 03:22:15 PM »
Hey all.

More down-to-ground rules question this time.

Battlebabe's custom firearms:

Base (choose 1):
? handgun (2-harm close reload loud)
? shotgun (3-harm close reload messy)
? rifle (2-harm far reload loud)
? crossbow (2-harm close slow)

Options (choose 2):
? ornate (+valuable)
? antique (+valuable)
? semiautomatic (-reload)
? 3-round burst (+1harm)
? automatic (+area)
? silenced (-loud)
? hi-powered (close/far, or +1harm at far)
? ap ammo (+ap)
? scoped (+far, or +1harm at far)
? big (+1harm)

- choice "automatic" giving "area" instead of "automatic" is intentional?
- how does "automatic" pairs with base weapons with "reload"? Do I have to take "semiautomatic" and then "automatic" or is it really that I can take automatic and keep "reload" as it is?

Also, when I'm asking. What is the relation between "Impossible reflexes" (armor which represents movement and dodging) and ap munition? Is it really that Battlebabe's reflexes do count against it? If not... that makes kind of a paradox between what it is and how it works.

Thanks for clarifications!

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 02:44:55 AM »
Also, when I'm asking. What is the relation between "Impossible reflexes" (armor which represents movement and dodging) and ap munition? Is it really that Battlebabe's reflexes do count against it? If not... that makes kind of a paradox between what it is and how it works.

AP doesn’t work against impossible reflexes. Nor against gangs’ armor because of size differences.

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2020, 04:43:39 AM »
notabotatall: ok, that's fair enough interpretation (and I came to a similar one myself), but is there an actual passage in the rulebook which this derives from?

I based this interpretation on Honesty principle and from the fictional consistency for myself and my group, but it feels... weak, somehow, considering how many implications it has which are not mentioned nor shown anywhere:

Rules say that ap simply ignores armor, yet it seems to mean "may ignore armor when appropriate" - but this is not mentioned nor shown anywhere in examples. By the same logic Hocuse's move which gives 1-armor when unarmored works pretty much always and ignores all ap (including Brainer's psionics), since it's source is some kind of kvasi-divine (or simply weird) power which protects the character. So does daredevil, when applied (since it seems to represent sheer luck) and grace of the battlefield (since it is also some weird-powers-in-work). But it also means, that sometimes only part of the armor can be applied - which is also a logic which is not being mentioned nor shown anywhere. For example if I shoot Angel during battle with ap ammunition, this logic says it goes through standard physical armor, but grace of the battlefield still counts; same with gang's armor - ap would negate their "natural" armor, but not their size armor.

This might rise some unclear points players could "too easily" argue about - for example one could argue, that Battlebabe's reflexes do not count against solid area effects like really large explosions or big flamethrowers, since when there is nowhere to dodge or hide, reflexes are not very useful, but another could argue that they do count, since these are impossible and a hero rising alive from completely ruined place is a common trope which is to be embraced. (What I dislike about this most is that I'd go with the second argument, but only because it feels right - unfortunately it depends strongly on one word in the name of the move and Vincent is generally... let's say he doesn't have much of an OCD when it comes to exact wording :D Which I'm usually fine with, but here it raises questions.)

To be clear - I have no issue with what I just wrote and intuitively I'd play it like this and interpret it like this. But I have nothing but my own gut feeling to back it and other people are asking me about it for their own games, so I'm looking for some more solid foundations for this answer OR for a better answer if I understood it wrong.

(About the battlebabe custom weapon choices - people are asking me too, but in this case I'm completely confused myself so I have no idea what to answer.)

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 10:57:05 AM »

...Battlebabe character sheet (/playbook), custom firearms, options, page 28:
- automatic (+area)

...Weapons and armor sub-chapter (Crap chapter), Battlebabe's weapons detail description, options, page 232:
- automatic (+autofire)

This is supposed to be the same list, so there is an obvious error. I suppose the second one is correct? (Automatic gives automatic fire - makes sense. Although it gives Battlebabe automatic weapons, which otherwise s/he wouldn't have, which previously seemed like an intentional aesthetic choice...)

That of course just underlines my original question - how does +autofire pairs with "reload" which every base weapon has? One option shouldn't allow to both add a tag and drop another tag, should it? But weapon which requires reloading can't be automatic... (or can it? I'm not really big weapons nerd myself...)

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 01:59:12 PM »
ok, that's fair enough interpretation (and I came to a similar one myself), but is there an actual passage in the rulebook which this derives from?
It?s not in the book, but Vincent said:
Yeah. In the 3rd Edition (don't worry, I have no such plans), ap ammo will get another paragraph listing things it doesn't apply to: gang size bonuses, vehicle armor, building armor, impossible reflexes...

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2020, 02:07:18 PM »
Regarding autofire, the description of the tag is:
Auto�re (mechanical, cue, constraint): at the character?s option, the weapon makes an area attack (cf), but must immediately reload (cf).
So having both reload and autofire might sound a little weird, but is actually kind of the default.

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2020, 02:23:54 PM »
notabotatall: thanks for the reddit link, Vincent's clarification is the kind of the thing I was hoping for (and couldn't find). That makes the armor question settled I believe.

Regarding reload/autofire: I have no problem with having automatic weapon which needs to reload after being used. Makes sense. But having base weapon which by default requires frequent reloads being turned into automatic feels really weird. It either loses the original "reload" tag (in which case ONE option does TWO things - it adds 1 tag and removes 2nd - which goes directly against how the rest of the thing there work) or it doesn't lose the original "reload" tag (in which case I end up with a gun which still requires constant reloading, but which somehow can go automatic as well, which... ok, I could interpret it just as area-optional, but that also feels kinda weird - it's a mechanical weapon, not a scalable DnD spell...)

What I mean is - that probably wrong write-up with automatic option adding "+area" tag, although it was also weird, made actually more sense (mechanically, at least).
Tha "automatic" option adding "autofire" to the weapon could work, but then it should cost 2 options (the same as adding +2harm in case of melee weapons), not 1.

As it is, none of the variants make sense to me.

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2020, 03:29:02 AM »
A have another question about Battlebabe custom weapons - she can have two of them.

Can both of them be firearms or only one is firearm and second one should be hand weapon?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 06:17:36 AM by Jerson »



  • 1293
Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2020, 10:50:00 AM »
Both can be firearms.

When the player creates a custom firearm, be generous. The idea is for them to create the badass custom firearm they want, not for them to create a balanced firearm. "But then [automatic] should cost 2 options" isn't a consideration here.

If a playbook and the MC book contradict each other, go with the playbook whenever you can. The player's relying on those rules to be correct, so back them up, even when it seems like the playbook is probably mistaken and the MC book is probably correct.

In sum: yes, it's fine for the automatic option to give +area -reload, the question of balance isn't important. If that's what the player wants it to do, go with it.


Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2020, 02:33:49 PM »
lumpey: I do see and follow the logic and I as a GM and a player have no problem with it. In my own game, I'd do something like that without a blink. But honestly - giving it as a guideline for the rules themselves feels kinda... messy, if you will (pun intended).

On one hand, there is a playbook which clearly says "make a choice, pick 2" - and then it lists "pretty" (ornated) and "story-fused" (antique) options against pure efficiency (+1harm, -reload, +area...), basically saying: you HAVE to make choice, you can't have it all, strong goes against stylish (which on itself is odd, but it sort-of feels like a balancing reminder to "think of cool first, numbers second"). It also contains things like "+2 harm, counts as both choices", suggesting there is a at least some limitation-balancing intend in behind. (Also there seem to be - may be falsely - some other patterns, like all weapons having "reload" and the absence of "autofire", suggesting automatic weapons "belong" to the gunluger, not to battlebabe customs...)

On the other hand, there you are, saying basically "it doesn't matter, give player anything s/he wants", clearly breaking all restrains and giving all responsibility to players judgement and aesthetic taste. By this advice, you've effectively crossed out the "chose 2" and turned it into "chose all you want".

I already hear the desperate cries of all GMs who do have strong power-players or kinda-rule-lawyers in their groups, or players who do not have the finely brushed apocalyptic aesthetic judgement and rely on rules to give them guidelines (and you know that people play with friends, not with cherry-picked players, so there will be many). I also hear all the soon-incoming questions: wait, why "+2harm" is for 2 options so I can't have that AND ornated, but "+area -reload" costs only 1 option, so THAT can still be ornated? Or: wait, so I can drop reload AND get area for 1 option? Why should anyone pick "semi-automatic" which also costs 1 option but does only half of it, then? ... yes, there are players who do like to optimize even in story/style-focused games. Groups often have players of mixed game preferences. With your advice, these optimizing or guidance-seeking players will be either lost ("this makes no sense!") or they will go crazy ("but Vincent wrote I can have...") (I do acknowledge this is kinda unfair to you now, but as an author, your word is for most players as good as the game's text itself).

People from our community sometimes turn to me for an advice. How to interpret rules as-written / as-intended. How to deal with a game problem (game braking powerplay combos, undefined situation...) within the rules boundaries. That was what's lead me to this forum in the first place. Right now, I'm thinking really hard about your answer and all the questions it might raise - and I see no clear answers to give back. How powerful should they allow players to go? Big, overpowered, automatic, messy, 5-harm ap shotgun is on the table... antique and hi-tech, of course, with laser-sight and nocto-vision targeting display. Because that's what the player wants. Up until now, it was at MC's discretion to judge his/hers player and not/allow it as "extra, but whatever" (or "sorry, that's too much over the rules options"). Since now, saying "no" means having to argue with the player and justify the decision (and since the reason often might be something like "sorry Josh, but I don't let YOU go into the game with such comparable OP option", it might put MC into really uncomfortable position).

I do see your point with "this is about style, not balance". I agree. But I also do acknowledge there is a purpose (both creatively and in terms of providing GM with harder tools to moderate the table) to having some harder constrains in place (which then might - or might not - be crossed over)

EDIT: ADD: especially when I start thinking of all the possible PvP scenarios, this "freedom" and ignorance of any balancing restrains starts to seem dangerous.

+clarification of some ideas above
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 04:00:15 PM by sirien »

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2020, 12:10:30 AM »
Having played Apocalypse World, I can tell you this isn't really a problem. Yes the Battlebabe is getting 2 for 1 - but they don't have the option to have their weapon not be an area attack. Hope no one they like or need is where they're shooting. It's basically just this combination that's giving this benefit, and I'd assume your players aren't going to take this as "well I'll just put down whatever I want." And if they do, I hope you're able to talk to them about it like adults because I don't think mechanics are your problem here if you can't.

And if you're worried about PvP, the Gunlugger can start with a 4-Harm Grenade Launcher and AP ammo. Plus if I take NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH and/or Bloodcrazed, I can add up to +2 Harm if I'm going up against a PC with no gang. (And 5-Harm AP to a PC with a gang is srill going to fuck them and their gang up real real bad). A Battlebabe with a weapon that got -reload for free is quite tame compared to that.

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2020, 06:49:19 AM »
Himalayan Salt: well, no offense(-ivness) meant, just as a point to the discussion: "having played" is not that strong of an argument - by my experience, what people know from their own games do not necessarily translates into other people's games and what is (not) common for players on discussion boards is not necessarily what is (not) common between players at large. I see this when I meet and talk to people at gaming conventions - or with players on other non-gaming conventions. The problems THEY face in their games and the way they deal with it (and the options they have to deal with it) are often significantly different from what is being talked on boards. And these people from conventions are still "biased sample" - players who are not active in community at all are even more shifted from "us" (as we all could see in practice during DnD 5e development, where truly wide form-feedback which hit these otherwise passive players differed vastly from feedback from boards and active community; developers even made few comments on it back at the time).

The point being - when you are "stuck" with one group of players you don't want to leave or break (since you are all friends and this is your mutual activity for many years and many years to come) and when there are players in your group who will give any rules "hard pressure test" (for whatever reason - legitimate (!) power playing, guidance-seeking, annoying rule-lawyering, tendency for spotlight self-centrism, curious experimentation... and so on), then you need a "slightly" different kind of advice than people who are "hardcore RPG nerds". "Do whatever the player wants" in regards to something what directly affects power-balance not just in the game but between PCs is usually not the kind of advice they find helpful, because the balance of the rules themselves is not the thing they need and seek - they need and seek the rules providing them with tools to keep the balance around their table. (DAMN - this is a thought I've been dancing around for some time now and finally I managed to formulate it clearly! Cheers for that opportunity!)

Regarding PvP: yeah. Battlebabe can start with 4-harm ap and Ice cold (= 5-harm ap) as well and with Impossible reflexes (ignores opponent's ap) and can easily take NTBFW (6-harm ap 3-armor ap-resistant) as the first level-up. (And I suspect that the players I'd be afraid of in this regard are exactly the players who will do it like this). And that is with all playbook restrains (use only listed base weapons, choose only 2) in place. It is strong, but manageable and somewhat balanced with some drawbacks which give gunluger the edge and (mainly) the niche and specific-spotlight (Battlebabe still has low HARD and there is no "autofire" option for custom weapons etc.)

Now with the boundaries erased... actually, now when I think about it in the context of spot-light and paybooks protected niches in the game, the possibility to go with 2 firearms (no matter that the playbook is formulated in a way suggesting you have 1 and 1...) is even more worrying than the question of the tag itself on its own. I mean - Battlebabe could already create some crazy strong weapons, so giving it a little bit more of a boost doesn't make THAT much of a difference. But when you can create 2 such boosted weapons - then you can really have 2 crazily strong weapons for every opportunity.

Now as I'm reading Lumpley again (and again), I'm not that sure I understood him completely. More specifically I'm not sure how much he actually means "let player do whatever s/he wants" or "let player do whatever s/he wants within the boundaries of the playbook". It seems to be the later, but allowing option to add "-reload" as well even when it is not listed suggest the first. I must say I find this quite confusing. But may be this is just not my brightest moment.



  • 1293
Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2020, 12:36:22 PM »
You didn't quite understand me. I also didn't quite understand you. It's okay! We can sort it out.

Point 1:
The player should choose a base and 2 options, both from the lists provided. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

Point 2:
There's a contradiction between the playbook and the MC book. How are we to resolve it? Here are the candidates:
  • automatic (+area)
  • automatic (+autofire)

My answer is: oops! When there's a contradiction or ambiguity in the rules, give the player the benefit. In this case, the player doesn't have the MC book and doesn't even know that there's a contradiction, so you should go with automatic (+area).

Point 3:
The structure of the list suggests that these benefits are all balanced, equivalent. Right?
  • +1harm
  • +ap
  • +area
  • +range
  • +valuable
  • -loud
  • -reload

Goodness no.

If what you care about is raw numerical killing power, +1harm is the best tag to choose, followed closely by +area, with +ap and +range next. -Loud and -reload have some tactical value, but it's hard to assign a number, and +valuable obviously doesn't have any.

"But Vincent, if the options aren't balanced, what's to stop the battlebabe player from always choosing the best options?"

Nothing! The battlebabe player should choose the options that they want. If what they want is raw numerical killing power, they should choose +1harm and +area. That's fine.

Reload, especially, can throw you off if you're coming from other game systems. Apocalypse World isn't based on an economy of turns and actions, at all, so reloading your weapon is a matter of cinematic visuals, and possibly pacing, NOT a mechanical opportunity cost. You might be thinking that reload effectively halves the damage output of the weapon, but that's not correct. For instance, when the PCs are setting the rhythm of a battle, "I slap in another magazine and keep firing" satisfies the reload requirement and might easily let the PC make a battle move and inflict harm again right away.

In other words, reload DOES NOT mechanically counterbalance +1harm, or indeed any of the positive options. The game's cinematic underpinnings just don't work that way.

Point 4:
You asked: "how does "automatic" pairs with base weapons with "reload"? Do I have to take "semiautomatic" and then "automatic" or is it really that I can take automatic and keep "reload" as it is?"

It turns out that I misread this question. Let me try to answer it more carefully.

First, yes, you can take automatic (+area) and keep reload as it is. This would mean that every time you pull the trigger, you empty the magazine. This weapon is legit:
  • Crimson's Room-sprayer: handgun automatic big (3-harm close area reload)

Second, Apocalypse World uses the area tag for two different things: lots and lots of bullets (thus "automatic") and explosions. If you look through the rest of the game, though, the weapons with both area and reload are all explosive, grenade launchers and mortars and stuff.

Would it be a problem to let the battlebabe player cross out automatic (+area) and write explosive (+area), and create this weapon?
  • Crimson's Grenade Pistol: handgun automatic explosive big (3-harm close area reload)

No, it wouldn't be a problem. As MC, you're allowed to say "no, stick with the list" if you prefer, but if you feel like going along with the player here, it will cause no problems at all.

Along the same lines, would it be a problem to let the battlebabe cross out semiautomatic (-reload) and write belt-fed (-reload) instead? No, it definitely wouldn't.

Third, the terms used - semiautomatic automatic autofire area reload - are pretty confusing.

If the battlebabe player comes to you and says "I'm picturing like an uzi, but belt-fed, here's what I came up with," is this weapon okay?
  • Crimson's Bad-ass Belt-fed Uzi: handgun automatic big (3-harm close area)


As MC, you're certainly allowed to say "oops, no, if you want to remove reload, you'll have to drop big and add semiautomatic (-reload) belt-fed (-reload) instead. There's no way for you to have realized this, but that's the rule." If that's what you prefer, say that.

Would it be a problem to say "cool! Looks good," even though technically the battlebabe player made a mistake?

Because the terms are confusing, because reload isn't a strong balancer anyway, AND because the game just doesn't depend on keeping real automatic weapons out of the hands of the battlebabe, then when I'm the MC, I go along with the player here. You can too, if you want to, without worrying about messing up the game.

Point 5:
What if the battlebabe player happens to be looking through the Extended Refbook, and finds this weapon, and it seizes their imagination, and they come to you and say "please, MC, I know it's not possible to create this as a custom weapon, but can I please have it anyway? I love it, I want it, I need it, please?"
  • Flamethrower: close, area, d-harm: not being on fire, volatile, refill:OOO

As MC, you're certainly allowed to say "yeah, no, make your custom weapons like the rules say, if you want a flamethrower you'll have to somehow get one in play. Yikes."

Are you allowed to say "yes! Yes! OMG yes, of COURSE you can have a flamethrower! Hooray! I can't WAIT to see who you're going to light on fire with it!" Yes you are.

Technically speaking, you're creating a custom move that gives the battlebabe a flamethrower instead of one of their starting custom weapons. The game's rules allow you to do this, under "Advanced Fuckery," any time you want to.

The implications of this are serious and far-reaching!

But I'm not worried. I think you have a pretty good handle on what you're allowed to do as MC versus what you've agreed to do as a play group, and how the rules provide a hard constraint even while they allow you to change them.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 01:01:23 PM by lumpley »

Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2020, 01:45:28 PM »
Lumpley: once again, clarity of your answer is amazing, thank you!

5 - absolutely, that's clear.

4 - that was what was originally primarily on my mind. I see I really DID focused too much on terms used, exactly as you've guessed. Now I feel I got much better grasp of it and it makes much more sense.

3 - ...and this blew my mind a little, the paragraph on how "reload" is not meant to apply all the time. As I understood it up until now, I took it literally as a restrain on the weapon (as the tag is listed as such), basically saying that every time you roll a move with the weapon, you have to reload afterwards. Meaning at detail zoom: you pull the trigger once, then you have to reload. At broader zoom: you can shoot several times while "rapidly" reloading (for example from pre-prepared ammo-belts etc.), but then you have to go down and start reloading "for real" (...taking ammo out of pockets or backpack and stuffing it into the weapon and your ammo-belts etc.) I was fixated to this interpretation too much to see that what applies everywhere else should apply here the same - that it is something to remind things in the fiction and to call up as an interesting justification for failure, not as a real mechanic limitation. My bad completely, thanks for noticing it and pointing it out as well.

1 & 2 - check, clear, thanks.

btw. - no matter that I wouldn't personally limit battlebabe player if s/he really wanted automatic weapon - did I saw correctly that NOT giving battlebabe automatic weapon by default was your aesthetic choice for the playbook (and just may be also to give gunluger a little more niche as well) or was it just a false pattern? Just out of curiosity :)



  • 1293
Re: Battlebabe custom weapon choices and armor
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2020, 02:24:20 PM »
I'm glad to help!

I remember debating with myself whether it should be automatic (+area -reload), automatic (+area), or automatic (+autofire -reload). It never came down to a clear-cut aesthetic decision for me. By the look of it, it never quite came down to a final decision at all!

I think that if I were to rewrite the list today, I'd go with automatic (+autofire -reload), but ask me again tomorrow and I don't know what I'll say.



Aw, I missed an opportunity here. Here's what I should have said:

If the battlebabe player comes to you and says "I'm picturing like a .357 magnum, but belt-fed, here's what I came up with," is this weapon okay?
  • Crimson's Bad-ass Belt-fed Magnum: handgun automatic big (3-harm close area)

That would have been MUCH more bad-ass than some old uzi or whatever.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 02:34:10 PM by lumpley »