Friday, November 2, 2012

Avatar World: Answers (Honorable Samurai and SF vs. MWI)
For some reason the Youtube player seems to be gone right now. Hopefully it'll be back by morning, but this is The Koto Chill by zircon. It's great, and that whole album of his (The World Circuit) is fantastic. For more zircon, check October Songaday Day 11 (zircon - Nitronic) - it can be easily accessed through the Music tab up top!

So I got a great comment from Jonathan Reiter on Google+, and while I gave a couple answers on G+ back, I feel this is something to unpack in a little more detail, especially the first comment since I think that's something I've been working through myself.
1) Clarify the difference between Stand Fast and Move with Intention in regards to combat. What can you do and what might you sacrifice on a partial? Think about how Vincent draws a contrast between Go Aggro and Seize By Force. Think about hard and soft styles of martial arts, e.g. Chen and Yang style Taijiquan.
2) Earthquake is area tag and force roll of SF/MWI if you try to do (x).
3) Timeless Body would probably allow you to roll Meditate instead of SF contextually.
4) I'm sold on a scholar. You can't have a Wuxia style game without a scholar. A scholar in Avatarworld would be excellent with technology, and would probably have moves to use Keen stat to Speak With Honor.
5) I have thought a lot about how samurai and warriors who follow a code of conduct operate in AW games. G-chat me sometimes and we can discuss it."
 Let's hit these piece by piece. I'm gonna leave the first one for last though.

Number 2) I can buy that. Earthquake was a weird contention for me since I wasn't quite sure if it warranted its own move or if it would just be a function of standard Earthbending. The idea there is good enough to suffice as a move on its own, but I still may fold it into Earthbending if I think I have a greater number of moves than I need for the playbook. Even then, some degree of  shaking the earth IS incorporated, with Earthquake signifying an effect of significant length or duration. That may be shifted if I can't word the move trigger to reflect that while still doing what I want.

Number 3) Heck, this had only been a side idea I just tossed out, but it's a pretty sweet idea.

Number 4) This actually sells me on a Scholar. I was doubting the need since I considered it quite close to the Monk, but I'd entirely forgotten about the Technology aspect, and that changes everything. I know I can build a Scholar different enough with the technology idea in there.
* When you devise a new contraption to help solve your problems, roll+Keen...
* When you spend time alone researching...
* When you analyze the factual details of the situation... (this is probably a modification to Observe Carefully by question addition or something. The suggest Speak With Honor with Keen could also go with a slight change of the trigger).
Yeah, I can definitely do the Scholar.

Number 5) The Honorable warrior is a strange figure in my mind. As I mentioned last time, it's requiring three stats for my Samurai, which is a bit weird, but I really don't want to give up on the honorable thing, but I don't want to make them only mediocre at fighting either. So right there I have an issue of a guy who wants to be good at everything, which is unfortunate. However, the move structure of playbooks in general is helpful in this, thanks to the ability to choose how to specialize within his options, so if you want to play the undiplomatic ronin, you can avoid the honor-based moves.
The Samurai would have, you'd think, several places to draw some inspiration from. The big one that came into my mind as an inspiration was Dungeon World's Paladin, but it turns out the Paladin is actually pretty bad at being honorable, instead being pretty awesome at being a holy warrior. He's not a total wash though! I Am The Law looks easily changeable to using the authority of your lord rather than a divine power, Exterminatus for the vengeful samurai mold, and the Fighter's Signature Weapon (plus Ancestral) are great for modeling the importance and significance of a Samurai's blade (plus I love Ancestral ;) ).
Other playbooks seem to have things to offer as well. Looking at Apocalypse World itself, my gut instinct is to look to the Hardholder, then the Operator. The Hardholder, well, he kinda only has two moves and they're both pretty well keyed to who he is, plus on second thought his concept doesn't actually line up with what I was thinking anyway. The Operator is quite a bit closer to the Ronin side of the playbook than the lord-bound Samurai, but has some remarkably good communication ability that kinda works. In particular, I'm talking about Reputation. Rep works nice with both the Samurai, but also quite well with the Aristocrat. I prefer it on the Samurai though, let's let him play with it for now.
So a move around the power of their katana, a move to let them throw their lord's authority around, one for vengeance, and one for their reputation, and that's before even looking at combat moves or inventing some of my own, so I think it's not an issue of having social moves on him. More so, it seems to be an issue of what, when actually played, inspires a warrior to act honorably rather than pragmatically.  And that's where the honor move I've had kicking around in my head kicks in:
* When you go through a scene with honor when it would have been practical to do otherwise, mark XP.
Or some wording along that intent. This is built from a couple of places. First, and most significantly, this is basically the existing mechanism of incentive. When you succeed at Seduce/Manipulating a PC, you get to set up incentive or punishment for the commanded action. I far prefer incentive to punishment for this guy. The other big place it came from was my experience with Keys (through Lady Blackbird, though they come from The Shadow of Yesterday), in the idea of providing the reward when they forgo the easy route to enforce a certain given side of their personality. Absolutely an incentive measure rather than a punishment as well.
As an optional move, never forcing a player who wants to play otherwise to act to its restraint, but still allowing a reward for players who want to act that way, I think it's actually pretty ideal. Being optional is important - even some Samurai-playbook characters won't necessarily be straight Samurai - I've referenced the Ronin stereotype several times, and that too is a valuable character type to include as a possibility.
If I DO choose to make the Relationship stat (the Hx replacement, not Natural) something like Debts or Oaths, or even Honor, the Samurai will likely have some sort of move relating to it, but I need to make a decision about that before I can design anything.

As an aside, I'm actually watching Samurai Champloo right now thanks to Kenny's recommendation list. While it's crazy and anachronistic (which I love it for - I can also see why Suda 51 was tapped to make the game, it seems custom-made for him), and the characters sure as hell aren't regular ol' Samurai (they're a Ronin-type Samurai and a Ninja basically), what it's really good for is it's exciting me about even mundane martial arts-ing. This is some crazy-ass shit here, and it's exciting as hell. I predict your game won't have beat-boxing period samurai, but still.
So far, it's definitely looking like I have more anime than live-action in my references. I'm not actually sure if that's a bad thing with the way I kinda want this going.

Finally, Number 1) Stand Fast vs. Move With Intention. This is something that, while Jonathan pointed out that it needed clarification, it's been rattling around inside my head. I'm worried that they DO have a Go Aggro/Seize By Force relationship, and I don't want that. It's been pointed out and summarized by people before that Go Aggro and Seize By Force have a hazy enough distinction that nearly any action that triggers one could feasibly trigger the other, leading groups to pick one as a dominant basic move and the other retreating into the background as a peripheral move. I know that in my own group we're three sessions in and have yet to roll Seize By Force, though we Go Aggro all the time. I think GA inherently has fewer consequences than SBF - even on a successful SBF, you take some harm. The main distinction in my mind is that GA is for one-sided actions, with a distinct aggressor and defender. To me, SBF is for two-way fights, where both sides are both aggressing and defending at the same time - open conflict. This is my intended starting point for the barrier between Speak Without Honor and Commit Open Violence, though I do intend to slide the barrier a bit, leaving even one-sided aggression under COV if it's blatant and not for an ulterior purpose.
All that said, I don't think Stand Fast and Move With Intention have that relationship. With how I've been describing them, they do seem like it would trigger simultaneously, but the difference is reactive vs. proactive, and I think that'll come out more if I gave some more organized wording on the triggers.
Stand Fast is about being reactive. It's about trouble coming your way and withstanding it, doing something even if the pressure is on to do it, and figuratively not budging (though, despite the move name, it can absolutely involve moving - hey, I'm not the first to pick move names for coolness/reference and not for utility! Just look at Dungeon World's Fighter's Bend Bars, Lift Gates - it can't actually be used to literally bend bars or lift gates! Well, it can, but it requires a very liberal reading). Essentially, if there is something that would STOP you from doing what you're trying to do, it's probably Stand Fast.
Move With Intention, on the other hand, is intended primarily as a setup move. Moving With Intention covers several things, but these three come to my mind first: Stances, Evasion, Acrobatics. With Stances, the idea is that you're moving very deliberately into a position of strength. From this position, you're ready to strike with advantage and confidence. You don't go into a stance as a reactive thing - it's something you make time to do of your own accord. Acrobatics are similar, you actively have to try to do them because it would be to your advantage, not just a reflexive reaction - though I suppose you could do Acrobatics as a form of Evasion, the latter categorization takes precedence. Evasion is a bizarre point of crossover with Stand Fast - evasion IS a reaction. Which would you use? Context helps me dictate here. If, when a player moves right up in close to the enemy swordsman and throws a punch, but says how he's poised to spring back out of the way at any instant, I'd have him Move With Intention - he had previously declared his intent to move away in that scenario, it's not something catching him by surprise. If he's walking through the woods and a ninja falls from the trees, blade outstretched and aimed to kill, the PC saying they do a diving roll out of the way and turn 180 as he comes out of the roll, drawing his blade in the process, I'd say that's Stand Fast - it's a sudden, unexpected pressure that he wouldn't have been intending to move beforehand. If it could be reasonably understood that the PC is trying to dodge and would know to, but wasn't really called out, it's basically a judgement call for the GM. My instinct is to give the player the benefit of the doubt and give them the one they want, but up to you.
However, I'm having second thoughts about allowing Evasion at all under the MWI rules, maybe just making it SF - thinking of the general format I intend for the move text, Evasion might not even be supported. We'll see.
Oh, maybe I should talk about what I want MWI to actually DO in game terms, not just when it would happen. While SF is about doing the triggering action without consequences, MWI is, as I said, a setup move. 
Stand Fast: When you act in reaction or under pressure, roll+Solid. On a 10+, you do it, no problem. On a 7-9, the GM will offer you a tough choice, hard bargain, or dangerous outcome.

Move With Intention: When you move deliberately to gain a position of strength, roll+Fluid. On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick 1.
* Take +1 Forward on your next roll.
* Deal +1 Harm Forward. (this is like +1 Forward, but increases harm rather than roll result)
* Be treated as having 1-armor more the next time you take Harm.
* (If used against another PC) The character must Stand Fast to attack you, once. (as in the restriction goes away once they've Stood Fast once)
* Maybe more ideas, and maybe some ideas expanded by other moves, but these are the basics I had.
If the fiction dictates that your Move no longer confers any benefit (such as if you leave your stance), the bonus is removed. (I don't know how necessary it is to say this last bit, so it's at least here for design clarification)
Coming back to Evasions as MWI, I'm thinking it CAN work, just carefully. Instead of rolling when the attack comes, you roll it when the player says that they're ready to dodge at any time or some such. They roll it, and even on a 10+ can take +1 Forward and +1-armor, which is a definite help and still feels like an evasion. When not announced, however, it's just Stand Fast.
So, in summary, Stand Fast is a defensive move made in response to stimulus, Move With Intention is a move made consciously and not simply in response to stimulus. To use a maybe-not-applicable analogy, if AW used initiative-- actually, let's make this easier, Dungeon World, since that is often drifted into having initiative. In a round of initiative, each member of the conflict gets a significant move. Defy Danger (Stand Fast) is being triggered all the time by people doing things to PCs, forcing them to roll to survive it. Move With Intention, on the other hand, is the kind of thing you do on your own turn, spending your initiative to be ready to kick huge ass the next turn (or survive to see another round). Obviously initiative isn't a default thing in Apocalypse-Powered games, and I won't be using it for Avatar World, but I think that analogy serves as a decent illustration of their varied purposes.
As for the martial arts style references in Jonathan's comment, I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest. I need to do more research on that side - it's slow going, but I think I'm making at least a little headway. I'll come back to that in the future.

Anyway, that should be a good discussion for tonight of those. I definitely have a clearer head about this now, and I have some semi-formal writeups of what I want Stand Fast and Move With Intention to look like! Would love more comments, on both this stuff and the previous brainstorm - I mean, look at all this stuff, all in response to one comment. I read and hang on just about every word, so please, help out, even if you don't know much about hacking or AW or Avatar!
End Recording,

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