Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Avatar World: Basic Moves
Enjoy the full song of the fourth opening to Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It's a good one, far better than the 2nd or 3rd, probably about on par with the 1st. God I love this show, though I'm still watching it.

Let's try to nail down some wording on these basic moves.
Speak With Honor: -
First, I realized something yesterday while priming to write this post: Speak With Honor and Move With Intention are both in "Verb With Quality" format. That's not great, I'd rather keep name variety (other than With/Without Honor, in which the similarity is intentional). I happen to really like Move With Intention, much more than Move Intentionally, but Speak Honorably isn't particularly worse than Speak With Honor, so that's okay. But if I make this one different, Speak Without Honor also changes to keep their matching styles - Speak Dishonorably? I'm okay with that. We'll see. Now, let's move on.
Speak Honorably: When you speak honorably to persuade, convince, or manipulate an NPC, roll+Natural. On a hit, tell the GM what you want. On a 10+, you get what you want, as long as you promise the NPC something they'll get in return. On a 7-9, you get what you want, but there are immediate and troublesome strings attached.
When used against another PC, roll+[Hx Replacement]. On a hit, pick from the following list. On a 10+, choose both. On a 7-, just one:
     * If they do what you want, they mark XP.
     * If they don't do what you want, they need to Stand Fast.
Have you played any Apocalypse-Powered games? If so, you recognize this, because this move rarely changes too much. Seduce/Manipulate (Apocalypse World), Parley (Dungeon World), even Monsterhearts keeps this one the same. A few notes though!
I changed the wording a little myself. It's worth noting that I don't make use of the word "leverage," ("but Ego, neither does the original Seduce/Manipulate!"and I say to go check out the Moves explanation on p197) and that's because I don't think using leverage over someone is actually Speak Honorably at all. When I think "leverage," I think of something you already have over someone that you're using to get what you want. Having something on them and exploiting that isn't exactly honorable, and it really ends up as Speak Dishonorably. When you're trying to convince them to do something, you roll, while Vincent says that absent leverage you're just talking, and that's not the same here. Yeah, maybe it's a bit more task-resolution-y, but deal with it. If someone wants to really explain the core idea of why Vincent chose to require leverage, I'd love to hear it, because the phrasing of leverage, made even more explicit in Dungeon World, is one of the more confusing things for me in the Basic Moves.
In fact, let's look at what Monsterhearts has to say, because that's not far off what I want. Its key phrasing is "they'll do what you want if you give them a bribe, a threat, or a motive." Bribe and motive are Speak Honorably, threat is Speak Dishonorably.
Now let's see what Convince from tremulus says. "When you have something someone wants, you can use your charm, wit, or wiles to get them to do something for you first." Yeah, I can get behind charm, wit, or wiles - those are all Speak Honorably. Convince is a pretty close to what I want for Speak Honorably in general, in fact. I still prefer "immediate strings attached" over "concrete assurance." I'm working on finding a better synonym for "troublesome" though, I think that bit of the phrasing is a little weak - it might be unnecessary in general.

"What you want" doesn't need to be an object of course - Info, support, money, things, if someone has it and you want it and they're not freely giving it away, Speak Honorably to get it.

Speak Dishonorably: When you act dishonorably to get what you want, roll+Hot. On a 10+, they need to choose whether to give in or face your wrath. On a 7-9, you might not get what you want, but you've pushed them to:
     * Flee in cowardice,
     * [Barricade themself securely in],
     * Provide what you think you want,
     * Calmly and politely deny you,
     * Challenge you with a counter-offer.
The first issue with this is a disconnect between "Speak" and "Act." Any dishonorable actions done to get what you want trigger it, not just talking, but I like the parallel names of Honorably/Dishonorably. Take "Speak" broadly I guess.
Second comment is that I don't have a particularly interesting rewording of the barricade one yet. I feel like the idea is necessary, but it's not really the right flavor yet. Maybe that idea isn't a necessary idea though. Calmly and politely deny you might cover it.
Third, I added a counter-offer idea, where they're trying to give you something but aren't going all the way.
Of more significant note is that you do NOT use this move when "what you want" is for them to die. The Go Aggro/Seize By Force split is primarily about one-sided combat vs two-way combat, and if you want is to attack someone who isn't fighting back right now, that's Go Aggro, but NOT Speak Dishonorably, it's Commit Open Violence. HOWEVER!: Threatening someone, when what you want is something else and you'll hurt them if they "face your wrath," that's Speak Dishonorably still.
I like "Flee in cowardice,"the image is pretty strong in my mind of how that's an important and shameful thing in the genre.

Commit Open Violence: When you strike out violently with intent to kill or incapacitate, roll+Hot. On a 10+, deal your harm as the fiction would dictate. On a 7-9, you still strike them, but choose one from the list below:
     * They deal harm in return,
     * You inflict little harm,
     * You're left in a disadvantageous position (-1 forward)
Oh my. This is wildly tentative, just a rough sketch. The big thing I needed to change from Seize By Force was the idea that it's two-way, since you Commit Open Violence when in AW you would Go Aggro with intent to kill.
The other thing you may notice is that you don't increase the harm you're dealing, it starts at the baseline and starts dropping. This is because I want to keep the harm numbers a little lower - combat in martial arts stuff is a little more drawn out than a gunfight, with people exchanging whole flurries of blows before going down. I could keep that with the older increase-harm ideas, but it would be through having a pretty large harm track, and I'd rather keep the numbers down.
Plus, this kinda hammers down a different side, that violence for violence's sake is risky and not always beneficial.
Really, I want to see this move only rarely, as violence shouldn't be just for the sake of violence. Originally, I'd considered not having this move at all, since I want violence to never really be for the sake of violence, but I realized that two circumstances made it necessary. The first is that sometimes the not-for-the-sake-of-violence still manifests as just violence, most notably in a quest for revenge - you have a reason, it's not senseless, but your goal is still slaughter. The other is that once someone initiates combat, other motives fade and you're committing violence so they can't kill you. Other reasons fade in the heat of battle.
I'm not all that confident in that list. I'm especially not too thrilled with the stat balance on the last one, it doesn't seem as bad as the others, but I like the idea of it.

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.
There's nothing all that fancy here, just the old standby of the Apocalypse-Powered systems. I've already talked pretty extensively about what I want this to be, but to recap, this is used as a reactive measure, triggered more when things are going to happen to you or when you try to do something with a threat looming over you. It's actually kinda nicer to the players because, unlike most rolls, you pretty much establish the hard move you'll make before the roll is even made, where on others you might only know the hard move you'll make once you're actually called upon to make one. This is also the toughest 7-9 for the GM, as it's a vague category that makes the GM come up with multiple options on the spot, which is pretty tough. It's also the most versatile for that reason. Act Under Fire is the default move in Apocalypse World, and I figure it'll be the same here, so every playbook has a good reason to take a decent Solid, even if they otherwise would have no motivation to do so.
It's probably worth noting that Stand Fast doesn't have to literally mean holding ground. You can Stand Fast to successfully storm through a fire wall, and you can Stand Fast to resist the creepy psychic whispering things in your brain, and you can Stand Fast to not be pushed over and literally stand your ground. To be brutally honest, Hold Steady from Monsterhearts is the same idea as what I'm using for this, with an easier to understand wording, but I didn't want to just copy it and I think Stand Fast has an Earth-y feel to it too.

When you're being proactive to set something up, even if it puts you in harm's way, that's Move With Intention, not Stand Fast.

Meditate: When you meditate on something, roll+Keen. On a hit, you're struck with a vision or moment of enlightenment regarding the subject of your meditation. On a 10+, the experience is clear and powerful. On a 7-9, pick one:
     * The experience is sharp and piercing, the information is clear but take 1 harm.
     * The experience is muddled and murky, yielding only impressions.
     * The vision is clear but draws you in, causing you to be lost in the meditation until you either find your way out or are drawn out from the outside.
I love that last one. Seriously. Very much Aang's first trip to the Spirit World, "how the hell do I get out?" style. If the Avatar had trouble, anyone touching on the inner reaches of the mind (or the spirit world!) is gonna have trouble. You have to PICK that option - but I really hope you do. Or that a friendly GM makes that his Hard Move. Because I think it's super-cool.
Okay, fine, I'll talk about the rest of the move. Meditating can be done in many ways, but typically involves solitude or a sense of intimacy with only oneself (I saw you giggle there, shut up). Maybe you sit on a mat cross-legged and hum, or maybe you lie flat and block out all the noises of the universe, or maybe you pray to the great spirits. If it could Open Your Brain to the psychic maelstrom, it could probably trigger Meditate.
This is the standby of the Monk.

Observe Carefully: When you observe something carefully, whether it be a person or a situation, roll+Keen. On a hit, ask questions from the list below. On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7-9, ask 1. When you act on the answers, take +1 forward.
     * What should I be watching for?
     * Who's in control here?
     * What's about to happen?
     * What do I need to do to be at an advantage here?
     * What here is not as it appears to be?
     * I have no idea, I'm still writing these.
So, this is a tough move. More than other things, this is hard because I'm trying to fuse Read a Sitch and Read a Person. Dungeon World did the same with Discern Realities, but I think it's really hard to nail down a set of useful questions that apply to both. These sort of work, but I really need to keep working on these, maybe more than any other list. I seriously love lists here, don't I? Almost all of my basic moves have lists.
Other than needing to further define the list, not a lot is going on here that needs clarification. Observe Carefully triggers when you really take time to look and understand something - it isn't necessarily obvious that that's what you're doing, but a casual glance doesn't trigger this. It can be done quickly, but it has to be conscious and deliberate observation.
Regarding reobservation: I'm gonna say you CAN try re-reading things. It takes further time to do so, but the strong penalty of failure (hard moves on 6-) means that you won't have spammed observation. However, no matter how many times you Observe Carefully or how many answers you're acting on, you still only get +1 Forward, it doesn't stack.

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.
      * Place a tag on the target you have a position on.
      * (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) (I don't like the wording here, but like the idea - maybe put the other PC at -1 Forward?)
      * Other ideas? This list is still fluctuating.
The newbie on the list, and I believe this is the only one that's uniquely mine (as far as I can tell). I talked about this one before too, but let's go over this again. Move With Intention is there to represent all of the crazy cool movements that make up the genre. Moving deliberately means a lot of things, but primarily refers to when you take your time to set into your stance, or do acrobatics or other athletics to get into a good position. Thankfully, those two cover a lot of ground. Actually, hiding is kinda functional under Move With Intention as well.
No I don't have rules for tags yet. I'll figure that out, but am still working on it. That's the kind of thing I want to be able to do with Move With Intention - the Waterbender's whole thing is gonna be tags anyway, and they're good at MWI. Plus I don't have anything else that really allows everyone else to tag, so that's good. Actually, it may be worth adding getting a negative tag on you as a part of COV...
The list is majorly in flux. Suggestions hugely welcome.
What I'd LIKE is for MWI to be one of the top three moves used, along with Stand Fast and while I'm not huge on it I suspect Speak Dishonorably will be there too (I'm not huge on it because I don't think all martial arts fiction is really about being dishonorable, but I hope to be surprised when I actually play).
Thinking now, is it possible to use this to gain a position of advantage in a social conflict? Probably, especially is you're using powerful physical gestures to augment your dialogue. You'll want +1 Forward and a Tag if you're doing social conflict though.

And that's the basic moves! For now, I've decided to go with Bending not being a basic move. If you think back to the initial post, that was the second option I thought of, repeated here:
2. Bending is exclusive to their playbooks, not a basic move at all but a single move replicated in a slight variation on the four playbooks. It would allow for specific wordings and concepts relating to the element. This is actually my favorite, with bending available to others through judicious use of "Take a move from another playbook" advancements.
 So that's all of 'em. And, like usual, time to leave some open questions:

* What do you think of this list of moves? Is one missing? Is one superfluous?
* Is there any truly inherent flaws in the wording of any of the moves?
* Any suggestions for the lists of options on any of the moves?
* What's your favorite move? Is there anything particularly inspiring in there?

Thanks, looking forward to pushing forward. Really, I think the next step is to write playbooks, which I've been skirting around doing so more formally. Gotta buckle down and do it, I guess.
Later folks.
End Recording,

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