Sunday, December 23, 2012

Avatar World: Sub-Playbooks

(I'm here, writing a post, and NOT updating Songaday? Look, it's hard from Morocco, the days will get back on track when I get home at New Year's. I'm having quite a bit of fun though, thanks for asking)
Summoning of Spirits is totally the best album. I knew this song before I ever knew it was a part of the album, and it's still freakin' incredible. DJPretzel outdid himself I think.

Hey there! Thanks to both the folks at S-G and Google+ for the feedback on the moves, I got more than I expected and it's rightfully led to a few changes.
To get the easy one out of the way:
Lightningbender: When you channel lightning, roll+Fluid. On a 10+, you succeed at projecting or redirecting the lightning strike.
NOTE: Lightning, when it strikes directly, deals 4 harm.
On a 7-9, choose 1:
     * Some power rebounds, reducing the power to 2 harm and dealing 1 harm to the bender.         * The blast fizzles out, leaving the bender surprised and open to attack.
So, you can see the big change in bold. I completely axed the condition one and modified the fizzling one to be "leaves you vulnerable," which does the same narrative effect as I was trying to model from the show, but is more interesting than a null result. The Null before had to be chosen instead of taken a penalty since there was no benefit either. It was an escape route, and you know what? There's no escaping consequence when you fuck up lightningbending. This is a high stakes move.
It's important to mention that being "surprised and open to attack" is both a narrative condition and a mechanical one. What it is narratively is obvious, but mechanically it is up to the MC how they want to deal with it. Smack the PC with an enemy attack? Fair game. Call it a tag? Also fair. Make that move as hard as you like (which ain't the same as "as hard as you can").

The exact stats used and actually Waterbending as a whole is under some flux. I'm considering this change.
Waterbending: When you psychically manipulate water [to attack?], roll+Fluid. On a hit, choose from the list. On a 10+, choose 3 and keep your water. On a 7-9, choose 1, and you lose the water afterward. You may pick a single option multiple times.
     * Deal 1 harm.
     * Impose a tag on a foe.
     * Impose an environmental tag.
If you take the harm option multiple times, it is considered one large attack for purposes of ignoring armor (even if it narratively considered multiple strikes).
This is to go with an idea I've been tossing around about having one of the Waterbender's gear options be some sort of water container that can hold n uses of water. You pull out 1 use to do general waterbending, but you can totally lose it. You still have n-1 uses though. You can fill it up whenever it makes sense to with no cost or anything. This is more of a model of the show's big limitation on waterbenders, justifies keeping the pretty strong power level (if you concentrate it, you can do as much harm as a fire blast), differentiate from Airbending and MWI again, and isn't too hampered because Waterbenders have a ton of sub-bendings to take advantage of.

Sub-bendings brings me to the big point today! I'm going to be taking on something rather ambitious I've decided, with encouragement from S-G: sub-playbooks. What is a Sub-Playbook? In essence, a sub-playbook is a playbook in that it's a character concept attached to some moves. However, it's not a whole playbook in that you can not ONLY play a sub-playbook. Regular playbooks come with arrays of stats, look options, gear, and represent the broad character archetypes of the game's story. Sub-playbooks have none of that, instead choosing to represent a smaller, more specific archetype WITHIN the broader regular playbooks, with a smaller number of moves and, often, an "entry condition."
I'm not inventing the concept - while I haven't seen it in a full hack and don't know who did the first, the name I think of when I think of supplemental playbooks (I use those names interchangeably btw) is Jonathan Walton, who did a whole 7 of them for Apocalypse World. Some examples include The Valkyrie, a Battlebabe who can call upon the souls of the dead, and The Fallen, a Quarantine that instead of waking up from cryo-stasis came back from space.
Another example is The Gunslinger, who I wrote myself for the Battlebabe/Gunlugger and have yet to put into full playbook form, though I totally should get back to that when I return from Morocco. If you want to check him out now, LINK
So here's the basic structure of a Sub-Playbook.
Entry Condition: A narrative or mechanical (but usually narrative) condition that must be filled to gain access to the sub-playbook. Without fulfilling the condition, you cannot take moves from the sub-playbook. Not every sub-playbook needs to have an entry condition - some are available to all.
 Concept: Simple enough. What is this sub-playbook? Typically, the concept is more specific than a regular playbook's, and either requires more elaboration than a single move to fill the concept or is simply too niche to fall into the regular playbook's move list (which represent the core things that the playbook could be good at).
 Moves: A sub-playbook's core, like any playbook's, is its moves. These are exactly like a regular playbooks, but of course all revolve around the sub-playbook's concept. There are usually fewer than in a regular playbooks; for my own purposes, a sub-playbook will have between two and four moves, with three as a standard metric.
 So, by now you might have gathered what I intend to break out into sub-playbooks: weird bendings. There are a lot of strange alternative bendings that I would be stupid to exclude entirely, but don't consider important enough to be in the core playbook's move list. Here's my list of ones that will tentatively become sub-playbooks.
* The Lightbender
* The Soundbender
* The Sandbender
* The Plantbender
* The Bloodbender
So, that leaves these in the core:
* The Lightningbender
* The Metalbender
* Phase Mastery (The Icebender and The Vaporbender)
As well as Heatbending (covered alternatively under Conductive) and Healing. I'm considering also pulling out the Vaporbender and returning Phase Mastery to just Icebending, but I need to think a little further on them.
I could also, in theory, use the same concept for various other playbooks. One in particular that I'm definitely considering is an Artistocrat sub-playbook called The Geisha, since that's a significant archetype that shares a lot in common with the Aristocrat, but is less broad. In theory, it's not unfathomable for my Samurai playbook to convert to a broader name of a heavy warrior and the Samurai in particular would become a sub-playbook - however, there are NOT plans to do that, it's more an example of what I could do with the sub-playbooks.
edit: I had to take a break from typing this, and by the time I got back to it I've designed a pretty good set of moves for The Scholar, and it puts The Doctor as a sub-playbook as well! I'll share that stuff soon enough.

So here, let's try this out a bit.
The Plantbender
Entry Condition: When a waterbender (anyone who has the Waterbending move) has spent a night in a great living forest, they are eligible to take the following moves when you advance (as either a playbook move or a move from another playbook).
Plantbending: When you plantbend [!], roll+Solid [!!]. On a 10+, the plants do your bidding. On a 7-9, choose 2:
     * The plants don't your bidding.
     * You are overtaxed or vulnerable (take a relevant tag).
     * The plants are broken or destroyed. [!!!]
There is so much wrong with that list. I haven't nailed down those choices in any way, but that's the idea I'm going with.
[!] This is not the real trigger. It will likely be something along the lines of "When you manipulate living plants through the water inside them..."
[!!] This is based upon the Foggy Swamp style's tendency toward rigidity and such. It's also indicative of the idea that plants are a much more stable medium than water - no one is going to accuse plants of being Fluid. However, I have niggling doubts that I should instead be using Natural, but I cover that up in a bit.
[!!!] Unlike with water, which you now have to worry about losing quantity of, as long as you take other negative effects your plants will stick around. Again, more stable than standard water.
Extraction: When you're surrounded by plants, you may draw all the water out of them (killing all of them in the process) to obtain 1 Water (as the gear option).
 Hey look, it's my favorite Waterbender Hama's move! Crazy witch lady was a very creative bender. Anyway, this is the move to drag water out of plants, but it kills them in the process. Maybe as MC you can add a plantless or dead plants environment tag or something, but that's all up to you.
This actually wasn't on my design sheet that I did today. Instead, there was a really lame stat-based thing about Standing Fast with Fluid or something. Yeah, pretty lame.
Also, this is the first time I'm referring to Water as the gear thing. I'm doing a lot with what is effectively specifically named Hold systems - starting to think I should make some tactile tokens or something. That could be fun. And more work, but hey, tokens!
Now let's see the third and final move. It's a little more involved and specific.
Plant Monster [!]: When you gather all the area's plants[!!] around yourself into a hulking monstrosity [!], roll+Natural [!!!]. On a hit, you have 1-armor, but cannot bend until the plants are released [!!!!]. Additionally, on a 10+, you have 5 Plant [!!!!!]. On a 7-9, 3 Plant. Spend 1 Plant at any time to:
     * Deal +1 Harm
     * Suffer -1 Harm
You also lose 1 Plant for each 7-9 or 6- you roll while holding the plants [!!!!!!]. When you have 0 Plant, or if you voluntarily release the plants, the plants fall away the the environment is tagged plantless.
This is, unmistakably, Huu's signature move in both The Swamp and The Day of Black Sun. It was a strong, large, flashy move. It was also freaking awesome and I want it represented.
[!] Both phrases I use here are sub-par, but seeing as the best even the Wikia can get for it is "Swamp Monster" I'm doing my best. I DO think this needs to be a big thing, and this will likely be the image for The Plantbender, so there'll at least be a bit of a visual cue.
[!!] Yes, ALL of the area's plants. This is a balance factor - no, you can't just drop the plants and grab a new batch. Doing this expends the area, as is made quite clear in the last little bit as well. I AM considering a clause that would essentially require a certain level of vegetation to use it - "I gather up those six or seven flowers" isn't what I want to hear.
[!!!] Natural! Huu was able to do this because of his understanding of the world's interconnectedness and this is very much about the plants themselves. Plus, his own style when doing this wasn't all that Solid. Lastly, this is a balance factor - if you're doing this, you're either going to be just average (if you didn't focus on Natural) or are going to be just average at something else (if you neglected something more key to Waterbenders or Plantbenders than Natural).
[!!!!] Nope, no bending. Not even additional plantbending. It's taking all of your effort to hold the beast together around you. You've essentially become something else for a time. However, all the basic moves are still usable, as are other moves that aren't about bending.
[!!!!!] I'm not calling out the number (though, like most numbers, that will be a playtest point), but the name. Plant is awful generic and I'm saying it a lot in this playbook. I considered Vines to match Huu's monster, but it's certainly not universal, as Huu himself showed off on the Day of Black Sun. I'm also considering Leaves, and if I do tokens for these special Holds, I will likely shape them like Leaves and call it that.
I actually somewhat like the options. They're low-key, and only augment what you're already doing instead of providing new weird actions. As far as I can tell, they're also not incredibly strong either. Something I AM iffy on is the phrasing of "at any time," since I think it might work better if you can't stack them.
[!!!!!!] Losing Leaves over time too! You don't just have them until you use 'em, they fade out over the battle. Whether I lose them on 7-9's might change, depending on how fast that really exhausts them. This basically helps to balance out that I'm giving either 5 or 3 of them. I want to make you capable of lasting a good battle with 'em, but not being super loaded up with power.

So yeah, lots of notes for the Plantbender, but it does an excellent job of demonstrating what I mean to do with sub-playbooks. What do you think?
End Recording,

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