Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Avatar World: The Ninjas Moves

I have waited for weeks to use a Mirror's Edge song because I wanted to put it on the Ninja moves. Mirror's Edge is one of my absolute favorite games, up there with Mass Effect 2 and The World Ends With You, and its soundtrack (mostly by Solar Fields) is amazing. New Eden is a mid-game chapter that has a lot of variety in its music - other pieces up for use were Heat, and possibly Kate for an Airbender post because of the very atmospheric atrium segment. So glad to finally have this out in there.

Hey, I'm here with the moves of The Ninja today! I'm surprised by the direction my mind took while writing these. I ended up making the Ninja's whole thing about using and accruing Chi in different ways. The Monk's deal is gonna be about having the Chi, the Waterbender is about placing Tags and setting up foes, but the Ninja is about using it inventively - they burn through it pretty quickly. They're also about incredible violence, but can't take too many hits.
All in all, it's taken me a really long time to really nail down what these moves are really about, but I'm very happy with how it's turned out in general. I think it does some rather creative mechanisms here I think.
On the other side, basically everything has a pretty high power level. I daresay this is the most blatantly overpowered playbook I've written. Still, at the same time, those overpowered mechanics look primed to inspire some really cool-sounding play since most of them rely on cool narration to trigger them. Of course, cool is subjective, but there's a lot of using the environment and doing crazy stunts, and that will sound cool.
Stealth: When you conceal yourself from view, roll+Fluid. On a hit, enemies can't see you and take the tag Ninja's Prey. On a 7-9, also select one of these:
     * You can't stay undetected here for long.
     * Someone is on alert now.
     * You can't keep track of everyone from your hiding place.
This is, originally, a core move of the playbook. However, I've since decided that THERE IS NO MANDATED MOVE FOR THE NINJA. That's basically necessary to fill in the lost space of The Martial Artist. Ninjas originally had a lot of focus on this, but I think that this is for the best anyway as I'd have a harder time making a more significant move to build the whole playbook around.
The tag Ninja's Prey is a built-in way for players to take advantage of their stealth to go on the offense with it without the Ambush move. Heck, it might even invalidate the Ambush move.
Environment Master (Option 1): When you trigger an Environment Tag, you can choose to reroll only one of the dice - which one is your choice.

Environment Master (Option 2): When you spend Chi to trigger an Environment Tag but still fail the roll, you get that Chi back.
Option 1 is a riskier option, about getting potentially more benefit out of it. The latter is about safety. It seems at first like it might be too powerful, but really it's the same sort of gameplay dilemma as seen in The Pool and Lady Blackbird - you have a chance to win based on your existing traits (your stat for the move), and you can invest your pool (chi) and if you win you lose that Chi and if you fuck up you get it back. Plus, environment tags are harder to place for the players, and players coming up with how they interact with the surroundings to do cool ninja stuff is something I don't mind slightly over-encouraging.
But yeah, I'm not sure which option is more fun to play. Gonna wait a touch before picking.
Also no, Environment Master is not the final name.
Wire-Fu: When you perform an implausible feat of athletics or a physics-defying acrobatic stunt, roll+Fluid. On a 10+, it's no problem for you, and you take +1 Forward. On a 7-9, you pull it off, but you either take -1 Forward, take an appropriate Tag, or lose 1 Chi (MC's choice).
This is my least favorite of the moves so far for the mechanism. It's just kinda boring. I like the trigger though. This is functional, but I hope to come up with a more interesting idea to go with the trigger. I'm just tired of stewing over this for days right now.
I do mean that this is for when you do improbable acts. If it's not over-the-top or unbelievable, it's either flavor or, more likely, it's Move With Intention. In fact, I might have an alternative version!
Wire-Fu (The Simpler Version): When you perform an implausible feat of athletics or a physics-defying acrobatic stunt, roll Move With Intention. On a hit, select an additional option from the list.
That's less complicated, but potentially a bit less interesting. It's also potentially more powerful too - there's a less powerful version as well that only gives the benefit on a 10+, but that doesn't seem as cool.
Ambush:When you attack a foe with a Tag indicating that they are unaware of your presence (such as Ninja's Prey, Unaware, or Blinded), don't bother rolling, just deal your harm. However, they're now aware of your position and don't have that Tag anymore.
Amount of power in this is probably fucking stupidly high. I'm absolutely insane. In fact, like, half of The Ninja's stuff here is overwhelmingly tough-sounding, but it also sounds sweet and crazy and fun.
Unconventional Weaponry: When you make a weapon out of something that was not meant as such, you can choose to use it as a 3-harm weapon instead of whatever harm value it already has.
Absolutely everything is dangerous in a ninja's hand. His own sword. The farmer's sickle. The drunkard's mug. That chair he's currently strapped to. Everything.
This might be a little over-powerful, but until I actually see that in play, it stays.
Hopefully this inspires some odd and interesting weapon choices. It also allows the D&D monk to use all of his utterly absurd-seeming specialty weapons. And nunchaku.
This move is also probably absurdly overpowered if you take it from some different playbooks.
Dim Mak: When you assault your foe's pressure points, roll+Hot. On a hit, they take the Tag Addled. Whenever an Addled foe attempts an action, you may spend a point of Chi to negate that action. Additionally, on a 10+, you immediately gain 2 points of Chi.
This is the Chi blocking move. In other words, this is how you play Ty Lee. Basically, you set them up, and then you pump your Chi into them to keep them from being a problem. On a 10+, you get a little extra so that you have a couple free stops before cutting into your own stock, whereas with a 7-9 you're immediately shot into your own supply.
Of course, the tag is a tag. Your friends, and you, can treat it just like any other tag, triggering it with Chi for re-rolls.
Dirty Fighting: When you trick your foe or otherwise deceive them, roll+Hot. On a 10+, pick two. On a 7-9, just one:
     * Deal an additional harm to them on your next attack.
     * Reduce their armor to 0.
     * Give them an appropriate Tag.
     * Gain one point of Chi.
There's two things I'm achieving here. Mechanically, I'm giving another Hot move. Narratively, I'm covering a lot of the tricky moves Ninjas do. I'm not entirely sure it's even necessary - I think Dirty Fighting of some kind could easily just be handled on-situation and mechanically promoted using Chi Keys.

The other thing you'll notice about this whole list is that there are, uh, seven moves instead of six. Not a problem - in fact, it means that I have room to remove one if it's deemed unnecessary (Dirty Fighting) or overpowered (Ambush) without threatening the diversity of the playbook. And if I decide I need them all, well, seven is just fine, as Monsterhearts shows us.

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