Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Avatar World: A Return Look At Moves

Despite flaws in the show, I still thoroughly enjoyed Sword Art Online. Its soundtrack is nothing to write home about save for the occasional bit of quality.

(sorry for any typos I miss, I'm typing with gloves on because I wrecked my nails again and typing without them hurts)
So Avatar World's new draft is sitting nicely, and there might be a game of it this weekend at the Tacoma Game Day @ PLU. My bag will also have Monsterhearts, Sagas of the Icelanders, and probably some easy to play simple stuff like Quiet Year. I might also have some more special stuff that I'm jamming to at the time - last September's surprise appearance was Lasers & Feelings. I'll probably be carrying L&F again too, but I don't think I'll run it, but anyone's permitted to take my copy.
I'm contemplating what my surprise games might be. If I have the chance to read them more thoroughly, it might be Shock: Social Science Fiction (which I've wanted to try for months), Rookvale (same story), or a 1-2 page game (my own Superlite Heroes? Pocket Anima Prime? Some other game that I've converted to a simpler format for my own purposes?). We'll see. You'll have to come by!

Okay, but enough upcoming events! Let's turn to some Avatar World stuff. According to the read-me I wrote for AvW v1.2, my plan for v1.3 and further is as follows:
* Include the Plots and Threats for the MC, thus fully completing the system.
* Rewrite the moves I'm unhappy with.
* Make things presentable.
* Write sub-playbooks.
It wasn't in the read-me, but I want to include an MC Playsheet as well, as with Threats I should have enough content for one.
Over time I also want to write some pages in there of writing. Not really game-text, more just my writings about the game and playing / running it.

Today, I wanted to look at the playbooks more in-depth. More specifically, I wanted to look at what moves of theirs I was still happy with, which ones I want to axe or re-write, and a bit of why for each.
* Move means I don't like it and will be replacng it.
^ Move means I'm happy with it.


* Airbending.
This moves has been a thorn in my side more or less since I wrote it. In theory, I'm okay with it, but it's one of the very first moves I wrote, and it shows. It's a mechanical mess, and not very comprehensive. I made it better when I rewrote the options to be fiction-focused, but it's still not good. It no longer even looks fun to me. It will be rewritten. In fact, it already has been! You'll just have to wait and see.
* Acceleration
No no no this has no reference to the fiction, is barely ever going to come up, and isn't even very helpful. It's just straight-up gonna be replaced. Maybe something linking into Oaths or Chi. Probably Oaths.
^ Attuned
Well, it's boring in form, but it's pretty much essential. If you didn't notice, Improvements can now only bring stats to +2 - it takes one of the benders or the scholar's stat-boosting move to get to +3, and that's the only way now. I can't really think of a limitation to this one the way I have fictional restrictions on the others, but whatever.
^ Nomad
It might be slid around a little, but I'm still like 80% cool with this one. Something rubs me wrong, but I don't know what. It might just be repeated viewings even.
* Redirection
This won't even be applicable any more. I don't know what I'll do; I could rewrite it or replace it, I haven't picked which yet.
^ Soundbending
From its inception this has been the best thing I've written for the Airbender.


^ Currency of Favors
Sure, why not? If anything it's BETTER than before thanks to the boosts to Chi.
^ Henchmen
Yup, still cool with this.
^ Intrigue
It hides in mechanics a bit as a stat-substitution move, but it is still definitely links into the fiction, and all but one stat array is going to significantly benefit from it.
^ Mastermind
It might be one of the most complex moves I've written, but it's also still fine.
^ Silver Tongue
Yup, still cool here too. I feel pretty happy with the Aristocrat. Oh wait...
* Succubus
Almost had a perfect run of it. Two problems here, one major, one minor. Minor: I'm trying to eradicate +1 Forward when I can, so that'd be different. Major: It exists here because that's a major element of a lot of the Eastern media I like thinking Avatar World can support. However, given the default stance of most people toward Avatar World, I'm not sure it really belongs. Given that I'm considering a Geisha sub-playbook, I think I'll be eradicating it from the standard Aristocrat. In return I wrote a move that actually links into the Oaths system, which is shocking to me that there wasn't one directly connected to it already.


^/* Earthbending
It's not bad, I just don't feel it's great. The scope is both too broad and too small at once, by which I mean the trigger is ridiculously broad but the options don't feel representative to me of all the interesting issues that could arise. I wrote a new version of it, but I don't actually know which is better. So this one is basically just on the fence. For now, it's staying, as those who have played it were satisfied with how it felt.
^ Counteroffense
It's fine.
^ Defender
This is still good.
* Metalbending
Ugh, it's just so boring mechanically! In theory just the first line alone opens up this entire new realm of possibility, but it feels mechanically dull! Also I need to pick a format for writing stat-substitution, this uses a different phrasing than the Aristocrit did.
I'm trying to write a move that triggers when you bend metal to do X, where X is some iconic thing metalbending is used for, but I can't figure it out.
^ Rooted
Valuable for the same reasons as Attuned.
^ Vibration Sense
I like this one.


^ Firebending
I considered re-writing it, but then realized I actually like it. It WILL receive a small alteration, but it won't be mechanically large, just expands the fictional range of things. You'll see.
* Conductive
I haven't liked this since I first wrote it, but haven't come up with an interesting thing to replace it. For a while I've tried to come up with an interesting way to make this mechanical, but I think I'll just fold it into regular firebending and make something new.
^ Hot-Headed
One of my absolute favorites still, even with the +1 Forward. It is, after all, intentionally the lesser of the two rewards., though is also less ruinous to your reputation.
^ Lightningbending
Might rewrite the options a bit, make the Tag on the second option a bit more open-ended, but I'm still into this one.
^ Sunsoul
I've justified these already.
^ Stance Focus
A complicated text, but one of my favorite moves thematically. You know what I DO want to change though? The name. Maybe Flames of Passion or something.


^ Calm Stability
Yeah, okay. It can stay for now. I see nothing wrong except the complexity of the trigger.
^ Clarity of Senses
This hasn't change since before the Tags/Chi rewrites, and I don't know how huge this is right now. But since it's not about changing the environment, it basically just adds a thing that you can immediately use to let you use your Chi. Until I see an issue, it's staying.
^ Guru
Completely untested in light of the new Oaths, but I don't see any problems. Kind of a ridiculous way to grind out some Chi, but whatever.
^/* River of Energy
With Chi also being XP now, this is starting to look absurd. If I can come up with a cool rewrite / replacement I'll implement that.
^ Spiritual
I've used this in a game and it did exactly what I wanted. It's costly, but it's also very cool.
^ Stillness
So far the weakest stat-substitution move, but not so weak as to need replacing.


^ Always Prepared
It makes me hesitate, having had multiple Scholars and this getting almost no use, but I think it's because of the complexity rather than uselessness. I'm still fond.
^ Construct
The physical to Mastermind's mental, I'm still all in here.
* Fight With You Head
Mechanically complex and not all that appropriate to the current Tag system, I could do better.
^ Ingenious
Like Attuned, the lack of a fictional condition concerns me, but not all that much.
^ Think It Through
Still like it.
^ Trained Observer
Always a player-favorite mechanic. Reminder: Even though you get a question on failure, the MC still gets their hard move.


^ Ambush
Easily facilitated by Stealth, but also pretty friendly to being used with just Move With Intention. Also, with the current value of Chi it's at the best it's ever been, balance-wise. Among the most absolutely ruthless moves in the whole game.
* Dim Mak
Complicated, and again uses Tags in a way not totally fitting with the new system. I could live with it, but I'm going to at least try to rewrite it. I'm also going to rename it to something simpler probably - Dim Mak is clever, but this isn't a touch of death, and lots of people don't know what Dim Mak means.
^/* Environment Master
Aside from needing a new name because this is dull as hell, I don't think I've adequately considered how this interacts with the Chi / Tags now. It SOUNDS like it might be able to lead to a recursive loops, which I'd rather avoid.
* Samurai
Whoops, "oath with yourself" is not mechanically relevant anymore, changes incoming! Also the usual question of cultural appropriation of the samurai concept versus the not-quite-as-evocative Knight. I think this isn't misrepresentative (it presents the Samurai as armored warriors bound to a lord), but it might still be problematic. I don't know the right communities to ask about this any further! Help people!
^ Stealth
Yeah, this is still great. Except that "Ninja's" prey isn't necessarily true any more. But that is a very simple fix that's just been slipping past my radar.
^ Wire-Fu


^ Water
^ Waterbending
These two moves are inseparable. I think I'll add a brief line about "If you a different playbook taking Water as an Improvement, you also get Waterbending." Fix up the little Witch issue of Hexes without Tokens or vice versa.
I'm considering messing with the list of options for Waterbending though.
^ Healer
I'm still down with this.
* Icebending
This has the exact same issue as Metalbending. We'll see what I come up with.
^ Moonchosen
Hooray! You already know what I'm going to say.
^/* Stances
I don't know if this is actually useful! Also the name has to go. I need to really think on this one.
^ Never Dry
Aside from having extreme difficulties nailing a good name on this one, the move itself is fine.

Uh, that's every playbook move in v1.2. Also I'm considering a small change to Observe Carefully inspired by a thing I wrote in the post! Again, you'll see when I actually work out if I want to do what I'm thinking of.

Let's gather together the moves I don't like, or need to think about:
* Airbending
* Acceleration
* Redirection
* Succubus
* Earthbending
* Metalbending
* Conductive
* River of Energy
* Fight With Your Head
* Dim Mak
* Environment Master
* Samurai
* Icebending
* Stances
Okay. That's a pretty good list.

If you have ideas, please share. Looking forward to writing some new stuff, seeya soon!
End Recording,

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