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TheAmishPirate
2015-07-07, 09:48 PM
Hole in the Sky
A superhero game of anxiety, loss, and trust.

I want to design games for a living. I am not currently designing enough games. The solution? Design a dang game. :smalltongue:

Inspired by Applejackís Infrastructure Adventures (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?377569-Equestria-World-Applejack-s-Infrastructure-Adventures), Iím making my own hack of Apocalypse World (http://apocalypse-world.com/). In the spirit of stealing good ideas, Iím going to start with the Agendas, move on to basic moves, and then maybe work on the playbooks. Gotta figure out the game first, then how it plays, and then move on from there.

The Basic Pitch: ďWe can bust small arms dealers all the doo-dah day, but a hole opens up in the sky? Three hundred feet above us? Thatís endgame.Ē -Avengers, Age of Ultron

You donít know what it is. You donít know when it is coming. All you know is that the Hole in the Sky is coming for your world. Eventually. Inexorably. And? You know none of you can beat it. You are the best your world has, and youíre not good enough.

So. What do you do?

AGENDAS:
-Stain the world with the Hole in the Sky
-Keep the players fueled
-Play to find out what happens

First, the major difference between this game and AW; this game comes built with a direction in mind. When you sit down to play this game, you are figuring out what to do about the Hole in the Sky. So, naturally, everything you do should be able to trace a thread back to it. You do science to figure out how to solve the Hole. The team drama stems from the Holeís pressure. The world changes due to the characterís efforts against the Hole. Even if the players decide to do absolutely nothing, they make the decision in the context of ignoring the Hole in the Sky.

Second, with a direction already built for the game, the players shouldnít need much to get them going. Your job is to give them the means to get going. Make sure they have drama, conflict, problems to solve, all that good stuff. This doesnít mean that they always need to be moving. If they want a rest stop, give them a rest stop. Theyíve earned it. But be sure to give them a clear reminder that youíve topped off their tanks, and the road is calling. They wonít sit still for long.

Third, play to find out. When you sit down for the first session, you should not know how the Hole in the Sky might be solved. You shouldnít even know what the Hole in the Sky is. A few vague feelings, some faint impressions, nothing more. The players will tell you what their characters are afraid of, where they are weak, and what they absolutely canít handle. Build the Hole in the Sky to hit them where it hurts most, and see what they do.
And finally, the first Basic Move:

When you assure someone of your intentions, roll +(stat I donít know yet). On a 10+, they believe you, begrudgingly or gladly according to their nature. On a 7-9, the MC - or the Player if against another character - chooses:
-They draw a line; cross it at your own risk.
-They want hard proof in their hands. Give it to them and youíre good.
-They want some concrete assurance, on the record, regardless of how true it actually is.
On a 6 or lower, they donít believe you. Brace for the worst.

See, you arenít like most people. If you want to do something, there isnít much stopping you from doing it. If the world got its act together, maybe they could beat you, maybe they canít, who knows? But what they can do is resist. They can dig in their heels and make your life a living nightmare. They can drive up the costs of all your hopes and dreams until youíre forced to abandon them, or pay an ugly price. This move is your defense against that. And, to possibly a greater extent, the interference of your own teammates. If you're a playbook that doesn't have good Assurance rolls, then you need to think very carefully about how you're going to please the masses. Or better yet, how to leave them in the dark.

This move illustrates how I want the social game to go down; powerful people making big decisions they aren't wholly sure of, and having to deal with the responsibility of what comes next.


Iím open for questions, suggestions, anything. Iím very much making this up as I go along, and everything here is subject to change. If you want to get an idea of what a Hole in the Sky campaign might look like, read Kingdom Come (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_Come_%28comics%29), it is a major inspiration here and a darn good read besides.

Thanqol
2015-07-07, 10:15 PM
So this is a superhero game?

I think a phrase you want to use and get your head around is 'Outside Context Problem'.

Have you read Excession? It's a fantastic Outside Context story. It's about a utopian, post-scarcity society coming up against an OCP but - here's the thing that makes it work - it's not the society at it's best facing the problem. It's the society at it's worst. It's the all the worst, most petty, most venal and most insurmountable problems of the Culture all manifesting at the same time. Same thing with Game of Thrones! The White Walkers are the series' OCP but the society is too venal and corrupt to deal with them effectively. Think of Cortez arriving in the middle of an Aztec civil war.

I think that a big part of OCPs is the society's failure to react to them properly, heck, it's implied in your quote 'fight arms dealers all day' - Iron Man is criticising society's backwards priorities in the face of a OCP.

OCPs aren't 'you can't beat it'. They're 'society needs to change dramatically and suddenly to adapt to it'.


-They want hard proof in their hands. Give it to them and youíre good.
-They want some concrete assurance, on the record, regardless of how true it actually is.

What's the difference between these?


When you assure someone of your intentions, roll +(stat I donít know yet). On a 10+, they believe you, begrudgingly or gladly according to their nature. On a 7-9, the MC - or the Player if against another character - chooses:

Is this just 'they believe your intentions'? Not believe it's the truth?

Think Captain America verses Iron Man. Cap may know Iron Man thinks he's acting in the best interests of the world. Cap may also believe he's a deluded idiot who has to be stopped. That's a success.
On a failure Cap 'doesn't believe' Iron Man, so what? Does he assume that Iron Man is trying to take over the world and is trying to deflect from that?


E: I think you might like to look at Burning Empires the rpg. I haven't played it but I understand it's all about this.

TheAmishPirate
2015-07-08, 07:47 PM
So this is a superhero game?

Absolutely it is. It's conceivable that it could be reflavored in a different context, but I'm building it to be a superhero game.

I'm going to edit that into the first post explicitly, that's an important point that's never outright stated.


I think a phrase you want to use and get your head around is 'Outside Context Problem'.

Have you read Excession? It's a fantastic Outside Context story. It's about a utopian, post-scarcity society coming up against an OCP but - here's the thing that makes it work - it's not the society at it's best facing the problem. It's the society at it's worst. It's the all the worst, most petty, most venal and most insurmountable problems of the Culture all manifesting at the same time. Same thing with Game of Thrones! The White Walkers are the series' OCP but the society is too venal and corrupt to deal with them effectively. Think of Cortez arriving in the middle of an Aztec civil war.

I think that a big part of OCPs is the society's failure to react to them properly, heck, it's implied in your quote 'fight arms dealers all day' - Iron Man is criticising society's backwards priorities in the face of a OCP.

OCPs aren't 'you can't beat it'. They're 'society needs to change dramatically and suddenly to adapt to it'.

Yes! Exactly! The Hole in the Sky is an OCP through and through. I haven't read Excession, but I will now. I'm going to write up a post detailing what the Hole in the Sky is like, but for now I'll talk a little more about the intent behind things.

You're spot-on in saying how you deal with the Hole in the Sky/OCP. No matter what happens, the world cannot exist as it once did. Either the OCP wrecks it completely, or the heroes change it into something that can survive. Maybe the OCP is a massive flood, and they successfully convert all civilization into underwater cities. Maybe the OCP is an alien invasion, and they unite the world, super-militarize it, and beat the stuffing out of them. The world is going to change, they are fighting to change it on their terms.

Which leads into what gets me interested in OCPs, and this game as a whole. I have never seen a game deal with anxiety in a big way. Nothing like clinical anxiety or depression, I can't speak for those. I'm talking about the anxiety of a kid who hits his teen years, realizes that his parents will one day die, and not have any idea how he's going to deal with that. Facing off against something horrible you know is coming, and you know you cannot do anything about it. That's the fear we see in Tony Stark in Age of Ultron, that's the fear I want to explore, and an OCP is how I'm going to try and do it.

Additionally, this taps into where I foresee a lot of the game's conflict coming from. Every character has different things they hold dear, things they'd want to deliver through this catastrophe. A place, a person, a concept, etc. Whichever approach they choose to deal with the Hole in the Sky - and believe me, there are more than one - they want something that keeps their precious things safe. Finding a solution that:

1) Saves the world
2) Keeps everybody's precious things intact
3) The public can accept and get behind willingly

is going to be very, very hard. Likely impossible. Combine that with characters acting on incomplete information, their best guesses, and in response to their deeper fears, and you have all the conflict you could want.


What's the difference between these?

One is tangible, physical evidence. One is a personal promise that's on the record/people know you said this thing.

As an example, Iron Man is building an army of AI robots. This makes many people nervous, and somebody from, I don't know, the U.N. approaches him. Iron Man tries to assure the councilor that these robots couldn't possibly harm people, they're for fighting aliens only, but he only gets a partial success. The councilor could choose to say, "See, that's all well and good, but glitches happen. Set up a demonstration of this tech to show us they really follow the laws of robotics, and if you pass then cool." Or instead of that, maybe he'll rub the bridge of his nose, sigh, and say, "Look Tony; tensions are high right now. Everybody's scared, and heaven knows I'm scared. If you could make a public address about all this, then that'd go a long way to calming things down."

In the first scenario, Iron Man now has to set up this whole demonstration, and pray that nothing goes horribly wrong. In the second, he has to make a public statement of his intentions that everybody's going to hold him to. And, as things get dicier, he'll probably have to make more and more to clarify things until he wins trust in a big way, or the people decide they've had enough of him toeing the line. And if it's discovered he's been lying, then his credibility gets flushed down the toilet.

And now that I've come this far, I may as well write out an example for the other options as well. The councilor could, also on a partial success, say "You built a private army?! What were you...no, I don't want to know what you were thinking. Look; I can keep this from blowing up, but those robots had better not beep without our say so, or there's going to be hell to pay." Now his big robot army is saddled with red tape and beuracracy, unless Iron Man wants to risk the wrath of the U.N.

But if Iron Man gets lucky, and gets a full success, the councilor's relieved instead. This is Iron Man, he knows what he's doing, he hasn't steered us wrong yet, if this was anybody else hoooooo boy he doesn't want to think about that. Maybe he cracks a joke or two to lighten the mood, asks for a few of the next models to take his kids home from soccer practice, and they part on good terms. Iron Man has his robot army, and the U.N. is alright with that.

If Iron Man gets really unlucky, he fails, and the councilor's demanding he dismantle the army at once. Oh, and if Iron Man does anything, security is probably on the way as we speak, and now the Avengers have to figure out how to get Iron Man out of the U.N. building without causing an international incident.

Regardless of how I worded it, this is how I picture this move working. See how much easier Iron Man's life is if he can deal with people well? And can you see how much trouble could've been avoided if the U.N. had just never found out about his robot army?


Is this just 'they believe your intentions'? Not believe it's the truth?

Think Captain America verses Iron Man. Cap may know Iron Man thinks he's acting in the best interests of the world. Cap may also believe he's a deluded idiot who has to be stopped. That's a success.
On a failure Cap 'doesn't believe' Iron Man, so what? Does he assume that Iron Man is trying to take over the world and is trying to deflect from that?

Hrmm. Good point. Maybe this is a move that has different effects when rolled against PCs? It's not the cleanest design, but I really like how this move interacts with the public/society, and I don't see it meshing well when applied to your teammates. Batman doesn't talk to Robin the same way he talks to Commissioner Gordon, if you will. Fellow heroes are on a different level, and can do different things to mess with you.

As for intentions vs. truth, it's hard to say. This is convincing somebody of a strange mix of "I have a very good idea of what I'm doing" and "I'm on your side, trust me." It's truth, with a healthy dose of intentions thrown in as well. I don't know what exactly to call that, but there has to be a word to sum that up.


E: I think you might like to look at Burning Empires the rpg. I haven't played it but I understand it's all about this.

From reading a few reviews, I can see some similarities. I'll see if I can pick up the core book and give it a read.

Thanqol
2015-07-08, 08:24 PM
Additionally, this taps into where I foresee a lot of the game's conflict coming from. Every character has different things they hold dear, things they'd want to deliver through this catastrophe. A place, a person, a concept, etc. Whichever approach they choose to deal with the Hole in the Sky - and believe me, there are more than one - they want something that keeps their precious things safe. Finding a solution that:

1) Saves the world
2) Keeps everybody's precious things intact
3) The public can accept and get behind willingly

is going to be very, very hard. Likely impossible. Combine that with characters acting on incomplete information, their best guesses, and in response to their deeper fears, and you have all the conflict you could want.

You've talked a lot about society shaping, so I'll also recommend the Kingdom RPG. It's the opposite to Burning Empires; clean and small and simple, but it's all about people fighting over the shape of a society and determining what's important to them (something: Kingdom works ten thousand times better at the table than over PBP; it's a game with a lot of arguing). Were you in that game?


If Iron Man gets really unlucky, he fails, and the councilor's demanding he dismantle the army at once. Oh, and if Iron Man does anything, security is probably on the way as we speak, and now the Avengers have to figure out how to get Iron Man out of the U.N. building without causing an international incident.

Regardless of how I worded it, this is how I picture this move working. See how much easier Iron Man's life is if he can deal with people well? And can you see how much trouble could've been avoided if the U.N. had just never found out about his robot army?

Okay. Do you think that you're accidentally filling in the creative void?

I mean, the question of the game is, 'Does Iron Man build an army of robots to save the world from the OCP?'. If the answer to that question is 'he has to make a roll using this one move' then you've just kind of... solved the problem that the game is about. Vincent talks a lot about the Creative Void in his blog. Other examples of the Creative Void are in Dogs in the Vineyard where there are no, none, zero rules about morality. The game is absolutely about moral arguments and passing judgement but there are no rules that interact with it. That's what happens at the table.


As for intentions vs. truth, it's hard to say. This is convincing somebody of a strange mix of "I have a very good idea of what I'm doing" and "I'm on your side, trust me." It's truth, with a healthy dose of intentions thrown in as well. I don't know what exactly to call that, but there has to be a word to sum that up.

For PCs you probably want to go with mechanical incentives like Seduce/Manipulate does rather than have the game stop while people figure out what their characters now believe.

Consider that Iron Man doesn't want people to believe him - he just wants people not to mess with him until he's finished building his robot army. What he's after is time.

EDIT: Time should absolutely be a core thing. Perhaps the core thing, in the same way that 'stuff' is the core thing of AW.

TheAmishPirate
2015-07-09, 08:57 AM
You've talked a lot about society shaping, so I'll also recommend the Kingdom RPG. It's the opposite to Burning Empires; clean and small and simple, but it's all about people fighting over the shape of a society and determining what's important to them (something: Kingdom works ten thousand times better at the table than over PBP; it's a game with a lot of arguing). Were you in that game?

Eeeeeyup. I was on the B-squad. Still have the pdf lying around somwhere too.


Okay. Do you think that you're accidentally filling in the creative void?

I mean, the question of the game is, 'Does Iron Man build an army of robots to save the world from the OCP?'. If the answer to that question is 'he has to make a roll using this one move' then you've just kind of... solved the problem that the game is about. Vincent talks a lot about the Creative Void in his blog. Other examples of the Creative Void are in Dogs in the Vineyard where there are no, none, zero rules about morality. The game is absolutely about moral arguments and passing judgement but there are no rules that interact with it. That's what happens at the table.

No, I don't think so. At least with my understanding of the concept.

In the example above, Iron Man has already built his army. That's over and done with. The move describes the world reacting to what he's done, and possibly attaching greater costs and constraints to actually using his robot army. If he wants to avoid that, then he's going to have to put in the extra work to make sure nobody finds out he built said army. But the important thing is that the move has nothing to do with Iron Man sitting down, saying "I'll fix this with a robot army", and then building the robot army.


For PCs you probably want to go with mechanical incentives like Seduce/Manipulate does rather than have the game stop while people figure out what their characters now believe.

Doubly so since this is one of the big social moves of this game. Once I know a little more about what mechanical benefits I can offer, I'll redo this move to offer them when rolled against PCs.


Consider that Iron Man doesn't want people to believe him - he just wants people not to mess with him until he's finished building his robot army. What he's after is time.

EDIT: Time should absolutely be a core thing. Perhaps the core thing, in the same way that 'stuff' is the core thing of AW.

Yes! I think you've hit the nail on the head. It's even implied with the whole "you don't know when it's coming" bit. Nobody knows how much time you all have, but by gum you'd better be making the most of what you've got. There's some mechanics I haven't typed up yet that do some nasty things with time limits.


As an aside, I'm tickled that we immediately dove into the Avengers to make examples. Originally those two movies were going to be the primary inspirations for this system, then I read Kingdom Come and realized it was much closer to what I was aiming at. Avengers deals with this game's themes only tangentially, never really digging deep into them. Even if you're not a big comic book fan, I can highly recommend reading it.

TheAmishPirate
2015-07-14, 08:02 PM
Concept: The Hole in the Sky

As the name of the game suggests, this is a mighty important concept. In a nutshell, it's the big, nasty thing that's going to destroy your world. But the first thing you're going to have to understand about the Hole in the Sky is that there's not much more I can tell you about it. Don't get me wrong, it means a solid, definite thing, but it itself is undefined. It'll change in a big way every time you play this game. Very similar to the Psychic Maelstrom in that regard.

So, what can I tell you about it? What about it never changes?

Constants

-It will destroy the world. Whether by hostile intent, cosmic indifference, or series of unfortunate events, it will be the end of the world as you know it.

-The world as it is cannot stop nor survive it. The destruction will be total, and all your resistance futile. Honestly, delaying it might even be out of your pay grade. This doesn't mean that you can't get the world to a place where it's ready for it, it just means that if it showed up tomorrow you'd be hopelessly screwed.

-It is a tangible, physical thing. Even if it is borne of ideas or belief, it must have a physical form. Case in point; suppose there are two superpowers in an ever-escalating standoff that will surely lead to a M.A.D. war. In this case, the war is the Hole in the Sky, not the tension leading up to it nor the clashing ideologies.

-It is imminent. This isn't some dormant threat that might someday wake up if things go wrong. The first domino has already fallen, and its arrival is inevitable.

-Nobody knows when it will arrive. At least, nobody in your world. You might get some hints later, and maybe you can make an educated guess, but be prepared to be wrong.

-It is a generally unknown threat. The common man might see signs of its arrival, but he lacks the foresight and wisdom to make sense of it all. The players are among a select few who even know there's a threat coming, and they will spend a great deal of the game trying to comprehend it. Suffice to say, the world has never seen this before, and likely won't live to see it again.

I think those six sum up the constants pretty well. To add on top of that, there are a few variables as well:

Variables

-Presence. There might be no sign of its arrival, there might be rumblings in the distant for those with good hearing, there might be clear and present dangers heralding its arrival. This can change not only in the initial setup, but over the course of the game.

-Scale. While most problems are at the least national in scope, there's nothing to say that your world is any bigger than a small town. Or a street. Or even a single house. Go as big or as small as you like, so long as it's your world.

-Cause. I touched on this a little bit above, but the Hole in the Sky doesn't necessarily have to be a hostile entity. To take from real life, it could be the Yellowstone Volcano getting ready to blow. Floods, invading armies, lumbering cosmic horrors, so long as the end result is your world getting destroyed, I don't care why it's happening. Though you probably should.

-Player involvement. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And sometimes, your heroes misread a problem entirely, and set about building their own destruction. Let them do it. It'll be cool.

That's about all I've got right now for the concept itself. I will throw more points up there as I think of them. But here's one of the big, lingering questions; how to figure out when it arrives?

Mechanic: Harbingers

A Harbinger is, simply put, an event which satisfies the following conditions:

1) It marks the progress of the Hole in the Sky. Now that it has passed, the threat is looming closer.
2) It alters the fictional landscape in an irrevocable, unignorable way. Simply put, it changes the game.

How do the MC and players determine when a Harbinger has occurred? Don't know! Haven't figured that bit out yet. I feel like "you'll know it when you see it" leaves things a mite too vague.

But! I do know how they signal the Hole in the Sky's arrival. Whenever a Harbinger occurs, the MC must make a Doomsday/Harbinger roll. Using some number of dice, they roll against the number of Harbingers that have happened. If they get higher than the number of Harbingers, great! No disaster yet. But what if they fail the roll? Does that mean the Hole in the Sky is here? No. It means that it's almost here. You've got half an hour, tops.

Can you imagine suddenly giving your players fifteen minutes until the end of the world, and seeing what they'll do? I don't know about you guys, but that sounds awesome.

Here's a few other ideas I've been toying with that play with Harbingers:
-Whenever a Harbinger happens, change up a character's playbook in some meaningful way. Maybe tie it to Advancement? Unsure.
-Whenever a Harbinger happens, give each player a Gain, a Loss, and/or a Tilt. The Gain is something that's absolutely good for them and their cause. A Loss is something that's absolutely bad for the things they hold dear. A Tilt is something that throws a big wrench or complication into their plans.
-Give players the ability to aid/interfere with the Doomsday roll. Maybe there's some science-y playbooks that want to play chicken with Armageddon, and they get some bonus if they interfere with the roll. Maybe there's some seer-like playbook that sees glimpses of the coming doom, knows they need all the time they can get, and in turn get some bonus from aiding the roll.
-Adding on to that, tie benefits/penalties not to what the player does, but to what the overall player modifier is. If the players as a whole aid the roll, do one thing, if they intefere, do another. Force their decision as a team to mean something.

TheAmishPirate
2015-09-15, 08:25 PM
Okay. Do you think that you're accidentally filling in the creative void?

This darn question has been eating at my brain for the last month. It's almost entirely the reason I switched over to another project to let these ideas simmer more. I thought I had answered it sufficiently, that I wasn't filling in the creative void, but I kept coming back to one, specfic problem:

I had no idea what was in the creative void for this game. Put another way, I didn't know what the game's object (http://lumpley.com/index.php/anyway/thread/805) was.

I did some thinking and read a lot of words, and then I came upon this bit of insight into RPG design. This comment (http://lumpley.com/index.php/anyway/thread/807#19364) is the lead-in, the comment below it is the wisdom. I knew there was something about anxiety that was driving me to make this thing, but I'd never actually stopped to write down what I might be trying to say.

After a bunch more thinking, writing, and some re-writing, here is what I am (currently) aiming for as the object of this game:


The object of Hole in the Sky is to save your world from annihilation. You might not be able to do it, though, because your world is tangled, fragile, and weak, and you'll never have enough time.

This is the very first statement about this game, the first over-arching concept that feels like it encompasses both Age of Ultron and Kingdom Come, at least as they apply to this game. It plants trust and acceptance squarely in the creative void - I think! - and rejects total despair and detachment. It makes time a valuable commodity. It asks the heroes what they value, where their assurance/security comes from, and how reliable it actually is. In short, it does a lot of things that line up with what I want for this game, gives me a solid direction for development, and finally answers Thanqol's question.

And to answer that question; yes, that mechanic does fill in the creative void just a little too much. Trust shouldn't be something that's earned on a dice roll. The world should not be okay with what you do just because you passed a check. I still like the concept of a move that deflects attention, and encourages characters who are bad at that move to hide what they're doing. Maybe I can cannibalize the ideas behind the move and make it into something else.

TheAmishPirate
2015-10-13, 07:02 PM
"That's the problem with heroes, really. Their only purpose in life is to thwart others. They make no plans, develop no strategies. They react instead of act. Without villains, heroes would stagnate. Without heroes, villains would be running the world. Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic."
óKang the Conqueror

Villains Act, Heroes React. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VillainsActHeroesReact)

Let's talk a little about Basic Moves vs. Playbook Moves.

Basic moves are going to be the bread and butter of your everyday hero. Thinking on your feet, protecting the innocent, defeating the villain, acting with style, all the stuff a good hero needs. If you are interested in feeling like a hero, stopping crime, and saving the day, use the Basic Moves. Problem is, that's not why you're here, is it? You're here to stop a worldwide calamity beyond the imagination of the common man. And the only way you can do that is by changing society, adapting it into something capable of weathering this catastrophe.

Heroes aren't good at changing society. That's not their job. A hero is a public defender, a lot like a policeman or a firefighter. When somebody steals your purse, or you've left the stove on overnight, they're the ones who swoop in to rescue you. They aren't the ones dealing with drug use, unsafe fire codes, broken family units, etc. When they aren't dealing with a crisis, they're on patrol. They're training. They're keeping busy and keeping sharp so that when they're needed, they'll be ready.

Now imagine tasking a police chief with saving the entire East Coast from a devastating tsunami, and you haven't given him any special powers or authority. What's he going to do? Whatever he can within the scope of his previous power. What's society going to do? Unless they know a tsunami's coming, they're going to be demanding this punk be sacked for blatantly overstepping the bounds of his office.

That, dear reader, is the idea behind the basic moves. If you use them for the heroics that people expect of you, great! They will work exactly as you hope they would. Once you start using them to try and change society, suddenly your moves become a lot less appealing. Say that, when you subdue a villain, a really good roll means that the authorities have been notified, and will be ready and waiting to take the guy into custody. Only now, that villain you're trying to subdue? You need his help. He panicked, and forced a fight. You can beat him sure enough, but if you do? The authorities will be there, ready and waiting to whisk him out of your clutches. Or for a less contrived example, Thinking On Your Feet. In a pinch, a hero can come up with a "good enough" solution to a problem, be that saving bystanders from a collapsing bridge, or figuring out a way around The Freezinator's Ice-O-Matic. It's not a perfect plan, but when the plan only needs to work once, and soon? An imperfect plan is good enough. Not so when you're attempting to negotiate a deal where the U.N. will let you have your own robot army, and you've been put on the spot by some real inconvenient questions from politicians who don't seem to realize the world is going to end.

So, how do you actually manage to get things done? Your playbook moves. These are the moves and mechanics you use when you want to get real crap done. This is where Tony Stark goes into his lab and hunts for a silver bullet. This is where Batman retreats into the shadows, working his machinations to steer a course through this peril. This is where Black Widow dials up S.H.I.E.L.D. to see what insane experimental tech they can fast-track through requisitions. This is where Superman calls upon common humanity to unite the team. You'll all have your areas of expertise and unique leanings, and when you're in your zone you can do some real moving and shaking.

Of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And corpses. Plenty of those. Hope you like the road you're leading us down, because this ship doesn't turn easy.

TheAmishPirate
2015-10-31, 04:00 PM
Hey howdy hey it's some Basic Moves! To start with, here are the five stats that I'm tentatively working with:


Brawn
Brains
Wits
Spark
Strange


And here's three moves:

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When you Think On Your Feet, ask the MC for a solution to an immediate problem and roll +Brains. On a hit, the MC must tell you a solution that will work according to the following conditions. On a 10+, choose two. On a 7-9, choose three.

It will only work once, here and now
It will cause significant/specific collatoral damage
It will need a little dedicated time to set up
It will need a sacrifice

On a miss, the problem explodes in your face. Brace for the worst.

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When you Inspire Courage, give orders or reassurance to an allied NPC and roll +Spark. On a 10+, they follow your word to the best of their knowledge. On a 7-9, as a 10+, but only if (MC's choice):

You stay with them
You take no additional harm
The peril to them does not increase

On a miss, it's chaos. Brace for the worst.

For a PC, give orders or reassurance and roll +Spark. On a 10+, you both take +1 forward. On a 7-9, one of you takes +1 forward and the other takes -1 forward, their choice. On a miss, brace for the worst.

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When you Escape With Style, or hold your ground and make it look easy, roll +Wits. On a 10+ you do it, and your opponent is infuriated, humiliated, or otherwise shown up, according to their nature. On a 7-9, you flinch, hesitate, or stall; the MC can offer you a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice.

Important note: Style does not equal flamboyance. It can, but it depends on the character. Batman sidesteps a car without flinching? That's style. Spiderman does a triple backflip over Doc Ock's tentacle arms? That's style. Elan parries a strike with a quip and a wink? That's style too.

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On a related note, superhero violence is really hard to puzzle out. There's such a wide spectrum of heroes with differing levels of durability and strength, and on top of that you have to consider how much of a threat the world should pose if it really wanted to resist/fight these heroes. The Harm system in AW is a nice one, but I'm not so sure it's a good idea here.

I am thinking of a +Brawn move that attempts to end a fight right here, right now. Subdue, or something like that. Maybe if I piece together the violent basic moves, it will tell me something about what the violence system needs.

TheAmishPirate
2015-11-21, 10:34 AM
INSIGHT

Heroic violence doesn't need some carefully-constructed downside. Violence comes pre-packaged with a downside.

Say Batman punches out the Joker. What happens? Everybody cheers because they really weren't fond of the Joker, and he was long overdue for a punching. Batman is celebrated for his actions.

Say Batman punches out Commissioner Gordon. What happens? The entire police force goes to hunt down the vigilante Batman, because he just punched out the Commissioner. Seriously, what the heck, Batman?! That's not cool.

Say Batman punches out a Senator. What happens? Everybody loses their minds, because holy crap Batman just punched out a Senator. He's lost it. Our hero has been corrupted by the forces of evil. Call out everything, we gotta stop Batman before he punches more heads of state.

Does this need to be formalized? I'm not sure. On the one hand, a good MC would play this out honestly. On the other hand, it's important that the players recognize that punching all their problems will, in fact, lead to more and bigger problems. How this information gets communicated to the MC and the players will need some thinking.

Also, reading Dark Age has been a good for chewing on another AW-style system. I'm also going to look into Masks. There's ideas for systems in this game, but nothing concrete yet. I'm definitely leaning towards having some sort of Kingdom-like system for figuring out what happens to society/the world. The Harm/combat system is completely up in the air, but I know I need to have one.