2014-03-24 : Ask a Frequent Question...

I like to answer questions. Please feel free!

1. On 2014-03-24, Joao said:

What's your expectations for the second round of playtesting AW: Dark Age?


2. On 2014-03-24, Vincent said:

Joao: It'll be the same as the first round. Enough has changed in the design that I'm going to need a new round of first impressions and general questions.

If that goes well, then later in the round I'll ask for volunteers to pay special attention to certain particular rules. I might say, for instance, "hey, would some of you be sure to play a Troll-Killer?" or "hey, would some of you be sure to try out the battle rules?" We'll see!

(If I've misunderstood your question, ask again.)


3. On 2014-03-24, Joao said:

you understood and answered my question perfecly, thanks!

Now for something spicier, if you don't mind: the stats in this next iteration will still be the same, or are you going to change them, as you are changing the basic moves?

I ask this mainly because It's my understanding that, design wise, you think of moves first and stats second. I'm I wrong on my perception of this? Thanks again for your availability!


4. On 2014-03-24, Vincent said:

I always start with the stat names. Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp, and Weird was how I began Apocalypse World's design. For me, the stats create the space for the basic moves.

This iteration of AW:Dark Age uses a new set of stats after all. They aren't even adjectives, they're nouns: Cunning, Grace, Prowess, Rites, and War.

The basic moves are to draw someone out (Cunning), to advance under cover (Cunning), to offer counsel (Grace), to confront an obstacle (Prowess), to resort to the sword (Prowess), to supplicate your gods (Rites), to lead an attack (War), and to survey the battlefield (War).


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This makes...
Joao go "sweet!"*
JMW go "wow, big change!"
Joao go "some Stat Names Ideas:"*
AT go "Huh..."*
JMW go ""prowessary?""
VB go "I'm not looking for suggestions!"*

*click in for more

5. On 2014-03-24, Joao said:

Vincent: while we wait for other's questions, can I ask one more plus 3 (as if I rolled 10+ drawing you out?)

1) How many playbooks will this new iteration show us?

2) Can you please tell us the most influential ludography to you at this time, so we can read/ see while we wait?

3) The battle rules will be compatible with the old ones? and

4) There are rules for war?


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This makes...
Joao go "I know I am probably cheating "*

*click in for more

6. On 2014-03-24, Vincent said:

1) I'd love to get 2 more done, but no promises.

2) Vikings.

3) No.

4) Yes.


7. On 2014-03-24, silby said:

Are the Basic Rules just a blog project or is there a particular game you have percolating that implements them?


8. On 2014-03-25, Erik said:

Are War and Rites called such as to not confine the player in how they accomplish their goals? That is to say prematurely define their method.

Just noticing the others seem to be qualities an individual can posses while the other two aforementioned aren't.


9. On 2014-03-25, nerdwerds said:

I'm attending Forge Midwest on the first weekend of April. Will the next version of the playtest be made public before then?


10. On 2014-03-25, Gerbo said:

Will we ever see Special Moves again? Maybe not sex-related, but a common trope-defining moment (When you seize the throne, when your life flashes before your eyes, etc)?


11. On 2014-03-25, Vincent said:

Silby: I don't know yet!

Erik: Rites and war are still things you can have - enact your rites, wage your war - but I think it's about timeframe. Is that what you mean?

"Rites" and "war" both suggest that it takes time to do it. Compare Joao's "faith," which suggests that it's constant and internal, and "warfare," which suggests that it's abstract.

Nerdwerds: Probably. I'm shooting for the 31st.

Gerbo: Possibly. If we do, it'll be swearing loyalty to someone. In the first draft, oaths made it redundant, but they're out, so maybe I'll bring it back in.


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This makes...
Joao go "interesting"
SD go "Swearing fealty special moves! lovely!"

12. On 2014-03-25, Joao said:

Re: "it takes time to do it".

War and Rites.

Those nouns suggest more a move than a stat "to do it, do it".

Maybe that's the reason of my cognitive dissonance that made me almost instinctively offer alternate names.

Anyway, I'm very excited with all this: "to playtest it, playtest it"


13. On 2014-03-25, Adams Tower said:

How similar to Apocalypse World does a game have to be to be Powered by the Apocalypse? Although it was written earlier, is Poison'd Powered by the Apocalypse?


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This makes...
Joao go "The Apocalypse World is powered by Poison'd"*

*click in for more

14. On 2014-03-25, Vincent said:

Adams Tower: "Powered by the Apocalypse" isn't a technical term. There's no such objective thing.


15. On 2014-03-25, Christopher Kubasik said:

I haven't read the first pass yet, but am looking forward to jumping on the next round when it comes out.

As for the names of the Stats, without having done the first go-around, I like them.

I think people are looking at Rites and War strangely. (Or, not like I do!)

To *possess* Rites or to *posses* War as an attribute makes perfect sense to me in this kind of setting. Think of being touched by the gods in some way or possessing as astrologically driven *temperament*.

We can say of such characters "He is full of war," for example. (Off the top of my head; Achilles in the Illead, Von Beck from Warhound and the World's Pain, John MacClane in Die Hard.)

To possess rites is to be "touched by the gods" or "connected to the gods" or "spiritual". (Casandra, Gandalf, Joan of Arc, the Oracle of the Delphi, the folks casting spells in Tanith Alex's Flat Earth books, and so on.) I see "Rites" in this case less as a "skill set" than an intuitive knack that lets folks with Rites *build* a rite in the moment rather than know a specific rite that's been passed down through tradition.

The Rite in this case is a specific quality of the person. It isn't faith. It's the religious equivalent of artistic determination. (Not "talent" but the thing that makes a creative person keep picking up tools and making things toward some higher goal.)


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This makes...
JMW go "not sure I buy that, but it doesn't bother me"*
CK go "And those stats don't do that for you? They sure as heck do exactly that for me!"
JMW go "I just mean I'm thinking less "cosmic" more "concrete""*

*click in for more

16. On 2014-03-25, Chris M said:

If you were to eat salmon, how would you season it? I've been using just salt and pepper, with a little grass-fed butter, but I'm thinking of branching out.


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This makes...
Joao go "Don't forget the lemon"*

*click in for more

17. On 2014-03-25, Erik said:

I was mainly wondering for similar reasons Jaoa brought up. And I believe it got answered with the faith example. I was wondering if alternative names would be too prescriptive, hence why you went the route you did with those two.

That is to say if you turned war into might,courage,spirit or some such- it would confine and define the PC in a way that was undesirable.


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This makes...
Erik go "Forum Post Clarifies Intention"*

*click in for more

18. On 2014-03-25, Josh W said:

Ooh, I've got a good one actually, driven more by curiosity/discussion potential than immediate need:

Ages ago you came up with definitions of quality "for the purpose of this blog", anyway, I'm assuming your general definitions of quality are a lot broader than that, are you still pushing that line in projects/analysis? Or have you branched out a bit?


19. On 2014-03-25, ndp said:

What battles do you think are still worth fighting (I'm thinking in terms of games and publishing, but feel free to interpret more broadly!)?


20. On 2014-03-26, plausiblefabulist said:

Are we asking any questions, or just about AW:DA?

I'm curious about the distribution model for your games, and, in particular, whether you've thought at all about using more standard book distribution. I mean, unlike some game that has a boxed set with complicated dice or tiles, something like Apocalypse World is, as an artifact, just a book—- so it's sort of surprising not to be able to find it, with an ISBN, on Amazon, say, via "people who liked this also liked that", and so on. Or in a bookstore, or to be able to grab it onto my Kindle in the Kindle store over wifi while sitting on the couch (i.e. without booting up a computer with a browse and going to some special site to get a PDF).

Instead, all these indie games are in their own special distribution channels, not with the rest of the world's books.

Is there a specific reason for having decided to do it that way? Is it practical— better control over formatting, price points, customer contact, shipping? Or is it ideological—indie games truly being indie rather than part of AMZN's vertical monopoly of everything?


21. On 2014-03-26, Vincent said:

Chris M: But salmon is so delicious pan-roasted with just salt and pepper!

Josh W: It's hard to remember how hard it was just to justify our own existence back in 2006. I had to draw that line or else every conversation would have been "oh yeah, Vincent? Justify your existence."

These days we have it so, so easy. I don't have to - nor would I choose to - draw any such lines now.

ndp: Huh, I don't know. What battles are left that we haven't won?

I'll think about it!


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This makes...
JMW go "that's a shame, quite liked the stridence"*

*click in for more

22. On 2014-03-26, Vincent said:

Plausiblefabulist: It's pure dumb logistics, not ideology.

I'm not on Amazon because halfway through setting myself up as a seller on Amazon, something interrupted me, and I haven't gotten back to it.

I'm not on the Kindle store because I don't know how to get on the Kindle store, and I bet I'd have to make an ebook of some sort, not just a PDF, first, and I think newer versions of InDesign make that easier, but then I'd have to upgrade InDesign and figure it all out.

Other publishers have their own reasons, but for me, it's almost always just because I haven't made the up-front investment that it'd require to branch out.

Oh, and I'm not in bookstores or game stores because I print books hundreds, not thousands, at a time, and because distribution eats your profits.


23. On 2014-03-26, A.C Stephens said:

Could you tease us a bit about whats in store for the new playbooks?

Also how many playbooks are you shooting for total?


24. On 2014-03-27, Vincent said:

10-12. No teasers! Too busy trying to get the game to work at all.


25. On 2014-03-28, Fealoro said:

It seems to me (but I could be wrong) that the development of AW:DA is much more public than your past projects.
Is it true?
Is it a big change for the creative process?


26. On 2014-03-28, exit said:

I have a question. Where, or how, did you get the amount of knowledge you have on game design? I've always been curious about this. :)


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This makes...
exit go "sorry!"*

*click in for more

27. On 2014-03-29, ndp said:

I dunno, that's why I'm asking you!

I guess it seems like there's still a lot of orthodoxy around what games should or shouldn't look like, play like or be produced like. Is it enough that that orthodoxy seems to shift more quickly than it used to, or is there something to be gained by targeting it specifically?

(I may have my own blinders on about this)


28. On 2014-03-29, Vincent said:

Fealoro: Maybe, but I don't guess so. I've always given in-process documents too early to my first-look audience. I think what's changed is just how large my first-look audience is.

Exit: Decades of bumbling, plus having the coolest friends in the history of coolness. I happen to be surrounded by smart people, in real life and online, who're as excited about this stuff as I am.

ndp: Oh, put it that way, yes, there's definitely lots still to be gained by targeting orthodoxies. It might be fun to list our own highest-priority targets and compare, identify our common enemies.

Let me tell you my goal in life, as an RPG creator. You know the thing where last year's revolution becomes this year's convention and next year's orthodoxy? My goal in life is to stay at the front of that wave for as many years running as I can manage.

One day, I'll look at the present and say "there have been no worthwhile developments since the past. Let's go back." On that day, I'll have retired, whether I admit it or not, and it'll be time for the kids to take over.


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This makes...
ndp go "+1!"

29. On 2014-03-30, Moreno R. said:

Let me tell you my goal in life, as an RPG creator. You know the thing where last year's revolution becomes this year's convention and next year's orthodoxy? My goal in life is to stay at the front of that wave for as many years running as I can manage.

But a wave expand in a lot of directions. Do you think you have a precise direction common in your rpg design, or every game has his own direction?

And talking about revolutions: among your own games, what was the most "revolutionary" compared to the ones you has done before?(the biggest jump, if you prefer). And among all the games you played, not only yours?

Last question: after all these years, what do you thing is Ars Magica's legacy on rpg design? What it did show it worked, and what didn't? (I am talking about the first two editions, not considering all the changes in the following ones)


30. On 2014-03-30, Vincent said:

Oh I almost forgot, here's one from Caitlynn:

Oh, also! You've done a lot with permutations of the Apocalypse World rules lately (Murderous Ghosts, Sundered Land, now this) - do you plan to eventually move away from that? Like, are there any ideas kindling around in your head that you feel you'd need something non-AW-ey to work with? Or do you feel you've found something very stable and quality with the Apocalypse World ruleset?


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This makes...
BL go "Good question"

31. On 2014-03-30, Vincent said:

Moreno: I think I have a general direction common to my games, and each game has its own take on it. Don't ask me to articulate it! My games are how I express it. It's in my gut, not up here where I can just write it down.

Among my own games, Murderous Ghosts was the biggest jump. Of all the games I've played, let's see. This morning I'll go with Breaking the Ice (by Emily Care Boss), Beloved (by Ben Lehman), and Suldrup (by Mikkel Baekgaard). Suldrup is a case of me encountering a tradition for the first time, though. I understand that it's not revolutionary in its own context, just very good.

On Ars Magica: That's precisely it! You're right. "Ars Magica's legacy" is the common general direction of all my games.


32. On 2014-03-30, nerdwerds said:

When you order a pizza, what do you usually get on it?


33. On 2014-03-30, Hlynrian said:

Hi Vincent,  can you recommend five role playing games, not your own, that people should play if they get a chance?


34. On 2014-03-31, Shane said:

You've said Apocalypse World are a HowTo for a particular style of gming (one which I'm still fumbling my way with) and won't work if you try to run it another way. Am I right that all the Apocalypse powered games run that same way?

Do you know of games that do the same thing for other ways to gm? If not as HowTos then games that want to be run a certain way and reward it.


35. On 2014-03-31, Vincent said:

Nerdwerds: I really like Magpie's honey, brie & pear pizza. I should get it more often.

Hlynrian: Just five? I think so. I'm behind my workplace's anti-games netnanny just now, so no links, you'll have to google them:

Beloved by Ben Lehman.
Dulce et Decorum by Troels Ken Pedersen.
GxB by Jake Richmond and Heather Aplington.
Steal Away Jordan by Julia Bond Ellingboe.
Wolfspell by Epidiah Ravachol.

Shane: "Am I right that all the Apocalypse powered games run that same way?"

Not really, nope.

"Do you know of games that do the same thing for other ways to gm?"

Yes. Lamentations of the Flame Princess does. I suspect (from playing it, not GMing it) that Dungeon Crawl Classics does too.

I'd look at the newest versions of Fate, too. I suspect they're on the ball.

Most indie rpgs don't try to teach a way to GM, they just tend to the GMing needs of this game in particular. Like, Dogs in the Vineyard's GMing text is good, but it's intended to teach you how to GM Dogs in the Vineyard, not to teach you a way to GM other games too.


36. On 2014-03-31, Barnes said:

I might be completely wrong about this, but Dark Ages seems to be in some ways the opposite of Apocalypse World. In AW all of the characters are struggling to make something against a world with no status quo. Their tools are often violent, and their desired world is often violent, but even say, the Chopper, wants a world with edifice and structure. That structure might be "Me and my gang are the baddest of asses and no one is going to challenge that," but it's still constructive in a sense.

In Dark Ages, the playbooks all seem to be poised to bring down a world that already has structure. The Outlaw Heir wants to tear down the world that has been built up around their parents' usurpation. The War Herald, just by existing, wants to turn peace into war. The Troll-Killer needs there to be monsters that threaten society. The Wicker-Wise doesn't care about the structure humans have built, and so their actions and magic are inherently inimical to it, not to even mention the Dragon-Herald's aims.

Was that something intentional, or am I reading too much into the playbooks?


37. On 2014-03-31, Vincent said:

Barnes: That's very sharp! Your pointing it out clarifies a couple of things for me. Thank you!


38. On 2014-04-01, Burk Diggler said:

Do you know any RPGs which do a good job with the following: Mutations, madness, organisations, armies - not necessarily all at once!

Also, what do you think makes RPGs unique? What can they do that other media can't?


39. On 2014-04-01, Burk Diggler said:

When I say armies, I mean war too!


40. On 2014-04-04, Christoph Boeckle said:

Will you please publish more of your delicious recipes? Thanks.


41. On 2014-04-05, Vincent said:

Burk Diggler: 3:16 by Gregor Hutton.

Christoph: Probably!


42. On 2014-04-08, nerdwerds said:

I can't believe I didn't think of asking this before since I once looked through the forums for the answer and didn't find it:

Is there an explicit reason that the Harm move in AW is designed for the player to roll low, rather than high?

Was this to make Harm inherently discordant and unnatural to the regular flow of the game?

Or was it because "roll-Harm suffered" looks a bit odd compared to "roll+Harm suffered"?


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This makes...
AD go "Just from my point of view, the roll low is "safer""*

*click in for more

43. On 2014-04-08, Vincent said:

Nerdwerds: There are 4 ways I could have done the harm move. All 4 are reversals of the other moves. I had to choose which reversal I'd go with.

Way 1: The way I did it. Player rolls+Harm. The reversal is that the player hopes to roll low.

Way 2: The way you're proposing. Player rolls-Harm and hopes to roll high. The reversal is that the player subtracts instead of adds.

Way 3: The MC rolls+Harm and hopes to roll high. The reversal is that the MC rolls.

Way 4: The player rolls+Harm and hopes to roll high. That is, on 10+, it's not as bad as it seemed; on 7-9, choose 1; on a miss, choose 2. The reversal is that the higher the Harm, the less its effect.

I don't think any of them are really worse or better than any other, but I happened to choose #1.


44. On 2014-04-09, Tim Ralphs said:

It seems to me that the way you engage the public in your game design is fundamental to their propagation, in that you generate a visible enthusiastic discussion and a pool of geographically disparate people with positive experiences of play.

Let's imagine I had a game that was the easy 90% of the way to feeling finished with the hard 10% still to be done. What advice would you give me specific to getting the game played and talked about? I'm probably going to give it away for free ultimately, but it would be really nice to give it away to more people and have them actually play it.

(I was really interested in a throwaway thing you posted about writing, way back. You said that you can write fiction and people might read it but it doesn't generate conversations like games do. I don't have a question about that, just it seemed quite profound at the time.)


45. On 2014-04-10, nerdwerds said:

Hmmm, I might try playtesting #4 next time I MC.

Are you guys going to PAX East this year?


46. On 2014-04-12, Vincent said:

Tim Ralphs: An excellent question! I'm going to have to write about it on the front page.

Nerdwerds: If you do, tell me how it goes! The others are pretty obvious, but #4 I'm curious about.

Meg was at PAX East yesterday and I'll be there tomorrow.


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