[Apocalypse World] What makes a good move?

edited February 2011 in Game Design Help
Hi folks,

John Harper's comments about custom moves that cross the line was really interesting because I'd happily designed moves that walked all over that line.

Are there other guidelines that are worth discussing? What makes a good move?

I thought this might be most useful with people picking moves from the Custom Move thread and explaining where they work and where they fall down.

Comments

  • edited February 2011
    Fiction first. Colour! Colour! Colour! Always it should serve those ends. Not little +1's and shit.

    Second, Moves are always things the characters do and are. The Brainer moves are what the Brainer does; the Gunlugger is merciless Bloodcrazed.

    Third, I would make sure the Moves aren't too general. I dislike any of the super broad ones - like "When you do magic...", for example, seems weak to me. But, "When you invoke the small gods..." would be okay.

    Fourth, any kind of knowledge move should either tell us about the character asking it OR have a small number of specific questions that can be asked.

    Fifth, the moves, whenever possible, should drive the narrative and not slow it down. They should resolve something definitively but with some complication (even when the PC gets what they want).
  • Do you have the Apocalypse World book?

    Vincent lays out quite nicely how each part of move throws decisions to one involved party or the other, making it into a big of a conversation.

    (Unless I'm hallucinating, and it was something he posted over at the forum, instead.)
  • edited February 2011
    A good move offers choices, ideally for both the move maker and the target (if any).

    Edit: scooped!
  • I was just going to say the same thing: a good move is one that allows for conversation about the game world and the people in it, between the MC and the players.

    Also, see Harper's comments. Spot on as far as I'm concerned.
  • Advanced Fuckery, in the AW book, is really good.

    Anyone have questions about that stuff?
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Paul T.Do you have the Apocalypse World book?

    Vincent lays out quite nicely how each part of move throws decisions to one involved party or the other, making it into a big of a conversation.

    (Unless I'm hallucinating, and it was something he posted over at the forum, instead.)
    There's the Advanced Fuckery chapter, which I found very interesting -- but I feel like it's more a collection of examples than solid advice. The headings are usually 'why' you'd create moves ('catching up, setting up'; 'filling spaces in the world') -- not 'how' to create great moves.

    Maybe I'm missing something.

    EDIT: On the last page of Advanced Fuckery there's the advice to pass decision making to the victim, though it's specifically (I think) about PC-vs-PC moves. Is this what you were thinking about?
  • I'm one to think collections of examples are way better than a bunch of space-cadet prose, but that's just me. In technical writing (which I consider games to be a part of), one or two examples just doesn't cut the mustard in most cases.
  • Posted By: Orly

    Second, Moves are always things the characters do and are. The Brainer moves are what the Brainer does; the Gunlugger is merciless.
    [nitpick]

    The Battlebabe is merciless, the Gunlugger is bloodcrazed, . Although I guess you can make either if you level up.

    [/nitpick]
  • Posted By: SanglorianEDIT: On the last page of Advanced Fuckery there's the advice to pass decision making to the victim, though it's specifically (I think) about PC-vs-PC moves. Is this what you were thinking about?
    Well, a lot of the moves give MCs a choice, too. Like, seducing an NPC? Okay, the MC decides: what do they ask for in return? Going aggro? The MC's got a list to respond to.
  • Posted By: OrlyFiction first. Colour! Colour! Colour! Always it should serve those ends. Not little +1's and shit.
    OK, I'm curious about this one. I totally agree, because when I play games, I really like the fiction side of things (just a personal preference here).

    But there are a lot of moves in both AW and Storming... that are pretty close to being "little +1s" to things. In particular, I'm thinking of the "+1 to a stat" (which I do actually see as a mechanical choice, as opposed to a fictional choice, and it doesn't bother me for some reason), and the stat substitution moves.

    Those kinds of moves are close to being entirely separate from the fiction.

    When you play AW, do you make an effort to tie those to the developing fiction and/or characterization, or do you just accept them as mechanical choices, and nothing more? If the former, how? Can you give some examples?
  • edited February 2011
    The plus +1 to a stat is, like the +1harm, often looked at as purely mechanical thing. But the emphasis is in the wrong place. When you take those moves it's because you character meets those descriptors. They are a Fucking Wacknut or Bloodcrazed, and if that doesn't suit your character than, for the love of Vx, don't take them. As a MC, play-up those choices.

    As for the stat subs, it changes the moves in subtle ways. The Brainer doesn't push out her tits and lick her lips - she's not Hot. What that scarred, skinny and scary little thing does is know your secret desires, or forces you to be inexplicably and painfully turned on - even if you shouldn't be. Seducing someone with Weird isn't the same in the fiction as doing it with Hot. You mindfuck them. It's creepy as hell.

    The other reason you should always lead with the fiction is that the playbooks aren't 'balanced' in any way, really. So, don't worry about balance or mechanical power, worry about the fiction.
  • Posted By: OrlyThe Brainer doesn't push out her tits and lick her lips - she's not Hot. What that scarred, skinny and scary little thing does is know you secret desires, or forces you to be inexplicably and painfully turned on - even if you shouldn't be. Seducing someone with Weird isn't the same in the fiction as doing it with Hot. You mindfuck them. It's creepy as hell.
    I'm watching season 6 of Buffy, right now. The one where Buffy returns from the dead, and Spike finds irrefutable proof that she came back wrong.
    And instead of helping her become right again, instead of going to the group, instead of supporting her... he backs her into a corner, and starts a pathological, hate-hate sex relationship.
    They have angry sex, they fight, and the moment she goes to leave, he reminds her that when she came back to life, she wasn't quite human anymore.

    Unnatural Lust Transfixion for the win.
  • edited February 2011
    You know, Joe, I've been thinking a lot about that scene and I went and watched it again. I don't think it's Unnatural Lust Transfixion. I think Spike and Buff are just two PCs. Spike is being all seductive, which at the moment means being violent and broody. His player says what he wants "Buffy's love and sex, yeah." Buffy's PC is like "Fuck that, no way!" and the MC's like and the fire is you're own fear of being a monster just like him. Again, Buffy's PC is like, "Fuck you, I'm not afraid of anything." And marks experience instead.

    Or something. Buffy wants Spike but hate herself for it.

    I think if there are moves involved, Joe, they're from Monsterhearts and not AW. Spikes been making Buffy hot and cashing in his Strings to turn up the heat.

    Oh, yeah, everyone: go take a look at Monsterhearts to see how "Custom Moves" are done.

    Joe's a goddamn genius.
  • Hey Joe, I think Orly's probably right. There's a really good example of Unnatural Lust Transfixion 6 minutes into this youtube video (Hellraiser 5).
  • One thing that kinda vexes me that comes up in the Custom Moves thread and I've done it too.

    I think there are times when we over-move.

    When we write something like:

    When you fall into the spiked pit, roll + Hard

    10+ Yay!

    7-9, touch decision about spikes and pits.

    Miss, Ouch, spikes!

    Next move suggested:

    When you land on a spike...

    AW doesn't play from move to move like that. It bugs me.
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