[Apocalypse World] Your tender ambiguous crotch

Started by Ron Edwards, November 25, 2013, 11:17:24 AM

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Callan S.

Ron, I'd mistakenly remembered them having renamed the first movie as the road warrior, for the US market. Checking it, it's the second. The latter movies seem a bit more baroque - it seems tragic if the first didn't get broad US showings. Here I thought the only travesty was just the apparent renaming of the first movie...

On Watchmen, what are the paralels you observed? Can't say I can think of anything coming to mind?

On the gang members, it depends on whether the idea of still playing out such characters (who are NOT looking for meaning in a meaningless wasteland) is still a potential go-er, even if other people would fetishize such play (at which point doesn't it cease/closes off the potential of being nar?). If the idea hasn't been closed off because of the fetishizers, then cool.

QuoteI guess I'm not a very good SF fan in some ways. The very idea of calling the soldiers in Star Wars "storm troopers" bugs me, even more so dressing up as them under any circumstances, and yet more so seeing five-year-old kids doing so.
Yeah, but on the other hand it's fairly plausible to believe those soldiers calling each other storm troopers, as a result of many things (jingoism, for one). That's an interesting point to get to with a character.

Ron Edwards

Callan, you may not have noticed you've gone way off topic.

Last bit: in issue #6 of The Watchmen, Rorschach's first major action while wearing his new mask is a precise repeat of the climactic scene in Mad Max, when the title character deals with the last surviving gang member. It involves handcuffs, a hacksaw, and an imminent explosion. (People reading this may not realize that the comic was published in 1986-1987; the 2009 film completely replaced this scene probably due to its blatant plagiarism.)

No more about this point in this thread, please, and again, I do understand your points about playing such characters but you don't seem to understand or acknowledge that I'm talking about fetishizing them in an uncritical fashion, not playing them in the way you describe, not even a little bit. Here in the U.S., evidence of that fetish - and a general pro-military slant to geekdom in general - is extremely evident; that may not be the case in Australia, and if you want to talk about it, it belongs in another thread.

Best, Ron

Callan S.

There was a line? With that title? *c'mon, lol with me!*.

On parpuzio, as I understand things related to it so far, it seems similar to giving a name to a food when there is too much spice in it - far too much (mace levels of spice!). But then asking if another food has 'parpuzio', because of the binary nature of that question, either ignores the (subtler) spice levels in that food, or alternatively damns all spice as being bad (whilst ignoring any spices present). I fear using a binary determination of whether a game or particular play session involved 'it' will overlook alot of particulars and arrive at false negatives. Personally I really have no problem with roleplay partially being the P word (persuasion or parpuzio) all the way down. The amount of it though (based on my own preferences), and whether rules constrain it from letting itself rise to even greater amounts during play (blegh!!), is something that's very important to me. Just a quick post on it.


I don't have much to say but I'm delighted to answer questions if anybody has any. Obviously I don't think that Apocalypse World's inclined to parpuzio at all, but I realize that I'm uniquely noncredible in that regard.

Oh and, right on, Sarah! It sounds like the game is going pretty well.


Ron Edwards

Vincent, tell me more about hard moves which can harm or impair my character. Is there ever a way in which an MC can tell me, "You wake up and both legs have been severed at the knee, you're bleeding like a stuck pig, what do you do?"

I'm pretty sure not, but it's likely that I confound Apocalypse World mechanics with those of Sorcerer or Trollbabe or both; my history of design and its back-and-forth interaction with yours (TB1-Dogs-TB2 is a good example) puts me at a close second in not trusting my own interpretation.

For those who don't know, a statement such as the above is flatly against the rules in Sorcerer or Trollbabe - and again, re: parpuzio, there is no such thing as a "guideline" in those books, it's all rules. Trollbabe in particular is notable in that every single moment of play is conducted via rules.

Best, Ron


Sure, there are circumstances where an MC's allowed to say that to a player. They're specifically non-parpuzionic. I can contrive an example up for you if you want. It'll be pretty contrived, but it's once in a blue moon possible.

The takeaway first: As GM, you should always say what your prep demands, what the rules demand, and what honesty demands.

* If your prep, the rules, and honesty all demand that you tell a player that their character wakes up, bleeding, chopped off at the knees, then yes, you're allowed to say it.

* If your prep, the rules, and honesty all give you the option to say it, you get to choose.

* If your prep, the rules, and honesty demand that you say something else, say something else!

Here's the contrived circumstance: Suppose that I storm into Dremmer's office - Dremmer being the asshole who demands protection from me, him and his gangful of notorious leg-chopper-offers - and I tell him that I won't be paying any protection any more. Earlier in the session I missed a roll opening my brain, and the world's psychic maelstrom assured me that the God of the Blazing Sun will protect me now. "Fuck you, Dremmer," I say. "Fuck Tum Tum and Dustwich and their machetes. Do your worst, the God of the Blazing Sun will protect me now!"

I roll to read a person, and I ask "what does Dremmer intend to do?"

You think about it and say what honesty demands: "he intends to send Tum Tum and Dustwich to your house tonight with their machetes, to chop your legs off. Duh."

I say, "he wouldn't dare, what with the God of the Blazing Sun and all. I go home, take a double dose of Ambergrease's sleeping pills, and go to bed."

"Do you, like, lock your door? Or anything?"

"Nah. Fuck that. Fuck him. Whatever happens, I intend to sleep right through it."

The rule book calls this a golden opportunity, and you're allowed to take it if you choose to. (Do you choose to? That's another question. Sometimes you will, sometimes you won't.) Let's say that you do: "Well, okay!" you say. "You wake up and both legs have been severed at the knee, you're bleeding like a stuck pig, what do you do?"

See? No parpuzio there, just a legitimate, wholly mutual, mechanically mediated sequence of actions, choices and outcomes. I knew what I was risking, and you were at every step honest and aboveboard. You're the one who said the words but I was a full participant in bringing us to that point.

The move, by the way, is "take away their stuff." Interpreting my legs as my "stuff" is a little iffy, but it's your call, and after pushing you so hard to get there, I'm not likely to quibble. If I were a quibbler, you'd think I'd've locked my door.

But you might legitimately have chosen instead to "inflict harm as established," which would have been two machetes at 3-harm messy each. That would put me at 12:00, dying, to choose whether to take a debility, or else risk death and hope for someone to come save me. Then I'd say "I'll take 'crippled.' They chopped my legs off, yeah?"


Ron Edwards

For clarity: the bedrock is, "I missed a roll when opening my brain to the Apocalypse." Because the player knows he or she missed that roll, and so acting upon that utter fuckup (with glee) is at the heart of this whole thing you're describing. I have that right?

If that opening-the-brain roll had been a 12, and otherwise every single thing you describe goes as you say, then what are the MC's options?

Best, Ron


Oh, no, the golden opportunity is "what does he intend to do?" "Chop your legs off while you sleep." "Okay. I don't protect myself from that."

The sequence here is 1) you announce future badness, 2) but the PC doesn't forestall or prevent it, 3) so you make good.

A bad roll can stop the PC from acting effectively to prevent it, or the PC's decisions can, but either way you're allowed to make good.

By the way, next time I run the game, I'm totally going to introduce Dremmer and his gang as "notorious leg-chopper-offers." Give the players something to think about!


Ron Edwards

Not trying to drive you crazy, just zeroing in on what I need to know to play, and perhaps to MC some day ...

OK, let's see ... if the player does say "I'm relying on the sun to protect me," verbally and socially tagged as an action, when he or she has the character go to bed, then ...

1. given the failed roll, what happens? (I'm figuring just as you describe)

2. given a knock-out 10+ successful roll, what happens? Or rather, could happen given the various rules-openings, I understand this is a range not a single result as found on a Rolemaster table.


Excellent! You're not driving me crazy. I was thinking about exactly this.

The outcome of that earlier roll to open my brain is already done and settled, usually. After you said "the world's psychic maelstrom promises you that the God of Blazing Light will protect you," the missed roll doesn't keep hanging over my head. You could call back to it later, but usually you'd just have me roll fresh for the new action, whatever it is.

So here's how I would do it. We join our scene already in progress:

"...Do you, like, lock your door? Or anything?"

"Nah. Fuck that," you say. "Fuck him. Whatever happens, I intend to sleep right through it. But I really am counting on the God of the Blazing Sun to protect me."

"Ah!" I say. "Okay. So when Tum Tum and Dustwich come in, how about you open your brain in your sleep? Make sense?"

"Sure," you say.

So you roll it, and now we have the roll to work with. On a hit, the move has me give you information about the situation - solid info on a 10+, vague info on a 7-9 - and either way I'm going to feel perfectly comfy waking you up in time to defend yourself as part of that. Maybe dress it up in this imaginary god's clothes, maybe not.

On a miss, I can make as hard and direct a move as I like, including inflicting harm or taking your legs, just as above.

Make sense?

Same thing if you do lock your door, and I say "so, yes, Tum Tum and Dustwich come kick in your door in the middle of the night. You've drugged yourself out, right? Act under fire if you want to wake up." On a miss, I can inflict harm or take your legs in your sleep.

(But shit, you open your brain in your sleep to an imaginary god, and on a miss I might turn my hard and direct move on someone else! Maybe you wake up with Tum Tum and Dustwich slumped dead in your room with their brains scorched out of their skulls. That's within the maelstrom's capabilities and its developing personality, and let's see what you and Dremmer make of THAT.)


Ron Edwards

Yes! I see.

The trickiest thing for me - and remember, I am playing a not-insane hocus, and this is me after all - is that after a bad-ass sequence of Fortunes and Augury rolls, I like to think of Brother Bat as having banked some good juju going forward, for that session. I'm trying to get a better view of how much this is real systemic goodness, and how much is doomed wishful thinking.

What I'm learning is to make hay with those rolls right then and there, establishing as much solid fiction as possible from them, at that moment. Not to think I've got a fine banked-up set of goodness I can dip into in an ongoing, reliable mechanical way.

Best, Ron


Right on! Exactly so.

The solid fiction you establish right now can help keep you ahead of the developing situation, so that your subsequent rolls are relatively lower-risk, but you're absolutely right, it's not mechanical or reliable.


Erik Weissengruber

I must play with very turtle-y Canadians. Whenever I announce future badness, everyone is determined to forestall it in a co-operative fashion.

I would never be allowed to get to the point where I, as MC, make the call as to the kind of protection that is given. First of all, they would make sure that the door is locked. And then they would try to invoke or address the God mentioned earlier.

But its good to have the relationship between established fiction and the implementation of particular techniques outlined as clearly as the above posts have done.

Ron Edwards

Just in case anyone's misunderstanding, my imagery of the guy with the chopped-off legs was merely my proposed example, not anything drawn from actual play.

Sarah is having tons of fun with the fact that Mark's character Doyle borked a roll, either Bonefeel or opening his brain or both, so mechanical objects are keeping up a totally bizarre commentary that only he can hear. At one point, the extremely rude and attention-needy toaster asked, "Do you know what I do to the toast before you eat it?"

Best, Ron

Callan S.

Often the one text can be read in two or more ways. If I were reading the example, I can see atleast two interpretations of "how about you open your brain in your sleep? Make sense?". One is that the GM is politely asking the player if they would roll on the matter, and the GM will accept a polite no on that.

The second - and I'm not saying this is happening, I'm pointing it out to show how one persons explanation could prompt someone else to go do something completely different from what was explained (maybe its one of them thar stand alone complexes because of that?) - is that GM is saying they have made sense towards a roll being made, and the player would have to 'make sense' in order for that roll to not happen. I put 'make sense' in scare quotes because who judges whether the players reply made sense enough for the roll not to happen? The GM. This leaves the GM completely unpoliced by anything but themselves (even if they genuinely believe their proposition 'makes sense'). A kind of black curtain, even toward themselves, which grants the capacity to engage in parpuzio. Whether that be deciding on an outcome deliberately, or be so driven by how something makes sense to them, they soley determine an outcome.

As Moreno says, any rolling at that point is just a footnote. Once the "what 'makes sense' determines when and if a roll occurs" + "I am the only judge of what makes sense" is established, the dice are like gill lines on the neck. Just a throwback to something it no longer is. The GM will ignore the results/play down the results. Because that's what 'makes sense' - and that's been established as the determiner (usually this results in GM's who want to get rid of dice or use RPG's where rules 'get out of the way', since this downplaying or ignoring (when everyone can see you ignoring) gets quite tiresome. I'm sure many have observed that already, anyway).

There's possibly other interpretations as well. Just thought I'd outline a couple.