Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Joel “Excellerator” Watkins

Post has shared content
MOBILE FRAME ZERO: FIREBRANDS is a tightly-structured turn-based casual rpg. It's more like my later games - Murderous Ghosts, The Sundered Land, even Spin the Beetle - than anything like Apocalypse World proper.

On your turn, you choose a game you want to play and a fellow player you want to play it with.

Here's one of the games:


Everyone plays. Decide with your chosen partner what is the matter of your disagreement, where you are holding your discussion, and who else is present.

What do you notice about each other? What have you heard?

You and your partner each state your position. Everyone else takes the part of your audience, real or imaginary.

During the discussion, anyone can ask anyone for details about the setting, occasion, and circumstances.

Conducting the Discussion
The audience conducts the discussion.

Audience members, you take turns posing challenges to the position holders. Both position holders must answer each challenge. You decide who goes first, or let one of them volunteer.

Once both have answered, award 1 coin to the one who you think gave the best answer. You have to choose.

If either position holder goes on too long, you can cut them off (hoots and boos optional) and award 1 coin to their counterpart, or else just ask them to kindly wrap up.

They are absolutely not allowed to interrupt or rebut one another. If either position holder interrupts the other or tries to get in a rebuttal when it’s not their turn to answer, cut them off at once and award 1 coin to their counterpart.

Ending the Discussion
After three challenges, they compare coins. Whatever proportion of coins they each hold, they can be confident that, if they were forced to commit, the same proportion of the audience, real or imaginary, would side with them.

»    Please express your position in the form of a slogan that people can rally behind.
»    Please explain how your position is best for the most people.
»    Please explain how your position carries the weight of tradition, law, and social order.
»    Please explain how your position is the most urgent and expedient.
»    Please explain how your position best serves the neglected interests of the underprivileged.
»    Please express your commitment to your position, even if it’s not actually “true” or “right.”
»    Please explain how your position is the most just and equitable.
»    Please explain how the other position has merit and is worth real consideration.
»    Please make a personal attack on your counterpart.

So if you're looking for the PbtA MF0 rpg where you choose your playbook, choose your starting moves, and create your mobile frame by choosing options from a list, look out! This isn't the one.
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Why Hack Apocalypse World.

So over on rpg geek there was a 24 hour rpg competition. Within this contest, there has been some controversy over whether a pbta game counts as an original game, or if using +Vincent Baker​'s concepts counts as a head start in the design. I get the impression that most of the supporters of disqualifying such games don't have much pbta experience, which can be pretty frustrating since it makes it hard to have a conversation about how the design of an AW hack is often more work than writing other games of similiar length. I thought I'd type out some of my thoughts of why a person would chose to hack AW rather than start from scratch.

1. Apocalypse World as a system drives the narrative: as a system, AW really does create plot through a snowball of the different mechanics in a way few other games do. This takes a lot of pressure off of both MC and player to decide what should happen in the game. Basically, choices go in, plot comes out, and new choices need to be made. I doubt I'm alone in thinking that this isn't accidental in the design.

2. AW gives us new language and a new view point: the design approach to aw is so different than a lot of people were used to before they encountered the game in very good ways. It changed the way I thought of planning, plot, the gm - player relationship, and dissemination of information. It also showed a different way of approaching what it means to go to a roll. These new ideas are often hard to describe why they work differently so it is often easier to use the terminology given to us by AW.

3. Mechanics in AW were idividualized to the game: most people think the key mechanic to aw is 2d6+stat. While this is mostly true, it doesn't mean the same thing as it does in other systems. While this randomization system is pervasive, it isn't the heart of what's going on. Instead, I see the heart of aw and it's hacks in its moves. These moves need to be specialized for each game as they are what trigger and give flavor to the snowball effect. When writing a hack, you could start with the basic aw moves (I've done this, but it definitely limits the uniqueness of the hack), but in order to fit the setting your trying to make, every one of these moves need to be written to encourage the play your imagining. This forces the designer to think a lot about game play since there are a lot of moves in an pbta game.

4. It’s easy to learn: pbta games are easy to teach and learn, especially to those who have played other pbta games. The moves are clearly stated, including what narrative situation triggers them. There is a minimum of book keeping, and yet a lot of information about a character's status is tracked. Experience is easy and quick, and allows for instant leveling up. There are other games that achieve the same thing, but aw uses some very convienent formatting.

5. The creators are very supportive: I've seen both +Vincent Baker​ and +Meguey Baker​ talk about the system and encourage others to build using their ideas. They don't charge people to use the pbta tag, and help advertise upcoming hacks on the market. They show that they want to see others succeed and that they do not wish to be agressive about protecting their intellectual property. Meguey told me that their policy on pbta (paraphrasing) is "anybody who felt inspired by AW and thinks their game is a hack of the system is welcome to use the tag." I think this is a much cooler way to think about it then how others have reacted "what if a game seems to be an AW hack but doesn't want to identify as such."

6. Give credit where credit is due: I absolutely feel like pbta does not mean copying aw. I've seen games that do and I've generally found them less appealing. There are also games that use pieces of aw, but then adds and changes things in very new and cool ways. But a lot of the better hacks redesign everything from the ground up. The games may still resemble aw, but they're definitely their own beasts. This doesn’t mean these games don't owe something to Vincent and AW. By marking a game ptba, it says that the designer learned from AW and that they used what they learned to make something new, and that the creator wants to acknowledge where they learned it from. It’s like how an impressionist admits to being an impressionist not because they copied from other impressionists, but because they were inspired by them.

7: Ptba players have become an emerging culture: at least I think it's close enough to matter. There are communities of significant size dedicated to various aw hack, there is a regular practice of fans expanding these systems, and there is developing vocabulary used specially by those players. By calling a game an aw hack, you tap into this specific auidience In a way that they can easily recognize what is being offered. The pbta tag is an important part of displaying the identity and history of the game design.

There are a lot of reasons to chose to make a game an AW hack, but making things easier on the designer isn't one of the. I do think that making a pbta game can be the easiest thing in the game design world, but making one that isn't a simple reskin is extremely difficult (see number 3). If a person makes a simple reskin, it is easily recognizable as such, and generally will be treated as such. Making a more original ptba that feels unique and inovative is a lot of work.
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Priveledge in action.

Imagine that you're in your early teens.

Imagine that you're named after a major religious figure living centuries ago in the Middle East.

Imagine that you're interested in Science and Technology, so much that you try to Engineer things on your own, which then forces you to learn the Mathematics that help you along the way, all that while you're still in your early teens.

At this point, two things can happen.

In one case, your name is associated with Christianity, your skin is white, you live in France. You get encouraged, doors open for you, you get guided toward top education, you'll eventually get amazing jobs, and you'll end up living a comfortable life. That's my story.

In another case, your name is associated with Islam, your skin is brown, you live in Texas. You get shamed, you get arrested, schools close their doors on you. That's Ahmed Mohammed's story. I don't know how that story ends, but I'm really hoping it ends well.

That's a pretty extreme case of privilege. But it is privilege nonetheless. We have to recognize such extreme cases of privilege if we want to be able to fight all forms of privilege. That's the only way we can eventually reach a point where all men are created equal, where we all have certain unalienable Rights, including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, because clearly we're not there yet.

Ahmed's Liberty has already been seriously infringed, and from this point his pursuit of Happiness is in jeopardy, possibly for the rest of his Life.

Add a comment...

Post has shared content

Post has shared content
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Don't Roll Twice for the Same Thing

When you face danger, you make an Action roll. Also, you can roll Effect to resist a bad outcome. However, don't roll both for the exact same thing.

For example, Arlyn is dueling a Red Sash on the roof. The Red Sash drives her back with a flurry of feints and slashes, and there's a danger that Arlyn will be forced over the edge during the skirmish. Arlyn's player makes an Action roll to see how her counter-attack goes and if the danger manifests. She rolls badly and the danger manifests. This means that Arlyn is forced over the edge and falls off the roof.

But she can roll to resist, right? Yes. She can resist the harm that results from the fall (using Force, presumably). But she shouldn't roll to resist being forced over the edge. That's already been determined by her Action roll. The resistance roll answers "how bad is the fall?" Does she simply take some stress and catch herself on a railing on the way down, or does she end up with a lasting effect as she breaks her leg when she hits the street?

Here's another example:
Cross is sneaking into the Red Sash's temple, trying to elude the notice of their guards. He rolls Prowl and gets a result that the danger manifests. A guard notices him! But how much? How alerted is he? Cross's player can roll to resist the effect. If he pays the resulting stress cost, then the guard hasn't raised the alarm or seen Cross's face, but the danger did manifest, as a result of the Action roll. So this is the classic case where the guard and his partner say, "Hey, did you see that?" "What?" "Something over there by the pillar." "Probably nothing." "Yeah, I'm gonna check, though."

If Cross's own Effect roll is enough to overcome the obstacle, then he hears that conversation in the distance behind him as he slips inside the temple. If he hasn't overcome the obstacle yet, then he's hidden behind the pillar as the guard strolls over to investigate.

In other words, the Action roll determines whether something happens or not. The Effect roll determines how much of that event manifests or how bad it is. Don't roll both Action and Effect to determine the same thing. Each roll has a concrete result that affects the situation.


There have been some good conversations about this kind of thing, so I thought I'd weigh in with an "official" bit of text about it. This will form the basis for a similar section in the book.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Shall we play a game?  ‪#‎SunderedLand‬ ‪#‎DoomedPilgim‬

I'm a warrior seeking peace and an end to bloodshed. I’m on pilgrimage to the Temple to No Gods in the distant City of Gulls. My pilgrimage has brought me to the Gray Hills inhabited by the murder-cult of the ungod of spiders.  My goal is to pass safely through and continue my pilgrimage.

You, my friends online, play the world. Your goal is to see me to my doom, instead of safely on my way. You’re allowed only to directly answer my direct questions though, so you might not be able to doom me.

The rules: 
1. Only answer my questions. 
2. If you don't already know the answer, make something up. 
3. Keep your answers short (though, see Peltzer's Law below).
4. If your answer’s disruptive, I'm allowed to delete it. 
5. Otherwise, I have to go with the first answer somebody gives. I’ll Like it. 
6. You may subscribe to this thread if you like. Please use the sentence ‘no gods watch over you’ to do so.
Peltzers Law: All answers must be at least 10 words.
Mercy Rule: If a doomed pilgrim survives 3 games he reaches the Temple to No Gods.

I have a long knife under my shirt and the summoning-name of a ghost burned into my memory. After my adventures in the Jaggedlands, I've been walking through the Gray Hills, a sparse and arid land. I have just awakened from a few hours of sleep under a bush, and am drinking a few gulps from my waterskin. Something warns me of approaching danger. What warns me? Anyone should answer.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment

Post has attachment
Wait while more posts are being loaded