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What Don't You Get About PbtA Games?

BlackSpike

Registered User
Validated User
Um.

So, I don't have an issue *playing* PbtA games. As a player, they're fine and fun, and they fit in the level of rules complexity that I like to play. But as a GM, part of what makes me feel included in the game is the mechanical parts: rolling dice for my NPCs. In PbtA, I don't get to that, and I feel a level of disconnection I don't feel in other games. So I won't run it.

But other than that, I don't have any problems with PbtA games.
I'm the opposite.
Not having to bother rolling means I can concentrate on what the NPC might be doing, and leave it to the Players to roll the dice, see what happens.
I'm included, because the players are looking to me to see what the effect of their actions are: how the NPCs respond.
I check the GM Moves, think what the NPCs motives are, and announce their action. I don't have to roll to see how effective they are. That's the players' problem :)
 

Noclue

Registered User
Validated User
effkat effkat Yeah, I was looking at MH 2e and was surprised it wasn't there, because I distinctly remembered it being there. So, it's in 1e.That explains it. Interesting, that it was removed, but MH 2 has a shared agenda between players and GM, so that makes some sense.

Sonsaku Sonsaku You can definitely hurt someone and bypass the fight moves by being smart. It really just depends on what you're doing and if that triggers a move and what move that triggers. So, if you go to push an unsuspecting NPC off a cliff in AW, they're probably dead without a move. They're in the crosshairs by default and the MC has described them as unsuspecting. What's stopping you? If they're not unsuspecting, or they have guards, or something, you might be making a move (Act Under Fire being a likely choice), but if you succeed wildly at that they're probably likewise dead. They're still in the crosshairs and you succeeded at chucking them off a cliff. What's saving them?

Regarding using an "Investigate Move" to hurt someone, I'm confused as to what youre imagining. If you can imagine your character doing something that might hurt someone, I'm pretty sure you can do it in most PbtA games. But, it's not Fate where you can take a stunt that allows you to roll your Notice skill to attack, or something. You have to describe your character doing something.

So, in AW if you describe your character examining a tense situation, you'll likely trigger the move Read a Charged Situation. Cause that's what you're doing. If you look around normally, the GM will describe what you see and quite possibly make their own move.
 

Sonsaku

Draconian GM on TBP
Validated User
Sonsaku Sonsaku You can definitely hurt someone and bypass the fight moves by being smart. It really just depends on what you're doing and if that triggers a move and what move that triggers. So, if you go to push an unsuspecting NPC off a cliff in AW, they're probably dead without a move. They're in the crosshairs by default and the MC has described them as unsuspecting. What's stopping you? If they're not unsuspecting, or they have guards, or something, you might be making a move (Act Under Fire being a likely choice), but if you succeed wildly at that they're probably likewise dead. They're still in the crosshairs and you succeeded at chucking them off a cliff. What's saving them?

Regarding using an "Investigate Move" to hurt someone, I'm confused as to what youre imagining. If you can imagine your character doing something that might hurt someone, I'm pretty sure you can do it in most PbtA games. But, it's not Fate where you can take a stunt that allows you to roll your Notice skill to attack, or something. You have to describe your character doing something.

So, in AW if you describe your character examining a tense situation, you'll likely trigger the move Read a Charged Situation. Cause that's what you're doing. If you look around normally, the GM will describe what you see and quite possibly make their own move.
First thing. I am talking about PbTa games which are different from AW. Because each PbTa move got their own moves that can change how they work.

Examples that come to mind is in CoM there is a move called convince which is to "talk, threaten or seduce someone into doing something" and a player tried to use to question a suspect to "talk to them to do something and something in this case is telling me everything i need to know". When instead what they are after are clues. And the only thing to get clues is with the move investigate. So no matter how the approach it they will ALWAYS roll investigate move be by threating, investigating or producing a truth serum is still investigating (though, to be fair they could use Change the game to produce the truth serum but the move to get them to talk is still Investigate).

Same with combat, like many pbta there is a "attack move and a sort of "go aggro" move and no matter what you do, if the end result is to hurt them you will use one of those moves.

But like I said. YMMV. Some DMs might allow a PC to instakill an enemy without the use of one of the attack moves. I wouldn't (so long the enemies aren't just story prop like a bonus representing a mob or back up).
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
But like I said. YMMV. Some DMs might allow a PC to instakill an enemy without the use of one of the attack moves.
It's intentionally (back in AW 1e) how the Battlebabe was meant to actually function in a battle. They had extremely high Cool and ability to Go Aggro using Cool if they wanted to, but no Hard to speak of and therefore no real ability to Seize By Force.
Instead, in a violent situation they were intended to Act Under Fire and similar using their high Cool to the point where they were fictionally positioned to just 'deal damage as established' with their weapon.
 

Sonsaku

Draconian GM on TBP
Validated User
It's intentionally (back in AW 1e) how the Battlebabe was meant to actually function in a battle. They had extremely high Cool and ability to Go Aggro using Cool if they wanted to, but no Hard to speak of and therefore no real ability to Seize By Force.
Instead, in a violent situation they were intended to Act Under Fire and similar using their high Cool to the point where they were fictionally positioned to just 'deal damage as established' with their weapon.
And like i said before AW isnt the whole of PbtA games. Moves can vary a lot between pbta games and moves determine a lot on how a pbta function.
 

Gorgoo

Active member
Validated User
And like i said before AW isnt the whole of PbtA games. Moves can vary a lot between pbta games and moves determine a lot on how a pbta function.
Besides Apocalypse World, I'm only really familiar with Masks and Monster of the Week. But both of those have similar rules; you can damage characters without necessarily using the "damage" move.

In Masks, that move is called directly engage a threat, and it's only used if the character you're trying to damage is a threat, and "straightforwardly duking it out." There's an example in the text of a superhero who busts into the control room of a skyscraper-sized robot. His player asks the GM if it counts as directly engaging a threat to throw those minions around the room, but the GM responds that, because they're so much weaker than he is, it doesn't require any sort of roll. He completely disrupts the control room and stalls the mech until the villain in charge is able to show up.

In Monster of the Week, the damage move is called kick some ass (presented more fully as "When you get into a fight and kick some ass"). It, too, mentions that this move only applies when the foe has a chance to fight back. The text says:

Monster of the Week said:
Don't automatically call for this move any time a hunter attacks something. If a hunter attacks a foe that cannot (or will not) fight back, then it is appropriate to just use the Keeper move inflict harm as established instead. What the hunter's doing could also be a move like protect someone or act under pressure (or another move altogether): use what the player has stated the hunter's intentions are and the actions they've described the hunter taking to determine what makes sense.
In a case like this, I'd say using an instant-knockout move against a shark would be act under pressure, since you're not really trading blows. This gives a different set of outcomes and consequences than someone who just dives in with a knife and starts stabbing the shark. They're probably rolling to kick some ass. And if you've managed to lure the monster shark into an aquarium tank that you've rigged to drain or to be electrified, well, you probably don't need to roll anything at this point. The GM inflicts harm as established, and that shark's going down.



I don't mean to invalidate your point, though. Like you've mentioned, there are a lot of PbtA games, and they have some pretty varied move sets. And some of them have very different design goals. There's no real approval process unless they're directly copying text from Apocalypse World, which seems pretty intentional but does mean that the different games might have very different takes on the core rules.

Just, in my experience, the idea of moves being open and allowing players to take a number of different approaches to a situation extends far beyond just Apocalypse World. If anything, I feel like PbtA games are better at playing out those sorts of improvisational solutions than many other games I've played. But I also happen to like the system in general, and can totally understand that it doesn't fit everyone's preferences.
 

CarpeGuitarrem

Blogger and gamer
Validated User
When instead what they are after are clues. And the only thing to get clues is with the move investigate.
I mean, I think this is the core right here. This isn't true. The moves only do what's described in the trigger and the results. If you have some other way of getting clues, you say what your character does, maybe that triggers a player move, maybe it doesn't. Sometimes, the GM just makes a move in response and you don't roll the dice. Just like moves aren't the only way to deal damage, moves aren't the only way to get clues, or to do anything in PbtA.

It's the fundamental rule of RPGs: you say you do something, then we see what happens.
 

downer

Fairy Tale King
Validated User
Sucker someone or go aggro are still a fight move, you cant use a say “investigate move” to hurt someone.
Physically hurt? Probably not. The simple fact is that you have to describe it. And I can't imagine a description of physically messing someone up that triggers an investigate move. It could trigger lot of moves that aren't straight up fighting moves, though. Maybe you're going into a fight with someone to distract them, or impress them with your courage or whatever. Moves take into account approach and intent
Examples that come to mind is in CoM
I haven't read City of Mists (which I assume the shorthand refers to), but I'm beginning to think the people who said it's not actually a PbtA game are right. By now, pretty much half of the examples in this thread are from that game alone.
there is a move called convince which is to "talk, threaten or seduce someone into doing something" and a player tried to use to question a suspect to "talk to them to do something and something in this case is telling me everything i need to know".
Well. On the one hand I'd say this works for me. On the other hand, the way you describe it "clues" are an actual mechanical currency and has rules attached to obtaining it. So mostly I'm just thinking that this is one poorly written move that shouldn't be in a PbtA game. Or at least the authors didn't think their mechanics through to the end.
But like I said. YMMV. Some DMs might allow a PC to instakill an enemy without the use of one of the attack moves. I wouldn't (so long the enemies aren't just story prop like a bonus representing a mob or back up).
This is not about allowing or disallowing some rule thing. It's about following the fiction. "You can't do this eminently sensible thing because the rules say otherwise" is not compatible with the principles of PbtA. So if I push the villain into an abyss, that's not necessarily "go aggro", nor do I actually deal a measurable amount of harm with my action. It's not the fall that hurts, after all. So we'll have to figure out what move I make, if any. I'd say a major action like this certainly warrants a move, but if its clearly established in the fiction that I can push the villain and there's nothing they can do about it, then I might just declare it and do it. There have probably been a ton of moves already to get them there, so I might just be collecting my well-earned victory.
 

CarpeGuitarrem

Blogger and gamer
Validated User
Yeah; by the rules, that's just the MC/GM using the "deal harm/damage as established" move...against the NPC. Which is totally legit! PbtA makes more sense as you shift away from a "GM sets up obstacles, players work around them" mentality and into a mentality of "players do things, GM makes stuff happen in response".
 

swammeyjoe

Registered User
Validated User
Physically hurt? Probably not. The simple fact is that you have to describe it. And I can't imagine a description of physically messing someone up that triggers an investigate move. It could trigger lot of moves that aren't straight up fighting moves, though. Maybe you're going into a fight with someone to distract them, or impress them with your courage or whatever. Moves take into account approach and intent

I haven't read City of Mists (which I assume the shorthand refers to), but I'm beginning to think the people who said it's not actually a PbtA game are right. By now, pretty much half of the examples in this thread are from that game alone.

Well. On the one hand I'd say this works for me. On the other hand, the way you describe it "clues" are an actual mechanical currency and has rules attached to obtaining it. So mostly I'm just thinking that this is one poorly written move that shouldn't be in a PbtA game. Or at least the authors didn't think their mechanics through to the end.

This is not about allowing or disallowing some rule thing. It's about following the fiction. "You can't do this eminently sensible thing because the rules say otherwise" is not compatible with the principles of PbtA. So if I push the villain into an abyss, that's not necessarily "go aggro", nor do I actually deal a measurable amount of harm with my action. It's not the fall that hurts, after all. So we'll have to figure out what move I make, if any. I'd say a major action like this certainly warrants a move, but if its clearly established in the fiction that I can push the villain and there's nothing they can do about it, then I might just declare it and do it. There have probably been a ton of moves already to get them there, so I might just be collecting my well-earned victory.
Just regarding the City of Mist example, it's a bit wrong. There is a separate Investigative move, and any good GM shouldn't let Convince be used when it's clearly Investigation. When you use the Investigation move, you get Clues based on your success. The Convince move is more for actions (and ties more mechanically into statuses, as a way to apply pressure to targets).
 
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