Arbitrarily ordered thoughts and observations, issue 1

  1. You can houserule a game to something very different, but then you lose community support. And the communities that are available in these days of hyperconnectivity are extremely valuable (if used well i.e. if you primarily use them to learn and understand rather than to achieve the emotional benefits of human contact).
  2. I’m very wary of giving a trad-role GM more power and responsibility than they have in a default trad game. E.g. 5e says to give Inspiration points for “good roleplaying”, and Zweihander encourages xp awards for the same reason. Both use the GM’s sole judgement, loosely shaped by guidance; both add more power and responsibility on top of the great amount they already have.
  3. Baker’s sketch of Apocalypse World’s “concentric game design” is very interesting, and worth using as a lens for other games. Key quotes are…

Okay! Here’s a cool thing about Apocalypse World’s design in particular, if I may say it myself: Apocalypse World is designed to collapse gracefully downward.

  • Forget the peripheral harm moves? That’s cool. You’re missing out, but the rules for harm have got you covered.
  • Forget the rules for harm? that’s cool. You’re missing out, but the basic moves have got you covered. Just describe the splattering blood and let them handle the rest.
  • Forget the basic moves? That’s cool. You’re missing out, but just remember that 10+ = hooray, 7-9 = mixed, and 6- = something worse happens.
  • . . .

…and…

Now, there’s an important wrinkle to this: as long as you’re collapsing toward the core game, the filament in the bulb, it’ll work, but if you’re collapsing some other way, it won’t. THEN the game will plain break.

I think this is most common when the MC doesn’t have an instinctive handle on the agenda, principles, and what to always say. If the MC instinctively goes to some other way to GM, that’s what she’ll try to collapse toward, and the whole enterprise will shiver itself to bits.

 

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