Grade the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) System

How do you feel about the PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) system?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 33 24.1%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 29 21.2%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 21 15.3%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 7 5.1%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 8 5.8%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 39 28.5%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%


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mamba

Legend
I'm not seeing the problem. When the GM is entitled to make a move, then if the fiction includes an ankheg it includes a voracious giant arthropod with an acid spray that eats away metal and flesh. This could inform a a soft move - "The ankheg sprays acid on your armour, which starts to fume and bubble - what do you do?" - or a hard move "The ankheg sprays acid at you, and your sword dissolves away in your hands - what do you do?"

Whether and what sort of move the GM is entitled to make is determined by the general rules of the game.
I am not saying I am unable to come up with what the acid spray could do in game, but there are no mechanics attached to it, everything is left up to the DM.

Dungeon World is considered at best a mediocre PbtA game
so I heard, your next statement is not giving me much hope though...

Good PbtA games are much clearer (and generally have much more minimal NPC statblocks)
The statblock is rather minimal to me, if you ignore the fluff description. I am also not sure shorter statblocks are an improvement to me.... Here is an Ironsworn one, as far as I am concerned it has the same issues, if anything they are worse

1696118417975.png


Guess this just is not a game / system for me
 

pemerton

Legend
I found this on p 222 of the Dungeon World rulebook. Whatever the overall merits (many or few) of DW as a RPG, or a PtbA RPG, this at least seems to make it fairly clear how monsters are to be used:

Every monster has moves that describe its behavior and abilities. Just like the normal GM moves, they’re things that you do when there’s a lull in the action or when the players give you a golden opportunity. As with other GM moves they can be hard or soft depending on the circumstances and the move: a move that’s irreversible and immediate is hard, a move that’s impending or easy to counter is soft.​
 

pemerton

Legend
I am not saying I am unable to come up with what the acid spray could do in game, but there are no mechanics attached to it, everything is left up to the DM.
I'm not sure why you need mechanics to tell you what an acid spray that dissolves metal and flesh might do.

I mean, suppose that you were inventing such mechanics (eg writing up an ankheg for a D&D-ish game) - first you'd need to imagine what the acid spray might do. In Dungeon World, that imagining is all you need! Plus the list of GM moves: the ones I suggested were Reveal An Unwelcome Truth (ie your armour is being dissolved by acid) and Use Up Their Resources (ie your sword has been dissolved by acid).
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
As you can see from this discussion, there's debate about whether PbtA games are something you'd like to play. What I seriously recommend is that if you've never played a game outside of D&D, you take a look at one or more of them. You might hate them and say "that isn't how I like my RPGs", but you will have a better understanding of what you do and don't like about them. And I suspect that if you're interested in the larger hobby, you'll find something you can take to D&D.

Now I really like Blades in the Dark (which is PbtA adjacent, and a more recent development) as well as Scum and Villany. I also suggest reading Dungeon World (although it is a really early PbtA game and a lot of people will tell you they don't like it). I think Dungeon World has a bunch of essays about taking D&D into the PbtA world, and that's useful to read. I would love to hear if people who play a lot of PbtA games have a suggestion for a game to get started with. I have played and run Monster of the Week, but that may not be to everyone's taste (if you're a Supernatural fan, you'll love it).

But seriously: if you want to be an RPG player rather than just a D&D player (and there's nothing wrong with just wanting to play D&D!) you should look at PbtA games, along with several others too. It will give you something to take back to D&D that (in my opinion) will make your game better.
 

I am not saying I am unable to come up with what the acid spray could do in game, but there are no mechanics attached to it, everything is left up to the DM.


so I heard, your next statement is not giving me much hope though...


The statblock is rather minimal to me, if you ignore the fluff description. I am also not sure shorter statblocks are an improvement to me.... Here is a Ironsworn one, as far as I am concerned it has the same issues, if anything they are worse

View attachment 296757

Guess this just is not a game / system for me

Another way to look at these games is that they generate stories in the third person, and do so by deliberately dissociating mechanics from how those stories proceed.

This is why these games get called writers rooms; the point of the mechanics is to get you from story beat to story beat, not to tell you what they look like.

And that design stems from the original arguments the Forge came up with as far as what was wrong with trad games. Rather than get bogged down in bad mechanics, just skip to making up the story they're getting in the way of.
 

Here is a Ironsworn one, as far as I am concerned it has the same issues, if anything they are worse
That Basilisk is much better, because everything on it is on the same level of abstract.

Guess this just is not a game / system for me
That is a very possibly right answer, too. Not everything works for everyone, and PbtA just has many things that can rub people the wrong way.
 

mamba

Legend
I found this on p 222 of the Dungeon World rulebook. Whatever the overall merits (many or few) of DW as a RPG, or a PtbA RPG, this at least seems to make it fairly clear how monsters are to be used:

Every monster has moves that describe its behavior and abilities. Just like the normal GM moves, they’re things that you do when there’s a lull in the action or when the players give you a golden opportunity. As with other GM moves they can be hard or soft depending on the circumstances and the move: a move that’s irreversible and immediate is hard, a move that’s impending or easy to counter is soft.​
That is basically what you did in your example, but what the move did was completely made up by you. I also see no moves in its description that describe its behavior, if anything I see a description of its behavior that I then need to figure out how to turn into moves.

Same with the Ironswon Basilisk, that description is completely useless to me in game terms, could have just given me the rank for all it is worth... I might as well read a wiki page on basilisks. With 5e I know what the basilisk can do, here however.... guess that is just not my cup of tea
 

mamba

Legend
I'm not sure why you need mechanics to tell you what an acid spray that dissolves metal and flesh might do.
because otherwise I am just making stuff up, not playing a game

I mean, suppose that you were inventing such mechanics (eg writing up an ankheg for a D&D-ish game) - first you'd need to imagine what the acid spray might do.
yes, and then all the rest follows, you determine its Challenge Rating, figure out what that means for its stats, abilities, damage it deals, ...

In Dungeon World, that imagining is all you need!
more like is all there is...
 


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