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%

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
Irony is accusing me of being hyper defensive when you've doubled down on ad hominem attacks in response to some mild criticisms.
You came out the gate calling it disgusting. You followed up a request for actual criticism with a handful of vague criticism (sure) followed by an attack on the community as a whole.

I don't know what your definition of mild is but I'm going to guess you probably aren't British, for a start
 

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You followed up a request for actual criticism with a handful of vague criticism (sure) followed by an attack on the community as a whole.

Is it an attack to point out that I don't like something?

And is it still one when a person comes out of the woodwork and gives a precise example of why I don't like that thing?

Much as one may think it unfair to hold bad actors against a system, I don't believe its a coincidence all these games that spun off the Forge all have problems with toxic evangelizers and intellectual elitism, and regardless of what a game may (or may not, as is the case with most of them) do to foster those issues directly, those issues existing is a turn off for many and for good reason.

And it's not something thats unique to these games either. PF2E has the same problems and oftentimes evokes the exact same kind of responses accusing one of inexperience or misunderstanding if they dare to criticize the game.
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Much as one may think it unfair to hold bad actors against a system, I don't believe its a coincidence all these games that spun off the Forge all have problems with toxic evangelizers and intellectual elitism, and regardless of what a game may (or may not, as is the case with most of them) do to foster those issues directly, those issues existing is a turn off for many and for good reason.
OK, NOW we're getting somewhere other than an extremely vague "it's gross" and marshmallowy waffle. In this thread, that is precisely the first criticism you've made that says something of substance.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I've run some Masks for one of my groups and it has a lot of potential. I do think some more GM advice would be ideal. Sure, it's a "conversation" and as GM I take moves in response to my players... at least in some circumstances. But when dealing with villain groups and groups of heroes, I think a little more advice or play examples about when I should be making moves without feeling like I'm overwhelming the players.
 

OK, NOW we're getting somewhere other than an extremely vague "it's gross" and marshmallowy waffle. In this thread, that is precisely the first criticism you've made that says something of substance.

I never claimed to be making a poignant and deep cutting critique in my previous comments. The topic asks for a grade and I gave it.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I never claimed to be making a poignant and deep cutting critique in my previous comments. The topic asks for a grade and I gave it.

Well to be fair, this is what the topic was asking for:

As I've said before in the other threads, the D20 System is the undeniable favorite for tabletop RPGs today, but there are plenty of options out there for those who don't like D20 or might be looking for something different. My goal in these little surveys is to highlight the different systems and options available to tabletop fans...I certainly don't want to bash anyone's favorites. So! If you've used the PbtA system, I'd really like to hear about your experience. What did you like/dislike about it? What games did you play? And if you've never played it or one of the many successful games that use it, what's holding you back? I'll collect everyone's votes and give the system a "grade" from A+ to F, just for fun.

Asking for a grade was "just for fun."
 

And getting back to the core subject, Apocalypse World is one of the best games I've ever played and deserves its legion of spinoffs. There are several reasons. Many of them include:
  • The rhythm of when you roll, the "move system" is at the points where narration would be handed over in freeform RP, meaning that there is less break in immersion for rolling and resolving than in any other published TTRPG I have ever played
  • The structure and advice for the GM is strong, clear, and effective. It is style specific, but the Hard Moves and the rest really work to teach and guide the GM. And the GM prep is deliberately easy.
  • Non-class based games normally have only a relatively small number of good builds. Class based ones have normally a couple per class which multiplies the number of archetypes in play. AW is, for this purpose, class based
  • Character sheets have all the class based rules on a printable double side. Other than the standard moves (all on handouts) there's no looking in the rulebook in play.
  • It's a system in which every roll matters. There's only success, success with consequences, and critical failure.
  • The characters are integrated within the setting - which is created as part of character creation
  • PC with PC interaction is encouraged and all the PCs have their own things they value, in part because they are mostly integrated with the setting rather than being a wondering group of nomads
  • Campaigns are short (<12 sessions), perfect for busy adults
  • There are no explicit story-mandating mechanics. Instead it just puts a cast of characters into high pressure situations, gives a lot of ways they can grow, and has you play to find out what happens. Stories grow out of that.

Of course one of the worst things about Apocalypse World is the number of people willing to make up things about it without ever having played it because it (a) came out of the Forge-community and (b) is very LGBTQ+ positive.
 

Well to be fair, this is what the topic was asking for:



Asking for a grade was "just for fun."

Ill quote myself from another thread to give a more specific answer:

If I can't have fun still when I remove all the fluff and pomp of narratives, your game doesn't have great gameplay, if any at all.

Like I said, I don't need to gamify writing. Writing is already fun, gamifying it is restrictive.

If its all drama then nothing is dramatic.

Sharp line no, but there is a line, and that line makes up the difference between a cohesive experience and an incoherent one.

I would even go as far as to say its the same fundamental problem I noted previously about integrating mechanics.

The key value of all games as an artistic medium is that they leverage interactivity in a way other mediums can't to reach the evocations the work is aiming for.

Now, Roleplay is interactive, no doubt, but it isn't mechanical and fundamentally can't be when you get down to it (hence why social mechanics always tend to fail), and without mechanics, you're not actually creating a game. At best, you'll only ever have a book of prompts, which is fine if you're honest about what it is, which isn't a game.

And when you do have mechanics, they need to be integrated in such a way that they follow through on what the game is trying to do.

PBTA type games may be following that if we take their goal as just being drama generators, but Drama doesn't inherently make for a good story, and definitely not in the way that these games create it.

I think Sid Meiers philosophy on games (a series of interesting choices) also applies here. Theres not much interesting choice being fostered when the "Drama" being generated is not a consequence of choices but just a hamfisted requirement of interacting with the game.

Edit: this also relates to earlier opinion of mine that people are way too obssessed with and try way too hard to tell stories, while neglecting the value of the game as a medium to do so.

Mechanics can generate stories all on their own, without needing to force and hamfist the narrative.

So in that light, I would judge Story First/Story Now type stuff as being a fundamental misuse of the medium, which yet again loops back to my comments on innovation and how mechanics are being held back. Better mechanics will do more for a game to tell stories than trying to force it will.

Ill also link it directly as there's some quotes missing for context:

Post in thread 'Unpopular opinions go here' https://www.enworld.org/threads/unpopular-opinions-go-here.698817/post-9135338
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I just do not see how anyone can take away the idea that games like Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts and Masks try too hard to tell a story. Apocalypse World tells the GM do not [readacted] preplan a story. Monsterhearts instructs both GMs and players to keep the story feral. Find to play out what happens is almost meme worthy. I have run and played these sorts of games for more than a decade and have never felt even once like we were engaging in collaborative storytelling. The entire point is to apply pressure and just follow things where they lead.

Within the community that spawned games like Apocalypse World the entire idea of the story is considered detrimental to play. Here's an example:


Maybe you mean something different @Emberashh, but I certainly have never felt like the games I mentioned above were trying to tell a damn story.

Honestly acting like play you do not enjoy is a misuse of the medium is pure mush. Roleplaying games are not one thing. They are many things. We all can eat.
 

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