Help Me Get "Apocalypse World" and PbtA games in general.

Well, this was the first thing that basically came up with 4e Skill Challenges too, you can go all over the place. An entire SC could be just a part of the action during an encounter, or it could be an epic quest across half a content, and any given check made within one could represent anywhere from "I try to pick the lock" to "I keep us on course for 1000 miles across the Great Desert, using landmarks, the map, the compass, and the sextant as needed." That was not super easy for a lot of people to grasp...

And yes, you can do similar things in DW, both in terms of the scale in time and space of an intent, and in terms of the complexity of the undertaking to resolve it, within reason. Usually you can feel out what works, but sometimes I found, especially with SCs, that it could be easy to pick the wrong scale! I think PbtA is a bit more forgiving there, in general.

Yup.

I was definitely thinking back on all the rancorous conversations we were involved in on 4e SCs when I wrote the above!

I think AW (and DW et al) is both (a) very clear on what I’ve written above and (b) the agenda/principles/always say etc create guidance for how best to proceed when you’re framing a situation in any given level of zoom (or transitioning from tight zoom to zoomed out).

But, like anything, it takes both mental agility/understanding/skill on behalf of the participants in question (I’m including both GM and players in this).

An interesting contrast is with Blades in the Dark. I think I mentioned this the other day, but Blades handles this very differently than AW because of the structure/phases of play (as opposed to the structured freeform without phases nature of AW).

Blades has 3 distinct phases and they each handle zoom very differently:

Info Gathering/Free Play: This might see a zoomed in scene like your PC Takeo was involved in on Monday (especially early or when “there aren’t an abundance of threats on the board”). Much more common however, is the more abstract and zoomed out Info Gathering move where you frame a Action Roll which is zoomed out and covers a large chunk > resolve it (with the effect of Limited, Standard, Great info depending on 1-3, 4-5, or 6 result).

Score: Zoomed in tightly on the action except for the exception of certain types of Flashbacks (which might be zoomed out).

Downtime: Again, back to zoomed out action covering a chunk of fictional time.


I think Blades is actually more amenable to a Trad cognitive orientation because of this tightly codified zoom based on structured phases.
 
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Zoom level is explicitly called out in various places in AW and the MC is encouraged to sometimes abruptly shift levels as a technique.

Like: you run a few "rounds" of zoomed-in combat and then you say, "And so Dremmer's goons keep you pinned down all afternoon. Roll to Act Under Fire to see how badly shot up you are by the time you escape." (paraphrase from the book)

4e D&D, sadly, did not explicitly call out these zoom shift as much as it should have. As other have said, 4e has some strong storygame genes in its DNA, and that is part of what caused it to be so off-putting to some people.

(Off-putting in the purely neutral sense of "woah what is this it's not what I expected". I obviously like storygames or I wouldn't be in this thread!)
 

pemerton

Legend
Burning Wheel handles the Zoom thing pretty straightforwardly. So can Prince Valiant (which in its core resolution plays a lot like BW-lite). I therefore think Torchbearer can as well, although I've got less experience to draw on there and TB does have "phases" that create some structure around Zoom that is different from BW and Prince Valiant.
 

Zoom level is explicitly called out in various places in AW and the MC is encouraged to sometimes abruptly shift levels as a technique.

Like: you run a few "rounds" of zoomed-in combat and then you say, "And so Dremmer's goons keep you pinned down all afternoon. Roll to Act Under Fire to see how badly shot up you are by the time you escape." (paraphrase from the book)

4e D&D, sadly, did not explicitly call out these zoom shift as much as it should have. As other have said, 4e has some strong storygame genes in its DNA, and that is part of what caused it to be so off-putting to some people.

(Off-putting in the purely neutral sense of "woah what is this it's not what I expected". I obviously like storygames or I wouldn't be in this thread!)
Right, 4e relies more on the whole 'encounter structure' to create distinct units of play. However, you certainly can (and we sometimes did it mostly to 'skip boring stuff') just elide parts of combat encounters.
 

Burning Wheel handles the Zoom thing pretty straightforwardly. So can Prince Valiant (which in its core resolution plays a lot like BW-lite). I therefore think Torchbearer can as well, although I've got less experience to draw on there and TB does have "phases" that create some structure around Zoom that is different from BW and Prince Valiant.
Yeah, with TB2 you COULD zoom out, sometimes that makes a good bit of sense, though certain rolls are generally just going to be more 'event rolls' vs being checks anyway. Like if you travel a leg, that will be pretty zoomed out simply because travel works that way. OTOH B/X travel is not THAT different in some respects.
 

4e [...] you certainly can (and we sometimes did it mostly to 'skip boring stuff') just elide parts of combat encounters.

You can and we did a lot in LFR and our home games, but there's nothing in 4e's "operations manual" that encourages you to do so in the same way that AW encourages you to.

But this isn't the "bash 4e even though we love it" thread so anyway.... ;)

The way I run AW it operates on movie logic. Zoom in to granular detail when that's interesting, zoom out to broad strokes when that's more interesting (and to create more tension!), cut away from one scene/group to another. I'm not doing turn-by-turn tactical combat (which I also love! but that's a different game system) so I feel no need to "finish the round" or whatever.
 

pemerton

Legend
cut away from one scene/group to another
I think this an under-discussed technique (and associated skill).

I was looking at the 4e DMG2 recently, and it says this in its skill challenge advice (p 86):

a skill challenge might require the group to split up so that characters at different locations can't aid each other.​

It's good advice, but there is nothing accompanying it that tells us how to actually do that and make it work.
 



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