Recurring silly comment about Apocalypse World and similar RPGs

pemerton

Legend
A recurring thing I see said is that, in Apocalypse World, players can't declare actions that are not covered by a move.

This is just silly.

The rules are clear: if a player's declared action for their PC is a move, then the rules of the move are invoked ("If you do it, you do it"). Otherwise, if everyone looks to the GM to see what happens, the GM makes a move. This will be a soft move unless the player's declared action hands the GM an opportunity on a platter, in which case the GM can make as hard and direct a move as they like.

It puzzles me that this seems so hard for some RPGers to understand.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
Yeah, Moves aren't skills or prescribed actions for PCs. Moves only regulate certain player's action declarations for their PC, usually just the ones that the particular PbtA game cares about. All actions a player makes for their PC, which are not covered by Moves, don't trigger Moves.

Certain playbooks may have ways to modify those Moves or have a few special Moves of their own, but that is hardly different than a Cleric not being able to use a Paladin's Lay on Hands or certain spells on the Paladin spell list. Moreover, many PbtA playbooks often have ways for one playbook to gain moves from another playbook.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The game collapses gracefully back to a basic 2d6 roll very nicely and that can handle anything. I have no idea why people think many of the things they do about the PbtA engine. My other head scratcher is calling it GMing with training wheels. IDK, People gonna people.
 

GamerforHire

Explorer
I have only played Apocalyose World games at conventions, which tend to illustrate the best and worst of game systems. I agree with above posters that for players who grok the purpose of the Move mechanic, with a decent GM, it becomes a periodically-invoked mechanic that creates the essence of what AW is trying to achieve and is a lot of fun. But I have also seen many players just not get it, and don’t understand Moves versus just playing, and how Moves allow for fun shifts in the narrative in collaboration with the GM. Ideally, experienced players show the struggling ones this and it improves during a session or over sessions.
 

Vael

Legend
I'm not disagreeing, just want to point out that this is a problem with all RPGs, players wanting to push the button on their character sheet and get confused when there isn't a button. Happens when they don't see the exact skill they want to use or such.

And with PbtA games, having such clearly defined moves can obfuscate this fact. Personally, it's why I often find playbooks feel a little too prescriptive or constraining, it's why I don't always click with these systems.
 


MacDhomnuill

Explorer
The game collapses gracefully back to a basic 2d6 roll very nicely and that can handle anything. I have no idea why people think many of the things they do about the PbtA engine. My other head scratcher is calling it GMing with training wheels. IDK, People gonna people.
My kids (8,10,12) wanted to play Root but just like dad they failed to grok (grok is still a think right?) PBTAs Moves. So I just defaulted to my Classic traveller Referee mode and ran it like that. We kept the No, Yes but, Yes dice mechanics and it played fine that way.
 

Arilyn

Hero
As people, it can be hard to change the way we have always done things. This could be part of the consistent PbtA misunderstandings?

Brand new rpg players rarely struggle with games like PbtA or Fate or any other games that we more experienced players often pull our hair out over. We think we've got this rpg thing all figured out cause we've been playing for years, and then we encounter a game that follows a completely different track.

Unlike board games, watching actual plays won't always help, because the actual plays often trip up on the rules or just make a mess of things. I've seen so many bad examples of Fate, for example, that it's no wonder people are dismissing it. Getting advice directly from the game's creator is best.

I get frustrated when people dump on my game from lack of understanding, but it does often stem from the common human failure of getting wired into procedures.

So, Arilyn's suggestions:

1. If a game has a solid and/or enthusiastic fan base, there's probably a reason.

2. Understand the difference between, "I don't like this game and this game is broken."

3. Understanding a game can take time. I've assumed broken rules that end up playing great at the table.

4. Play a game as written before introducing house rules.

5. Approach a new game with fresh eyes.

6. Play lots of different games! Or just your one favourite. I'm not pushy.
 

The game collapses gracefully back to a basic 2d6 roll very nicely and that can handle anything. I have no idea why people think many of the things they do about the PbtA engine. My other head scratcher is calling it GMing with training wheels. IDK, People gonna people.
Training wheels, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I doubt most of these trad GMs can handle running DW or AW, frankly. I don't consider it harder necessarily, but it requires an ability to absorb a different way of doing things. I don't really think DW (the one I'm most familiar with running) really 'collapses to 2d6' either. Yes, there's a move, Defy Danger, that is basic (so all PCs have it) and you COULD apply it to most situations where there are any stakes at all (so anyplace you would possibly consider a Move) but I am personally loath to do that. I think a majority of the kinds of choices which get made are "do we go right or left?" sorts of things where, yes, there are stakes, but its not a situation of immediate peril. Those are the "GM makes a soft move" cases, and exactly what "dungeon moves" are there for. You go left, you hear some sort of scuttling up ahead, and the thief's sharp hearing also picks up some BEHIND you! Oops.
 

I have only played Apocalyose World games at conventions, which tend to illustrate the best and worst of game systems. I agree with above posters that for players who grok the purpose of the Move mechanic, with a decent GM, it becomes a periodically-invoked mechanic that creates the essence of what AW is trying to achieve and is a lot of fun. But I have also seen many players just not get it, and don’t understand Moves versus just playing, and how Moves allow for fun shifts in the narrative in collaboration with the GM. Ideally, experienced players show the struggling ones this and it improves during a session or over sessions.
How much 'experience' do the players need? ALL they need to do is act in character, that's it! "I rush the goblin with my spear!" OK! The GM says "that's Hack & Slash since your spear can clearly engage the goblin before he can bring his little dagger to bear on you." What skill does that require? I mean, sure it helps of the player thinks "Gosh, I'm a dwarf fighter with a spear, I'm pretty tough, it's a good idea for me to fight!" but that doesn't even require system knowledge, just basic application of the logic of fictional position (which the GM is bound to honor). It's certainly no more demanding than any version of D&D where you would need to have a similar level of understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your character (IE the same logic would suffice for 5e, right).

I've never understood the notion that there's something difficult about playing a PbtA. It is one of the least demanding and most obvious sorts of game for a player to grasp and requires ZERO system knowledge to play at a basic level of competence (It certainly doesn't hurt to have a good grasp of the rules, for instance the dwarf in the example above could Discern Realities instead, gaining a potential advantage and probably still engage with the spear, though it might depend on more details as to whether it poses any risk). Still, it's an exceedingly simple game, with far less intricate rules than 5e D&D.
 

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