Recurring silly comment about Apocalypse World and similar RPGs

Alright, I’m out with only brief downtime so I don’t have time to do the whole thing. But maybe piecemeal is better anyway.

Ok, so this is Blades in the Dark, right. So that means everything is about “climbing the ladder.” Everything you want someone dangerous already owns, someone dangerous protects (as in allied with or “protection racket”), or it’s someone’s turf you’re messing with.

Zoomed out, that is what “charged” means in terms of Blades.

So noble house.

Brightstone. If it’s against the Brightstone citizenry, that is a Tier 4 (Strong) target, with enormous Bluecoats presence (either moonlighting security, actual security, or protection racket). You’re taking -1d to Engagement Roll and Heat here is Hostile Turf.

So you’re pissing off powerful citizenry that has the ear of powerful Factions, you’re pissing off the Bluecoats. Minimum, you’re talking about -1 Faction with each at end of Score and a dangerous/powerful Crime Boss.

This sort of stuff is orthodox Blades. But while we’re doing Info Gathering/Free Play, we move through these things. The Citizenry should also have dangerous dogs (Magnitude 3 or 4 and maybe even Scale 1…like 6 of ‘em). They should have security measures of Magnitude equal to their Tier.

But maybe another gang is running an operation at the same time and it’s a race for this necklace? Maybe you can use that in your favor by misdirecting the Bluecoats onto them mid-Op (Act Now, Plan Later via Flashback). Ok, but you’re taking - Faction with this other gang…and they’re surely powerful because they’re taking on a Tier 4 target with Bluecoat protection.

Maybe it’s actually the Bluecoats themselves providing both “protection” (a front) while running an Op to steal the amurlet? Maybe we look at the Claim Map and this is actual Turf (capital T) that you’re taking from this gang or from the Bluecoats? We talk about this. Ok, sure, let’s sweeten the pot with actual Turf as a part of Payoff. You have to make a big show of this though (and we’d discuss what that Win Con means mechanically and in the fiction); send a message. Also, now you’re definitely taking -2 Faction with this gang and you’re on the cusp of At-War status (if you weren’t -1 already).

Oh, and Occult threats/presence is 2 dots here. So the other gang is either the Bluecoats, a powerful demon, The Dimmer Sisters or something like that. So your obstacles/danger here should probably be supernatural as well. Maybe the Magistrates or the press because of Brightstone’s Tier and access.

All of that should get resolved during prior play and IG/FP phase pre-score.

So that is what “charged” means here. This isn’t just Amulet001 and Noble002. It’s never that in this game.

Does that make more sense?
Yes, I guess, maybe.

Something like a competing gang doing the same score is the sort of dynamic situation I talk about. it happened once in our game, and we really were not expecting that so it was a nice surprise.

But a lot of the other stuff you talk about, such as security measures I'd see as static. They won't do anything unless someone tries to overcome them.
 

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loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
@Manbearcat I am not talking about the setting as much as structure of scores. In your experience is it usual that the scores themselves are some sort of developing dynamic situations in midst the characters arrive, as opposed to static ones like guards guarding the thing the PCs want to steal, and the situation only developing from static by PC intervention? Because in our game they have been mostly the latter.
I'm not Manbearcat, but in games I've ran or played that were closely following the rules, they kinda were and weren't? Depending on the definition of a "dynamic situation".

In the last Scum&Villainy (BitD in space, I guess???) game I participated in, there were plenty of situations where a score had a very limited window of opportunity, created either a) by NPCs pursuing their own goals or b) actions of PCs. Examples: a) closed and secretive official showing up in public for his wedding; b) a train hauling valuable cargo being diverted by forging its timetable

So an opportunity for the score even exists in the first place because of someone's actions and would pass by if we weren't there to act (and we had plenty of reasons to do something else, either for a reward or to protect our own arses)

And if the "dynamic situation" means something else ongoing, as in, a rival faction showing up to compete with PCs for the score/actively sabotage them, that is also something that the game expects, I think?
 

Yes, I guess, maybe.

Something like a competing gang doing the same score is the sort of dynamic situation I talk about. it happened once in our game, and we really were not expecting that so it was a nice surprise.

But a lot of the other stuff you talk about, such as security measures I'd see as static. They won't do anything unless someone tries to overcome them.

Its not clear at all what you're envisioning with your descriptor of "dynamic" vs "static."

What are you referring to exactly? What are you envisioning exactly in what you're referring to?

Are you referring to the Score itself in your appraisal? Meaning, some Scores have layered situations, each with their own ability to "go boom" (dynamic) and some maybe are more univariate (static)?

Are you imagining the Duskvol situation-at-large and/or the Crew's positioning (within Duskvol and in relation to its hierarchy) pre-Score and then post-Score doesn't change dynamically?

Are you referring to each-and-every-obstacle intra-Score as obstacles in-and-of-themselves and seeing some as dynamic and some as static? Dynamic or static how? Like if you have a Magnitude 3 (Area) courtyard you have traverse with 3 guard towers and attendant Quality 4 guards with long guns in overwatch position...is that dynamic or static? Are you imagining "the situation doesn't change dynamically when dealing with this particular obstacle" on a 1-5 result? On a 6 result?

What are you pointing at and what is the implication of the dynamic vs static appraisal?
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Yes, I guess, maybe.

Something like a competing gang doing the same score is the sort of dynamic situation I talk about. it happened once in our game, and we really were not expecting that so it was a nice surprise.

But a lot of the other stuff you talk about, such as security measures I'd see as static. They won't do anything unless someone tries to overcome them.
Faction relationship rules are kind of that? Factions that have -3 with you will go out of their way to screw you, and showing up for your score is one of the most obvious way they can do that.

The same goes for PC's personal enemies.
 

Its not clear at all what you're envisioning with your descriptor of "dynamic" vs "static."
Obviously. I have tried to explain it several times already, to no avail.

What are you referring to exactly? What are you envisioning exactly in what you're referring to?
The situation at the score. Whether it is a developing dynamic situation where something of interest is going on regardless of what the PCs do, or whether it is just a static situation where nothing out of ordinary would happen unless the PCs initiate it. I really do not understand how this is so complicated...

Are you referring to the Score itself in your appraisal? Meaning, some Scores have layered situations, each with their own ability to "go boom" (dynamic) and some maybe are more univariate (static)?
Yes, I am talking about the score.

Are you imagining the Duskvol situation-at-large and/or the Crew's positioning (within Duskvol and in relation to its hierarchy) pre-Score and then post-Score doesn't change dynamically?
No, that is not what I'm talking about.

Are you referring to each-and-every-obstacle intra-Score as obstacles in-and-of-themselves and seeing some as dynamic and some as static? Dynamic or static how? Like if you have a Magnitude 3 (Area) courtyard you have traverse with 3 guard towers and attendant Quality 4 guards with long guns in overwatch position...is that dynamic or static? Are you imagining "the situation doesn't change dynamically when dealing with this particular obstacle" on a 1-5 result? On a 6 result?
That is static. Those defences will sit there doing nothing interesting unless the PCs try to overcome them. Basically, the question is, if the PCs did nothing, would the situation nevertheless evolve in some meaningful way. If the answer is no, it is static, if it is yes, it is dynamic.

What are you pointing at and what is the implication of the dynamic vs static appraisal?
I am not sure about implication. It was my observation about how our games tend to function, and I was wondering about whether that is something the system is liable of producing or just how our GM runs things. My hypothesis was that the structure of rules where difficulties are mainly supposed to rise from player rolls gone badly has something to do with it.
 

Obviously. I have tried to explain it several times already, to no avail.


The situation at the score. Whether it is a developing dynamic situation where something of interest is going on regardless of what the PCs do, or whether it is just a static situation where nothing out of ordinary would happen unless the PCs initiate it. I really do not understand how this is so complicated...


Yes, I am talking about the score.


No, that is not what I'm talking about.


That is static. Those defences will sit there doing nothing interesting unless the PCs try to overcome them. Basically, the question is, if the PCs did nothing, would the situation nevertheless evolve in some meaningful way. If the answer is no, it is static, if it is yes, it is dynamic.

We're not just talking past each other, we're talking about different things entirely. My sense is that the lens through which you're looking at Blades in the Dark play is not the correct one. And I can't calibrate even the language we're using. Frex, at the top you say "Yes, I'm talking about the Score." Then, when I talk about an individual obstacle (the courtyards with the snipers in overwatch position) to try to get a sense of what you're talking, you call that obstacle static. So you're not just talking about the Score. You're talking about individual obstacles as well (and maybe running that together?...or not realizing these are entirely different concepts in terms of the gameplay?...I don't know?).

But it gets even more difficult here with the discussion of the obstacle above. Your concern about "dynamic vs static" with respect to this particular obstacle is whether "if the PCs did nothing, would the situation nevertheless evolve in some meaningful way?" That isn't remotely the zoom or level of evaluation that Blades in the Dark is preoccupied with. If you're preoccupied with something like that then either (a) you need to recalibrate or (b) Blades in the Dark isn't a game that is going to work for you. Blades in the Dark's engine and premise doesn't instantiate or ponder individual obstacles and then engage with "what would happen if the PCs weren't here?" It doesn't care about that at all.

I think its finally connecting. I think you're expressing some kind of atomized Simulationist concern that Blades in the Dark doesn't address at all (nor care to address).

Where Blades cares about dynamism is the following:

* The layer of premise. What happens when this lowly Crew of scoundrels dares to climb the ladder? What happens to them collectively, individually, to Duskvol-at-large, and how does the city rise up against them to trample them underfoot?

That question will get dynamically answered all throughout the course of play.

* The layer of theme for each particular character; relationships, struggles, cause, apotheosis, dissolution.

These questions will get dynamically answered all throughout the course of play.

* The tactical game layer; managing and marshalling resources (personnel, loadout, armor/special boxes, setting yourself and others up to amplify the Position: Effect matrix to your favor, accepting or declining Devil's Bargain, Flashback execution, etc), orienting the situation toward your better lines of play (Action Dots and playbook specials) and executing your decision-tree to best manage individual obstacles with skillful plays, when to Resist and what complications to Resist and when to "suck it up and deal," when to devote "Effect margins" toward this clock vs that clock or toward this clock vs this other obstacle that is in your face right now.

All of your tactical decisions dynamically change both the gamestate and the fiction and these individual plays will affect future individual plays (as well as the strategic layer).

* The strategic game layer; handling PC/Crew advancements, choosing friends and enemies wisely, managing Heat and Wanted Level, managing cross-loop Stress and Trauma, managing adverse Factions and Setting Clocks so they don't "go boom" via taking Scores to resolve/mitigate them or via Longterm Projects, managing Claim Map, etc etc etc (there is so much more here...).

All of your strategic decisions pile and pile and pile and infect other strategic decisions and tactical decisions in a multivariate positive feedback loop. This gameplay is as dynamic as it gets.

I am not sure about implication. It was my observation about how our games tend to function, and I was wondering about whether that is something the system is liable of producing or just how our GM runs things. My hypothesis was that the structure of rules where difficulties are mainly supposed to rise from player rolls gone badly has something to do with it.

What I've bolded that you've written isn't correct. Opposition/antagonism/threat arises in several different ways. The "snowballing effect" of action resolution in Blades is only one of them. I won't mention that below. The others are:

* The core of the game is the GM framing situations/obstacles with stakes and consequences. You make the equivalent of soft moves in this game just like PBtA. A soft move ignored means a Consequence (which a PC can Resist). Further, there are three levels of threat; mooks are fodder who can't seize the initiative (this is your bold above), Skilled-threat NPCs can and will sieze the initiative and make soft moves (here is your soft move to hard move), Master-threat NPCs are the big bads...they just hit you with Consequences (hard moves) and you can choose to Resist or suck it up.

* Faction Clocks during Downtime where they pursue their agenda, increasing their capabilities. The only Faction Clocks that should be active are the ones that are onscreen and have been featured during play. If the Crew has interacted with them directly or transgressed against them indirectly, then create a Faction Clock and resolve it during Downtime. Should it fill, the bad thing we've outlined will happen...well, it happens.

We don't care about the rest of the Factions. This isn't "Sim-Duskvol." We only care about the Factions that are onscreen and relevant.

* Setting Clocks same as above. Supernatural Plague? Massive labor upheaval in Coalridge? Eeleries and farms in Barrowcleft suddenly failing due to some unknown pathogen? Prison Riot in Ironhook? Gaddoc Rail accident? Etc etc. Put a Clock to it and we have persistent fiction and gamestate effery that happens until whoever is responsible for "cleaning up the mess" cleans it up. Resolve each Downtime.

* Crime Bosses post-Score make demands. Suck it up and give them Coin/Rep or you get a Clock.

* Entanglements are Downtime problems based on Heat/Wanted Level. Deal with it in whatever way.

* Devil's Bargain dynamically introduce complications into situations but players get the opt-in/out option (carrot/stick).
 

@Manbearcat I was mainly talking about staticness/dynamism regarding the whole situation at the score, but of course we can also examine this regarding individual elements of it. You asked about specific obstacles, so I answered regarding that.

But I really don't understand why my framing of "If the PCs did nothing, what would happen?" is misplaced. That is a question about the fictional situation, and I feel we can answer that regardless of the specific game we are playing.

I think what you say about GM soft moves and important NPCs taking initiative closely related to this. I feel this is not something that happens a lot in the game I've been playing in. Most developments in situation are due complications or success of PC actions. But good to know the mechanical avenue by which the sort of dynamism which I speak of could be inserted.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
But I really don't understand why my framing of "If the PCs did nothing, what would happen?" is misplaced. That is a question about the fictional situation, and I feel we can answer that regardless of the specific game we are playing.

Because it’s hard to answer that. There is no score in the same sense that there’s an adventure in D&D or a mystery in CoC.

The score is specific to the crew and that game. If for some reason, it needs to be determined what would happen if the players decide not to do a given score, the GM can do a number of things to decide.

Maybe nothing happens. Maybe the GM decides what happens. Maybe a Fortune roll is made to determine it. Maybe related Clocks are advanced. Maybe some combination of all these things.

It’s all so specific to the crew and the current situation in the game world that the idea of a static situation is just… off.

It’s all dynamic.
 

niklinna

satisfied?
Because it’s hard to answer that. There is no score in the same sense that there’s an adventure in D&D or a mystery in CoC.

The score is specific to the crew and that game. If for some reason, it needs to be determined what would happen if the players decide not to do a given score, the GM can do a number of things to decide.

Maybe nothing happens. Maybe the GM decides what happens. Maybe a Fortune roll is made to determine it. Maybe related Clocks are advanced. Maybe some combination of all these things.

It’s all so specific to the crew and the current situation in the game world that the idea of a static situation is just… off.

It’s all dynamic.
Right. There's no score until the players decide what they're gonna do (and if your scores have been the GM laying out something for the players to accept or not, you might want to read the book again). Then there's a bit of discussion and free play about how to approach the score, an engagement roll, and boom, you're there. If you spend a lot of time discussing a potential score, and then decide not to do it, well that's just a bunch of fodder the players have worked up as a gift to the GM, which they may or may not use.

Now, the players are most likely to come up with a score based on what's going on, but that's all known, and relevant, to the player characters. If the group decided the Lampblacks aren't of interest to them, the GM is not going to bother with tracking what they might be up to so far. They are still free to add Lampblacks to any situation, and if the scoundrels do anything that would result in the Lampblacks becoming relevant, then the GM will start tracking rep and activity with clocks and such.

Edit: Typo.
 
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Right. There's no score until the players decide what they're gonna do (and if your scores have been the GM laying out something for the players to accept or not, you might want to read the book again). Then there's a bit of discussion and free play about how to approach the score, an engagement roll, and boom, you're there. If you spend a lot of time discussing a potential score, and then decide not to do it, well that's just a bunch of fodder the players have worked up as a gift to the GM, which they may or may not use.

Now, the players are most likely to come up a score based on what's going on, but that's all known, and relevant, to the player characters. If the group decided the Lampblacks aren't of interest to them, the GM is not going to bother with tracking what they might be up to so far. They are still free to add Lampblacks to any situation, and if the scoundrels do anything that would result in the Lampblacks becoming relevant, then the GM will start tracking rep and activity with clocks and such.
That's not really what I mean though. I don't mean literally not doing the score. I mean whether the score has people and stuff in motion, that are doing their own thing, that it is some sort of developing situation regardless of what the characters do. That it not just the NPCs reacting to the PCs, but NPCs with their own agendas which they are about to proceed with. I really don't understand why this seems to be such a difficult concept. 🤷
 

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