Vincent Baker on mechanics, system and fiction in RPGs

pemerton

Legend
The mechanics of the moves themselves, especially most of the basic ones, aren’t particularly tied to the post-apocalyptic milieu used by Apocalypse World.
I don't think Go Aggro says anything specific about a post-apocalyptic milieu. It says something about violence. I think it would probably be out of place in a RPG based on The English Patient. But it would be an excellent fit for one based on The Maltese Falcon.
 

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pemerton

Legend
What’s obvious to me is that the rules appear to work fine for the folks who actually use them. It’s hard to say a game isn’t working as intended for people who don’t, and most likely will never, play it.
100% this.

What’s also obvious is that there are a number of players who don’t want to have to commit to a course of action until the last possible second, as if that’s the way a charged situation works. That someone with a gun to someone’s head is thinking as clearly and easily as a person taking a turn in an RPG.

Go Aggro asks if you’re willing to escalate to violence or not. Here’s the situation… will you resort to violence? If yes, Go Aggro. If not, then it’s something else.

I hope the folks I play with aren’t afraid to commit. Do the thing, let’s see what happens as a result. Let’s not endlessly wait to see what happens before having to finally make a decision. That’s timid play.
And 1000% this!

The idea that only a game that permits endless hedging, turtling etc is "realistic" or "verisimilitudinous" or agency-respecting is not plausible.
 

pemerton

Legend
You still are not an moderator. If @pemerton feels that I was misunderstanding or mischaracterising their positions, they certainly can clarify. But to me it seemed that their approach skipped both an in-character decision point, and reacting to another character's response, deeming those otiose.
The victim's response has been to not give the protagonist what the latter wants - hence why the protagonists is going aggro!

Now (on a hit) either the victim capitulates, or they get hurt. What you want is for the player to get to hedge and hemm and haw. Nothing is changing in the fiction - either the victim capitulates before you choose to follow through, or they don't and you follow through. If you, the protagonist, blink first then you were never intending to follow through, so it wasn't Going Aggro at all!

It is not about timidness, it is about wanting to actually roleplay the situation and taking what happens into account in your character's actions. Wanting to know how the person you threaten reacts before you decide to blow their brains out doesn't seem like particularly weird or unreasonable desire to me.
What extra action are you wanting? The person caves - now you know. They play chicken - by choosing Going Aggro, as oppose to Manipulate, you've decided that you're not the one who's going to blink.
 

pemerton

Legend
It has nothing to do with optimal, it is about inhabiting a character and making decisions from their perspective in real time. So of course how the person being threatened responds is a huge deal, and ignoring that seems utterly absurd to me.
But if you're not going to shoot them if they don't do what you want, then you're bluffing! Hence roll Manipulate.

This is why I agree with @hawkeyefan. The only extra information that can come through is not anything "realistic" from the fiction; it is additional GM cues. This why hawkeyfan talked about the "optimal" choice.

If what you REALLY wanted was to push it and not actually attack until you know exactly where its going? Well, you CAN threaten, that's one move, and then when that fails, you can always go back and follow through! This is going to play out as the character CHANGING HIS MIND, see?!
Then you have NOT DECIDED TO FIGHT and you can't use Go Aggro, simple as that! Nothing could be more clear. Do your Manipulate check, and then if you later, like an instant later, decide you WILL follow through, then go make another check! Remember though, this sort of indecision has a potential cost, the GM is going to respond to your failed Manipulate, he owes you a move now, and given your treatment of the other character in question, and their now explicit willingness to not back down, it may not be a FUN move for you! That's the cost of indecision.
Also, this!
 

pemerton

Legend
This makes sense, but it is not what anyone else is saying. Also Go Aggro explicitly is about making threats, and then we have separate In Battle for combat, so to me these moves seem confused. Again, why don't we just have Manipulate for threatening and combat moves for actual violence? What's the point of Go Aggro?
The point of Go Aggro is to make things happen, in the play of the game, when violent people bring their willingness to use violence to bear. It's the same as the point of any other player-side move: it makes the currency of the game say things.
 


pemerton

Legend
Again, you need to play these games, because NOTHING I have played in almost 50 years of RPG play experience is more visceral or directly to the point and in character than AW, nothing. You are pontificating about something you clearly have not experienced! No other game, aside from some clearly derived by the application of the same design philosophy delivers the same raw stream of consciousness in character play. This sort of play is, IMHO, not even close to approachable by the techniques you espouse, at least in games I've experienced. 4e and a few others do get close, and have their own virtues, but if your objection to AW and PbtA as a general design pattern is that it cannot deliver visceral, convincing, in-character play, you are simply in error.
I would say this also about Burning Wheel, which (in my experience) produces visceral, in-character play unlike anything else.

Despite the technical differences, what AW and BW have in common is that the player does not have to do anything but play their character, from the perspective of the character, in order to have dramatic and compelling things happen. And this is secured by the rules for resolution, and particularly the way the GM is instructed to generate consequences. The game tells you when the crunch is approaching (because the dice are rolled), and things will happen as a result.
 

My view is that the way a RPG fosters emotional states at the table that correlate to, or resemble, those in the fiction, is an important feature of the RPG. And I agree with Vincent's idea that just narrate it, or (in this case) just imagine and feel it, is not a good game rule.
In a sense that it is not a rule at all. But not everything needs rules, and sometimes adding rules make the thing just work worse. And narrating, imagining and feeling works pretty damn well, or if it doesn't, then it time to improve how the things are described so that evoking of emotions happens.
 

The victim's response has been to not give the protagonist what the latter wants - hence why the protagonists is going aggro!

Now (on a hit) either the victim capitulates, or they get hurt. What you want is for the player to get to hedge and hemm and haw. Nothing is changing in the fiction - either the victim capitulates before you choose to follow through, or they don't and you follow through. If you, the protagonist, blink first then you were never intending to follow through, so it wasn't Going Aggro at all!
Neither the reality nor good stories are that simple. It is not binary, capitulate or not. They may refuse to capitulate, and give a reason, either emotional or factual, that recontextualises the situation. And a person can think they're committed to doing something, but when push comes to shove or when the situation changes, they find they can't do it after all.
 

So by this measure, it is not distinctive to Dread that it uses a jenga tower as its resolution method? Or there is no difference between the uncertainty of blind declaration and simultaneous resolution, compared to declaration in full knowledge?

That isn't very charitable. I didn't say mechanics can't help, only that they aren't necessary, or in other words, required.

Its improv. The necessity of something physical or mathematical simply isn't there.

you seem to be asserting that a player can declare I go aggro with no establishing fiction or clear purpose. I don't see how that is so: apart from anything else, the player has to make it clear what their PC wants or else the GM can't adjudicate the result of a hit.

They're declaring it by choosing the Move. They want one of its Outcomes.

then they should not play with Go Aggro.

Ah, Oberoni. Wondered if that'd show up.

If a Move has specific triggers, you can't assert that Players are free to act within the Fiction if you're also stating they shouldn't trigger a particular Move.

are talking about a RPG that generates inhabitation of character; not rationalistic, god's-eye-view scripting of a character.

What me and Crimson are talking about is an RPG that generates inhabitation of a character and not a rattionalist, god's eye view scripting of a character. I don't think the seeming special plea that thats what you and others talking about really flies, as that doesn't make any sort of sense in regards to AW or any other PBTA game. Even Ironsworn.

It sounds good and makes those games seem perfect, but it doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

Despite the technical differences, what AW and BW have in common is that the player does not have to do anything but play their character, from the perspective of the character, in order to have dramatic and compelling things happen.

That holds true in any game if the non-improv part of the game is actually compelling. Most RPGs actually have pretty terrible gameplay thats obscured by the fun of improv.
 

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