General violence as a peripheral move.

In conflict, violence is always incidental to intent (unless your intent is to hurt someone badly). It's a method of getting what you want. Maybe you want someone to admit to his wrongdoings, or maybe you want him to keep his mouth shut, or maybe you just want to take his sandwich because you're hungry.

You could do all that without resorting to violence. It's just that violence is a shortcut. It's faster and requires less work. In RPGs, violence is often applied as a blunt instrument, but it is best when used as a scalpel.

Moves model intent. Why not make violence incidental to moves themselves?

When you resort to violence to get your way, inflict harm as established. You might also suffer harm as established if your victim puts up a fight. Then make your move and add the following choices:

• You roll +hard instead of anything else.
• You take +1 on your roll.
• You inflict terrible harm (+1 harm).
• You suffer little harm (-1 harm).

This might not graft entirely cleanly onto the system. What are your thoughts?

Comments

  • I think this is a very interesting idea, but it would have to fit with the themes of the game, since different genres treat violence differently. As for violence being incidental to intent, I would argue that the same could be said with most methods, such as deception, or charm, or throwing money at a problem. Why should those be baked into moves along with intent, but not violence?
  • I agree with the general idea - violence is usually/often incidental to what's really happening and what's really at stake.

    However, are you thinking of this in the context of Apocalypse World? If so, then that's odd. The game already very explicitly recognizes this: every move that invokes violence is about something else, not the violence itself.

    Similarly, your idea for a custom move is interesting, but I'm having trouble thinking of a situation and move where it would actually work.

    Are you familiar with Dogs in the Vineyard?
  • If you want to make violence a tack-on to the real action being resolved, then I think the key here is what real actions do you want to resolve?
  • I think this is a very interesting idea, but it would have to fit with the themes of the game, since different genres treat violence differently. As for violence being incidental to intent, I would argue that the same could be said with most methods, such as deception, or charm, or throwing money at a problem. Why should those be baked into moves along with intent, but not violence?
    You raise an interesting proposition here. Could one simply handle moves like FAE's approaches? Theoretically, yes, though my inclination is that violence is more sensible augmenting moves than totally replacing them. In the realm of hypotheticals, you could write a move like:
    When you seek more information on your current situation, roll +nothing. On a hit, the MC tells you something new and interesting, and might ask you a question or two; answer them. On a 10+, the MC gives you good detail. On a 7–9, the MC gives you an impression. If you already know all there is to know, the MC will tell you that. On a miss, be prepared for the worst
    When you open your brain to the world's psychic maelstrom, or you do something profoundly creepy and disturbing, roll +weird instead of anything else, then make your move and add the following choice:

    • You close yourself off from the maelstrom before it seeps through.
    • You don't suffer Ψ-harm.

    I believe that level of mechanical alteration would transform the system fundamentally in a way that peripheral violence would not. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I'm thinking how peripheral violence would impact the game.

    When you open your brain, a character might scatter entrails from a sacrifice. When the hocus speaks truth, he might spill his own blood, or demand an orgy of violence to whip his followers into a frenzy. When the chopper imposes his will on his gang, he might shoot one or two to make a point.

    As I said, it doesn't fit into the system exactly, but I think the consequences might be very interesting.
  • I agre that it's interesting, especially if the effects aren't concrete enough. (If just "spilling blood" is sufficient, you might get a very different effect; people jockeying for colourful narrations.)

    Again, take a look at Dogs in the Vineyard! It has a good take on this.
  • edited February 2018
    Ah, okay, that's a good example: seek more information. So, we have a move for that, which resolves how much info you get. And then we have tack-ons like using violence, or the maelstrom, etc. And those tack-ons add consequences and color, but whatever they add, we're still answering "how much info?"

    Assuming that the tack-on (or method/approach, if we take that angle) changes the odds of getting good info (otherwise, the tack-on would be arbitrary), I like this.

    I might like it even more if there were some interaction between the choice of approach and the situation.

    For example:
    - Your internal situation, if tracked/established in some fashion (e.g. as per The Veil) might make you more adept at Hard vs Weird vs Sharp methods/approaches at a given moment.
    - Your opposition might penalize certain methods/approaches based on their strengths/weaknesses/disposition.
  • (If just "spilling blood" is sufficient, you might get a very different effect; people jockeying for colourful narrations.)
    Yes, yes, that is exactly what I'm thinking. The idea clarified as I was writing it all down.

  • Again, take a look at Dogs in the Vineyard! It has a good take on this.
    This was also my thought when reading the OP.

    Perhaps the apocalypse world engine isn't great for this accidental action thing?

    I mean the moves primarily focus on what you do instead of intent. It's based on "when a player describes their character doing this, you ask them to roll for this move".

    If you try to sweet talk someone there's really no way for that move to end in you gunning them down. Right?
  • I think you may be misreading "the apocalypse World engine".

    As written, you're right that accidental violence isn't always present, but it appears very explicitly in "go aggro" (it's not even your choice!). That's exactly what we're talking about, right?
    And go aggro basically *is* the definition of potentially-violent interactions in AW.

    Even if that example doesn't convince, though, there's nothing about the structure of moves and outcomes that wouldn't allow you to build it into the rules of you want to.

    Most likely it would appear in a form of "moves snowball" design, much like how, say, the Chopper's "pack alpha" move often leads to violence even though that is not the character's original intention.

    Something like Dogs in the Vineyard can do so much more explicitly and flexibly, but there are other trade offs to that. Just depends what your game needs.

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