Progressive PbtA elements

edited July 2018 in Make Stuff!
So @Paul_T asked about the rules of my Catacombatan campaign. I borrowed them mainly from The Veil and City of Mask.

So the stats in The Veil works like this:
They are actually emotional states. If you use one, you fill a bubble next to it.
"When a PC marks the fifth bubble in an emotion all of the modifiers change and the state that the fifth bubble was marked in becomes +1 and all others are temporarily locked in at -2. In addition, the player chooses one of the following when another move is triggered:
(A) To keep using the spiked out emotion, in which case the emotion spike in that state decreases by 1. When all emotion spikes have been removed, all state modifiers go back to normal.
(B) To use a different state at a -2. If they do so they may erase all emotion spikes in the spiked out state. They must still mark an emotion state in the state they just rolled.
The only thing is changed is that The Veil uses states from a therapeutic method (Mad, Sad, Scared, Peaceful, Joyful, Powerful) and I decided to use Ekman's universal face expressions (Anger, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, Disgust, Suprise) instead.

In City of Mist PCs always consists of 4 themes.
A theme could be a Logos or a Mythos. Every Mythos has a mystery which you tries to solve, and every Logos an identity which you try to enact. They can improve and fall apart, and if all your themes become Logos you become a dull everyday person, and if all your themes become Mythos you sort of transcend. Also, they have tags similar to Lady Blackbird.

So at the mechanics level Themes work like 'traits' with 'tags', but overall they are like 'keyes'. The ebb and flow of themes create a nice story arc IMHO.

I dropped the tag level but I use the two kind of themes because my campaign is centered around the dramatic tentpoles of spirituality and mundane life. Most of the population only have 'identities' which are about who they think they are, but some of the peoples, especially PCs also have 'spiritualities' which imply something more then themselves. So identities are typical roleplaying tropes (character backgrounds, classes, lifestyles, ranks, anything a PC might identify with), but a spirituality in this setting could only be an aspect ('face') of death which your character cultivates. By identities you try to live up to a 'motto' or 'ideal', and by spiritualities you are searching answers to your 'dilemmas' or 'mysteries'. The campaign is about slowly loosing all of our identities and becoming a living legend.

Do you have any cool PbtA mechanics which cries to be used somewhere else?
Let's share and collect them!

Comments

  • I don't know if it's that innovative since it has been around since Dungeon World, but I'd like to see it in more PbtA games: the convention of giving the character experience when they miss markedly improves the emotional trade-off of the game for me. It helps me embrace the chaos of a game world built on partial successes and Pyrrhic victories.
  • @Caesar Slaad,

    Here's what I did in my home Monsterhearts game:

    * You get one highlighted stat (the character who has the most Strings on you chooses). (The MC no longer highlights anything.)

    * You mark XP every time you roll a miss.

    * At the beginning of each session, every player "highlights" one element of the fiction: an NPC, an object, or something else that's actionable. ("Mrs. Rodging, the civics teacher / Alice's lost love letter / the Star Cult ritual / the old man's desk in the study")

    When you make a move which targets or involves that element, you mark XP. (If you try to turn on Mrs. Rodging, you get XP. If you shut Alice down by waving her letter in her face, you mark XP. Stuff like that.)

    In practice, 99% of our choices were NPCs, so that would be the "safe" rule to use.

    * At most one XP from any given roll; they don't stack.

    This worked really well for us.

    We liked how a string of failures (usually landing a character in a really rough spot!) would often "end" with an advance of some sort, creating a dramatic turnaround for that PC.

    Getting a handful of "spotlight" NPCs or other elements gave me something to work with every session, which was great. I'd usually build all my initial scenes out of the players' choices, and that would snowball into a full session of play.
  • That's a really cool set of houserules!
  • From the DW playbook Immolator:
    Burning Brand
    When you conjure a weapon of pure
    flame, roll+CON. On a 10+ choose two of
    the following tags, on a 7-9 choose one.
    You may treat your INT as your STR or
    DEX in regards to making attacks with this
    weapon. The weapon always begins with
    the fiery, touch, dangerous, and 3 uses tags.
    Each attack with the weapon consumes
    one use.
    • hand
    • thrown, near
    • +1 damage
    • remove the dangerous tag

    This Killing Fire
    Add the following tags to your options for
    Burning Brand: messy, forceful, reach, near,
    far.
    I know its not astonishing but I dig it's design.
  • Paul_T said:


    * At the beginning of each session, every player "highlights" one element of the fiction: an NPC, an object, or something else that's actionable. ("Mrs. Rodging, the civics teacher / Alice's lost love letter / the Star Cult ritual / the old man's desk in the study")

    When you make a move which targets or involves that element, you mark XP. (If you try to turn on Mrs. Rodging, you get XP. If you shut Alice down by waving her letter in her face, you mark XP. Stuff like that.)

    In practice, 99% of our choices were NPCs, so that would be the "safe" rule to use.

    You just described Sagas of the Icelanders xp gaining method. Just saying. ;)
  • That's interesting! I didn't know that.
  • Now that you mention Sagas of the Icelanders, I love that different characters have different sets of basic moves, and I think that it should be explored more often in Pbta games, as it is strategically very interesting that not all characters are capable of dealing with the opposition in the same way. I remember there were some short games were no character shared common moves, but I've lost track of them.

    Similarly, in The Warren, a character might lose access to a basic move due to a nasty wound, and I find it more interesting than a mere -1, because it forces the player to find different ways of facing opposition.
  • In “Black Stars Rise” - a mystery horror game that was in development for a while - each move came on a card. On the reverse side would be the same move, but... less good, or with more serious consequences.

    When you took damage, you would flip over the card, and have to use the “wounded” of that move from now on.
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