Resolve vs. Interrupt

I'm a big fan of PbtA games, with their tightly codified moves, but a couple of times I've found my assumption of play clashes with someone else's.

For me, when a move is declared, it gets resolved before anything else happens; we then move on from the consequences of that resolution to see what the next move is and so on.

There have been occasions, however, when a player wants to proactively prevent a move and will attempt to interrupt it by inserting Move B between the declaration and resolution of Move A.

In effect, my assumption is that the structure of play ought to be:
- Declare Move
- Resolve Move
- Go to next Move

But this other assumption appears to be:
- Declare Move
- Others can Interrupt
- - If an Interruption occurs, got back to Step 1
- - If no Interruption occurs, Resolve Move
- Go to next Move

Now, it's seemed pretty cut & dried to me that the first model is the intent of play, but then Moves like aid or interfere are specifically Interruptions that will modify the resolution of a move, so now I'm not so sure.

So, how do you model the use of Moves in PbtA and other systems which use similar codification?

Comments

  • edited April 15
    This is definitely a bit of a "soft spot" in PbtA design. I generally agree with your assumption of how it "should work", although I think that the idea is that ordering the events in question is part of the MC's job.

    (I recently had a bit of a discussion with @2097 which touched on this a little, and it's an example of how Apocalypse World's rules leave deliberate gaps to maximize dramatic timing, as opposed to enabling impartial resolution. You can, for instance, have both players roll first, and only then decide in what order to resolve those actions.)

    I've seen a few solutions (for games that require a solution; most work on the principle you describe, or by letting the MC decide what's most dramatic):

    1. Include an "interfere" move, as AW does. (Although it's still very ambiguous about the timing - whether, for instance, it should be declared before the roll, what kind of fictional positioning is necessary, and so on.)

    2. Have all the people involved roll, and resolve them in order of results - the higher your roll, the "faster" you act. (This is borrowed from Sorcerer via In a Wicked Age..., and could be appropriate for some genres/games.)

    3. Include a move for "interrupting others". Some of Vincent's games have this, like Freebooting Venus. There are different ways to design that, of course; the point is that the ruleset itself can simply treat it as a move, and build the specifics of how to handle that into the procedure.

    EDIT: Looking further, I see Vincent actually uses both of these in the first draft of the game! Hopefully he doesn't mind me copying it here:
    Interrupt Someone
    When you try to interrupt someone else’s efforts, roll Quick.

    On 10+, you decisively interrupt them. They’re frustrated, startled,
    thwarted, and/or dismayed.
    On 7–9, you block and confront them. They choose: back down, or
    fight back.
    On a miss, be prepared for the worst.

    Other PCs can’t help you, but can of course also try to interrupt the
    same person at the same time. All of you must roll at once, and you act
    in order from highest roll to lowest, with ties simultaneous.
  • Here is basically how I get a nice flow in traditional combat systems.

    Declare Move against someone ("I throw you out the window").
    Interrupt Move if possible ("I defend" or "I have AC XX").
    Resolve Move mechanically.
    Decribes Move in fiction ("I throw you out the window").

    If the interrupt is successful, that person then start the next Declare Move phase by describing how the move is nullified.

    ---

    This seems kind of obvious when it's about two people, but if there are four players and combat has an initiative system, then it sounds something like this.

    "I throw the orc out the window" (resolves action)
    ... (another player does something)
    ... (another player does something)
    "The orc that you threw out the window gets grabs on some vines on the wall, swings out from the wall, in again through the window, and kicks you in the chest." (resolves action)

    The big benefit is that you cut something off, creates an expectation, creates a pause for the other person to come up with a response, and the easily connects one action with a previous one.
  • Disclaimer: I am not @lumpley (I mean, not yet I'm not) but…

    In effect, my assumption is that the structure of play ought to be:

    - Declare Move
    - Resolve Move
    - Go to next Move

    ↑↑↑ THIS!!!↑↑↑↑

    this is what I want

    But this other assumption appears to be:
    - Declare Move
    - Others can Interrupt
    - - If an Interruption occurs, got back to Step 1
    - - If no Interruption occurs, Resolve Move
    - Go to next Move

    DO NOT WANT

    BTW really good & clear question and I'm also curious to what's the design intent is.
    Lumpley seems to have disappeared into Patreon land and he has gone deeper than I dared follow.

  • Have you read Vincent's Burned Over game? It is a "PG-13" rewrite of Apocalypse World and it explicitly calls out certain moves as being "highly interruptible". It also has much more explicit and detailed procedures for the Interrupt Someone move (you can also interrupt NPCs the same way).

    Trent
  • Thanks Trent, I might be completely wrong about this. Talking to @Aviatrix about it rn, she has played more pbta than I have
  • I just really really want to see some guys being thrown out of windows in peace without being interrupted by a buncha dorx
  • Very true:

    "Burned Over" has some really nice adjustments to the AW engine (aside from being PG-13), and bringing more clarity to interruptions is part of that. I'd recommend looking at that, if you have access to it.
  • Yeah, I stand thoroughly corrected :bawling:
  • (I don't think you're wrong about anything here!)
  • It does sort of end the discussion if there is a definitive answer, but it's behind a paywall... could anyone elaborate on exactly how Burned Over brings clarity to interruptions?
  • Actually @James_Mullen it looks like there is a free preview that has what you are looking for. http://lumpley.com/previews/burnedoversample.pdf

    Seems like highly interruptible is basically a tag that goes on certain moves, they get marked with an *. If you check out the Brain-Picker moves, they are mostly interruptible.

    The basic moves page also talks about it all in more detail in the Interrupt Someone and Simultaneous Moves sections.
  • OH! So only some moves are "highly interruptible"! I can get behind that
  • Awesome: thanks for the link @ebear
  • Also, I don’t think that Vincent intends the rules in Burned Over to apply to Apocalypse World and certainly not other games.
  • So where did we land on the original Q? Even though I don't MC or run an ongoing AW campaign rn it's a super interesting q from a design pov.
  • I don't know the official answer but my two cents are that it all depends on the situation, if a player seems unhappy with an outcome (like in a feeling cheated sort of way) I may even suggest an interupt.

    Mostly because I've had problems with passivity in my games. I crave player input so if I hear a sort of unhappy silence I might prompt "unless someone wanted to jump in here"

    Other than that like I said all depends on the fiction so far.

    One other thing I wanted to say was that based on some advice threads I read from Vincent, I have taken to asking what EVERYONE does before even one person's roll in any group conflicts. I think this alleviates most of the question there.
  • edited April 17
    You’re looking for an “official” answer?

    I think that the OP nailed it: the moves framework isn’t intended to “layer” moves, except where specified. So, usually, there is no interrupting.

    However, the key should be to resolve things in a consistent and logical way (often from the perspective of the fiction - who is acting and who is reacting? Would Dremmer hesitate before Lala makes her move, because she just betrayed his trust and caught him completely off-guard?) and to keep an eye on the conversation of play. Has each player had a chance to say something? Or does it feel like we’re rubbing roughshod over someone’s character before they get a chance to respond?

    The MC has quite a bit of leeway in organizing the outcome in a way that’s logical and interesting.

    Someone once asked whether the “act under fire” could interrupt another move that was targeted at the player.

    Vincent’s response:
    Can, yes, of course. Always can, no. Moves don't stack or nest the way they do in Magic: the Gathering, for instance; they don't have strict order-of-resolution rules. Instead they cascade, interrupting and overlapping one another under the MC's case-by-case judgment.

    (Side note to Sandra @2097 - this is definitely a part of why I don’t consider AW to have a rule set which is well suited to impartial refereeing, to reference our other thread for a second.)
  • edited April 16
    The “free and clear” (ask everyone what they’re doing before resolving anyone’s move) that Kenny suggests is something I have no doubt Vincent would recommend, if there’s ever doubt and everyone is shouting all at once. I’ve seen him do that when running AW.
  • Paul_T said:

    The “free and clear” (ask everyone what they’re doing before resolving anyone’s move) that Kenny suggests is something I have no doubt Vincent would recommend, if there’s ever doubt and everyone is shouting all at once. I’ve seen him do that when running AW.

    Yeah, I've seen Vincent recommend a "free and clear" phase in an AMA on Reddit when someone asked him about how to resolve player-versus-player combat in Apocalypse World. Its also in his "a wicked new direction" version of Freebooting Venus.

    Trent
  • The free & clear's the official answer. It's in AW2E on pages 132-133.

    -Vincent
  • Thanks, Vincent!

    Your advice on this point is appreciated (as well as consistent).

    The text in question also specifies:
    Once you know what everyone’s going to do, have them roll dice in the order that makes sense to you, taking turns or rolling simultaneously as you think best, always following the logic of the moves themselves.
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