Hacking Mass Effect/Apocalypse World

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  • edited December 2013
    @3Jane: (kinda assuming you were looking for feedback, my sincere apologies if it was just sharing and you weren't looking for any and just ignore this)
    Hmmm. I like the idea of doing stuff not regarding military folks.
    The thing I'm struggling with is what exactly makes it Mass Effect in particular. You say it's the world and themes, but I guess I just don't really see them in an obvious way. I think a big part of it is that the games themselves are so caught up in being about a military mission by people who were basically born with guns in their hands. I'd love to see the other stuff get focused on, but since there's so little screen time on that stuff in the games (or at least very little screen time in which there is meaningful interaction) it makes it hard to nail down. I like what you have, but I don't see what makes it Mass Effect rather than just a potentially-interstellar politicking hack (which would be really cool, so don't take that as a bad thing to be).
    A big help to seeing those, at least for me, might be if you actually explicitly establish what the themes are that you'd like to handle. It's quite possible that they're all in there and I'm just dense or something.

    I think the other main thing that hits me is that it is very Apocalypse World still, mechanically. Each of the basic moves save 2 (one of which is not written) are just slightly altered ApW moves. I like the alterations (especially the new Read a Sitch questions), but ultimately the game still interacts, mostly, with the same basic action types as Apocalypse World, which feels weird to me. For example, if this is as politicking as it seems to be, I would shy away from using Seize By Force mechanically, or at least relegate it to being a peripheral move. I love the idea of "Doing It The Hard Way," I'm just hesitant about using SBF to do it. I like the addition of Lie Through Your Teeth as a basic move too.
    I'm pretty sure you're just not done with the triggers for Intimidate and Lie Through Your Teeth rather than intentionally not having any.
    Basically what you have is totally functional, it just reads a bit generic to me still aside from a couple spots.

    A couple words of warning on that playbook list. I like the list, it's varied and all the pieces are individually interesting. However, I feel it may be tough to keep multiple folks in the same general group for more than one scenario. The soldier and explorer especially seem like their concepts would be hard to put in the same places/situations as the others without regularly relying on much more specific archetypes (such as a bodyguard-type Soldier). A single scenario is easy to draw in many folks of disparate backgrounds, but it seems difficult to make some of them stick around. that's not to say it can't be done, it'll just require some really intense relationship-establishing material (eg Backstory, Hx).
    The other warning is just quantity: I know from experience now that 8 playbooks is WAY more work than it looks. Just so you know what it is you're jumping into.

    Those are more high-level things rather than specific mechanic balancing/optimizing. Hope it helps, and I really am interested in seeing how it comes out.

    @Gwathdring: Hey, you've been really helpful about refining the Alien move for my hack. I finally pounded out something new and different for Enact A Crazy Plan. It's a lot simpler, and feels a touch generic to me, but I like it in general and wanted your thoughts on it:
    Enact a Crazy Plan: When you break all conventions and expectations to do what needs doing, roll + Alien. On a 10+, it gets done, and choose two of the following. On a 7-9, same thing, but only choose 1.
    * The consequences are not immediate.
    * Your reputation isn't redefined by this event.
    * Your teammates are spared the worst of the fallout.

    On thing about it is that it is very easy to get what you want with it. You can succeed at some ridiculous crap when you ignore the standard, but it always has consequences. You can forestall them, and you can keep your friends out of it, but they're coming. The reputation one seems like the easy one to not pick, but that can put you in some sticky situations too. But again, while there's always a price, all you need is a 7-9 and your big crazy plan succeeds at its main goal.

    So, does it need to be Alien'd up any more, or does that work pretty good?
  • edited December 2013
    Hi!
    @3Jane: (kinda assuming you were looking for feedback, my sincere apologies if it was just sharing and you weren't looking for any and just ignore this)
    Thank you, I am looking for feedback and it's very valuable for me - I should have said that straight away :) I'm also thankful for any criticism: I'm not precious about the hack (although I'm also not necessarily going to alter it).
    The thing I'm struggling with is what exactly makes it Mass Effect in particular. You say it's the world and themes, but I guess I just don't really see them in an obvious way.
    I think it's hard to pinpoint because it was deliberately made based on many well-known tropes. At this point, the hack can be used for any political sci-fi - the Mass Effect bits would be the species, the planets and the tech. I'm planning on adding a special move for every ME species.

    The other bit I want to add that feels Mass Effecty to me (which isn't fully described in the draft doc yet) is a concept of prices and needs. This'll go somewhere in the principles/threat moves, I guess. I think they're also mentioned in the read a person move. Anyway, in AW you've got simple people being led around by simple motivations. I'm thinking of NPCs in terms of prices (what they want, what you have to do/provide to make them do something) and needs (what they actually need, what they won't tell you because it makes them vulnerable).

    Prices don't have to follow "exchange good X for service Y": someone's price may be "make me believe you're a deadly threat so that I won't feel self-loathing when I betray the secrets of my brother". Needs don't have to be obvious either: if you have a homeless guy, his price may be getting him food or meds, but his need may be for respect.

    This is the reason for no "persuade" move. It should be reasonably easy to get prices out of people by simply chatting to them. For needs, you have to dig around. (Or make the read a person move, that works as well). Then it's up to the players as to how to use the information. If a player mostly interacts with people using their prices, they get immediate results, but don't gain any allies/friends. It should also skew the universe (as portrayed by the MC) towards uncaring, cynical and pessimistic. Whereas if they fulfil people's needs, they gain allies and reputation, and the universe portrayal should be skewed towards optimistic. That's my version of the paragon/renegade meter.

    This also means that fetch quests (your classic RPG do gooder stuff) don't count as paragon deeds. You have to take an actual interest in people (find out their needs) and want to help them and make the world a better place instead of fulfilling your goals, because fulfilling someone's need doesn't guarantee they'll do X the way meeting their price for X does.
    A big help to seeing those, at least for me, might be if you actually explicitly establish what the themes are that you'd like to handle. It's quite possible that they're all in there and I'm just dense or something.
    I should probably write up the principles. My main concept right now is the price/need thing, and that the game should consist of resolving conflicts between factions that have conflicting needs (honest needs that you as a person can identify with; stuff like security, survival, identity, freedom or love).
    I think the other main thing that hits me is that it is very Apocalypse World still, mechanically. Each of the basic moves save 2 (one of which is not written) are just slightly altered ApW moves. I like the alterations (especially the new Read a Sitch questions), but ultimately the game still interacts, mostly, with the same basic action types as Apocalypse World, which feels weird to me. For example, if this is as politicking as it seems to be, I would shy away from using Seize By Force mechanically, or at least relegate it to being a peripheral move. I love the idea of "Doing It The Hard Way," I'm just hesitant about using SBF to do it. I like the addition of Lie Through Your Teeth as a basic move too.
    I'm pretty sure you're just not done with the triggers for Intimidate and Lie Through Your Teeth rather than intentionally not having any.
    Basically what you have is totally functional, it just reads a bit generic to me still aside from a couple spots.
    I started out with Simple World as a base and expanded from there. My idea of the perfect hack is Monsterhearts but I'm not sure I'll ever reach that level of perfection :)

    I may be trying to go too wide there. I am planning to provide support for a primarily shooty group: a Soldier, an Agent, an Explorer and an Investigator can be shooty classes, each in its own way, while an Engineer can provide great support in a firefight (one of the specialties is "being underestimated", which is basically "get the aggro off me"). It's just that shooting isn't a goal in itself.

    Here's some example adventure seeds or group types I thought of:
    - C-Sec (investigations, negotiations, or infiltration of organised crime)
    - planetary explorers for hire (Lara Croft + Burke + Tali = Explorer + Agent + Engineer)
    - rescue patrol (ok so I reread the Sector General series recently and it was cool)
    - revolutionists (a colonised planet wants to split off the Hierarchy or the Alliance; say they have a Star writer, a Politician leader of the colony, and a Soldier general)
    - a crime story: smugglers, a gang fighting for their territory, a merc company
    - a journalist uncovering government corruption

    The unwritten move (Network) should work a bit similarly to Agent's Backup. It's meant to be the equivalent of Circles from Burning Wheel: find a person who fits your specified parameters. The descriptions aren't final and I'm not yet settled on them so your feedback is very useful :)
    A couple words of warning on that playbook list. I like the list, it's varied and all the pieces are individually interesting. However, I feel it may be tough to keep multiple folks in the same general group for more than one scenario. The soldier and explorer especially seem like their concepts would be hard to put in the same places/situations as the others without regularly relying on much more specific archetypes (such as a bodyguard-type Soldier).
    A Soldier is a guy who's trained in fighting (especially as a part of a team): so a soldier, a mercenary, a SWAT-team member, a biotic, a bodyguard. An Explorer is someone who's centered around travelling to new places and dealing with unexpected situations: so a treasure hunter, a surveyor, a colonist, or a rich hunter. An Explorer could definitely provide a central focus for the player group direction, but not necessarily for one adventure only. A Star, a Politician or a Journalist could work that way too - similar to MotW where a Professional, an Initiate or a Snoop can provide the theme of the group.
    (eg Backstory, Hx).
    Haven't decided what to do with these yet. I like history in MotW.
    The other warning is just quantity: I know from experience now that 8 playbooks is WAY more work than it looks. Just so you know what it is you're jumping into.
    I may start with just a couple. I will also definitely be using other hacks for inspiration (ok, steal anything useful that isn't nailed down, if the licence allows).
  • edited December 2013
    I love the idea of "Doing It The Hard Way," I'm just hesitant about using SBF to do it.
    How about something like this:

    Do it the hard way (Hard)
    When you resolve a conflict using violence… (roll Hard, on full success choose 3, on partial success choose 1)
    * there is no collateral damage
    * nobody got away
    * your own losses were smaller than anticipated
    * ...probably +1 reputation of your choice

    In this way, the move applies both to a soldier in a combat situation and to a general ordering an armed strike on a colony.
  • edited December 2013
    Thank you, I am looking for feedback and it's very valuable for me - I should have said that straight away :) I'm also thankful for any criticism: I'm not precious about the hack (although I'm also not necessarily going to alter it).
    Okay, cool. That was actually the third rewrite of that post - I kept feeling like I was coming off too critical, and that's not what I really felt about it cuz I think it's really cool.
    At this point, the hack can be used for any political sci-fi - the Mass Effect bits would be the species, the planets and the tech.
    Perfect, I love it. Knowing that that's the split you're looking at is enough for me to understand what you're doing :)
    Prices / Needs
    Okay, that makes sense. It didn't pop out because the rules aren't there yet, but if you plan on putting an emphasis on that I can see what makes it special to the game.
    No Persuade Move
    Okay, cool. I figured that Network was going to be about the persuade stuff, but instead not having a persuade move is interesting! And nice to have to really interact, relationship-based advancing is more appropriate than task-based advancing here.
    Principles, Shooty groups
    I should probably write up the principles. My main concept right now is the price/need thing, and that the game should consist of resolving conflicts between factions that have conflicting needs (honest needs that you as a person can identify with; stuff like security, survival, identity, freedom or love).
    That's a cool set of things. This is where I think you might be better-served being more focused: keep these ideas, and lock on to them. Unless you're really into the idea of still being a shooty game, you might de-emphasize that element. It's fine to be there, because the political jungle is a place that gets shooty sometimes, but I think it'd be worth putting it in the back seat. Because while I think the idea of being C-Sec dudes or revolutionaries or the like is cool, they can be shooty guys without significant shooty rules to back them up. From what I can tell, that's not what you're prioritizing with the game, and to me it's always worth being more focused.
    It's just that shooting isn't a goal in itself.
    Yeah, if it's not the goal, building the moves about getting what you want, rather than making the goal of the move to inflict harm.
    The unwritten move (Network) should work a bit similarly to Agent's Backup. It's meant to be the equivalent of Circles from Burning Wheel: find a person who fits your specified parameters. The descriptions aren't final and I'm not yet settled on them so your feedback is very useful :)
    I confess, I'm not familiar with Burning Wheel! So I'm interested to see how it actually works here.
    A Soldier is a guy who's trained in fighting (especially as a part of a team): so a soldier, a mercenary, a SWAT-team member, a biotic, a bodyguard. An Explorer is someone who's centered around travelling to new places and dealing with unexpected situations: so a treasure hunter, a surveyor, a colonist, or a rich hunter. An Explorer could definitely provide a central focus for the player group direction, but not necessarily for one adventure only. A Star, a Politician or a Journalist could work that way too - similar to MotW where a Professional, an Initiate or a Snoop can provide the theme of the group.
    I suddenly think my understanding is jumping at cross-purposes with yours. So your intention now seems to be about a group who is already established as a team a la MotW or DW, rather than the more separate ApW or MH where location is the main thing that lashes the players together? Cuz my mind was totally more on the latter one when I wrote it. If in an established (if unofficial) group, it sidesteps my concerns. It does imply that the group as a whole has a single unified objective, but that's not a problem so much as just a note.
    I kinda was thinking the other way just because that's the route I would take personally with a politicking hack, but I think we're on the same page now.
    I like history in MotW.
    MotW's history is like DW's Bonds, right? If so, yeah, I think I see more what you're doing party structure-wise.
    I may start with just a couple. I will also definitely be using other hacks for inspiration (ok, steal anything useful that isn't nailed down, if the licence allows).
    That's perfectly fine. I only mentioned it because when I jumped into AvW I had this little list of playbooks and it didn't look too bad and then all of a sudden my foot punched through the ice and I was up to my neck in writing these damn playbooks. It's totally worth it, it's just deceptive how much work it can be to refine eight whole playbooks. And definitely crib from everywhere, especially with basic mechanical ideas.

    EDIT: Whoops, didn't even see that post with the move. I like it! The final option needs some refining to lock it down, but the gist is all there, and all the options are cool and fiction-advancing, so rock on.

    ******************
    More news with regard to my own hack, I'm approximately 2/3 done righting playbook moves, though no species moves yet.
  • (Still lurking, but cool stuff dudes!)
  • edited December 2013
    @horn_head_o

    Btw, I just read through your blogs and noticed you were struggling with finding something to make Turians more unique. How about this. One of the features which is mentioned but not explored much in the game is that they generally can't/won't lie - apparently if you ask an average Turian directly "did you murder so and so" and they did, they'll admit it despite the potential consequences. The facial tattoos (and the insult "barefaced" or something for a Turian without any) are linked to openness as well: they're not just a display of hierarchy, they're a public declaration of who a person is and whose side they're on (especially important with a history of conflict between colonies). Turians also seem to be uninhibited with their display of emotions, both positive and negative, and it doesn't seem to have negative consequences as it would have among humans (thinking of military stress relief methods here).
  • edited December 2013
    [Re: Networking] I confess, I'm not familiar with Burning Wheel! So I'm interested to see how it actually works here.
    Basically you have a stat which shows how many contacts you have; when you're looking for a person you roll this stat, on a hit you found them, on a fail you may have but there are problems (they're in the middle of a fight, they hate you, you owe them, whatever). In BW you also have things which give bonuses and penalties to the roll.
    I suddenly think my understanding is jumping at cross-purposes with yours. So your intention now seems to be about a group who is already established as a team a la MotW or DW, rather than the more separate ApW or MH where location is the main thing that lashes the players together? Cuz my mind was totally more on the latter one when I wrote it.
    Good catch.

    See, due to moving around a lot, the only stuff I played for the last six or so years was one-shots (sometimes split into up to 3 games). This means I tend to think in terms of a cohesive group with predefined, strong relationships connected to a single strong adventure seed. (Not necessarily all friendly - rivalries and cross-purposes welcome, thus Burke - the corp guy from Aliens - included in the cosmic explorers adventure seed above). Also probably for personality reasons my thoughts ran more along the line of Ashen Stars - a group of troubleshooters - than Marquis of Ferrara - a bunch of strong personalities with separate goals.

    But maybe the hack would be better served with a PvP setup like MH. It's something I have to think about. I completely forgot to come up with PvP versions of lying/intimidation/physical violence moves (and I don't know what I'm going to do with long-term play because I'm not sure I'll ever get to test it for reasons as above).

    I pointed to MotW history (which I think does look like Bonds) because I like how it gives specific and charged reasons for connections between characters (MH also does that, but not towards all other characters). I just think having all those connections is more likely to create a charged initial situation, and should work better than creating a loose group of characters, following them around and seeing what happens. Maybe I should look into Smallville for inspiration since apparently that's what it's supposed to do.

    And also, in Mass Effect the world is so large and advanced (in terms of transport) that location is not a good delimiter, because pretty much anyone is free to grab their toys and get out of the sandbox if they don't like it. So it can't be a location that unifies the characters. It could be a common boss, an economic resource, a political power source, a common goal, a common ideal, or even common species (Shepard + Cerberus working for the good of humanity despite normally fighting).
    More news with regard to my own hack, I'm approximately 2/3 done righting playbook moves, though no species moves yet.
    Is it available anywhere? Or will you just be publishing posts on your blog?
  • My plan re: releasing it is just blog posts while I'm doing the primary design (once it hits a critical mass it'll probably get a dedicated page to keep everything sync'd up - I should do that once I finish these playbook moves). When I think I have a complete draft I'll compile it into an actual pdf document and playtest from there.

    I totally missed that detail about the importance of the face tattoos to the Turians! Or maybe I once knew it but forgot promptly. Either way, thanks for bringing that back up, I really like that as a thing for them! Probably gonna drop Disciplined for that because I think "Honest, Dextro, Imposing" is a great lineup. Dextro seems unnecessary at first glance, but it's a cause for interpersonal interactions, rather than just combat effectiveness. If I can make all the species moves about the way they interact with others, that'd be awesome.
    Networking and Circles
    Interesting! My initial encounter with Burning Wheel's fairly intense rules (comparatively) put me off from looking too closely, but that's cool. Put in ApW form, maybe something like this:
    When you seek out a past acquaintance for help, roll + Connected. On a hit, you find them. On a 10+ there's no bad blood. On a 7-9, there definitely is, and they want something. On a miss, even if you find them you'll wish you hadn't.

    Oh look, a miss clause, I've argued against those recently. I'm willing to propose it here because it doesn't actually say anything happens, it just makes explicit that failure doesn't just mean you don't find them, that there are other things that can happen. The MC(?) makes their hard move as usual.
    PvP vs Teammates
    That's funny actually - I've played one-shots almost exclusively for almost a year now, and I've done more PvP-type stuff than party stuff. Interesting the different natures of one-shot culture.

    Aye - location tends to be central to the non-connected groups. Connected groups tend to have other central ties, such as ideology or goals (that would be the, say, Cerberus group). But if folks aren't connected, it's hard to do it in a more wide-spread way because there's no reason that these people would interact otherwise. A Star from the Citadel, a Soldier in the Traverse, and an Investigator on Omega have little chance for interaction until they all are on Ilium. Even if they had strong predefined relationships (the Star is the Soldier's ex-wife, the Investigator is the Star's brother, the Soldier and Investigator were good friends in high school), there's no interaction without proximity, and non-connected groups don't have a great reason for that proximity without help from the system.
    Now, the scale of the "location" is variable. With extreme effort, "the galaxy" can become that location, though you basically have to be the top echelon of society. Celebrity news today is that level of interaction over enormous distance. A ship can be a location, a planet can be, a neighborhood can be.
    On the other hand, a group that sticks together doesn't have this location issue. They're bound by a goal, though they likely have additional goals of their own. They can go from place to place and interact throughout.

    It's a tricky issue. Both forms of politicking, both vs. MC and vs. PC, are interesting. It's just the stories you want to tell. I'd be interested in either sort of game.
    Initial Relationships
    True, MotW ensures a connection to every other PC. It also allows a greater range of possible relationships they start with because not all are selected. MH can focus more tightly on a specific type of relationship (all Selkies have the they-stole-my-pelt story, for example). MH is less work to create (because you need fewer prompts) but also more (because those few have to be pitch-perfect).
    Basically they all do slightly different things. The MotW approach is totally valid, but could be tough if you do go the more PvP road. You have options.

  • @Gwathdring: Hey, you've been really helpful about refining the Alien move for my hack. I finally pounded out something new and different for Enact A Crazy Plan. It's a lot simpler, and feels a touch generic to me, but I like it in general and wanted your thoughts on it:
    Enact a Crazy Plan: When you break all conventions and expectations to do what needs doing, roll + Alien. On a 10+, it gets done, and choose two of the following. On a 7-9, same thing, but only choose 1.
    * The consequences are not immediate.
    * Your reputation isn't redefined by this event.
    * Your teammates are spared the worst of the fallout.

    On thing about it is that it is very easy to get what you want with it. You can succeed at some ridiculous crap when you ignore the standard, but it always has consequences. You can forestall them, and you can keep your friends out of it, but they're coming. The reputation one seems like the easy one to not pick, but that can put you in some sticky situations too. But again, while there's always a price, all you need is a 7-9 and your big crazy plan succeeds at its main goal.

    So, does it need to be Alien'd up any more, or does that work pretty good?
    That's a really, really cool move. I don't know that it needs to be Alien'd up exactly, but I would be a bit concerned about the reputation bit. I can see situations where you want your reputation to be redefined by it and situations where you don't. While obviously giving the MC the reigns there makes it potentially bad even when your reputation could theoretically be redefined for the better ... it's a slightly awkward situation for both parties. I love the concept, but the practice of that particular element is a bit awkward.

    I want it to work though. I'm playing with it. I'll let you know if I think of something.
  • Thanks! You're right about the reputation one of course. The idea that it can be good to have a reputation redefined is slightly mitigated by the MC's control over it (meaning they're the ones who can actually choose to be relatively nice, fan of the PCs / make a move as hard as you like not as hard as you can and all that stuff).

    My best thought after talking through some ideas with my brother was to switch the option to:
    "* A valued reputation is not ruined."
    With the idea there being multi-parted. On one hand, it's not never a good thing - no one wants a reputation they value to be ruined. On another hand, "a valued reputation" needn't be your own reputation as long as you care about it (and don't we all care about the reputations of our friends, allies, and direct superiors whose reputations can wreck us indirectly?) On a third hand (gosh, are there any ME species with more than 2 humanoid arms? That's a pretty common sci-fi trope to be ignoring, interesting), "a reputation" doesn't necessarily mean your overall sum reputation - maybe your rep with your boss is down the drain, or with your best friend, or with the media, or society, or the council, or whatever. All that matters is that some social standing you actually value is wrecked.

    I think that mitigates the more nebulous possibilities of the original reputation option. Do folks agree?
  • edited December 2013
    I think that works very nicely. :)

    Most of my ideas had to do with changing the scope and function of the move a bit more than that.

    There's a niggling thought in my head that it's awkwardly worded with the ... implicit double-negative? But that's not a mechanical distinction and I don't think it's a clarity issue, either, so it should be fine.
  • And that's the exact same thing I thought! But none of the other permutations I messed with kept the same meaning ("A valued reputation is secure," "No valued reputations are ruined" etc), and ultimately it's just clumsily worded so it's not a big deal.

    The other thing that could fix it would be to reverse it all. I remember seeing some discussion a while back about why wording move options in the negative is weird, though I can't find it again. For reference, here's what the move looks like when flipped.

    Enact a Crazy Plan: When you break all conventions and expectations to do what needs doing, roll + Alien. On a 10+, it gets done, but choose one of the following. On a 7-9, same thing, but choose two.
    * The consequences are immediate.
    * A valued reputation is ruined.
    * The trouble falls primarily on your teammates.

    Something about the negative wording strikes my fancy aesthetically, but maybe this is less clumsy in wording.
  • They both have slightly different flavors, but neither is really better. I wouldn't worry too much. Double negatives aren't as evil as grammar teachers like to pretend. ;)

    The effect on the player (and the MC) is different in terms of emphasis. One implies that your selections are mitigating risk and that you're plunging into something dangerous in exchange for success at your goal whereas the other implies that consequences stem from failure--that you're barging in but not really beyond your means.

    Both can be taken either way, but I'd say the second one (pick more bad things on a 7-9) emphasizes that you're stretching yourself by Enacting a Crazy Plan, whereas the former version implies that while it's difficult and the consequences can be substantial, there's a greater sense of control. Obviously your stat plays a major role here, as does the MC's attitude. But, for example, if I read the two rules as an MC, the second one would ... suggest to me that I should make my "hard as you like" moves a little harder than the first one.
  • Oh, it's not even an issue with double negatives, but with options phrased in the negative in general. On a hunch I dug through Johnstone's posts (I knew he was at least part of that thread, and turns out he was the one who I was referring to even!) and found the one I referred to in a thread about writing Apocalypse World playbooks: http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/comment/415091#Comment_415091
    Specifically, these phrases:
    Inspiration likes limitations, but things you can't do are like the edges of a blank piece of paper. Your inspiration is better off starting with a drawing of anything on that piece of paper than worrying about its size and dimensions.
    ******************
    Negative options are constraints that you have to struggle to get away from. They aren't constraints you can riff off of.
    ******************
    Write moves that produce fiction, or that influence the players to create fiction, or that spur characters into action in the fiction. Stay away from moves that shut down options without also doing one of these things.
    Now honestly I'm kinda feeling pretty decent about even the negatively-phrased options still being pretty good at producing fiction, so this is a little superfluous (though since it's relevant here I wanted to share it anyway - it's a pretty awesome thread and is totally relevant to those who want to write playbooks. I need to give it another read-through myself).

    In light of that, and I like the idea of less sense of control, I'm gonna go with that second one.
    How does the third option sound in wording as the inverse of "Your teammates are spared the worst of the fallout"? I feel like the new version has different implications there. Does "Your teammates are in just as much trouble as you are" work, because I think that's more in the spirit of what I'm going for.
  • edited December 2013
    That is a very interesting thread. Thanks for sharing. :)

    For the team-mates, both work but you're right they have very different implications.

    The other one implies you're relatively ok but your team-mates are at the epicenter of the trouble rather than you. The new one ("just as much trouble as you are") implies your team-mates are only in trouble if you a) involve them in the Crazy Plan to begin with, the MC makes a hard move, or you drag them into it by selecting that option on a 7-9.

    In light of that, I really like that re-wording. The concept itself is golden in any case. I'm a sucker for moves that give you incentive to put your character's interests at odds with the "party." Everyone groans, mock-hating you for dragging them into trouble or abandoning them and everyone relishes in things going horribly wrong. :D
  • Have you guys written out your always says and your principles and your MC moves yet?

    Because the cores of the game are those; not the stats, nor the playbooks nor the basic moves.

    And when you get to it, I don't recommend just rewording the AW ones.
  • I have a vague rough draft of them sitting here in my notes, but nothing in shareable form. You're right to call them out as neglected. I totally agree about not just rewording though, with the exception of a few general-purpose ones related to game structure rather than genre (eg make your move but never speak its name).

    I'll see if I can turn them into something usable next time I sit down to design. Thanks to the reminder, I'd been kinda leaving them til later.

    And yeah, I'm gonna go with the positive phrasing and the new Teammates option. I'm now feeling very happy with Crazy Plan.
  • Yeah, I think my advice in the other thread applies pretty well to this crazy plan move too.

    Here's an example, I hope this is a legit use of the crazy plan move: Me and my team are fighting some enemy. I'm gonna bust open the airlock doors for a second so the enemy gets sucked out into space (this is a space setting isn't it?). I figure my team will all know to hold onto something, right? They better.

    Just the 10+ results, to keep it simpler. Other GMs might do these all differently, but here's my take.

    1.
    Okay, with the positive move, let's say I choose a rep to be ruined, because I really want the plan to work and fuck everything else. The move tells the GM that the plan works but a rep is ruined. As the GM I probably say the team thinks you are reckless now, you almost got them all killed. Or just one teammate (the important one) thinks that.

    If I make essentially the same choice with the negative move, it tells the GM that I'm opening the air lock to send the enemy out into space but the consequences are not immediate and my teammates are spared. As the GM, I'm kind of baffled as to how that happens, but I might say that the enemy gets some shots off (while you and your teammates get a hold of something) before being dumped into space, maybe. The upside maybe is that your rep isn't protected, so I will evaluate what all the NPCs now think of you separately.

    2.
    What if the player chooses the consequences are immediate? As the GM, I figure, yeah, the consequences for you. Roll to see if you go flying out into space along with the enemy. You can't hold on and punch a keyboard at the same time. No rep is ruined, but no rep is saved either, so I think I would evaluate for the NPCs based on the results.

    With the negative move, the same choice says that your rep is protected and your teammates are spared. Okay, so actually maybe this version is a bit better for you? I'd say your teammates are fine, you're not. But they still think you're cool if you do survive. So it takes out the role-playing of each of the NPCs maybe.

    3.
    And if the player chooses to throw their teammates under the bus? Cool, they all have to roll or get sucked out. They will definitely hate you later. How could your rep not be ruined? Oops, you just picked two choices by mistake! Or maybe not, I suppose, and that's just in this instance. Other times they might not know it was your fault. This example is just not a good time to pick this option.

    With the negative move, it tells the GM that the consequences are not immediate and that your rep is protected. Which actually sounds completely different than what the positive move dictates. As the GM, do I then maintain a slight pause before the airlock opens and decide how each NPC reacts? This has the full possibility of allowing the subsequent events to totally derail the crazy plan. Or do I say it totally works right now, but you get court-marshalled for it later, because it's totally illegal and/or reckless? But of you go up before a trial board for endangering your crew, they will stick up for you because your rep is intact. I can't tell if this is better or worse, but it seems a lot more convoluted and like it could turn into a scene resolution thing.

    Final score:
    Seems to me like the positive version gives me clear results, but the negative version makes me think about what's going on more. If I'm not doing that thinking already, the negative version might actually be better. But if I'm already considering things closely, the positive version gets me to the results quicker and then I can ponder the ramifications after we know what happens right away, not in the middle of that. Which is pretty much what I was trying to say in the other thread: with one we get to the results and then I think "hmm, what happens because of that?" and in the other, I'm doing some of that thinking before the outcome is announced. So perhaps the positive version applies itself better to a wider range of GM styles.

    On the other hand...
    Going back to Ghost/Echo for a second, you might be able to get a fun kind of guessing game going on with a negative choices move like this if the GM picked the consequences before the roll but didn't reveal them. Then you pick based on what you think is going to happen. Guess right and you make all the consequences impossible by saying they can't happen. Pick wrong and you make stuff that isn't going to happen impossible. It could be like a variation on the workspace rules, but with the added step of the player getting to cancel some requirements (I did this in Black Seas of Infinity), only the two sides make their picks independently. Dunno how well that would work, but this made me think of it.
  • Hey,

    let me analyse the options in your move. Warning: nitpick.
    The trouble falls primarily on your teammates.
    This means you have some teammates around to begin with when you're enacting a crazy plan. It tells me something about how the game is meant to be played (in teams). However then the move doesn't apply to non-team actions or PvP. I'd suggest rewording this as "...on a person you rely on" or "...on a person you care about" (depending on the impact you want it to have). If the person is an NPC, this is essentially "taking their stuff away".
    A valued reputation is ruined.
    If Enact a crazy plan is not a peripheral move then there may have to be a lot of these reputations to be ruined.
    The consequences are immediate.
    I'd suggest "the negative consequences are immediate". Otherwise I might be tempted to use this option to ensure the positive consequences happen immediately.

    (Also: hi again. I've been moving house for the last couple of days and had no time to do anything about the hack or respond to the thread. I hope to get some more work done on the hack over holidays :).
  • Have you guys written out your always says and your principles and your MC moves yet?

    Because the cores of the game are those; not the stats, nor the playbooks nor the basic moves.

    And when you get to it, I don't recommend just rewording the AW ones.
    I hear these sorts of rumblings bouncing around a lot in these discussions. I guess I disagree that they make the core of the game during the design. Just as there are many, many ways to plan out a novel, there are many equally viable ways to plan out a game. Even at play, the core of the game is whatever your group really groks to be the core of the game. For me, what has always made Apocalypse World and associated hacks sing is the moves, playbooks and a discussion during the first session that gets everyone on the same page--lines and veils, general discussion, FATE-like collaboration, a microsope-style palette, or whatever. I suppose I could agree that having principles is essential as it guides the MC's relatively free-form behavior, but what they are in particular isn't as important to me. Everyone is going to interpret those principles differently anyway--having them be straightforward and evocative should thus be sufficient. I also find that on analysis, it is the wording rather than the core idea that makes most of the Apocalypse World principles .... Apocalypse-World-y. This isn't a knock against the principles by any means, it's just that I think the principles and the MC's movelist work rather generically well and it is the wording that points the MC in an Apocalypse-World-y direction. Take "Barf Forth Apocalyptica." There's no WAY you'd want to avoid "just" rewording that. Every game that doesn't completely restructure the GM's role wants to insist that the GM bring the world alive at every turn, using their style of language and description to evoke the setting like they're popping the perfect color-filter on the camera and focusing on all the right parts of the scene. Of course you want to "just" reword that! That should be in pretty much every hack that isn't trying to radically change the role of the GM which is pretty much every hack.

    Most of the rest of the principles aren't even flavored. Remember, a lot of people hack this game because they feel the MC-Player relationship is great and they don't want to screw with it too much. The only AW-y principles are the aforementioned, Look Through Cross-hairs and Respond with Fuckery. Everything else is (in a good way) relatively generic. If your point, though, is simply that hackers should consider rewriting the MC's actual role and focus in the game, then it's a good point. But if your point is that the AW principles are finely tailored to details of the setting and the game that don't belong in most hacks ... then I really, really, really disagree.

    This means you have some teammates around to begin with when you're enacting a crazy plan. It tells me something about how the game is meant to be played (in teams). However then the move doesn't apply to non-team actions or PvP. I'd suggest rewording this as "...on a person you rely on" or "...on a person you care about" (depending on the impact you want it to have). If the person is an NPC, this is essentially "taking their stuff away".
    I agree with you about the implication, but not the application. "Your Team" can be abstracted fairly easily; I guess rewording to "your allies" or your "confederates" or something might make that abstraction more clear. If having a team of some sort is supposed to be part of the setup to the move, than that should be included in the "When you ...." text, but otherwise I don't think the rewording fixes anything. That leaves you in a similar position where it's implied that a crazy plan always puts someone you rely on or care about at risk--is this particularly different from implying that it always puts "your team" at risk? It has different connotations but I don't think it solves the problem you've identified, just changes the angle at which that problem is perceived. There's still a hidden "cost" to engage with the move properly and that is that there needs to be some way to put someone other than the player making the move at risk as a result of the move otherwise the costs are somewhat meaningless and the move isn't properly engaged.
    If Enact a crazy plan is not a peripheral move then there may have to be a lot of these reputations to be ruined.
    There might simply be a abstraction/terminology problem here. The move works if "reputation" is not jargon for "thing you have [Hx-like-thing] with" but simply means "reputation." Just as "your team" works if "your team" is not code for "the other players and associated NPCs with whom you form a party that works explicitly and directly together most play sessions." There are always reputations to be ruined if you're dabbling in space politics and you have connection to other players and NPCs.

    But I suppose point taken in that it has to be in the principles, then. Something about making the galaxy a web of relationships; making those PC-NPC-PC triangles, and making sure that the characters know that connections are how things get done in the galaxy.
    I'd suggest "the negative consequences are immediate". Otherwise I might be tempted to use this option to ensure the positive consequences happen immediately.
    Good catch. :)
  • I actually do see the genre in the ApW ones, though more that are just guides to media-like play. However, the incredible potential to take that baseline and axe some and add others to drastically alter the play environment (as Monsterhearts and Sagas do) cannot be ignored. That's my next project, to develop what matters to me.
    Mine will share a lot with ApW by virtue of being action games. But I expect 3Jane's to be quite different from mine.

    The analyses are great (Johnstone hit the nail on the head, and based on that I'm going with the positive one). One thing I'd point out is that trouble falling on your teammates needn't actually require their presence or participation, though you're kind of an extra special dick if you drag them down. Also, just because consequences are immediate doesn't mean there can't also be consequences later, so it's okay to hold off on the hammer on the friends even if they picked both of those.

    As for the two definitions, Your Team and Reputation. You're right that rep is NOT a mechanical currency or value, it's just your rep. And yeah, there's gonna be a lot of wrecked reps, and I'm okay with that. It's up to the MC to make the players feel that rep falling apart. Also, side note: ruined is not the same as irreparable. If they really value it, they can restore it, but it's hard.
    Your Team is a bit tougher. On one hand, it's slightly jargon-y for the other PCs, who are explicitly team members by definition. On the other, it's totally cool to not use it as jargon and just as the people you're working with. I would say that the MC can use it either way when it shows up, whichever feels more appropriate. I still might reword it though if I can come up with something clever-sounding.

    And yeah, good catch on the consequences - the word has a negative connotation to me, but not necessarily to everyone. Is there a good one-word synonym for "negative consequences"?

    Thanks for the help refining this stuff! Off to go think of some principles.
  • edited December 2013
    I actually do see the genre in the ApW ones, though more that are just guides to media-like play.
    Hmm. In what way? Misdirect, name your character's, disclaim decision making, address the characters ... I don't know, I think it would be a stretch to call any but the three I identified genre-y. And the three I identified show up in Monster Hearts, too, but reworded.

    I don't mean that as a slight, either! The rewording is brilliant and really makes the game pop off the page and helps it take over the MC's mind. But saying that "Treat your NPCs like Stolen Cars" isn't a rewording of "Look through Crosshairs" or implying that rewording the AW principles is insufficient when it can clearly make such a huge difference in how the principles read and feel would be ... well, I think it's silly. That's why I was a bit ... aggressive in my stance. Because I feel that calling it "just" rewording is really unfair. "Just" rewording the principles can have a huge impact and it would be a shame to dismiss that as though it represents an inferior design motive.

    I totally agree that you can write principles that contain in them a radical seed of change. The principles are very important; I don't mean to say they aren't. But you can plant that seed with a careful rewording, not just with deletions and additions.

    I also feel (this not in response to your post, but reiterating my earlier one) that claiming the principles are the core of the design is more a personal taste/procedure/style thing than a more solid and general theoretical assessment of Apocalypse World which is how I felt it was presented--forgive me if I was presumptuous in feeling that. For a lot of players, myself included, the more mechanical aspects of the system of Apocalypse World is what make it really different from playing FATE or D&D--not the principles. Just so, the Playbooks and Moves are what make the hacks really pop and sing and feel different from each other. But the principles certainly help, core of the design or not.
  • I dunno. I kinda find that, once reworded, they not only change words but also the actual essence. So yeah, rewording the ApW ones is a strong move for sure. But I dunno. I think we're already on a higher level of thought than what was being described with "just" rewording - it's important to not "just" reword what's there without understanding the exact implications of the new principles, and that the originals did have implications that we may not want.

    I mean, there's a couple levels of genre'd in the Principles. On one level, the genre is post-apocalypse. On another, it's an action game, but not necessarily a post-apoclayptic one. And I think there's a level of obfuscation in the writing of the moves - they're very distilled to very basic wordings, not evocative per-say. I see it even more in the Moves I guess than I do in the principles.
    Principles: Barf Forth Apocalyptica for sure. It's easy to interpret this in a generic way as filling the game with genre stuff and cultivating the imaginary environment, but that's already re-wording it - as it stands, it's post-apocalyptic in the extreme.
    Look Through Crosshairs: See, this also hits the same ultimate purpose as "like Stolen Cars," being that you shouldn't get attached to anything. But I think the difference between them is substantial, in that what LTC says to me is that this is a world where death comes easily. Anyone can be killed at any moment, the MC is always watching ready to kill. It's about death. Stolen Cars is not about death in the same way, it's about burning bright and fast, which is a really different thing. The rewording of this one especially has a huge impact on the game.
    Naming Everyone, Make Everyone Human: This is definitely specifically about the game, but not about post-apocalyptic media as a whole. This is about how the game is a community. Everyone is a person, and it's visceral and dangerous and messy when you fall into conflict, and no one is okay to just idly. That's vastly different from making monsters human and making humans monstrous, from giving everyone a history.
    Responding with Fuckery and Intermittent Rewards: Yup, that's about scarcity and a world that hates you. None of the others have this one really.
    So yeah, not that many in the Principles. But the Moves to are often genre'd. Trading harm for harm, capturing someone, making them buy, activating their stuff's downside, all are genre'd to me.

    Ultimately, yeah, it's a bit of a taste thing for Principles to sit at the core of your hack. On the other hand, I myself do consider them extremely important - they determine how the world works. They provide a baseline upon which the characters, their playbooks/stats/moves, will grow from. It's important to know even before doing moves if the world is hyper-lethal to ordinary folk, to know if it's about melodrama or realism, about what contexts people fight in. Those ideas guide the writing of the moves, whether they are intentionally out of the ordinary or match the world's tone. I think that even when I write the stats or moves first, I have Principles in mind, even if not in concrete form. When I wrote AvW, on day 1 I knew that violence was never started just for violence's sake, and that guided my decisions on the basic moves. In this case, we have some principles pre-installed in our understanding of how the Mass Effect world works, leaving us just to figure out which parts we really care about.
    But yeah, this is all theory-craft anyway - in the end, all the bits are important, and the early stuff may be changed to reflect later writings if necessary, so order is kinda just whatever.

    ******************************************
    Hey look, I wrote some basic principles! This was kinda off the top of my head, it's not complete, but I'm still interested in thoughts.
    Principles:
    * Start and end with the fiction. This is self-explanatory I think.
    * Breathe life into the shining void. The galaxy is big and empty-looking, so go out and fill those stars with civilization.
    * Be up front with the truth, encourage questions. Complete. Truth.
    * Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
    * Make reputation matter.
    * Make the galaxy familiar, but strange. Everything about Mass Effect society is kinda close to something we know, but never quite the same, even Earth in the new context of a living universe.
    * Aggravate the tensions of a diverse society. The galaxy is full of life, and where there is life there is conflict. The species, the governments, the planets, no one is at ease with literally everyone else.
    * Think ahead, and offscreen too. Think ahead doesn't mean pre-plan, it means to keep an eye open for things you can do soon. Just don't get attached.
    * Sometimes, disclaim decision-making.

    The moves I have in my pile are:
    * Make them pull together.
    * Drive them apart.
    * Present an oopportunity, with or without a cost.
    * Tell them the consequences and ask.
    * Foreshadow future dangers.
    * Deal harm, as appropriate.
    * Put something they care about in the firing line.
    * Put their loyalties at odds.
  • RISE, YE DEAD THREAD

    This project as typically been out-prioritized by Avatar World for me, but now that that's in a lull I've been working on it again. I've overhauled basically everything but the stats and basic moves and what the six rolebooks are. I've spilled basically everything I have into a blog post, and I wanted to share it with y'all.
    HERE IS THAT POST

    I would make a new thread, but I feel like the context given by all the stuff in this thread really enriches it, so yeah, I'll just be in here for now (unless Jason would rather I do my own thread).

    Anyone else still harboring their ME hack stuff?
  • edited April 2014
    Hey :) Life happened to me in large quantities (aka may you live in interesting times) so I'm still where I left off. However, I'm still interested in picking it up sometime, and I'm glad you came back to your project! *fingers crossed*
  • I wholeheartedly endorse posting any new work in here so I keep getting email alerts whenever people say things. :) Plus, I personally like seeing how projects like these progress and change over time as different people approach it from their own perspectives.

    I have been hoping to run a Mass Effect game for another group of players soon (who are way more excited about Mass Effect than the original group I was going to run stuff for), so I'm just trying to decide whether to run it with someone else's Apocalypse Engine hack, make my own much lighter "World of Dungeons" style hack, or simply use Fate Core (which I think may not be as great a fit for what I want to do, but holy cats does it make the GM's life easy). Looking forward to seeing what you do, hopefully so I can steal it for my own use!
  • Great to hear that your minds are still on this stuff. I don't have anything new to bring in with me today on my end, but I wanted to come by and share this in case you hadn't seen it:
    http://ryanmacklin.com/2014/05/omega/

    To summarize, Ryan Macklin played an Apocalypse World game on Omega with two setting tweaks: The mass relay blew the fuck up for god knows why, and while Aria held it together for a while, she's got killed dead. Other than that? Not a change to be found, rules are exactly the same.
    Obviously that doesn't work for a lot of what we want to do with the Mass Effect hacks a lot of the time. It's a very specific setting in a lawless and resource-scarce place with an immense power vacuum. That doesn't know how to handle the more team-based thing I have in the works, or the sort of political stuff 3Jane had, or whatever. But it goes a long way to show that simply setting-shifting a hack can totally work for Mass Effect, and makes me wonder if I'm being too specific and granular when I work.

    The other big surprise to me was the mention that Adam Koebel has been playing with an ME-inspired hack of DW. Has anyone been following him on G+ enough to know what's goin' on there? I'm curious if he or Ryan have thoughts that we're maybe looking past or around in our own hackwork.
    (does anyone know if they have accounts here we can summon into this thread with the @ thing?)

    Anyway, just wanted to share that.
  • I didn't actually play the Omega AW-setting. I just spec'd it out, because I want to play in it.

    - Ryan (commenting on S-G for the first time in years)
  • I didn't actually play the Omega AW-setting. I just spec'd it out, because I want to play in it.

    - Ryan (commenting on S-G for the first time in years)
    It certainly sounds like a lot of fun! If you think there might be a chance to play it sometime loop me in, I'd love to be a part of it (I'm a Tacoma guy, but popping up to Seattle ain't tough).
    And even without being played, just as a thought thing it's a great reminder that sometimes you don't NEED a whole change of the game mechanics to drift into a new setting, so long as the tone fits.

    ************

    Anyway, regarding my hack, progress is continuing. After a rather nasty setback causing the temporary inability to read the content I'd just written, I'm back in my files working for the next step. I'm actually compiling a document in written-as-book style rather than written-as-design-notes, so as soon as I can fill in the blanks I can post an actually playable version of the game! I still need to write a lot of moves, but the fundamentals are in place.
    Major changes so far:
    * The Ship mechanics are all worked out. I don't know if they're statistically perfect, but I like them, which I'm thankful for given that this is the fifth entirely different take on it I've tried. The Traits in my previous blog posting still are there, those are about flavor, not mechanics.
    * I'm heavily considering changing Loyalty to Trust. While Loyalty is a much stronger word given its literal use in the game series, it has consistently been a nightmare to try and work into sentences.
    * I nailed down advancement finally! It takes bits from my Avatar World but does it a little different - the XP-generating traits are attached to moves rather than selected by whim. I feel quite happy with it!
    Things I Need To Do:
    * Write a lot of moves, for the Rolebooks and Speciesbooks. Also fill out the other little bits on those, like Looks, Origins, and Relationships.
    * I need to write a bunch of supporting text for the MC's stuff.
    * I need a new name! Mass Effect Hack is descriptive of what I'm doing, but kinda sucks going forward as a real game name. I'm coming up dry though.

    Again, anybody interested in news on MEHack that comes more than once every few weeks or months, I'm currently tweeting about MEHack fairly regularly as @ Logbook_Project. But hopefully I'll be back in here within a week or so bearing gifts of rules text!
  • edited May 2014
    * I need a new name! Mass Effect Hack is descriptive of what I'm doing, but kinda sucks going forward as a real game name. I'm coming up dry though.

    No actual suggestions, but maybe look for a name in what your game is about? It's about teams of mismatched, badass operatives piloting advanced spaceships on high-stakes covert missions in a complex galaxy, or something like that? I.e. like the computer games, showcasing that aspect of the Mass Effect universe.
    As opposed to, I dunno, a game about police-procedural on the Citadel, wildcat He3 miners, or Human-First Cerberus agitators shaping Terran politics via asymmetric tactics.
  • So I've mostly just got progress reports here as I drag myself toward a first draft.
    HERE IS THAT POST.

    The important thing is actually right at the end, where I suddenly come up with an idea for a name: Among Darkening Stars. As I say in the post, "The phrase isn't copyrighted, it implies danger or evil in the galaxy that PCs would be going up against, it clearly indicates the sci-fi nature of the game, and it is an excellent descriptor of the tone of Mass Effect's story, with people, then colonies, then whole regions going dark and silent as the Reapers worked."
    My brother thinks there might be a bit of implication of a story that isn't necessarily told by the game, but I'm not sure I see that. Still, worth checking if anyone else gets the same thing.
    So, would Among Darkening Stars be the sort of name you might glance at what it is? If you were looking for games that matched some of ME's tone and saw ADS would it draw you in? Is it too vague or too specific, or just kinda generic? Because I'm finding myself liking it, but that might just be out of desperation.
  • I like it. Evocative, but simple. Makes me curious.
  • I like it! I haven't had my morning beverage so I misread it as "Skies" and I was about to suggest "Among Darkening Stars" instead but looks like you've got me covered there. :P
  • edited June 2014
    I like it too, though it does imply a certain bleakness and introspection. One thing to note, and this may not be a problem for you, but there is another sci-fi RPG out there called Fading Suns, which to me is a phrase evoking a very similar thing to Darkening Stars.
  • Well, it sort of sounds like a knock-off of Fading Suns. If I wasn't aware of FS, I'd say it sounds like a horror game. Is that the riff you're looking for here?
  • I was not aware of Fading Suns myself! While I don't mind a related name (especially since its own genre isn't far off), sounding like a knock-off is regrettable. Also, now that you mention it Denys I totally see the horror vibe in the name, and that's not really what I'm going for.

    So yeah, Among Darkening Stars will likely not be a final name. It is, however, a pretty good starting place from which to work.

    The name of the galaxy map music is a good title, it's called Uncharted Wor- oh wait. Never mind.
    Though on the topic of song names, "The Fate of the Universe" isn't half bad. Not great, plus it's literally just ripping straight from the soundtrack (though not necessarily a copyrighted phrase). But maybe it's worth looking in that sort of phrase pattern.

    Thanks for the feedback though! Really glad my first naming shot went over positively, even with the couple of issues.
  • I can see the Darkening/Fading connection, but then again lots of sci-fi games sound like knock-offs of each other: Thousand Suns and Stars Without Number, for example, both of which are awesome names. "Darkening Stars" kind of makes me think of the movie Dark Star, but maybe I'd go with Among the Dark Stars, or Between the Dark Stars. Which also sounds kind of horror, except that Dark Star is a comedy. Also, Sage has his AW hack called Black Stars Rise, which also sounds a lot like my sci-fi AW hack Black Seas of Infinity (and then I have another one, called Evil of the Stars!).

    But, you know, space, right? How many things make you think of space right away? Star, sun, planet, world, nebula, galaxy, universe, the blackness of space, the void, lots of space and emptiness, anything to do with light, the heavens, the sky, constellations. Cold, maybe, even though space doesn't feel cold. There's only so much to work with, so sounding similar to something else is probably inevitable.

    If you want to avoid horror, maybe go with brightness instead of dark? Bright Star, A Blinding Light, The Shining Heavens, etc.

    Anyway, some thoughts. Names are hard.
  • That's true, there's a lot of name interconnectedness out there already.

    Actually one of my favorite phrases in this game so far has been in a principle: breathe life into the shining void. I'm thinkin' something along that might be interesting. Another thing that's been bouncin' around my head is the use of night as a colloquialism for space, probably inspired at least partially by Firefly's slang of black.
    So maybe Into The Shining Night or some such? I like that. Maybe Into The Shining Void gets the spacey-ness across a little faster though. I could totally get into either of those.
    The brightness does avoid the horror thing a bit better, there's the space implication, and Into has a bit of an adventurous vibe, plus it's a more active word.

    Yup, names are hard indeed.
  • edited June 2014
    BTW/FYI, titles cannot be copyrighted. You will have no problems on that account, regardless of the title you choose.
  • edited June 2014
    If one of the principles is "breathe life into the shining void," then call it (The) Shining Void. Looks like a no-brainer to me!

    (Also on the title subject, what you meant was trademark, not copyright. If you release an rpg called The Call of Cthulhu, Chaosium will come and take all of your money away because it is their trademark, not because of copyright. IP is even harder than names.)
  • edited June 2014
    That is correct. Trademark is much more serious and expensive than copyright, and is rarely undertaken for a title unless you're planning on building a brand.
  • Aye, if I shifted to night the principle would move too. Shining Void sounds good to me though!

    And yeah, I used copyright when I meant trademark. Thanks for catching me though - I'm still pretty much blind when it comes to IP law, so it's really helpful to know this stuff.
  • Hey there folks! As you might have seen on the front page already, I made a new thread for The Shining Void now that it's released! Thanks for all your help over in here, and I hope JasonT and 3Jane come back to their hacks as well. The new thread is HERE, and I hope you swing by and give the game a download and a read-through.

    Thanks for letting me squat on your thread so long Jason!
  • Cool, I'll head over to take a look! And it's my pleasure to have started the thread that hosted your early musings (especially since I got to read them via email that way).

    My own Apocalypse Engine ME hack is on the back burner (and maybe I'll just use yours when the time comes), but I am running a Fate-based Mass Effect game this weekend (for a different and even more ME-obsessed group of friends than the folks who inspired me to start this thread). Still working out some details, but if anybody is looking for a Mass-Effect-style Fate character sheet, here is one in progress: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7nAXUqkUHp0aU4xNjlqTm44WnM/edit?usp=sharing

    It's very much like a standard Fate sheet except that it has some extra stress tracks (shields, credit, special ammo, and medi-gel) and keeps track of three different fate point pools (thanks to paragon points and renegade points that are earned through compels can be spent as a normal FP with 1, an auto-success with 2, and a success with style with 3). We'll see how it works out.
  • Can I necro my own thread if it's totally relevant? Well, better to ask forgiveness than permission...

    I did end up adapting Mass Effect to the Apocalypse Engine, albeit more in the vein of World of Dungeons. We started with characters made in Fate, so rather than trying to map them to playbooks when changing systems, I just put together a quick and dirty "ultralight" rules document. It's still a work in progress, but I figured I'd post it here because, hey, I said I was going to post a Mass Effect hack. Enjoy! (Or tear it to shreds, or let me know how it works for you if you give it a shot.)

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7nAXUqkUHp0WTJjT2hTNDBQRTA/view?usp=sharing
  • I love the idea of taking it in an Ultralight direction. One-page games are great.

    If you're interested in continuing to modify the document itself, there's a typo: "When you accept a failed a roll." On a related note, what do you mean by "accept" a failed roll? Is there a way to reject or alter one that would not result in gaining 1 XP?
    Additionally, there might be a better way to explain advantage/disadvantage. It might warrant its own paragraph, or at the very least should be bolded so it's easy to find on the page.

    I like the Reputation stuff! Seems fun. I think it might be even better to make the Renegade action be "When you do what you must, DESPITE the cost" rather than "whatever the cost." "Despite" implies that there is always some kind of cost to these actions, while "whatever" can still technically apply to actions without any significant cost, and I think that runs counter to the intention of the mechanic. The Paragon option mandates taking a risk, so I think the Renegade should mandate a cost.

    Looks great man, excited to see if you do anything more with it.
  • Thank you for the feedback! (And for catching my typo.)

    "When you accept a failed roll" is phrased that way because there are multiple things that can turn a failure into a success in this game. (See the "Lucky" ability in World of Dungeons, plus the Interrupts.) You don't get the XP if you don't really fail.

    Advantage/Disadvantage had their own paragraph once upon a time. Maybe I'll put it back.

    I like your idea on the Renegade phrasing, too. Definitely fits with how we've been using it, too. (You should have SEEN the Renegade points racking up when the PCs decided to turn to Cerberus to help them fight an alien threat because they didn't trust the Council to get the job done.)
  • Cool :) I'm interested to see how your reputation works out - it reminds me of Nature from Mouse Guard because the Paragon/Renegade score will be such a big influence on the roll.

    With how many tokens do characters start the game, if any? Do they carry over from session to session?

    I'm guessing that spending a token means -1 to the appropriate score? In which case, when you add your Paragon/Renegade score to a roll, do you take the value from before the token is spent or from after it is spent?
  • edited April 2015
    Honestly, the reputation system is still very much experimental. We have tried it maybe 3 or 4 different ways so far, and this one won't get tested until later this month. Based on feedback from my players and what I feel like I can keep track of, I wanted to come up with something that fulfills the following:

    1. We get to pass around little red and blue stones.
    2. Interrupts get to majorly influence success.
    3. The rules for Interrupts are clear and consistent.
    4. You have Paragon and Renegade scores, not just tokens to spend.

    So, no, you don't actually lower your scores when you spend tokens. You start at +0 for both (unless you decide you want to do something like Mass Effect 1 and give small starting bonuses based on origin story, but I leave that up to you). Once the scores add up to 10, getting +1 in one score means getting –1 to another score, possibly shifting back and forth or maxing one side out at +10 with the other at +0. I estimate that +10 is about as big a bonus as you can give in this system to make it game-changing (effectively like selecting a Paragon/Renegade option in the video game) without being totally game-breaking. We'll see if I'm right. :)
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