Thursday, October 31, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - The CaseFiles

Since this is going to be a *World game, it's gonna need those playbooks (or as we're going to call them Casefiles) and so that's something I think that I should be thinking about at least.

Let's see if we can find analogues for the characters in Veronica Mars that were reoccurring or talking enough in the show that they probably deserved some kind of look

Veronica Mars
Wallace Fennel
Logan Echolls
Duncan Kane
Eli "Weevil" Navarro
Cindi "Mac" Mackenzie
Dick Casablancas
Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas
Madison Sinclair
Meg Manning

Discussion on this list is a good thing, because this is still just talk. Do you think there are characters that need to be included?

Now let's turn them into Casefiles.

Veronica Mars - The Hardboiled
Wallace Fennel - The Bestfriend
Logan Echolls - The Bad Boy (I want to keep it gender neutral in the file, but that's kind of what we'd call it, no? Thoughts?)
Duncan Kane - The Socialite
Eli "Weevil" Navarro - The Gang Leader
Cindi "Mac" Mackenzie - The Tech Geek
Dick Casablancas - The Ne'er Do Well
Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas - The Schemer
Madison Sinclair - The ... (This is one I'm stuck with. I don't want to use the word Bitch because of the really bad gendered association with it, but Rich Bitch was the only thing that came to mind)
Meg Manning - The Innocent

What do they do? Who knows! Right now those are the general names and kind of direction I'd like to go with them.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - We don't need no stinkin' MC

I've ditched the previously generated tag because that should be for stuff that's already created that I'm doing things for. Modules, adventure hooks, ideas, whatever. This is starting to become a thing so it's probably going to get it's own label and header because why not. It's something that's on my mind.

I commented earlier today that I'm wondering why does AW need an MC? Not to say that it shouldn't, or couldn't since that's what is has, but does any sort of *World game need one. I've had some thoughts about this game, and that it might not need an MC because the players are going to give themselves hard moves for fun, profit, clues and experience.

This all ties into the idea of the mystery, and not necessarily knowing the full details of the mystery when you play. Just the what happened to cause the mystery. Now usually the MC is the one who knows all the details of what happened and lays out the mystery, but do you even need that? Can you build towards a mystery without having some outside force guide it?

I'm thinking about that when I was reading the Gumshoe SRD:
Assuming that they look in the right place and apply appropriate abilities to the task, GUMSHOE ensures that the heroes get the basic clues they need to move through the story. The question it asks is:
What will the heroes do with the information once they’ve got it?
If you think about it, this is how the source materials we base our mystery scenarios on handle clues. You don’t see the forensic techies on CSI failing to successfully use their lab equipment, or Sherlock Holmes stymied and unable to move forward because he blew his Zoology roll.
You don’t see this because, in a story failure to gain information is rarely more interesting than getting it. New information opens up new narrative possibilities, new choices and actions for the characters. Failure to get information is a null result that takes you nowhere.
In a fictional procedural, whether it’s a mystery novel or an episode of a cop show, the emphasis isn’t on finding the clues in the first place. When it really matters, you may get a paragraph telling you how difficult the search was, or a montage of a CSI team tossing an apartment. But the action really starts after the clues are gathered.
That's why I wanted to talk about clues. The idea is that I don't think we want to limit clues at all, we want to make sure that they're plentiful enough that there's sense at the end that the players have uncovered the mystery. The trick is that no one knows exactly what the mystery is until you've finished it.  You've seen clues showing up in moves, and I think that they need to be worked at a little bit more to make it more cohesive as an idea, but with clues you actually get to point the action toward a certain goal.

What are those goals? Well, if we look at the structure of Veronica Mars, one of the things that I enjoyed was that there was the episode mystery and then there was the season mystery. You had the mystery of who killed Lilly Kane that took place over the entire Season, there were personal mysteries and then the mystery due jour which was the focus of the episode. I think that's the kind of feeling we'll need to have in order to have the game go right.

How do we do that? Well, each file (because let's be thematic and call playbooks files) should have it's own Season Long Mystery, let's call them personal mysteries. The idea really comes from the Milestones in Marvel: Heroic Roleplaying, but instead of choosing what direction you want the character to go you're going to talk about your personal mystery, the thing that drives you. There's also going to be a Season mystery and the episode mysteries but those are things that you're going to build as a group.

To use Veronica Mars as an example you have the Season mystery that affected a large group of people, which was who killed Lilly Kane. Then you had the personal mysteries, Veronica and her mother ... Logan and her mother ... Mac and her family ... there were a lot of family mysteries in Veronica Mars but they were all to the individual and carried over for a bunch of episodes. Then there was the mystery of the day which depended on the episode.

The idea is that there needs to be a way to figure out those various mysteries and "clue tokens" are the path to it, at least right now. This may change depending on the casefiles (changing the name again from file to casefile because that's even better) and how they interact with each other and the clues. The hope is that you can piece together what happened and what the resolution of the case is by letting the players use the tokens to create the connections that will make up the mystery (kind of like the plot map in Technoir, but really only in basic idea).


Thoughts about anything before or what's going on now? Again this is all vague, but it's what's percolating in my head at the moment.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Previously Generated - Veronica Monsterhearts - Stats and Basic Moves

I'm sitting here and have other stuff to write, so clearly that means I feel like I should write more about Veronica Monsterhearts.

For the little bit of work I've done on doing anything AW-ish, the most important part for me to start are the stats and basic moves. Because everyone has access to these two things, they inform the basic feel for the whole game. If you want a game about investigating, you shouldn't have three basic moves that deal harm. With that in mind, here are the basic moves that are working their way around in my head for this game.


EYES: How good you are at being aware of what's going on.
RASH: How good you are at getting things done when they need to, damn the consequences.
HARD: How good you are are doing what needs to get done, regardless of the personal cost.
SOFT: How good you are at being emotional and vulnerable, because damn it you just need a moment.

I chose these four moves because I feel that part of the action in Veronica Mars. 

Eyes are for your ability to notice things, and be aware of your surroundings. This is part of being a detective, and some people are better at the smaller details than others.

Rash because there are many moments in the show when the characters do things without thinking about it. It's kind of the teenagerness of the show, but it's also because of how driven they are. Veronica does stuff for clues that is just as Rash as Logan does when he's upset.

Hard because Hard Boiled. There's a scene in the show that I love where Lamb is talking about how Logan was arrested to Keith Mars and Lamb comments on how Hard Boiled Veronica is. That's why I think that Hard is a good stat.

Soft well ... that Veronica ... she's a Marshmallow. I do think having an ability to be vulnerable is something that helps the game from becoming too much of a HARD DETECTIVE GRITTY game. It's still about their relationships and not just about figuring out the mystery.

Why not an intelligence stat of some kind?
Well, the thing is that I had CLEVER up there as a stat for a while and then I changed it for EYES because part of me didn't want anyone to put a -1 in CLEVER because one of the things that made Veronica Mars so much fun to watch was that all the characters were clever, they wasn't that comic relief foolish character that comes into play. So, they can be less perceptive, but still clever this way ... however, I'm still debating that.

Basic Moves

Sweep the Scene
Whenever you're looking for information about a situation, or a scene, ROLL+CLEVER. On a 10+ 
you pick up 3 Clues. You can spend a clue to ask a question. On a 7-9, you get 1 Clue, but you get interrupted, discovered, or attacked. You can spend a clue to ask a question.
-Who should I look out for?
-What am I missing here?
-When did this take place?
-Where is the best way out?
-Why is this happening?

And Action
Whenever you do something that requires a lot of physical exertion, ROLL+RASH. On a 10+ you do that physical thing you wanted to do. On a 7-9, you slip, hesitate, pause or land in a different kind of danger.

Hold On
When you need to resist something physical, or emotional, ROLL+HARD. On a 10+ you resist and gain a string on that person. On a 7-9 choose one: you get hurt but don't show it and take a string on them, you don't get hurt but your resistance doesn't impress anyone.

Open Up
When you reveal something personal to someone else, ROLL+SOFT. On a 10+ you can remove a condition and 1 harm, or 2 conditions or 2 harm. On a 7-9, you can remove 1 condition, or 1 harm but the person you revealed to gets a string on you.

Adaptable Moves

I was thinking about having some sort of adaptability when it comes to using AW. Basically, you get to assign one of the four stats to the following Moves. This will flavour heavily how you use that move. For instance, if you Chat Someone Up with SOFT then you're more likely going to get information from them by sweet talking and being honest with them. If you Chat Someone Up with RASH you're going to threaten and beat people up to get them to talk. 

Shut Someone Down
When you need to put someone in their place, ROLL+. On a 10+ choose one: give them a Condition; they lose a String against you; if they held no Strings on you, gain a String on them. On a 7-9, choose one: you each give a Condition to one another; you each lose a String on one another.

Manipulate an NPC
When you want to get an NPC to do what you want them to, ROLL+. On a 10+ they'll do what you want depending on how you manipulate them. On a 7-9, the MC will tell you what it'll take to get the NPC to do what you want. Do it and they will.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
When you want to hurt someone physically, or emotionally, ROLL+. On a 10+ choose one: the harm is great (add 1); you gain 1 String on them; they need to Hold On before they can Fight back this scene. On a 7-9 you harm them but choose 1: They gain 1 String on you; They get a Clue from the exchange; They deal 1 Harm to you.

Get the Money Shot
Whenever you investigate a situation, looking for clues, ROLL+. On a 10+ you get 3 clues and they help you further your case. You can decide to split them among the current mystery, or your mystery. On a 7-9, you get 2 clues, but others can spend strings to give you extra clues that target another player. On a 6, you get 1 Clue, but the MC is going to take this opportunity to make a hard move. Good luck.


What do you folks think? Any suggestions about different stats, different moves? There's a bunch of Monstershearts still here, because that somewhat what this is based off of. I also know I cheated and added Clues that you can spend I have some thoughts about how to use them in the story to create your mystery but it's very vague. I just think we needed something other than Strings to keep track of that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Demos For You and Me - Part 2 - Running the Game

In part 1 we covered what you need to do ahead of time when running a game demo. Let's talk about what you need to do while you're running a game. This is where you're going to sell the people on the game, this is the actual test drive so make sure it's as smooth and wonderful an experience for the players as you can.

I'm going to assume that you've done the stuff in part one and have a tailor made adventure to introduce people to you game. What's going to make them feel like this is the best game experience in the world. Now here are some things you need to keep in mind over the next 2-4 hours.

I'm going to start with one of the most important ones, because it filters down to the other ones.


There, that's out there. Yes you aren't wearing a three-piece suit, or even dress down to business casual, but if you're running a demo you can't forget that this is your business setting and you should remember that. You need to act professionally at all times. That means the things you wouldn't do because you're in a business setting, don't do them. Just don't. It doesn't matter that you're at a bar, convention space, church basement. You are selling something to someone, be professional about it.

2. Address your players directly

I'm putting this one out there because I have seen this, and have many people come up to me and tell me about this happening to them. You need to address your players directly. By addressing them directly, I mean look at them when you speak to them. It's not that hard. You look at them when you talk to them. You don't have to stare them down, you don't have to gaze lovingly into their eyes, you have to just address them as a person.

You'd be surprised how hard this is, apparently, for a good number of people who run games at events. It is also one of the larger complaints that I have heard from a wide variety of people. There are many stories about people not looking at people when they talk to them at a game, or addressing all questions to someone else at the table.

You can't do that. Can't, can't do that. One it makes the game not entertaining for that person. It's also a potential sale you are leaving on the table.

3. Make sure everyone has their moment

This is standard kind of GMing advice, but it doubly applies here. You want to make sure that every person at the table has a moment to be amazing. Otherwise they're going to get bored and think your game isn't worth buying. Part of that is making sure those moments are in your adventure, but another part is making sure that you give the player those moments in the game.

It's like the "Let the Wookie win" part of demoing a board game. People are more interested in buying your product if your product gives them an experience that they want to have.

4. Have fun

Ultimately we're all just playing a game. Remember that, and have fun when you're demoing a game. If you're having fun, the player can pick up on that and it will infect their play as well. Nothing can ruin a game like not having fun, or being bitter. That includes being bitter about other people's products. No one gets excited by negative marketing, so don't do it.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the four things I think you need to think about when you run your con game.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Previously Generated - Veronica Monsterhearts

Okay, so we all love Veronica Mars, right?

Here's a thought: Veronica Monsterhearts.

Now the more I think about it, the more I'd rather have its own set of playbooks (skins, but if it were to be redone then it would be something appropriate, right?) But barring that, how do you play Veronica Mars using Monsterhearts? By adding investigation rules!

Additional Basic Move

Get the Money Shot

Whenever you investigate a situation looking for information, ROLL+*. On a 10+ you get the information that helps further the case. On a 7-9, you get the information but it's either incomplete, gives you a new suspect, or costs a lot. On a 6- you get the information but the MC is going take this opportunity to make a hard move. Good luck.

Each skin picks an investigation style. There's the with Force, with Flair, with Deduction, with Seduction, with Connections. The *** depends on the investigation style: with Force uses Volatile, with Flair uses Dark, with Deduction uses Cold, with Seduction uses Hot and with Connections uses # of strings (max +3).

More Fun With Strings!

The second thing you add is another way for strings to play in with the investigation. If you have a string on someone, you can spend it when someone is looking to Get The Money Shot to implicate another character in the rim.

Example: The Vampire has a string on the Werewolf, and the Mortal is investigating the death of the Ghost. The Vampire spends the string to make the clue the Mortal receives to point towards the Werewolf. The Vampire doesn't actually plant information, he just spends the string to make that happen because Drama damn it.


And a big thank you to Amber, Krista and Darcy for the slight kicks of "that's awesome do it."

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