Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - Looking anew at the Basic Moves

Why am I doing this? Because I didn't really like what was there, it was more the first thing that came to mind rather than something actually useful. There was also something that someone said about the difference between something like Apocalypse World and Dungeon World is that DW is about the players dealing with their environment and AW is about the players dealing with the other players. I think this game needs to be somewhere in the middle, and I don't feel that I managed to get there. The original Basic Moves as written are here. Let's see if I can improve them.

Basic Moves

Sweep the Scene
Whenever you're looking for information about a situation, a scene, or a crime, ROLL+eyes. On a 10+ you pick up 3 Clues. On a 7-9, you get 2 Clues, but you get interrupted, discovered, or attacked. You must spend at least 1 clue to ask one of these questions:
-Who should I talk to next?
-What am I missing here?
-Where is the next place to go?
-Why should I care about this?
-When is something going to happen?

On a 6- you get 1 Clue that you can't spend on any of those questions, and something bad happens ... good luck. 

Okay, I changed up the questions because I thought this is a little better. There's a few more leading questions that give the player a direction to go in rather than just have them answer questions about the environment. It should be more "how do I move this story forward."

I also wanted to make sure that you could get at least one clue from this move so that's why it got a -6 section as well. 

Open Up
When you reveal something personal to someone else, ROLL+Soft. On a 10+ you can either remove 2 conditions, or 1 condition you have and 1 condition they have. On a 7+ you can remove 1 condition you have, or 1 condition they have.

Confession time, I'm adding another change to AW here. I'm not using Harm or anything resembling an HP stat. I don't want this to be about damage, I want this to be about problems. With that in mind, I'm going to give people 4 conditions in 3 "branches." You hit the 4th condition in anyone of those branches and you're taken out. I don't know what that means yet, but I like that better for this game than Harm.

Three branches? Physical, Emotional, Social. Because that's where a lot of the hurt in Veronica Mars is. I like this a lot more now because you can open up to share, or you can open up to be selfish and I think that's really in keeping more with how the show goes than say filling up a circle or ticking marks of HP. I think that the one way everyone has to recover is more through opening up to other people which makes them possibly vulnerable later on is great. Maybe do it with four of them so that there's one for each STAT, and if you get a stat taken to -2 then you're taken out? That way if you have a high HARD 

And Action
Whenever you act where there's any immediate danger, ROLL+Rash. On a 10+ you get to act with no consequences of the danger. On a 7-9, you get to act but choose one: you take a condition; you get a cliffhanger even if you have another move.

I like this one more than the previous And Action move. First of all it's a little more general, so that could be if there's a danger of getting caught, or a danger from another player. It provides you with the option to decide what happens if you get a 7-9, it immediately stops the scene or gives people damage in the way we're doing damage here. Is it too vague? I don't know, but I like it more because the immediate danger is less specific than "something physical."

Shut Someone Down
When you need to put someone in their place, ROLL+Hard. 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.

I think this is something that belongs into the basic move section. I think shutting people down is something that should be tied to hard more than anything else so I think keeping it here is worth while. The others I think should be more open, and then I think we need to have the "Putting Clues together" move that I need to add.

Adaptable Moves

I'm going to keep Adaptable Moves for now because I still like the idea, I think it's workable, and I don't have something to replace it just yet. If I do, then we'll talk about it then, but right now let's keep this as is.

Pick which STAT will apply to each move. You must apply each STAT only once.

Manipulate an NPC
When you want to get NPC to do what you want them to, ROLL+. On a 10+ they'll do what you want depending on how you manipulate them except confess to a crime without evidence. 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.

This is straight out of Monsterhearts with a little modification. I don't want people to manipulate the suspects with just a single move, so I modified it to make suspects a little harder to manipulate. You still need to be able to manipulate them to get them arrested, because solving the crime is 3/4 of the job ... the other 1/4 is getting them into the hands of the "authorities" with a smug sense of satisfaction.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
When you want to hurt someone physically, emotionally, or socially, ROLL+. On a 10+ choose one: you give them 2 conditions,  you give them 1 condition and take a string on them or get a clue from them. On a 7-9 you give them a condition, but choose 1: They gain 1 String on you; They get a Clue from the exchange; They deal give 1 Condition to you.

Back to the conditions instead of Harm. I also like the fact that you can trade clues this way too. I think it's good that it doesn't generate new clues, but it still can move the clues around the table. I want to just leave it as hurt someone, but I think part of me feels that I should include physically, emotionally, or socially because that way there's less ambiguity. 

Hold OnWhenever you need to withstand something, ROLL+. On a 10+ you withstand whatever you needed to, and managed to get a clue, and a string on whoever was working against you. On a 7-9, you withstand whatever you needed to, but managed to get a clue or a string on whoever was working against you.

I like the results of this move a little bit more than it was before. Instead of being another avenue for conditions, it gives you the ability to get more clues and more strings by taking people's best shot and taking it. It's a little reminiscent of how you get more dice in Technoir when you take risks and damage. 

Put it All Together
Whenever you want to use a clue to help solve a mystery, ROLL+. On a 10+ you get to place two clues on a suspect. On a 7-9 you get to place a clue, and the player with the least clues get to place your second clue on a different suspect. On a 6- the player with the least clues places your clue on a suspect.

And this is the final one. I like that it's on the changeable scale, so you can be good at putting clues together even if you aren't good at getting them. I think this solves some other problems I had with how do you solve the mystery.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - GM Less play

I think this is the next thing I need to talk about, because it's one of the big thoughts about this game on how I want to take AW and make it GMless. I mean, Murderous Ghosts kind of does that, but not really. It's very much a two person game, and it's got its on way to do things. I ended up writing down notes, because I think better with a pen in my hand than a keyboard in front of me, and here are some thoughts I have about GM less play and what that means for Veronica Monsterhearts.

1. Each person takes their turn as the Investigator. As the Investigator its your job to set the scene, describe who is there, and figure out what's going on. You have free reign to put NPCs in the scene, but you should probably ask if someone wants to have their PC there.

Side thought: Should there be a reward for being in a scene? One per episode mystery you gain 1 XP or 1 Clue for showing up. You can get each reward once and then after that you're there if it makes sense? Do I want to rely on "good playing" to get people involved, or do I want something mechanical to get them there.

2. Once the scene is set you can improvise as much as you want. If you want to have long discussions, and huge acting scenes because that's what you love then go for it. If you want to just describe things, have fun with that. Play it the way you have more fun in. However, in the scene you get to use two moves. Originally I had it written down as you get to do one basic move and one Casefile move but that might just be a little too limiting. I think that will have to be a test thing to see how that works.

When you're done, you resolve the scene by creating a cliffhanger. This can be a soft or hard move, depending on how well you did with you move, that you decide upon. You won't be able to resolve it, but it sets yourself up for your next turn as investigator. When you're done with your cliffhanger you pass that investigator hat onto the next person. Think of this as cutting

Who is that next person? You decide, you pick who goes next and because this is Marvel Initiative, everyone gets a turn at the investigator hat before it goes around again.

Note on not mentioning the move thing you see in all *World games.
I get the idea behind it, it's just reinforcing the idea that you want to sell the reaction and the fiction rather than say "You're now split up" but even AW breaks that rule when you tell them how much harm they're taking. The stronger phrase, and the one that I think the focus should completely be on, is tie the moves to the fiction. Also, because this game is GMless you're all taking part as the GM which means that you'll all get to use/see those moves anyway.

3. Dealing with Cliffhangers
You can deal with a Cliffhanger as the next scene, or even the next scene with another player in them. Basically player X gets his two moves, and creates a cliffhanger that now Player Y deals with because she was there at the same scene. Or when you get back to your turn you can deal with it.  There was also a though on how you could deal with a cliffhanger if you wanted to set your next scene elsewhere, you could handle it like a flashback but at the cost of a clue or something. Not sure how to do that, but I do like that whole kind of Leverage feel to it (it might be because I'm currently watching a lot of Leverage).

It's a little bit of everything really, a little bit of Geasa for GMlessness, but with a lot more control on the part of the person being the Investigator. A little bit of M:HR when it comes to the initiative because it's the best way to handle initiative I have seen, ever.

One thought could be to try to Fiasco it up a bit, where you either get to set the scene or choose the cliffhanger. That might be something to incorporate into the game. Still thinking about a lot of things really.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - Get A Clue

I think I need to talk about how this whole Clue/String thing works, the difference between the two and how it affect GMless play for Veronica Monsterhearts.

1. Strings stay the way that they are

Strings are perhaps one of the best things mechanically about Monsterhearts is the concept of strings. Here are some nebulous things that get held over each other's head. You know where they come from, because they come out in the play, but mechanically it's just something one player has on another, or on an NPC.

They get used to push players to do things, either by making it harder to affect someone who has strings on them, but also to get someone to do something that you want. It's great because you can play up the roleplaying aspect if you want to, and talk about where the string came from and how it interacts with the story, or not. If you aren't someone who is big on improvisational roleplay then you can just talk about what happened and move on. Either way, it's great so I don't want to change anything there.

2. Clues are used for the mystery

Part of what makes a mystery fun, is watching the mystery unfold. Usually that requires someone having some outside knowledge of the whole caper, and the ability to not try to get the people playing the game stuck. That's a big problem in any RPG really, when you have the players who have to uncover something be unable to because they didn't get a particular thing, or talk to a particular person. These chokepoints cause a lot of problems.

This is where Clues come into play. Clues, like their counterpart Strings, are a neutral mechanic that discovers a character's ability to control the mystery. They can take the place of the GM as the players shape what's going on by what they find out. When a player uses a Clue to solve the mystery, then they're the ones who are figuring out who did it as they go along. As long as there's a steady stream of clues, then the action will continue to move forward.

The question becomes how do you spend them? Right now you can just spend them. Here are some thoughts on how you can spend them.

A. You can spend one of them when you're the investigator (person who is being the GM).
That way it limits the amount of clues you can spend so you can't overwhelm a story and have a super twist that comes out of no where. Not that those aren't fun, but if you get a bunch of people who hoard them and spend them all at once then there's less of a teasing out and more of a RUSH TO COMPLETE THE MISSION, which throws me for a loop.

That means as the investigator you can spend a clue on the mystery of the day, your personal mystery, and the season mystery. Depending on the amount of clues you have and the amount of times the investigation goes around the table you can go far on any individual.

B. You have to spend them as you get them, which means when you're investigating you have to say what you're going to spend them on before you get them. That will probably mean tweaking the moves a bit, but I like that because I'm not feeling to happy with the Hard Boiled.

C. You have to make a move to spend them. I like this because it has me thinking that there are too many basic moves in the game and that if I take out some of them there is room for a "Spending Clue Move."

Now to keep things going, you will always get to spend clues, the trick is how many or what control do you have over those clues? That's going to be the question of the move.

Ultimately when spending a clue, you need to explain how it ties that one suspect to the crime. That's something you can talk about as a group and figure it out, but the person spending the clue has the final say.

Another thought: It costs more to spend clues in order to get them moving on your personal mystery, over the daily mystery, over the season mystery. That way if you're going to spend an episode on the season mystery you can do that while others figure out the episode mystery.

3. Clues allow for tension and are the timer

Because there isn't a GM, and the players have to have a point in time that tells you that the mystery is done. They should be different for each, the episode mystery should be shorter than the personal mystery which should be should shorter than the season mystery.

As a starting line the idea would be to have 5 clues applies to a suspect to have them be the culprit of the episode mystery, 8 clues for a personal mystery and 10 clues for the season mystery. The closer you get to an ending, the more tension there's going to be if everyone has a reason for picking a different suspect.

Which brings me to the point where there needs to be a different incentive in order to make people want to pick different suspects, or even change who the suspects are. There also needs to be a point where it's too much and the criminal gets away, or someone gets caught who is innocent. I don't quite know how to do that yet, but it's in the thought process.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - The Hard Boiled


What am I trying to do here? I think the Hard Boiled should have a lot to do with clues and strings. There should be a lot of flexibility with how the Hard Boiled uses them, and ways other than the regular way for the Hard Boiled to get more clues faster. They are the gum-shoe, so they should be the one dealing with the bulk of the investigating. 

One of the things that happens when you have half your basic moves be associated with what the player thinks they should be associated with is that you end up removing one of the easier Casefile moves you get which is Instead of Stat X for this move, you get to use Stat Y. This may make me want to rethink using a modular system for half of the moves that everyone can access. Or not, because then that kind of gives players the freedom to do what they want.

Anyway, on to the Casefiles!

STATS - Choose One

EYES: +1, RASH: 0, HARD: +1, SOFT: 0
EYES: +1, RASH: -1, HARD: +2, SOFT: 0
EYES: +2, RASH: 0, HARD: +1, SOFT: -1

Other thought here, we might just give people a stat line. Something that they use like in Dungeon World where you pick an array so something like and make it across the board.
+1, 0, +1, 0 or +1, -1, +2, 0

MOVES - Choose Two

Tequila Shots ... Never Again
If you need to talk your way into a place you shouldn't be, ROLL+Eyes. On a 10+ you get into the location, and pick up 1 Clue on the way in. On a 7-9, you get into the location but you raise suspicion, choose one: You don't get full access, you get interrupted, or trouble shows up.

I Know Who You Did Last Summer
If you want to make a character talk to you, ROLL+Hard. On a 10+ they stop what they're doing and talk to you, and have information that is helpful so you gain a Clue. On a 7-9, they can ignore you unless you spend a string on them. Then they mark XP and you talk to them.

It was the Butler's son ...
If there you want to solve a mystery and there are three or more clues in a episode mystery, five or more clues in a personal mystery, or eight or more clues in a season mystery, ROLL+Eyes. On a 10+ you figure out who did it, you just now need to bring them to justice. On a 7-9, you can add a clue to whoever you think did it, but you expose yourself to danger. 6-, you add a new suspect, and give them that clue and a clue from the suspect you thought committed the crime as well as expose yourself to danger.

3rd Degree
If you interrogate someone to get information, ROLL+Hard. On a 10+ you get some information, get 2 clues. On a 7-9 you get some information, you get 1 clue, but you also expose yourself to danger.

Get Mad, Get Even
You can use the Manipulate an NPC with Hard. If you've already chosen Hard for that move then you get +1 forward to all your rolls using that move.

You're a Marshmallow
Whenever you take on a case for someone else, you can either gain a string on them or gain 1XP.

Putting It All Together
When you would use a move that gets you a clue, you gain an extra clue.

Let's Make a Deal
You may spend clues as if they were strings.


You've got dirt on everyone, take a string on everyone.
Someone used to be your friend, they now go out of their way to harrass you. They take a string on you.
You've spent extra time investigating a person, gain an extra string on them.


You've decided that this is someone you can open yourself up to, it's a touching moment and you both lose a string on each other. That doesn't mean that you aren't going to take this opportunity to do some sleuthing, so gain a clue that you can immediately apply if the person you had sex with is a suspect.


A family member abandoned you out of the blue?
1XP - When you discover out where they are.
2XP - When you discover out why they left.
3XP - When you convince them to come back.

Are you related to one of the wealthiest families in town?
1XP - When you discover which family you might be related to.
2XP - When you uncover which of your parents had the affair.
3XP - When you find out, one way or the other, if you are related to this other family or not.


You are primarily responsible for the Victim. Your secondary responsibility are the Suspects.


Gain +1 EYES (Max +3)
Gain +1 RASH (Max +3)
Gain +1 HARD (Max +3)
Gain +1 SOFT (Max +3)
Gain a Hard Boiled Move
Gain a Hard Boiled Move
Gain a Hard Boiled Move
Gain a move from Another Casefile
Gain a move from Another Casefile

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rent's Due - Alpha-esque Document available!

Another one of those games I've been working on has more rules to it. When Quinn posted his method for making adventures in Fire Fives, I wanted to get this out because it had the same kind of mindset and I like it when that zeitgeist happens.

That said, it just had the rules for making the conflicts and that's pretty much it. There wasn't any reason why you would collect dice, or how you would decide anything, just rudimentary "here are dice and they exist for some reason"

Well, I now have about four thousand words on how to play the game. You can check it out, though I need to come up with the character maps. I'm thinking of making a Park and then drawing it out, but that's not something for the next little bit.  Now I go back to writing up Daedalus stuff and Veronica Monsterhearts ... and doing the 1KM1KT 24 Hour RPG competition.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box