Archive for October, 2010


October 26, 2010

I’m calling these splats, so nobody better write them up before me. Or else I will look at you very sternly across the internet! 🙂

The Taikonaut

This character type starts out the game on a space station, with no way to contact the other characters unless they take certain moves like “microwave relay.” Also, they have -1 Hard because their body has become very weak from years in space, but they begin with a move that gives them +2 or +3 Hard in zero-G. They don’t have any way to mechanically purchase their return to earth, so they and the other players have to make that happen through the narrative. However, there is a character move called The Man Who Fell to Earth that goes: “When you land on the planet’s surface…” which talks about how your character changes at that point. There may also be a move that talks about what happens if you decide to head for one of the moonbases instead.

The Terrorform

This character type is a swarm of programmed nanotech bots that was made to reconfigure the earth back into a livable habitat after the apocalypse happened. However, the swarm is all sentient and messed up because of radiation or the Psychic Maelstrom or some other shit, so the Terrorform acts more a totemic spirit of the land and the land is fucking angry. This is going to be an experiment in using the Apocalypse World rules to provide rules for something that isn’t even really a character in the traditional PC sense. It’s also going to have a bunch of moves that allow it to draw, erase, and otherwise manipulate things on the maps your group has drawn for playing the game, since that’s one of the core requirements of AW, right?

Tracking the Flood

October 20, 2010

This seed an idea grew more developed after talking with John yesterday.

To map out the game you draw a highly abstracted diagram of your setting. You draw a small circle for each family in your village and draw a ring around that to show that they are one village. You draw other circles for neighboring villages and the major spirits that constitute the land and waters. Then you draw a circle around all of that to represent your region and the lord who rules over it. And you spread out to make neighboring regions and so forth, but only diagramming (initially) the areas that your characters have actually been to.

When someone breaks the Great Chain, the GM places a token on the circle within which the violation occurred — family level, village level, with local spirits, etc. — and can spend those tokens 1-for-1 to make GM or Threat moves in that area OR the GM can let the violation fester, producing additional tokens in subsequent sessions. The game begins, like Dogs in the Vineyard, with some ancient and recent violations and their tokens already in play for the GM to spend or fester.

If there are 3 or more tokens in a single circle, the GM can cause the violation to flood over into neighboring circles, going up or down levels of scale as needed, pushing at least one of the original tokens into a different area. So enough violations at the family level can reach the village or the spirits or what have you. Cause enough trouble and one of the Ten Suns will plummet from the sky.

Players can attempt to have tokens removed from the board by resolving or making restitution for past violations — either by themselves or others. Sometimes you have to kill a wicked lord or appease the angry spirits. But they also violate the Great Chain by intervening in matters that are outside or beyond them.

Culturally Specific GMing

October 19, 2010

So I’m walking home from work, thinking about the MC guidelines for Ghost Opera. And it strikes me that I know exactly what principle #1 for the MC is going to be, because the MC represents Heaven & Earth, and Lao Zi says:


heaven & earth are not sentimental;
(they) regard everything as straw dogs (i.e. disposable)

How’s that for a culturally specific version of “look through crosshairs”?

Spirit World Moves

October 18, 2010

The basic spirit world move is: when you consult the oracles and sages the GM gives you an impression about what’s wrong with the world and how you can fix it.

Underneath this move are a number of options regarding who you consult when you use this move, some of which are situational and some of which must be bought with advances.

For example, if you consult with someone beholden to you in the great chain — a personal ancestor, your village shaman, someone who owes you a favor — you get more than an impression; you get their honest opinion (unless they are a PC). This is situational.

But you could also don the ritual garments of the Huai River Dragon and speak to greater spirits as an equal, giving you +1 forward on following their advice. This is a special move bought with an advance, typically, though you could also gain this ability situationally, by stealing the robes and usurping the role.

What Should You Fear?

October 18, 2010

Characters in Ghost Opera, if they don’t fear the wrath of heaven or earth and declare themselves superior to the ten thousand things, can be hard to create narrative around. In such an event, it is the GM’s duty to politely ask:

O Greatest One, what should you fear, thou you be high and mighty above other men?