Moves of Heroes Fall

Today I went to Jank Cast’s April Jank on Demand at the Dice Dojo where I played in Todd’s dark political fantasy hack of Apocalypse World called, “The Sword, the Crown and the Unspeakable Power.” It was a ton of fun and very informative for my own hacking ideas for Grim World. I’m happy to see that Todd’s game is significantly different from the game I want to make. It’s just as good, if not better in ways, than the game I want to make. The important thing is that it’s different.

Any way, one of the similarities between the games is that the basic moves from AW are kept almost whole cloth. This is different from Dungeon World, which makes large, sweeping changes to the system.

Following up after my last post about stats, I’d like to talk about moves. The way moves work in AW is that the fiction triggers the move (i.e., a player says, “I want to storm the cult hideout and kill as many of them as I can.”), the roll is made (2d6 + stat; say we got an 11), and then the move directs the narrative, (i.e., the MC says, “Cool, on a 10+ you can choose three of the following four options: definitely achieve your goal, inflict great harm, take little harm, and impress or dismay your enemy. Tell us what happens.). It’s the fiction leading to the roll, and the roll informing the fiction.

Each move does very specific narrative things. They moves cover pretty much anything interesting the characters want to do. Anything else can just happen. The moves are only triggered when interesting, dramatic things will result. I have them listed below with brief descriptions. The stat the move uses by default is listed in parentheses.

  • Act Under Fire (cool) lets you attack enemies unaware, ignore a battle raging around you and otherwise keep your head in spite of a chaotic situation.
  • Go Aggro (hard) means you are threatening someone with violence and you mean it; if they call your bluff, well, it wasn’t a bluff.
  • Seize by Force (hard) is a move when you engage in combat against knowing, aware opponents. Harm is traded.
  • Seduce or Manipulate (hot) is pretty much exactly what it says. This is how you maneuver social situations without violence.
  • Read a Sitch (sharp) allows you to ask questions about the scene, location and situation. This is an extremely important and potent move because the rules are such that the questions must always be answered truthfully by the MC. This is one of the moves that really drives the drama forward.
  • Read a Person (sharp) is very much like Read a Sitch but focused on an individual character. It also drives the drama.
  • Open Your Brain (weird) is a weird,as in “psychic-flood-your-brain-with-horror,” version of Read a Sitch. When used, the MC also gets you ask the player questions. This allows the players to help establish facts about the world in a mechanical way.

Those are all really cool and pretty much cover the things I want to happen in Grim World. As with the stats, I want to rename them to be more evocative of the dark fantasy.

  • Act Under Duress (staid) replaces Act Under Fire (name taken from “The Sword, the Crown and the Unspeakable Power).
  • Impel with Violence (grim) replaces Go Aggro.
  • Do Battle (grim) replaces Seize by Force.
  • Seduce or Manipulate (smooth) will remain the same.
  • Read a Scene (sly) replaces Read a Sitch.
  • Read a Person (sly) remains the same.
  • Call Forth Power (mojo) replaces Open Your Brain.

Those are appropriately medieval and fantastical. Now that I’ve got the lazy arm-chair renaming of things done, the next step is to shut up and put some work into making splats.

Thanks for reading.


About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.
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5 Responses to Moves of Heroes Fall

  1. Are you still working on that hack? Seems quite interesting!

    • PK says:

      Yes, I am. The craziness of moving twice in one month killed all my creative momentum. Getting those gears turning again has been challenging. Grim World and the Mass Effect hack are both on my agenda.

      • Great! I am reading Apocalypse World, and I really love it. It took me some tome to really “get” it, but now that I do, I understand its power and simplicity. Like you, though, I am not overly fond of the post-apocalyptic setting, and I would really prefer a more sinister and grittier setting than the one Dungeon World puts forward (I’m reading “A game of thrones” right now, and that is exactly the tone I want).

        Did you hear about that hack : I can’t find anything else about it, but that could be interesting.

        • Jesus, I really got my stuff mixed up. I’m forwarding you info I got from reading your post the first time. I came back to comment back, forgetting this. Really sorry about that!

          All that being said, if you know where I could find a document about that hack, I would be greatly pleased to read it! I may even suggest it to you in a future comment, I guess… 🙂

          • PK says:

            Ha! No problems. Todd has not disseminated his updates to SCUP yet. Aside from my one afternoon with it, I don’t know anything about it. He hasn’t run it at the last few Jank on Demands and I don’t see him outside of those. If you’re looking for a Game of Thrones feel (which I classify as low-magic, low-fantasy) then SCUP is more up your alley, though SCUP tends to have higher magic than ASoIaF. I’m going for a bit more high-fantasy in tone (lots of humanoid races, places of great magical power, wizards, etc.) and definitely higher magic than GRRM’s novels. In fact, my target would be magic like Robert E. Howard’s short stories on Conan the Barbarian (dangerous, powerful, easy to obtain but at high cost, seductive/corrupting) but with the high fantasy elements of Tolkien (orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, ancient places of power, magical forests). Grim World is meant to scratch my itch for character-based stories and role playing wherein the players have great power. Basically, I want it to be how the D&D grognards describe their old campaigns: court politics, great wars, massive betrayals, and all that great stuff of Arthurian legend.

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