I’ve been toying with Psychopaths & Phylacteries off and on over the last few months. I’ve been happy with some of the character creation ideas, but not really with the overall engine.
I realized that because for the social footprint I want P&P to slot into, I like Dungeon World’s engine. So, for the moment, I’m fucking with P&P as a Dungeon World hack. And that’s lead me to seriously ponder what’s core to a *Word game, and what’s just common trappings people dig. Here’s the thing: there are people who have been hacking this system for longer than I have, so maybe I’m missing something.
Player moves: moves are key, definitely, but in a loose way. Player moves can be broken down into “[fictional trigger, player-narrated] [mechanical execution] [hard choices, sometimes] [fictional result, player-narrated or GM-narrated]” (I already wrote about this structure long ago.) This is the Otherkind dice mechanic, well refined.
GM moves: these are necessary to the structure of the current games, but I wonder how well it’ll map to a light-hearted game. And this is where I wonder if I like DW, but it’s not necessarily the right fit.
Some smart people have broken down GM moves, including John Harper and Jonathan Walton (who apparently wrote a bit I can’t quickly find about how the first step into a *W hack is to look at what the GM’s moves should model).
The GM not rolling dice: I don’t see this as inherent to the system, though it’s important that the GM never roll for moves. But then, Adam & Sage saw that too, as they shifted monster damage to die rolls.
Playbooks: Here’s where I may diverge from common thought — playbacks aren’t core to the experience. They’re a (if done well) decently presented package of character creation choices, current and future abilities, system-rewarded motivations, and shit like hit points. That they’re all separate, like the playbooks in AW or the classes in DW, is actually a setting component, not a system one.
Advancement: Advancement may not be inherently core, but it’s important to the P&P concept. And if you remove that, you end up with static characters, so perhaps the fundamental idea is core, just its execution may widely vary.
No rerolling: I’m not sure if this is core. It certainly reinforces flavors that Apocalypse World wants to push, and Dungeon World uses it to strong effect, but I wouldn’t say that this is a required element of the engine. That said, if you put any ability to reroll in, you seriously need to examine all of your math and reward choices.
I feel like maybe I’m missing something else. What do you think?