Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Avatar World: Playbook Moves Brainstorm
This is the extension of the Waypoint Mix released far in advance of Halo 4's soundtrack release. It's my favorite bit of the soundtrack, and it's great. For more Halo greatness, 4 or otherwise, check out October Songaday Day 23 through the Music tab up top.

Musings on Playbooks and Moves and Such

So I recently (as in like 3 days ago) finished watching Avatar the Last Airbender for the first time. I'd previously watched the first two seasons a couple years ago, but didn't have a means to watch the third. Over the past week, I marathon'd the series on Netflix, and damn if I didn't enjoy it. I'm itching for more, but need to find a way to get Korra. I'm also now watching the series again with my brother. The Waterbending Master and The Siege of the North is still my favorite set of episodes - Spirit World, crazy scary spirits on both the good and bad side, sweet visual effects, Avatar State, the amazing Katara/Pakku duel (my favorite bending duel in the show), those three episodes have it all.
Toph is still the best character by the way.

So I've also been working on generating some ideas for the playbook moves. Mostly, this means the Benders, because they're my favorites right now - I'll be watching a lot of the other Martial Arts stuff as I get my hands on it, and hopefully those can help generate major excitement for other playbooks (though I doubt anything can motivate me like Avatar is). I'm also working on getting other Asian-themed RPGs. I have Legends of the Wulin, but want Weapons of the Gods, Feng Shui, and Tenra Bansho Zero (taking some serious will to not use the download of that I saw, but I'm not gonna do that to Andy).
Anywho, here's some stuff of what I have for playbook moves and such.
* Firebending: When you generate or manipulate open flame, roll+Hot. I haven't decided what more goes into this one yet, but it is, of course, the standby of the Firebender. It also may have an exclusivity clause with the other bendings, I haven't decided.
* When you firmly root your stance, you Stand Fast with Hot instead of Solid. A simple replace move, but one that I think is grounded in the show. The lessons Iroh mentions as the basics during the agni kai in the very second episode are the source of the idea here, but I think it's pretty simple. I know that stance and rooting is even more important to Earthbending, but hey, they can both have moves about it.
* Something to model the breath control aspect of Firebending. Don't have a wording here, but I really like how Firebending is based in the other elements as well (air in breath, earth in stance, and even water in redirection).
* Some form of heat manipulation - not simply through open flame, but raising and lowering temperatures. Yeah, lowering as well.
* Lightningbending! Yeah. Maybe. I'm considering making this a form of Firebending, where you can Advance your bending just like you Advance the basic moves. It's an idea I'm working with.
* Inferno/Explosion. Essentially, widening your blast (giving your attacks the Area tag).
* Maybe a kind of Flame Cloak thing.
* And the very obvious but obligatory +1 Hot move.

* Earthbending: When you wield earth, soil, or stone without touching it, roll+Solid. See, this is where the weirdness starts. Anyone using fire is obviously using magic, but the others I have to word so that a dude chucking a pebble isn't triggering it.
* Immovable: You don't move unless you want to. You may Move With Intention using Solid instead, and if something tries to move you against your will, roll+Solid. On a 10+, you don't budge. On a 7-9, you might not budge, but if you don't you take 1 harm (ap) (or whatever damage equivalent I use). I like this quite a bit.
* An earthquake type move. I suppose this could be Area-tagging your bending, but is this really a variant or is it just covered in Earthbending.
* Stoneskin. This is about gathering up stone armor onto yourself or hardening your own skin or some such. It's an armor boost thing.
* Metalbending! Same potential caveat as Lightningbending.
* Sandbending. Same as Metalbending.
* Detection and Senses aka See With Your Feet: Your Observe Carefully rolls can apply to anything directly touching the ground. Additionally, add these questions to the list: stuff stuff stuff.
* I also put Lie Detection on my list, since that's one of Toph's things. I noted that it could very well just be a part of the Observe Carefully questions though.
* Obligatory +1 Solid.

* I don't have a ton of stuff about airbenders yet. The biggest thing is that I want to do a sort of subsystem with the Airbenders about Momentum. If you've read John Harper/Daniel Solis's mostly-abandoned Dead Weight hack of Apocalypse World, something like how they did Flow.
* The obvious Airbending. I think I'd use it as a part of the Momentum system, which means Airbenders may start with two chosen moves. If I do that, I'll probably allow a third and make the general stat total lower or just not allow a move choice at creation.
* Glider-staffs as gear options.
* Soundbending as an enhanced form. I know Air doesn't have an explicit advanced form, so I made some up. Soundbending is one of them! I fee l like Sound is conceptually close to air, in that it's this form of control over something you can't see or feel.
* Lightbending is the other idea I have (with some support from a fella on Story Games, James Fleming I think), and as he pointed out, it has a lot of both conceptual matchup (nonmaterial control) and methodical matchup (momentum and misdirection as the main weapons of the style). I have personal weirdness about not including a Darkbending as well when the world of Avatar is SO focused on Balance of the Elements, but I'll either get over it or figure out what to do with Dark. That said, I kinda like Darkbending...maybe there's a way to put that into something, at least through an eventual supplemental thing...
* When you're being flighty and light on your feet, or using speed or acrobatics to avoid the enemy, Move With Intention using Natural. That is wordy and awkward as hell.But it does the thing I want, which tends to be to make Move With Intention customized to the benders since movement and positioning and stuff is key to the martial styles used by the bending forms.
* Obligatory +1 Natural. Note that not every playbook will have a +1 to their core stat, but I want the benders to have it. If you remember the list at the end of the original opening post, they're essentially the mono-stat classes. The others will do interesting things with several stats, the benders are all about being their stat and exemplifying it. Heck, you probably saw it in my tremulus post - I really dislike just numerical bonuses without a hard attached flavor, but sometimes it's necessary, and sometimes, even just that is what sets someone apart as special.

Everything up til now I've actually had from brainstorming throughout the past couple days. Now I'm just riffing on internal ideas.
* Waterbending: Hands-free water and ice manipulation, roll+Fluid. I'm actually unsure whether or not I should include Ice right off. While it's something Katara can do immediately, as in Episode 1 immediately, she has a reasonable affinity for it with her heritage. I love the combination of ice and water as it allows for the discipline to take on not just he fluid-y movement stuff of water but also ice's offensive and status-inducing abilities. However, it may be easier to emulate other non-Avatar medias as well if I limit it to just Water at first, and that may even help support non-polar Avatar waterbenders, such as the dudes in The Swamp.
* And to confront that issue, potentially Icebending.
* Naturebending! This applies to plants, despite the broadness of the word nature. It's about wielding the water in the plants to move them and stuff, and may also be capable of accelerating their growth. It's the hallmark of the Swamp Waterbenders.
* There's an obvious piece in a Tidal Wave-like power. It would probably just be an Area version of Waterbending though.
* Bloodbending has presented an interesting challenge. It's a really cool idea and is perfect for a move, except that it's either way too strong or way too weak, based upon the existence of a moon restriction. If it can only be used on a full moon, that's pretty weak for a move. However, if you can use it any time, this is a move that trivializes the game. In the show, it was Katara's hatred of the evil way that Hama wielded it that kept her from overusing it, only when she was feeling particularly dark.  Players tend to not have that dilemma - they usually just go ahead with the puppetteering. The power eliminates every threat completely and inescapably. Maybe just the need to make a move to do it will dissuade the players, but I'm worried about this one, which sucks because it's a really interesting power.
* Maybe something about being able to pull water from anywhere, like Hama does and then is never used again? I mean, it seems way useful, even if there isn't THAT much water there. Or maybe something about being able to draw water from people if you do a bit of harm to them or something, make it a tradeoff. Man, I'm getting a hell of a lot more mileage out of Hama than I ever got out of Pakku, he wasn't very creative at all.
* Something special about Move With Intention. I don't know what, but something.
* Some way of customizing or modifying a different basic move. They can specialize in Move With Intention thanks to their main stat being Fluid, or they can do unique things with other non-Fluid moves. I DON'T want this to just be a use-different-stat one though.

They're my main thoughts. Here's a couple random things I have in my mind.

* The Monk having a move about Spirit Contact that modifies Meditate. I can definitely see this taking inspiration from Monsterhearts's Beyond The Veil move, as well as any Psychic Maelstrom powers, especially Augury.
* The Monk will also likely have some kind of Timeless Body-like move, freeing them from food, drink, and sleep.
* Several of the playbooks are candidates for a move about making it through a situation without dishonoring yourself where doing so would be normal. The Samurai, the Aristocrat, even the Monk have potential here. Alternatively, and this is just a dawning idea that definitely could go nowhere, Honor as the replacement for Hx as a relationship stat of some kind. Will require a lot more thought, but that's an idea.
* I'm realizing a strange case in lying. Lying is definitely dishonorable, but is also definitely a part of the Speak With Honor move rather than Without. I'm thinking now that it's, in general, going to be Dishonorable (since it's less about getting them to agree to something and more about forcing them into doing something through not knowing better. It's an excuse, but I think I can make that work, plus hey, it fits in Fiction), but the Aristocrat may have a move that transfers lying into the Natural stat. It's just second-nature for them to be duplicitous.
* The Ninja definitely gets sneaky moves, several specialty gear options, and maybe even some Ninjitsu magics. That or his ninjitsu is just taking a Bending move from a different playbook.
* The Samurai without a doubt has a Katana, a Wakizashi, and big armor as gear.
* I feel unjustifiably compelled to figure out the Samurai as a 2-stat-focus class, since he's the only 3-stat-focus one. But every time I think about it, he becomes Hot/Solid, and I really want him to be Natural as well, since I think the focus on just being a physical warrior is way less interesting and him being all honorable is definitely a Samurai thing.
* On the original thoughts, I'd assigned the Ninja as Fluid/Keen, but this was mostly to avoid a niche-overlap with the Martial Artist who's Fluid/Hot. However, since it seems the Martial Artist was fraught with niche-overlaps anyway and was axed, the Ninja is now free to be Fluid/Hot.
* The Ninja could have a pretty sweet sneak attack type action that modifies Commit Open Violence or is a new move with a lot of similarities to COV.

Ehh, despite the rational sense that The Scholar makes, I can't really make it stick all that great in my head, especially with the Monk around too. Anyone object if I just axe that one for now?

If I do that, I definitely have a lack of Solid playbooks, with a dedicated one and a guy splitting his attention three ways. Maybe I can wave this off as Stand Fast is an important move for EVERYONE, but honestly, I'm feeling a bit weird about that. We'll see what I do about that - if I can come up with a better playbook to add in to replace Martial Artists and Scholars, maybe THAT can be Solid. All I really want is one of the playbooks to have Solid as one of two in addition to the current setup.

So, that's a pretty good set of stuff to talk about.

What kind of playbook moves do YOU think are iconic of these archetypes? Is the Scholar's removal acceptable and sensible to you? What do you think of the move ideas already presented?

End Recording,

October Songaday: Day 31 (Oh Possum - Under Porches, Beds, and Stairs)

I hope this embed works. Oh Possum has just about no Youtube presence, and I had my heart set on using them today.
EDIT: Okay, the embed doesn't work how I want it to. Just click the play buttom there, press the play button on the page it brings you to and enjoy the song. Sorry.
A band operating out of Des Moines, Oh Possum seems to be adamroberthauG along with others, who've done a decent couple albums. Their one core album is The Eerie Beat Visual, a great album with a strange but fascinating sound. It's great. You can listen to the whole thing on adamroberthauG's website, in the links.
I love the sound, and I think it's hugely thematic to post on Halloween. Enjoy, and have an eerie night.

Oh Possum on MySpace
The Eerie Beat Visual, full album

And now I want to thank you all for supporting me through this Songaday. It's been a ton of fun, and while in general you've been a silent mass, the viewcount is telling me (or I hope it's telling me) that you've all been enjoying it too. I look forward to the next round. I don't know when it will be, but I'm already excited.
In fact, I'm excited enough that I'm going to start a new feature how on the blog! Every Sunday, I'm going to do a Songaday-style post to keep sharing even more music. Every post will still have a song, and now every Sunday will as well. I hope that even if you only came by for a daily dose of music you'll come on back to check it out!

Thanks again, and content will continue as normal now.
End Recording,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Songaday: Day 30 (Assassin's Creed Revelations - The Wounded Eagle)

Jesper Kyd's Assassin's Creed series has some of the best music in video games. It's consistently strong and flavorful, actively enhancing the gameplay experience. Despite Ubisoft's somewhat iffy implementation of the music in the later games, it makes for excellent album listening. In my opinion, the AC2 soundtrack is the strongest - ACR has more links simply because ACR has a larger soundtrack. AC2 is more concise, but more consistently wonderful.
I'm worried about the loss of Kyd on ACIII, but I'm willing to trust Balfe for now. The game comes out today, so that's why today gets this. Enjoy the ton of links - I have homework and then studying to do for an exam Wednesday, and my Oriental 3.5 game, so I hope I have time to actually play it today. I'm so excited for it.
I like The Wounded Eagle because it uses a lot of the brighter styles I remember from AC2 that were often lost on the ACB and ACR soundtracks. It's a touch short, but that's okay.

I've done the AC2 soundtrack several times before, on both September Songaday and on blog posts. As such, I chose to not use it and use a different thing for the embed, but check out the links.

AC1 - City of Jerusalem
AC1 - Flight Through Jerusalem
AC1 - Access the Animus
AC1 - Meditation of the Assassin

AC2 - Earth
AC2 - Venice Rooftops
AC2 - Ezio's Family
Venice Rooftops/Ezio's Family Mashup (it's super good)
AC2 - Florence Tarantella
AC2 - Venice Fight
AC2 - Flight Over Venice 1
AC2 - Dreams of Venice
AC2 - Venice Combat Low
AC2 - Venice Escape
AC2 - The Animus 2.0
AC2 - Flight Over Venice 2
AC2 - Venice Combat
AC2 - Wetlands Combat

ACB - Master Assassin
ACB - City of Rome
ACB - Flags of Rome
ACB - Borgia Tower
ACB - Echoes of the Roman Ruins
ACB - Battle in Spain
ACB - Desmond Miles
ACB - VR Room
ACB - Apple Chamber

ACR - Assassin's Creed Theme
ACR - Sailing to Constantinople
ACR - Welcome to Kostantiniyye
ACR - The Crossroads of the World
ACR - Ambush
ACR - Byzantium
ACR - Nova Roma
ACR - Templar Occupation
ACR - On the Attack
ACR - Arrocco
ACR - Fight or Flight
ACR - Galata Tower
ACR - Istanbul
ACR - Cappadocia
ACR - Constantinopolis
ACR - Crossed Swords
ACR - The Library
ACR - Desmond Segment Club Music (this one isn't actually on the soundtrack, but can be found in the Desmond Segments. It's way sad that it didn't make it to the soundtrack)

One more day.

End Recording,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Apocalypse World Actual Play: Session 2
Fol Chen is detailed in October Songaday Day13 (use the music tab at the top of the page for easy access!), and this is a song I was going to link but decided to save for here. A lot of Fol Chen's lyrics have a distinct post-apoc leaning to them (with the entire band concept being from an alternate world), and this one, In Ruins, is the most explicit about it. The video has some great imagery, and the song is really good! Maybe a bit upbeat in tone for Apocalypse World, but hey, even Apocalypse World has nice days.


Today's game features:
Kris as Life the Maestro D',
Luke as Bones the Gunlugger,
Kenny as Hide the Skinner,
and Ego/Max as MC.

We left off with Life making calls and such and Bones and Hide prepping to invade Rolfball's home and retrieving something for Life that Rolfball is holding. We started with Bones and Hide, with the two of them acing all sneaky-like outside Rolfball's mansion. Rolfball's mansion is: "The west wing is entirely blown out, and the guards are obviously watching it. Bones Reads a Sitch to find the best way in and finds that it's the windows on the east side if you come through the wilderness. Watch out for all the snipers and the mounted machine gun out front, and try not to get caught on the barbed wire! And them heading off is where we end."
Because I forgot we already did, Bones did another Read A Sitch, pulling off his scope from his rifle and usign it like a single binocular, or I guss like a telescope. He found the way in, and knew to watch out for the sniper up in the tower extending up from the house. They snuck around to the side window, using Act Under Fire to not be seen, and got through just fine! They stealthed into the house to find an office, a pretty posh-looking place, but it's covered in dust. There's a desk, and some shelves with some old probably-unreadable books, and two doors, on the map I doodled there was one on the bottom wall and one on the right wall. Bones opened his mind to the psychic maelstrom to try and find the correct direction to the necklace they were hunting (a large blue diamond one!). He kinda got it, looking through his scope again, this time channeling his mind through it, using it to narrow his perceptions to a small window and opening that window to the universe, and he pointed himself out the bottom door. They went out the bottom one, and walked through the hall until they found a door to the side and ducked into it.
Jump to Life. Life is back at her club (dubbed The Erotican by Luke, spinning off the Vatican. It's blasphemous, it's entertaining, it implies a reverence for the sensual pleasures, it's perfect), mostly just doing general bookkeeping and stuff for the place, having made her calls about Luke's girl last time. She's going about her business when Lamprey, her best regular and a government-type (working under Rolfball, though not particularly loyal, though also not particularly ambitious right now). He's a big Russian, and a real polite fella, who came to ask Life to look into a local issue. There's been rumors going around about this guy named Rex out in the wilderness who's been pulling people together and might be planning something. Knowing about all her connections, he asks her to look into it and figure out what exactly this Rex guy is up to and who he is. Lamprey doesn't have a location, but Life accepts. But how's she gonna fins him? She goes back to her office and locks the doors, turns out the lights, strips, and takes a special cocktail of drugs to ease her mind open into the psychcic maelstrom. Her efforts are met with some success, and she gets this hazy vision of a shadow-y figure interacting with some big black bikers and striding into their camp - Life recognizes the bikers as Nuzulu tribe members. She comes out of the trance and begins to get ready to head out to the Nuzulu tribe's camp (they're nomads), because she knows how to find THESE guys.
Back in the mansion, Bones and Hide tucked inside the room to find a bathroom. This place is really disheveled and dirty, but more noticeably, is awful bloody, though most of it's dry. In the bathtub, filled with ice water, is a body. They're holding the place down and I think one of them made a Read a Sitch roll to try to figure out stuff, but blew the roll, and I revealed that the guy in the tub wasn't actually dead and while they weren't paying attention, his eyes snapped open and he groaned, grabbing for his shotgun and Bones Went Aggro to blow the guy's head to smithereens. He aced the roll, spraying the tiles with a fine mist of crimson droplets, his magnum smoking in his hand. It's important to remember that Bones was given a no-kill instruction on this mission from Life, and he definitely just broke it. The guards a few rooms over heard the gunshot though, and started rushing over. Bones decided to Open His Brain again to try to figure out what to do, but blew it. His punishment? Well, he dropped right unconscious! Poor Hide is now in a room with an obviously dead man, an unconscious partner, and guards stomping down the hall to him. We talked for a few about how maybe he'd try to disguise Bones's body as dead and hide himself, and made the Act Under Fire, but was only able to hide Bones's body. When the guards opened the door though, they were met with a surprise; Hide carving up the dead one, skinning it right there. Hide turned the situation into using Artful and Graceful, with the enemy guards as the audience. As a Hot expert, Hide won the roll and the guards all tossed down their shotguns to him ("gifts") in fear of this grisly display of horrible beauty. They ran off then, and probably not to their posts. With the threat gone, Hide turned to Bones's situation - he couldn't wake up the psychcicly unconscious man. He made a Read a Sitch roll and found what was valuable to him - some medical supplies still in the old cabinets. Using some tubing and an opening he made himself, he injected the med cocktail he made into Bones with an Act Under Fire roll, waking him up but dealing 1 harm in the process from crazy drugging and arm slashes. Bones grabbed the three shotguns and they left the bathroom. As a side note, Hide still had 1-barter worth of meds left.
Life is now at the top of the cliff road that winds down to the tribe in the valley. She has Vincent with her, and is in a gothic-themed covered wagon, with horses pulling it - she doesn't have a vehicle. Vehicles are rare - Nuzulu has a pretty decent monopoly on them. She's stopped at the top by a pair of bikers, screeching their motorcycles's tires as they block the road. These Hounds pretty much interrogate her as to why she's here, but eventually they relent and allow her down to see Warlord Usimog, as long as they turn over their guns for now. They agree and are escorted down. Pretty sure rolling happened here, but it was a while ago, sorry.
Back at the house, Bones and Hide go back to where they were before in the office, since that other hallway they now know leads to the main room, which surely is filled with guards. They run along through the other door and move along the hallway to find the staircase to the second floor, which takes them to a landing with a door on the right and left walls and two on the bottom wall (they came in from the top) with a ladder on the left wall. They set up a tripwire trap with a couple shotguns at the stairwell before Bones tries AGAIN to open his mind, again not succeeding - but he used his scope again, so no unconsciousness. He didn't get anything, but those other guards must have alerted the rest of the force, and people are coming again - they also hear the sound of the guard in the tower up the ladder there! Hide tries to trap the guard up there by slicing up the ladder, and makes an Act Under Fire roll, succeeding partially. He hacks up enough of the ladder, but now the guard is staring down the hole shooting with his rifle! Hide takes harm, and Bones responds by chucking a grenade up top with the sniper, Going Aggro. He mostly gets it, but has to drain himself of grenades to do it. The explosion is very noticeable; both stealth and pacifism are toast. Hide and Bones duck into the left and right rooms to look for the necklace. Hide, on the right, comes out into the top of the utterly destroyed wing, in plain view of the ground soldiers, and ducks back in. Bones, on the left, finds a mostly barren room. They're moving into the bottom-left room when soldiers come up the stairs, but the trap triggers and keeps them at bay a little longer.
Life is confronted with Usimog, and they have conversation. Apparently, Life was the one who introduced Usimog to one of his many wives (the only white one, in fact), so they're on speaking terms. She tries to bargain with him for info on Rex. It seems Rex has partnered with the Nuzulu tribe in their endeavors, and are working together. Life is pretty sure these guys are gearing up for an offensive, but isn't sure and it isn't explicitly said. In the end, a Manipulate roll becomes a Seduce roll, with her "promising" (it was a 10+) him oral sex for a location and a piece of advanced tech to present as a gift, because Rex loves anything sufficiently advanced. Rex is based out of an old salvage yard, and they have a spare nitrous injector for one of their vehicles that Life can take. She promises to come back for that blowjob and is on her way with Vincent, getting their weapons back.
Bones and Hide are in a lush bedroom, all sorts of nice things around. They start digging around, and Hide decides it's his turn to Open His Brain, but I'm said to say I don't remember how he did it. I think he may have borrowed Bones's scope to try it out. He succeeded though, and found his way to the necklace inside a drawer. They start to head back out of the place, Bones shooting the hall and stairwell clear, and they're running and are at the office room again, across from the window. Guards from the bottom door are aiming with their machine guns, and Bones Acts Under Fire to make a run for it, and make it, vaulting out the window. Hide is right behind him, making the same roll, and only partially succeeding. No bullets, but he tripped and is now behind the desk. Bones provides covering fire with an Act Under Fire while Hide makes a diving roll out the window, making it and the two of them escaping into the woods, leaving a blasted mansion full of bodies and bullets behind them.
Life is riding into the scrap-yard, and is moving the wagon along as bunch of figures encircle her and Vincent. She calls out that she's here to see Rex, and a figure, silhouetted agains the sun, climbs over the top of the trash heap declaring "I'M Rex. You were looking for me?" as the session ended.

All in all, it was a ton of fun. I had a hard time with Life being separated from the others the whole time, and Kris also felt that it was a bit weird for his idea of Life to be venturing out of the Erotican herself, but a reactive-only sit-around character is kinda lame, and he knows that. Bones' and Hide's adventure was awesome, and they're going to have a LOT to answer for when they meet up with Life. Why is the necklace significant? Who is Rex? Will Life survive the scrap-yard? When will the two groups reunite? Will Daniel ever fucking show up to a session again? The answers to these and more in the next Actual Play of Apocalypse World! (which I already can do and just have to write it - I can already tell you, the answer to that last one was "no")
It's great stuff. I felt a lot more relaxed running it this time through, and I think it showed a bit. I had a lot of fun, and so did the players. Especially exciting for me was all the Brain-Opening! I fucking LOVE that move, and its variants in the other Apocalypse-Powered games. Whenever I play, I Gaze Into The Abyss, Spout Lore, and Open My Brain like crazy. They seemed to find it really cool as well, which I'm glad about.
I actually invented the Rex thing on the spot, and having already played the next session, he's my favorite. I wrote up his front a few hours before Session 3, and will post it up soon. I'm so psyched for this faction - Toyota and Usimog and Rolfball are cool, but damn if Rex isn't the best thing around for me - he has a bit of a sci-fi element, so that helps I guess.

See you next session!
End Recording,

October Songaday: Day 29 (Deadlight - Main Theme*)

First off, I wanted to thank my readers. Last month, I got 1,222 views on this blog. This month, I didn't just break that. No, this month, thanks to you all, I've gotten over 2,000 views, and it's still growing. I literally couldn't do this without you, and I'm hoping this is an indicator that you've enjoyed this round of Songaday. Anyway, on to the music!

There's an asterisk there because I don't WANT to use the Main Theme. For some reason, this soundtrack is not on Youtube in force. The main theme is pretty much the only thing, which is okay because the Main Theme is really nice, but it's not my favorite piece of the soundtrack. The ones I'm really loving are Cannabalt, Credits, and Alternate Credits, but the whole thing is really good.
I actually know pretty much nothing about the game other than that my bro seems to like it.

Deadlight Site
I'm sorry, I WISH I had more song links for you. I also can't think of another album/soundtrack that really sounds like this. I know it's a cop-out, but I've got nothing. Go buy the game and get the soundtrack - you won't regret it.

End Recording,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Songaday: Day 28 (Metroid Prime 2 Echoes - Title Screen)

I kinda love the Metroid Prime series with a passion. Trilogy still holds a place as my 2nd Favorite Game Overall (behind Mass Effect 2 now). I used a Metroid Prime 1 song last time through, so I decided not to use another. I have a bunch of links I could use, but that'll come later. Sorry again.

Metroid Prime
MP1 - Title
MP1 - Menu Select
MP1 - Prologue
MP1 - Vs. Parasite Queen
MP1 - Planet Tallon IV
MP1 - Ancient Chozo Ruins
MP1 - Vs. Hive Totem
MP1 - Chozo Ruins
MP1 - Vs. Flaaghra
MP1 - Lava Caverns (Burning Trail)
MP1 - Lava Caverns
MP1 - Ice Valley (this is the main Phendrana Drifts music, and is incredible)
MP1 - Vs. Space Pirates
MP1 - Tallon Overworld
MP1 - Vs. Thardus
MP1 - Ice Valley (Phendrana Deep Lake Area)
MP1 - Downed Frigate Orpheon
MP1 - Artifact Shrine
MP1 - Vs. Meta Ridley
MP1 - Vs. Metroid Prime (Spider)
MP1 - Vs. Metroid Prime (Head)
MP1 - Credits
MP2 - Vs. GFed Trooper
MP2 - Luminoth (Temple Grounds)
MP2 - Vs. Ing
MP2 - Luminoth Energy Controller
MP2 - Vs. Space Pirates
MP2 - Vs. Dark Samus
MP2 - Vs. Amorbis
MP2 - Torvus Bog
MP2 - Submerged Temple (funny note - I don't like the Maridia theme, but I love remixes of it like Downed Frigate and this one, which is my absolute favorite)
MP2 - Vs. Chykka Larva
MP2 - Vs. Adult Chykka
MP2 - Sancutary
MP2 - Dynamo Core
MP2 - Vs. Quadraxis
MP2 - Vs. Emperor Ing 1
MP2 - Vs. Emperor Ing 2
MP2 - Escape Theme
MP2 - Credits
MP2 - Multiplayer - Hunters
MP2 - Multiplayer - Dark Echoes (I love this one)
MP3 - Title
MP3 - Space Pirate Battle Theme
MP3 - Meeting Rundas
MP3 - Meeting Dark Samus
MP3 - Rundas
MP3 - Skytown
MP3 - Bryyo (Cliffside)
MP3 - Gandrayda
MP3 - Omega Ridley
MP3 - Dark Samus
MP3 - Credits

EDIT: There you go. That is a TON of links. I seriously love this series, and Kenji Yamamoto has done an unbelievable job with the soundtracks. I could link to remix projects and stuff, but I'd never finish, so I'll leave it here. Enjoy!

End Recording,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Songaday: Day 27 (The Dark Knight Rises - Rise)

Great movie, as I said when I reviewed it. Still a Batman Begins fan myself, but again, I agree on the superior craftsmanship of the 2nd and 3rd films, I just happen to prefer BB's tone and style. Plus I love Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow so much.
Anyway, this is a good song. It's got some length, it has action, it has slow, it has the series motif. Wish it had Bane's chanting theme, then it would have everything to make a perfect representative for the film. Oh well, close enough.

The Dark Knight Rises
Hans Zimmer
Gotham's Reckoning (this was the original idea for the embed, but Rise has more representative elements)
The Fire Rises
Fear Will Find You
Imagine the Fire
Risen From Darkness

I'm busy watching the last season of Avatar: The Last Airbender and want to get back to it, and I can't do the links very well with it on. I'll be filling in all the missing link days over the weekend for sure.
EDIT: Missing links done!
End Recording,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Avatar World: Some Thoughts
Afro-Celt is good, right? Yeah.  Yeah, it is. Moving on.
Less design work, more general thoughts. This is what I've been mulling over and thinking about with regard to the game, but these thoughts aren't really game design in and of themselves, more ideas. I'll just go on ahead with it.

Avatar with the Giant Blue People: I''m going to just say right out that I will NEVER reference this movie when I just say Avatar. When I just say Avatar, I mean AtLAB, I'll denote the James Cameron movie one with its own notation or something. Just sayin' it and saving myself a lot of clarification.

Master and Apprentices: From what I understand, the master-apprentice relationship is absolutely a common thing in the stories I'm drawing on. Even Avatar is, for two and a half seasons, was about Aang finding masters so he could fulfill his destiny and take down the Fire Lord. In the end, of course, his masters aren't exactly traditional, in friends of his, but the idea is masters are important. Heck, we have (from the elemental powers side of the source medias) Codex Alera, which is CONSTANTLY masters/apprentices before Book 6, and Fullmetal Alchemist keeps the concept of masters alive. On the other side, my immediate first thought is Karate Kid, but I know there's a lot.
However, on that note, characters START wicked strong in ANY Apocalypse-Powered game, even Dungeon World which has levels (note: I will not have levels. Both because I prefer it without and because oh my god I don't have enough ideas to make THAT many moves per playbook). That means that in Avatar World (which I notice now ALSO has an abbreviation of AW - note that when I abbreviate it's gonna be Apocalypse World), you're never really going to still be with a master. You're awesome, and maybe you interact with your old master, but you won't be low enough to still work with them in an apprentice capacity.
So how do we get the dynamic? Well, several possibilities.
1) Apprentices are not a thing. Laaaaame.
2) An Apprentice playbook. This is most problematic because you could be an apprentice of just about anything - all the moves would be about being an apprentice, not about being something and getting moves from your specialty are all from "Take Move From Another Playbook" advancements, of which they'd have more than usual. Also it would required me to actually write a whole additional playbook.
3) You're the Master side of the apprenticeship! It'd be a move a la Followers/Pack Alpha/The Queen. You'd essentially have an NPC under your wing. I could totally use that some.
Those are the sets I can think of. Not sure which I like most - number 3 probably. Gotta do some real thinking about this.

The Avatar: Oh yeah. He's kind of a big deal. I just realized I didn't actually EXPLAIN bending in the first post, but now I'm going to say that I'm NOT going to explain any of the Avatar The Last Airbender things until I actually write game text. If you're here, I assume you're familiar. If not and you're confused, ask for any clarifications and I'll give 'em to the best of my ability, or just google it.
Back to The Avatar. Well,  like above, you don't play the wimpy little still-learning Avatar, you play the peace-keeping nuclear bomb Avatar. Wham. Suddenly, you're WAY over the power of everyone else, and your innate concept steals the spotlight constantly. The only way you get ANY spotlight time in a game like AtLAB is to interact with the Avatar, and the only way to get it consistently is to be his traveling companion, student, or helper.
So obviously, you don't play the Avatar. You can try if you want, but you really need to be ready for the implications.
Of course, there IS another way to play the Avatar: maybe you play the Avatar who isn't actually that tough. Maybe you play a regular playbook, maybe even a non-bender playbook, and you just keep taking playbook moves from the benders - their dedicated moves that give the Avatar their elements (depending on the path I take with those moves, they're almost definitely gonna have exclusivity clauses about not having multiple of them in order to avoid accidently becoming the Avatar - this would be a twist of that restriction).
So, in summary, the Avatar is not present by default and cannot be built with the standard rules, but can be included with either small or large drifting depending on your purpose. They are, on the other hand, entirely valid as an NPC to interact with from time to time, especially if in peacetime or if the Avatar is being sought for knowledge. If there's any exceptions to "Characters would be Masters, not Apprentices", it's if you're being taught by the Avatar.

Additional Playbook Concepts:
Wanderer (this feels like a concept attached to any other playbook, not it's own thing. It is, however, a significant archetype, so I dunno. Not so sure on it.)
Geisha (this is a distinctly non-Avatar one, but it's a common piece in the source medias, and could easily parallel the Skinner. Plus, another Natural-based playbook could help. Could easily be a subset of the Aristocrat though.)

Hx, Bonds, Strings, Trust: Of course, the traditional replacement of Hx in hacks. The idea I have in my mind is sort of a combination of Strings and Trust/Hx (which are quite close) in a system of Debts. Owing Debts to people, and honoring those or breaking them, seems significant. Perhaps Debts and Oaths, actually - Debts for things you owe, oaths for things you've promised to do. Broken Oaths become Debts. I dunno, I'm tossing stuff around, but this is the direction I'm going.

Sex Moves: Nope. Nope. Nope. Not sex moves. Need to come up with something significantly worthy of being a special type of move of everyone, but I'm not interested in fostering the sexual side of things. Yes there's quite a bit of that in the source media, but it's not enough to be a move unique to everyone and it's not an appropriate thing for Avatar.
But what to replace it with? Not a clue.
Coming back after a bit. Could this be a solution to Masters/Apprentices? Like I said, that idea is something that anyone can take advatange of, so maybe it's a good idea. It would make something similar to every archetype's training though. We'll see, it's a decent idea to explore. "When you train with a master,..."

Terminology Rephrases: There's some phrases that go with Apocalypse World that are sometimes changed. The MC is a big one. Playbooks are sometimes changed. The principles are usually reworded (though not often enough rethought).  I'm ready to change playbooks - I've been thinking Disciplines or something. I'd like to change the MC - I personally think that Mc should really stay in AW, it makes it special. MC doesn't make much sense in Avatar World. Not sure what it will be instead. Saw Sage in Legends of the Wulin, kinda like that, but while Sage is great for an asian game, it may not be perfect for an Avatar game specifically.

Themes of the Game versus the Shows: This one was motivated by my thread on Story-Games collecting some rudimentary input. This topic was approached by Jonathan Walton (link to his blog, Corvid Sun), who himself has spent multiple years attempting to build an Avatar and now Korra-based game, which in its current state is even a rough Apocalypse World modification! Sound familiar. Anyway, he brought up that Avatar, as a show, isn't really ABOUT the bending and the kung-fu but is instead about the character arcs and self-discovery and dealing with the consequences of actions, both yours and others's. His point was that the game would have to place its focus on those rather than the flashy bits in order to replicate a game that emulates or feels like the shows. After a little thought, I decided that that's NOT what I'm trying to do here. What I'm trying to do isn't model the show, but to use the show's basic premises and setting pieces to create a world of Supernatural Martial Arts. That's kinda why I'm bringing in other media if I can, it keeps it from being Avatar: The Game and instead World of Supernatural Martial Arts, which, while less emotionally fulfilling, is cool and fun and the kind of thing both I and (I believe) my group is looking for. Avatar is a springboard, but this is about using Avatar's pieces to tell other stories rather than using Avatar's ideas to tell the types of stories the show did.
So this came up with one specific clarification in my mind: I am doing this to build a fun, over-the-top action game, rather than an introspective and emotionally ripe game, though I hope to make those still possible within the structure at least.

Martial Artist's Genericness: This one was motivated by my thread on Story-Games collecting some rudimentary input. Joe McGuffin brought this one up. Each of the playbooks I have estasblished have pretty clear flavors and social roles within the society, even from just being a name, save for the benders and the Martial Artist. The Benders very well may integrate - it is unlikely that the final product will call itself Avatar World since I'm planning to genericize it a bit. Of course, maybe they remain unintegrated without clear social cues - obviously they don't exist in real societies, without Avatar as a touchstone the main connotations they have are as magicians. But the Martial Artist...this isn't a fake idea. It's just a really generic one. As Joe pointed out, the name can apply to pretty much any of the classes already there and lacks its own unique sense of identity.
Now, I can see two main possible ways this could be resolved. First, and simplest, the renaming of the class to something that more directly deals with the intended concept, which is the unarmed fighter - the D&D monk, essentially. The question is, though, is that even enough of an archetype to have a playbook? What DEFINES that archetype? Most importantly, it's the combination of monkhood and physical prowess using nonstandard weapons or no weapons at all. Look at D&D, and throw in some kind of ki powers. This is the combination, basically, of a bender type plus the Monk playbook. I'm definitely starting to think it's entirely unnecessary.

Speak Without Honor, Commit Open Violence: No one mentioned this, but I'm still doubting this relationship. I've come to the decision that I CAN'T eliminate Commit Open Violence. A move that directly allows an attack without an underlying reason is important, because once conflict starts those reasons seem to vanish. Most conflicts I've seen so far start with Speak With or Without Honor, but once conflict starts it's often just about defeating the opponent, and reasons come back at the end. Unfortunately, to me this sounds like going into "combat mode" and losing the consistent reasoning and just doing a fight is far less interesting. Another unfortunate thing that requires a Commit Open Violence is some characters, what they want really IS to kill the opponent. They've ulterior  motives, but not ones fulfillable by diplomacy or intimidation; Zuko Commits Open Violence against Aang all the time because he wants the return of his honor. That's something that he wants and is the source of the conflict, but Aang can't give it to him, only his capture or death will.
I'm also realizing that I'm probably going to have to change it to Act Without Honor. Sad, but probably necessary. Maybe I can name the move Speak Without Honor but word the description for acting as well.
The real way I think I can achieve having Commit Open Violence do what I want is to write a new move rather than trying to transfer Seize By Force. Even SBY is about TAKING something (and I think that leads to a lot of confusion on how to use it as the Violence move), and what I really need is for COV to be about explicit attack - when what you want is something the other person can fulfill and you're trying to get then to give or do that, you want Speak/Act Without Honor.

Advanced Bending: So, bending comes in four+one forms: air, fire, earth, water, plus straight energy for an amped-up Avatar. Of those four bending forms, we see some other substance-manipulations that become curiosities, and they're worded as pure or advanced forms of the four bending disciplines. Lightningbending is a pure expression of firebending. Metalbending is an enhanced form of earthbending, and sandbending is a pretty big variant as well. Swamp/naturebending is advanced waterbending, as is bloodbending, though icebending is just a different face of normal waterbending. Airbending has...well, it doesn't. In the course of the shows, there ISN'T an advanced discipline for airbending. That would kinda make the other bending forms more interesting as playbooks, since I love expanding bending like that. And so, I think I found my advanced airbending, and hopefully it works, since I think it's one of the few things still left very uncontrolled: sound. Soundbending feels like something you could do with airbending, especially since the both of them are about manipulating something you can't see or touch but is all around us.

Playbook Moves: Already starting the mass brainstorm of moves. Watching the show helps, but for some I have better ideas than others. My Earth choices seem decent, I'm excited by my Fire choices, I'm confident in my ability to write some Waterbender choices, and I have a Momentum sub-system thing in mind for Airbenders that I'm excited to write. Wait, I really should be ekjxcited about the nonbenders too, but I can't bring myself to be as thrilled about them as I am about crazy bending powers. They just seem more boring to me, and I need to break that in order to make this work. More source medias would help, and I'm currently collecting titles (and would love even more suggestions).

And here's some interesting things I noticed while watching Avatar again. Some are relevant; some are not particularly.
* A sense of wonder with bending and the world. The world is mystical and not fully understood. It's alive and has a mind of its own through the Avatars and the spirits. A wonder with the world is a pretty common trait for fantastical settings, but it's still important.
* Hybridized animals. I love them. I love them so much. They are a glorious piece of concept art-age, and an amazingly simple idea for a great set of fantasy world monsters. D&D may have a bit of a monopoly on the Owlbear, but the world just wasn't complete until the phrase "It's a platypus-bear!" was uttered.
* The spirits are mighty and terrifying, and are capable of taking mortal form, but are aspects of the world. They can be KILLED. They are an integral and important part of both the world and the story of the show, and I want to be able to integrate the spirits into the game somehow. I don't know how - most likely through some playbook (probably the Monk) having a move that adds or modifies the Meditate move.
* The interconnectedness of Firebending - staying rooted to the Earth, controlling the breathing of Air, etc. It helps that I just saw Iroh teaching Zuko about redirecting lightning and the idea that ideas can be transferred between disciplines, even if actual control of the elements is different.
* Oh my god Toph's voice actress is GREAT
* Huh. Airbending is kind of the least explained bending form, despite the main character using it, since all the others get explained very directly to Aang in the training episodes (and Fire comes early through Zuko as well), but other than a couple of flashbacks we get very little direct instruction on Airbending theory. Maybe Korra has some though, I haven't seen ANY Korra.
* Wow I don't remember enjoying Toph's character this much. Holy cow.

There, that's all I have for the past couple days I guess. Totally check out the thread on Story Games or come and comment here or something, I thrive on feedback and really do want to make the best thing I can out of this.
Now it's time to watch some more Avatar before my Apocalypse World game (after which I will be THREE Actual Plays behind on that).
Might see you guys in a little bit if I post up the third Front that came out last time, otherwise see you at midnight for the next Songaday.
End Recording,

October Songaday: Day 26 (Pokeremixstudio - Chamipon Cynthia Battle)

EDIT: Oh my god, I just realized now (on the 28th) that I labeled this as the 27th day, not the 26th day. My bad. Apparently I can't keep my days straight even when I post daily.
Pokeremixstudio is a youtube remixer I actually listen to. A lot of Youtube VG Remix is total crap, but PRS has some pretty great pieces. This was both the first I heard, and my favorite, mostly because I already love Cynthia's theme in D/P/Pt. He's got a bunch of great stuff, and his style has definitely evolved and matured over the course of his uploads. By a LOT.

Tonight was GONNA be Synthquest Blue by Pedro Macedo Camacho (the Audiosurf guy) but there's no good youtube videos for it.

Went through his uploads from the oldest to the newest, so that's the order of these - stuff on the bottom of the link pile is the newest/highest quality. Everything is still good enough to warrant a spot here though, so don't just ignore the old stuff.
Also, if you see certain songs appear multiple times, he does some 2nd takes on the same base song.
Shoal Cave (RSE) Remix
Gym Leader (RBY) Remix
Game Corner (GSC) Remix
Legendary Pokemon (RSE) Remix
Lighthouse (GSC) Remix
Burned Lighthouse (GSC) Remix
Arceus Battle (DPPt) Remix
Mt Chimney/Sky Pillar (RSE) Remix
Route 111 (RSE) Remix
Primal Dialga (PMD2) Remix (this one is among his best ones)
Giratina Battle (DPPt) Remix
For timeline reference, this is when he did the embedded song
Sky Tower (PMD) Remix
Dragon's Den (GSC) Remix
Legendary Pokemon (RSE) Remix
Team Rocket Hideout (GSC) Remix
Temporal Tower (PMD2) Remix
Deoxys Battle (FrLg) Remix
Game Corner (GSC) Remix (this is also a huge favorite of mine)
Lavender Town (RBY) Remix
Abandoned Ship (RSE) Remix
Distortion World (Pt) Remix
Mt. Pyre (RSE) Remix
Surfing (GSC) Remix
Sootpolis City (RSE) Remix (another major favorite)

EDIT: Now linked. that's a lot of links! Didn't intend to do that many at first, but hey, it's good stuff.
End Recording,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Songaday & Art: Day 25 (The National - Exile Vilify)

Sorry for the delay, but my homework took priority.
I'm crediting The National for this, but I know zero about them. I know the song from the Portal 2 soundtrack actually, and it's definitely a good piece. As such, I can't very well do a ton of info on The National, and I have no interest in doing a whole post on Portal. Heck, here, I'll summarize my thoughts about Portal:
It was a really cool game with an interesting idea that was far too short.
What about Portal 2:
Okay, I cut myself off. Goodness is that a good game. So anyway, while I obviously won't have a pile of The National links, how about some Portal 1 and 2 songs?
But first you get a piece of pixel art from me from back when Portal 2 released! So hey, art post too!
 Hope you like it. I should go back and revisit it, try to enhance some things, because despite not doing too much of it I feel like my pixel technique's improved.

The National
Portal 2

Portal 2:
Reconstructing Science
The Lab's Gone Dark
Pit Flings (hey, you a fan of the Mirror's Edge soundtrack? This one sounds like it could be in it!)
GLaDOS Emergency Shutdown Suite
Who's Ready To Make Some Science?
Part Five
Want You Gone (you better believe this'll make a blog header soon. I don't think the style fits the rest of the Songaday or it'd be the main, it's SO DAMN GOOD)
Familyjules7x's cover of Want You Gone
Some Assembly Required
Robots FTW

Portal 1:
4000 Degrees Kelvin
Still Alive

End Recording,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Songaday: Day 24 (X-Com Enemy Unknown - Vigilo Confido)

I was entirely uninterested in this game until some Twitter testimonial I saw really praised it, so it's drawing a touch more of an interested eye form me, but not enough to buy it yet. D'you like it? Tell me, and tell me why!
Even then I was uninterested in the soundtrack. That is, until I saw the COMPOSER. The soundtrack is primarily by Michael McCann, the mind behind the Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack. DE:HR's was FANTASTIC, so I gave this a shot. McCann is definitely fostering a style - it sounds a lot like DE:HR's soundtrack. Thankfully, that's a good thing at this point. Haven't heard his earlier work, but he's definitely going to have to evolve his style some for his next project - more of the same won't cut it three times in a row. I look forward to what he does though - with time, this guy could reach up there with Jesper Kyd as one of my favorite composers if he keeps evolving. Eyes are on him now.

X-COM and DEHR music! I really need to play DEHR, it looks really intriguing.
X-COM Enemy Unknown
Michael McCann
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
X-COM - Enemy Unknown (Menu Music) (this one REALLY feels like DE:HR)
X-COM - Breaking Ground
X-COM - Ready For Battle
X-COM - Resilience of Man
X-COM - Snap Shot
X-COM - End Game
X-COM - Our Last Hope
DEHR - Icarus/Main Theme
DEHR - Opening Credits
DEHR - Main Menu
DEHR - First and Last
DEHR - Barrett Boss Fight
DEHR - After the Crash
DEHR - The Hive
DEHR - Harvesters
DEHR - Hung Hua Brothel
DEHR - Hengsha Daylight (Part 1)
DEHR - Endings

Also check the Halo post that went up a few hours ago for Day 23! Insane linkage! Sorry again for it being so late (I'll note that I'm happy with my mind for thinking of 8pm on the day as "late", it's technically still on time. I've gotten very used to stroke of midnight posts now!)
EDIT: THERE! Linkage.
End Recording,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October Songaday: Day 23 (Halo 4 - 117)

First off, my apologies for this going up so late. I fell asleep at 9 last night before I had a chance to write it up, so I'm trying to catch up now.
I've made up for it with an unbelievably large pile of links.
The soundtrack to Halo 4 came out yesterday. Overall, it's really good. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure how it lives up to Martin O'Donnell's other masterworks, but it's a strong piece of soundtracking for sure, Neil Davidge didn't disappoint. The special edition will be out with the game and will be great, and I'm sure the subsequent gamerips will pull a lot of greatness from it. Having loved the Waypoint Mix released a while back, this lives up to it.
This song? I kinda picked this song at random, but it's a great piece.

I wish they, at SOME point, make use of the traditional Halo motifs to tie the game together. More than anything I'm just saddened by the general lack of the Halo choir. Halo is one of the big pieces to bring choral tracks into video game music, and it's a shame that they're kinda underused. But I understand the intention, breaking from the Halo tradition to signify this as a new trilogy.

All in all, hearing this soundtrack has got me super-pumped to see the game. ACIII and Halo 4 within a week of each other is gonna be so much fun, and then Mass Effect Trilogy along with them. I'm ready for the beginning of November.

I do a lot of Halo music, don't I? I've used one in February, in Midsummer, in a blog post, and now here.

Lack of Halo 4 links are due to the soundtrack only coming out yesterday. I'm thankful I even found the one for the embed.
For the record, H1: Halo Combat Evolved, H2: Halo 2, H3: Halo 3, H4: Halo 4, HR: Halo Reach, HW: Halo Wars, H1A: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary. I'm not a great fan of ODST's soundtrack on its own, though I think it was excellent within the game (and I'm a fan of ODST, btw).
Also, while the official soundtracks for just about all the Halo games come in a Suite format of many songs composed together, usually in Level/Chapter sets, I have splintered copies that break the suites into individual songs, so I'll be using those names.
Halo 4
Neil Davidge
Martin O'Donnell
H1 - Opening Suite
H1 - Perilous Journey
H1 - A Walk In The Woods (I've blog-featured this before)
H1 - Under Cover of Night
H1 - Covenant Dance
H1 - Rock Anthem For Saving The World
H1 - Drumrun
H1 - On a Pale Horse

H2 - Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix
H2 - Breaking Benjamin - Blow Me Away (This was in Feburary Songaday - btw, the new recording is shit, the original is the best!)
H2 - Peril
H2 - Ghosts of Reach (This was ALSO in February Songaday)
H2 - Incubus - Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey)
H2 - Incubus - 4th Movement of the Odyssey (totally different from part 1, and my favorite of the four)
H2 - Heretic, Hero (Walk in the Woods remix!)
H2 - Earth City
H2 - Remembrance
H2 - Mombasa Suite
H2 - Unyielding
H2 - Delta Halo Suite
H2 - Reclaimer

H3 - Released/Wild Life/Another Walk (Walk in the Woods remix! At 3:50-ish)
H3 - To Kill A Demon/Ancient Dust/Punch Through/Underestimated
H3 - This Is The Hour
H3 - Farthest Outpost/No Time for Sightseeing/Make Them Pay
H3 - Behold a Pale Horse/Reconciled/Overcome/Small Victory
H3 - Three Gates/Ascent/Leonidas Returns
H3 - One Final Effort
London Philharmonic does One Final Effort
H3 - Halo Reborn/Guilt and Punishment
H3 - Greatest Journey/Flood Rising/Halo Finale
H3 - Roll Call/Duty Bound/Price Paid
H3 - Finish the Fight

H1A - Random Slipspace Trajectory
H1A - Installation 04
H1A -  Pale Rider
H1A - Rock In A Hard Place
H1A - Honest Negotiation Suite
H1A - Strung
H1A - Still, Moving
H1A - Lions and Tigers and... (Walk in the Woods remix! Can you tell I love WitW?)
H1A - Choreographite
H1A - First Step
H1A - Arborea Above
H1A - Cloaked in Blackness

HR - Swift, Strong, Brave
HR - Lone Wolf
HR - Distress
HR - Bait and Switch
HR - Unreconciled
HR - Make It Count
HR - City Under Siege
HR - Fall From Grace
HR - Time To Dance
HR - Say The Words (especially entrancing, as it's the only true instance of the Halo theme in Reach)
HR - Shipbreaker
HR  - Noble Six
HR - Spartans Never Die
HR - From The Vault
HR - At Any Cost
HR - Both Ways (Remix)
HR - Walking Away (Walk In The Woods remix!)
HR - Uphill, Both Ways
HR - Halo (Noble Remix)

HW - X-06
HW - Spirit of Fire
HW - Bad Here Day
HW - Fingerprints Are Broken
HW - Money or Meteors
HW - Flollo
HW - One Problem At A Time

There are SEVENTY-THREE songs there. Take a minute and validate my efforts and click one.
And I'll be back in, like, 3 hours with a substantially less-linked Songaday post. I thought my NMH day had a lot...(though it had more per-game, of course)

End Recording,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Avatar World: The Beginning Stages (Stats, Basic Moves, Playbooks)
So, hey there. You very well may know that I've been playing some Oriental D&D 3.5 on Tuesdays with my friends Kenny (who you may know from any of my recent APs), Luke (who you may know from the AW AP), and Josh (who you would only know from my Oriental 3.5 AP). A modification we made to our game in the last session was, essentially, element-bending from Avatar, and it was without a doubt the coolest gameplay thing in the session. I'll talk about that in its own AP that I will right eventually. I apologize sincerely for saying I'll do these things over and over and then not, I really will get to it soon.
Anyway, the POINT is that through the course of the session, I'm not the only one who's feeling a bit restrained by the trappings of 3.5. Everyone, even Josh (who has never played an AW variant), agreed that they'd be really into trying out an Avatar: The Last Airbender-inspired Apocalypse World hack. Guess what doesn't exist though! And so, I've taken it upon myself to try to make it myself. Watch closely now as I get in way over my head...

AVATAR WORLD (tentative title)
So, I have no experience making full hacks. I HAVE done some experimenting with moves, built a supplemental playbook in The Gunslinger, have played and MC'd several AW derivitives, and own and have read at least five complete published (or soon-to-be-published in tremulus) Apocalypse-Powered games. That said, none of it actually helps in where to start when you write a hack. And so, I just jumped right in where I hoped made sense.

So, I had a couple starting point ideas. The one I went with was the basic moves, followed by the stats, then the playbook ideas. The idea was to come up with the core actions that really exemplify the genre, and to go from there. I don't need to actually write out the basic moves yet, just the general ideas of what actions they encompass. Mostly, this involves coming up with parallels to the most general of Apocalypse World's moves (with examination of other basic moves from other hacks), reflavoring, removing any inappropriate ones, and finally adding new ones that round it out. Then I find out  what categories of stats I need to make that work, and name 'em. Then I just start building the archetypes of characters.
The alternative starting place I'd thought of was to start Keeper-side with what the core Principles are. I must say, that's been a bit of a curiosity - only Monsterhearts seemed to do a real, complete changing of principles, and even then it wasn't that far. I'm curious, when I get there, whether this is due to the existing principles being more principles of how to make a story/how to make this system function rather than actually using them to evoke the genre specifically ie system tools not setting ones. There's definitely SOME of the latter - Monsterhearts's Make monsters human/make humans monstrous is definitely a setting thing. Anyway, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, since I started in the other place.

Basic moves. From Apocalypse World, I had Act Under Fire, Go Aggro, Seduce/Manipulate, Seize By Force, Read a Sitch, Read a Person, Open Your Brain (plus the ones from MH, DW, MotW, and tremulus). I looked at those and started filling out a couple of things that sounded like really important things for the game. I got Move With Intention, Speak With Honor, Bend The Natural Order, Stand Fast, and Meditate as my immediate ones. From these, I started to look at what stats I'd need.

The stats I had from AW were Cool, Hot, Hard, Sharp, and Weird. This brings me to something I mentioned back in DW and again with the tremulus annotations: there's a naming pattern to the stats that I think should be followed. See, with DW and tremulus, your stats are qualities you have, they're abstract concepts. Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Might, Passion, they're attributes. With AW and MH, the stats are instead adjectives about your characters that describe them. Cool, Hot, Hard, Dark, Volatile, they're things you ARE. I think this is the general rule that defines how it works for me:
If you can say the phrase "[Character X] is [Stat]," it is a good stat for an Apocalypse-Powered game. Bones is Hard. Life is Hot. Adam is Dark. Titanius is...Strength? Not quite. Titanius is Strong. Mouse is Dextrous, not Dexterity. It's the wording. I'm not sure how much pull it really has in the end, but I far prefer them to fit this pattern.
3 notes. 1) I do not begrudge DW this at all. DW picked its stats to evoke D&D, which is a more important thing here than a precise wording. 2) Monster of the Week is bizarre in that it borrows several stats from AW while adding a couple more, one of which follows the rule, the other of which doesn't. It keeps Cool, Hot, and Weird, and adds Tough and Charm. Tough works - Charm doesn't. Bizarre, and I'm not sure what this does to the cohesiveness of its structure. 3) I'm pretty sure this distinction is what allows AW to use a single stat for Act Under Fire while DW needed to bring Defy Danger under all stats to make it ideal. It's either that or how classes/playbooks are divided up.
Anyway, I bring this up because I wanted to follow my little rule for my own stats. Here's the stats I started writing with:
Well, Move With Intention, and it's an Avatar The Last Airbender thing, so maybe Fluid? Get the whole motion thing caught up with an element?
In fact, why not Solid for Stand Fast, and Hot for a violence one?

In the end, I have five stats.
, NATURAL. Natural represents Wood/Tree, and is the Social stat.
, HOT. Hot represents Fire, and is the Violent stat.

, SOLID. Solid represents Earth, and is the Defensive stat.

, KEEN. Keen represents Metal, and is the Perception stat.

, FLUID. Fluid represents Water, and is the Motion stat.

These are the Wu Xing, or Five Elements/Five Steps of Chinese antiquity. Originally thought to be similar to the Western concept of the Four Elements (Air/Earth/Water/Fire), they instead generally act as a mnemonic device. I picked each one quite intentionally. Note that my general source here is Wikipedia, so if they got it wrong, please correct.
The steps form two cycles, one regenerative, the other of conquest. This is the generating/creation cycle's order. The point is that they always go in a particular order (hence why they functioned pretty well as a mnemonic), and that is something I kind of want to keep going into the character sheets eventually. The colors are also those associated with that stage of the cycle. Wood is ALSO blue, but I felt green would ease confusion with water, which is, oddly, black.

Wood, or Tree as would be a probably more accurate translation, is the first step, and is the beginning of growth. As it says in the Wikipedia article: "It is also associated with qualities of warmth, generosity, co-operation and idealism. The Wood person will be expansive, outgoing and socially conscious. The wood element is one that seeks always to grow and expand." It is Springtime, the East, blue, green, the Wind, and the Azure Dragon in the Four Symbols constellation.
This is an element that filled in a lot of holes for me, and was one of the last decided on what it would be. In an AtLAB game,  having something to correspond to Air is pretty important, and, if you didn't notice, there IS no Air element in the Wu Xing. However, Wood, one of the two unused bending elements, happened to encompass the wind! Solved that little problem. Additionally, none of the others seemed particularly suited to being a social stat, so reading that first part was extremely nice.
This stat still has my greatest point of contention of all of them: the name. I am, of course, sticking to my adjective rule, but I need something that says both Wood and Social Stat. Natural was the closest I got, and while it works, it's kinda long and doesn't flow as smooth as some of the others. I hope to have a realization, but this is one I'd love suggestions for.

Fire is the second step, consuming Wood to grow even greater. This is the Wikipedia bit I found relevant and useful: "however an excess of it can bring aggression, impatience and impulsive behavior. In the same way, fire provides heat and warmth, however an excess can also burn." It is Summer, the South, red, hot weather, daylight, and the Vermillion Bird in the Four Symbols constellation.
I knew pretty quick that Fire was going to be the violent element. It lends itself that way. It will be, in many ways, like AW's Hard.
The name, though. I chose Hot. There were a bunch of options, but none of them as snappy and strong as Hot. Unfortunately, Hot has a lot of connotations in this system already - AW uses it as the Social stat, while I plan to use it as the Violent stat. We'll see how that goes.

Earth is the middle step, produced by the burning ashes of Fire. Here's some more quoting: "Earth is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, hard work and stability." Earth is damp, is associated with each of the four seasons, is the color yellow, and is at the center of the Four Symbols cosmology. Earth is very much the middle, in just about every respect.
I came up with more to do with Earth. It's the Defensive stat for me, and I was worried it wouldn't have enough basic moves attached to it, but once I realized that Stand Fast is essentially Act Under Fire, an extremely important move. Not that many playbook ideas I have are really about Solid, but that's okay, because they'll all probably make good use of the stat anyway.
I came to the name Solid pretty easily, and I have no issues with it.

Metal is the fourth step, as Metal is drawn and extracted from the Earth. My quotes won't help here, because I went and made a substantial change. I do keep with it being Autumn, the color white, the west, old age, dry weather, Gold/Silver (wealth), and the White Tiger in the Four Symbols.
Unfortunately, Metal is, in its attributes, extremely similar to Earth for our purposes. It's effectively stability and strength of the mind. That doesn't HELP me though. I can't have two defensive stats. I WAS, however, struggling with a lack of any stat to associate with the perceptive moves, the Read a Sitch/Read a Person equivalents. I stumbled, by accident, into the phrasing of Metal as Keen, which is a word that can definitely be used for Metal and for senses/perception. Having the stat name helped me along there. As such, I've abandoned the original use of Metal for one that will serve my purposes.
Here's a funny conundrum: if each of the others seems to associate with a type of bending, Metal ought to be Metalbending, right? I mean, that IS a thing in Avatarland. Well, it happens to be an advanced form of Earthbending, and I can't very well have one of the stats just be a tougher variant of another stat. No, instead I focused on the idea of Metal being the blade. Metal is a focus for the characters who DON'T do Bending as a primary.

Water is the final step, with metal trapping water falling from a source. Quote: "water is representative of intelligence and wisdom, flexibility, softness and pliancy; however, an over-abundance of the element is said to cause difficulty in choosing something and sticking to it. In the same way, Water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power when it floods and overwhelms the land." Water is downward, and holds its energy in stillness. It is winter, the north, black, the night, cold weather, and the Black Tortoise in the Four Symbols. Water wipes away all in its floods, clearing the way for the cycle to begin again.
Water was always going to be Fluid, and be associated with motion. Move With Intention was the first basic move I came up with the idea for, and I already knew I wanted it to line up with Water. There's nothing complicated here.
The name I like. I like Fluid. However, I have this niggling doubt that it doesn't actually function as an adjective the way I think it does.

So, I had those couple of Basic Move ideas that I used to springboard the stats, now I need to fill out the Basic Moves list to try and fill in the gaps. Let's see, what did I have before... "Move With Intention, Speak With Honor, Bend The Natural Order, Stand Fast, and Meditate". Let's shift those into where I kinda want them to line up to my stats.
Natural: Speak With Honor
Solid: Stand Fast
Keen: Meditate
Fluid: Move With Intention
I have something special in mind for Bend The Natural Order, so we'll pretend he's not here at the moment.
So, Speak with Honor is obviously social, Stand Fast is definitely defensive, and Move With Intention is definitely about movement. Depending on the context, I could try to slide Meditate around, but I think it works best as a Perception thing.
Now, we have some holes. Nothing at all Violent, and I said I want a Read a Sitch/Person equivalent. Those are pretty obvious where they'll go, so let's come up with some names.
Natural: Speak With Honor
Hot: Speak Without Honor, Commit Open Violence
Solid: Stand Fast
Keen: Meditate, Observe Carefully
Fluid: Move With Intention
Why yes, I DO find Speak With and Without Honor being separate moves to be funny! I intend Speak Without Honor to function in a lot of ways to Go Aggro. I have Commit Open Violence here, a Seize By Force sibling, but I'm not actually all that attached to it. Seeing as one of my intended principles is going to be "Violence is never just for the sake of violence" or something to that effect, I think I may be able to bend Speak Without Honor into filling the entire violence role, but I like having an explicit attack one here, just for the time being at least. Observe Carefully is intended to be just a combined Read, maybe even with two sets of text depending on what you read, or maybe I'll turn it just into Read a Sitch and make Reading a Person the sort of thing you do with Natural instead.
Yeah, I like this list for now. Here's a summary, and again, just ignore Bend The Natural Order for now. We'll be back for him.

Speak With Honor: This is the move for polite conversation, when you want something but are trying to go through diplomatic means to get it. Essentially, it's Manipulate an NPC. Not Seduce, just Manipulate. You can use sex as the promise, but it certainly isn't big enough to be in the name. It makes sense to work off of the social stat.
Speak Without Honor: This is actually Go Aggro. It represents when you're threatening or otherwise using blunt or "vulgar" language to try to get what you want. It's about being hot-headed and more violent than social, so Hot. The only place this has issues is when violence is also the goal - essentially "I'm going to Go Aggro, and what I want is to blow his brains out," which is the typical way one-sided combat is handled.  However, when paired with my principle that "Violence is never just about violence," I hope that situation doesn't arise very often. I could get around it by renaming it some (heck, even Act Without Honor would cover it), but I love the little dichotomy between Speak With Honor and Speak Without Honor. Maybe it's just me. I'll be sad to see it go if it is.
Commit Open Violence: Seize by Force. Pretty explicitly. The move I most want to eradicate from my list if I can. Obviously a move for the Violent Stat.
Stand Fast: I went through three different variations of what I wanted to do with this move. The first was almost a clone of Hold Steady from Monsterhearts before I realized it's just not that important to this game. The second was to make it as Defend from Dungeon World - guarding people and sacrificing yourself for others IS a theme in the genre. However, I decided to turn this move into the Act Under Fire copy. Being that way adds an extra gravitas to Solid that it needed, plus it fills in the spot of being a general go-to move. I AM still thinking about adding in a Defend version, since it IS an important genre idea.
Meditate: Meditate is actually Open Your Brain/Gaze Into The Abyss. It's consulting the spirits, it's going deep into your consciousness, it's "GM, I don't know what to do. Deliver unto me information!." I went with Keen because it actually lined up really well with what I kinda wanted for the Keen-focused playbook, and it makes sense to be a perceiving thing. In the very original draft of the stats before I did any actual work, I'd been thinking Fire/Water/Earth/Air/Spiritual, and while that could have worked (being Hard/Sharp/Cool/Hot/Weird), it was far more boring to me than this stat layout that, in my opinion, is a lot deeper and a lot more evocative of the flavor of the east.
Observe Carefully: A combo Read a Person/Read a Sitch. I don't know HOW exactly I'll combine them, and I may end up splitting Read a Person to Natural if I can't work it out. Otherwise, it's not particularly special or new.
Move With Intention: This is actually pretty distinct to this game! I haven't thought out at all how it'll really work, but this is the one for doing special movement. Deliberate and slow combat forms, smooth evasive maneuvers, leaps of acrobatics, it's all Move With Intention. This is a big part of the genre to me, and I really wanted to make it a big thing. Hopefully others like this, because this is kinda my darling, along with the stat layout.

So that's the Basic Moves! I hope they work, and of course, feedback really appreciated.

Last is a small listing of what exactly I've got so far in terms of playbooks. I don't have any actual detail, but I have basic concepts and am trying to really narrow it all down.
Martial Artist
Monk (Wizened, not Martial D&D)

Hey look at Japan throwing in Samurai and Ninja. Ninja is different from Martial Artist for me in that the Martial Artist is about combat while my Ninja ideas are about stealth. I could merge them if I needed to though. Now, most playbooks have primary stats they use. Let's take a peek.
Firebender - Hot
Airbender - Natural
Waterbender - Fluid
Earthbender - Solid
Monk - Keen
Samurai - Hot/Natural/Solid
Martial Artist - Hot/Fluid
Aristocrat - Keen/Natural
Scholar - Keen/Solid
Ninja - Fluid/Keen

I really hope it's not that hard to read that with all of my color antics. I'm enjoying myself at least.

Anyway, one last thing for this post. I've put him off as an aberration several time now, saying that I have something special in store for him. Yeah, Bend The Natural Order. This is the Bending move. So here's my several ideas bouncing around.
1. Everyone has bending of some kind, it's a basic move. The playbooks are dedicated users. Not too big on this one actually. It would likely handle bending variety as a sort of special category like Dungeon World's Race moves.
2. Bending is exclusive to their playbooks, not a basic move at all but a single move replicated in a slight variation on the four playbooks. It would allow for specific wordings and concepts relating to the element. This is actually my favorite, with bending available to others through judicious use of "Take a move from another playbook" advancements.
3. Most classes have a move to trigger their bending ability, unlocking the basic move. Benders are full of powers. Allows for specific playbooks to get a special bending power all their own without obsoleting the bender playbooks. Reading it after writing it, I'm starting to like it some as well.
All of the ideas would work, it's just finding out what I like the best. Each actually has some basis in a piece of elemental-magic media. Number 1 is kinda like Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series, with the furies. I love that series, and want to draw some of the ideas into this (and I admit, I will probably need some of it to fill out some playbook move lists). Number 2 is actually closest to Avatar, with pulling from another playbook basically being unlocking hidden potential. Number 3 is kinda wizard-y, and also kinda Fullmetal Alchemist-y, with each person being able to do something, but it takes training and practice to unlock it.
I actually like all three, so we'll see. Maybe I can't keep it up with playbook balance, or maybe my group or any of you readers like any one in particular or something.
Oh, and the reason I couldn't apply it to a stat is that it changes its stat depending on how you obtained it/what element you're wielding. Hot for Fire, Solid for Earth, Natural for Air, Fluid for Water.

I think that's it for today! I'll be back at midnight with Songaday, but I really REALLY want some critique on this. I'll eventually start posting it up at Story Games or Barf Forth Apocalyptica when I feel more confident, but for now it's just here.
End Recording,