We’re playing Brie Sheldon’s sort of Apocalypse World -derived game Turn and it does this really fun thing. You play shape-shifters, and basically have a pair of playbooks – one for your human archetype and one for your animal form. And they are in conflict! When you try to do nice human things your animal form wants to fuck it up. The things that are good about being an animal, your animal stats, become penalties. So maybe you want to treat a delicate, fraught situation with finesse, but aw hell no, the beast is there goading you on. So you roll 2d6 minus the animal trait Forceful. And that’s a hard roll to make.
If you incorporate your animal side somehow and increment stress (more on that in a second), you get to roll a third “turn die”, so 2d6-2 becomes 3d6-2, a much more approachable goal. It is surprisingly elegant in play.
But about that stress – you have a very short 5-point track, and when it fills up, you flip forms involuntarily. And there are lots of other ways to accrue stress, and few to reduce it. And once you flip out in this way, you might be in beast form for months. It’s pretty serious. It is delicious.
Last night our Showoff/Wolf, a reprehensible drug-dealing asshole named John “Johnny Nails” Wilson, Jr, got thrown in the drunk tank for punching an old man. And later that night two stoned dudes join him after trying to clock a Sheriff’s deputy, and they start bragging about the high quality oxy they got from Eve Seerley, bad girl scion of a family of plutocrat snake shifters, and Johnny Nails realizes that she is selling his product and, well, it is time for the Have Restraint move. And here’s the fun part:
Have Restraint does not allow you to use a turn die, and is -Primal, which means Johnny’s player needs to roll a 12 to avoid adding stress. And he’s already got four stress.
So he rolls, and fails, and adds stress, and turns into a very pissed off wolf inside a jail cell.
Turn is Very Good. The playtest document is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CwOD8I2sAL5c0U5-HvZ5GW_gsCb61WRVzK1BU5Ul2N4/edit?usp=sharing
0 thoughts on “We’re playing Brie Sheldon’s sort of Apocalypse World -derived game Turn and it does this really fun thing. You play…”
😀 I don’t know if I’ve ever had someone think I scooped them a bit before!
I’m glad you like the mechanics, though. I’ve been working on Turn since like 2013 so it’s exciting to hear people like it!
It’s sharp! For real, I might just do it your way (with credit etc etc).
Mine is/was to have two separate common move sets and the ability to move between them at the cost of running up the stress/transform. Mostly it’s just too damn many common moves to track, like more than 10 (I think 8 is probably the most there “should” be).
Very elegant way of handling it and it totally fits thematically too.
Oh woah Turn is good. I’m totally stealing the Gossip Phase
Paul Beakley Credit is good. 🙂 I also do consulting work, so if that might help, lmk. I developed that mechanic using emotion mapping and by breaking down the mechanics I was referencing (specifically, Monsterhearts alongside Shadowrun 3e’s damage track). Stripping away moves could be a huge benefit, honestly – that’s why the human roles have like two abilities, while the beast archetypes have no more than 5 powers, and the struggles(1) are restricted based on your form – four for humans, four for beasts. As well, functions like transformation, removal of agency, etc. are important to examine in regards to how they feel, not always how they work.
One of the most important things – I can’t remember if I told Jason Morningstar or not that I clarified this in the text – is that in Turn players never actually lose agency. You always have to the end of the scene to try to deal with a force Turn, and you never “lose control” as a shifter or human. It’s not like, a thing. So how the moves interact with the stress track is really vital – the struggles should influence the stress track but have an option to avoid that, while the stress track should have minimal but vital ways to be reduced, and you need to be able to personally induce stress with the Turn die. Stress literally represents actual stress, not a fictional metric – when you do things that stress you, your body, or your balance out, you have risk of turning.
Dude, I’m sorry, I just think about this literally all the time. This game is 5 years in production and I am getting so much of it written down, and talking about it is sooo good.
(1) (I call them that because people didn’t understand the difference between them and AW moves, and there is a lot of difference – also they are in fact struggles)
Chris Groff Aaron Griffin thank you!
Aaron Griffin Oh the gossip phase is so fun! Honestly, half the time the players put themselves in way more hot water than the GM would alone. And it’s so funny because it’s just like “how would someone totally misread this situation? okay, they’ve told the entire town.”
Brie Sheldon you DO clarify the agency thing in the text (though, to be fair, if I didn’t know what “agency” meant, it might not read well)
Aaron Griffin thanks! That is good to know – agency is commonly used in my circles, but I hadn’t thought it might not be with others. I appreciate the heads up!
The gossip phase is choice. I actually do that a lot in my games, but I don’t think I’ve ever formalized it in that way. Just a habit of asking after a session, like, “So how does Clancy think things are going? Oh, really! Who does she think is behind that? REALLY? *scribbles notes furiously*”
Adam D 😀 It’s actually really essential for the game, in part because it encourages players to lose a little bit of track of what’s actual fact in town, but still makes them engage enough with the other people in town to make gossip that matters.
Oh, it sounds like nonsense, but if enough people wonder why Iris was out of town last week they’re going to think she ran off to Denver and when she comes back without anything to show for it they’ll think she’s a failure and all that time she was literally out back with her pack of wolves, howling at the moon and eating elk like I’m just SAYING…
Ok guys, who’s running a game of Turn?
I hope to get it to the table this summer. Brie Sheldon , I think you’ve mentioned it’s more for long term play. How would it work for a one shot?
Joe Beason It’s not really great for one shots, but John W. Sheldon has some theories on how to make that work. It’s designed for long play because some of the emotional storytelling just can’t happen in one session, among other things (John and I talked about this for like three hours one night, hah). He may have suggestions, and if we get a one-shot version I’ll certainly share it along with the beta.
One-shots don’t normally give you enough time to develop sufficient stress or exposure that they really bring their pressure to bear on characters effectively. We’re toying with starting off those tracks in some partially-filled state for one-shots, plus some prompts to really get the action moving at a harder clip than you’d usually want for long-term play.