Hell or High Water Basic Moves

In my most recent post, I outlined some of the roles that players will take on in Hell or High Water, and some of the unique moves that are available to them. While those role-specific moves help set the character apart from the others, they're far from a complete list of what the character is capable of. Here, I'll be outlining how players can attempt to do... anything else. 

Action vs. Purpose

Remember that Hell or High Water is about the dynamic between two kinds of intent. On one side: Hell, representing malice, hunger for power, force for force's sake. On the other: High Water, representing self-preservation, fear, survival. If all you are doing as a player is describing the action that you intend to take, you're only doing half the job. Basic Moves is a set of example actions, and examples of what using each action with various intents looks like. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the players should work together to determine what kind of roll is necessary for a given action, as well as the end result of a success or failure. 

Basic Moves

Force a Hand

Usually considered a Hell roll, forcing a hand involves placing pressure on another party so that they reveal their position, their secrets, or a weakness. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on the situation, but is generally a physical action, such as firing a gun, releasing an air lock, pulling the proverbial plug, and so forth. It can be a High Water roll if this is done in self defense, or in the defense of others. For example, forcing the hand of someone who has taken hostages may be a Hell roll if made by an outside party, but a High Water roll if made by one of the hostages. 

 

Withstanding the Odds

When beset upon by outside forces, a player may roll to resist them and their effects; think of this as the inverse of the Force a Hand move. When done successfully, the player moves the story forward by maintaining the status quo against adversity. Usually, this is seen as a High Water roll, as it is done primarily in self-defense, however it can be construed as a Hell roll if the move is done with the intent of harming others. For example, flying through an asteroid field may warrant a High Water roll, but flying through that same field with the intent of outmaneuvering the ships behind you and watching as they explode against the rocks, may be a Hell roll. 

 

Read the Situation

In many cases, it is impossible to know which move is the correct one to take without first getting a feel for the room. In such cases, a player may want to attempt a roll to learn about the people, the set pieces, or the potentially dangers of the scene around them. The answers provided by a success are up to the specific questions asked and the Narrator's discretion, however this kind of roll is useful in determining your character's awareness, and the willingness of the scene to share its secrets. Typically, this is a High Water roll, as there is not an explicit offensive angle in most situations. However, if the question being asked is along the lines of "What is this person's weak point?" then the roll can just as easily be considered Hell
 

Help or Hinder Another Character

One of the things that I love most about the gritty space-faring setting of Hell or High Water is that the narrative works best with a crew. While it's certainly possible to tell the story of a lone spacer traveling the length and breadth of the Reach without the moral obligations of teamwork, it's more interesting narratively and mechanically to have others along for the ride. When another character is in a bad spot, it is useful to try rolling to see if your character can get them out of it. This is typically a High Water roll if your intent is to work together. However, if your intent is to get the character out of the proverbial frying pan only so you can extort money or information from them, then it is likely a Hell roll instead. 

 

Convince and Persuade

Over the course of play in Hell or High Water, you will likely need things that other characters don't want to give you. In these cases, rolling to convince them otherwise will quickly become necessary. The way that you roll will depend a little bit on the request, but a lot on how you ask it. Are you willing to cooperate with the target, meet them half-way, or appeal to the target's humanity? That's likely a High Water roll. Are you threatening them? That's a Hell roll every time.