AP: Dr. Corbett

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AP: Dr. Corbett
« on: September 17, 2010, 03:49:39 PM »
The game session was winding down. I was basically spent, my Skinner named Shade had had a rough night. The other two PCs wrapped up a scene and then the MC asked me, "Hey Rich, you have anything you want to do with Shade?"

Half jokingly, I reply, "No, no thanks. I think Shade is spent. If I get beat up any more tonight, I think I will cry myself to sleep." The MC laughs and says, "No man, I have a good idea, give me a chance," so I agreed.

He has an NPC named Missed, a guy who started off as Shade's confidant who turned their relationship into something ugly (Shade was standoffish when he professed his love for her and he turned a bit spiteful, then later when Shade asked for help, he said he'd only help her for sex, so she went off by herself and was royally hammered by an enemy for going in solo... as in sent to 9 'clock Harm).

Anyways, so Missed comes up to Shade and says, "Hey Shade, I've been kinda awful to you, but there's something you need to see." Shade, after having such an awful day (she also caught a nasty something or other during a scene with a Dog Head ganger that was called a Hive Cough) needed something, so she followed. The MC frames a scene with the elderly Dr. Corbett surrounded by the kids and teens we'd saved during a firefight in Orphantown and he's telling them these stories about the wondrous time before The Event. I tell the MC that Shade is skeptical and mentally watches Corbett to see how he elocutes (her art is theater). The MC doesn't make Shade roll on her art, he tells me that Corbett's voice is monotone at points, reedy and his pacing is off, but there's something genuine about the stories and the fact that everyone else is so enraptured draws Shade in. Me, I'm totally cool with this and offer no resistance.

The MC says, "Dr. Corbett looks to you and asks Shade if she has any questions." Up to that point in the previous two games, I hadn't defined anything about the plays that Shade was doing during the game, but in my head, she was doing one-man Hamlet. I wanted a happy scene so asking about Hamlet was out, but I wanted to tie back to her theater AND I kinda love Shakespeare, so I glance over at my bookshelf and blurt out a question about As You Like It, asking if it was fake. I figure it was a nice alignment with what she'd be feeling (Missed was fake to me, is this art fake to me, too?). The MC gives Shade the answer that yeah, its genuine and I think, ok, this is cool.

Then, MC asks me to make a Weird roll. This means roll 2d6 plus your Weird stat. Shade's Weird stat is MINUS TWO. I roll a seven. Fail. I wince, but I knew it was coming. I figure, well, crap, a perfect end to a perfect night.

The MC says, hunh, ok, Dr. Corbett asks Shade to ask him a question she wants to know more than anything and he stresses the more than anything. Me, I'm scared, this is going to be bad, I just know it. But if I'm going to go down, I go down fighting. My mind scrambles.

See, Shade was this character I'd created as a bit of a mirror of the old me. I used to be obsessed with theater, got a degree in it, did tons of plays in college and right after, all the way up to getting a real job and married and all the adult life got in the way. Funny enough, I sometimes refer to RPGs as my opiate for my lack of acting.

Anyways, Shade always wears a mask (something I had pointed out several times early in the game, but nobody picked up on it or referenced it, so I kept it as a touchpoint). She keeps people at a distance, she manipulates people to help her with her little theater (which is in the cafeteria of the party's "hold", which is an old hospital converted into a whorehouse).

So Shade is a thespian in a broken world. She pours herself into it, she lets it be her escape from the misery, it also lets her bring some semblance of hope to others. But is any of it real? In these plays she performs, so many people are in love. I realize, that's her hook. She wants to believe in the beautiful things she reads and acts out.

So even though I figure this will be really awful, I have Shade ask if the love in the plays is real, or if it is all made up nonsense. I think part of me dared the MC to make this game more awful for Shade and part of me really really wanted to end on a good note.

The MC describes Corbett's answer that yes, there was love, there IS love and he tells me, completely out of character speak, in no uncertain terms, this is driven home. I failed my Weird roll, no defense, it is something that is true to Shade. I breathe a thankful sigh of relief. We end the game.

We chat afterwards and he assures me that Dr. Corbett was using a custom move to make that thing true in Shade's mind. Me, I didn't really care if he made it up on the spot or not, it was a session ender I needed.

Re: AP: Dr. Corbett
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2010, 05:05:56 AM »
For one, I am happy to see concepts such as love and beauty in gaming, even (or especially) in Apocalypse World.  Nice moment, thanks for sharing the story.

Re: AP: Dr. Corbett
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2010, 02:13:04 PM »
To me this is a perfect highlight of the part of the "MC makes a hard move" move that often gets ignored - as hard a move as he *wants*. And I'd say in this case, giving Shade that hope, helping you as a player find your hook, what your character is *really* passionate about, certainly fulfilled the principles (seeming real, not boring, et cetera).

So yeah, that's awesome. I love this game.