Tell me about your experiences with Ally:

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DWeird

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Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« on: June 28, 2010, 05:02:20 AM »
So! I played an operator who's gig was spreading peace and understanding through the use of words and diplomacy and looking harmless.

Eventually, I got the unwritten future extended move for manipulation, and boy oh boy did any move ever feel as right for him as this. Turning threats into allies! Yes!

Only, in that game, it didn't seem to do much (on screen, at least) beyond what I would get for a regular 10+. The henchman gave me support in front of his boss, the mutant leader promises not to kill all humans, the gang under fire put down its weapons and came peacefully. A 10+ was a "they do it!" then... And on a 12+, the result was still pretty much "they do it!", and then I would not hear from them again. For the most part, they'd stop doing some types of stuff - an ally: representative would not do warlord actions, and that is good...But they would not start doing the other types of stuff - the ally NPCs slid off the screen and did not do what their types called for without prompting... And the cool thing about the extended manipulation move is that it's supposed to give you people that help you even in your absence, even when you don't ask for it, right?

Now, there are details about the game that could've lead to me getting this impression (lots of intra-PC conflict with the result of NPCs in general not playing much of a role), but I think there's something more to this... Specifically, the MC, if he's following the principles right, is ill-equipped to deal with non-threat NPCs. They slide off the mental radar and only reappear as blips of "whoop! I can't do that with that guy, he's no longer a threat now".

'course, I may be way wrong here - what are your experiences with turning threats into allies?

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DWeird

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Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 10:45:10 AM »
Bump!

Certainly, someone besides me must have gotten a character to turn NPCs into allies, no? Please tell me how that worked for you!

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 02:43:31 PM »
When I did it, I turned an attaching squad of high-tech post-Aztec jaguar warriors into my gang.  It was pretty useful.

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 11:32:25 PM »
JC has done it a few times in the game, and each time it changes things.  Rice, Patch and Rope are all now allies with JC.  Patch provides solid advice, Rice acts as an effective lieutenant and right hand man, and Rope evangelizes JC and his dream to the growing number of refugees that JC's picked up. 

As MC I scrupulously avoid any fuckery when it comes to them.  They don't get the crosshairs.  I literally have a giant circle around each of these people in my notes, reminding me not to fuck with them.

I make sure that they are special, they aren't after something, they are geniune sources of goodness in the Apocalypse World.  I've been doing a great job with Rice in this, but Patch and Rope sometimes slip off the radar.  I've got to work on that.

In the case of Rope, getting the 12+ was a bit of a surprise.  JC had otherwise prepared with the other two characters, getting a few bonuses to hopefully ensure the 12+.  But Rope was a double sixes roll, and as he was the leader of the Six Blades refugees, I've had him bring a source of strength and hope.

Maybe I can get Colin to chime in here about the Allies.

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2010, 12:03:21 AM »
Colin here.  I play JC the Operator in the Gamma Road, MC'd by Jon (Glendower).

JC had only a partial success for a Cool Under Fire roll, to avoid the advances of several women.  I played this as JC staying up real late into the night, pondering some tough choices he's made and obsessing over a personal object of his. 

This led JC - the next morning - to be very frazzled, unfocused, and weak-willed, when he was to be the leader of the convoy that was meant to carry forth The Dream.  It showed a weakness to JC's followers, and to Goldie the Chopper (and her gang), who was acting as the convoy's protection.

After playing through the morning, JC's Allies actually got together and bucked up JC, reminding him that he needed to appear strong ... and to get dressed.  This gave JC back his resolve. 

The MC did an excellent job bringing them in as character support, and gave me a lot to work with as a player.  The MC made an effective use of the altruism and support that the Allies were created for - showing actual concern and compassion in the hellish world, while all the other NPCs are looking for their own.

As well, the MC played out their Ally type in the scene really effectively - Patch (the medic) was a Guardian (Impulse: to intercept danger), and Rice (JC's aide) was a confidant (impulse: give advice/perspective/absolution).  Both Allies bolstered JC from their own impulse - Patch ordering JC to get some water and sleep, while Rice suggesting that JC's rumpled appearance and disquiet was was hurting JC's leadership. 

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Chris

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Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2010, 03:08:17 PM »
Yeah, this:
Now, there are details about the game that could've lead to me getting this impression (lots of intra-PC conflict with the result of NPCs in general not playing much of a role), but I think there's something more to this... Specifically, the MC, if he's following the principles right, is ill-equipped to deal with non-threat NPCs. They slide off the mental radar and only reappear as blips of "whoop! I can't do that with that guy, he's no longer a threat now".

'course, I may be way wrong here - what are your experiences with turning threats into allies?

...is the MC not pushing those "threat types" into the game through Fronts. They should go on a whole new Front, called Home. Not Home Front, just Home.

And that Front needs to be expressed in game like any other.

Also, if you're making them Allies as a player, make sure your character is treating them like Allies. These NPCs are now incredibly... I don't want to use the word useful, but yeah, friends and allies are useful. These are people you can trust. Why are they falling off the screen? I'd have them be the backbone of whatever it is I'm trying to do. These fuckers are my friends.

The change isn't just mechanical. It's fictional.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 08:32:55 PM »
I only just got the expanded move, and haven't been able to roll that good yet (even though I have a 1-in-6 chance of getting it).

Since about the second session my Battlebabe, Hellish, has been putting the moves on Jeanette, the daughter of another PC. Over the course of like 4 or 5 sessions? I was setting up for this roll. I take her out of the job she doesn't like much (working for another PC, I paid him off), move her into my hardholder's compound, used read a person a lot to see what she likes, and if I could teach her how to kick ass and kill dudes, all the while racking up the advances so I could open seduce/manipulate and have hot+2 at the time.

So I go down to the marketplace and spend barter on a gift for her and everything, get all romantic and shit... and then I flub the roll. And only the fact that the Maestro D' uses a hold from the Skinner move Hypnotic gets me a 7 result. I was so pissed!

Ah well, next game!

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DWeird

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Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 08:06:42 AM »
Make Home a relevant front! A change in fiction as well as in mechanics! Encircling the names!

Fuck yes, gentlemen.

As far as I know, Home was not made into a front. It probably would have made a lot of sense for it to, because that's exactly what my guy was angling towards all the time! Making a home for people.

Currently, I'm thinking something like... Put those Allies on a list. And write the opposite of a fundamental scarcity above that list. Fear becomes Bravery, Decay becomes Rebuilding, Ignorance becomes Understanding.

As far as the change in fiction... Depends on how you look at it. The threats-to-allies did not... reveal any symphathetic properties. For one of the earlier allies, the MC told me "Well, just because you changed his allegiance some doesn't mean he's a different person now. He's still a violent, savage motherfucker -- only now he's *your* violent savage motherfucker". A change of heart for that dude would have been immenselly gratifying, and would have made some sense at the time, too, I think.

This is an important thing, probably! Without figuring out how the persons involved fundamentally become allies instead of being threats in the fiction... The Allies will just become not-threats. That's... something, but not much.

As for myself... My operator did not have much of a choice in establishing scenes the last couple of sessions! Every other roll was 'under fire from being in dangerous territory' of one kind or another. Might've angled for including them more otherwise, possibly.


Encircling the allies' names is cool and one of the real little answers of how to keep the on your mind as the MC.

But yeah! A question: I'm the MC, I want my players' allies to matter. When do I bring them into play? How do I bring them into play? With threats, it's fairly simple: I escalate accordingly, and when I can, I make a hard move. When do I bring in allies? If it makes trouble for the other characters', I can just use AW's default settings. But what about when there's a character that needs help?

Say, there's a guy who's under fire from circling raiders of some sort. He tries to get out and busts his roll... Do I now as the MC make life hard for him? Or, if he has an appropriate ally (guardian, say!), do I instead go all "They catch you sneaking out! One of them, Wolf you think his name was, lunges towards you, and just as he's about to cut you open, there's suddenly a big hole in his head. You look at where the shot was fired from... It's <ally: guardian>!"

That actually sounds kind of cool, now that I've written it. How do I put it in principle form? "When I make a hard move, I make it with an ally against the threat instead of the actual threat, hmm?" seems a bit... iffy for a reason I can't quite place.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 08:26:22 AM by DWeird »

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Chris

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Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 09:36:43 AM »
As far as the change in fiction... Depends on how you look at it. The threats-to-allies did not... reveal any symphathetic properties. For one of the earlier allies, the MC told me "Well, just because you changed his allegiance some doesn't mean he's a different person now. He's still a violent, savage motherfucker -- only now he's *your* violent savage motherfucker". A change of heart for that dude would have been immenselly gratifying, and would have made some sense at the time, too, I think.

This is an important thing, probably! Without figuring out how the persons involved fundamentally become allies instead of being threats in the fiction... The Allies will just become not-threats. That's... something, but not much.

Well, what does your violent, savage motherfucker mean? That relationship needs to be defined. Does he hang out with you all the time now? Does he bring you coffee? Give you information?

These guys will be using the same MC moves, but just not on you. It's really on the MC to make sure that the guy is relevant, but the player can help by going to that new ally with problems. He's not just a "non-threat". He's an ally. Look at how this guy can help the PC per his role in the fiction and his new ally type. Was he a warlord? Sure. Now he's a:

- ally: friend (impulse: to back you up). Now he's there for you, gang and all, in physical or social situations.
•  ally: lover (impulse: to give you shelter & comfort) Now his hold is a safe zone, a sanctuary.
•  ally: right hand (impulse: to follow through on your
intentions) Now he takes suggestions/orders.
•  ally: representative (impulse: to pursue your interests in your
absence) Now he makes decisions based on what he thinks you want.
•  ally: guardian (impulse: to intercept danger) Now he takes active steps to protect you from your enemies.
•  ally: confdante (impulse: to give you advice, perspective, or
absolution.) Now he's there to talk to and guide you.

One important thing here is to make sure that Ally is not equal to "No conflict". They're safe from casual harm, but there are more conflict types than physical. Another person wants to get down with you; how does your lover feel about that? Your guardian really disagrees with you about how you keep running out to that burn flat to fight the ninja pirates. Nothing super dangerous or gun-fu invoking. Just scenes and conflicts designed to explore that relationship through interesting situations.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 10:08:56 AM »
Say, there's a guy who's under fire from circling raiders of some sort. He tries to get out and busts his roll... Do I now as the MC make life hard for him? Or, if he has an appropriate ally (guardian, say!), do I instead go all "They catch you sneaking out! One of them, Wolf you think his name was, lunges towards you, and just as he's about to cut you open, there's suddenly a big hole in his head. You look at where the shot was fired from... It's <ally: guardian>!"

That actually sounds kind of cool, now that I've written it. How do I put it in principle form? "When I make a hard move, I make it with an ally against the threat instead of the actual threat, hmm?" seems a bit... iffy for a reason I can't quite place.
Sounds iffy to me too. I'd suggest that <ally: guardian> should move into the trouble in your place, prompting the player to help him out. (It's "intercept danger" not "neatly resolve danger".) However, that might also be crossing a line by putting the ally back in the crosshairs.

I suppose the MC can still THREATTEN the ally, right? Players aren't in the crosshairs and the MC fucks with them all the time.

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 10:15:08 AM »
One important thing here is to make sure that Ally is not equal to "No conflict".
Very good post Chris, I love the sample ally types with impulses and examples, great advice too!

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DWeird

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Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2010, 01:46:27 AM »
The violent, savage motherfucker (G-something, his name was) became, based on the situation we were in (me asking for him to explain to his boss to not savagelly beat and maim my character when we next meet) an ally: representative. The violence, savagery and motherfuckery was a bit of a problem, given that my character's interests were peace, love, and understanding.

These guys will be using the same MC moves, but just not on you. It's really on the MC to make sure that the guy is relevant, but the player can help by going to that new ally with problems. He's not just a "non-threat". He's an ally. Look at how this guy can help the PC per his role in the fiction and his new ally type.

That is not something I normally do as a MC! While a warlord and his hold is, uh, pervasive enough for his presence to matter at most times... What do I do, as a MC, with a single sneaky has-been grotesque? When do I bring them into the scene? How do they interface with the player's rolls?

I as MC can do making life hard for other PCs with this PC's allies. I know how to do it and I'm good at it.

I also would know how to play an ally of any type when there is a scene with them. Play to their interests, which are to be helpful to the PC! Play them as regular people. I can do that!

But. When do I bring in an ally? If he's there, he's there, of course. But what if he's not?

If a PC is in the friendly warlord's hold and someone inside decides to cut him open, do the friendly warlord's men interfere during the attack? Help him afterwards?

Those are equally good choices. I don't like equally good choices when MC'ing, it makes me have to do mental coinflips. They bug me.

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Chris

  • 342
Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2010, 07:13:03 AM »
But. When do I bring in an ally? If he's there, he's there, of course. But what if he's not?

Well...then, he's not.

If a PC is in the friendly warlord's hold and someone inside decides to cut him open, do the friendly warlord's men interfere during the attack? Help him afterwards?

It shouldn't be an equally good choice where the generic men of the generic warlord help or don't.

Is the boss's right hand man Roark there? Are the men there? Do they see it happen? Do they feel the same way about the PC that their boss does, or is Roark jealous of the attention?

If you want to involve them, make an MC move. If you don't, then don't. It is a call, on your part, but it depends entirely on the fiction as its happening.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2010, 07:34:27 AM »

Speaking only for myself as MC, I am profoundly unhappy with the shift of 'make someone an Ally' from an Unbidden Future advance (conscious decision of the player) to the result of an opened 12+ on Manipulate/Seduce (semi-random result.)

(For those unfamiliar, in the playtest version if you wanted to take someone off the threat list you could pay for it with a past-the-first-five advance, much like getting an extra character, changing playbooks, etc.)

I just feel like basically my PCs occasionally acquire completely random allies, for reasons basically outside their control -- and often requiring a very serious amount of improvisational effort in order to justify in-fiction. Besides working out how the sudden shift in relationship comes about, it also elevates these NPCs in importance largely at the whim of the dice, instead of through the deliberate interest of the players. This has some interesting aspects to be sure, and perhaps mimics some element of how Apocalypse World works, but so far in play I have found it very disconcerting.

Maybe after a few more sessions, when I've had some time to figure out how to re-fit these NPCs into the game world,  I will have changed my mind, but if not I will certainly be house-ruling it back to the previous setup.

Re: Tell me about your experiences with Ally:
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2010, 08:57:54 AM »
The thing is, the move is not random.  A player has to decide to manipulate or seduce someone in order for them to roll the dice. They have to have some kind of leverage in order to perform the manipulation, so it requires some degree of setup. And if they have advanced the move, that means that they know they have the potential to change this person with their words.  Each manipulate roll made for a person with advanced moves is done with that possible outcome in mind. 

Take a look at page 197.  "Asking someone straight to do something isn't trying to seduce or manipulate them.  To seduce or manipulate, the character needs leverage - sex, or a threat, or a promise, something that the manipulator can really do that the victim really wants or really doesn't want."

So with that in mind, the dice only come out when that criteria is met.  If a character just asks someone, you consider the NPC's simple wants, and decide on the answer. 

One of the players in my game deliberately didn't take the advanced moves, switching playbooks instead.  Another player deliberately took the advanced moves, because they wanted to change the world.

Those moves represent true high level play.  The manipulate/seduce ability allows the player to actually permanently change the world in a way that doesn't involve destruction and murder.  Instead of shooting a character in the face, that character is instead redeemed. This is pure agency over the Apocalypse World, an ability to bring a little bit of security into a horrible pleace.

The important thrust about No Status Quo in Apocalypse World is that it applies for good news as well as bad.  This advanced move represents the ability to change a person's mind, to get them to reveal some of the good inside a person.  Until this advanced move, every single NPC is considered a threat.  It is not possible to trust an NPC until you have an ally by your side.  This means that until this advanced move, the characters have no real friends, no real lovers.