tweaks for character-POV immersion?

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tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« on: February 15, 2011, 05:34:26 PM »
Looks like I'll probably start running AW next week.  I was wondering if there's any way to throw up some walls between the players and the certainty of what they can expect when they roll dice without hosing the game.  I've asked elsewhere, but the jury's still out.

Any advice?

Specifics in next post.

Thanks,
-David

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 05:39:03 PM »
As a player, of all the times I've ever tried to do a Move*, here's my best guess at the breakdown of my friend Matt's MC responses:
1) 95% -- Okay, roll!
2) 4% -- I don't think that would work here, but feel free to try something else.
3) 1% -- I don't think that would work, you're taking forever, the situation escalates, now what do you do?
4) 0% -- Okay, you try it- Stop!  Don't roll!  It doesn't work.
5) 0% -- Okay, roll!  You got a 10?  Well, for some reason, it doesn't work!

There are very good reasons for these percentages.  However, the end result is that, as a player, I know I have the ability to rule certain possibilities (and even probabilities) into and out of the fiction.  This creates an information mismatch between me and my character.

My character is talking to an NPC.  The MC roleplays their disposition as distrustful and taciturn.  And yet, I know that all I need to do is announce an attempt to read them, and I have a high chance of finding out what they want.  But my character doesn't know this!  If I'm trying to imagine the fictional situation from my character's POV, I'm going, "Crap, they're not gonna talk."  But as a player, I know they probably are, because there's a rule that says so and all the other players keep using it.

So, back to the 5 responses above.  Without other options on the table, #2 and #3 wind up as preludes to #1, which can't help with the player/character information mismatch.  #5 seems like a dick move that would break resolution.  So, what do you think about #4? 

Allowing "you don't know what's possible/probable until you try" into the range of interactions between character and world would better synchronize player and character points of view.  But it might also undermine the way Moves are currently guaranteed to push the narrative forward.

All this is just a first guess.  "Try adding uncertainty somewhere between initiation and effect" is all I've come up with so far.  Maybe other options would be better for character POV and/or have less downside.

*There have been times when I attempted an action that qualified as a Move, but would obviously work in the fiction, so there was no roll.  The % breakdown doesn't include those.

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 06:14:53 PM »
I think the "to do it, do it" rule applies here.

If your character is trying to read some guy, then it's the "read a person" Move. The only reason I could see that this wouldn't call for a roll is if success was a given. Like, if you go aggro on a dude, the MC might say, "you know, don't even bother rolling. He totally caves." In other words, you did the move and got an automatic 10+.

Likewise, you can't read a person just by saying "I use Read a Person" and rolling dice. You have to do it in the fiction. You, the player, may know that your character's guaranteed answers to certain questions because of a successful dice roll, but your character still has to ask the questions. 

AW shifts back and forth across the player/character line a lot; that's part of the fun of the game, I think.

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 02:03:30 AM »
Yeah, agreed, doing it in the fiction is necessary and fun and immersion-aiding.  But what I'm saying is that this:

You, the player, may know that your character's guaranteed answers to certain questions because of a successful dice roll

can be somewhat immersion-breaking.  At least once you've succeeded on that same move a bunch.  At that point, before you even roll, you may be planning on picking "Find the escape route" from the success options, even if your character's in a sensory deprivation tank (or some other situation where it doesn't even seem like such a route should be findable).

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lumpley

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Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 08:56:36 AM »
Why don't you write your plans into your character's internal state?

If I'm thinking to myself that I'm going to read a situation and hoping I get to ask about my best escape route, I understand it - and experience it - as my character's impulse to LOOK for an escape route.

I'm pretty sure that the uncertainty you wish for exists in the game, it's just on the other side of the die roll than where you're looking. In this example, a high roll doesn't give you an escape route - the MC might say "well, huh. I guess your best way out is to conserve your strength, stay as calm as you can, and hope somebody comes along to release you." I experience this as my character drawing a conclusion from all the minute clues that surround him, to which I don't have any access; from there it's easy for me to, like, retroactively create those clues into my experience. The seamlessness under his fingers of the inside of the sensory deprivation tank, the extreme silence of it.

Hey, have you read this old stuff of mine about immersion? 2005-06-02 : Immersion and 2005-06-06 : Immersion, Rewrite. The first is both old and inflammatory, but it'll show how and why I'm willing to compromise immersion for the sake of what's overall better. The second is old, but it says the working principles behind Apocalypse World's approach to immersion. You might find them interesting.

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 12:20:09 PM »
But my character doesn't know this!  If I'm trying to imagine the fictional situation from my character's POV, I'm going, "Crap, they're not gonna talk."  But as a player, I know they probably are, because there's a rule that says so and all the other players keep using it.

Why is that your character's POV [before the roll] that they're not gonna talk? Isn't that you (as a player) asserting things about your character that may not reflect what's going on in the world (because we've got these dice rolls too)?

Why are you making this statement, "Crap, they're not going to talk" before the roll? Why not wait until after the roll?

"My character is talking to an NPC.  The MC roleplays their disposition as distrustful and taciturn. As a player, I don't know if my character thinks they are going to talk or not. I'm going to read them. *dice* If the dice fail, 'Crap, they're not going to talk.' If the dice win, 'Hmmm... They may talk despite this wall they're putting up.'"

Or, what if you let the dice determine how your character feels in this situation and not your interpretation of what the character might be feeling based on how you're interpreting the MC's portrayal of the NPC actions?

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Chris

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Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2011, 01:31:40 PM »
Yeah, you're reading the sitch as a player and then reading as your character. Doing it that way means that you as a player are making assumptions about the game world before your character or the other characters or the MC even knows what's going on. Since Read A Sitch/Read a Person actually creates fiction and firms up assumptions, I think it makes more sense to read the sitch as a character, then as a player, or better, as near together as you can get.
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: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 05:49:56 PM »
Chris & Michael,

"As a player, I don't know if my character thinks they are going to talk or not," is the literal opposite of the type of immersion I'm going for here.  I want to be thinking as my character.

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 06:04:41 PM »
Vincent,

1) That's some good news!  It seems as though my group has misinterpreted the lists of success options.  Our expectations have somehow become that a successful roll entitles you to achieve something obviously useful.  "Conserve your strength and wait" would fail on that front and leave the roller feeling short-changed.

Perhaps we've been using the Read moves this way because that's how all the other moves work?  For Go Aggro and Seize, "obviously useful" works fine for us.  Open Your Brain has been a weird grab bag of approaches, often akin to Read a Sitch by Magic, but the inherent dislocation has rendered it a non-issue for immersion.

That leaves Seduce/Manipulate.  Man.  I've gotten some NPCs to do some pretty extreme 180s with nothing but words.  Our standards for "to do it, do it" have been very forgiving.  What's clear to me is that if a player tries to con an NPC, grabs for their dice, and then I say, "No, there's no way that what you said would successfully manipulate them," the player will be pissed.  All of a sudden Dave is playing judge over their contributions instead of helping them be awesome.

Any suggestions on how to make them not feel that way?


2) Okay, here's a concrete technique question!  We've been picking up the Basic Moves sheet of paper, MC and player both scanning it, MC giving suggestions, group hashing out what's plausible, player making final call from among those.

Instead, should we take the sheet off the table, and let the MC read the lists in secret and dole out whichever results seem most apt?  

That'd give the players more incentive to clarify and justify specific intents (as you suggested: look for an escape route), but again risks evoking disempowering "convince the GM" feelings.

Or is all that totally up to us, and not a designed part of the game?

I apologize if you answered this question in the book.  I read the whole thing once and only certain worky bits since.


3) FWIW, I agree that compromising immersion is often the right call in a given game.  I'm just not sure about the range of where that line might fall in AW play, and where within that range can work for my group.


4) I have plenty of thoughts on your old immersion writings (been working on point #4 for years!), but this doesn't seem to be the place for them.  Your 3 points remind me a lot of the "right" in Right to Dream.  I get how they underlie AW's approach to immersion, and I think that part of my group's dynamic is actually quite solid.  The trouble lies more in specific resolution details.  (BTW, for a wide-ranging attempt at immersive mechanics, you might enjoy this combat system thread.)
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 07:53:21 PM by davidberg »

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2011, 06:39:46 PM »
Here's a thing or four you can do:

When you read someone who's distrustful and taciturn, roll -2 instead of +sharp.

When you read someone who's distrustful and taciturn, take a -1 penalty to the roll.

When you read someone who's distrustful and taciturn, if you ask more than one question, they need only answer one question truthfully. They may lie on the others.

When you read someone who's distrustful and taciturn, don't bother rolling. Ask any number of questions; they can tell the truth or not at their discretion. You can still seduce or manipulate them into answering your questions, though, or else seize the information from them, or go aggro, or so on.

Custom moves are interesting and powerful! I'd go with the second or third options, myself, but they're all valid, I think.

Vincent,

1) That's some good news!  It seems as though my group has misinterpreted the lists of success options.  Our expectations have somehow become that a successful roll entitles you to achieve something obviously useful.  "Conserver your strength and wait" would fail on that front and leave the roller feeling short-changed.

You should always say what honesty demands and your agenda is to make Apocalypse World seem real. If "Conserve your strength and wait" is the most honest answer at that place and time, say it. Don't lie to your players about the world, or else make Apocalypse World seem unreal. If you do, you're essentially house-ruling the game. I mean, doing so may be the right thing for your group, I don't know. But there it is, from the book.

Am I right, Vincent? Do other people agree?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 06:54:46 PM by Antisinecurist »

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Chris

  • 342
Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2011, 07:16:21 PM »
Chris & Michael,

"As a player, I don't know if my character thinks they are going to talk or not," is the literal opposite of the type of immersion I'm going for here.  I want to be thinking as my character.

Yeah, I feel you. That might put you in a weird place with the Read moves. Because you can decide that your character thinks the window is the best way out, but the MC can tell you that the back door is. Since that info is sort of based on the character's numbers and the MC's answer can change per PC, I've always seen it as the MC telling you what your character thinks the best option is. After all, it now might BE the best option, because of the +1, regardless of your previous idea of what your character thought.

1) That's some good news!  It seems as though my group has misinterpreted the lists of success options.  Our expectations have somehow become that a successful roll entitles you to achieve something obviously useful.  "Conserver your strength and wait" would fail on that front and leave the roller feeling short-changed.

You should always say what honesty demands and your agenda is to make Apocalypse World seem real. If "Conserve your strength and wait" is the most honest answer at that place and time, say it.

Yeah. It can be a weird thing, where the MC is telling you something your character thinks, if only a passing thought, and then stamps it with a mechanical bonus, to give it even more weight. The answer for ME is pretty much there in Baker's Immersion rant, the first one. That immersion is a fun part of the game, but it's not the only fun part. Sometimes, I'm locked in; sometimes I fiddling with mechanics, clearly at the table.

What's clear to me is that if a player tries to con an NPC, grabs for their dice, and then I say, "No, there's no way that what you said would successfully manipulate them," the player will be pissed.  All of a sudden Dave is playing judge over their contributions instead of helping them be awesome.

Yeah, this is always a huge one with me. The usual answer of "follow your principles" doesn't jive with me because it's still "Make AW seem real to Chris". A player might think that it's perfectly real for Balls to 180 like that for a little scratch, based on how he's been portrayed. For me and mine, at that point, I usually just give it to the player. If they're that passionate about it, then it'll probably lead somewhere cool. Maybe Balls follows him around or expects a little more out of that relationship later.

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: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2011, 07:40:29 PM »
The usual answer of "follow your principles" doesn't jive with me because it's still "Make AW seem real to Chris".
Exactly!  The players who think "seems real" just means "colorful" or "not completely impossible" aren't going to see the value in me having an NPC not be infinitely manipulatable.

Maybe I should just say, "As MC, I'm going to make the world seem real to me, so y'all may have to reset some expectations."  Is that dickish?

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2011, 07:46:13 PM »
Also, as MC, make the characters' lives interesting to you. Trying to guess what they're interested in is a game for suckers.

Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2011, 09:34:07 PM »
Heh.  Nice.  I was probably gonna do that anyway, but now I can tell Matt, "Vincent said so!"

Any word on "show the Moves sheet" / "don't show the Moves sheet"?  (Buried in topic #2 from my long post above.)

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: tweaks for character-POV immersion?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2011, 09:49:22 PM »
Show the moves sheet, but the moves are each very clear about who's decision it is, case by case. Don't hash it out; that person just decides.

On seduce / manipulate: if the leverage the PC holds over the NPC isn't enough to make the manipulation plausible, don't let the player roll. They gotta make with real leverage or try a different approach.