Non-MC Players' Agenda?

  • 12 Replies
Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« on: February 21, 2011, 05:36:01 PM »
Hi Folks,

I think I am nearing to catch the basics of narrative GM-ing in the form of MC-ing Apocalypse World. But the non-MC player side of the gameplay still troubles me.

I've read (or heard) somewhere that Vincent thinks there is no need for these but I feel a crying need for Agenda and Principles for the non-MC players as well.

Did I miss something already in the book? Please, help me out.

All the best,

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 06:13:33 PM »
Well, there is "Play your character like they're a real person".

I haven't felt I need more - there are certainly times when my character has not known what to do, but these situations have been exactly those where a real person would also have trouble working out the best course of action.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 04:39:34 AM »
Thank you Mike, this helped me a lot!
For me, these "what to do?" things are very important so I'm a bit sad for this is not in the same format as the MC's job and not handed out for every non-MC player.
But that's just me whining. At last, I have what I wanted.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 04:48:37 AM by czipeter »

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 01:28:05 PM »
I'm glad that helped.

Of course, there's also your character moves to help you decide what to do. Not necessarily that they are going to be a good idea, but you at least know what you are good at.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 11:57:33 AM »
There are definitely other things that help, right? Things you can do that make the game better for everyone.

Just a lot of them are not necessarily AW-specific.

I would talk about things like:

* Make your character passionate. Show the others what he or she cares about, as much and as often as you can.
* Take decisive action more often than not.
* When asked provocative questions, give answers you hope (or dread) the other players (MC included) will act upon.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2011, 03:51:47 PM »
Take a look at Storming the Wizard's Tower and the list for players in that game. Might help you.



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Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2011, 06:03:08 PM »
I think I posted about this and it wasn't really met with much enthusiasm but I'll reiterate my feelings about paying AW:

Be the fuckery you want to see in the world.


Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 11:47:24 AM »
This is something I ran into with a hack I'm working on - translating the MC Agenda and Principles was mostly intuitive, but there didn't seem to be an analog for the other players.  I'm happy but not finished with what I came up with; in particular, distinguishing between Agenda and Principles is difficult for me.

It has also been difficult to not drift into an admonishing or pedantic tone.  I try to think of how I would like to be told these things, especially when I was younger and more sensitive to whether someone was being respectful or not in addressing me.  Sorry if it doesn't jibe for the reader.

So this is what I wrote under 'Player Principles':

The PC player is taking on the role of a protagonist in the fiction created by playing this game.  mDWH requires that the PC players all adhere to the following set of principles:
   1.   Play to explore the world and take risks with your character.
   2.   Play with the other people playing (i.e. not in spite of or at the expense of).
   3.   Play your PC to be adventuresome, plausible, and part of a team.
   4.   Look for opportunities to make rolls and show off your character.
   5.   Look for opportunities to make your PC more powerful and more fun to play.
   6.   Concede final authority over the fiction to the DM.

And this is what I have written in the Examples/Explanations for this section:

1.5.1  Exploring the world and taking risks
The game is no fun if you are not interested in exploring the world or in taking risks with your character.  It simply doesn’t work.  If you aren’t engaged by the current direction, say so and offer a direction you would find interesting.  If the risks to your character overly outweigh the reward, say so and clarify the kinds of risks you are willing to take.

1.5.2  Playing a collaborative game
The game will not work if one or more players are enjoying themselves at the expense of others.  This doesn’t preclude competition.  If you feel you are being treated poorly, point it out and clarify what you would find acceptable.  It may be that your fellow players enjoy harder competition than you, or enjoy their accomplishments in a way that bothers you.  Irreconcilable differences mean you can’t successfully play this game together.

1.5.3  Adventuresome, plausible, part of a team
Your character (tying back to taking risks) needs to be motivated to go out and get into dangerous situations - establishing and being clear about this motivation is your job.  Those motivations need to be sensible enough to fit into the setting and appropriate to the situations in the fiction, preferably with due consideration for potential consequences.  You will be playing with other folks’ PCs, and so you’ll need to have those motivations mesh well enough to continue playing together.  If you can’t find suitable motivation(s), can’t play your PC with regard to possible consequences, and/or can’t establish sufficient pretext to keep your PC working with the others, then the game won’t work.

1.5.4  Getting rolls, getting spotlight
Much of the game comes from taking risks, and much of those risks are represented in rolling for the Moves; much of the engaging fiction comes from watching the PCs get up to their adventuresome lives.  If you often find yourself trying to bypass having to roll, consider whether a risk-oriented game is what you want to be playing.  If you find your character not getting much ‘screen-time’, speak up and/or push to get into the action.

1.5.5  Growing and changing, increasing the fun
mDWH models from D&D and its ilk, where character capability increases over time; taking risks leads to getting XP, which leads to a more powerful character capable of taking bigger risks, and (usually) having increasing ramifications in the fiction.  This is central to this kind of play, so if this kind of exploration isn’t fun, think about what is and if this game can provide it.

1.5.6  Authority over the fiction
You choose your DM on the basis of trust - trust in their sense of fair play, trust in their creative capacity, and trust in their investment in your enjoyment.  When these trusts come into question, this game cannot support an actual lack of trust.  You will have to sort it out in whatever manner is normal for you or stop playing.

It needs some work!  But those are some of the things I thought would be good to be able to refer back to while playing - they are (I think) supported by the way the other parts of the game interact.

Something else relevant to this subject is the (um, can't find it, if someone else can link to it please) "x-y-z axis" of character playbooks in AW; the tools to engage and guide the players are built into the character playbooks at a conceptual level and expressed in the details of their looks and moves.  This kind of precludes the need for an explicit agenda for players, for AW.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 07:18:29 AM »

Are these from the book? They're neat, anyway.


Smart. I've started to think about looking up them, as I remembered they're good, too. And they're more for my personal taste as they're listed in the same format as the GM-s things.


Sorry, but I don't get it. Is this related to play passionately, make hard moves and take risks? Or do you think this sentence of yours encompass even more? And more of what? Advice from the book or from your preferences?

D. Anderson:

Those Principles and their explanations are just great! I'd really love to see your whole work.

By the way, I think Principles are Agenda on a lower level, so they can be confusing, yes. Perhaps Agenda is more "why to play?" and "how to play?" while Principles answer the question of "how to achieve this?". And of course Moves are even lower level/basic/fundamental tools.
In a sentence, you follow (and hopefully reach) your Agenda by making Moves guided by the Principles. I'd like to think about Principles as this kind of link.
I hope, I'm not just inventing these relations...

"(...)the tools to engage and guide the players are built into the character playbooks at a conceptual level and expressed in the details of their looks and moves.  This kind of precludes the need for an explicit agenda for players, for AW."
I know I have seen or heard something like this from Vincent himself, but I can't agree on this. How could an explicit explanation ruin the thing? I always felt people will never use the game as a language better than their mother tongue.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 10:55:37 AM »
You can go directly to the main hack document here:

There's a few other things I'm working on elsewhere, and I'll post the examples/explanation doc on the Apocalypse D&D subforum when I get it in decent form.

In the main doc, I explain Agenda as 'why you are playing' and Principles as 'helping focus when you are considering what happens next'.  In the examples/explanations document, I write:

When there is a conflict between players or a need for inspiration, look at your Agenda and see if you are staying focused on why you are playing.  When taking action and/or developing the scene, look at your Principles and use them to direct your efforts.  When exciting possibilities present themselves, check whether you should make a Move.

I know what you mean about preferring explicit textual explanation.  It's why I write the way I do!  I meant that the character playbooks are either engaging or they're not, to potential players; another aspect, I believe, is that some of the engagement is necessarily emergent in play and can be hard to express in another medium (like, writing vs actually playing).



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Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 10:42:41 PM »
Okay, so say the MC is doing something in the world - let's call it Vanilla Fuckery - and you're not really interested in that or like you think it's kinda flat. Don't whine about it or gripe about how the game isn't really supporting your preferences for Strawberry Fuckery. Be the Strawberry Fuckery.

This is totally my own opinion and my take on being a PC in AW.

But yeah, I mean play passionately, take big risks, make life interesting for you character, play your character hard and fast, take the game where you want it to go, etc. AW isn't a game for passive play and even less a game about being catered to by the MC.

I don't know - it's addressing a kind of malaise, passiveness, entitlement and really a ressentiment I see in some gamers. It's hard for me to articulate but I see it at tables at cons all the time. It's like they're upset about having taking risks during play - both emotional and narrative. But also, about having to play their characters to the tilt, until they break.

In my experience the gamers who really engage with the fiction, who take risks during play and focus on bold characterization, end up really enjoying AW. Those who prefer a more passive style with clearer or more rigid guidelines about play tend to be unsatisfied or frustrated with AW.

This is totally anecdotal and thus YMMV.

Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2011, 11:34:35 AM »

Nice explanation, thanks! I think this is kinda cool, but I couldn't decide if this is at odds with "Play your character like they're a real person" for me. I will ponder over this post of yours for sure.



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Re: Non-MC Players' Agenda?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2011, 03:57:59 PM »
It could be, but again, unlike other systems, you can just go an play any conceivable person in AW. You can only play Iris, Dust or Snow. Sure, maybe my Snow isn't your Snow but AW is a game about the fucking post-apocalypse. It's not nice and doesn't encourage coddling or hesitation. Shit's fucked and the PC survive by being the toughest badasses or the hottest pieces of ass around. This is true both mechanically and fictively. Sure maybe there are real people that are passive and such, but in my estimation, those people are probably dead or enslaved in AW.