The part of the secret

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The part of the secret
« on: June 05, 2011, 03:21:10 AM »
Hello,
If the MC is to always say what honesty demands, I'm wondering myself about the players own honesty regarding their characters.

Players in Apocalypse World are not bound to this rule. But are they bound to play their characters with transparency ?

Are their gameplay choices known to everybody around the table?
What about dark secrets? Secret relationships? Quiproquo?

In my tabletop game, secret was a good choice. The angel could keep her love relationship with Snake, the mindfucker, a secret for the whole characters. And it surely was fun for the brainer to excavate her mind in looking for her feelings.

On the other hand, secrets totally ruined a pbp game which ended before beginning.

What are your experiences with secrets in Apocalypse World. I'm sure it will help  starting a new game all over again.

Many thanks.

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elkin

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Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2011, 06:18:56 AM »
I allow players to keep some secrets from each other, but not from the MC. I also make it clear that the maelstrom LOVES secrets.
Player secrets just give me more interesting stuff to say when someone opens their brain to the maelstrom.

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2011, 02:54:15 PM »
I think secret thoughts and motivations are fine (except when making moves), but secret actions are a problem.

I ran a one-shot at our local Bay Area convention, Kublacon, and players started passing secret notes to each other. It was fine (until everyone started doing it), and soon there was a problem of knowing who is doing what and when. (We had to backtrack several times in order to establish everyone's physical location.)

In one of my home games, there was an email discussion about whether or not zombies existed in the world, and two players kept emailing each other about the whys and why nots. I had to jump in and say that this discussion should be in-game, because we would inevitably run into the situation where the other players would have to get caught up on the new background fiction, and those players would want to add their own spin on the subject, which would undo the whole email discussion.

In a collaborative world-building game like Apocalypse World, the more the players are adding to the fiction, the better. The characterscan keep secrets, and that's awesome.

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2011, 03:10:10 PM »
Everything that the characters do -- including their conversations -- is performed in front of all the players in every AW game I've played.  Sometimes, when the group has been split and played separate sessions, stuff happens in one group that the other group doesn't know about, but we generally talk pretty openly about what's happening in the other group.  We haven't really seen any value in keeping secrets from players, even though, sure, the characters have lots of secrets from each other.

That said, characters' motivations and past experiences and such can be "secret" because we've only dealt with some of that in play at any given point, and we learn new things all the time.  For example, in my current game, we know that Sonya, the quarantine, used to be batshit crazy from the Psychic Maelstrom but that she spent some time in a floating space monastery and learned to control it.  But we don't really know where she's from, originally, and how she was driven insane.  Probably Sonya's player has some ideas about her history, but those are all flexible until they spill out "in public" during play.

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noclue

  • 609
Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2011, 03:42:29 AM »
I am a big fan of open secrets at the table. I don't have much use for actual secrets among players.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2011, 10:28:00 AM »
In the games I've played, it's always come down to this: the players know very nearly everything (exception being a couple MC love-letters where the player has to choose a few things and hand the letter back without saying what they chose), but the characters don't know everything. Sometimes things show up unexpectedly, like when we found out that Hooch was a enuch in play, and it could have been part of Jim's concept from the start (gender: concealed), but in fact, Jim just didn't know. So it was a big reveal even to the player of the PC :)

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 03:30:20 AM »
I just realized one thing. I'm still reacting like a GM, not a MC. I should have read this more carefully.

• Play to find out what happens.

Seems to be the core motto here. As a MC, I'm not driven to know everything about everyone around the table. The players could/should prepare/keep as many secrets as they want.





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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 10:29:05 AM »
Right on!

You have legitimate reasons to want to know some otherwise secret stuff about the characters, but you're the judge of what and when. If you don't feel you need to know something, don't even sweat it.

Particularly, as you're telling the players about the world, you aren't beholden to things they haven't told you. If they've been keeping a secret and you accidentally violate it, that's their problem, not yours. They should have put it out there instead.

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2011, 01:24:19 AM »
Ok, here is a consequence of the MC's "Agenda"... Thank you for clarifying that point, Vincent.


Added after edition:

Likewise, it seems the sole rule for the players is answering my original question.

Your job is to play your characters as though
they were real people, in whatever circumstances they find
themselves — cool, competent, dangerous people, but real.


"Play as though they were real people" could mean "if I (as a player) am suposed to play real, I don't want to know what my character doesn't know or I will play as if I'd known anything at all."

As far as I am concerned, I've always prefered the first choice but Apocalypse World is a role playing game occuring in a cooperative built setting.

Sometimes, the frontier between world building (country of openess) and character building (country of secrets) seems to blur.

Before encountering Apocalypse World and falling in love, I was designing my own house rules to play in a post apocalyptic setting. In these house rules there was three level of action: the individualistic characters, the party of player characters and the community. These three levels imposed three levels information sharing which seems (to me) really more intuitive in AW.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 02:29:39 AM by Silerias »

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2011, 11:43:28 PM »
In the games I've played, it's always come down to this: the players know very nearly everything (exception being a couple MC love-letters where the player has to choose a few things and hand the letter back without saying what they chose), but the characters don't know everything. Sometimes things show up unexpectedly, like when we found out that Hooch was a enuch in play, and it could have been part of Jim's concept from the start (gender: concealed), but in fact, Jim just didn't know. So it was a big reveal even to the player of the PC :)

I *highly* recommend keeping secrets from yourself until it's exactly the right time to reveal them.

Some of the coolest moments at the table come when, as players, we learn stuff about the PCs that the other PCs may not know. All of us going "OMG, October will freak out when she finds out about that!" is a big part of the meta-game social interaction, at least in the games I've played. Keep all that stuff as open as possible, IMO.

-JC

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2011, 12:22:45 AM »
Apocalypse World does have a cooperative element in creating the setting, but it's not an equal relationship around the table. The players don't get to say what's real in the world except as it relates to a question the MC has asked them, yeah? Or as it relates to their character.

It would be weird if a player was all like "There's a big holding just over the hill from here, where they've got lots of water"

Usually it would be like

"Hey, where are we gonna get water from, is there anywhere around here?" and the MC says "I don't know, <i>is</i> there anywhere around here?"

and they reply

"Oh yeah, how about there's a big holding with lots of water over the next hill?"

and the MC gets their fingerprints all over it, and says

"Yeah, absolutely. It's called "Watertown" and it's survived this long because it's water-rich, and has a fuck-off big gang defending it, with big walls and fixed guns on the walls, and ruthless security. There's a dude hung by his neck off one of the walls, and a sign on him which says 'WORTA FEEF'."

So it's collaborative but not equally collaborative.

Secrets: Secrets are plans that haven't come to fruition yet. Everyone should make plans but be prepared to change them.

As MC, you can do fun things with custom moves and secrets, like have everyone roll and choose from a list at the same time, without knowing what the others have chosen.

Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2011, 04:23:58 AM »
It seems you hit something, Simon... And it seems it may hurt as you touch a way I'm used to MCing...

When I'm MCing Apocalypse World, I'm doing it to find out what happens. And finding out what happens begins while designing the whole landscape of the Apocalypse World we (the players and I) are going to share, I haven't a pre designed setting, even in head.

What's your apocalypse world's looking? Don't ask yourself for the origins but for the aftermath, think of it as a drawing. It's my first question and I ask it while the players are choosing their playbooks (not during the first session) as it could be a prerequisite for character design, indeed. I'm not asking this to know what the day to day life of the PCs looks like, but to have a global picture of the world. This picture is for me as a MC and for the players too.

As for "what's really the world psychic maelstrom?" question, the "what's the origin of the apocalypse?" is a recurrent one and many players (some of the one I practice) would be seriously shaken and maybe, even paralysed in their creativity if they didn't have this one solid picture to dream their character of and make them real (Nausicaä of the valley of the wind isn't mad max, which isn't fallout or borderlands).

Maybe I'm wrong not to play the world building but for some players it's simply too vague to keep on character building. I cannot stay here, looking at them and simply answer: "I dunno" as I've done. My answer is now: "I don't know, but we're going to design it now". Without this world building first, some players (many of them are very old role playing gamers) couldn't simply play the game as it requires a blind trust in the MC who they still see as a GM.

Without this world building first, some players need to create their own Apocalypse World. Sometimes, they share their creations with the MC (to gain social acceptance?), who's asking himself: "Sure... Great work, it looks good, but what's the part of the secret in Apocalypse Word?"

As I'm answering this post, I'm playing a new AW pbp game. No secret creation is allowed and I'm trying to use Microscope to help designing the world. Each player, each turn is claiming or refusing one aspect of the world.
As for now, we've got this: no zombies, no cannibals, small holdings (less than 200), holdings built in ruined cities, scarcity in finding energy, separated distant holdings, strange tribes living in between, no difficulty to find metal and new holdings are frequently born (like swarms).

I find it difficult The way you clarify how to build the setting in AW
Quote
The players don't get to say what's real in the world except as it relates to a question the MC has asked them, yeah?
. This will come while 1st session playing, but I don't wanna take the whole authority to choose what the world would be. When we'll get some global world agreement, then could I barf forth apocalyptica and answer questions like crazy during first session play.

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Chris

  • 342
Re: The part of the secret
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2011, 08:56:15 AM »
It would be weird if a player was all like "There's a big holding just over the hill from here, where they've got lots of water"

Usually it would be like

"Hey, where are we gonna get water from, is there anywhere around here?" and the MC says "I don't know, <i>is</i> there anywhere around here?"

and they reply

"Oh yeah, how about there's a big holding with lots of water over the next hill?"

Both of these happen equally, especially in that first session and nether is really weird or different. In either case, they go to the same place, which is me putting a bloody spin on it. '

But, yeah, in my games, especially during the first session, players throw out as much as the MC.
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 - "......"