Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?

  • 6 Replies
  • 6776 Views
*

SJE

  • 33
Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« on: June 20, 2011, 04:33:22 AM »
I don’t get opening your mind to the psychic maelstrom – partly since the examples in the rulebook are not too helpful. Is it essentially a way of getting information you couldn’t otherwise know? And getting insight into the current situation – well what does that mean? Since many PC’s might be in a bunch of situations (in the midst of a firefight with scavengers, breaking up with their girlfriend that day, the Cannibal Horde slowly feasting their way north towards the hardhold), then which situation do they gain insight into? And do they know which situation it is they are getting insight into?

And is a 7-9 getting the peyote visions-type of insight, whilst 10+ is the Cliff Notes professor explaining things slowly and simply for the slow kids at the back?

And are there any limits to the psychic maelstrom? What is the point of keeping anything secret if anyone with Weird+3 is going to have a good chance of knowing it?  Its mentioned that things cut off from the psychic maelstrom are out of scope – how would you accomplish that? Have a Savvyhead build you a no-room? Breed your own Siona Atreides?  Lobotomise your 3rd Eye?

And how have people defined the maelstrom in their AW games?

Thx.

SJE

Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2011, 05:21:39 AM »
Take it as a way for a character to peak through the fourth wall and speak directly to the MC. When a PC opens their brain, it's time for you, the MC, to tell them something you wanted to tell them, maybe that front that's going sour because nobody's done anything to prevent it, or that place you're eager ot see your PCs going to because you crafted those very cool custom moves you're dying to show them, that kind of things. Of course, as with everything in AW, misdirect, never tell its name and put your bloody fingerprint on it. That's for how it works, mechanically.

Thematically, it's better to define your maelstrom. I kept it vague and shit for six games and my players, especially my brainer, were uneasy with it. With some advice from the nice people here and at story-games.com, I made it the result of a failed alien communication - a message so alien that it provoked world-wide cancer, thoughts that bleed outside your brain and massive mutations - and it gave much, much flavor to the game dynamics.

BtW there's a very good thread about what people did with their Maelstrom at storygame: http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=14499

For the rest: depends a lot on what your maelstrom's like. All your options are a-good. But the maelstrom doesn't know everything, and you don't get to choose what it tells you. So yeah, secrets are possible, and even legion. E.g. in my game, thoughts bleed outside your brain and into the maelstrom if you're alone and far from home for too long. So to keep secrets from the maelstrom, you have to keep company. Of course, that means it's more difficult to keep secrets from other people you live with.

Big part of defining your maelstrom is to decide what it wants, and what it knows.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2011, 05:30:22 AM by gregpogor »

*

elkin

  • 41
Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 05:33:19 AM »
Hi SJE.

You seem to have the same problem I had before I started playing AW - I was thinking too hard about the game, essentially playing it out in my head before actual play.

Don't sweat it. Follow the rules as written. During the first session, when someone opens their mind to the psychic maelstrom, you'll have a short dialogue. You'll ask him what it looks like, how he does it, what sort of stuff the Maelstrom usually says, and how. They might answer some of this with "dunno, you tell me", which is also fine.

---
For example, during my first campaign, the battlebabe wanted to open his mind. So I asked, "ok, what does it look like?"
-Well, my eyes are rolling in their sockets and they're all white.
-And you're shaking uncontrollably and frothing at the mouth, right? [I try to put my bloody fingerprint on it, but it's ultimately up to the player to accept this]
-Yeah, of course I am.
-And does anyone freaks out when you do it in public? [I'm looking for where they're weak]
-Nah, they're used to it. I'm a freaky guy. [Found it! :)]
-Okay, you've got 7-9, that means a vague hint. Do you say it out loud or does it echo in your mind? [again, looking for where they're weak]
-I gurgle and mumble, but I don't say anything aloud.
-And remind me again, are you trying to get information on anything specific, or just generally useful stuff?
-I basically want to know if it's safe to leave the hold.

If this wasn't the first session, I would've consulted my fronts. Since I'm not allowed to have any prep for the first session, I use this opportunity to reveal off-screen badness.

-As you let the Maelstrom rage inside your brain, you lose control over your body. You hear over and over the words "Junkyard", "Massacre" and "Madness". Obviously, something very wrong is going over at the Junkyard.
---
Each character can have its own way of opening her brain. In my current campaign, the Driver looks for funny shapes in the clouds or listens to the static on the car radio; the Chopper lights a cigarette and gazes at the smoke; the Gunlugger paints with his own blood and talks to his dead uncle.

Based on these answers and your interaction with the player, you can start thinking about the maelstrom. In my first campaign, because of that dialogue, the maelstrom was a physical phenomenon, essentially a sentient swarm of nanobots. In my current game, it's more of a spiritual thing; maybe it's the Spirit World, or some such. I don't like determining what it is in advance, but I don't hold out details about it when I'm asked. Usually, I just turn the questions back at the players: "Is it possible to lobotomize your third eye and cut yourself off from the maelstrom? I don't know. Do you know which part of the brain interacts with the maelstrom? Do you have the workspace, the know-how, the equipment and a willing or properly-subdued subject? Let's have a look at the workspace rules and see what's appropriate".

Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 07:49:40 AM »
Take it as a way for a character to peak through the fourth wall and speak directly to the MC. When a PC opens their brain, it's time for you, the MC, to tell them something you wanted to tell them,

Cheers, one of the best bits of advice I've read here!

Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 10:59:34 PM »
Terrific responses, cats. Bravo.

*

Arvid

  • 262
Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 04:41:32 AM »
Also this:

And are there any limits to the psychic maelstrom? What is the point of keeping anything secret if anyone with Weird+3 is going to have a good chance of knowing it?

Well, what's the point of building anything up if anyone with Hard +3 is going to have a good chance tearing it down? It's okay, the characters should be powerful, and secrets isn't that a big part of MC:ing AW, in my experience. It's more about choices.

Also, keep rolling that move, and you'll miss some rolls, which is nasty. Granted, not very often at +3, but that is exceptional.

Re: Opening your brain to the Pyschic Maelstrom?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 02:31:40 PM »
Ah, the maelstrom.  Anything I don't know about it, I turn it back on the players.

As for cutting someone out of the maelstrom?  Sounds like you'd need some fine-tune control over the maelstrom- someone with +augury, or maybe an angel if you're looking for that lobotomy-style solution.  Assuming the person's willing to go along with it, that is.  If not, you'll probably need a brainer too to help convince the person...