10 Questions for 1st Session

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SJE

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10 Questions for 1st Session
« on: July 03, 2011, 05:52:35 PM »
So, first session on Tuesday, and I wrote myself up a checklist of 10 questions to ask the characters. There will be more questions based off their answers, but thought this would be a good framework. If they dont want to answer one, I can chip in, but thought this would help guide a collaborative world creation approach.

Let me know if I've missed out anything obvious.

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10 Questions for your 1st Session

1. (To Hardholder if present, otherwise to all players) - What is your hardhold named? What is it like? Who is your number 2?
2 - You look out to the North/South/East/West, over the post apocalyptic landscape - what do you see?
3.- Yours is not the only Hardhold around - what are the others? Which ones do you need and which ones do you hate? Why?
4. A threat lurks out there in the wastes - what is it?
5. What do you fear the most? The weather? The night? Hunger? The Cannibal Horde? The unknown?
6. Someone in the community has their own independent power base. Who are they? How did they manage to achieve that? How do you feel about them?
7. Someone in the community is a good soul - somehow the Apocalypse hasnt ruined them like the rest of the world - who are they?
8. What is left of the World Before? An old person? A building? A resource? A tradition? A danger?
9.  Is there a Future, or just the Here n' Now? What do you see yourself doing or having in a years time? A decade?  
10. What do you want to change about the world or your situation? What is your plan to do that?  

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2011, 12:05:35 PM »
Nice list, I'll be sure to steal some of those next time I'm MC'ing!

I always like "Who has something you want? What is it?

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 01:24:57 PM »
Cool, I like the idea of having a questions list on hand in case you get stuck.
I'm not sure if you are looking for critique, so apologies if this is not what you're after ...

2 general comments,

-most of the questions are broad in scope and make assumptions about the world. I prefer to start with small and personal details, use their answers discover their Apocalypse World.  don't decide beforehand that there are Wastes, that people judge direction by North and South, that there are Cannibal Hordes,

-leap forward with named NPCs instead of asking the players to come up with them. (I explain why down below)





1. (To Hardholder if present, otherwise to all players) - What is your hardhold named?

first find out what it smells like, where the hardholder sleeps, what they hang on their walls, where the hell DID they scrounge that vintage wear? Let the hardhold unfold, the name will happen.

Who is your number 2?

great question, I'm totally stealing this, but don't just ask who's your number 2. Do something like this.

MC: "Who do you trust more, Balls or Roarke?"
HH: "Totally Roarke."
MC: "Roarke huh, do you trust her enough to give orders when you're not around?"
HH:"No, I don't trust her THAT much."
MC: "How about Princy?"
HH:"Yeah, Princy's my man."
MC: "Cool, so what's your problem with Roarke?..."

this is "leaping forward with named npcs" later when I do the same for the gunlugger's roomate, mechanic, lover, or whatever, you can bet Balls, Princy, and Roarke will be at the top of my list, this is "creating PC NPC PC triangles"


2 - You look out to the North/South/East/West, over the post apocalyptic landscape - what do you see?


I like to ask them about the view from some landmark they've established, 1st session is a day in the life, so what is the view from their bedroom window?  I would also avoid using the words North, South, East, West, let them figure out how they find their way around.


3.- Yours is not the only Hardhold around - what are the others? Which ones do you need and which ones do you hate? Why
?

4. A threat lurks out there in the wastes - what is it?
don't use the word threat, everything that is not a PC is automatically a threat in AW, When I run a 1st session there are no wastes until a PCs puts them there.
Lets say later you establish some wastes, or jungle, or whatever,  

5. What do you fear the most? The weather? The night? Hunger? The Cannibal Horde? The unknown?


It is really tempting to start making monstrous factions right off the bat, I would avoid this, AW is about people and relationships.

Also I would in general avoid using pre-defined terms like cannibal hordes or the wastes, try instead making up something new like, The Glow, or the Scull Dogs, let THEM decide what the hell you're talking about.

6. Someone in the community has their own independent power base. Who are they? How did they manage to achieve that? How do you feel about them?
7. Someone in the community is a good soul - somehow the Apocalypse hasnt ruined them like the rest of the world - who are they?
8. What is left of the World Before? An old person? A building? A resource? A tradition? A danger?
9.  Is there a Future, or just the Here n' Now? What do you see yourself doing or having in a years time? A decade?  
10. What do you want to change about the world or your situation? What is your plan to do that?  

These questions are great, but I would misdirect, ask them through other NPCs, or let them emerge naturally through play.

hope this helps!
-ross

« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 04:03:28 PM by Ross Cowman »

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2011, 04:01:48 PM »
I agree with Ross. It's a good list, but you want to misdirect, too.

As an MC, I want answers to all those questions, but as-is, they are a little too blatantly attempts to get the players to make up parts of the world. Remember, it is not the players' jobs to make up the world, it is their job to portray their characters. You don't want to ask them what the world is like around them, you want to get a picture of the world around them by asking them how they interact with the world around them.

So I'd look at this list, and let myself wonder about what the answers could be, but I wouldn't let myself ask those questions specifically -- I'd only ask the players questions that directly relate to their characters. But I would write down the answers to those ten questions when I got them, and use those answers first when deciding what to do and ask next.

I think that would be a good exercise in getting used to misdirecting, like the book calls for.

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SJE

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Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 05:18:15 PM »
It is blatantly getting them to help collaboratively design our Apocalypse World. I've got a game tomorrow, and right now I dont know if its going to be one about mutant tribes roaming the radioactive wastes,   Biopunk pirates jet-skiing across a drowned planet,  asteroid colonists out in the Kuiper Belt, 50 years after the last shuttle from Earth arrived or what ever.

And I am addressing the characters- what is the world that they see when they look out? What are their values, what matters to them, what threatens them?

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 05:59:31 PM »
awesome, just make sure to misdirect and you'll be golden.

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 02:08:07 PM »
Out of interest, when are you asking these questions? As they pick up the player books? After they fill them in but before Hx? After Hx but before play?

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Chroma

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Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 02:17:12 PM »
Out of interest, when are you asking these questions? As they pick up the player books? After they fill them in but before Hx? After Hx but before play?

I'd be asking those kinds of questions all throughout the first session; mainly after playbooks had been selected as what's in play can certainly inform questions!  I tend to wait until names have been chosen, so that you can address the neonate characters. 

Sometimes the questions help the players' with move/gear choices as they answer them.
"If you get shot enough times, your body will actually build up immunity to bullets. The real trick lies in surviving the first dozen or so..."
-- Pope Nag, RPG.net - UNKNOWN ARMIES

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SJE

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Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 07:26:21 PM »
Well, we kinda split it up like this. At the very start we had people who hadnt read a word about AW, and others who owned the book but wanted some idea of the setting before picking characters.

As a result, we first discussed the basics of the World and the Apocalypse -what had gone wrong and what the environment/setting was. (We had 'Acid Rain', 'No Sand' and 'GM Crops' contributed - so we decided that a perfect storm of pollution caused the rain to turn to Acid and poisoned the water. A bio-agri combine had created a patented and sterile super-crop called Florin - seeds of this would grow to a harvestable ear of corn in under a week with water and soil. They had let out a virus to wipe out other GM crops and it had destroyed the food supply. Acid-rich mutant vegetation then filled that ecological niche and now Acid Jungles and storms dominate the surface.  Hardholds are based around clean water wells, with greenhouse cultivation of Florin, the only staple foodcrop.  Florin seeds have to be either scavenged from farms or factories of the World Before, or some mutant strains of Florin seed in the wilderness - but not under glass - so a gang of bikers/choppers venture out daily to find Florin seeds for cultivation. Some desperate people eat the Acid vegetation - but they usually go bad and cease to be human. )

So, we had our premise.  We then picked characters (including a hardholder), and then we worked through the list, mixing in character with meta ideas and suggestions.

Then I explained the rules and moves, we had a discussion about lines and veils, levels of sex, and what sort of grimness we wanted, and agreed not to race to bottom in terms of squickness, but it would be an adult and harsh game if thats where the characters took it.

Then we kinda started the first session.

As ever, no plan survives contact with gamers, and while a little muddled, the checklist did help for covering the basics and establishing a shared setting and investment in the world.

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 01:01:02 AM »
I also think that list is a great jumping-off place. I could stand to ask my players more questions like those.

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2011, 05:05:50 AM »

It sounds like it's all working smoothly, but I did want to emphasize what Johnstone said. Make sure to ask their character, not the player, and make sure to ask the questions at natural points in the character's day to day routine. When they talk about heading outside of town, that's when you ask about what scares them out there; when they try to drum up some breakfast, that's when you ask them how they get their food. Etcetera.

Let the characters lead you through the world and ask questions about the gaps you see around them, rather than the other way around.

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2011, 03:24:07 PM »
So Hunting Packs have the impulse to victimize anyone vulnerable, and Enforcers victimize anyone who stands out. So anybody who has a crew, follower, gang, whatever, I always like to ask them "So who in your group would you say is the most vulnerable, in general? Uh huh. Interesting. And who stands out?" I've discovered you almost always get some great NPCs that way, even if you don't have any Hunting Pack or Enforcer threats.

Re: 10 Questions for 1st Session
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2011, 09:25:42 PM »
Yes! I like that as a psychic maelstrom question, too. "Who do you think is most vulnerable (to X)?"