Circling conflicts (or why you should do the things Baker says do when playing)

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Chris

  • 342
So one issue I've always had with AW is that the games I've played in and ran both seem to have hit the conflict button over and over like one of those apes with the wires in the sexual center of its brain.

Sure there's no status quo, but often, things weren't static enough to even care about the NPCs. Just us eating plot like we're langoliers.

Little slice o' AP:

So Clarity, she's a Touchstone. And Smokey, he's a Maestro. And Clarity, she's got herself this little school where she indoctrinates teaches the teenagers of the hold that her way is the way of the just and all that. Smokey, he sells drugs.

Enter Caps. Caps, a brand newly named NPC, is called into existence by the MC as one of Clarity's school children. And he takes it upon himself to go down to Smokey's and bust up the place. Seems good, right? PC-NPC-PC triangles and all that.

But that's a Midnight thing, on the countdown clock. I think it's much better to have a 3 o'clock, where Caps comes to Clarity and expresses his unhappiness with the drug joint. And a 6 where one of the other students tells Clarity that she's seen Caps hanging out outside the place.

Sure, the aftermath is fun. But the circling, the circling is what makes the NPCs human and it's what makes them matter to the PCs.

Basic stuff, but it's been on my mind.
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 - "......"

Good advice! Thanks.

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noofy

  • 777
Yup Yup.
The whole section on making the NPCs real by giving them one need and acting with one body part to satisfy that need can easily go in the direction of violent confrontation.

But conflict (and thus a good story) need not be so straightforward. I love obtuse triangles, needs that are cerebral or dirty or dangerous (as well as obvious); actions that make sense to the NPC's body part but no-one else gets it.

I like your 'circling' analogy, so much so that I've begun drawing circles around the triangles on my relationship map tonight and labelling the countdown of that agenda on the periphery.  Now those triangles are definately not static! If a PC doesn't interact within the triangle, the NPCs surely will. Action, Move, Reaction, Move. Countdown..... Tick Tick Tick. Awesome.

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I like your 'circling' analogy, so much so that I've begun drawing circles around the triangles on my relationship map tonight and labelling the countdown of that agenda on the periphery.  Now those triangles are definately not static! If a PC doesn't interact within the triangle, the NPCs surely will. Action, Move, Reaction, Move. Countdown..... Tick Tick Tick. Awesome.

This is a really interesting visual. I make countdown clocks for all my threats already; the only threats that immediately go midnight in my game are ones that spring up on the fly (and not even all of those), and they're pretty few and far between anyway. I think I'm going to try this technique out. I use a program called Labyrinth to map out character relationships, but I think if I print it out and draw countdowns on it, it will become exponentially more useful.
The Dead Flag Blues - Godspeed You Black Emperor! This is my Apocalypse World theme song.

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Chris

  • 342
I like your 'circling' analogy....

Not mine! It's from Baker's In a Wicked Age
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 - "......"

Ah! I've only played AW and Dogs. I should really get my hands on some of his earlier stuff.
The Dead Flag Blues - Godspeed You Black Emperor! This is my Apocalypse World theme song.

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Chris

  • 342
IAWA is post-dogs and pre-AW. :)
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 - "......"

<----- fail
The Dead Flag Blues - Godspeed You Black Emperor! This is my Apocalypse World theme song.

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Chris

  • 342
IAWA didn't seem to get the same attention as the others. I'm basically making that up, but it feels true.

But there was a thing there about circling conflicts and confronting them directly. It was good and interesting.

Did any of that make it over into AW? In any form? Hmmm.
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 - "......"