NPC "brainers"

  • 24 Replies
  • 13704 Views
NPC "brainers"
« on: July 14, 2010, 06:30:44 PM »
So none of my three friends decided to play a brainer.  This disappoints me and I feel that psychic weirdness is crucial to what I want AW to be.  Of course I know that everyone can open their brain (and the gunlugger even took the move that lets her use hard to open her brain when she's in a fight) but I'm thinking of putting some kind of weirdass psychic dude (or chick, i'm not sure yet) into the game as an NPC and I'm curious about how others have handled that sort of thing.  Do you do anything special with them?

*

Chris

  • 342
Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2010, 06:57:57 PM »
mindfuckers, from the threats.
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 - "......"

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2010, 07:08:12 PM »
You... you know that wasn't really what I was asking, right?

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2010, 07:49:47 PM »
Well, it might not be what you were asking, but 'brainer' is not an NPC option,whereas 'mindfucker' is. You gotta build that psychic weirdness into something else or someone else. In Alison's Holding, Vx introduced an NPC from the same brainer family that Marie, our PC brainer, hailed from. The key difference, though, was that while his words were all spooky-talk, his moves were all 'devour all their resources'. Him and his crew nearly ate us out of house and hold! Other ways to bring in creepiness:

-mess with the water supply. Nothing overt, just show that people are acting different in small ways after drinking.

-possess a PC. Figure out the front for it, natch, but there's nothing more mind-bending than blowing a roll and having your MC say "You come to covered in blood. It's not yours."

-play up environmental details. Twisted weather, animals that are...off, vivid descriptions of smells and textures out of sync with expectations.

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2010, 08:05:11 PM »
Well, it might not be what you were asking, but 'brainer' is not an NPC option,whereas 'mindfucker' is.
I know, but that's why I didn't ask what "class" you'd make them.  :)  I was asking about other things you might do, stuff like oh... this stuff:
You gotta build that psychic weirdness into something else or someone else. In Alison's Holding, Vx introduced an NPC from the same brainer family that Marie, our PC brainer, hailed from. The key difference, though, was that while his words were all spooky-talk, his moves were all 'devour all their resources'. Him and his crew nearly ate us out of house and hold! Other ways to bring in creepiness:

-mess with the water supply. Nothing overt, just show that people are acting different in small ways after drinking.

-possess a PC. Figure out the front for it, natch, but there's nothing more mind-bending than blowing a roll and having your MC say "You come to covered in blood. It's not yours."

-play up environmental details. Twisted weather, animals that are...off, vivid descriptions of smells and textures out of sync with expectations.
Thanks!

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010, 10:06:12 PM »
One day you realize that you keep seeing Carl in your dreams. Every night. He's not really in them, though. Usually he's just sitting somewhere, watching. Once he was reading a book.

You come home to find all the food in your pantry replaced with doll parts. Everywhere you look, there are naked plastic arms, or legs, hands, feet, torsos. Stuffed into a flour sack, bundled like dried fish, immersed in jam jars. Where your garlic braid once was hangs a braid of doll heads, neatly hung on its hook.

Change an NPC's personality radically, overnight! When someone notices, make them read the situation and tell them something scary.

Sometimes, people go missing, and a few days later they come back, but they don't remember that they've been gone.

When it rains, everyone bursts into tears.

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2010, 10:42:03 PM »
Custom moves!

Nobody can make eye contact with Ikea the Mindfucker for more than like a second. Trying is acting under fire.

Drivers get +1 to that roll because they have those emo bangs for protection and nobody would ever suspect them of trying to make eye contact with anyone.
"I don't care what Wilson says." -- some slanderous bastard on the internet

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2010, 06:55:38 AM »
Custom Move: When (insert Brainer name here) has time and intimacy with you, they can put a command in your head, and hold 3, under the same conditions as in-brain puppet strings. Or they can ask you 3 questions off the Deep Brain Scan list.

If they're wearing a violation glove, merest skin contact counts as time and intimacy. If they use the implant syringe or receptivity drugs, modify the "moves" appropriately.

Ta da! NPC brainers.

(If you want to be nice, you could hack up a roll to resist, maybe cool or weird? On a 10+, they take 1 harm, on a 7-9, it's just one hold, on a miss, 3 hold. Just invert the brainer move, basically. It's a trick that's worked for me before on other moves.)

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2010, 08:22:14 AM »
Custom Move: When (insert Brainer name here) has time and intimacy with you, they can put a command in your head, and hold 3, under the same conditions as in-brain puppet strings. Or they can ask you 3 questions off the Deep Brain Scan list.

If they're wearing a violation glove, merest skin contact counts as time and intimacy. If they use the implant syringe or receptivity drugs, modify the "moves" appropriately.

Ta da! NPC brainers.

(If you want to be nice, you could hack up a roll to resist, maybe cool or weird? On a 10+, they take 1 harm, on a 7-9, it's just one hold, on a miss, 3 hold. Just invert the brainer move, basically. It's a trick that's worked for me before on other moves.)
Yeah, I did this when I wanted an NPC brainer in my game. I believe the way I wrote it up was "When you try to resist a command that Rothschild put in your head with time and intimacy, roll+weird. On a 10+ you resist, on a 7-9 you either resist and take 2 harm (ap) or you obey. On a miss you either obey or take 4 harm (ap) from a messy brain hemmorage."

You know, just to keep it focused on the players.

It only ever got used once, but the player (angel) it was used on decided to murder his employer (who had showed up to rescue him from Rothschild)  under the cover of treating his wounds instead of taking 2 harm.

I suppose, to be fair, he was already pretty hurting from all the torturing Rothschild had done.

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2010, 01:49:56 PM »
I'm glad I started this thread!  There's been a lot of awesome ideas in here, but I have to say...
Change an NPC's personality radically, overnight! When someone notices, make them read the situation and tell them something scary.
This may be almost too awesome.

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2010, 01:46:02 AM »

It's also worth pointing out that Brainers aren't particularly tied to the weirdness of Apocalypse World, or even the psychic maelstrom -- I mean sure, a very small number of their moves reference it (usually on a miss), but most of them are just a particular flavour of social manipulation that can operate on a completely different level than the Open Your Brain stuff.

Or maybe put another way, Open Your Brain is such an overwhelmingly powerful/important move that all you need to get weirdness in your game is have players/character who are willing to use it. Brainers, with their high +weird, may have slightly more incentive than others, but I mean... who doesn't want to commune with bizarre mysterious mojo? In our game I think the Chopper ended up with the highest frequency of Open-His-Braining, and the other two PCs were an actual-Brainer and an Angel whose character concept included the words 'psychic prostitute.'

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2010, 03:18:34 PM »
So, I MC'ed a pretty sweet, 4 session game a little while ago. There was a Brainer and an Operator - they were scheming outcasts.

They encountered a dead body about 15 minutes into the game. The brainer's first question, "Can I read dead people?" Of course you can read dead people. That's a brilliant idea.

And in pretty short order, they realize that this corpse died at the hands of another brainer. A super violent psychotic biker brainer.

So, here's where I took that:

1.) I made the biker brainer way more intense and vicious than the PC brainer, and much more primal. And then I implied that his powers were much more direct & powerful, as kind of a dark avenue of temptation.

2.) I put this biker brainer's dirty little fingerprints on lots of people's brains, and suddenly there was a new risk in reading someone.

3.) When the two brainers met, the PC brainer wanted a truce, and the biker brainer wanted to brand her and scan her. Not as a violent thing, as a security.

Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2010, 04:00:16 PM »
^ Nice!

*

Orion

  • 69
Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2010, 05:33:36 PM »
As noted Above, Brainers certainly don't have any kind of monopoly on the Maelstrom.  In fact, the class you probably want if the Maelstrom is your deal is Hocus, followed closely by Angel or Skinner. 

But there are good options for anyone to get involved.  Here's all you need to do to get people thinking about it

1: Start highlighting people's Weird
2: introduce some threat moves that forcibly open brains, so you can dump some interesting info in their heads.  Something they'll want to follow up on, which will get them interested in more explanation. 

Then, subtly steer them toward Improvement options that lead in a Weird direction.  Basically every character type has at least one move that relates to the Maelstrom.  Particularly impressive are the Savvyhead's Augury, the Skinner's Lost, and the Angel's Healing Touch (which can end up opening her and her partner's brain). 

Finally, remember that you can take 2 moves from other playbooks.  This means you can get a Brainer going as something tacked on to anyone with decent Weird, but it also means you can build up a no-shit psychic from any chassis. Say you're a Skinner.  Get Lost and Hypnotic, then pick up Followers/Augury, Oftener Right, and Healing Touch.  3 Advances from chargen and you have a creepy prophet who can call you to his temple, heal you, and dispense oracular insight. 




*

Chris

  • 342
Re: NPC "brainers"
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2010, 07:16:39 AM »
Say you're a Skinner.  Get Lost and Hypnotic, then pick up Followers/Augury, Oftener Right, and Healing Touch.  3 Advances from chargen and you have a creepy prophet who can call you to his temple, heal you, and dispense oracular insight.

Whose doing all this with a Weird of +1 (if they're willing to crap out the rest of their stats), missing weird rolls left and right.

If you want a creepy prophet, just take a Hocus. I see Lost as almost exclusively being taking by other, weirder classes. It's just not worth it as a Skinner to put that much into getting a +1 weird.

And hypnotic is the most useless move in the game. It's the only one I don't like. So I'm a skinner and I've got someone alone. I can: waste a move on Hypnotic and roll+hot to put hypnotic on them, or I can just roll+hot to sleep with them to do the same thing (hypnotic).
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 - "......"