AW with non-p&people?

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AW with non-p&people?
« on: August 30, 2011, 07:22:49 PM »
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this.
I'll try to make the long story as short as possible: I picked up AW earlier this year, loved reading it to death but never got around to actually playing it. Recently a group of people formed that was curious about p&p-rp and a friend of mine asked me if I'd like to DM something for them. I said: sure, but it might be a little bit weird.
After I explained to them what I had in mind and no one ran away screaming we started planning and are going to play in about three weeks. So now I get worried. Bit paranoid maybe.
Three of five have never played a p&p before and their vague idea of an rpg revolves around related videogames and maybe some DnD cliche. I think they now what they are up to but I'm not sure.
Soo, anyone had experience with introducing people into p&p via AW? Even if not, do you have any general suggestions apart from.. well.. obvious stuff. What's different from other systems? Any good advice?

Thanks in advance! :)
« Last Edit: August 30, 2011, 07:49:32 PM by narretei »
a friend in need is a friend indeed

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 10:09:02 PM »
I don't have experience introducing new players with AW, but, I think it would be a great introductory system.  The rules are simple, so you don't have to worry about rules lawyering or decision-paralysis.  Everything is based on the narrative.  If they buy into that, it's smooth sailing.

1 - Prompt them.  New players may be hesitant.  Fortunately, AW requires you to prompt players anyway, so it won't stick out.  Start with character gen.  After Hx is established, just ask each character a few questions.  "Why don't you trust Angels?  Tell me about the time you found love, and lost it.  Tell me about how you got that scar."  Once game starts. put them in a spot and just ask "What do you do?"

2 - Barth Forth.  New players will feel like they're out of place unless they really understand the game world.  Barth forth at every opportunity, and give the players chances to do the same by asking them questions.  Let them own the game world by helping creating it.

3 - Don't plan.  Really, don't.  I know how you feel, because this is what I'm guilty of with every other game I've ever run apart from AW.  Trust the rules - they're written the way they are for a reason.  Just hand out playbooks, do character gen as written, and follow the First Session rules.  If you feel that you must must must do homework, just reread the basic moves and MC moves.

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2011, 06:43:53 AM »
I introduced a gaming virgin to RPG pleasures with AW. I just printed the booklets and let the group chose their favorite and he, like everybody else around the table, got his and started filling it out like it was the most natural thing to do.

We prompted him about how it's played in a few words, then I just looked at him and told "So, Verm the Brainer, it's early morning, the sky's purple and people start to go around the compound, doing what they do. What do YOU do ?" and he was hooked.

Now he's playing in our AW game, in a Pendragon game and would like to try out Leverage.

Just like that.

AW is no different from any other RPGs, appart from small details only a seasoned RPG player would notice and the fact that the rules are a hell more streamlined than most of today's production. In fact, it formalizes trad RPG so well it might be a perfect introduction to RPGs.

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 02:06:10 PM »
I've been playing with a group of people whose closest experience with p&p is Munchkin and knowing the story about the gazebo.  I think the biggest problem is actually that their preconceptions about narrative authority are preventing them from exercising any; they don't do much until I've announced lots of badness and it starts shooting at them, or coughing blood on them, or bursting into the bar.  They are enjoying it, and at least some of them are figuring out how highlighting works (the Faceless had Weird highlighted, so he opened his brain a lot for no reason.  It was fun.)

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2011, 04:54:22 PM »
Thanks a lot for the responses. Some parts of it sound like things I hoped for and/or imagined AW to be like for new players. That's a relief. The rest was helpful as well.

weenog42 and gregpogor: I'm still a little uncomfortable with the expectation of asking that many questions but I guess that's what the MC role asks for. I wonder: how does it "feel" ingame? I'm used to giving nudges, hints, little insights that kind of stuff as a GM. also descriptions, loads of them. AW seems too demand - the way I read it at least - a lot of direct questions and clarifications. Does it kill the immersion of the players into their characters? Or does it help them to crawl deeper into their skin?

Also, weenog42: I don't plan. I really don't. That's one of the big reasons I love the concept of AW. I sit around and think up long lists of possible things but I don't plan one bit. Just thinks like "Huh, what could be precious things that somebody wants and somebody else probably defends. Let's make a list of possible luxury stuff that we'd miss!" But thanks for the reminder.

Nuclear Bob: That's exactly what I'm worried about. This mood of "Okay, when does danger and thread appear so we can have a goal and fight it?" Which is kind of normal I guess. I sometimes still don't like it as a GM. Any good ideas yet to how to.. well, shake things up a little bit?
a friend in need is a friend indeed

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 06:27:21 PM »
Asking direct questions will feel perfectly natural before too long.  If it doesn't feel natural to start, that's probably the biases of other games you've played bleeding through, which is completely unavoidable, but very manageable.   As long as your questions follow from the narrative, they can only enhance immersion.

There's no need to hint or nudge in AW.  The "softest" MC moves are usually to Announce Future Badness or Announce Offstage Badness, but you should do so in bold ways.  If you have to put a gun to the PCs heads to get them to be active, then do that - then ask "What do you do?"  At that point they'll have to do something.

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2011, 06:33:06 PM »
Cool. It's good to know it doesn't kill immersion for other people's players. I'll give it a try and be as direct as appropriate. / possible. Thanks. :)
a friend in need is a friend indeed

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2011, 05:01:39 AM »
weenog42 and gregpogor: I'm still a little uncomfortable with the expectation of asking that many questions but I guess that's what the MC role asks for. I wonder: how does it "feel" ingame? I'm used to giving nudges, hints, little insights that kind of stuff as a GM. also descriptions, loads of them. AW seems too demand - the way I read it at least - a lot of direct questions and clarifications. Does it kill the immersion of the players into their characters? Or does it help them to crawl deeper into their skin?

With my players, it seems to kickstart the part of their brain that thinks like their character. They haze for a second or two and then they spill out the first thing that comes to mind, and ususally it's the best thing, since it's obvious, both for the players and the characters. Despite what I'd thought, it actually help immersion. That way, the game takes account of things that are usually only in one player's head and put it on the table for all to see. The shared world is a bit more shared.

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2011, 12:13:56 PM »
If you have to put a gun to the PCs heads to get them to be active, then do that

In my game, I announced some offscreen badness, which then became onscreen for some of the characters, who did nothing, so it became onscreen for the other characters, who did nothing, so they shot an NPC, and then when the PCs still didn't answer their questions they shot the hoarder in the foot.

At the same time, I don't want violence to be the answer to everything, so in the second session I mostly had some kids cough on them.  Exploring the different ways you can barf on things is fun.

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2011, 02:31:40 PM »
AW with newbies is WAY easier than introducing any other RPG.  Period.  I have yet to meet someone who picks up a playbook and goes "what is this I don't even".  Anyone who has ever filled out a multiple-choice-bubble test in middle school can fill out an AW playbook, and the color first philosophy means all the moves do what they sound like they do.  Any time a player asks "what's X?" I say, "well, what do you *think* X is?" And they usually give me the right answer, or enough of an answer that I can relate it to an appropriate one.

What you *should* do with new folks, though, is give everybody a hard copy of the Moves playbook.  Even yourself.  Bring an extra one in case somebody misplaces it.  Also make an extra copy of each playbook for yourself so you can refer to theirs without having to walk over, lean over their shoulder, and that sort of thing.  Must go faster. MUST GO FASTER!

The questions that new players ask usually run along the lines of "how do I do X?" or "I don't know what to do here! Help!"  AW provides a ready list of moves, but remind them that it's the MC's job to help translate what they want to do into what move is the best way to do that, and that usually falls in line pretty easy.

Finally, make sure you know *exactly* how Hx works.  Tell the newbies that Hx stands for History right off the bat, because it's the one thing they'll never figure out on their own.  If you have never run AW before, run a quick practice round: Make up characters with no details beyond a name and a playbook, then establish Hx for each in turn, then figure out who has the highest Hx with each PC so you know who highlights whom.  The playbook instructions differ from the book's instructions; if you're confused about them, your players will be even more so.  Hx and highlighting were the biggest barriers to my first team of newbies, both the initial establishment and the end-of-session Hx adjustments.

Let us know how it works!  Let us know what doesn't work!

Re: AW with non-p&people?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2011, 05:34:02 AM »
Amphiprison: Thanks! Your advice sounds pretty good. I thought about cropping together a handy sheet with all the basic moves and playbook moves for reference but simply printing out everything in doubles sounds like a decent (and necessary) strategy.
It's relieving to hear that my group and me are not the only people in the world that are utterly confused about Hx. I actually sat down the other day with two of them when we talked about AW in general and just did the whole Hx-thingy within character creation. We got horribly confused but I think we figured it out in the end. I did some Hx-thingies for made-up characters after that and I think I wrapped my head around it, more or less.

I'll let you know how our first session worked out in two weeks. Maybe I'll post an AP if anything worth telling happens.
a friend in need is a friend indeed