Scarcity of atruism and reason

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Scarcity of atruism and reason
« on: September 23, 2011, 03:23:46 AM »
I've noticed there are some interesting ways in which the rules nudge me towards playing NPCs as hostile. Writing any NPC with agency up as a threat with a problematic impulse, and only having any allies late game after 12+ Hot rolls are unlocked, disposes me to create certain kinds of NPCs.

Likewise, I find it interesting that using leverage to get what you want is a move, but appealing to reason or humanity isn't. That doesn't mean the latter doesn't ever work, just that it's up to the MC to decide whether it's successful, whereas the former you have a lot more control over.

Thing is, my first instinct is to play NPCs as very reasonable people. If the PCs offer them what seems to me like a good deal, I'm inclined for them to accept it. If they are likely to die in a fight, they try to find a way to avoid fighting.
And sometimes it seems to me like an NPC should act like an ally to the PCs- I just imagine them as a friendly person who would act altruistically.

Is it a good idea to lean towards making NPCs selfish or unreasonable? I wonder whether I should try to align my descriptions with the trends I see in the system, or whether I should play whatever comes naturally. Make enough problems to keep their lives interesting, but does that mean there is no one who is kind or helpful?

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2011, 04:07:36 AM »
Just because an important NPC has a threat clock doesn't mean they're necessarily an enemy or even not a friend. It just means that they they have their own motives and sometimes do shit the players don't like, and that the players can try to mitigate this by maintaining the relationship, keeping the NPC's needs and concerns in mind, and acting to lower their threat clock. In other words, they can keep a relationship going well by actually acting to maintain it. Kind of like in reality. Being able to make someone into a dedicated ally by rolling 12+ on a seduce or manipulate roll is just convenient, in that it gives you more leeway in getting around those things and means the NPC won't at some point end up acting on a problematic impulse.

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Chroma

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Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2011, 09:34:44 AM »
Is it a good idea to lean towards making NPCs selfish or unreasonable? I wonder whether I should try to align my descriptions with the trends I see in the system, or whether I should play whatever comes naturally. Make enough problems to keep their lives interesting, but does that mean there is no one who is kind or helpful?


Well, to quote the book:

Remember how to make NPCs human? Give them straightforward, understandable self-interests. Choose a body part — their stomach, their gut, their dick or clit, their nose, their time-ticking womb, their fearful cowardly heart (or their generous caring heart, or their bold big heart) — and have them just follow it around wherever it goes. - (Emphasis mine)

I don't think it is a good idea just to make everyone selfish, unreasonable assholes... that's not making Apocalypse World real... it's just making it uniform... certainly *some* Apocalypse Worlds may be like this, but not all of them.

One of the biggest thorns in the side of the Chopper (Titus) in my first game was his loyal, smart, and opinionated right-hand man Limer.  This guy was motivated by loyalty to his leader and the club (Hello Sons of Anarchy fans!)... and wouldn't keep it to himself when he thought Titus was being stupid or going to get the gang into a mess... and this caused all kinds of other problems... "Is Limer trying to take over?  Do I kill my best guy to keep the rest of the gang in line?  Why does he see these things I don't?  And, WHY THE FUCK is he so often right?!?!"

So, Limer wasn't an ally, but he was a friend... a real pain-in-the-ass friend that generated all kinds of cool issues... and when he got his lower jaw blown off by a shotgun and the Angel accidentally killed him with Healing Touch, there was a moment of silence at the table...  and the Chopper had a real sense of loss.

If Limer had been a selfish, unreasonable asshole, we would've missed out on all kinds of cool stories as we played to find out...
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 09:39:08 AM by Chroma »
"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

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2011, 10:48:51 AM »
Reason and humanity are leverage too. When you say, "You're being stupid if you don't do X," you're saying, 'The leverage I have on you is that this course of action isn't very smart, and it's important to you to do smart things, and how much do you care right now about being true to yourself?'

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2011, 11:42:13 AM »
I do think that leverage can be in anything, from "This is your child, dammit" to "this is your last chance to kill this bastard" — only it's VERY important to check first, that this actually DOES matter to him. Most important if the opponent is PC as RP can easily be misunderstood sometimes. As well as sometimes PC will outright lie. I think, the house rule "when you reset Hx with somebody from +3 to +1, he should tell you his secret" is a perfect source. BTW, question to this matter: how you guys rule about giving somebody -Hx? I mean, that if everyone can give his friends good Hx and/or his enemies bad Hx, wouldn't it be kinda metagamey?

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2011, 12:35:59 PM »
BTW, question to this matter: how you guys rule about giving somebody -Hx? I mean, that if everyone can give his friends good Hx and/or his enemies bad Hx, wouldn't it be kinda metagamey?

-Hx almost never comes up in our game; only in the specific sex moves that call for it. We try to play honestly; the end of session move asks which PC knows you better, not which one you like more. Also, if you damage people they get +Hx with you, so if you have an enemy PC they will probably have a pretty good Hx score with you after a few altercations.

If you're referring to help/interfere, then sure, PCs can help or interfere with each other all day long--as long as they actually do something in character that makes sense.

Also: what do you mean by metagamey?

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2011, 01:37:59 PM »
MC section tells us that it's "acceptable" to select someone who knows her worse then he did, and tell him to lower Hx by 1. In that case it resets from -4 to -1.

I don't get 3 things:
1) is it "additionally to telling someone to increase Hx" or is it "instead"?
2) while I get the idea of rewarding xp for knowing your fellow PCs better(it makes this inherent goal of the play, and it is logical in the post-apoc setting), I don't get, how you get xp for knowing someone way worse then you supposed?
3) saying that it can be 'metagamey' I mean that if I know that someone will try to screw with me doing X I'll better make it hard for him to interfere with my workings. Of course, he will get +Hx if I will try shooting at him, but if he's a gunlugger or battlebabe or so, and I'm angel or savvy, it's not a good idea anyway. Since he will kinda shoot back.

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Chroma

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Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2011, 01:58:22 PM »
I don't get 3 things:
1) is it "additionally to telling someone to increase Hx" or is it "instead"?
It's "instead".

By default, every player chooses someone who knows her
character better, like it says. However, it’s also acceptable for
a player to choose someone who knows her character worse, or
who showed that they didn’t know her character as well as they
thought, and give them -1Hx. In that case, Hx-4 resets to Hx-1.


Quote
2) while I get the idea of rewarding xp for knowing your fellow PCs better(it makes this inherent goal of the play, and it is logical in the post-apoc setting), I don't get, how you get xp for knowing someone way worse then you supposed?

Cuz you now know yourself better!

"I always thought Dremmer was a stand up guy... boy was I wrong!  I have no idea what makes him tick."
"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

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2011, 07:25:54 PM »
Thanks for the replies!

Chroma, that's a good point about how making everyone a jerk wouldn't make Apocalypse World seem real. That passage you point to seems really relevant, too.

Sheryas, I don't agree with you that reason or humanity can be leverage. Maybe we have a different sense of what is meant by leverage, though. To me that word means something you control, so you can control another person by offering to use your leverage one way instead of another, like operating a lever. You want something, I can give it to you or not, so you do what I want so I'll give you what you want. In your example, I might tell someone what they are doing isn't smart, and that may be enough to convince you not to do it, but I don't have any leverage because what I do has no influence over whether or not your course of action is smart or not. I can point it out, but I don't have control over anything that might influence your actions.

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2011, 07:42:41 PM »
In our game, the Gunlugger was carrying the Savvyhead's child, and was all going aggro, like "You are going to stay out of my kid's life, or I'm gonna shoot you".

The Savvyhead responded with a seduce/manipulate, like "Yeah, you know what? You could totally kill me if you wanted to. But I thought you were trying to be a better person than that." The player said that what he was offering was, "If you don't do this, you're going to feel like a horrible person."

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 07:55:37 PM »
Oh yeah, I can totally see using someone's humanity to make them feel like crap as leverage. But although they need to have some humanity for the threat to work, what the manipulator controls is not whether the action is right or wrong, but whether they can make them feel awful. I don't think manipulation would have worked in that example of the Savvyhead wasn't willing to make the Gunlugger feel like crap. Could you see a manipulation roll in that situation if they had just told the Gunlugger that shooting them would be wrong?

In the reason example, I don't think pointing out a course of action is stupid would be manipulation, but making it clear you are going to make them feel stupid if they do something could be. In your example, the Savvyhead changes the situation emotionally through what they say, I think you need to have a point of control like that to make it manipulation.

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2011, 08:29:58 PM »
Yeah, I think I'm with you there, about the "point of control". I mean, you do have to have control over something they want. That's how manipulation works, right?

I guess your original question was, hey, why isn't there a non-manipulative, non-threatening way to get someone to do something you want. I guess my answer is, if you want to do that, feel free to roleplay it out. But there's not really negative consequences beyond failure inherent in that sort of dialogue; if you're behaving like a rational human, then maybe you're not putting enough of yourself on the line to call for a roll?

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2011, 08:38:47 PM »
I guess your original question was, hey, why isn't there a non-manipulative, non-threatening way to get someone to do something you want. I guess my answer is, if you want to do that, feel free to roleplay it out. But there's not really negative consequences beyond failure inherent in that sort of dialogue; if you're behaving like a rational human, then maybe you're not putting enough of yourself on the line to call for a roll?
I guess my original question was "does the fact that there isn't a non-manipulative, non-threatening way to get someone to do something I want, mean that all NPCs are asshats and manipulation and threats are the only way to get them to do something?" Chroma's answer was "nope, that wouldn't make apocalypse world seem real." I think you are right, we don't need a roll for that case.
I don't think that quite settles the issue for me completely, but I need to think a little about what it is exactly that I'm worried about.

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Chroma

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Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2011, 10:12:45 PM »
I don't think that quite settles the issue for me completely, but I need to think a little about what it is exactly that I'm worried about.
The resolution to this is, I believe, the MC move: offer an opportunity, with or without cost... if the NPC would realistically/plausibly accept an offer without manipulation or haggling, the MC is *required* to go that way.

"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

Re: Scarcity of atruism and reason
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2011, 04:49:39 PM »
I don't know if that is of any help but I imagine an altruistic and reasonable person could be a severe threat as an ally.
Off the top of my head: An NPC who thinks that everyone's equal and the few things you can take hold of should be shared. Imagine this NPC giving food supplies out to everyone who is in need / has it worth that him / her while the PCs are off gathering whatever supplies they can fight off the apocalyptic landscape.
As far as I see such a situation, every PC is either soft-hearted chivalrous knight or they will feel threated at some point. It would even be more interesting because what's threatening them is not some egoistic, twisted asshole but a caring human being.
But maybe I mistake altruistic and reasonable for innocent and self-sacrificing.
a friend in need is a friend indeed