"It's a... trap???"

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"It's a... trap???"
« on: October 08, 2011, 06:25:00 PM »
Where is the line between "MC makes as hard of a move as he wants on a miss" and player control of their character's actions?

Say the characters are navigating a ruined and unstable set of buildings (landscape: mirage; entice & betray), tracking this cannibal butcher that's hold up in there.  He's led them into a trap, a room with a floor that's really unstable.  People walk on it, they fall through.

One the players is suspicious, so before entering the room he asks "does it look safe?"  I tell him roll +Sharp to read a sitch.

If he gets a hit, no problem.  I answer his question: the floor's unstable, looks like it could cave in with enough weight on it.  Maybe he gets to ask more questions.  What he does next is his business.

But on miss… how much control do I have over his character's actions when I make my hard move? There are all sorts of good moves suggested by the fiction (put him in a spot, separate them, inflict harm) that involve him stepping out on the floor.  But do I get to say that he stepped out on to the floor because he missed the roll?

I can see many of the folks I play with getting very irate over me saying "it looks safe, but when you step onto it, the floor gives way!"  "But I never said I stepped on to it!" And they've got a point. Just because the floor looks stable doesn't mean they're going to step out onto it.

If I don't have the right to say "it looks safe, so you step onto it…," then what options *do* I have for a hard move in this situation?  I can't lie and say "it looks safe!"  And even if I did, that's far from an irrevocable hard move, especially since the player *knows* he rolled a miss.

I suppose I could have the cannibal attack from behind while they assess the situation.  But beyond that, the best I can think of are setup moves that give the players a chance to act (like "you see movement on the other side of the room, it's that bastard you're tracking, but he's leaving now… what do you do?").  And again, the missed "read a sitch" roll is still hanging out there as a metagame indicator that the room is NOT in fact safe.

How do y'all play this sort of thing?

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 06:58:45 PM »
mmm, if the players wanted to know about that room, they probably had the idea to get in there afterwards, so saying "But I never said I stepped on to it!" seems to me like blocking the advancement of the game.
But maybe the key to solving that issue is to ask how them do they read a sitch, how can they tell if the floor´s unstable. Depending on how do they act, you may say what happens if they fail.
-If they grab a heavy object and throw it in the middle of the room... They know the floor is unstable, of course, but they also make a lot of noise and attract something ugly to them
-If they simply look at the floor and try to guess, bad luck, it deceives them and they step onto it



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Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 07:09:47 PM »
You have to be a fan of the characters and make their lives interesting! Your trap idea is just that, an idea, until it makes it into play. So your hard move could be to spring the trap on a miss, introduce it into the fiction. Its a hard move right? Handed to you on a platter. 'As hard a move as you'd like'. So sure, they could step out onto the trap and set it off under your 'control'.....

My impulse here though is to ask more questions. The player fails on the read a sitch, asking if its 'safe'. Turn the move back on them. What do they think? A cannibal butcher is holed up waiting for them right? So rather than say 'its looks safe so you step on it', ask the player a few pointed questions.... They know about this butcher, do you think he may just set a trap or two? What sort of trap would he set for them? What does it look like? How does it work? Oh yeah, and you have now set that shit off. State the consequences and then ask 'what do you do?' Start the snowball.

Its all about co-authorship of the emergent fiction. Give the players input. They know they just 'missed' the roll, they know that's 'bad'. They fluffed an important read, so yeah, some hard-arsed shit is gonna cave in on their heads, but if they get a hand in authoring the failure rather than following along in your-pre-prepared storyline (don't do that remember), they get to play the characters as real and dangerous people.

You could even reveal 'future badness', enjoy a framed scene as you describe the butcher lovingly set the trap the player has just described, revealing something about his motivation and need, narrate your stakes questions about this front into the vingette.

There are plenty of options, just don't get too hung up on the players 'guessing' (via successful moves) what the MC has in store for them. Play to answer your stakes questions through the fiction, not to reveal a pre-determined narrative answer.

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 07:27:04 PM »
I'd also note that if someone fails a Sharp roll, you could give them a "false conclusion" by acting as though you had successfully manipulated them: they can choose their own action (or at least attempt to), but they get an XP by playing along and acting as though the false idea is true, or have to act under fire to think better of it, or both. Or perhaps the false idea just gives them a -1 when they try to deal with the situation through other moves. Or whatever.

Alternately, you aren't obligated to make a move. If it seems interesting or fits the fiction to make a move, do so, but if you're feeling merciful (like, say, the player has been roleplaying well or doing the "right" things but the dice have been screwing them, or whatever), or just don't feel like it would make things more interesting to make a move at the moment, you can just say "You don't know."

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 08:46:19 PM »
P: "Hey, something's not right here...does the floor look stable?"
MC: "Sure, you know Cannibal Bob came this way, right?  Do you want to read a sitch?"
P: "Yeah!" <roll>  "Damn, I whiffed it."
MC: "So what do you do?"
P: <looks worried because I didn't drop a hard move on them> "I guess we go after Bob."
MC: "You were right, the floor was a fucking trap, you suckers!  Both of you take two harm and to avoid being pinned in the rubble is acting under fire."

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2011, 09:57:45 PM »
If I was a player in your game, and you tell me: "So you step onto the floor and fall into the trap!" ... well, I wouldn't argue about it, because that would just stall the game, and you're going to make a move against me anyway, right?

But it wouldn't feel right to me, for the reasons you point out.

The suggestions above are good!

But announcing future badness or offering an opportunity very much with cost are also options, right? Maybe even, "Maybe there's a safe way across that floor... but you sure as hell can't figure out what that might be. Do you want to risk just running across?"

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2011, 10:38:19 AM »
Maze seeks to entice and betray, so maybe: Sure, the floor looks like a trap, but there's this door on the side where you could get quite safely. The cannibal didn't go that way, though, and you've got no idea where it leads to (as honesty demands). What do you do?



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Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2011, 08:26:49 AM »
What's alerting the player to ask if this specific room has a dangerous floor? Or are they checking for traps (and, I guess carrying those 10ft poles) all over?

"Does the floor look safe?" to me seems like a question that's prompted by something else. I mean, they're not asking about the walls, doors, ceiling, stack of explosives, crate marked "medical supplies", possibly dead kid who isn't moving?

To me AW is about people damning themselves. So I'd suggest booby-traps. Getting unavoidable harm because you walked across a room is dull, getting harm because you botched a roll while trying to retrieve the wounded child / medical supplies / empty box marked cake is fun!

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 07:25:12 PM »
My inclination for a hard move there would be to say 'The floor looks perfectly safe to you', and trust the player to play their character appropriately.  I'm not sure what move that would be.  I feel strongly that you get better results when you don't try to hide information from other players, even if their characters wouldn't be aware of it.

Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 08:49:53 AM »
Do ya'll figure there's a significant difference between "The floor looks safe." and "The floor is safe."? Like, I feel the latter would be dishonest, but I'm not sure about the former.



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Re: "It's a... trap???"
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 09:05:38 AM »
With Tommi, did you all go look up the threat moves associated with mirage landscapes? Some of them would be pretty fun in this situation.