Operator questions

  • 7 Replies
  • 4057 Views
Operator questions
« on: October 20, 2011, 06:16:26 PM »
So I have one player as ..operator. And others are his crew, like, driver and his 'tank' car, battlebabe, gunlugger...
And he chooses his gigs on the session start. Protecting someone(caravans going through the area) as obligation and killings (3-barter/embattled) as paying.
And he rolls 8. So, one gig succeeds, one goes south.
1) Which one goes south? Or, to be more precise - who decides? No comments in book on this part, so I'm really not sure. It looks fun to let player decide, what he likes more - money for raider chief's head, or keeping his side of the deal and protecting the cargo in process. But anyway, I'd like a clear answer, not homerule.
2) okay, assuming player is honour-bound and chooses "I'm guarding caravan's retreat while embattled with the raiders". Question is: where do we go from here?
Book says that what supposed to be a clean job(e.g. Op made a good ambush point and made traps) turned out to be not so clean and they are pinned/trapped/whatever themselves.
And it also says that catastrophe is like any other move MC makes.
AND also it says that Op has right to say "this is not on screen, I just want the results".
So he don't have to play through the situation from "we're trapped, do something!" point.
So what happens? Hard move like I say "you were captured by raiders, yada-yada, go try pleading for freedom"? Or it's nothing so harsh and just "you're lucky to have a fast car, which is damaged by the way, or you'd be a corpse. Still, your injuries hurt nearly as much"? But how much damage and harm? I don't feel like just throwing "you all and a car get 3-harm each" kind of things, it feels sorts of stupid, as it's just random number of harm/damage.

Any advice appreciated, thanks!
--Guns
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 06:26:53 PM by Guns_n_Droids »

Re: Operator questions
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2011, 03:12:55 PM »
So I found the answer on the first question(it's in the example right there in MC section after the embattled-and-other-things description. Yes, player makes the decision)

Second one is a bit harder even as I read "it is hard MC move" over and over - as in fact I'm collapsing all the fighting action into the single roll.

*

Chroma

  • 259
Re: Operator questions
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2011, 04:10:26 PM »
Second one is a bit harder even as I read "it is hard MC move" over and over - as in fact I'm collapsing all the fighting action into the single roll.

Well, look at your threats/fronts and maybe decide which might be appropriate ambushers and then look at both your possible MC and threat moves lists.

One thing to always remember "Hard MC Move" does NOT mean "Hardest MC Move Possible".

First thing I'd do is "Offer an opportunity, with or without cost.": "Bendrix, you're embattled, do you want to play the whole thing out or should we just cut to the results?"

"Let's play it out, with three of us being PCs, we can handle it."

So, we set the scene and I've decided that Rolfball, a Warlord, has set up the ambush, so I "Encircle someone": "From the plumes of dust that hang in the air, it looks like you've got baddies coming in fast from three directions, and one of them is right in the path of the convoy... fuck, that red and white livery, it's gotta be Rolfball's goons!  What do you do?"

And we just snowball moves from there as the players do stuff and the MC does stuff back.

"Everyone else is back at the holding, let's just cut to the chase."

Okay, I could go with a boring old "Inflict harm": "Bendrix, wow, Rolfball's goons seemed to have known right where to hit you, the caravan got shot up and so did you, take 3-harm, but you get your armour."

Or maybe I "Announce future badness": "Bendrix, Peppering comes up to you and is mad as hell, 'You dumb fuck, you said you could guard the water shipment and now half of it is spilled all over the fucking road!  What am I supposed to do with half my people dying of thirst?!' You've never seen her this mad, what do you do?"


Look at your moves, think up the related trouble you just have to see your beloved PCs get out of, misdirect... and snowball!
"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: Operator questions
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2011, 04:11:18 AM »
Thanks, Chroma, you've described all the choices pretty well, including what I'm asking. But as I'm always in the mood to ask for details, let's see into it more deep:

a) Maybe we indeed agree to play it onscreen.
So now my goal is: something went wrong, and PCs are in trouble. It is clear, that Operator choosing "catastrophe" of the "fight people" means that people should cause him and his crew trouble. I suppose that means that Operator shouldn't have a fair fight at all, he's screwed. And while he can win, he shouldn't "win and be cool about the whole deal".
Am I right here (meaning should I make the opposition bigger/meaner/better equipped and/or prepared?

b) mainly my problem is in "play offscreen"
Essentially, nothing changes from above situation, but I need to describe him being in the tight spot AND then describe how the whole deal worked out.
so okay, I can give him future badness(like, say, 'people paid for this crooks to be captured, yet you're here all beat up while they're at loose again') or take stuff, or whatever - and I still suppose that I need to give him some harm(as he WAS embattled, in the whole mess up front), more if he tried to fight back. That's the main question, as I'm not sure how much harm load into them - too low and they won't feel the failure, too much and both they'd be pissed and the game'd be stalled as well.

Re: Operator questions
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2011, 07:08:15 AM »

I think you should worry less about anticipating the outcome of your choices, like whether or not the PC 'can win' or whether or not he will end up being cool with the result, or anything like that.

It's not really your job to figure out whether or not the PCs can handle specific opposition, it's just your job to figure out what makes the most sense in the fiction, and what fits with the rest of your principles and fronts. Similarly, whether or not the PC should receive harm or not is not based on the failure, it's based on what you decide the consequences were -- if what you end up describing includes the PC taking harm, then he takes harm; if it doesn't, he doesn't. It's not about making sure the PC takes 'enough' harm for it to feel like a real consequence -- that's really, really not how harm is determined in this game. Harm is based on the fiction. Just like you don't make an NPC suddenly do extra harm because the PCs have lots of armour.


*

Chroma

  • 259
Re: Operator questions
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2011, 04:20:48 PM »
Thanks, Chroma, you've described all the choices pretty well, including what I'm asking.

No problemo!

First off, here's what you want foremost in your mind as you think about this: Be a fan of the players' characters.  That's what you want shaping your decision process, along with all the other principles and agendas... it's an easy thing to forget to adhere to, but it makes the game much more enjoyable when you do.

You want to see the PCs deep in some crazy shit... and you want to see how they get out of it!

Quote
a) Maybe we indeed agree to play it onscreen.
Am I right here (meaning should I make the opposition bigger/meaner/better equipped and/or prepared?

Actually, your "goal" here is this: Make the PCs' lives not-boring while keeping it "real". 

Remember, you only get a *single* move before the players get to respond... some MC moves can be pretty expansive in what they allow, but you are limited in what you can actually do to the PCs.

You couldn't say, "Okay, you're embattled now, there's tonnes of bikers surrounding you in many directions, the watertanker has been blown up, and you're shot for three harm."  That's "encircle someone", "take away their stuff", and "inflict harm" all in one MC "move"... which isn't kosher.  You get to do one of those things, then the players get to do stuff.

Now, your moves are going to snowball once the players start acting and reacting, so don't worry about hitting them with a strong move from the get-go.  Allow your threats and agendas to shape the snowball as play progresses.  Remember, you're always misdirecting and never speaking a move's name, the action and events should flow from the fiction even though you, as MC, are using specific moves behind the scenes.

For me, here's one of the myriad ways I'd start this situation:

MC: You're on the road with the water tanker and you're about halfway to Nuberry... you can smell a lot of diesel fumes in the hot air, like a lot of vehicles were here recently... what do you?"  (Announce future badness.)

Operator: Oh shit, I get out my binocs and scan the horizon, I want to read the situation!  (Gets an 8) Uh... what's my enemy's true position?

MC: Looks like there's three packs of bikers, here, here, and here (drawing a quick map of the road and ambush), this one also seems to have a truck with barrels and shit on the back.  What do you do now?  (Notice, this is me making a Warlord threat move: Encircle someone, by placing the biker packs all over the place.)

Battlebabe: I'm swirling off my cloak like this (swirls a piece of paper) and... got a 9 on my Dangerous and Sexy... that's 1-hold... can I make eye contact with anyone?

MC: Not yet, but it seems you got their attention as the largest pack of gangers comes barrelling (no pun intended, waterboy) down the road, directly at you, weapons out... probably almost two dozen screaming Road Knights!  What do you do?  (Warlord threat move: Attack someone suddenly, directly, and very hard.)

Operator: Okay, I'm going to rev the...

Gunlugger: Is it okay if I go instead, you can help me... hit the gas and head right for them, I'm swinging Betsy out and letting 'em have it, full auto... Seize by Force muthafukkas, this road is mine!  DAMNIT!  Snake-eyes... I got a 6... WAIT, it's a 7 with the help!  Suffer little harm and dismay my enemies... is that cool?

MC:  You gun a bunch of them down, flatten some with the car and scatter the survivors... there's still two other groups, but you've eliminated the biggest one as a threat... take your Harm, and let's go!

The players do well with their Harm rolls (don't count on this, much fun can come of it in these situations!  *laugh*).

Players: (Foolishly ask) So, what happens now?

MC: Well, I'm glad you asked!  One of the guys with the truck group aims this tube-like weapon at the water truck, *foomp*, it hits the windshield and blows away Pico (a poor NPC), the truck is now out of control! (Put someone in a spot.)

Operator: Oh man... if I get alongside, can the Gunlugger leap into the cab to take control?

MC: Sure, but it's acting under fire to get in there...

Gunlugger: How much am I getting paid for this?

And so on...

So, a fantastic battle and chase and action stem from that initial failed roll... cool isn't it?

I'll address the "play offscreen" option in my next post.
"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

*

Chroma

  • 259
Re: Operator questions
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2011, 04:44:59 PM »
b) mainly my problem is in "play offscreen"
Essentially, nothing changes from above situation, but I need to describe him being in the tight spot AND then describe how the whole deal worked out.

Just remember, you only get one move to fulfil this... what's going to be the coolest thing for the players to dig themselves out of?  You just do a quick recap of how it went bad, make your move, and see what they do.

Here's three possible responses:

MC: Okay, you're back in Nuberry.  You and the water convoy got hit by Rolfball's Road Knights and you lost the tanker... you killed some of them and made it out alive, but you had to do a lot of fancy driving that has nearly drained your gas tank, you're going to need to fill up before you go out again. What do you do? (Make them buy.)

Or:

MC: Okay, you're back in Nuberry.  You and the water convoy got hit by Rolfball's Road Knights and you lost the tanker... you killed some of them and made it out alive, but that's a lot of lost water for the hold.  Peppering (NPC "hardholder") looks really mad and is storming right towards you. What do you do? (Put someone in a spot.)

Or:

MC: Okay, you're back in Nuberry.  You and the water convoy got hit by Rolfball's Road Knights and you lost the tanker... you killed some of them and made it out alive, but they really put up a fight... everyone take 3-harm, but you get your armour... and don't forget your Harm rolls!  What do you do? (Inflict harm)

Also realize that this "loss of the tanker" means you're advancing the clock on the "Drought in Nuberry" threat... or creating it as a brand new threat now!  Those aren't moves, they're making Apocalypse World seem real.

That said, you can still only make a single MC move against the PCs in this situation, you can't "punish" them any more than that...

Does that all make sense?
"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: Operator questions
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2011, 08:20:48 PM »
The "harm move" also works as a simple -1, 0, or +1 harm outcome. Just be aware that the higher the actual harm, the better the odds that it'll get "bumped up" on a roll.

I think 1-harm or 2-harm is a good "default" for these situations, giving you possible outcomes of 0, 1, 2, or 3-harm.