AP: The Shire

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AP: The Shire
« on: December 16, 2011, 07:35:04 AM »
So, we've had two sessions.

My cast is: Mr Smith the Battlebabe, Oz the Savvyhead, Doc the Angel and Pallor the Brainer.

None of them have any crew, staff, followers or vehicles.

They hang out at Oz's scrapyard called "The Shire". I was feeling a little "uh-oh" about this - as I didn't want to tell them they had to be near other people, but then one of them when asked "What do you do all day?" said "Hang out in the bar?"

So, we have a bar. They called The Melted Bottle. They told me it's run by a guy named Gabe. Gabe gets Oz to repair his still, employs Smith as security.

Partway through further Following Them Around they invent a barman called Shaky Dave and then make a lot of fun of him.

I'd been drawing the buildings on a flipchart pad in the middle of the table. So I asked what was off the page in each direction. North is more inner-city urban ruins - skyscrapers and malls, controlled by an Alpha Wolf called Inch and his Boys who hasn't stomped them because he lacks the manpower so far to spread that far. South-west is what was once a wide river, and is now a canyon with fluorescent sludge in it, called "The Gash". South east is what they call "The Waste" - where the two guys that go hunting come out of to sell them meat.

Good point, I said, what do you have locally?

Water, they said, if it's rained recently. Food we have to trade in (though Doc immediately laid claim to a stash of tinned meals in a bunker he found but didn't secure), but those two guys are pretty regular. What do they want from you?

Well, patching up from Doc, truck repairs from Oz, extra muscle sometimes from Smith, but mainly they want the alcohol from the bar.

Yup, turns out everyone coming in is doing so to trade at, and mainly with, a bar the PCs don't run.

I'd stopped worrying about not being able to find conflict by then.

Because they'd made no attempt to suggest any perimeters or security for the area I had a biker turn up and cause trouble as their first day. Smith had a problem with just doing it - a lot of his moves were like:
"Okay, I tell him to calm down"
"He's not calm and he's bringing a gun up."
"I stick my gun in his face first."
"Are you going aggro?"
"Yes, well, I just want him to drop his gun."
"And if he doesn't?"
"I say to him "There's no need for this!""

Which lead to me then letting the Biker survive more Harm than I should have let him. The session ended with him in a coma (as the Doc rushed to save him) and Oz discovering the bike panniers were full of cured human meat. (Hadn't planned on it, but then found myself saying it so that's what the story demanded)

Between sessions I wrote down that there was a Meat Cult in addition to Inch's Boys, but for each of the Fronts I had trouble thinking up more than one threat. Added to this that I was thinking of the Melted Bottle as the home front - Gabe and Dave weren't threats, just people. I tried to write up the Meat Cult and Inch's Boys as the two fronts but other than "Alpha Wolf" and "Hive Queen" didn't find inspiration. I didn't want to over-populate them.

On the day of the second session, three weeks later I suddenly realised. The Home Front isn't the Bottle. The Bottle is a Front proper.

Second session we were down one (Pallor's player was sick) so I decided to concentrate on just that. The Melted Bottle itself is a Maze(Gabe is its Keeper), Alcohol is a Condition and Shaky Dave is a Mutant. He wants respect, and to take over the bar, but now these shits have arrived and given him this derogatory nickname, taken his job (I decided that as Smith named the NPC, he also in-game did so).

Dave rigged a grenade on the stairs Smith's place after Smith got freebies from Ace, one of the girls Tum Tum runs from the bar (he pays Pallor to keep them in line). Dave had also been training the giant rats (with the clacking bone eyelids) having been sold some pheromones by Persons Unknown. The hunters who sell meat haven't turned up recently (I may have them on a Countdown by next session) and some new arrival (because: no borders, no patrols) have parked their car over the hatch to Doc's stash of food (because he said it was still in the bunker and that that wasn't where he lived).

At the beginning of the session they were all "Man, I'm glad that creepy fuck Pallor isn't here" and by the end of it they had switched to: "I hate to say this but it'd be really useful if we could just read his mind, wouldn't it?"

They rolled really badly a lot, and I had to take breaks to think up things other than "Well, the grenade isn't defused; 4 harm" as that was getting old.

They also had to deal with an angry mob who thought Oz was the one setting grenade traps to get at Smith. That was resolved when, while defusing one, Oz and Smith had such a bickering row (all wonderfully IC) that now most of the locals assume they're actually a couple.

People got too drunk and had fights around them, security was negelcted, giant rats attacked people, they took half the session to work out Shaky Dave was making moves against them (though they worry he's acting on Gabe's orders, which interests me) and a spectacular fail when attempting to throw a bottle of pheromones from behind cover at a sniper resulted in Oz being drenched in the stuff and having to wrestle one in the street.

We had to end on that cliffhanger, so next time we'll finish the gun battle and then skip ahead to allow people to heal.

I'm planning on having the Meat Cult as a combination of Hive Queen warlord (the cultists themselves) and Affliction, having been lightbulbed on the forum about that just now. Inch and Boys might not make an appearance for a while, as it's been stated several times that they're further away than the Gash. And I need to create a home front so I can put the Rats in it, or decide if they're part of the Gash Front.

I do wish they'd called it something else... oh well!

Re: AP: The Shire
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2011, 11:01:38 AM »
it sounds like you had a couple, two-three of those A-ha! moments that seem to accompany MCing Apocalypse World :)

two of my PCs are pretty passive, and that's proved pretty frustrating for me. they're getting better about it, but our town's NPCs "reflect" this: they have stuff of their own going on that doesn't involve the PCs, on account of how i didn't know about pc-npc-pc triangles yet when we started, and couldn't figure a way to get them involved anyhow.

what seems to have worked is: violence.
even the most passive, easygoing Angel will react if someone waves a gun in hir face. that's what happened in our game (but it followed from the fiction, too).

as for the issue of Going Aggro?, there's this flowchart floating around the webs that seems to be useful: https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1ETp72rzwzNhfGEb-yKj2buZlrZ3zfQqUnHStoNCDRBQ/edit?pli=1
in my game, we basically do it like this:

- are you going to be willing to back up your threats with actual violence, but the NPC can't fight back? that's Going Aggro.
- are you just holding a gun for show? like, if they spit in your eye, will you just get mad instead of blowing out their kneecaps? that's Seduce/Manipulate, with poooossible wiggle room to allow "what they want" to be "getting that gun out of my face". but that may be stretching things too far.

basically, really pushing the players hard on "so how are you using violence?" can be a good way to make them decide what to do - if a PC has +3hard but only 0=hot, deciding between Going Aggro and Seduce/Manipulate could either be very easy (duh! I'm good at Going Aggro) or a very fun, tough call to make (jeez, i don't *want* to hurt them, but if i do Go Aggro, i'm way more likely to succeed...)

on a totally different note
hey, how 'bout them Threats, huh? isn't it awesome how turning something into a threat (of the right variety) can really make it come alive as a play element.
in my game, there's this merchants' consortium that was using a town, Bluesquare, as their big trading hub. well, then, Diamond the Chopper and Rue the Gunlugger come along and knock over Bluesquare, killing all but one (!) of the guards, whom they keep for questioning.

so now that they own the town, they're moving it over to, basically, communism. that is, the townspeople are now eligible for free food and medicine and stuff, provided some of them are willing to help bring in the harvests up north. this obv is going to fuck with the merchants' profit margins, since their wagons were the main source of food in Bluesquare.

so they're a threat. but making them a Brute or a Warlord didn't make sense. instead i went with making mercantile trade an Affliction, and the consortium is merely the "carrier" of the "disease". this works well mainly because all the Affliction moves involve the people who are infected, not the (possibly abstract or immaterial) disease itself. They'll also get my first Countdown Clock, too, but that's more for the consortium hiring mercenaries to take back the town if they find themselves stymied by Diamond's gang.

also - well done on reorganizing Shaky Dave et al. as Threats. it is absolutely the case that NPCs could go from the Home Front to other Fronts, sometimes quite suddenly. rock on!