Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?

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Oftentimes it seems as I MC the game that I ought to just be able to dole out Conditions to PCs or NPCs just as a result of their actions and their fictional consequences, without regard to any particular moves or string expenditures.

But there isn't an explicit MC hard move that lets me do this. The closest approach is that I can "take a String on someone" if the fictional circumstances demand it, and then immediately turn and spend that that String to give out a Condition. But this seems a bit roundabout and not appropriate for all circumstances where you might want to give a condition out.

Is there a reason why Conditions seem to be restricted in this way?

Re: Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2012, 03:00:16 PM »
As someone who has only been in a few games of MonsterHearts, I had thought that the lack of Hard Move was an explicit choice, and that the Take a String, spend a String for a Condition was implicitly on purpose.

In other words, you can't impose a Condition unless there is an NPC there to give fictional context of the Condition.

Can you give an actual play example of a situation where it seems appropriate to impose a Condition without an NPC involved?

Re: Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 04:02:21 PM »
First answer:

It was on the hard moves list at one point, but I removed it because it wasn't benefiting the fiction. There's a trap hidden inside of "hard move: give someone a Condition," one that takes the story away from the PCs in a not-good way.

Social stigma doesn't just appear. It's the product of specific people being shitty to one another. So, at the very least, the hard move should be "An NPC gives a Condition to a PC." Otherwise, you, as the MC, are reaching into the fiction and dealing out stigma as a player. If we're to uphold the "to do it, do it" principle, then it's important that every Condition stem from a specific character doing/saying a specific thing.

But giving NPCs that power to attach stigma and social value statements to PCs is serious business! And since we're here to be fans of the PCs, and our NPCs are to be treated like stolen cars... having that social power planted in the hands of anyone you choose is going to lead to a situation where the players are navigating your social rules, rather than you reacting to their social power. That's an observation that came out of playtesting. It made the game less Monsterhearts, more Vampire: the Masquerade.

So, the solution: NPCs can spend their Strings to place Conditions. This means that only characters who have emotional leverage over PCs can fuck up their social standing. This keeps the "NPC giving a Condition to a PC" interaction grounded in a PC and their relationships, rather than grounded in an MC's characters and choices.

Second Answer:

That's the design choice I made based on my play experiences. But I also include a chapter of the book where I encourage you to tinker with the game and add new principles/moves/whatever.

So you can definitely add this as a new Hard Move. There are some design decisions that I'd slow-motion-dive to protect, but this design decision isn't super vital (despite how vital I may have just told you it was, in my first answer. I'm melodramatic). Tinker and find out what happens.

I'd strongly recommend that if you do include this new hard move, you word it as "An NPC gives a Condition to a PC."  Otherwise it's amorphous and not tethered to character actions.

Re: Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 04:31:09 PM »
Oh! Another thought:

Another option is to give a Threat NPC a custom move that lets them simply award Conditions. It could even be something terrifying like, "Whenever Julie say something mean about you, gain a Condition to reflect what she said. If Julie ever dies, remove all Conditions given out this way."

The first time that Julie called someone a bitch, and you immediate said, "So take that as a Condition," I'm betting alarm bells would go off. The first time that Julie put down someone who wasn't in the scene, and that person still wrote down a Condition, people would be saddling up and preparing to take this Menace down.

This idea compliments my first post. I'm saying "do crazy stuff with the exceptions, and be careful about mishandling the rule." If I advise against doing a certain thing in general, then you can probably build a Menace around the idea of one person having the power to do it wrong. (A supervillain who can dictate your responses to their seduction? Sure. Creepy and weird and scary and an excellent idea.)

Re: Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 04:56:15 PM »
First answer:

It was on the hard moves list at one point, but I removed it because it wasn't benefiting the fiction. There's a trap hidden inside of "hard move: give someone a Condition," one that takes the story away from the PCs in a not-good way.

Social stigma doesn't just appear. It's the product of specific people being shitty to one another. So, at the very least, the hard move should be "An NPC gives a Condition to a PC." Otherwise, you, as the MC, are reaching into the fiction and dealing out stigma as a player. If we're to uphold the "to do it, do it" principle, then it's important that every Condition stem from a specific character doing/saying a specific thing.

But giving NPCs that power to attach stigma and social value statements to PCs is serious business! And since we're here to be fans of the PCs, and our NPCs are to be treated like stolen cars... having that social power planted in the hands of anyone you choose is going to lead to a situation where the players are navigating your social rules, rather than you reacting to their social power. That's an observation that came out of playtesting. It made the game less Monsterhearts, more Vampire: the Masquerade.

So, the solution: NPCs can spend their Strings to place Conditions. This means that only characters who have emotional leverage over PCs can fuck up their social standing. This keeps the "NPC giving a Condition to a PC" interaction grounded in a PC and their relationships, rather than grounded in an MC's characters and choices.

Joe, that makes a degree of sense, so thank you.

However I do still have a quibble. The text seems to vacillate somewhat between:

1) the view you've just expressed, that Conditions are all forms of "stigma and social value statements" with their origin in the social behaviour and opinions of others,
2) the view that Conditions can also be other things that aren't necessarily anything to do with social factors. For example, conditions from the book like drained, terrified, wounded, disoirented and so on.

Your comments make sense under interpretation 1), but they don't so much for 2).

Re: Should it be an MC hard move to just be able to give out Conditions?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 05:38:21 PM »
Yeah, the short answer to that is: Conditions are often about social stigma, that's the application that can be the most sticky, so that's the application that I was the most careful to design around.

The other answer (to your original question) is: I wanted hard moves to be as fiction-first as possible, because that ensures that people MCing the game are as fiction-first as possible. The act of giving a Condition is most interesting and grounded when it flows from a specific character (who we care about) doing a specific thing. A good way to ensure that an NPC doing this is "someone we care about" is to tie this action into NPC Strings, so that by definition (basically) these two characters have an existing relationship.

But, like I said: change it if you'd like to! Hard Moves are a great place to start tinkering with the game, if that's your inclination. They're easy to add, and easy to remove again if they aren't working. Your suggestion definitely flows readily from the Agendas and Principles, which is the most important thing when tinkering with the game.

If you'd like to, make the addition and report back on how it goes!