Opening Questions

  • 4 Replies
Opening Questions
« on: March 19, 2012, 10:18:13 AM »
Hey all. First time posting here, though I've lurked for a bit. I finally convinced my group to play Apocalypse World and I'm psyched. It has exactly the kind of gritty, shit just got real, your actions have consequences tone and setting that I love in my games. I've been reading through the 1st Session chapter over and over again to make sure I have it all down, and I'm pretty sure I do. The only thing I'm somewhat apprehensive about is the suggestion (command?) to ask questions like crazy.

Obviously stuff will jump out at me as we go through character creation, Hx, and the 1st session. The players will answer a question in such a way that more questions'll pop into my head, and things will snowball from there. I'm wondering though, if anyone out there had any particularly good questions that they either asked or were asked in their first sessions. Something to jump start my brain so I can barf forth apocalyptica onto my players.
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

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Re: Opening Questions
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 12:10:05 PM »
I like to ask questions that force people to think about mundane things that they ordinarily wouldn't think about and questions that have heavy implications.

For example;

"Who gave you that scar on your cheek?" It tells the player something about them that they didn't know and gives them a chance to set-up a rival, or even a lover maybe. :)

"Where do you get your gas/food/ammo from?"

"When your character gets scared, what do they do?"

"Who do you trust the most/least?"

That sort of thing. As you said, once you start asking questions it will start to snowball and great questions will begin coming to you. Focus on the characters as much as possible, this is a great exercise for helping your players figure out who they are playing and what the world around them is like. Cause most players will just sit there with a blank look if you ask "Whats the world like?". But if you ask them instead "When the sandstorms come blowing, where do you hide?" Then their gears start turning.

That's my two cents. Hope it helps! Enjoy the game, it's an amazing experience to run.

Re: Opening Questions
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 03:26:53 PM »
Any question you can use to connect two players in any way is good. Start off slow: "Who brings you gas? Who works on your car? Where do you keep it?" Start off with facts, then move into opinions: "Who would you let ride your car? Do you like giving him a ride, or her?" etc.

Pretty much as you said, ask things, and when they give you an answer, ask questions about that answer. You're on the right track if you're asking three or four questions in a row. Pretend to be a journalist, covering articles for Apocalypse Weekly.

Now, a standard set of questions you should ask is difficult, because it all depends on what the players are playing, who the characters are, what the setting is like, etc. So these are kind of general, and you fill in the details yourself. But:

- Try to get a few conflicts going. Don't force it, but get people thinking. Start with the small stuff: think about the people you know, your actual friends, and model it on that. "Do you like hanging out with Jag? What's best about crashing at Fido's place?" You're looking for opinions, trying to cultivate them, because that's what conflict is in Apocalypse World. (It's not like D&D, for example, where the conflict is, "the evil wizard is kidnapping maidens! We must bring glory to the forces of good!") Conflict in Apocalypse World is hardcore social. Conflict here is, "That motherfucker stole a gun from me when he stayed here the other night!" - "Dusk has been talking shit about me, let's go settle this."

Apocalypse World is a lot like reality television. But imagine it as really unscripted, not just pretend unscripted. Just an honest documentary on limitless people in limitless situations.

That's why it's so important to really zoom in on them in the first session, A Day In The Life style, to learn what's what.

So find out who thinks what of whom, but also start to promote this line of thinking: what do you think of her? How do you behave around him? Then when you sense the slightest bit of friction: "You prefer staying with Vision? Why? What's wrong with Absinthe?" Remember, you're not making enemies - just friends with opinions of each other. I like my room-mate, for example, but he can be really passive aggressive and that's annoying. That sort of thing. Conflict.

- Find out three things: how people get around, where they make money, and where they get supplies. What's important to us, as people? Getting rides places, having correct bus fare, not running out of gas. Keeping our job, paying rent, getting groceries in. Paying bills. Same in Apocalypse World, but with a different face. Isn't it neat how this game is just everyday drama, it's our real lives, but the simple fact that society has collapsed makes shit dangerous all of a sudden. It's like living in a bad neighborhood: talking shit about someone means they're going to find you and hurt you.

- It's optional, but a lot of fun, to make a love triangle, or at least a relationship. Don't force this, but definitely nurture it when you see it.

- Find out what's making life difficult. There's something out there, above and beyond, that's making everything less than cozy. Is it the radiation storms that can kill you? Gnarly, the warlord, demanding money and blood? The crumbling infrastructure of the hospital we all stay in? It doesn't need to be a time clock or anything, but something to put stress on the characters.

And really, just go from there.

Re: Opening Questions
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 11:41:16 PM »
Thanks for the advice, guys. Part of the reason that I'm so stoked to finally play AW with my group is to get away from the heroic, high fantasy stuff. I'm looking forward to asking the tough questions about how the PCs eat, where they live, and how they survive.

I've already warned my players that I'll sometimes be asking them tough questions. One guy was leaning towards picking a transgressing character, and joking asked if he'd be asked how his PC pisses. I replied that yes, yes he would be asked that if he chose transgressing.

I love the "Who gave you that scar?" question. I realize that you can 't really plan out your questions before the session, but I'm hoping to set up the following.
"Character A, where do you sleep and with whom?" "Un-huh. OK. And why didn't you sleep there last night?" "Right." Turn to Player B. "Character B, why were you sleeping there last night?" "Un-huh. Right. What happened while you were there?"
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

@HyveMynd on Twitter

Re: Opening Questions
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2012, 06:40:58 AM »
Good things have been said, but here is the simple way I think I do it:

- Ask about stuff that makes you curious

- Ask to find out where the characters are not in control

- Snowball your questions.

Oh, and one thing more. I try to get a situation here and now running as early as I only can, and keep asking and responding to that!