Antagonic PCs in the first session?

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Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« on: May 29, 2012, 12:46:15 AM »
I have started a campaign with 2 friends, and we´ve played 2 sessions so far. Another friend will be added to the campaign soon. I briefly told him about the setting and the existing PCs...
When I finish, he´s already telling me about how will his PC be, and essentially he wants him to be an enemy of the other 2 player characters.

I like the idea a lot, but I´m concerned about the reccomendation of the game about having the PCs be friends (or at least allies, working together) at the setup of a game.

What do you think?

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way

  • 23
Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 05:28:42 AM »
Maybe it's too late already, but make sure that he's not creating his character in isolation at home. The other two players do have the right to influence the new PC. This has to be a collaboration or you risk a sudden death of your campaign.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 10:25:19 AM »
I think these sorts of things should grow from play. Rather than have the characters antagonistic from the start, start the characters from a neutral framework and then see how it goes. 

And like the other poster said, this is a discussion that needs to happen at the table between players, to avoid miscommunication or hard feelings. Some of the players may not want to have a directly antagonistic relationship with the other player characters.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 11:09:03 AM »
Once in my early days of AWing the two PCs went at each other's throats in the first session. It was a disaster, fun-wise. Since then I've taken the 'PCs should be allies' advice very seriously.

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Bret

  • 285
Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 05:56:32 PM »
Are you comfortable with running PC vs. PC tests? I find that this is one of the more difficult aspects of running Apocalypse World and can lead to trouble in extended tests. That would be the biggest reason I'd be wary of running a game with antagonistic PCs.
Tupacalypse World

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 07:16:32 PM »
Apocalypse World can handle serious PC vs PC, but only if you as MC are able to tell the players to shut up, put the dice down, there's an order that we'll do this in, no, you have to wait, shut up, no, you have to wait. It's exhausting and I don't recommend it if you can avoid it. You have to hold the whole thing together in order for the moves to do their thing.

If you're looking for a game that makes PC vs PC easy and fun, check out Poison'd.

-Vincent

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 11:38:10 PM »
Thanks for all the advice! I´ll tell him to hold on his character concept until the session itself, where we´ll discuss it and see whether the other players are comfortable with it.
I have two other concerns:
-The player running his character as an inhuman character, without any serious interest other than ruining other PCs´ lives. I´m going to ask a lot of questions to that player to try to figure out his human side, needs, past, etc.
-I don´t want his relationship with the other PCs to be so predefined from the setup that after that point any kind of interaction is useless. Maybe the hocus (problematic PC) wants to spoil the brainer´s cure for that illness, but he feels some kind of affection towards him.
Something like this:
I think these sorts of things should grow from play. Rather than have the characters antagonistic from the start, start the characters from a neutral framework and then see how it goes.
Any advice regarding the above written concerns?

Are you comfortable with running PC vs. PC tests? I find that this is one of the more difficult aspects of running Apocalypse World and can lead to trouble in extended tests. That would be the biggest reason I'd be wary of running a game with antagonistic PCs.
I had some experience in the past with that, I think I can handle it (but we´ll have to wait for sunday to see).

I´ll tell you the gaming background of this dude that will be incorporated (juan manuel). He ran a battlebabe once in an ongoing campaign last year. I was rookier that time, so I didn´t "direct" the setup process correctly, and the 2 PCs weren´t allies or worked together, they simply knew each other. That same session, due to a misunderstanding between both PCs, Juan Manuel had his character attack the other, and he died.
With that precedent, might it be dangerous for the campaign to let him create a hostile character to the other pcs?

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2012, 04:03:22 PM »
I would suggest that you use the Hx move that concludes character creation at the outset of the game.  It gives just enough detail to create familiarity, but not so much as to be a rigid straight jacket. 

Also make sure you check out page 96, under "Say this Early and Often".  In that paragraph, it very clearly says that the players are required to play the characters as if they are real people.  Get this player to stop the inhuman monster concept and play someone a little more real. I think that saying no to a concept is a valid option, especially if it is going to result in a less than fun experience for all involved.

Thanks for all the advice! I´ll tell him to hold on his character concept until the session itself, where we´ll discuss it and see whether the other players are comfortable with it.
I have two other concerns:
-The player running his character as an inhuman character, without any serious interest other than ruining other PCs´ lives. I´m going to ask a lot of questions to that player to try to figure out his human side, needs, past, etc.
-I don´t want his relationship with the other PCs to be so predefined from the setup that after that point any kind of interaction is useless. Maybe the hocus (problematic PC) wants to spoil the brainer´s cure for that illness, but he feels some kind of affection towards him.
Something like this:
I think these sorts of things should grow from play. Rather than have the characters antagonistic from the start, start the characters from a neutral framework and then see how it goes.
Any advice regarding the above written concerns?

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2012, 04:19:20 PM »
I would suggest that you use the Hx move that concludes character creation at the outset of the game.  It gives just enough detail to create familiarity, but not so much as to be a rigid straight jacket. 

Also make sure you check out page 96, under "Say this Early and Often".  In that paragraph, it very clearly says that the players are required to play the characters as if they are real people.  Get this player to stop the inhuman monster concept and play someone a little more real. I think that saying no to a concept is a valid option, especially if it is going to result in a less than fun experience for all involved.

I heartily concur.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2012, 12:26:30 PM »
I would ask him why he wants to play the character as an inhuman monster out to get the other PCs from the get-go.  What does he hope to get out of that approach?

If the other players were really mean, they'd use the first session to establish themselves as loyal followers of the Hocus.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 07:36:01 PM »
We had the session on sunday, and there were 3 players new to the campaign: the one with the antagonic PC concept, plus 2 of his friends. For a grand total of 5 players (6 with me) :O.
I finally decided to allow him to play his concept, with the only requirement of linking his character in a positive way to most of the other PCs, which we did. It turned out the hocus helped in turn both hardholders in the group* to reach their positions, in the first case by influencing the people to aid the PC, in the second by selling weapons only to the aspiring hardholder.
The PC was a hocus with a seudochristian cult, but all the cultists secretly believed in a different thing, basically they had to kill everyone in the world to allow the world to heal itself. A little inhuman, but some people in the world are just this crazy, so I let him.
I asked the player to tell us about his character during the game setup. He didn´t want to reveal his character as antagonic, he pretty much wanted to lie to the other players, but I told him that that wasn´t feasible in this game (I might have been wrong). So he told everybody about his crazy hocus.
2 of the players, with a big rpg experience (10 years or so), but mostly of traditional or homemade PCs, reacted to it defensively ("your cult won´t start in my holding, that for sure"), and that was a hint of what would come next -.-.
We started the session, wealth and fortune moves, and the cult started in the holding of both new-to-AW-players. A "read a person" move during an argument started the suspicion towards the hocus, and then the hocus´ speech in the holding streets (with the possibility of some gang members entering the cult) was the trigger to a crazy combat between the harholder, gunlugger and his gang against the hocus and his cult.
The combat was super fun, at the beginning some players had complaints against the vague division in turns and also against the soft hit of "go aggro", but soon they were involved in it and it turned out to be really exciting and tense. It ended, obviously, with the hocus dead.
So, yes, I was probably wrong to allow that player to have an antagonic PC, that would have suited a group with more experience in the game, and more trust between the players. But luckily the session was fun anyway, the new players are interested in the campaign.

Other stuff:
-running a campaign in 2 holdings at the same time seems daunting. Any advice or threads about that?
-so far, 5 PCs seems crazy fun, although I have read some threads about running campaigns with big numbers of players and I´m taking note of the advice.
-I have my first queer-dominant group! :D. 4 of us over 6. Shame many of them created women/old dudes, so no queer PC-sex so far : _.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2012, 12:48:19 AM »
My experience with PC vs. PC play in any game is that it's best when they hate each other, but some constraint (often a social agreement) forces them to get along to some degree.

In the The Gift (Burning Wheel), the Elves and the Dwarves may hate each other (at least some of them do) but the hope to end a thousand year long armistice as well as etiquette is enough to keep them from just going to the sword the moment they spot teach other.

In other games I've had rival soldiers that hated each other, but served under the same commander, so they had to get along to some degree.

The problem with doing this in AW is that there is no status quo, no higher power to keep people accountable, except their own dismal fate that they bring upon themselves, and while that can works as an "I told you so" that is only in retrospect. In the moment, it's easy to believe that killing other PCs has no consequence (at least in the fiction).

To that end I try to always play up scarcity as the higher power. Sure, you could kill that PC, but they play an important role, one that will be missed. And fuck all, you need all the help you can get. This way the Driver and the Operator can be at each others throats, while still realizing there is bigger shit to tackle.

Re: Antagonic PCs in the first session?
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2012, 03:04:26 AM »
I only want to supplement what Sean has already said. In all the games I have run with preset antagonistic PCs, I have noticed a lot of drag and un-fun.

I think Apocalypse World works best when the antagonism comes naturally through the fiction and player actions.

Straight up antagonism without rhyme or reason ("just because") doesn't work well, but antagonism that comes from the fiction (like PC1 beating up an NPC that PC2 really likes), provides a lot of charged, interesting, and motivated narrative/conflict.