How do you use these character traits?

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How do you use these character traits?
« on: July 19, 2012, 11:24:23 PM »
There's a hoarder and a quarantine in my game.  I'm wondering how to use the conscious and archives traits that they have available.

So the hoard is conscious and can speak into the hoarder's mind.  So what?  What does a hoard want, except more stuff?  I'm curious how other people do it.  Do you make the hoard like a character, offering advice and opinions unrelated to "Feed me, Seymour!"?  I'd love some examples.

And archives for the quarantine... does this answer all questions about the time before the apocalypse?  What's the point of the quarantine's before-game roll to remember stuff if he has all the answers on disk?  And I suppose it's also got all the plans necessary to rebuild the world before the apocalypse?  I realize this isn't automatically success, but it seems sort of un-fun.  Answers in a box instead of answers discovered during play.  How do you guys play this one?

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 01:32:37 AM »
On the quarantine archives.  It works just like the savvyhead's workspace.  So if you want to get to the bottom of something in the past it could take weeks/months of combing through the archives,  You might have to figure out something else first, (like how to transcribe a code) etc.  I mean archives are usually like records of specific things.  It's not like somebody wrote a book that said 'here's what happened," you know? 

Far easier to remember shit, really, but not detailed, right?

You might consider that the Hoard has some purpose for wanting what it wants, even if that purpose doesn't make sense to us and might offer general commentary from its point of view.  At least in one game I played, it talked constantly to the hoarder, casting doubt, raising suspicion, reminding the hoarder of things.  The hoard always wanted the things in it to be arranged just so.  If I remember right, once it figured out just the right placement, it would somehow heal the world.  Or at least the hoarder thought so.


Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 05:43:04 AM »
Quote from: Ten of Swords
There's a hoarder and a quarantine in my game.

So sorry to hear that. (Oh whoops, we have both of those in our game too!)

The hoard always wanted the things in it to be arranged just so.  If I remember right, once it figured out just the right placement, it would somehow heal the world.  Or at least the hoarder thought so.

Tikkun olam.

I would ask the Hoarder questions about it -- what did they imagine, when they chose 'conscious'? Do they talk to it? Does it talk back? Does it have a single consciousness, or do all the objects have distinct or semi-distinct consciousnesses? Is it being added to the hoard that makes these objects conscious, or are they already conscious, and the hoard merely gives them a voice?

In our game, the Hoarder has a conscious hoard, but it manifests mostly as colour for the hoard's wants and needs -- and also for how the Hoarder's Open Your Brain move works in the fiction (i.e. the hoard talks to him, or gives him visions.) It doesn't seem to have an independent personality, beyond what the mechanics suggest. I'm not sure it's necessarily a missed opportunity, though: that's why I'd say you should ask the player about it. Having to come up with a weird semi-abstract NPC 'personality' for a bunch of stuff could be a lot of work for not much reward, depending.


Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 11:25:08 AM »
So the hoard is conscious and can speak into the hoarder's mind.  So what?  What does a hoard want, except more stuff?
That all depends on what kind of threat you're listing the hoard as. You are listing it as a threat, right? Even if it's not conscious, it might be a Landscape (like Breeding Pit or Furnace) or an Affliction (like Condition, Delusion, or Sacrifice).

But if it's conscious, it might be a Warlord, or probably even better, a Grotesque. Mindfucker seems particularly apt to me, but it could also be a Cannibal, Pain addict (for other people's pain), a Perversion of birth, or even a Disease vector (wouldn't that be something!).

Once you make it a threat, you can let the threat moves guide you. You can use its telepathic communications to display the contents of its twisted phantom heart. You might have it insult, affront, offend or provoke the Hoarder. You might have it offer something with strings very much attached, or threaten someone, or "steal" something by having things go missing and show up in the hoard later. You might even have it "seize and hold someone" by having it trap someone who strays inside. It will always be trying to befoul, rot, desecrate, corrupt, and adulter the Hoarder's personal life and moral fibre. You might also give it custom moves that allow it to speak to others in some special circumstances, allowing it to lure people in or to turn people against each other.

Does this help?

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 07:31:47 PM »
I asked what the Hoarder player what the "voice" sounded like, and he said it was the voice of his dead(?) wife Elizabeth. From there it was a natural leap to the things she wants (nice things, antiques, and weapons) to be things to make their "home" safe.

From there she started to develop almost into an NPC. I was even considering moves like Seduce and Manipulate but the game stalled...

With the Quarantine's archives, you make it narratively conditional based on those workspace rules. He/she wants to know if the nukes they used are still operational? OK, it'll take weeks, and you'll need a guide named Rolfball, or it's going to cause great harm to you but you can't get a junky answer now (ie. there's a dirty nuke irradiating the next town over) etc etc etc.

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2012, 12:07:54 AM »
In Daniel's game, I feel like we (or I as the MC) missed a lot of good opportunities with the Hoarder. One problem with the playbook is that so much of it's stuff is actually in the MC's hands instead of the player's.

Probably the best thing to do is keep asking questions about the Hoard. If it's conscious then yeah, ask the player what it's like, what it wants, what kind of conversations the Hoarder has with it. Whenever you have hold (or even when you don't, actually), ask about stuff the Hoarder sees, "do you want that thing?" or "is that the sort of thing your hoard would want?"

Once the player picks the options, aside from when they decide to pull something out of the hoard, all other aspects of it are up to you: what it's like as an NPC, what comes out of it, what it wants, everything. So either you spend the time to do the creative work, or you ask the player questions, or the work doesn't get done.

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2012, 11:06:41 AM »
The Hoard in my current game is Betty Draper from Mad Men at her most petulant.  She wants what she wants, feels constantly put upon, and takes every opportunity to lash out at people who make her unhappy.  And, oh, the jealousy.

Her Hoarder treats her like a girlfriend who has to be constantly managed.  We've learned in play that the Hoarder let his wife die rather than risk his Hoard.  Now the Hoarder and the Brainer are in a relationship, and the Hoard is trying her damnedest to get him to kill and stuff her so she will always be there, but silently and under control.  She even offered him taxidermy eyes that looked just like his wife's.

The Hoard also has some times to the Maelstrom, though she prefers to keep quiet and out of the way of the greater powers that roam that trash heap.

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 03:11:30 PM »
Holy crap, Joe. That's some creepy stuff right there!

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 11:34:33 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice, guys.  I was going to try asking the hoarder a bunch of questions and then making his hoard creepier and more fucky tonight, but the player didn't come to the game.  I'm still a little baffled about the archives, but the player ended up choosing another improvement so I didn't have to deal with it (but it's probably coming one of these days).

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 03:59:57 AM »
I'm still a little baffled about the archives, but the player ended up choosing another improvement so I didn't have to deal with it (but it's probably coming one of these days).

Let me take another stab at it.

So, the quarantine playbook says:

Quote
Archives: stasis includes a workspace in the form of its records and historical archives. Access them and you can get to the bottom of the past like a savvyhead getting to the bottom of some tech shit (cf).

A "workspace" is a specific kind of resource in AW. The "cf" means, look up how it works by consulting the savvyhead's workspace rules. Those say:

Quote
When you go into your workspace and dedicate yourself to making a thing, or to getting to the bottom of some shit, decide what and tell the MC. The MC will tell you "sure, no problem, but..." and then 1 to 4 of the following:

... followed by the list of options.

"Getting to the bottom of shit" is a technical term in AW, believe it or not. Getting to the bottom of shit is one of the things you can do in a workspace. The idea is, you can gain knowledge, like to solve a mystery or something. Like, if a savvyhead has a piece of tech, and he wants to figure out what it does, or how to fix it, or whatever else, he can "get to the bottom" of that shit.

The quarantine can't do that with tech. But he can "get to the bottom of the past" -- he can go in with the intention of learning something specific about the way the world was in olden times, and then the MC can choose conditions from the workspace rules that have to be met before the she's obliged to give answers.

For example, maybe in your apocalypse, there was a plague that wiped everyone out. Let's say the quarantine suspects it might have been a biological weapon, but wants to prove it. He goes into the archive looking to get to the bottom of that shit. The MC says, "Sure, no problem, but it's going to take months of research to make sense of all of the epidemiological data. Or, if you get your CO's clearance to access the classified stuff, you could probably get a definitive answer in a few days of work. Too bad he's still frozen."

The answers aren't free, right? The quarantine has to meet conditions to get them, and it's the MC's job to make those conditions not boring, and make the answers seem real. That's one difference between the archives and the memory move: for the memory move, the answers are free, no conditions. Also, a lot of the memory move questions pertain to personal matters, or matters of opinion (eg. "Could we have stopped it?"), stuff that might not be recorded in an archive.

Also, the quarantine can "get to the bottom of the past" -- he can learn about the way things were. That doesn't automatically mean he can apply that knowledge to make the present like the past. I mean, the archive might tell me how they built wind turbines 75 years earlier, when there was a power grid, and mills producing high quality steel alloys, and factories assembling high efficiency electrical components, and you could hire a dozen guys to erect the thing. Having that information doesn't mean it's now easy to build such a thing in Apocalypse World. But maybe if I can pass that info to Bran the savvyhead, he can go into his own workspace and see what he can do to adapt the information. And then maybe some of his conditions are, you need a part from another hardhold, you'll need a truck to haul it back, and you need the volunteer labour of the chopper's gang, etc. Moves should snowball, right? And then, at the end, you get a very small piece of the past, which the MC is permitted to look at through crosshairs.

Does that make sense?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 04:40:36 AM by creases »

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 05:03:03 AM »
Yeah, I guess.  Maybe my problem with it is that I don't perceive the past as being the story.  So you can find out about the plague that wiped everybody out fifty years ago... so what?  The Quarantine already did that with his pre-game move, and in a more evocative way.

Can anybody provide examples of how and why the quarantine used the archives in their games?  Was it just to satisfy his curiosity?

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 09:20:37 AM »
Yeah, I guess.  Maybe my problem with it is that I don't perceive the past as being the story.

I have to wonder, then, why you put the Quarantine playbook on the table for any of your players to pick up. Quarantine is a character *all about* the past meeting the present of Apocalypse World.

What did you think you would be doing with this character from the past?

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2012, 10:04:04 AM »
I have to wonder, then, why you put the Quarantine playbook on the table for any of your players to pick up. Quarantine is a character *all about* the past meeting the present of Apocalypse World.

What did you think you would be doing with this character from the past?

I didn't have any particular story in mind.  If I played a quarantine I'd expect to be exploring the "man out of time" theme.  A "civilized" person thrust into a savage world with no way back.  What values will I be forced (or tempted) to compromise?  Must I become a savage myself, or can my new fellows and I come to some compromise where we form some fusion culture that benefits us all?  What do I hate about these people, and what do I admire about them?  Like if I suddenly snatched you up and dropped you in the remotest, most tribal region of the Hindu Kush, except that for some reason you can never climb out of it and back to the "modern world."

Bignose, what kind of stories would you expect the quarantine to make?  Have you played one, or GMed for one?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 10:08:10 AM by Ten of Swords »

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2012, 12:54:04 PM »
Yeah, I guess.  Maybe my problem with it is that I don't perceive the past as being the story.

Normally, it's not. When you put the quarantine on the table, now it is.

As I see it, the quarantine is about two things, two ways the past affects the present: loss and mourning, and having unfinished business. The memory move is about loss and mourning. It isn't about facts, it's about the experience of seeing the world end -- how it felt, what it meant, what was lost. How hard it was, how fucked up. Maybe you can glean some intel from it, but mostly, it's personal. It's not about what's written in an archive, it's about what one soldier saw and knew and understood as he actually watched everything go to hell around him. As I see it, it's not really supposed to provide actionable information, it's supposed to generate colour and give you greater insight into the quarantine and into Apocalypse World.

The archives are for unfinished business. How much did we know about the plague, how close were we to the cure? Where was the lost city? What's in the underground vault, and what are the access codes? There's a bomb with an unstable core -- how do we disarm it? What can we rebuild, and who can help us? Who's left to bring to justice? How do you prove that something everyone believes about the past is a lie? This move should be for delicious plot prompts and big rolling move snowballs. But to get use out of it, the MC has to put fronts in play that make it relevant.

It seems to me that afflictions lend themselves to this. The truth about the past is relevant if people's present decisions are governed by a Delusion about the past. If there's a Disease, you want to know what science knew about it before there was no more science. If there's a Barrier, you might get insight into how to remove it. If there's a Condition, you might get insight into how to end it. Etc.

ETA: I see the whole concept of stasis through the lens of "unfinished business". You're part of a military unit, right? So what's your mission? Maybe you don't know it, and you have to unfreeze your commanding officer. Can you do that yet? Is it safe to do it? Who else is frozen? Why are they frozen? When are you going to unfreeze them? Etc.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 01:22:46 PM by creases »

Re: How do you use these character traits?
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2012, 09:07:34 PM »
What did you think you would be doing with this character from the past?

If I played a quarantine I'd expect to be exploring the "man out of time" theme.  A "civilized" person thrust into a savage world with no way back.

A fun theme. This ignores the fact that Quarantine isn't the only person here though. They have boatloads of the past ready to crash into the story, in the form of the other people from Stasis.

They have the tragedy of Specialist Jackson, Tammy M. How are they dealing with that? What's their history, and how is it messing with Quarantine's head?

They have the rest of their military unit still in stasis, and they get to choose whether and when to revive them. What military unit? What mission? What ulterior motives? What still applies about the mission, and who disagrees with that?

They have {friends,family, colleagues,superiors} still in stasis, and they get to choose whether and when to revive them. Whom do they most want to revive? Who else will that person want revived, but Quarantine really doesn't want to revive? What grudges or rivalries or faint hope or doomed plans will be brought into Apocalypse World by reviving these people?

Quote
Bignose, what kind of stories would you expect the quarantine to make?  Have you played one, or GMed for one?

I've not been in any game with Quarantine, but the people from Stasis are obvious complex hooks to my MC eye. The player gets a whole mess of difficult choices about whom to revive, when, in what sequence, and how to prepare for the baggage of the past they'll be awakening by doing so.