Organizing NPCs

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Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2010, 07:25:07 AM »

Yeah, having seen the effect of pictures in Johnstone's game, I've adopted the same method for our latest game.

That said, I do still find myself forgetting to keep background NPCs moving -- in the sense of, progressing through actions and such, despite not being onscreen. Obviously, Fronts help for this, but I think mostly I just need to spend more time thinking about my NPCs between sessions. Also, several of our Maestro D's initial set of NPCs never really made it to the table.

I keep meaning to make a proper relationship map, but so far I just have my Fronts & a few 'NPC list' pages to go with the portraits.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2010, 10:23:53 AM »
I've only run one session so far, but I'm a bit surprised at this thread. Don't you lump a lot of NPCs in as Cast under specific Threats, so all of those cast members have the same basic Impulse? Therefore you don't have to track 40-50 individual NPCs at once. You can also easily move an NPC to become a Cast member of another Threat as the story develops, or perhaps they'll even evolve into their own Threat, but lumping them together as Cast must be the way to go - IMO. Has this not been working for those of you that are in the middle of playing the game?

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2010, 04:09:29 PM »
Well, initially I did lump the cast under each Threat.  But 4 games in, there's some interesting things happening, like some of Goldie's Chopper gang starting to listen to JC's speeches, becoming part of his followers.  Plus this one NPC named Amy is bouncing around a bit in and out of a few player's beds, and that's causing some interesting tensions.

The big thing is trying to get a basic sense of who that scrawled name on my notes is supposed to be, and how they relate to the characters.  I'm going to try out the relationship map, Gliffy looks like a really neat tool for getting that done.   I think I might pick up a notebook for recording threats as well, all this looseleaf is getting a bit disorganized, and we don't game in a particularly large space for me to spread things out. 

Are there any other suggestions for organization? Has anyone played with things like Wikis or index cards?  I've been curious how that might work for Apocalypse World.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2010, 05:14:18 PM »
You might also want to check out CmapTools, it's freeware that looks pretty cool. I saw it used to make a fantastic relationship map in the A Town Called Gaga AW game.

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DannyK

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Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2010, 05:22:09 PM »
Nobody responded to my question, but I'm really wondering now -- are people naming every damn one of the gang members for their PC's, even if they've never appeared in the game so far except as part of the crew?  If you've got a Hardholder and a Chopper in your game, that's a ton of named NPC's to start out with, even if they're nothing but names on a list. But I'm starting to think I should have that list on hand.

I have a Wiki page for my online AW game and I hope to eventually move all the non-secret game info from my notebooks to the Wiki where the players can read it.  This is forcing me to learn things about Wiki's, but eventually I hope to have a hyperlinked text where you can be looking at the chopper's character sheet and click from there to the part of the NPC page that describes his gang, and from there to the episode summary that describes how they died.  

This is the same game that Yokiboy just referred to, Cmaptools sounds great. Mind-mapping seems better than flow-charting, since the NPC's will come and go and develop new relationships over time. 

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2010, 05:25:07 PM »
Nobody responded to my question, but I'm really wondering now -- are people naming every damn one of the gang members for their PC's, even if they've never appeared in the game so far except as part of the crew?

Not me. What I am doing is grabbing a few names for each group and whenever someone in that group does anything, I say the next one of those names. At the moment there are a few groups with unnamed extras in them, but I as soon as those people do something, I'll name them.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2010, 05:36:53 PM »
Nobody responded to my question, but I'm really wondering now -- are people naming every damn one of the gang members for their PC's, even if they've never appeared in the game so far except as part of the crew?

Not me. What I am doing is grabbing a few names for each group and whenever someone in that group does anything, I say the next one of those names. At the moment there are a few groups with unnamed extras in them, but I as soon as those people do something, I'll name them.
I do it (or intend to do it) just the same way as Mike.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2010, 05:53:27 PM »

Ditto. Naming and detailing an entire hardhold or gang in advance of their becoming individually relevant seems like a road to madness to me. In a case where I have already assigned the group to a particular threat, I might come up with one or two named NPCs 'in advance' -- but no more than that.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2010, 12:34:52 AM »
On the other hand, when I ran the game, one of my PCs was playing a chopper, and was like "So I've got a gang of 20 guys, huh? Okay." And next week, completely unexpectedly, he had ready for me a list of 20 names.

If your PCs aren't afraid to do the work for you, let them.

As per the OP's question, I like to arrange them by group. So in my text file for my current IRC game, I've got the hocus's followers in one list, the NPC hardholder's men in another, some other dudes in a miscellaneous list, etc. There's little notes next to each telling me what I need to know, like "Exit: Likes to give Hope gifts, doesn't trust that creep Brace, has puppet strings in his head but hasn't acted on them yet". When someone gets a deep brain scan off or the savvyhead sleeps with somebody and Things Speak them, I add the answers to those questions next to the name as well, usually.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2010, 01:43:39 AM »
Nobody responded to my question, but I'm really wondering now -- are people naming every damn one of the gang members for their PC's, even if they've never appeared in the game so far except as part of the crew?

Essentially, the moment any player makes one of the gang members important, by speaking to one of them, or one of them gets hurt or up in their face, they get a name, and the beginning of a personality. 

However, I had a similar situation to Ben where Lemieux's player named every one of his security detail.  And there were no problems there either, whenever one became relevant, I would use a name and begin causing interesting triangles. 

The thing is, they're interacting with more and more people, and each gang member/Follower/security detail person is getting fleshed out.

This really adds to the gut wrenching awfulness of Harm Rolls.  The players are forced to really pick their battles when the lives of Diamond, Lars, Fleece, Donny, Hobbs and Sable and the rest are on the line.  As opposed to faceless meatshield #5, who no one really cares about.

I'd like to give a huge thanks, by the way, to Yokiboy's CMAP tools.  That program is really awesome and super easy to use.  I designed a partial relationship map prior to my game tonight, and it helped me create some complicated situations. Very useful!

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Bret

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Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2010, 09:34:50 AM »
Whenever I create a group, I name three members and give them some unique characterstics. More get added as needed.
Tupacalypse World

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2010, 02:25:34 PM »
I write stuff down like mad: PC names and a few words to sketch them out, key NPCs they are attached to, anybody Vx mentions by name and how they connect. It's not so much a web as a little booklet with each PC at the top of a page. When Keeler got a gang, I went through and pulled some names from the already named NPCs, then rounded out. So I had 15 names with a word or two next to them, like this:

Peaches - younger male, drives the caddy, has a crush on Rose
Mercer - woman, good w/machines, rides with Peaches
Last and Exit - older men, lovers, rear-guard in the Pick Up. Last drives, Exit runs the mounted machine gun.
etc.

This way, when we get into trouble, I know who's hurt (Exit, Mice) and who's dead (Last, Mimi, Touch), and I can use that in fiction: "Sorry Rose, I can't be three places at once, I'm down 5 guys, right?! I can handle the market and leave you a couple folks, but I can't sit on Drain, too. You'll have to ask Do or somebody."

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Chris

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Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2010, 05:11:38 PM »
I don't write down anything when I GM. It's a problem.

But seriously, I don't see NPC organization as a problem in my games. They don't last. I don't know if it's just my group or what, but any time an NPC becomes an obvious problem to a player, that NPC dies.

I don't have enough NPCs to organize.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2010, 02:29:01 AM »
This doesn't actually solve the problem in my game.  The Savvyhead Lemieux altered a CB radio to allow him to speak to the dead. The consequences of this were so disturbing (the dead now speak on all the CB radios, mostly screaming for help, crying, and curses) that Lemieux changed playbooks to a Battlebabe. So keeping track of the body count is also part of my concern.

Make your crosshairs nastier. Start re-killing the dead. That should scare the crap out of any weird-sensitive PCs and possibly give you the start of a new Front should you need one.

Re: Organizing NPCs
« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2010, 02:48:28 AM »
Make your crosshairs nastier. Start re-killing the dead. That should scare the crap out of any weird-sensitive PCs and possibly give you the start of a new Front should you need one.
That is awesome and should be very creepy by proving that there really are NO status quos in AW, not even in its afterlife. Shit!