AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.

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I reckon that one way to link our AP experiences and see what is working and what is not is to list AP based on MC principles and moves.  I'll start some more threads based on other principles and moves but if someone else wants to start some, please do.

There is a tendency in AW AP threads, my own included, to be very fiction-y, with the moves and principles implied but not necessarily said.  Might be helpful to see some in action in isolation and talk about them a bit.

Ask provocative questions and build on the answers is the principle that pulls out more story per square word than any other technique in the book, to my mind.  There has never been an answer that hasn't ended up being featured in a future moment in the game.  Sometimes (#4), I had the answer linked to a custom move.  Other times it just feeds into the game's atmosphere.  Very often, the questions start by telling them something else, by barfing forth some apocalyptica.

After getting the answer it is about asking solid follow-up questions and then it is just about storing that information for later.

1) I asked Barry, "That night, Bullet has a dream about the first offensive driving move his father ever taught him, the first thing he ever learned about killing people on the highway.  What is Bullet dreaming about?"

This fed into the next game, when Bullet was in a race with Toyota and he had to make a tough choice in order to win.  He chose to drive Toyota off the highway, using the very technique he described from the dream, killing his adversary and most of his children, all but one and that one child, Bullet adopted as his own.

The question provided key color that fed into one of the most interesting relationships in the game.

2) As their characters approached a new town in the area, I asked everyone, "Each of you has a friend, a rival, a lover or unfinished business in Bear, a small city on the Hudson built around a bridge.  One relationship each.  Which is which and who is it?"

These questions entirely drove that session and gave Bear some context.  It gave everyone something to do when they first arrived, someone to seek out, either in friendship or hatred or lust.  It was a big ole glorious mess.  The NPC's created here still haunt the game.

3) I asked everyone, "If your characters could find anything at all during their salvage of West Point, what would it be?"

This one I attached to a move and due to the many 7-9 rolls, I had their shiny new toys being pawed at by a crack troop of bad ass spec-ops cannibals.  But man, they sure wanted that shit.

I hesitated when I asked it, thinking that someone would say "Abrams TANK!" but even if they did, they'd have to find a someone to fix it eventually and ammo to use...etc.  The other nightmare bit I had in my mind was a suitcase nuke of some kind but fuckit, I wasn't averse to that being in the game.  As a matter of fact, it'd be interesting to see that effect one of the threats in the game.

Padraic answered, "Cannibals," after running into a block about them when he went into the Psychic Maelstrom in order to find out what happened to the soldiers in West Point.  He rolled 7-9, so I put them out there but outnumbering this posse and out-gunning them.  I reckon if he had rolled a 10, he would have found one alone and had time away from everyone to talk to him.

4) I asked JJ after he hinted at the answer, "Wait, why does Dent wear that helmet?  Who gave it to him?"

Turns out, JJ knew the answer of this question since the first night.  He had told his wife, KK about it.  Dent and his mother were taken by cannibals and parts of his head were eaten by them.  His father gave him the helmet so that he might hide his shame and not remind anyone of what happened to him and his mother.  The cannibals were torturing the boy so that their mother would offer herself for their meal.  Dag.

I had ideas about the cannibals but after hearing the answer to that question and having Padraic answer "Cannibals," for question #3, I am currently in the process of writing up the cannibals as a Front all their own.

5) Marinating

Very often, when I ask a question, it takes someone by surprise and it is just an angle of their character that they hadn't thought of.  I will ask them to think on it, let them know that I am coming back to them and go through a quick scene with someone else and come back to them once they have had some time to marinate.

Any other examples of this principle in action?

Re: AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2010, 01:08:24 AM »
I had most of my usual players missing from a session and had asked one of the characters this:

What does Bottle think you did to her boyfriend Boots, and did you really do it?

Now I was expecting this to lead to some romantic complication or something of the sort, but my player answered awesomely, I paraphrase "She thinks I killed him by stealing his breathing filter (in this campaign all air must be filtered to breathe) and yes, I really did it. I wanted it."

This one answer drove pretty much the action of the entire game session, focusing on the violent repercussions of this action and eventually leading to the death of an innocent. It turned into a really harsh pill for that character to swallow and became one of the most intense moments of the campaign so far.

Apocalypse world is awesome.



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Re: AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2010, 02:21:35 AM »
Octoscott, Bottle was an NPC?

Re: AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2010, 02:36:09 PM »
Yes, both named characters were NPC's.



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Re: AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 10:29:50 AM »
To an Angel: "So, who have you been working on lately? Who have you been patching up?"

It netted me two different answers in two different games.

"There's a flu going around, maybe bronchitis or something, so I've been making housecalls to the different people in the hardhold and checking on the kids."

"I think there's a lot of fighting between different gangs in the city, so they come to me to get patched up after the fights."

Both really helped create the atmosphere of the two cities.
Tupacalypse World

Re: AP by Principle - Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 12:57:02 PM »
In 1st session setup, I asked Specter, the Savvyhead, "What's one thing you've created that you wish more than anything you hadn't, and who did you make it for?"

The answer was that he worked with a woman (named, of course, but I can't remember it off the top of my head) who ran a clinic to engineer a strain of poppy that grew fast, hardy, and strong, so that she could have pain killers for the people she treated.  Next time he came by the clinic, she was gone, and a few months later a new narcotic started becoming very popular among low-class brothel owners and slavers for keeping their people in line.

It was like being handed the character's heart on a gold platter.