Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom

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Judd

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Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« on: October 31, 2010, 03:48:22 AM »
Everyone was in West Point for the wedding, so while they are all here, might as well call every gang leader together to talk.  Shit, they even let in that squid-eater, Webb, who is re-building the barge that Dog head rolled up the Hudson in....before Dent killed Dog head.

(It was just  Barry and KK tonight, so just the Hardholders, Bullet and Baby.  Marsh and Dent were MIA, which made for a very different game all together.)

Bullet talked to Baby and called for a sit-down.  The Cannibals were on his mind.  He wanted to either broker a lasting piece that everyone could agree to or give a call to arms and go to war.  This is a few days after Dent went into one of the cannibal's tunnels into NYC, sent the cannibals running and cornered one of their elders, Mariner, knocking out his teeth and sending him home alive.

Dirty was there of the Dirty Bastards, a bunch of village kids from up near Kip-town with bikes.

Viejo was there of the Long Riders...a tight squad of six said to be from out west somewhere.

Cloud represented the Night Riders, a bunch of guys whose M.O. is to ride to a place, turn their bikes off, jump in at night with night vision goggles on and beat everyone to death with various blunt metal implements.

Bone is in charge of the Green Mountain Boys, the largest gang, nearly 30 large, with ties back to some compound way up north in some mountains...all said to be family, all tight.

Dotty is in charge of the Highway Rats, a bunch of river kids, squid eaters, who turned their knowledge of boat engines to the road and started a biker gang.

Also there was D.D., representing Mrs. Washington or Mrs. Dubya in Albany.

Millions, the hardholder of Pole, the trading fort right outside NYC.

Garza, the guy the Hudson River Compact (that's what Bullet is calling us all) is trying to install as the King of New York City was there, they guy who took the tunnel with Dent and is now holding it.

Captain Webb is there, the squid-eater who is fixing up the barge with his kin. 

And with permission, Gams was there, the traveling drug dealer with ties back to Cannibal Country, where she scores her meth.

They want the city secure but Garza let's them know that it isn't a one-bullet problem.  Its, as he puts it, a thousand gangs, all with feuds, family drama and shit that dates back to before-who-knows-when.  "Imagine what a fucking bad-ass you have to be to survive the apocalypse in the city...now image they have kids and they have kids and the family tree is short and stumpy and that is what I am sitting on, a big fucking mess of bad-ass psychopaths.  The sub-men talk to everyone but half the time we can't understand their dialect.  The 86ers are trying to get their aircraft carrier going.  Shit, there are more gangs than I could name or count."  Everyone agrees that it is complicated and that they'll support Garza.  He reckons that with the barter Bullet dropped on him and the tunnel, he can hold tight 'till winter at least.

But these cannibals...

Yeah, everyone wants peace...sure.  But who is going to have the moxy to ask for it now that Dent had his hammer and mask fueled tantrum?  Shit, even Gams is scared to get her shit, not sure how she is going to be received.

Bullet has a spy deep undercover who reports through Gams.  Word is out that there is an election on for Mariner's replacement.  The peacenik stepped down after Dent de-fanged him.  Some war-minded folk are running for the office, Elder of the Central Garden.

Bullet and Baby will go ask for peace, meet 'em out on a boat like last time.  Dotty will go; she's been to Cannibal Country (or so she says, lying snake) and when Dotty says she'll go, Dirty insists on going, as their gangs are rivals...village-kids vs. river kids, doncha know.

Salt is a squid-eater with cannibal ties; he shows up with a message.  He's got a fucking TV with a fucking DVD player and the DVD player has a DVD they burned with Mariner's replacement talking.  Its all rigged up to his tug-boats engine.

Mariner's replacement is a woman named Flower...with filed teeth, meaning that she's been out into the non-cannibal world, out hunting scavengers, non-producers.  She says that she wants a meet and that she'll be armed.  Also, don't being Dent, please.  Thanks.

Its Dotty, Dirty, Baby, Bullet and Crowbar out to meet 'em.  Salt's got a raft his tug-boat tows behind him with a little shack/house on it for the meeting.  Read a sitch under the G.W. Bridge where the meet is said to happen.  Something is fucking wrong.  They are not fucking coming.

Baby tries to take Salt's boat but it all goes pear shaped.  She has to drop her gear into the river when she falls into the drink, just to get out before the squid get a hold of her.  Dirty got killed - bullet, then splash.  Bullet is fuct up badly, nearly killed but got away with just crippled and disfigured.  They had a bomb planted under the raft and it went up.  Dotty was lost (turned out to be a spy all along for the cannibals). 

They they opened fire, fired a fucking rocket-propelled grenade at the boat.

Grenade shrapnel next to Bullet's spine means he'll never quite walk right again.  His face got nailed by shattering glass when the bullets rained down.  Baby get's hit but they are clean shots and she'll live.. 

Its a fucking mess is what it is.

They've heard that some squid-eaters have gone cannibal but now shit is for serious.  This is real.  This is war. 

Read a sitch. 10.  The cannibals are most vulnerable in their trade routes that head out west.  The true position of the cannibals is on the Hudson somewhere, as they control much more of it than anyone originally thought.  Look-out for them hitting Pole.  Millions is way too isolated and isn't well guarded enough.

Baby looks towards Cannibal Country and opens her mind to the Psychic Maelstrom.  She feels the Kipsie's parents, still hitch-hiking in her brain with their hands on her shoulders.  She feels Elijah, the little Cannibal Country kid, Marsh accidentally stuck in her brain that one time (he got out but she still contacts him when she opens like this) and she takes a step towards Cannibal Country.

She has a nice astral/psychic/whatever conversation with the psychic and Elder of South Garden.  Devil is on top of a casino in A.C. and there are fucking electric lights glowing.  He has a cartoon devil tattooed on his chest.  They palaver for a while. 

"Are you from 5 Points?"

"No."

"Hm."

South, Central and Northern Garden each have a brainer, a psychic and Baby knows where they all are.  One is in a skyscraper in Cannibal Country that looks right over the Hudson into the City.

"I hope that when we come, our people take you alive, Baby.  I'd like to really meet you."

"I won't let that happen."

"It almo-"

She cuts, walks away.

Bullet calls Web into his office and demands the names of every fucking squid-eater who has gone cannibal.

"Its complicated...some husband and wives are split different...some kids...sometimes just a daughter but not the sons and other times the whole clan but not the outsiders who marry in.  Its a mess."

Go aggroMiss.

Webb lies his ass off and lies well.

Baby reads a personMiss.

He walks away quickly before the name doesn't check out.

When the names don't check out, Bullet calls up everyone with wheels to roll up to the barge to talk with Web.  They catch Webb on his way back up in his little dinghy, roll him and all of his kin on the barge into Kip-town.

"Half of the damned squid-eaters are fucking cannibals and not to be trusted."

Kip-town went into near fucking riots.  Squid-eaters are ripped from their boats, baths and meals.  Squid-eaters are ripped from whore-houses, gambling dens and saloons.  Squid-eaters are rounded up into the middle of town, stripped naked, their boats ransacked.  The late Kipsie was no friend to squid-eaters and people don't mind a reason to fuck with them all over again.  Webb and his family are seperated from the squid-eaters who are roughed up, kept in the middle of a circle of Baby's Boys' bikes.

Bullet said, "Webb, either you are with us or you are not with us.  Choose now.  Point out every fucking squid-eater who is a fucking cannibal.  Point them out.  Choose.  With us or against us.  Choose now."

So, Webb chose.  Those he pointed out as cannibals were splashed with red paint.  The others were let go.  Those with red paint were forced to the ground between Baby and Bullet.

20 squid eaters were cannibals, several with filed teeth.  Those with filed teeth were killed, given to the crowd, murdered brutally in public while Bullet and Baby deliberated.  The children would be taken back to West Point and taught a trade.  The women were divvied up after the men are slaughtered.  Bullet's second-in-command, Fox took one, not because he wanted one but because he just didn't want to see anymore death.  Baby's Boys are wide-eyed and horrified; they aren't fucking hyenas and sure killing is fine but...this...this is something else.

The prettiest, Cola, was sent to Saffron's joint to earn a living in the sex trade.

Another was given to Baby, who was thinking of starting her own whorehouse.

As Bullet said, "The nice Bullet was killed out there on the Hudson.  That Bullet out there wanted peace and he was reasonable.  Now you have this scarred fucker who is going to kill these bastards who betrayed him.  Now we are at war."

You can see the line of fucking mess and brutality that got us here.  You can see why squid-eaters went to cannibal country while The Kipsie was sending biker gangs to hunt down their villages into order to cement his claim on all Hudson River crossings.  You can see how Dent being brutalized and scarred by reckless cannibals out on their helling led to a man who never takes off his helicopter helmet and who slaughtered a fortified tunnel filled with cannibals with a sledgehammer, shattering bonesr, knocking out their peaceful leader's teeth and sending him home to be shamed, mocked and have his political power stripped from him.  You can see how the people of Central Garden elected a woman who would plant bombs under a boat filled with diplomats coming to discuss a peace accord.

There is a clear line of broken people and desperation that got us to the ugly events of this game.

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Judd

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2010, 02:53:12 PM »
After a night's sleep notes:

Man, that game disturbed the hell out of me.  I realize that when I get really disturbed about something the players are doing, I stop asking them to roll.  "Yes, you inspire the people of Kip-town to gather the squid-eaters in the middle of the city, beaten and naked..."  The splotches of red paint on the cannibals, the way the players just discussed their fates right in front of them.

I am really curious as to how Dent will take this.  JJ always plays Dent as more complicated and nuanced than most folks give him (him, being Dent, not JJ) credit for and Dent is always down on the docks, dicing with the squid-eaters.

Barry has an advance that will very likely be his second character.  I think the Quarantine was tailor made for him, threading the needle between really wanting to know what happened in the apocalypse and a fascination with all things military.

On the drive home, in the Real World, not the Apocalypse World, there is a house near where we play that has a sign in front that says, "Nazi University," with pamphlets attached to the sign.

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noofy

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2010, 09:51:58 PM »
Hey Judd, reading your AP just gives me voyeristic tingles everytime. Like when you see the trailer for a great movie / game and can't wait to immerse yourself in it! I really appreciate the intimacy you have allowed in us sharing with your groups game. I keep thinking of characters / threats / landscapes 'I wonder about' in your setting. Brilliant, evocative story-telling mate. Well done!

With your musings in the AP, are they actual questions you put to the characters?
eg: Yeah, everyone wants peace...sure.  But who is going to have the moxy to ask for it now that Dent had his hammer and mask fueled tantrum?  Shit, even Gams is scared to get her shit, not sure how she is going to be received.

The reason I ask is, that I am finding it hard (especially with the one-on-one sessions) to iterate the principle of addressing the characters. We catch ourselves after talking 'meta-game' for a while about a sitch or characters or potential story arc as players. (very BW!) Any advice?

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Judd

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2010, 08:06:42 AM »
Thanks for the kind words, Noofy.

With your musings in the AP, are they actual questions you put to the characters?
eg: Yeah, everyone wants peace...sure.  But who is going to have the moxy to ask for it now that Dent had his hammer and mask fueled tantrum?  Shit, even Gams is scared to get her shit, not sure how she is going to be received.

No, when there are questions I put to the players, I tend to write down what I asked and not make the reader guess.  This wasn't a game where I used that technique a whole lot.

The reason I ask is, that I am finding it hard (especially with the one-on-one sessions) to iterate the principle of addressing the characters. We catch ourselves after talking 'meta-game' for a while about a sitch or characters or potential story arc as players. (very BW!) Any advice?

I haven't run any one-on-one sessions in AW.  With this campaign, I reckon I won't.

You talk about a potential story arc? 

For me, addressing the characters means just that, how I phrase the sentence.  I don't say, "KK, Crowbar comes to you with a problem."  I say, "Baby, Crowbar comes to you with a problem," and when I address baby (a fictional lady) I am more likely to throw in other bits of fictional chum, "Baby, Crowbar comes to you while you are trying to have a quiet meal and he looks like he's spent the last few nights sleeping under his bike; he looks like hell."

The folks I am gaming with are not involved in the indie RPG online scene at all at all.  Most would probably agree that system doesn't matter as long as the group of people are solid.  Most cut their teeth on White Wolf games.  They have learned enough of the system to know which XP bits to mark off and which stat to use to roll which move.  Padraic showed some interest in making up custom moves but other than that, they're most interested in playing their characters and figuring out what the eff to do about what a mess the world has become.
 
This makes things easier, I think.  Hope that helps.

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noofy

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, 06:46:57 PM »
Yeah, it does, thanks! When we play as two, it seems quaint to 'address' the character (since there is only one other player than me!), thus leading to the meta game discussion about story arc (since its not preplanned). We tend to do this a lot, discussing the immediate threats and their fronts and the possibility of how that could drive the fiction in various 'arcs'. This appears remarkably a lot like your musings I quoted above!

Whenever we open scene though, it becomes more direct and visceral. I do my best to follow the principles and address the character, misdirecting and lately a hell of a lot of disclaiming decision making. (IMO I think that principal is key to making one-on-one AW sing)

The tendency though is to 'jump out of the first person' during the scene and discuss as players the mechanics of what's going on, and the potential choices to be had, then jump right back in to the scene. Many of these discussions revolve around similar questions to your 'I wonder....'  statements in the AP.  Thus my pique.

Its not that I'm trying to make the reader guess, just that I'm genuinely interested in my partner's answers and thoughts on the directions the story could go, and what mechanical drivers we can use to decide? Then we jump into the nitty gritty and pull the answers out of the moves snowball.

Hmmmm. Much musing to be had on the pros and cons of AW as a one-on-one game. Anyways, I really enjoy the writeups, I'll have to do some more of my own to open to discussion and not derail your thread! Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

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Judd

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, 10:15:40 PM »
Noofy,

Here's my disconnect with what you are saying.  I am writing about what I say to my players.  I don't mention fronts or arcs or narrative.  I tell them what their character is experiencing and let them react and do the MC moves and stick to the main ideas noted in the book.

Then you write, "Oh yeah, that is just what we do, when we talk about arcs and fronts and etc."

But we don't do that and I can't figure out where you are getting that we do.

I dunno, I'm not getting what you are getting at.

Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2010, 12:05:33 AM »
During the games, I really try to avoid this kind of meta-level talk. I find that the game mechanics don't let you do any kind of pre-planning, or at least they fight you like hell if you start openly talking about the meta level or planning the character's narrative arc.

I often get a little evasive when some of the players in my game start spouting long term plans.  I usually just tell them "Awesome, those are great plans. So what are you doing right now?" and then continue to play my Fronts and Threats, making moves and misdirecting, keeping with the principles of the game. They are welcome to make plans, I just can't really talk to them about whether these plans will come to fruition.  To be honest, I don't know.  And that's exciting.

Judd, do you find that when you MC Apocalypse World, the story direction of the game is often a complete mystery until the session is done?  I'm finding this in my own sessions (to my JOY, by the way) and wanted to check on your experiences as MC. 

Jon.

I don't mention fronts or arcs or narrative.

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Judd

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2010, 12:12:46 AM »
Judd, do you find that when you MC Apocalypse World, the story direction of the game is often a complete mystery until the session is done?  I'm finding this in my own sessions (to my JOY, by the way) and wanted to check on your experiences as MC. 

Yeah, it is always a total shock when I look up at the end of the night and see what the Hudson River Valley looks like now that the players are done with it.

Fronts + Scarcity + 7-9 rolls (tough decisions, etc.) + Player Reactions + NPC Reactions + Advacements = me being totally shocked

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noofy

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2010, 02:10:18 AM »
Judd, Glendower,
Sorry Guys, I'm not trying to step on the RAW, nor am I trying to engender a disconnect with you Judd - quite the opposite in fact! After some careful thinking, I believe my initial response to your post was based on your writeup of the AP, rather than the AP itself (at the table). Obviously, in retrospect your 'author' is laying down some evocative and cohesive fiction translated from the cool shit that went down at your table.

Please understand I'm in no way claiming 'this is how you play mate, sounds just like the way I play - cool  - lets find our shared vibe.' That would be unbelievably pretentious and overbearing. No, I'm agreeing that we play to see what happens, and I'm curious to your thought process (as MC) based on the narrative questions you raise in the recount of actual play.
 
I grok that in your AP report you are paraphrasing the dialogue between MC and the PCs, that its at the character level and reactive and following the outline in the rules. Sweet, no confusion there. What my first resonse was trying to elucidate was that the past tense recount 'format' of your AP struck me as similar to the talk at our table. That's all. After re-reading my response, I can see why you had the disconnect. Poor wording on my part. Sorry!

I get that you don't talk about fronts or threats or arcs. You think about them though, right? When you evoke the principles and apply your agenda?

The parallel I was seeing from our game is that when I ask questions, I've been guilty of voicing that 'inner thought' process, talking to my partner about the 'how' of the applied mechanics as we checked up a rule / process. I am struggling to address the immediacy of situation / character / action through the principles. This is what I was asking for your advice on how to alleviate. You have come through in spades, thanks!

Im really sorry if I insinuated that my inference to your excellent report was indicative of comparable practice in play - it wasn't intended! Just that I delight in the snippets of how you 'think' during actual play (as the MC) encapsulated through the AP recount as 'musings'.

Its a damn fine AP, and mate,  I've no right to ask you explain your 'inner workings' of thought process. Let me assure both of you that we too delight in the complete mystery of the story direction and are suitably overwhelmed every time at the great stories revealed as we play.

Thanks for bearing with me, I really love AW, and just want to improve my gameplay. :)

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Judd

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Re: Just Outside the City: The Anti-Squid-eater Progrom
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 07:50:17 AM »
Noofy,

I wasn't insulted in the least, just perplexed is all.

More of a response later.