1st Session Advice

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1st Session Advice
« on: January 10, 2013, 12:43:21 AM »
When y'all are thinking about stuff before session 1... building your aesthetic, as it says... How far do you go? For instance, if you thought I Am Legend was cool and had this vision of a holding barricaded in at night to keep the monsters out... Is that something you might try to work in? It doesn't really seem like the kind of thing that might otherwise come up, but I've never run a game, so I don't know. Is it going too far?

Also, how much authorial control of the world do you folks hand over to the players after session 1? The example in the book is asking the players "Where DO you get your food?" And, to me, it seems clear that during session 1, the players are intended to have wide latitude with world details well outside their characters. After that, do you reign it in some, or still take a lot of opportunities to hand world-creation back to the group? If it depends, what kinds of things do you weigh?

I don't really imagine these questions have "right" answers. I'm just looking to see how other folks have done it or think about it. Thanks!

Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 05:34:58 PM »
When I first started out, I had this conception that the base setting of Apocalypse World was a "Mad Max"-style wasteland, and I rolled with that. In truth, the setting  can be however you want to spin it. I ended up editing it to be a more temperate wasteland set in Paso Robles, using local landmarks as inspiration (I needed a plausible military base in proximity).

The AW book says to stay true to your research, but if the players improvise a setting detail on their own - a detail which may contradict something that you have technically already written down somewhere in your brainstorming, but have not yet shown "on screen" - then you are free to edit/replace/whatever and go with what the players suggest. The players' suggestion will ensure more investment in the setting, and you can possibly re-introduce your cool idea elsewhere.

That said: if you've already established an element of the fiction, then don't retroactively change it, unless circumstances make it feasible. Your NPCs are always in your crosshairs, someone can always start polluting the "clean" river nearby, and a faceless post-apocalyptic technology-hoarding enclave can always start releasing mutated spidercats into your players' neighborhood.

So, as to "I am Legend": I found many apocalyptic images online, and the ones which fascinated me most were the ones in large urban centers, with lots of tall buildings, much like the setting of "I am Legend". I am also a veteran of the "Fallout 3" and "Fallout: New Vegas" games, so I am experienced with the look and feel of traveling through sprawling urban wastelands. So many options for ecologies, environmental hazards, resources, territorial conflict, surprise attacks, and more.

So if I had to do it again, I would opt for a more urban setting for my Apocalypse World game, something with a lot of gutted office buildings or skyscrapers, something which would allow me to include a diverse array of locations: parks, buildings, subways, car-choked roadways, hospitals, factories, and more. I think your idea has a lot of possibilities.
"Above the tortured heavens
So full of silent waiting
Howl screams of birth and triumph
Unlock the faceless hating"

- Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets, "Ogdru Jahad"

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noclue

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Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 06:02:05 PM »
I don't think should ever stop asking questions of the players while you're looking for places they're not in control. "Where do you get your water?" is always a fine thing to ask.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 09:46:43 PM »
I think it's a very fluid process in action.

Sometimes you come to the table thinking "I want a desert apocalypse setting", and you don't get anything from the players that would change that, they're totally into that concept, they run with it.

Other times (like my last game), you sit down and one of the first things you ask is:

"Ok, you're the hardholder. Where's your holding built, what kind of landscape is around?"

And the player says, "Ooh, yeah! The holding is carved out of a reef, tunnels bored out of the coral."

That's cool! (But, obviously, now your desert idea goes out the window. Save it for later, if the PCs ever go traveling, but more likely you'll use it a different game.)

I think it's totally OK to keep asking questions as long as you play, but the more material gets solidified in play, the less you'll do it as time goes on.

I ask questions whenever I don't have a ready idea on the tip of my tongue, or whenever I think the answer could tell me something interesting about that character.

Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2013, 10:12:32 PM »
When y'all are thinking about stuff before session 1... building your aesthetic, as it says... How far do you go? For instance, if you thought I Am Legend was cool and had this vision of a holding barricaded in at night to keep the monsters out... Is that something you might try to work in? It doesn't really seem like the kind of thing that might otherwise come up, but I've never run a game, so I don't know. Is it going too far?

Now, the setting will come from somewhere... from one or more players, it can just as well be from you. If you have a strong aesthetic in mind, I say go for it, but don't write in in stone, let it flex a bit and don't force it if nobody seems to like it. Players will add nuance you hadn't thought of and bring the thing to life, you'll say "Hey, I want a dark world where monsters come out at night" and someone will say, "yeah like they get in your head and you come wandering out of the dark all possessed and shit!" Yeah... cool. Why not, take one thing and go forward from there.

Also, how much authorial control of the world do you folks hand over to the players after session 1? The example in the book is asking the players "Where DO you get your food?" And, to me, it seems clear that during session 1, the players are intended to have wide latitude with world details well outside their characters. After that, do you reign it in some, or still take a lot of opportunities to hand world-creation back to the group? If it depends, what kinds of things do you weigh?
I generally hand over setting decisions to the players when I ask, other than that they may add to the narrative but shouldn't feel like they have broad brush powers to declare thing about anything not directly in their character's control. But on occasion I will specifically prompt a player for input into something which normally would be out of their character's realm. Like, "so you deal with the Wetlanders all the time right? You know that crazy tree with all the lights up in the branches? What do you think that thing is for?" Often I phrase it like that even so... asking what their character thinks about something, not necessarily asking what it is. Lets the player contribute without setting all in stone.

I don't really imagine these questions have "right" answers. I'm just looking to see how other folks have done it or think about it. Thanks!

Yeah, no such thing as right answers, this is just how I usually do it in my games.

Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2013, 02:07:37 AM »
All these answers are really great. Thanks, folks! I'd love to hear more, if anyone has any, but wanted to get that out there. :)

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DannyK

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Re: 1st Session Advice
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 12:26:21 AM »
When the setting clicks and people start riffing on setting elements, I like to sit back a little and take notes.  Players will come up with much more awful shit than I can when they're in the mood.