The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)

  • 9 Replies

What are some of your favourite things to do with these kinds of hardholders and these kinds of players?

Your take on the hardholder, whatever it is, is perfectly legit, perfectly "as intended."

So look. Here's Anne. She feels that what the post-apocalypse needs is a strong, ruthless leader with a gang, rules, walls, and enforced hierarchy. Which playbook looks good to her? The hardholder.

Here's Beth. She feels that what the post-apocalypse needs is a central meetingplace of ideas, supplies, and services, where people mingle and exchange to their mutual benefit in relative security, non-hierarchically, and whatever power exists, it should exist to serve this flexible collaboration. Which playbook looks good to her? The hardholder.

There are a million possible hardholders. I'm only talking about Anne, the player who wants a violence-enforced hierarchy to hold the future together. I'm NOT saying that the hardholder needs a player like Anne. What I'm saying is that a player like Anne is more likely to play a hardholder than she is to play a skinner or a savvyhead, right?

I've got a hardholder who wants to settle the situation "back home", and then go explore, find other holdings and establish trade with them, and expand into the larger world.

He chose a well-defended compound and a well-disciplined gang, as you might imagine. The hardholder reads John Locke and is teaching himself to play chess, but is also not afraid to blow off someone's head if they try to corrupt his society.

I don't see how I can follow the principles of the game without throwing bad stuff at the situation "back home" on a regular basis (if nothing else, there's those missed Wealth rolls!), but I also want to be a fan of the character and let him go out and explore and try to accomplish some of those things he wants to see in the game.

Any recommendations? What's a fun way to engage this player?

[Incidentally, what do you do with the Wealth move when the hardholder is away on a trip? Not too sure when, where, or how much to roll it, if this comes up.]



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The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 08:13:27 AM »
What about introducing threats that are more "legitimate" than just other strongmen trying to take power? Workers organizing, people demanding elections and fair trials, things like that. If he tries playing the enlightened hardholder, that might cause him to actually take pause and think about the way he enforces his power. But still, let him explore, and don't throw bad stuff at him at every possible opportunity. It gets more fun if PCs actually can build stuff, but make him aware that he can't do it on his own, and that enlightened despotism is nigh-impossible.



  • 1293
Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2013, 08:27:15 AM »
I don't have anything special to say, just what's in the book: make Apocalypse World seem real, make the character's life not boring (to you, yourself), play to find out what happens, always say what your prep, the rules, and honesty demand.

Don't set yourself for or against an outcome. Maybe he can get exactly what he wants, maybe he can't. Look at your NPCs through crosshairs, both his allies and his enemies. You know.

For the wealth move while the hardholder's traveling: have him roll it and make choices as usual, and think offscreen about it. He'll find out what happened when he gets back, or if somebody gets in touch with him somehow, or whatever.


Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 11:53:06 AM »
If his expeditions are long enough that he starts a session abroad make sure to give him a love letter which is an actual letter from whomever he put in charge while he was gone. Like, some courier from the hardhold comes up and hands over the letter:

Dear Boss,
I just wanted to double check on some things. Just check the boxes if you agree or not.

So the water tastes weird again. I told the water-tender and she said she would fix it but I suspect she is putting something in it. Not poison or anything just some strange aromatic shit you know what I'm saying? Should I lock her up till you come back? Yes [ ] No [ ]

I Dogspit and Majesty are fighting over Raisin again. I told them I'm tired of their shit and that their fight reflects poorly on our hardhold (the ghost-merchants were watching the trial) and that this matter would be settled once and for all but that I'd have to ask you first. So who gets him? Dogspit [ ] Raisin [ ] Trial by combat [ ]

Also people are questioning my authority so if you just put your signature on this line below I think they'd calm down also how many days do you think you'll be gone?


lt. Fiskus

Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 12:07:24 PM »
All good suggestions so far. I like! Especially building in threats that transform the holding rather than threaten the hardholder's rule.

One thing the player said during the game, looking over the mechanics:

"OK, I see how this works now. What I don't understand is how anything can ever get better. It looks like I'll just be spinning my wheels around and around."



  • 1293
Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 12:37:33 PM »
You'll have to win his trust on that one, by making purely-fictional changes really stick. Like if he successfully forms an alliance with a neighboring power, let it stand, don't (immediately) threaten it again.

He's right; you can't see it in the mechanics. You have to do it in play.


Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2013, 01:19:01 PM »
That's a great point, too. The at-the-table dynamic there is good, it shouldn't be too much trouble.

The improvement options help with this business, as well (particularly the "erase one option from your holding").



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Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2013, 05:06:14 PM »
There is a kind of mechanic I was considering for using for long-term playbooks, especially the savvyhead, that I never got to try but might prove useful to you.

I'll write in terms of the savvyhead because that's what I thought most about, but I believe it should work well enough for the hardholder, too.

Basically, it's a kind of reverse front - you start at the basic proof of concept, then make a prototype, and then you make the actual thing which in turn makes a big splash in the world.

Say you're a Savvy, you want to take control of the tornados that ravage the land. First, I ask - is that even possible? How? The Savvy needs to do something concrete that tells me that he can pull this off - maybe he tries to take a chunk of the maelstorm and manipulate the winds with it. If that doesn't work out somehow, that's it, the question's settled - no one in the setting at hand can control the tornados. You might be able to cope with them by hiding or building shelters, but control is downright impossible. The game is now about how you deal with this.

But say the maelstorm thing works. Then you have to actually make a machine that controls a real tornado and test it out. If the best effort to do that doesn't work - the crucial machine part is destroyed, lost, or goes out of control, that's it - this is now a world of hope and possibility, but not the ability for actual change.

Finally, if it does work? Well, what does it mean to be able to control tornados? How is this ability used? Are you really better off when your best efforts come through? The thing you made is now recognised and used by the community, and you deal with the ways it does so.

Is this different from what you normally do as MC? I think it is. The problem with these kind of long-term fictionful character arcs, like making a thing that controls tornados, or building a society on a vision, are based mostly on the fact that the MC allows it or not. Can you control tornadoes? Are your insights into what would make a community work accurate enough to have even the chance to work?

If you don't get that assent early in the game, the game becomes about something else, which is well enough. More worryingly, actually getting that assent might mean that the game is no longer about a question of what your character can do, because you've already settled that question, implicitly or explicitly. Is a Lockean post-apocalyptic society viable? You already know.

Not already knowing but being able to find out is valuable, I think. If I was a braver man, I'd even say it's necessary to have anything worth calling a game at all.

So the idea is to set yourself as MC a kind of explicit framework of questions that controls what's possible in principle in the game you're playing, and develops that through the success or failure of player actions.

Is the idea proposed possible in principle?
If yes, is the idea proposed workable right here and now, with what you have to work with?
If yes, what are the real, concrete, longterm or wide-spread results of what you just did? Is it really the thing that you wanted?

Specifically for your case, I'd just let the Hardholder do the trading mission as soon as possible, think about all of the things that could make trade completelly impossible, have the Hardholder deal with (or accept) them, and see where it goes from there.

Of course, you know your game better, so it's really your best guess whether the trading thing is something the Hardholder is putting great hopes in, or if there's something else interesting around.

Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 09:12:33 PM »

That's hot stuff. Thanks for sharing! And I agree in full.

I think this is fairly under-developed technology in story games/RPG, as well, as far as that goes, and, as such, very much worth developing further.

Re: The Boss Hardholder (Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept)
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2013, 09:40:24 PM »
You could encourage the player to change playbooks when he sets out to explore.  He still has authority but there's some other asshole dealing with the Wealth rolls back at the hold.  The story shifts away from him as a hardholder and now he's basically a chopper or gunlugger or touchstone or whatever, out on the road.

Obviously that doesn't mean you shouldn't move against the hardhold or his control over it - it just frees you up to focus on some other shit for awhile.