Playbook focus: The Hardholder

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Playbook focus: The Hardholder
« on: August 04, 2013, 02:25:46 PM »

There is no government, no society, in Apocalypse World. When hardholders
ruled whole continents, when they waged war on the other side of the world
instead of with the hold across the burn-flat, when their armies numbered
in the hundreds of thousands and they had fucking boats to hold their
airplanes on, that was the golden age of legend. Now, anyone with a
concrete compound and a gang of gunluggers can claim the title. What other
authority is there?

The Hardholder is a warlord ruling a local settlement of people. His biggest strength is his gang, a small army (as far as the post-apocalypse goes, it is an army) of armed people doing his bidding. His primary stat is Hard, and he gets two moves: Wealth, which brings him the profit of his hardhold on a good day, and the trouble and wants of his hardhold on a bad day, and Leadership, which is for leading his gang into battle. The Hardholder is one of the leader-type playbooks, who have people working for them. Leaders are good for generating interesting trouble and relationships, and makes a good center for the story in that other characters can work for them, or at least have to relate to their significant presence.

My take on it:
The Hardholder is all about owning it. The postapocalypse is an infected, frozen or burnt out wasteland, everything is scarcity, but what there is, you own it. And if you don't own it... Well, do you want it? Take it. You have the stats and manpower to back it up. It is not Sharp or Hot that's the hardholders primary stats, but Hard, and I love the Hardholder for it. This isn't the world where brilliant or suave men and women rise to power, but the world where determined ones do. That is not to say that hardholders are stupid, uncouth or brutish. They do not even have to be ruthless, but they have to be determined. They are the ones to make ugly choices concerning peoples survival without flinching, and then sticking to these choices. That's why they're hard.

I played Barnum the Hardholder, a burly guy maintaining a small hold of people and their workshop in the cold and wild pine forests. At night, he and his gang huddled up together to sleep to conserve warmth, so there was literally a lot of warmth coming from him, a kind of family man. But his hold needed him to be an authoritative father, or it would surely perish to the evil of the forests.

Or you can go all out the other way and play a cruel dictator, relish in your own power. I mean, who the fuck is going to stop you? In Apocalypse World, you are King. And there is certainly the lure of it! This is your chance to be autocratic, to come down hard on slights of your authority, to harshly punish transgressions of your law, to bully lesser holds into giving you what you want, and it's all justified because we live in a fucked up world. You can certainly use your character to play up and further the madness of the post-apocalypse. In one game, the Hardholde was a straight up warlord/dictator a la Idi Amin, as seen in Last King of Scotland, with his gang being his person cult. A friend of mine played in a game where the hold had a jeopardy wheel to determine punishment for crimes. Death, mutilation or a party! The fucking thing kept stopping on ”party” all the time, almost drove the hold to ruin...

Oh yeah, and don't think the hardholder is invincible, he certainly isn't. No other playbook has this much trouble and headache to deal with. The water is running out, food is running out, the hocus is turning people to his death-cult, his own gang is turning against him... You will need that +2hard stat. Fact of the matter is, almost all of the hardholders improvements are stat improvements.

Why the Hardholder is the best playbook to play:
You get to define the world! You decide what the hold looks like, how it works, what the people living in it are like. And the other characters will probably be living in your hold, (they absolutely should, if you ask me) and you can put them in positions of power, like the Battlebabe is your sheriff, or the Operator is your go-to-guy.  Also, your underlings will be a constant source of lovely drama, when there is stuff missing from the armory or when your trusted lieutenant joins the cult of your rival the hocus. And of course, the thrill of being the boss, telling people what to do and taking what you want from them.

What it brings to the world of the apocalypse:
The Hardholder brings scale to Apocalypse World. The map of your world will probably grow to encompass neighbouring holds and dangers, to put your hold in a relation to the surroundings. It also bring some sort of social awareness. People around you are not just NPCs anymore, they're a part of your hold. And for your hold to function and survive, people need to get along, be healthy and fed. Suddenly, threats are not just psychos with chainsaws, but also diseases or a broken water pump.

Fundamental scarcities of the Hardholder:
For the playbook to work, the MC needs to push for the problems and threats of the hold. Play the people in the hold like real people, not like mindless underlings. Bring morality and complex issues to the hardholder, use loyalty, disloyalty and other relationships to make the people working for the Hardholder become real people and not just resources. Being a Hardholder should be a double-edged sword: You have the most power, but also the most responsibility.

Moves and crap analysis:
The Hardholder is all about Fictional effectiveness as lumpley calls it. Play a hardholder and you won't get the most Mechanically effective and minmaxed character, but you'll get tons of possibility to influence the world, both in game prep and also through your actions. Every other character, if they do not work for the Hardholder, has to somehow relate to their presence in the world, they can't escape it.

The Hardholder has only two moves, Wealth (which is trouble as much as it is a blessing) and Leadership. Interesting thing about Wealth is that you do not get to save up the barter you earn between sessions, it resets everytime you make the roll. Kind of makes sense, as you are the bank –  Don't buy stuff, make people do it for you instead. If you want to play rich, play The Operator.

Leadership is an interesting move, in that it gives you hold to spend when your gang encounters a point that really puts their morale to the test. The rest of the time, they're assumed to do basically what you tell them to. This is important, and I'll tell you why: I was taking a nap a few days back, idly thinking about how I wanted to make this write-up. I have just started practicing zazen, zen meditation. Zazen is a very simple thing, you just sit and pay attention to your breath. It is simple, but not easy, because of course thoughts, tensions, emotions, and pain all come up and you have to deal with it. Well, Apocalypse World is kind of the same thing, as your character does whatever you say he or she does, and a good improv MC will go with whatever you say and ”Yes, and...” it. Basically, you could freeform it all. But when resistance comes up in the form of you fucking people up and they're resisting, or other people fucking you up and you're resisting, that's when you take out the rules and roll dice. Leadership exemplifies this well. Fiction dictates that your gang will do what you tell them to do and perform as can be expected by them, until they meet specific kinds of resistance, and thats when you need to spend hold to deal with it. It's very clear to me, I don't know if that makes sense to you guys, but there it is anyway. :)

As for other playbook moves, there are a lot of routes a Hardholder could take. He could go with NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH or Bloodcrazed from the gunlugger to become an even bigger force of power. He could take Fingers in every pie or Just give me a motive from Maestro D' to go more for a scheming route, or maybe as Barnum did, get Touched by Death or Infirmary from the Angel if he tries his best to take care of his subjects.



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Re: Playbook focus: The Hardholder
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 07:55:53 AM »
Quote from: Svarte faraonen
Bra fokus! Jag har dock ett förslag på extraanalys: vilka är spelbokens naturliga allierade/konkurrenter?

Skitsmart! Det finns mycket att säga om det, men jag får försöka klämma in det i mina fokus.

Relations and dynamics
As a Hardholder, you're the highest status. To add more dynamics to the status relationships, try and find someone who has higher status than you in your particular relationship, maybe you're in love with the Skinner or Gunlugger, maybe you worship the Hocus, maybe the Touchstone or Brainer gives you nightmares and unnerves you. "Who has power over you?" is a good question for an MC to ask the Hardholder.

Other good questions are "Who in your gang do you trust the most? Who do you trust the least?", "What was it like before you became Hardholder?" "Who in your hold gives you the most trouble?" "Who in your hold do you really care about?" All these serve to bring your hold and your relationships alive.

The Chopper and Hocus are your natural rivals, as they have manpower and loyalty rivalling yours. If they're your allies, the MC would have to formulate insanely powerful fronts for you to fight, or find other threats than outer physical, such as superstition, disloyalty, disease, food scarcity and so on.

The Driver, Savvyhead and Angel are great allies as they have specialized and valuable skills, but not clear intrinsic motivation. The Faceless can also really thrive with a boss telling him what to do. A Hardholder telling these characters what to do gives them both something to do and something to rebel against. Invite the rebellion! In a world of scarcity, there's often not room for compromise, and someone has to yield which can lead to great drama and betrayal. Great stuff to play off.

The Brainer and Hoarder can be great resources, but can never be truly trusted because of their Weirdness. Same with the Maestro D' who can hook you up, but also bring chaos to your hold with drugs and revelry.

And never forget, the Gunlugger can kill you if they really want to, and if anyone is going to topple your rule, it's probably the Battlebabe or Touchstone. Go see Book of Eli!
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 08:03:21 AM by Arvid »



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Re: Playbook focus: The Hardholder
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 07:59:23 AM »
Great! The person who suggested that addition must be as talented as he is sexy!