Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.

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noofy

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Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« on: November 03, 2011, 08:05:30 PM »
G'day Folks!
Ooola just posted asking about a MC talent near and dear to me, namely 'Good MC questioning technique'. The advice (and examples) given by the usual suspects was direct and extremely enlightening on how MC's can encourage immersion into Apocalypse World.

So this thread is for subtleties in this specific principle of asking provocative questions. About getting at those wriggling fish deep deep below the surface. What tips, tricks, or advice do you have for us on how you ask questions during the game? Highlight with an example if you like, or even a 'mistake with correction'.

I'll start by by suggesting to 'sometimes disclaim decision making' about feelings and thoughts of NPCs in a situation where action is the obvious response.

'So Numnuts stalks over to you, a menacing gleam in his eye and a wicked evil blade in his sweating, trembling hands. What do you do?'
(Persiphone - PC) 'Uh oh, just because I fucked over his squeeze.... Just try it fucker. He's gonna get it too. I slide my violation glove on. Hey Numnuts! (it never gets old) What the fuck is your problem? I read the charged sitch'
'Sweet, but before you roll (disclaim decision making), Dremmer? From what you know of Numnuts (he's in Dremmer's  gang), despite  this snarling bravado, what does he really feel about Persiphone wiping the mind of Joe's Girl?' (previously determined fiction).

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Ariel

  • 330
Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 09:20:24 PM »
Vincent's advice is already really good.

Buuttttt.... If had to add too it explicitly, don't just asks questions because you don't know and don't wanna just make something up, ask questions about stuff that matters. Stuff that the player's aren't really thinking about because they're in this strange metaposition qua their characters and the story.

So, ask the character's how they are feeling, who they love, who they hate, what don't they want anybody to find out about, who do they wish knew about them, etc.

I like to ask questions to highlight the vulnerability, fragility and messiness of human life. The stuff that you don't see in movies or tv shows, or plays really.

The small stuff. Players are pretty good about the violence, the drama and the setting, sometimes they forget about the minor emotions and thoughts, the small joys and secret pains of life. Ask them about that.

Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 12:08:23 AM »
I got dibs on Keyser Söze.

Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2011, 01:26:43 AM »
Tactic 1: Decide on some concrete objective fact you want to introduce to the fiction. Ask one or more players what their relationship to it is.

Wasteland raiders: "So, Frankie, you live outside the main hardhold. How do you defend yourself from the wasteland raiders?"

One supply of clean water: "So, everybody else seems to think Rothschild is the only one with a source of clean water, what with his filtration machine. Do you get your water from him, or you got a secret?"

Imposing some past on a character: "When your father went off into the burn flats for the last time, and never came back, what did you do with the stuff he left behind?"

So what you want to do, is: state some sort of detail you want to be there, but state it in objective terms. This thing happened, this thing exists, this thing is a regular occurrence, these other people do these things, these other people are like this. Leave some room for the players to say how their characters have reacted to it, or normally do react to it. Let them add details.


Tactic 2: Ask for more detail. If a player says something either interesting, or fucking boring, ask for more detail. Let's take those separately.

Player says something interesting, ask for more detail because that's interesting! Flesh it out, connect some NPCs to it, get some triangles going, and look for where the PCs are weak and not in control.

Cybelle the Brainer mentions a mentor in some offhand comment.
MC: "Whoah, wait, what? You know somebody else with psycho psychic powers? Just one, or are there more out there? Who's this mentor? What happened to her?"

When a player says something really boring, it's probably because they haven't found something to be interested in yet. This is probably a good time to get them thinking about stuff. In my experience, there's this thing where the GM has to just keep throwing stuff at the players, hoping something will finally stick. You sort of have to use the same tactic here, but with questions, instead of having to think up plot hooks.

So, Wolf the Gunlugger is just like his name, a lone wolf. He says "oh, I probably just hunt for my food, I don't buy shit from Rothschild. Yeah, I hunt alone, nobody else. Y'know, whatever animals are there."
MC: "Wait, so you hunt alone, for whatever animals are out there? What do you do with the extras?"
Player: "Huh?"
MC: "The extra meat, you can't eat a whole deer at once, and there's no electricity so you don't have a fridge."
Player: "Uh, I guess I make jerky, then. Makes for less hunting, too."
MC: "You don't trade it or anything? How do you trade for stuff like shoes and bullets?"
Player: "I kill people."
MC: "I mean when you need to buy stuff from people who don't need you to kill anybody?"
Player: "Uh, yeah, I guess I trade them meat, then."
MC: "Cool, so you're an occasional meat supply. Are people happy to see you, bringing meat?"
Player: "Uh, yeah! Sure, the meat I hunt is better than their farm animals. So they're probably pretty happy to trade with me. It's high-barter meat! Very expensive!"

And finally you get something out of the player that you can work with. Now to set up some sort of meat-exchange scenario and make a PC-NPC-PC triangle.

You can combine these two tactics, as well. It's probably a good idea to add a little detail before you ask a question. Clarify the context of what you are asking for, like, "Can you give me more detail? I mean, considering Thing X that was said earlier, how do you do Thing Y? How does Thing Y work in relation to Thing Z, which I just made up now?" Plus, when you put forward details you're providing an example for the players to conform to, when introducing details.

Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2011, 05:12:51 AM »

Practically-speaking, my advice is to come up with questions in advance -- it's easy to fall back on the same pattern or same type of questions if you try and come up with everything on the spot.

This is also a good idea if you're just generally struggling to think up good questions. It's a lot easier to generate good questions on your own time; just jot them down on index card, or in your notebook, or a .txt file or whatever.



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noofy

  • 777
Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2011, 05:52:30 AM »
Orlando, I'm with you on the small stuff. It gets the players thinking about the big stuff in new interesting ways. Sorta like Jared's idea of descriptively introducing people with just three things. It makes you interested and want to dig a little  deeper. Nice, mate.

Johnstone, that is golden. I Like the way you think :)

Daniel - Could you give us a few examples?

Re: Give Advice on asking brilliant MC questions.
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2013, 03:02:44 PM »
This thread is golden. Needs a bump.

Orlando, I'm with you on the small stuff. It gets the players thinking about the big stuff in new interesting ways. Sorta like Jared's idea of descriptively introducing people with just three things. It makes you interested and want to dig a little  deeper. Nice, mate.

Johnstone, that is golden. I Like the way you think :)

Daniel - Could you give us a few examples?

 I too like to preplan stuff. Last time i pre-planned scenes. But I'm interested in some examples from people.