being fan of the characters

  • 5 Replies
being fan of the characters
« on: May 11, 2014, 07:34:54 PM »
My AW session last night ended with the Brainer going aggro on the Faceless, the Quarantine shooting the Brainer, the Brainer pulling in-brain puppet strings on the Quarantine to make him attack the Faceless, the Faceless blowing the Quarantine away with an RPG, and the Battlebabe ending the Faceless as retribution.

That was not what I was hoping for? They certainly were all invested in the outcome, so I suppose I succeeded at capturing everyone's attention, but there were some sour feelings in the middle of this action so in general the scene is something I hope to avoid in the future. This is a stable group that has been gaming together for six years or so, though this was only our third session of AW.

I fear I precipitated these events as MC. The Faceless failed a Norman roll, so I told him his mask wanted him to hold the hardhold's water purifier hostage. He was perhaps a bit overconfident from having completely mowed over whatever obstacles I had thrown at him before by violence, so he did not attempt to seek healing for his wounds before laying claim to the hardhold's water purifier, which was an action designed to spark a response from pretty much every character, MC or player, that we had introduced.

Was giving the Faceless a motivation to take something designed to elicit so many hard moves staying true to my principles of being a fan of the characters? I feel like the Norman MC move was a valid hard move to make, but I'm not certain. I think, in retrospect, I probably would have still made that same hard move but I should have told more characters the consequences and asked in the build up to the climactic showdown, as I did not gently remind my players they had some alternatives to aggressive moves.

As an aside, I will note that I think my players used violence a lot more than I had expected, though by the third session they were hip to the fact that the number of souls in their little hardhold was rapidly dwindling.

Any MC advice, from the book or otherwise?
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 07:51:49 PM by Dwindlehop »

Re: being fan of the characters
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2014, 07:54:47 PM »
I think your instincts are right. The Norman move was fine but letting people know the consequences might have made some change their actions (and if not well then they at least know that death is on the table).

I've played in groups that went to murder by PC and it sucks all around.

I suppose the best advice I can give was how I handled a similar situation. This was a D&D game but the concept hold the same.

The setup: Two PCs Jack and Ignatius decide that the Child of the Machine Goddess is a danger and needs to die. Partly because they don't trust forces of order (which the child is) and partly because an ally wants it dead.The other PC Dominic is a priest of the Machine Goddess and thus wants to keep the child alive. The child, it should be pointed out, is a powerful android sealed away for centuries but released by Dominic (the Goddess sealed him away unsure how to handle him but let her priesthood decide if should be released).

Anyway it was clear both sides were heading for a conflict. Both groups knew the other one was planning something and made plans to deal with the other.

What I did was talk to each group privately to make sure they were not going to kill each other characters and that regardless of who accomplished their objective that the players would be fine with the outcome.

In the end neither group chose to let it come to blows and the whole conflict got preempted by another more serious problem.

Hope that helps.



  • 22
Re: being fan of the characters
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2014, 01:29:55 PM »
I do not see a huge problem, but you have a better gauge on the feelings of your group than can be suggested in a paragraph.  If this is something that you are not comfortable running again in the future have that conversation with the players before you start up again.  Set limits and boundaries and define what the game experience is about.  I think AW will see player conflict regardless, whether that conflict ends with PC corpses is up to the players and how they choose to overcome the obstacles they encounter.  If they solve all problems with NPC threats through violence, why wouldn't they take the same approach with fellow players?  The only thing I could suggest to bring unity to a group with internal problems is a threat larger than those internal problems.

Re: being fan of the characters
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2014, 01:56:27 PM »
Thanks for the responses! I think my table has seen player conflict before, but it has never resulted in violence.
Here, I definitely did not announce any offscreen badness to put the player conflict in perspective, and so the player conflict rapidly overtook all other concerns. That strikes me as solid practical advice.

I do think I will return to our normal program of swords and sorcery for a time. It was really myself and the Battlebabe who were keen on playing Apocalypse World, so I'm not sure the others really had a strong feeling about what their AW experience should be about.



  • 609
Re: being fan of the characters
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2014, 03:50:56 PM »
I don't see a problem here, except that you say there were hurt feelings. Did the players not realize things were spilling over OOC?
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."


As If

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Re: being fan of the characters
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2014, 08:16:19 PM »
What session was this?  Had you introduced any Fronts yet?  I ask because Session One has an "incestual" quality to it, in that most of the action stems directly from the PCs.  If you remain in that mode for too long, some PCs may begin conflicts with others simply because there's no one else to have conflicts with.