Consequences: MC Moves and how to do them right

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Consequences: MC Moves and how to do them right
« on: June 02, 2014, 05:15:26 PM »

Making a hard move is easy, but I find that making a good hard move needs a little more description. What does making a hard move actually mean?
   It doesn’t mean “be as mean to the players as possible.” The best interpretation I can come up with is this: introduce a consequence in the story that makes:

1. as much sense and "realism" as possible,
2. as much excitement and player involvement as possible,
3. as many new open-ended story elements as possible

The consequence is naturally a GM move. You can boil it down to creating a suspense of disbelief, an interesting turn of the story and ways to move it forward. It’s a skill, but I think there must be some way of helping GMs improve. What I propose is some sort of system or description of how to make the best moves as a GM. Maybe it’s already out there somewhere?`

Even so, I would like to read your thoughts on how to make great moves as a GM, and if you have some guidelines, conscious or not, that you use.

So how does a GM make the best consequences?

Re: Consequences: MC Moves and how to do them right
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2014, 09:20:58 PM »

I am just paraphrasing the book, but it is important that a hard move be irrevocable. It involves consequences that cannot be walked back, or reversed, or dealt with just before they actually happen. 'A mutant cannibal suddenly leaps out from the shadows and swings her machete at you!' is not a hard move; 'A mutant cannibal leaps out from the shadows and cuts off your hand with a machete!' is.

While hard moves do produce 'open-ended story elements', that is not really their motivating force, or an important consideration when making them. Hard moves close down possibilities as well as open up new ones, precisely because they are real consequences that have happened already.

Now obviously not all hard moves are brutal or bloody, but they do I think all share the characteristic that the hand-machete example illustrates. A thing has happened, and now the PCs can react.


But I feel like this is all covered (in much more detail) in the book. I'm not convinced that thinking about the numbered list is going to help -- more likely it is going to make the MC hesitate, or soften the move, or make the move in accordance with something other than the Agenda and Principles that are meant to guide the game. I mean, what is the intersection between 'make the PCs lives interesting' and 'create as much excitement and player involvement as possible' -- do you need to think about the second one specifically, or will doing the first naturally produce the second?

I'm not sure you should be worrying about your players' specific desires, when making a hard move. The hard move is your turn to talk, after all; it's about what you think should happen, what seems interesting and exciting to you. It's about the PCs, sure, but it's not about guessing what the players want -- the PCs are the way you know what the players want.

Similarly, what is the interaction between 'make Apocalypse World seem real' and 'create as many new open-ended story elements as possible'? What if the realistic result/move is destructive to 'story elements' (if that's a possible thing for them to be?)? Aren't you 'looking through crosshairs' anyways?

I mean, there is a long list of specific hard moves, and also a list of specific Agendas and Principles; is there a benefit to trying to generalize some sort of set of meta-principles about hard moves? Or is it better to think about some specific MC move that you rarely use, or have trouble using effectively?

Re: Consequences: MC Moves and how to do them right
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 01:02:15 AM »
Thank you Daniel for your post. I agree with you all the way.

The 3 bullet points were basically just a paraphrasing of the agenda and the principles. They were meant to mirror them, not replace them.
I was trying to nail down the most important things to think about when you make a GM move.

While the book does explain how to make moves, I still think that it can be expanded on or at least made easier to understand and execute. I would like people's thoughts on how to do this (if it is indeed possible).

Your point, as I understand it, is that expanding on how to make moves will take away focus from the principles, which very well may be correct. But maybe there's another way to help GMs make better moves - perhaps by grouping the moves or even paraphrasing some of them.

So I'd still like to hear your thoughts on this. Can the GM moves be explained better?

EDIT: I should clarify this. What I am looking for is, for example, what they did in Tremulus, where the GM moves are divided into General and Situational. The game uses the same moves as AW, but it tells you a little bit more about how to use the moves. Situational moves are mostly damage-related and knowledge/item-based, while the rest of the moves are considered General.

It is really that simple, but I would like more like this.

« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 07:09:22 AM by wingsofwax »