Handling a Hardholder PC

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Handling a Hardholder PC
« on: June 03, 2014, 05:37:51 AM »
I am running an AW game where one of the players is a Hardholder.

I am looking for ways to handle this without making him the "king of the hill" and avoid having him (micro)-manage everything that goes on in the hold. The game so far has been very focused on the players' home: Some power conflicts about who gets to decide what.

Things work fine within the group itself. The conflict is between the group and an NPC.The main conflict has been resolved, but I have this NPC who should either be killed off or used for internal conflicts in the hold.

But I fear that the game is going towards politics and intrigue - which the PCs love, but I have to find some kind of balance.

How do you handle a Hardholder character? Any tips?


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T.G.

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Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2014, 01:35:04 PM »
Do you know who does not like politics and intrigue?  The types of people who are no good at it.  The types that see subtlety as a waste of time when you could just go for the throat and take what you want.  Maybe you know some NPC's that share this world view.  I would imagine that all the politics, secrets and whispers smells like weakness to them.  Maybe one or two of the residents of the hold see those in positions of power doing little but lording their status over more capable replacements.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 02:19:20 PM »
It's unclear to me what the actual problem you have is. Give us some specifics.

Is the player actually micromanaging the hold? Does that make the player happy or unhappy? Does it make the other players happy or unhappy? If no one's unhappy, there's no actual problem.

The Hardholder has a lot of power, but a lot of problems at the same time. The holding defines a number of "wants", which define where the problems come from. Most of them aren't that intrigue-y, though the solutions to them might be partly political. If you've got an external threat in the form of "reprisals", "disease", or "famine", things might be too busy for the players to worry about the internal-conflict NPC, which is a great time for the internal-conflict NPC to make her move.


Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 02:32:54 PM »
I'm not 100% percent on what your after, but my advice would be to just keep it simple; the hold should largely run itself,  the gang will patrol it and there are (named) people to run its gigs, that's what the wealth roll is for. If there is a problem that threatens the stability of the hold then the gang should be telling the HH, otherwise have then deal with it as according to their threat impulse (typically to violently remove the problem i.e as Brutes; enforcers). They can be your tool both to announce badness to the HH and also to inflict violence and badness in the game world.

If you want to keep the politics and intrigue simple, then minimise the number of internal npc threats whose aim is to overturn or take control of the hold, keep it at a next best and the pc's and that will have a knock-on effect on the politics.

If you have an Npc in the predicament you describe, then maybe make it a stakes question; if they kill him, they kill him (you're looking through crosshairs) and otherwise you can keep him as a thorn in their sides to provoke conflicts.

If you could give us more detail then we might be able to expound more.

I hope that helps.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 04:50:34 PM »
Do you not like politics? Or just worried about running it badly?

Politics is just multiple people trying to get each other to do things for them and get their own way.  It is a battle with (generally) very little blood and slower pacing. Just focus on the characters, make them real and give them wants. It will play out fine on its own.

If on the other hand you are worried about him micromanaging the PCs...well the Hardholder position is very unstable. Push the gunlugger too far and he might burn down half the hold. do the same with the Savvyhead and good luck when the waterpump breaks. A smart hardholder delegates authority and responsibility.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 11:48:41 PM »
Thank you for your replies, I think you all have valid points.

I guess I am simply looking for other MCs' experiences with Hardholders in their game, and would still like to hear more about this - if you have had any issues with it, or if things simply worked out.


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As If

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Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2014, 06:52:25 AM »
It can be tricky mixing sedentary PCs with mobile PCs.  Not impossible, just tricky. 

If this is the case, jumpcut back and forth a lot between the HH and the mobile PCs.  Whenever possible, jumpcut just before you resolve something threatening (e.g. the bad guy raises a hatchet over your head and... CUT to the other group!)

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noclue

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Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2014, 11:47:15 AM »
I am looking for ways to handle this without making him the "king of the hill" and avoid having him (micro)-manage everything that goes on in the hold. The game so far has been very focused on the players' home: Some power conflicts about who gets to decide what.
What do your Agenda and Principles say? It's not your job to stop him from being King of the Hill or to stop his micro-management. Having an NPC that doesn't appreciate his micro management or wants to be King of the Hill instead is totally kosher though.

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Things work fine within the group itself. The conflict is between the group and an NPC.The main conflict has been resolved, but I have this NPC who should either be killed off or used for internal conflicts in the hold.
Also not your business. Your job here is clear. Give your NPC a name, make them real, give them a simple motivation, put them in the crosshairs, play to find out what happens.

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But I fear that the game is going towards politics and intrigue - which the PCs love, but I have to find some kind of balance.
Finding balance is also not your agenda. Make apocalypse world seem real. Look for where they're not in control. Push there. Put your creations in the crosshairs. Be a fan of the characters. Play to find out what happens.

Really, I think doing those things will solve your issues much more than trying to reduce the hardholder's micromanagement or trying to figure out the final disposition of your NPC.
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."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2014, 12:01:29 PM »
noclue: Yep, I get it and agree - the agenda/principles will take care of this pseudo-problem. Scratch that, it's not even a pseudo-problem, it's a non-problem.

But again, I would love to hear MC experiences with cardholders in the group.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2014, 08:47:34 PM »
I had a hardholder in one group I MC'd, it was pretty sweet and I don't think the hardholder's player was micro-managing or anything. The options for the holding were well-armed, and raiding for fortunes, plus a pretty good roll for fortunes. So my main question to myself was, 'where am I gonna push?'

Well, he found his own goals - trying (unsuccessfully) to woo the Skinner. I eventually did tempt him with some booze that didn't taste like pea mush (strangers have told me they heard about this. If I remember correctly, it went something like... "What food do you steal?" "Ah... peas." "... That's it? Just peas? You make the hooch out of that, too?" and it was too funny not to stick with it).

So, I get what you're saying. What if the hardholder wants too much, and you're caught between 'be a fan of the players' and 'make their lives not boring'? You'll find a way. Or if you need help, please oh please tell us about it. =D

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2014, 02:41:43 AM »

It makes a big difference whether your entire game is happening inside the Hardhold in question, or whether it is only one of several centers of local power. My experience as both a player and MC is that the latter is preferable, when there is an actual Hardholder PC. Ideally you have some number of PCs who are internal to the Hardholder's place/power, and some number who exist on its periphery, or even have their own deals going on, or have some complicated relationship with the place.

My one real piece of meta-advice is to be careful about letting the social lines settle; by which I mean, always be ready to take the opportunity to redefine where the boundaries are, between people who are and are not loyal to the 'hold, to the Hardholder, to the other PCs, to the other NPCs, etc. These social circles and relationships are one of the things that you should look at through crosshairs, and if you play with your Agenda/Principles in mind you will inevitably end up with numerous, overlapping circles of loyalty and dependence. This is easiest to see/do when you have a Chopper or Hocus or Operator PC in addition to the Hardholder, and it is most at risk of not happening when none of those PCs are present. I like to think of it as the slightly-larger-scope version of making PC-NPC-PC triangles.

At the beginning, the easiest way to complicate these lines is to add new, as-yet-unnoticed circles or relationships -- the NPC leader of hardhold security turns out to also be part of an extended family, or one of the Operator's crew turns out to have history with the Hardholder (or even better, another PC who has aligned themselves firmly with the Hardholder.)

Then, once you have passed that initial stage, you can start complicating things by putting pressure on and crosshairs-ing it up with the existing circles, to see what happens.

Again, this is all happening according to Agenda/Principles, etc., but I do think it's something to look out for; it's not that every 'hold has to be some hotbed of intrigue and dissent, but if a status quo is starting to develop around the Hardholder's authority, such that they are calling all the shots and everyone else is just sort of following-through on their behalf, then you should make an effort to complicate the picture of the loyalties involved.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2014, 06:08:04 AM »
Thanks again, guys - really interesting stuff.

Re: Handling a Hardholder PC
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 09:33:47 AM »
I had a hardholder in one group I MC'd, it was pretty sweet and I don't think the hardholder's player was micro-managing or anything. The options for the holding were well-armed, and raiding for fortunes, plus a pretty good roll for fortunes. So my main question to myself was, 'where am I gonna push?'

Well, he found his own goals - trying (unsuccessfully) to woo the Skinner. I eventually did tempt him with some booze that didn't taste like pea mush (strangers have told me they heard about this. If I remember correctly, it went something like... "What food do you steal?" "Ah... peas." "... That's it? Just peas? You make the hooch out of that, too?" and it was too funny not to stick with it).

So, I get what you're saying. What if the hardholder wants too much, and you're caught between 'be a fan of the players' and 'make their lives not boring'? You'll find a way. Or if you need help, please oh please tell us about it. =D

That was a fun game (says the Hardholder).  In a longer game, I would have loved to have seen how I would have responded to the Chopper's plans to destablize our lead slug economy.