Help for my first AW campaign:story focused, creating interesting conflict

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I just started my first AW campaign with my group who have never played AW before either.  I am a huge fan of this system after looking at it in detail and listening to an AP podcast of a campaign.   I think it is very well suited to making campaigns that are focused on story, character development, and relationships rather than kick in the door and kill things.  My goal is to create a campaign that slowly explores and develops the players characters by forcing them into interesting and complicated situations by creating conflict.  I am absolutely not going to railroad them at any point but subtly guide them towards things.  The plan is to introduce NPCs and events to create that interesting conflict and character interaction.

I obviously do not expect you to listen to it all but if you want as a point of reference I am aiming for something similar to I Podcast Magic Missle Apocalypse World actual play. http://www.podcastmagicmissile.com/ipmm-53-aw-new-sodom-episode-1/

As a bit of reference I will tell you that my group has played D&D for years and not much else.  The analogy I use is that all of our previous campaigns are Lord of the Rings, a group of adventurers band together(whether they like it or not) to journey on a quest.  This campaign should be more of a Game of Thrones, a cast of characters all of separate goals and motivations which they act upon causing conflict.  As such they have some ingrained habits that I feel I have to break.  They tend to focus on optimizing their stats a lot and min-max a little.  We have previously delved into more serious character development and roleplaying but have not played a game focused on it.  Also they are used to always being in a party and tend to get inattentive and bored when the characters are not together even if I frequently cut between the groups of characters.  Most of our characters in the past when you really think about it have been sociopaths with not a huge amount of human emotion and no remorse.  Many of these issues I have dealt with pretty well I think already and I think my group has the capacity to adapt and really enjoy this system if I can execute it well enough and frankly I am kind of worried about that because I really like the system and would like to play it more but if i do not convince them then I would have to find an additional group to play with.

With the first session I tried to create interesting conflicts that would involve multiple PCs as well as help us examine and learn more about the characters as we played through them and I think I did a fairly good job of that at the beginning but as the session progressed I lost some steam and stopped the session early to give me time to work on things before we continued.  So here are my concerns that I could use some advice on to help me up my game a little.

- I found myself using the same descriptive words for NPCs and using very similar voices for them culminating in them not feeling unique
     -this will obviously lead my PCs to not think of them as characters but targets to shoot or quest givers
     -I need to be able to come up with NPCs that are unique and interesting

-I need the plotlines to create interesting motivation for each character
-Also they should cross over at times so that PCs may switch from one to another (Difficult)
        -thus they can interact with all the other PCs
        - I can think of ways to do this for the climax of the story but not before

-conflicts need to seem to be able to be solved by multiple methods
         -so that PCs do not solve every problem with shooting all the things
         -Need to still be challenging

Any advice you guys have would be much appreciated because I really want my players to enjoy this.
Thanks

P.S. Sorry for the wall of text



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Hello.

NPCs:
  • They all need names (although I'm sure you're doing this anyway.
  • Different voices aren't necessary but they do help in my view. At the beginning, just stereotype. Big, gruff guy? Big gruff male voice.
  • Is there an established hierarchy? Are there things some players want, others don't or are in conflict for? Use these conflicts to create people who depend on those systems. (As an aside, what happens to these people when those systems collapse?)
  • I'd ask questions first more than answer them. Get to know your PCs from the point of view of an NPC and the slowly reveal more of that NPC's character.
  • Once you've got a comfortable set of characters, consider shaking this up through death/conflict/feuds/whatever.
  • Don't try and make too many. Some of the characters will just be throwaway people, at least in the PCs' mind. Develop these people as you go along and just have a rough framework to launch from

Narrative
  • Please don't plan the story too much. It seems like you'd prefer to stray away from that which is great. Develop as you go along; you will find what interests the PCs as they play and during character creation.
  • Again, don't feel the need to force crossover. It will inevitably happen. I'll give you an example from one of my sessions:
    Denny the hardholder sent out his personal force to pillage this area of land for resources.
    Lisa was a gunlugger who knew Denny and was fond of him but had allegiances to another hold in the area (let's call it X). Couldn't have been much more separate from the start, right?
    Great. So what I said was along the lines of, "Hey, Denny, your lieutenant comes back saying his men have been cut down gathering resources. Surprise surprise, it's those bastards from X. What do you do?". Lisa is now in a tough position, as is Denny. They inevitably must meet.
  • As an extension, from above, don't think of interesting plotlines. The one I described above genuinely emerged from just playing and both players seemed to like it. I'd encourage you to do the same. Stick with it is all I'll add.

Challenges
  • I think this kind of ties in with narrative and NPCs. A rich, breathing tapestry that your PCs can interact with means they'll feel other choices are available and meaningful. Let emergent gameplay dictate the flow of things. Try and stop yourself from refusing something you think might be absurd.
  • Heck, if you really want to twist their arm, I'd say force them into a situation where using guns is impossible or the worst solution. Also remember that there's really only a few dedicated classes that utilise firearms. Other classes have other strengths and if you highlight them through the narrative (a hocus's encounters with her cult, for example), they're more likely to trend to that option.

Hope that helps. Let me know if it doesn't.

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Here's my advice.

Don't guide them towards anything, subtly or not. Just play to find out what happens. Make apocalypse world seem real. Look for the places where the PCs aren't in control and push there.

Don't create "NPCs and events to create interesting conflicts and character interaction." Create NPCs who are human, with simple motivations that are threats to the status quo. People who want protection, people who have things the PCs need, people who want things the PCs have. Put them in PC-NPC-PC triangles. And them put them in the crosshairs. Put anything you create in the crosshairs.

Once the players realize that the NPC they were counting on, or banging, just stepped into a scene with another PC and your crosshairs are firmly aimed at their forehead, you should have their attention.
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

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/nods in agreement with the above.  If you're familiar with programming jargon you may know the phrase "object oriented".  AW presents players with an object-oriented world, meaning that the individual NPCs are free-willed autonomous agents with their own ideas, pursuing their own goals independently.  Rather than writing a plot ahead of time, you simply wind them up and let them go, crashing into each other and the PCs like a bunch of billiard balls.  When it's time to make a move with an NPC, don't think about plot.  Just jump into the NPC's head and do whatever they would do.  Play to find out what happens.

Here's an NPC generator.
Here's the same generator with complications

Thanks guys that is indeed helpful.  I would like to say that planning plotlines is not entirely what I meant.  I suppose I misrepresented the idea.  Like I said I have difficulty coming up with NPCs or challenges on the fly so I like to try and plan a very rough idea of some of these things for each potential path I can think of that there is a fair chance of the players taking.  Also when I talked about subtly guiding the players I was talking about situations similar to the one exit mentioned but I see it ahead of time and think, "Oh wouldnt it be super cool if..."   In such situations I like to encourage the players in that direction without them knowing it.

Thanks for the help

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One thing I would recommend after seeing that your group is coming from a d&d quest type background would be to encourage them to be proactive.  The more they know about their characters wants and needs and pursue these personal ambitions, the easier it will get for you to go with the flow running the game.  It can also be an adjustment for players coming from a strong murder hobo tradition to begin talking their way out of problems instead of resorting to violence, so try to encourage them.  Hopefully not assuming too much about your group, just speaking from my own experiences.

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Thanks guys that is indeed helpful.  I would like to say that planning plotlines is not entirely what I meant.  I suppose I misrepresented the idea.  Like I said I have difficulty coming up with NPCs or challenges on the fly so I like to try and plan a very rough idea of some of these things for each potential path I can think of that there is a fair chance of the players taking.  Also when I talked about subtly guiding the players I was talking about situations similar to the one exit mentioned but I see it ahead of time and think, "Oh wouldnt it be super cool if..."   In such situations I like to encourage the players in that direction without them knowing it.

Thanks for the help

I agree with all of the above points and honestly, lots of people will provide you with many different perspectives. The great thing, in my opinion, about narrativist style RPGs like AW is that there's no (to some extent) right answer!

With that in mind, I think this might be a good place to begin discussing the two or three (very important) points you outlined above. Perhaps if someone else needs some references from other people, this might be useful. And of course whatever gain you derive from this too is great as well!

NPCs
I also have a problem with planning NPCs and making them seem real. My personal way around it is to build a very bare bones skeleton. I get a name. I build an archetype or even a caricature and then I introduce that character in, by degrees. As I stated above, I only ask questions initially (or primarily). After that, we see what they like about the character and either go with or against those emotions. There might be questions you want to ask your PCs to find out about their characters (in AW, I think I'd be safe in saying finding out the PC character is the bedrock of the ruleset). See if you can find an opportunity to get the NPC to ask instead of you, the MC/GM. Imbuing a question with character, specifically a NPC, is always a good way of teasing out your PCs' personalities. Thinking of rough paths is fine but only so long as you're prepared to completely abandon them at all costs if needs be, in my view.

Narratives
Yeah, I also tend to do this. With regards to Denny's hold, I was thinking "wouldn't it be cool if there was this old wise guy/girl in the community who started off quiet and slowly built up resentment toward Denny because of the extreme poverty and malnourishment that exists"? Maybe it would but maybe Denny would shoot the guy on the spot. Bam, storyline (literally) dead. I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking ahead of time though, that said. But everything is expendable, every character, including the PC. In that case, plans can (and probably will fall apart). I'm guessing you know this from D&D too but in a narrative sense, everything can be transient if the PC (or you, if you feel it would add to things) feels it.

Characters
T.G. raises a great point in learning about how the characters (and the world) came to be. Character creation is a really fun process in AW and you should harvest as much information as you can from that time. I've seen and been involved in sessions that are just almost exclusively based upon character creation and whilst some may disagree on the need/effectiveness of doing this, I think it's pretty interesting in how much you end up learning. What's more, I guess the PCs feel intimately involved with the world, especially if they helped in its genesis.

Hope that helped. Let me know if it didn't.

I need to be able to come up with NPCs that are unique and interesting

You can always delegate some of this to your players. "So, Vega and Lee, you guys are making the rounds of the hold, and Barker comes up to you. Vega, is Barker a man or a woman? Lee, Barker pissed you off a couple of days ago, how did he do that? Vega, do you care if Barker lives or dies? I mean, what is he to the holding? Is he useful? Who does Barker sleep with?"

When you don't know what matters, lean on the players to make stuff up. Share the workload. Bounce ideas off each other. At first the NPC factoids and connections will be random and not seem important, but do them anyway.

One one hand it doesn't matter if the PCs solve every problem by killing an NPC, because you're looking at NPCs through crosshairs - but if you've established a connection or a factoid about every NPC before you let them get killed, sooner or later the PCs will be facing someone who's connected to someone they've killed, and things start to get interesting.

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Good point T.G. made about encouraging proactivity.  I have a similar group and I do need to remind them: "To make things happen, DO THINGS." :-)  At first only one of them really "got it" - and she leveled up twice as fast as everyone else!  Now the rest are beginning to get the picture (I think).

@dudemic - I want to talk about the difference between a plot and a countdown.  Basically... there's a step between "seeing a conflict ahead of time" and "guiding the players toward it".  Don't take that step.  The Countdown Clock (or Portents, since I prefer to use the Dungeon World approach here) is all you need.  It has its own innate sense of progression or escalation, but no dictation of player actions.  Just let your threats and moves be experienced by the PCs, and if they choose to go in that direction, then go with them.  If not, use a move (when you feel like it) to progress the Front to its next segment/portent.  An example might help.  Here are two Fronts from my current AW campaign:

FRONT: Megadeth - Brute/Chopper
(Leader of the Reapers)
IMPULSE:
•   To control the east side
STAKES:
•   Will he ever figure out who is killing his men?
•   Will his Alpha status be challenged?
•   Will OG King move in on his territory?
PORTENTS:
•   Sound of motorcycle engines nearby, unseen
•   Tales of people being interrogated by Reapers
•   Being followed/observed by a pack of riders
•   Someplace gets shot up by the MG on a jeep
•   Battle between King’s men and Reapers
          FRONT: O.G. King - Hardholder of "GG"
(Golden Gardens) expanding his turf
IMPULSE:
•   To control all trade in Vegas
STAKES:
•   Will GG take over the Strip?
•   Will GG suppress the Reapers?
•   Will King get taken out by the assassin from LA?
PORTENTS:
•   More GG patrols on streets
•   GG tagging appearing on new blocks
•   Firefights between GG and local scav crews
•   Firefights between GG and Reaper squads

As you can see, Megadeth and King seem poised for a conflict.  Anyone in town could tell you that, they might even try to give you odds on it.  The portents show me what's going to happen IF THINGS PROGRESS WITHOUT CHANGE.  Eventually either Megadeth or King will get to that point where they begin an open war with the other one.  But.... then again, it's totally possible (in fact it's highly likely) that the PCs will inject themselves into the mix before that, which means I have ZERO IDEA what will happen.  Which is exactly as it should be.

Backing up now.  Let's say for whatever reason, the players keep witnessing all these portents but decide to do nothing to insert themselves into the action.  So...  The Reapers are constantly tailing and shaking down both the PCs and their NPC friends, places are getting shot up, Golden Garden tags are appearing on block after block, some local scavengers (whom the PCs probably know) are getting shot and beaten... and the PCs are still doing nothing?  Okay then, if something else hasn't happened to change the whole situation (say King avoids getting killed by that assassin who happens to be after him), then a wholesale war would erupt between the two gangs.  It's possible.  It's probable, if nothing else happens.  But that's not likely.  Dig?

"Knowing what's possible" and "pushing toward it" are two very different things.  The most important difference is this: When you are plotting, you are planning for what the PCs will do.  But when writing portents, you plan as if the PCs weren't there.  The portents show what will happen if the PCs do NOTHING.  But we all know they're not gonna do nothing.  And that means your plans (or rather, your NPCs plans) are gonna get FUCKED UP, my friend.

Which is exactly as it should be. :-)
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 08:26:48 PM by As If »

I am absolutely not going to railroad them at any point but subtly guide them towards things.  The plan is to introduce NPCs and events to create that interesting conflict and character interaction.

[...]

-I need the plotlines to create interesting motivation for each character

Okay, first off I think it's awesome that you are so enthusiastic about the game and introducing it to your playgroup, and also that you are aware of pre-existing habits that may interfere with all of that. And I will also get to your other questions, but first off I gotta say that the quoted sentences are sending up a bit of a red flag for me.

The way to do all the things you want to do is to play the game, and let the game help you do those things. And yes, make sure that your habits are not actively interfering with them.

But you do not need to do EXTRA THINGS on top of playing the game. You don't need to overcompensate for your play group's habits, or trick them into playing differently, or 'subtly guide' them into being interesting, engaged players. You just need to play the game, and all those things will happen -- assuming you are correct that your group will enjoy this sort of game (which seems likely!)

To make that general advice more concrete, consider the bullet point I quoted. When playing AW, it is not your job to "create interesting motivation" for the PCs. That's the players' job, that's part of what they are contributing to the game. If you try and do it for them, it's not gonna work, because you're going to have to guess what the players want their PCs' motivations to be, and then hope you can somehow create fiction outside their characters that will make their characters feel that way, and then use up all your talking time introducing those things in the hopes that they will be the right things? BAD IDEA, and also way too much work for you. You're already the one trying to learn all the MCing stuff and trying to help everyone else play this brand new game, you don't need to give yourself even more work, especially not work that involves reading your players' minds.

What your job is, though, is to be interested in the PCs' motivations: to think about what they might be, or how they might change. To ASK THEM about what they are, if they aren't obvious -- or even when they are obvious! Get them to say them out loud, to everyone -- that should make everyone else more interested in the character, too, so that they won't be so bored when it's not their turn to talk. And part of being interested in those motivations and wondering about them will also involve making moves and creating Fronts that challenge them. That's just going to happen, because of being interested, and because that's what the game tells you to do.


(Edit: ok I literally just cross-posted with the entire thread, so it's possible this may seem like beating a dead horse, I dunno.)

- I found myself using the same descriptive words for NPCs and using very similar voices for them culminating in them not feeling unique
     -this will obviously lead my PCs to not think of them as characters but targets to shoot or quest givers
     -I need to be able to come up with NPCs that are unique and interesting

Ok now to be more constructive, and with less cross-posting.

A few NPC suggestions:

- If you tend to fall back on the same list of words when put on the spot, make up some words in advance. This is not the same thing as making up some NPCs in advance -- though you can totally do that too, of course. But I mean just the words. Or just a phrase, some bit of language that strikes you as apocalyptically-appropriate. Then when you have to bring in some new NPC you don't know about, look at your List of Names AND your List of Words, and go from there.

- Someone already said this but I'm going to double-down on ask the players, especially if it's an NPC they have any chance of already knowing (even an unlikely chance.) Try to avoid 'what is this guy like?' type questions, since then you're not really giving them anywhere to start. Instead, ask questions that their character is going to have opinions about. Questions where if you asked a different PC, you might get a totally different answer. Questions about a history between them and the NPC are a classic go-to. If you're not sure about what kind of questions, use the Hx questions for inspiration -- and just like the descriptive words, try brainstorming a bunch of questions in advance.

- One thing I find super helpful when running AW-type games is to use printed out character portraits for all the NPCs I introduce. Humans and facial recognition are a great pair, and having a face for every name makes it really really a lot easier to remember who is who, and increase general investment in the NPCs in question. Warning: you have to do it for all the NPCs, or you end up with false distinctions between important/unimportant NPCs.

Quote
-I need the plotlines to create interesting motivation for each character
-Also they should cross over at times so that PCs may switch from one to another (Difficult)
        -thus they can interact with all the other PCs
        - I can think of ways to do this for the climax of the story but not before

Ok if you are thinking about the "climax of the story" after the First Session you are not really playing the game. See above about the importance of playing the game, and not doing extra stuff. There is no story that you know anything about, except who is in it (the PCs and the people around them) and possibly some of the things threatening them (the Fronts). But you are playing to find out what the climax will be; that is hard to do if you already think you know what it is.

The fact that #2 is an issue is making me very worried. You have not only planned out stories for all the PCs but you already know that those stories are going to occupy the PCs entirely in parallel, without any interaction? I suggest you focus on 'make Apocalypse World seem real' -- if it seems real, then all the problems and dangers and people are just going to interact, because that's how the world works. It's going to take a lot of EXTRA WORK on your part to come up with stuff where the PCs don't interact, if you are otherwise playing the game.

Especially if the part of the game you are playing is 'make PC-NPC-PC triangles', and especially if you are taking the advice given about asking the PCs stuff about all the NPCs that are being introduced. Those NPCs are all going to be part of Fronts, probably, so if you're asking the PCs stuff about how they know the NPC, or what history they have, or what they buy from them, or whatever -- there's no way your Fronts are going to stay disconnected.

Also, you did Hx right? The PCs all already have triangles going on within themselves. If they go off and do separate stuff (which is fine!) then once that stuff is done they're going to want to talk to the other PCs about that stuff, or get their help with that stuff, or be super-secretive about that stuff in scenes where you put them together, or whatever. It's going to happen, if you're putting them together and applying pressure via your Fronts.

Also, 'plotlines' do not exist in AW, but I think someone already covered that.

Quote
-conflicts need to seem to be able to be solved by multiple methods
         -so that PCs do not solve every problem with shooting all the things
         -Need to still be challenging

This can definitely be a hard one, especially if you come from a D&D background. But a lot of this is going to happen more easily, if you're doing everything you can to make your NPCs people, and give them names, and asking your PCs about how they know them. And same with asking your PCs about their motivations, and getting them to say them out loud, and putting pressure on those. Probably all their motivations aren't going to be 'shoot everything', probably they're going to find some NPCs they think are cool or that they care about or that did them a favour once or that know how to repair the water filter or whatever.

Also if you're doing all those things and they're still shooting everything, that's not your problem! Just keep looking at your Fronts and thinking about how everyone being shot is going to change stuff.

If all of your Fronts consist of 'there are bad things and if you shoot them then problem solved' then OK -- that is probably not great. But if you're building your Fronts out of where the PCs are vulnerable, and using different scarcities for inspiration, and reading through the Threat Types and being all 'ooo interesting', then probably that's not going to happen. Most likely some of your Fronts aren't going to be solved by shooting anything at all.

In fact I would encourage you to make a Front where you have literally no idea how the PCs could solve it. Not 'are going to solve it' -- I don't mean you're not sure what methods they will use -- I mean actually can they solve it at all and how could anyone ever solve this OMG THEY ARE FUCKED it is impossible!!!! Because it's not your job to fix these problems, it's your job to come up with them and make them real and wonder what in god's name anyone could do about them.



Regarding Daniels comments.

I think I may have misrepresented how much I am planning and trying to lead the story.  I only mentioned the climax at all because I thought of a thing I could decide about the PCs back stories that would create a fantastic reveal for them.  A reveal that would have to happen at the climax of the story. That being said your post as well as the rest so far have helped me realize that I have my own habits that also need breaking.  I need to ask more questions and the right ones.  I also think I just need to be more direct with my players and tell them directly that they get more input in AW and need to put that forward.  They are used to being told what is happening not discussing it in a conversation.

As to the PCs already having Hx with each other and having personal connections. The problem I have is that most of the decisions they made with respect to Hx and personality of their characters has resulted in most of the PCs being dicks who would not seek out interaction with each other with out coaxing.

I think the issue with getting the characters different stories to overlap is a problem with my ability it interpret the world and interactions well.  What I mean by that is that I guess I have trouble seeing the subtler connections between the NPCs and factions and as a result have trouble causing the NPCs to act on them.

I suppose this would be a good time to mention that I have a learning disability in writing and aspergers (albeit high functioning).  I kind of feel like the writing inability and the social deficit from aspergers might be affecting how I MC here.  I am pretty good at interpretation in social situations. I read people well.  But that is a learned skill not a natural intuition like most people have.  I wonder whether in this case because I am creating NPCs that are not real I have nothing to read and as such have trouble figuring out how they would react to things.  These are things I work around all the time and obviously I just need to figure out how to work around them in this particular situation I have not really struggled with before.

I suppose the heart of my concern is that my players are not in the proper mindset for this kind of game and as a result the game will suffer and they will not enjoy it.  I probably over compensated for that in the amount of effort I put into MCing everything.  That being said AW is not designed for that so maybe we should talk about how to change my players mindsets. I should probably just be very clear and direct with them.


Ok, cool. I don't want to overwhelm you with advice, since after all it sounds like the game is just getting started, so after this I will finally shut up. :)

As far as the PCs being dicks: remember that you're the one framing the scenes. Just slam 'em together in some situation, and let the players worry about why it was they were interacting. 'So PC X and PC Y, you guys are out (doing some setting-appropriate thing) together -- why is that?' Or even the old 'you're hiding behind cover as bullets fly over your head, and (angry NPC) is shouting incoherently about how you've fucked them over for the last time -- what do you do?' I don't know how your D&D sessions go, but I find there is often a tendency to just go linearly from moment to moment -- or to always ask the players 'so what do you do next?' in order to determine scenes. I do this myself a lot, and it makes doing the MC's job a lot harder because there's never a natural break where you can look at your moves or Fronts and be like 'okay, what would be interesting here?'

And as for NPC connections, that's something a lot of people have trouble doing on the fly -- it's much easier to figure out those connections during prep, when you can kind of assess where they are missing and then figure out how to add something in. One thing I'd recommend is to have lots of NPCs who aren't necessarily aligned with 'factions' -- or, if factions are a big part of the setting/what you're interested in, then just remember that people can be part of more than one social group. Someone can be in a gang and a cult, or someone can live in one hardhold but work for someone in the next, or someone can have family spread all over the place. An easy thing to do in prep is to list out your NPCs and then pick a few who seem to only be part of one thing and add them to something else. By doing it in prep you have more time to figure out how it could make sense.

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Edit: more advice for OP

First and foremost remember playing a game is supposed to be fun.  You can put a great deal of work into it for sure, but focus on the fun.  If you think this might not be the game for your group there is only one way to find out for sure.  Give them the chance to find out, players mindsets can change from session to session.  Talking about the positives and negatives of trying new games and systems can help, even after the fact since you have already gotten things started.  Play up the positives and continue to work on the negatives.

PCs being dicks to each other is not a bad thing.  It can certainly make for some interesting scenes, especially when two would be foes are forced to work together however temporarily to face a larger threat.  I have seen great things spin out of two players trying to read or resist the other reading their character.  This is why I suggested getting the players invested in their characters motivations.  Being dicks to each other might not seem like a constructive motivation, but work with it or whatever else they give you.  If they are making moves and handling their side of the conversation, that makes for more fun for you. 
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 12:04:43 AM by T.G. »

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One thing we all forgot to mention: It has been said (by none other than Vincent) that an AW campaign really gets going after 5 sessions.  When I started running the game, I didn't want to believe that was true.  "I can make these people connect much faster than that," I thought.  Well, guess what?  He was right.  There's a magic threshold that gets passed at a certain point, where the PCs have enough information to feel connected to events and understand their place in the world, and when your fronts have made enough moves for their intentions to become clear (or at least suspected), and the action suddenly starts being more player-directed.

Until then, just get your fronts out there, barf forth, and let the players soak up the world.  You're doing fine, you've only just begun!
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 07:32:17 AM by As If »