Re: Subsystems

  • 4 Replies
Re: Subsystems
« on: June 09, 2010, 11:26:56 AM »
Apologies for jumping in - but this is almost exactly what i was wanting to ask.

I'm having some.. trouble... wrapping my head around the "social" moves. Reading a person and reading a sitch. I really wanted to get a better idea of your intention to having those limited questions that would be answered.

From discussions at Story Games, and your comments up above - it seems that you want the players and GM to be able to nudge the story in a particular direction, but not be able to ever really "place" the story - ie, partial control but never get exactly what they want.

Of course, i might be totally wrong - hence the questions as I'm unsure.



  • 1293
Re: Subsystems
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 12:39:16 PM »
Hey Dionysus, I've moved this up here to the general Apocalypse World forum because it seems like a straightforward rules question to me, not prep for hacking. No big deal, just housekeeping, and if I'm wrong just let me know.

Everybody, the original thread that Dionysus is referring to is here.

So! The truth is, when I made that list of questions, what I was thinking about was what someone's body language and facial expression can tell you, not about players' control over fiction. About what your instincts can tell you, about when and why the hair on the back of your neck stands up. I rarely think about players' control over fiction at all*. For instance, no, I don't want anybody nudging the story at all, or in control of the story at all. I want people to say what their characters do, and I want the MC to say what NPCs do and what happens because of it. I don't want anybody really thinking about the story instead of the characters and their circumstances.

Wow, does that even make any sense? I bet we're talking past each other. A for instance would help, I think. Tell me an example of the trouble you're having?

Oh, and I don't know who you are by your handle. Do you have the playtest doc, the preview edition, or neither?


* This is a lie, but it's dear to me, so please don't call me on it.

Re: Subsystems
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 02:24:15 PM »
Heh.. Its a nice lie :) But I see where you are coming from, and I've noticed it HEAVILY in the game we are playing.

I've got the playtest version. The one that says "warning this is a playtest document - not a finished game" in the front :)

Our group has played a lot of Ecalted, WoD and Vampire games in the past few years - I tried some other games (In a Wicked age, Prime Time, Dogs in the Vinyard, Mouseguard) But all of the pretty much failed for the group. I believe that we've had a tendancy to play the game at a little distance. Everyone tends to know everything that is going on, and we've tended to be trying to "tell a story" and place a lot of importance in "plot".  But similarly, a lot of time we've been not quite "in character", but talking about "my character makes a flowery speech to get the acceptance of NPC X" type thing.

AW really has brought us deep "in character", and it has been awesome. The problem is (i think) our tendancy for the player to act at a distance, while the rules really want us to be "in the trenches".

With things like "seize by force", it is noticeable straight away who is an "old timer" and who is the "newbie" to the group. The regulars talk about "I want to attack that NPC", while the newbie is talking about "I cover my friend by grabbing the attention of NPC with a few shots)

The biggest trouble, espeicially my "old timers" are having is that they feel frustrated at the limited choices of the moves. I think i'm to blame as much, as I tend to answer the questions directly to the players, rather than the characters :(

The examples that came to the front most of all were:
Ready: "Young girl, where are your parents? Aren't they worried about you?"
Shadow: "I'm an orphan. I worry about myself.
R: "How about a guardian? Friends? Isn't there anyone to look after you?"
S - Looking meaningfully at the pile of guns "I can look after myself", moved to get up
R: "Wait, wait young one. You need to be careful of those injuries. You should rest here the night"

Now, Shadow wants to know why the doc wants to keep her there and rolls "read a person"
Is he telling the truth - yes, the injuries were bad, she needs rest
Shadow then opens her mind to the Psychic Maelstrom - she gets an impression of voices "Hungry.... Blooooood"
(still frustration - I haven't told her why the doctor is acting that way)


Another scene, Amiette our Brainer has seduced Brewer (a overweight dandy who surrounds himself with beauty, and is the local source of fresh meat, vegetables, and fruits)

She sneaks into his room and arrays herself seductively on the bed, when Brewer lumbers into the room the rolls to seduce him (10), and wants him to sleep with her. Brewer takes one look at her and immediately starts divesting himself and lowers himself onto the bed.

The player then says that she wants to find out what he's really up to, She does her sex move and deep brain scans him - (frustration) cant find a question that she really wants answered. She goes with
"What are your secret pains". - Brewer surrounds himself with beauty and polite manners as he is deathly afraid of violence and mess, afraid of how he will react to it".

At Story Games, some others have provided some answers for me, which give me a better feel... but still :) What were you intending with those moves and questions.

And what am I doing wrong?



  • 1293
Re: Subsystems
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 02:55:56 PM »
I really like Jonathan Walton's answers over at Story Games.

The purpose of those questions, and of opening brains, is to give you, the MC, an opportunity to lay all your plans and secrets out for the players to know, but (a) in a way that lets you tell them through their characters, not directly; (b) in a way that leaves pursuing information in the players' hands; and (c) in a way that leaves open the possibility that they won't get all the information they need.

"Is he telling the truth?"
"Well, I mean, a little rest won't hurt you, that much is true, but no he's not telling the truth. He doesn't give a shit about your welfare. He wants you vulnerable, not healed. Look at the avarice in his face! He wants you for something."

Knowing Brewer's secret fear gives Amiette a LOT of power over him. He basically belongs to her now. If she can't use it to find out what he's up to, I despair for the brainers of today.

How many sessions have you played?


Re: Subsystems
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2010, 03:39:09 PM »
Yes, thanks to those answers - especially the idea of "say my plans, but not directly" makes it much clearer :)

We've done two "one shot" sessions. And this is now 3 sessions of a "arc", with the same characters.

Something we're getting to see though, is even when the players "fail" rolls, it still leads to awesome things. Our driver was a case in point - he launched a bike up a cart and into a second storey bacony to take out a sniper. Then he tried to jump across to the roof of a neighbouring house - he failed and fell through takeing damage, and having the old couple living inside set upon him with a frying pan. He was then under fire from a thug on the street as well. He grabbed the frying pan, beating up the old lady in the process, and then ran out into the street and beat up the thug with the frying pan (daredevil provided armor from incidental fire)...

But we're doing a session a week, and trying to fit in as many sessions as wel can :)