Trouble and the powerful people who cause it

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Trouble and the powerful people who cause it
« on: November 03, 2015, 10:09:18 AM »
"To create trouble, have a powerful person make a thoughtless or malicious decision and follow through on it, to bad effect on people less powerful."

So, essentially, this is about power being abused and the resulting shit flowing downhill. It would help me improvise if I knew in advance the likely sources and channels of the shit in question. To this end, I would be a fan of a creation process for powerful people, that establishes what power they have over others and what motives they would have for abusing that power.

A feudal lord, for example, would have both a landlord's power and the local justice's power over his tenants. Additionally, he has a master's power over his vassals and servants. In a Venusian city-state, how does power lie? As for motivations, there could be "I love my wine and my ease," or "I am thrilled to have others bend the knee to me," or "I want the best for my children."

Without something like this, inspiration for trouble seems to flow slowly and with difficulty.

Charles Perez

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lumpley

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Re: Trouble and the powerful people who cause it
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 11:53:18 AM »
Legit.

I won't proceduralize this, that'd be too limiting, but I'll provide examples and suggestions.

-Vincent

Re: Trouble and the powerful people who cause it
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 12:12:45 PM »
I'm running it tomorrow, and I'm anxious/curious what I'm going to say when it comes time for trouble.

In an AW game, some of the tools I have for making trouble include:

1. Scarcity. It tells me the kind of trouble to create -- the kind where someone suffers from hunger, fear, despair...
2. Collaborative world building. The other players share the burden of fleshing out the world with NPCs and relationships for the MC to threaten or use as threats.
3. Fronts. The MC takes NPCs from the First Session Worksheet/Home Front, or invents new ones, and makes them into threats for a front or adds them to an existing front.
4. The snowball. The fallout/snowball of PC actions often creates enough trouble to carry a big chunk of a session, if not the whole session.

For the Freebooting Venus playtest, the guidance is to have a powerful person take malicious or thoughtless decisions through to their end. The opening situation has just a couple of hooks to help create more trouble (one of the players might be fulfilling a promise, or might have a prisoner, or might be taking the sitch personally). The text says trouble should be a practical problem for the PCs, not a moral problem, but there's no tool for making a web of practical relationships and needs to threaten. There are folks you share your lodgings with, and folks you are indebted to. Hopefully that's enough. In some traditional game, I'd probably have a powerful person give them a job, but that's explicitly not the GM's agenda for this module.

So I dunno. We'll see what I say when I say it, right? I'm registering this here for posterity, so I can come back tomorrow night and be all like: 'Duh! It worked out fine!'

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lumpley

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Re: Trouble and the powerful people who cause it
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 12:32:46 PM »
Improvise now, prep afterward. Start the first session with "there's a pterosaur! It's attacking people in the streets! You have to stop it!" or whatever. Improvise contradictions, mysteries, "but"s. Let the moves snowball, that part's the same. While you're improvising and the moves are snowballing, just think to yourself about what powerful nincompoop, what wizard or priest[ess] or prince[ss] of the city, must have made what shortsighted decision that now there's a pterosaur attacking people in the streets.

-Vincent

Re: Trouble and the powerful people who cause it
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 01:01:10 PM »
Start the first session with "there's a pterosaur! It's attacking people in the streets! You have to stop it!" or whatever.
That pretty much sums our first session.

I went ahead with the "powerful NPC gives you a quest for some coin" cliché to kickstart the adventure. Now, after our first treasure examination one of the characters invested on the publishing trade. You can bet next session will be about shifty looking noblemen hiring her scribes to publish some scandalous slander.

Don't worry too much, just get the ball rolling, I guess.