Hacking "read a..." moves.

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Hacking "read a..." moves.
« on: December 17, 2015, 10:48:19 AM »
Conversation between AW players and MCs teased out some dissatisfaction with the Read moves: the questions aren't always quite right, and specifically with read a sitch, a 10+ feels dissatisfying because there's usually only one question they want answered (so it's no better than a 7-9).

We're trying:

Quote
When you roll a 10+ on Read a Stich or a Person, you may give up all 3 of your questions from the list for any 1 other question (as per advancing the move with the Ungiven Future).

We tried it out last night, and it was used once, and considered several times.

The one use was "What happened here recently?" when coming upon the the bushwhacked body of a former subordinate (that they were probably going to kill for being a traitorous bastard anyway). It let me drop lots of badness and plant lots of bloody fingerprints, and made the gunlugger out to be a badass tracker (in the movie version, the explanation is clearly done in jump-cuts to shakycam flashbacks, or something).

Thoughts? Similar dissatisfaction? Other fixes, on the mechanical or just MC-ing level?

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Ebok

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Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2015, 09:36:02 PM »
The hold for read a sitch doesn't need to be used all at once, it can be held from the moment they first take that time to look around, and held on to through each interaction until the scene changes or is no longer charged.  If there is enough tension from enough sources and they aren't just spamming the move, there should always be something useful gleamed from every single question. If there isn't, maybe your situations aren't tense enough. Remember, a charged sitch isn't just a loose conversation they're having with someone they think might be lying, and it isn't looking around an area when they aren't pressed for time or being shot at.

If they look around, and have all th time in the world to do so, then tell them what they see. If someone has just run off and they'd like to catch him but when isn't important, the situation might not be charged, additionally if you are saying its the same scene--the entire chase, and it is tense and exciting, maybe the gun lugger doesn't just need to find out what happened or where the enemy went, maybe he also needs to act under fire to get there before /whatever/ happens, maybe before the trail goes cold or the guy gets his his backup, whatever. Asking you what is the quickest way to cut him off (best way in) can give the gun lugger some more color and also a +1 forward on that next act under fire roll. If it is the same sitch, maybe when he gets to the guy things are a bit more complicated, and he wants to know who of that escaping group is the most dangerous (so he knows who to start off with). Or maybe he wants to know which is the most vulnerable, so he knows who to take back alive. Read a sitch is the entire sitch, not just all the questions right now. I normally made the act of reading a person or a sitch dangerous, because it was time spent getting vantage, planning the route, looking the guy over in a way that makes him realize he's not exactly trusted, whatever.

To charge a situation, he must charge the situation. *the gunlugger places a hand on his pistol, and narrows his eyes at the little man* "Now listen here..." Charged, Check. Read a person for result, looking for what he needs, using his hold through the entire conversation as needed. I personally didnt let them try again, if they read a person, then they did that, if they used their hold on shit early and needed something else later, unless something changed, they already were reading. But that's just how we gave importance to the hold.

If the situation is charged, it means every moment matters, every step might get them or someone else hurt. It is tense, people are getting afraid. Danger, risk, or calculation is obvious to all parties involved. For people like the Skinner, when they're getting their information, they also need the sitch to be charged, how they do so might feel different, or hell maybe they just flat out skip the charge and--manipulate them but saying "hey wont you tell me..." whatever they want to know. seduction there is often more apt then read a person. But when you're caught by the enemy, on your knees in a room full of guards with guns and you're looking down the muzzle of the hardholder. You're probably going to want all the hold you can get with read a person (if you're talking to him and wanna use words to turn the sitch around or get what you want anyway) or the read a sitch, so you know who you're going to try to disarm and where the fuck you're going to try to use fuck this shit to get out in the coming chaos. (to use fuck this shit, you have to actually say a legit way out, read a sitch is great for that, and the +1 forwards means whenever you ask who is the most dangerous or vlnerable or whatever, you get a +1 forward to do whatever you need against them. Extremely valuable. the more holds, the more options, truths, or exactnesses you can work into your plan)

Your hack sounds useful, but really it might be too powerful (I wouldnt use it, too powerful for my games). Could work though.

In my opinion you just need to make more going on in your situations so that there are always more questions they want to ask.
? is your character telling the truth? <== obvious when to use it, might be useful more then once. I made sure they couldve ask retroactively, so if they got suspicious, they had to start reading them right away and it only covered the latest statement / general theme of the convo. It doesnt tell them How they're lying though, just that somethings not right.
? what's your character really feeling? <== amazingly useful when you've got a group, because someone might be putting on airs, they might be pissed off about something else, they might be afraid to pull the trigger, or just completely invested elsewhere--a great thing to know.
? what does your character intend to do? <== predictive future actions can not be overstated. This depends on what you just asked them, if you're talking about tomorrows battle, then it applies to that. if you're talking about the prison he's got in the basement, it applies there. If you're talking about you, or something else, you get the idea. This can be triggered multiple times in the same conversation to essentially pre-plot out npc movements. Great for anyone that plans shit out.
? what does your character wish I'd do? <== You want to know an easy way to manipulate someone, figure out what they want and offer it in exchange for whatever. You dont have to make them ask for it (some might not want to say anything either) with this you just rip it out of their mind and push forward with all the momentum. Its easy to get someone to agree when know what they want before you start, likewise this can help you talk your way out of very sketchy situation.
? how could I get your character to ???? <== fill in the blank is basically a good filler move for if you've got that extra hold, you want something, and you dont want to guess about how to make that happen. Why not ask.

I cannot really see anyway all fo these would not be useful. And heck, even if they dont need all the hold, thats also just fine. The fact that they rolled means they were willing to risk a hard move to find out the answer. If they only wanted one thing, then they've got a relatively easy check to make.

For read a sitch, due to the +1forward you get, there is literally no way this isnt useful. You should keep in mind though that reading a sitch doesn't mean they do it, it means they know how to do it. Doing it is often another roll entirely, which is why the +1 forward is so powerful.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 09:52:15 PM by Ebok »

Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2015, 01:42:44 PM »
That's a very thorough writeup, and that was basically my script for the first half of the conversation. And the persons on the other end agreed that Read a Person has this problem less, since you get to space your questions out (see below).

I came around to try this for a couple of reasons, but mainly because it was an easy thing to do that makes the players happier without fundamentally changing how a move works. Like, if I'm being their fan, being generous with the truth, and always trying to answer the question they're trying to ask, even if it's not exactly what they chose, like the rulebook suggests (and if, as is also predicted in the rulebook, most custom questions end up being another form of one of the standard questions anyway), who am I to quibble with letting people have what feels like a cookie on a 10+?

One quibble: read a sitch and a person are different, in that person describes keeping hold, and sitch just says "ask questions," which I've always assumed meant "all up front." Letting people space it out I think would help address this problem, also, because then the cookie for rolling a 10+ is you get to open with "what's my enemy's true position," or whatever you need to feel like you know where the blow is coming from, and still have some questions in your back pocket.

If you combine "ask all 3 up front" that with charged situations where there is no "enemy," but it's definitely charged (like the one I talked about above, where they found a horrific murder scene and they didn't know the perpetrators weren't still there but, since it was a hard, irrevocable move, I had already decided they were gone), and I've felt like the PCs rightfully feel like the MC is just coming up with variations on the "nobody's here anymore, but they got up to some shit before they left." Since you get the +1 forward even on a weak hit, a 10+ often ends up redundant-feeling instead of awesome.

I'm curious why you think it would end up "too powerful," though. Like, horning in on the Advanced Moves, or in absolute terms?

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Ebok

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Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2015, 03:51:02 PM »
Both.

You could handle Read a Sitch and Read a Person differently, sure. There is precedent, (while you ran out on that balcony over looking the fight, you manage a few observations... what are they?) in these cases it makes less sense that they also saw something else in retrospect later because of that earlier vantage... but then again, why not? I personally let the read a sitch carry, in just the same way that I would allow them to ask the same question multiple times and give them different but correct answers each time, or refund their question. What is the biggest threat? The guy with the mini gun and that lopsided spaced out smile. What is the biggest threat? The next big issue is probably... (fill in)

In your situation, they arrived to find a grizzly murder scene. I personally wouldn't allow read a sitch, I'll cover why later, but to begin with, say you do. They think it might be dangerous and look around. What is the true location of my enemies? no one here seemly overly hostile to you (or maybe some bystanders ARE?), but there is a blood trail leading west... (+1 forward to find them). What should I be on the look for? Motive. In fact, you recognize... In fact, one of the bodies has three times as many bullet holes... In fact, the bloody footprints through the area seem to all collect around that corpse... (+1 forward to interact with that observation). Ask it again maybe?

If there are no answers for any of the questions listed, the situation isn't actually charged. Just the same, if the +1 forward to act on the information in this scene isnt relevant, the sitch isn't charged. Keep that in mind, +1 forward means rolls happening right Now, what are the other base moves, is this a sitch where those could matter yet? If there is no danger here, just because the players believe there might be, doesn't automatically charge the situation. Although, you can always leave Threats in the area, and if they do read a sitch, maybe instead of nothing happening, maybe they find an opportunity via seeing a threat before it reveals itself and thus get additional info/intel/whatever. If the situation is not charged, they're welcome to investigate asking any questions they wish, and you can give them all the observations you want. The longer they stay, the more they find out. Maybe they can even take the corpses to the near doc for better questions.

In your situation I would've told them the sitch is not charged, a quick look around will reveal a dearth of enemies. Let them investigate themselves. I would also theme whatever they ask in answers that fit their concept. Not a tracker? No track mentions. Not a Doctor? limited forensic information. Not a savvyhead? limited tech observations. Etc. Each playbook (and player concept) has a focus that will bring new and interesting stuff to light. Flavor. If they wanted to know where the fuckers went, I'd give clues if that was reasonable, or let someone open their brain to the scene for those extra sweet goodies the maelstrom is just WAITING to tell them. Like where they mightve run off too...

Read a Sitch and Read a Person are snap observations that are intuitively connected with PEOPLE and BEHAVIOR. Read a Sitch is not Spot/Search from D&D, even if it functions like that when spotting enemies, threats, or otherwise. They do not naturally give extra details about corpses, tracking, scenery, etc unless those are Threats right now. Like maybe the bodies are in a landscape threat, like the badlands where ten raider groups war over whatever... now how long do you got before They get here? sitch might start.... START getting charged. Open your Brain is exactly what should be used in your example, assuming you don't want to connect the scenes in an immediate there he went! (chase scene) as shown in my first post.

The reason I find the ASK ANYTHING on a 10+ with hold 1 too powerful, is first of all it can be used to ask anything. So if you're talking to another player and you and they are a bit on edge and potentially violent, you've got the ability to force their player to tell you any one thing: Where is the thing you're hiding from me? Where is the person you love most? What horrible thing have you done in secret? <== Those questions might be appropriate powerful weapons for the character that has already advanced (unlocked/earned) his moves AND rolled damned perfect (rare), but a 10+ is easy street into shit that they haven't earned the right to know yet. (they could ask In Character, they could earn it that way, they could go find out via npcs or whatever risking tip offs, but they don't get to just pull it out of the air just cause they hit a (easy to hit roll). Its too much, too early, and makes the advance less AWESOME. All bad in my opinion, but functional sure.

Read a Sitch hitting advance on a 10+ is also bad In my opinion. Because you shouldn't be able to ask ANYTHING and then get that lovely +1 forward through it all just cause you rolled a 10+ There will almost never be an instance where that isn't better then the three questions. Additionally, It might be used like spot. OH Shit bodies!! charged? 10+ who killed them? Answer. Erm... No, this doesn't sit right with me. It should be.. OH Shit bodies! Go find out who did it, go look and ask, you dont need read a sitch to ask the mc questions about a thing. Also, +1 forward while acting on the information can give someone who asked the right question, a +1 forward for every single roll until the scene is over. That's not a 10+ range, thats a 13+ (in my game) and an advance later.

Your biggest issue was that you didnt actually have a charged sitch, but you didn't want to tell the players that until they found out for themselves. Thats on you. In this case, the fact that they made the move at all was extraneous and so of course the hold felt useless. A charged sitch means there ARE enemies/threats, Right Now. The false perception of danger is enough to get people anxious, but not enough charge the sitch. What would you do on a miss? Create danger that wasn't there? If that even crossed your mind, then you should've just created danger there to begin with. Bodies are just a thing in the wasteland. No matter who they are, or how much they've been ripped apart. Its Scenery now. The exception is when the danger hasnt passed, (really) the guy is gasping his last voiceless deathknell, blood freshly pooling, something clatters down the alleyway in full sprint... (and intends to do more harm).

I may have repeated things, I'm sorry if so. This is all stream of thought and edited for the glaring Spelling errors. AW works in a variety of ways and it the pace is different for each group. What works with one might not work with another, but I've found if a move doesn't fit right, you're probably not triggering it. I've had many investigations happen in my game, and I used to use Read a Sitch too... but I found that was just a lingering bad habit. If you need detective moves, make one. Though keep in mind, that the act of making the detective move... removes the actual detective work completely, it means the player cannot ask freely, they can only ask what their rolls allow.

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Detect: When you're looking at the evidence of a mystery and you've finished asking the MC questions about what you're seeing, roll+sharp. On a 7-9 you find a clue. On a 10+ you find three clues. Tell the MC where the clue was, pick one: On the Victim, In the Scene, Coming or Going, Something left behind or missing, or About the Perp; and the MC will tell you about the clue. On a miss, the MC can make a hard move, as hard as he likes.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2015, 04:45:21 PM by Ebok »

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Ebok

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Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2015, 04:30:30 PM »
Just a comment... Your Gunluggers question, What happened here? Was something he should've just been allowed to ask. That is a reasonable: hey describe more details for me please. It also has no place in a Read A Sitch. I don't intend to be condescending either, this is actually a good thing for your gunlugger. He can ask this all the time now, rather then needing a 10+ in a roll for a move designed for observations in sitches when surrounded by obvious/immediate enemies/threats.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2015, 04:48:18 PM by Ebok »

Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2015, 07:47:31 PM »

I am definitely of the opinion that Read a Situation does not give you hold. It's charged, it's happening now, you get a read or you don't. I have always enjoyed the (I feel pretty explicit) contrast between the two Read... moves, though I doubt the world would break if you ran them both using Hold. My only concern would be the ability to get multiple running +1s forward as you deal with the snowballing situation.

I also think the hack is ok, particularly if you don't think you're going to play long enough to allow people to unlock 12+ moves, though I agree with Ebok that it probably shouldn't be necessary.

I don't really follow the rest of Ebok's approach, though; a charged situation is certainly not limited only to cases where you don't have time to be thorough. It's true that when your players have time to be thorough, Honesty Demands that you give them an appropriate amount of information. But if the situation is charged -- e.g. the dead person in the murder scene is the son of a local Hardholder, or has died of some terrible plague -- then the move is still available to push past that initial threshhold of information. It's not about whether or not they're in immediate danger (that's what Acting Under Fire is for), it's about how much it matters that they get the full picture, right now.

This dynamic is most clear when you are MCing and a player uses Read a Sitch to ask a question that you thought you already answered in your description -- as MC, you're just like 'oh, you don't need to spend a Hold on that, it's obvious: here's the deal'. But that hardly implies that there are NO questions that could be answered, or that you couldn't provide meaningfully greater detail about the specific thing they're asking for; you don't just cancel the whole Move. As a player, the Read... moves are a way of asking the MC, 'give me more.' It's a fairly rare case where there is literally no more to give.

It's still important to not be stingy on information; players shouldn't feel forced to Read a Sitch to discover obvious things. Instead, rolling the move should feel like a risk with a real reward, and it's up to the MC to track the balance of that. As Ebok says, if your players are routinely not using all the questions, that suggests there might be something amiss with the situations or how the MC is presenting them -- but I stress the word 'routinely', because sometimes that one question is a) crucial and b) still definitely falls under the Move. An enterprising player will try to think of angles for the leftover questions, to be sure (and an enterprising MC will take a bit to think about additional, honest possibilities that they themselves may have overlooked), but sometimes on a move all you need is a hit (and the PCs with -1 and -2 sharp will certainly appreciate that.)

This 'angling' of the questions is also why I feel like the hack is mostly unnecessary. The 12+ result, at least at my table, allows the character to ask questions that are significantly different either in kind or in specificity. Questions like 'who stands to gain the most from the death of this man?' or 'when exactly did the murder occur?' A 12+ on a Read a Sitch is an opportunity for some Sherlock Holmes level observation and inference, rather than the rewording or the contextualizing of the existing questions that is, IMO, part of the regular use of the move.

This is another thing that is kind of up to the group, but managed by the MC -- sometimes it's good to be a stickler for the exact questions, especially if it means you get surprising or orthogonal-but-interesting information. But a certain amount of leeway is already built into the moves -- phrases like 'biggest threat' and 'true position' already have enough metaphorical content to allow a pretty wide breadth of interpretations, which is how the one move can cover such a wide variety of situations in the first place. Usually it's obvious when a player is trying to advocate for a specific interpretation (sometimes one that is a bit of a stretch), and when they are just asking the question straight-up without any particular angle. It's up to the MC to work within that framework, in accordance with both What Honest Demands AND other principles like Being a Fan and giving the PCs the full benefit of their moves. Literal-mindedness is already impossible, so stretching a bit more or a bit less depending on the situation seems well within the move as written -- and definitely forms a significant part of the move as played, at least in my experience.

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Ebok

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Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2015, 05:44:20 PM »
Yup. Every way of doing this is equally valuable. I was just trying to be thorough about how "I" would handle it and why it wouldn't work in one of my games. As Daniel mentioned, me letting read a sitch have hold is already potent (and I could go either way on the issue). I do strongly disagree with him about what constitutes a charged situation. IMO it should be fairly obvious to everyone what could go wrong whenever someone is making a move, there should be something obviously on the line, a risk/ a threat/ immediate enemies.

Actually I just put together why I think this way. I'll use an example, lets say you've got a guy tied to a chair, and the gunlugger says I pull out my gun and shoot him. If there isn't anything else in the scene that is trying to prevent this, Bang, he's dead. He doesn't need to roll hard, the person cannot get away, he isn't going to miss, a bullet to the head is going to end the NPC on the chair.

What is happening here in the gaming sense is that there was no reason to leave whether or not he succeeds up to the dice. When you roll you say, there are multiple outcomes and I'm giving the authority to the dice to decide which happens.

In exactly the same way, if you've got a guy walking into a scene that he doesn't know is safe or not, but you do, and there isn't anything else in the scene that might change this... There is no reason to ceed authority over to the dice, since the outcome is already determined. In fact it is just as disingenuous as telling the gunlugger he has to roll seize by force (or worse go aggro...), but he isn't suffering harm and nothing happens on a miss but him reloading and trying again. There would be nothing in your sitch above that would prevent a second attempt for more questions, other then you saying no that is. Just let them ask and tell them what is realistically available for them to find. To be clear, if the guy in the chair ISN'T helpless and maybe he tosses the chair over, breaks the legs, and throws himself at the Gunlugger--then he wasn't helpless and the Gunlugger needs to roll. Its the same way for Read a Sitch, if there IS a threat in the scene with the bodies, looking around (and exchanging descriptions) to trigger the move should trigger the move.

Another way to look at it is, walking up to the bodies and saying "I read a sitch" isn't actually Read a Sitch. To do it, you must do it. So to read a sitch where the characters are looking for threats in the area, they have to actually look around for the threats, maybe room by descriptive room, and when they get vantage over the threat, when they see them, when they can take account of what they're dealing with,  but perhaps before the threat knows it's been found, (not possible if there is nothing here) then they roll. The risk is clear  ("the sitch is charged"), the threat sees them, or acts first. If you didn't want to disclaim the lack of danger just because they declared a roll. Then pace the scene. They walk in, paint the picture let them reach out and interact, if they look for threats, ask them what they're doing to find any. Build the suspense within that exchange before you let them off with a "they're already gone". Even if it was obvious they weren't readily there to begin with.

Maybe this is a better way to explain it.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2015, 07:30:18 PM by Ebok »

Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2015, 08:50:02 AM »
One point (maybe mentioned above) is that post-apocalyptic people are, as a rule, good at some thing and really shit at others. There are exceptions, but that's the rule. And it's shown through the read a sitch questions. You're in a canyon and catch wind of an ambush? Just roll+sharp and you might get just the answers you needed. You find a corpse with the murderer long gone? It's fully within your rights to tense up and start scanning the scene for hidden enemies, noting your best escape route, pulse racing... But it ain't gonna help you keep your head cold and solve the murder. You need a savvyhead perhaps, with things speak (I think I'd judge a fresh corpse to be "something interesting"), or maybe you could open your brain. But reading a charged situation, as others have said, doesn't cover a cool, collected crime scene investigation.

Your problem with the Gunlugger situation isn't that read a sitch ought to cover those kinds of questions. They're very limited because they speak of a limited mindset and skillset of post-apocalypse people. Your problem is that in addition to reading sitches like other sharp people of their setting, that Gunlugger (your group seems to agree) ought to a good tracker. My solutions: if they had high weird, I would have suggested handling tracking by brain-opening. I could also whip up a custom move, or simply say "yeah, you're a hunter, obviously you have no trouble following blood trails" and then just give them answers, no move. Especially if your answers, as you say, are rife with off-screen and future badness. That's pretty much textbook "everyone looks at you, expectantly", i.e. you get to make moves.


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noclue

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Re: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2015, 02:31:27 PM »
The lack of investigation moves is one of my favorite things about AW. Just feed them the info needed to get them into a charged situation. This is a feature not a bug.

Be very wary of providing incentives to read uncharged situations.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 02:40:13 PM by noclue »
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: Hacking "read a..." moves.
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2016, 04:44:10 PM »
I think I basically agree with folks that the modification isn't usually necessary -- as evidenced by the fact that it hasn't been used after that one time. I think it worked well as reassurance for a player that felt constrained by the listed questions/unsure how to make them "work," and therefore frustrated, when in fact most of their needs are met by sufficient application of believing the MC is "being generous with the truth" and "answer[ing] the question they're trying to ask" (and in their defense, some of the learning was mine, getting better at both doing that and communicating that I was doing that). I think in the hands of other players it might have led to, as Daniel Wood said, "questions that are significantly different either in kind or in specificity," which wasn't the intent of the hack (and if I were to try to include it in a more general ruleset, I'd probably add something about it not doing that, with a non-prescriptive list of suggestions).

Folks said other things that I agreed or didn't with. I'm definitely in the camp that situation is charged if it makes the PCs nervous enough to ask if it is/ask if they can make the move. I feel like risking a miss is stakes enough to dissuade people from fishing for +1's, if I was worried about that. Like Daniel Wood said, "It's not about whether or not they're in immediate danger (that's what Acting Under Fire is for), it's about how much it matters that they get the full picture, right now."

If folks are interested in more post-mortem, here's how I'd break down the scene that happened.

No read a sitch: Wilson [who you are chasing because he stole your can of gas] was bushwhacked, several attackers, they took his stuff, set him on fire, and left him to die. Maybe they're long gone, maybe they're not, you get to sweat about it.

Hit on read a sitch: Any of --

• where’s my best escape route / way in / way past? [There's no immediate danger, but, if any shows up, you can feel reassured about your exit.]
• which enemy is most vulnerable to me? [Wilson's past being a threat. Whoever did this is long gone, but if they're willing to waste half a can of perfectly good gas instead of just shooting/stabbing him-- that's a kind of crazy you can exploit.]
• which enemy is the biggest threat? [As above, but replace "you can exploit" with "to be wary of," and a note about how the ambush seems to have been executed without Wilson getting a chance to draw -- clever, well organized, disciplined.]
• what should I be on the lookout for? [As above, but emphasize they're long gone, and you're safe right now.]
• what’s my enemy’s true position? [They're long gone, but they went that way.]
• who’s in control here? [They're long gone, and you could probably take the handful of guys who seem to have done this in a straight-up fight, crazy or no crazy.]

The custom question was stolen from Dungeon World ("What happened here recently?") and mostly gave excuse to string together several of the above in the sort of flashback-forensics description (one or two spooked him toward his bike, marksman shot out his tire, others tackled him before he pulled, beat him, soaked him in gas, set him alight, watched, left that way).

On a miss, I might have presented the scene as alarming and baffling -- "Wilson's burned to death and his stuff is gone, but you're not sure what happened, it's dark and it smells like charred meat, are you sure you want to stick around?" -- or had there be a booby trap firebomb, maybe, since that didn't compromise on the basic idea that they wouldn't hang around. But that's hindsight.