PCs to NPCs (or: Friendly Threats?)

  • 3 Replies
PCs to NPCs (or: Friendly Threats?)
« on: November 09, 2016, 11:41:41 AM »
[I've been looking around for some advice on this topic both online and in the 2nd Ed PDF, but no luck so far, so I'm starting a new thread. If anyone can point me to a thread where this has already been discussed, I'm cool with that.]

I've got a question about friendly NPCs, as in NPCs that stick around and can actually help the PCs do stuff (in addition to playing the normal role of a Threat and providing plot complications). I may be missing something in the MC or Threats sections, how is this represented? Do they just have Hx with the PCs or something?

Background: In our current group we have three PCs: A Savvyhead, a Chopper, and a Driver (that's me), and the MC created two additional characters (a Skinner and a Gunlugger) that they are playing as supporting characters. IOW, mechanically they're PCs in that they have sheets and Hx and all that, but they have taken a decidedly background role in deference to our characters. We have talked about adding more actual players to the group, and if that happens, the MC will convert the other two characters to regular NPCs. So I'm basically looking for advice on how to facilitate that, but not inadvertently nerf the NPCs in the process.

-- Ben

Re: PCs to NPCs (or: Friendly Threats?)
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2016, 12:10:44 PM »
You likely won't find any advice for something like that, because it's not something that you're supposed to do in Apocalypse World. The player characters are always a step above the NPCs by design, they're in a class of their own; this is why it only takes 2-4 Harm to put an NPC permanently out of action but a whopping 6 harm before a player gets the option to come back with +1Weird. Don't worry about inadvertently nerfing them, because they should be weaker anyway.

In the situation you describe I'd have the MC either give the characters to some of the players, as if they'd picked the "get a second character" advancement, or just scrap the sheets and have them be regular NPCs. If the players are struggling with something that's one of their weak spots, then they need to make a deal with an NPC or attempt it anyway and deal with the delicious, delicious consequences that are the meat of Apocalypse World games. The MC really shouldn't be running them as PCs, because that results in them making rolls against themselves, and the MC shouldn't be making any rolls at all.

On a side note, NPCs shouldn't really considered be "friendly" at any point, they should have their own goals which are "just not that complicated" and they work with the players for as long as their goals align. It's one of the factors that stops the PCs - as overpowered as they are - from just steamrollering their opposition, because everyone is their opposition; even the Chopper's gang or the Savvyhead's workshop crew.

Hope this was helpful, I don't like having to tell you that there's no way to do what you want in this system but give it a go the way it's meant to be played, I promise it'll be awesome.



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Re: PCs to NPCs (or: Friendly Threats?)
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2016, 10:24:27 PM »
I attempted this in my very first AW campaign. It was a bad idea. It offered nothing beneficial to the story. You'll find when an NPC wants to help you do something, they can provide to you options you didn't have available before. They don't add +forward to your rolls though, that's really not how this works.

NPCs aren't "party" members. They're just people that want their own things, and if you're helping them get it, cool. If you want them to help you, Hard and Hot and Sharp and Weird will help the PCs understand what they want and keep them on their "side", but its a transient thing by design, that is what makes the HOT advanced moves so powerful.

Most of my NPCs are not actively trying to hurt the PCs, but they are actively trying to do something no matter what the PCs want.
NPCs do not have identical / collective goals unless they're part of the same group threat (brutes), or they're competing for it.
NPCs should want different things, and they should want them for different reasons, this helps make the PCs lives not boring.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2016, 10:29:33 PM by Ebok »



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Re: PCs to NPCs (or: Friendly Threats?)
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2016, 11:47:15 AM »
You have three characters. That's fantastic for AW. You're good without adding more people. The GM should just make moves and follow the principles.
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."