MC moves and when not to make them

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MC moves and when not to make them
« on: January 18, 2011, 12:06:15 PM »
The AW rules basically tell the MC that whenever "it's your turn to speak", you should be making a move.

When do you NOT make a move? When is it your turn to talk, but you really should be saying something that isn't a move?

Here's one that occurs to me:

* When resolving the outcome of a successful move on the behalf of the players.

Sometimes a successful move could still lead to a move (in particular, "inflict harm as established", to kill an NPC, for example), but sometimes it shouldn't. Sometimes we just need to play out, describe what happens, and that's it. Right or wrong?

Now, what about all those situations in "traditional" GM-led play that would often come up for a lot of groups?

* The GM is describing scenery, making the world seem alive.

In AW, should the MC ever be "barfing forth" without making a move of some kind? Is there space where "making Apocalypse World seem real" trumps making a move? Where simple description is all that happens?

* What if "making Apocalypse World seem real" suggests that a move would be inappropriate?

So, something happens in play and it's the MC's turn to talk. But you look down your list of moves, and none of them seem right. The natural consequence of what has just happened is a temporary status quo; the only thing that seems "real" is a pause in the action.

Does that ever happen to you?

* What about the end of a session or other "downtime"?
* What about the outcome of certain advancements, like "retiring a character to safety" (i.e. epilogues)?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this!

*

Chris

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Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 01:58:56 PM »
First:

I think description is the Barfing Forth, putting bloody fingerprints on it, etc, but not advancing in any sort of "plot" way

And that moves are advancing the story, whether it's the GM or the players.

And that the description/Barfing Forth/Bloody fingerprints is the misdirection glue that holds the moves together.

So Barfing Forth without making a move is just exposition. And I don't think it's useful unless it's leading into or out of a move either by a player or the MC.  Moves aren't things that happen at one moment in time. When I run, MC moves can be scenes (put them in a spot), parts of a scene (tell possible consequences and ask) or anything in between. And the description is just part of the move, the misdirect, leading into it and then coming out of it. And once that move is resolved, I'm Barfing Forth into my next move and then Barfing Forth out of it.

That said, I know that I don't use a move ALL the time. Sometimes, I wing it. I haven't seen anyone MC who uses an MC move every time it's their turn to talk. But it seems that the closer I stick to using moves, the better the game turns out.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 07:54:08 PM »
As to the not using a move all the time, I've noticed that the moves list is pretty darn good a covering "what you do when you GM AW", so even though I often don't look at the list and go "ah yes, this is the move I'm doing", when that's the case I almost always am able to look back and go "oh, well I suppose that was ____ move".

Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 11:29:32 AM »
The fiction that inspires AW (e.g. Firefly) certainly doesn't have too many pauses in the action, but they certainly do happen.

My guess is that most of these pauses are not MC-driven but rather moments where it isn't the MC's turn to speak. For instance, thinking back to Firefly, pauses in the action are almost always intimate moments between characters: maybe two characters sit by a fire in the middle of the night, or one nurses the other's wounds after a battle. I know that if I'm the GM in such a situation, I tend to keep my mouth shut.

Would you agree with that, Vincent?

I'd love to hear more about when you (anyone reading) decide not to make an MC move, or if that happens in your games at all.

Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 03:05:27 PM »
"Offer them an opportunity (a quiet moment together) without a cost."  :)

*

Chris

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Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 04:21:15 PM »
The AW rules basically tell the MC that whenever "it's your turn to speak", you should be making a move.

A FEW MORE THINGS TO DO
• Make maps like crazy.
• Turn questions back on the asker or over to the group at large.
• Digress occasionally.
• Elide the action sometimes, and zoom in on its details other times.
• Go around the table.
• Take breaks and take your time.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 02:44:51 PM »
Good answers!

"Offer an opportunity without a cost" (where the opportunity is for a quiet moment, as opposed to decisive action) and "digress occasionally" are two rules items that suggest the MC talking without really making an active move.

The real question, though, to you guys, is:

"How often do you do that in play (if at all)? When you choose to do so, what principles are you going by?"

Re: MC moves and when not to make them
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2011, 12:40:32 PM »
I do that often. The principals I'm going by then is 'make the character's lives interesting' and 'make the world seem real'. If my Hardholder has people coming to him with issues, and I'm describing some detail of the space, and I'm answering or asking questions, then I'm all set, and I don't need to turn to my Moves right then. When the characters are interacting, doing their thing, making plans, that's when I'm looking hard at my Moves (well, glancing at them anyway ;) ), so that when it's my turn, I can follow the simple instincts of the NPCs to the natural Move.