Advice for a Larger Group

  • 6 Replies
Advice for a Larger Group
« on: January 09, 2017, 04:04:03 PM »
Hi everyone,
I'm currently running a campaign for 5 people (this was my first AW campaign, and 5 for D&D is normally fine, but for AW it feels like a bit too much). The team is a Waterbearer, a Maestro'D, a Chopper, a Battlebabe and a Gunlugger - not a lot of weird, a lot of violence and a bit of intrigue. However, I'm struggling with keeping the Waterbearer and the Mastro'D relevant. There's a lot of stuff that connects to them, but I'm not really sure how to encourage scenes that feature those characters, or how to get those characters to leave their comfort zones. I want to have all the players at my table involved, but I find the more combat-heavy classes seem to be dominating the table. Any advice on plots or ways of handling the story?
Thank you so much. :) 

Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 05:50:08 PM »
Have things happen around The Source or at the Maesto'D's place of business. I mean, you can literally start scenes by saying something like "So, you're all at Saffron's place hanging out when Been and her gang show up looking like they have a mind to hurt some folks."

Apocalypse World certainly encourages proactive PC action, but if they won't take it, it also definitely encourages you to have things happen to them. Make their lives not boring, remember? And IME, when stuff happens at their place, a person who owns that place rapidly tries to get control of the situation, both in the short term and the long term. I mean, if people want to take over your stuff, you need to go deal with that situation rather than just sit there.

Both are also community leaders in a sense. Have members of said community act on their threat impulses, doing stuff to each other that any good leader would deal with, then the PC will either have to deal with it, or deal with people not treating them like they're in charge any more.

Once you've done this stuff a bit, they'll probably start being a little more proactive in order to stop such problems before they really begin.

You do have a slight issue in that you have two such people. Are their places anywhere close to each other? If not, it gets harder to get both of them involved in the same thing. For future reference, I would've encouraged them to say that the Maestro'D's place was within the Source's area, just to avoid that problem, and would suggest you might do something similar in future...but that's little help with the current issue if they're far apart. Maybe give them mutual enemies? Or make one's ally the others enemy. That helps either bring them together or brings them into direct conflict, both of which are good.

Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 11:51:50 AM »
You're completely right about keeping stuff not boring. I'm definitely going to push more at their stuff (having the person the Maestro'D owes come collecting, have the rest of the Town Counsel challenge the Waterbearer's control of the Source, etc.) and yeah, you're also right about the community challenges. I have to work on making the town they're both in (they're both in the same oasis town thank goodness) more alive and with more identified people in it.

Thank you so much for the advice! I think I'm really starting to figure it out. :)

Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 12:36:10 PM »
No problem, I'm happy to be of assistance. :)

The game I've been running for the last few months has a Maestro'D as one of the main characters, and she has a fairly high level of reluctance to leave her establishment, so it's definitely an issue I've had to consider how to deal with. I think I've been pretty successful at doing so, simply by making her establishment sorta the center of a lot of the action, but it's definitely something an MC needs to put some thought and effort into.



  • 166
Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 01:47:39 PM »
This is a common problem. The different playbooks operate at different speeds - the natural operating units of time for people like Savvyheads or Hardholders are weeks and months, whereas it's days, minutes and finally seconds for Battlebabes and Gunluggers.

Of the playbooks that rely on having enough in-fiction time to operate, only a handful have direct mechanical support (i.e., the wealth moves) to allow them to have the breathing space needed.

What's probably happening in your game is that all the violence people get into trouble, you zoom in on it because it is interesting and exciting (as you should), and then more trouble happens, and you zoom in even more, and then eventually you have a whole game session that is about five minutes of (nerve-wracking, adrenaline-pumping) in-fiction time.

There's nothing inherently wrong with gradually zooming in on the action, but it remains true that in a timeframe of five minutes, a Gunlugger and a Battlebabe shine, whereas a Maestro'D or Waterbearer can only really rely on the basic moves.

If you want them to be more relevant, you as the MC will need to sometimes stop going moment-to-moment with your moves frame out hard - "It's a week later after the fight, and Waterbearer? It's your job to pass judgement on the Chopper's gang, who are tearing it up in celebration at Maestro'Ds place."

At that point, the Waterbearer and Maestro'D will have easy enough access to their full capabilities that they'll start making their own fun instead of you having to worry about it. Until things go to hell enough that everything's going moment-to-moment again, of course.

This will become less of a problem when someone inevitably takes a hardhold or followers advance, and these zoomouts will happen more naturally.



  • 157
Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 03:20:39 PM »
I like to split 'em up, put the combat guys together with the support guys, so the Battlebabe and Angel are going on a mission of mercy, or the Gunlugger and Savvyhead are scrounging for urgently needed parts.  This works better in online games where you can run simultaneous threads for multiple groups, I guess.

Throwing realtime NPC drama at the non-combat characters is another good way of balancing spotlight time, while the Faceless is beating people with a stick, the Maestro D' is negotiating with his fickle dance troupe.  Firefly does this kind of thing all the time and it's fun to jump-cut between scenes.  "You're killing us here, boss!"

Re: Advice for a Larger Group
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 06:57:10 PM »
Excellent advice here so far.

I would add:

Reincorporate like crazy, and make triangles EVERYWHERE. Any NPC, any little thing a PC is interacting with... go and find a way to tie it to at least one other PC, maybe two, if it makes sense. Combine your ideas, if you need to, to make this happen.

For instance, you ask your Gunlugger where he gets his ammo, and he says, "I found a depot, out in the sands just West". Meanwhile, the Hardholder sent out a lieutenant to deliver a message... you instantly go and have that lieutenant find the depot, and start sending people to take the ammo to carry it back to the Hardholder. The Maestro'd, in the meantime, is trying to collect on a debt. You haven't decided what kind of barter system you've got going on here, so what form of payment is he offered? Great: have some people start bringing him ammo instead of payment - which, of course, belongs (sort of, anyway) to the Gunlugger.

And so on. Tighten everything up so it ultimately comes back to the relationships of the PCs to each other, and everything has consequences.