Session 1 advice

  • 16 Replies
  • 6559 Views
Session 1 advice
« on: February 08, 2017, 11:37:58 PM »
Hello everyone! My first post, although I've been following as an unnamed ghost for some time.

I'm very excited to start MCing my first session of AW in a short-time and would like to get some ideas of questions and or apocalyptica I could throw out at the Players for the first session.

We'll have a hardholder, an angel, a savvyhead, and a Maestro D.  I'm particularly interested in how other MCs have approached the whole "Let's see what a day in the life of your player looks like"


Thanks in advance!

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 12:25:35 AM »

I dunno if I have any great advice, but that is a very intensely status-quo-y set of playbooks. I would be making a lot of effort to establish the contingent nature of everything, and trying to avoid players being like 'I've been here my whole life / I've had my establishment for 8 years / I've always worked for the hardholder' etc. I would ask lots of questions about how things used to be different, where they came from, very recent destabilizing events and/or opportunities that could feed into their ambitions (and the ambitions of NPCs, of course.)

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 05:32:06 AM »
Remember that just because it is "a day in the life of..", it doesn't have to not be exciting/dramatic. What can go wrong today for this character? What opportunity that seems too good to be true can be offered to this character? What NPCs are important to these characters, and what are their (potentially problematic) relationship to other characters? What threats are in the area, and what are the characters' relationship to those?

Going down to the specifics in this case (and acknowledging that I'd never have given it this much thought if it was my own game):

First out, figure out the basic inter-character relationships. Who works for the hardholder, and what is the relationship if they don't have a direct boss-retainer relationship? Are anyone part of the Maestro D's staff? What is the business model for the angel/savvyhead if they aren't on retainer. Where do they each work? Set their starting scene in their place of work, and have them describe the place as the scene is established. Though, also try to place two characters in the same scene from the very start, so they can play up against each other instead of your NPCs.

Then the NPCs/threats. The hardholder has two problems, an external and an internal. The external could be a gang, a rival hardholder or a natural/maelstrom threat to the hold that needs regular attention. The internal could be another player, could be the behavior of his gang (savages) or a rival/power broker inside the hold (who he can't just kill/exile without trouble). The hardholder has all this power, but he also has all these problems he needs to be on top of.

The Maestr'd has his worst customer, and the person with an interest in his biz. If that doesn't provide any trouble, maybe somebody is trying to get protection money ("It would be a shame if this place burned down"), or maybe a golden opportunity with strings attached drops into his lap.

Does the savvyhead have a project? If not somebody shows up with a project (consider enlisting another player for this). Now what does the savvyhead need for this project, and what prevents him from getting it on his own (found in dangerous place, belongs to another character, consists of another character's expertise, requires more Barter than the savvyhead has).

What sickness is the Angel dealing with currently? Maybe there isn't a sickness, and the Angel instead needs to deal with a sudden outbreak of gunshot wounds. For more enduring trouble; Is someone shaking down the Angel for protection money? Is there a sickness the Angel might try to wipe out (potentially in cooperation with the savvyhead)? Does the Angel have assistants? What trouble are they getting into? i always have hard time with Angel. Maybe the answer is to lure the Angel towards non-medical territory. What does it take to make the pacifist doc kill? Can the doc be lured into becoming a drug lord?

Now all of this is just stuff I remember from previous games I've run. And they've almost all been forum games, so I had an easier time running parallel threads, with everyone doing their own thing, than you would at the table. Don't treat the above as a checklist, but food for thought/inspiration. The Hardholder and the Maestro'd are the two important characters to get nailed down and involved in troubles. If the Angel and Savvyhead can get involved in their troubles, that is just dandy, and there is no need to give them troubles of their own (thus far at least).

*

Munin

  • 417
Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 11:25:05 AM »
To Daniel Wood's point about "status quo," you can use leading questions to break that up from the get-go; instead of asking, "How long have you been Hardholder," you might instead ask, "Whom did you have to kill last week to take over the hardhold, and what finally pushed you to take that action?" And if the Angel has been around for a while, "what was your arrangement with the previous hardholder, and how has that all gone out the window now?"

Essentially, kick the idea of status quo from the very beginning, i.e. in your world-building discussions. Still be a fan of the characters (let the Hardholder start the game with his or her rule uncontested and his or her hold secure), but by making the whole situation a "recent development" you throw into very start relief the idea that this isn't all just "business as usual."

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 08:37:30 PM »

I dunno if I have any great advice, but that is a very intensely status-quo-y set of playbooks. I would be making a lot of effort to establish the contingent nature of everything, and trying to avoid players being like 'I've been here my whole life / I've had my establishment for 8 years / I've always worked for the hardholder' etc. I would ask lots of questions about how things used to be different, where they came from, very recent destabilizing events and/or opportunities that could feed into their ambitions (and the ambitions of NPCs, of course.)

It's funny that you mention that they are quite status quo - None of us have played before, but we may be innately being guided by our Cleric/Fighter/Wizard/Rogue sensibilities because of previous games. Thanks for the advice, I don't want them to have been the secure hardholder/business owner for 10 years!

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 08:40:14 PM »
Though, also try to place two characters in the same scene from the very start, so they can play up against each other instead of your NPCs.

Could I start by saying, "Savvyhead and Maestro D, How did you both end up at this covert meeting to overthrow the hardholder?" (I'm still wrapping my head around the whole leading questions piece)

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 08:42:37 PM »
To Daniel Wood's point about "status quo," you can use leading questions to break that up from the get-go; instead of asking, "How long have you been Hardholder," you might instead ask, "Whom did you have to kill last week to take over the hardhold, and what finally pushed you to take that action?" And if the Angel has been around for a while, "what was your arrangement with the previous hardholder, and how has that all gone out the window now?"

Do MCs generally ask questions that basically create the fiction AND force the players to react? I love it, but it feels like the leading questions take away some agency from the players, but on the other hand, they sure make the game a lot more interesting. Does a 'good' MC balance those forces - player agency and Interesting situations?

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 03:17:58 AM »
Well, if the player really objects, they can just say "I didn't. It was more like a year ago." or otherwise spin things in a whole different direction. Nothing requires the leading question to be agreed with or anything like that, it's the assumption but not an absolute rule. This is a conversation, after all, which is usually an attempt to achieve consensus and if someone is unhappy with the direction of the conversation, they can definitely make that known.

Not that this comes up a lot, mind you. In my experience, the players are usually quite willing to go along with ideas like this, but they could certainly object/redirect if they wanted to.

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 05:08:43 AM »
Could I start by saying, "Savvyhead and Maestro D, How did you both end up at this covert meeting to overthrow the hardholder?"

That depends on your style, and how far the players are willing to go. What Deadmanwalking says above is quite right.

Personally, I don't generally go that far. My leading questions are generally a lot softer, along the line of "Hey Hardholder, why are you entering the Savvyhead's shop seeking his services?" or "Maestro, you are in the market looking for something dangerous. What is it? ... Angel, you are also in the market. Are you looking for the same thing?" Either stuff that it is safe to assume is happening (due to logic or preestablished facts), but let's get the details. Or stuff where characters get to opt in or explain what interesting thing they are doing instead of opting in.

And you can also set a scene with them together without presuming anything "Okay Angel, it has already been established that you are a regular at the Maestro'd's place. So you are sitting at the bar, when suddenly you hear an explosion outside. What do you do? How about you Maestro?"

*

noclue

  • 609
Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 05:11:19 AM »
"Before they start, make it clear: they all know each other. If they’re
traveling, they’re traveling together. If they live in a holding, they
associate with one another. They’re friends, or at least good colleagues. If
one’s a maestro d’, the others can be her regulars, for instance. If one’s a
hardholder, the others can be her lieutenants (Page 77)."

Start with Hx. Build off of that. Stay on Hx for a good while. There's gold there. Here's an Angel Hx question:

Quote
Which one of you put a hand in when it
mattered, and helped me save a life?
Name that person! Billiards, who is she? Why did she need saving? Why did this person help the Angel. Who did that piss off? Do they feel like this person owes them now or was it an act of charity?


Look for places where they're not in control and ask questions about that. They have food? Where does it come from? What happens when it runs low? Who doesn't eat?
« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 05:21:02 AM 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

*

Ebok

  • 415
Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2017, 06:36:19 PM »
I like it when my players ask me me leading questions about NPCs :x

It allows a good balance if they can go with the flow, so can you.

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2017, 06:00:26 PM »
Well, if the player really objects, they can just say "I didn't. It was more like a year ago." or otherwise spin things in a whole different direction. Nothing requires the leading question to be agreed with or anything like that, it's the assumption but not an absolute rule.

Thank you, that is an important clarification for me to think about. I really want to throw them into the action, so to speak on the first day, but I guess they'll get themselves their quickly enough as it is.

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2017, 06:01:46 PM »
I like it when my players ask me me leading questions about NPCs :x

It allows a good balance if they can go with the flow, so can you.

Ebok, do you make this known up front for your players?

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 03:56:46 PM »
Also, I wish I could edit out my obvious THEIR mistake - it probably killed the discussion on this thread. :(

I'm MCing tonight! Wish me luck.

Re: Session 1 advice
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 09:01:11 PM »
So, how did it go?