Advance Manipulation - too many allies

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Advance Manipulation - too many allies
« on: October 14, 2020, 06:54:27 AM »
I've tried to search for previous thread on the topic, but didn't find any. If there is one, sorry, just point me to it.

So, my beloved skinner upgraded her Manipulation (naturally) and she's got Hot+3 (naturally) and she just loves to manipulate and seduce people around her (naturally).

She is stacking allies like crazy cat-woman collects her pussies. (Naturally - her statistical chances of rolling 12+ are over 25%) That involves random NPCs as well as important/influential NPCs.

Now... this HAS to be wrong. Allies do not seem to be something one should be able to get by easily. The fact that Battlebabe does have "take an ally" - meaning ONE ally - as a whole one advancement option shows the relative intended scarcity of allies. And yet, my skinner's got... I don't even know :D ...about five? Just because she didn't even bother to take some she could and as a metagame decission passed on an opportunity to take about two other very powerful/influential NPCs as allies for game logic/drama purposes.


Now... I do not really need help managing this, I'm pretty fine juggling her allies around as needed and if it went off hand I can just agree with the player on how to handle it. But I have to wonder, just out of curiosity... this had to came up before, right? I mean - 25% chances to ally somebody - with some randomness on dice, for some players it will mean about 1/3 rolls or even more (at least for some period of time) ending with turning NPC into an ally. Some of these can be very powerful (warlords, gang leaders, hardholders...) - were there any in-system solutions / limitations found or suggested? (from AW logic alone or as house rules). Or is this how things are supposed to work (in that case - what about that battlebabe advancement)? Or is this because our game is now over 20 sessions long and it goes on with pretty much the same set of characters which started it (and AW was not built for such long-lasting campaigns with the same characters)?

*

Munin

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Re: Advance Manipulation - too many allies
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 02:28:45 PM »
The longest lasting AW campaign I've run capped out at 35 sessions. Of the five original characters, three were still in play (with the other two players having lost a character to death and retired one to safety respectively). We could have gone longer, but the campaign was at a satisfying end point so we wrapped it up. But here's the catch - the players explicitly wanted a slower progression to give them a chance to "inhabit" their characters for longer than you typically et in AW (where 10 sessions in you might be looking at "retire to safety" and "switch playbooks" as those among your dwindling supply of possible advances to left take). The only change we made was to double the amount of XP needed for an advance, and it worked perfectly. As a result it told a "slower" story, but that was by design.

Now, in terms of how to address you specific issue, I think one of the best things that can be done is to "put your bloody fingerprints" all over the allies. You're no longer looking at them through cross-hairs and they are no longer actively looking to mess with the PC - but that doesn't turn them into automatons. They're not suborning their parts to the Skinner's every whim. They still have wants and desires and needs and problems, and just because they're your ally doesn't mean those all stop. Indeed, being the PC's ally might make them worse. What do you do when your allies are competing amongst each other for your attention/favor/love? That warlord who you've turned into your love-toy - how do his goons feel about him "going soft?" Does he still command their respect? So sure, you can turn the Humongous into an ally, but doing so might intrinsically change him, for better or for worse.

As the MC you don't want to be a jerk and undermine what your PC has worked to achieve, but that doesn't mean you need to make their lives sunny and uncomplicated either.

Re: Advance Manipulation - too many allies
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2020, 01:29:33 AM »
The Battlebabe's advance is available right away and you can decide who you want to be your Ally - that's what makes it valuable even though advanced Manipulate eventually becomes available. I played a Battlebabe and that was my first advance because I wanted my character's father to be special. Otherwise, he would have been viewed through the MC's crosshairs and possibly a Threat until I got five advances and had a reason to Manipulate him - and I would have had to get a 12+ for that to happen.

Also advanced Manipulate can very well lead to the end of the campaign - you are making more and more of the people around you genuine friends and removing them as Threats. You're establishing a status quo of sorts, since they're no longer targeted by the MC's crosshairs. It might be worth taking a look at the game and seeing if ending soon might be on the table, or maybe the Skinner is heading towards retirement and might take her Allies with her.