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Messages - Paul T.

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No takers?

I'd love to hear how people have handled this, what went well, what didn't.

That's been my experience, too.

However, I'm thinking about a scenario where various PCs are potentially in a position to "take over" the leadership of the holding or a gang (not too dissimilar to Sunken Sydney, perhaps) and that's got me thinking about what might be the best way to handle it.

Does anyone else have a different experience with this, either good or bad? What can we take away from that?

I'm curious about people's experiences and "best practices" for when characters find themselves in charge of a holding or a gang.

When a player selects the appropriate improvement, I have no problem handling that - basically, assuming the fictional details are in place, we just conspire together to make the desired outcome happen, no problem.

But what about when a character maneuvers in the fiction so as to become the head of a gang or a holding? How do you handle it then?

Let's say the hardholder is dead, and a PC steps into his place. "I'm in charge here now!"

In your experience, what's the best timing and approach for "making it official"? Do you give the player the appropriate moves, wait for them to be paid with an Improvement, bank it in advance, or what? To what extent do you try to make the fiction and the moves coincide, if at all?

I can imagine a few different ways this could go, and I'd love to hear a) some examples of how it's gone in your games, and b) how you think it works best or should work.

Thank you!

Apocalypse World / Re: Hardholder's wealth move in the fiction
« on: February 11, 2018, 05:23:28 PM »
It wouldn't hurt to brainstorm a few possible moves you can make for each "want" which could potentially come into effect. If you get a "miss", in particular, you'll have to think fast, and having a few ideas rattling around your brain could come in handy.

To brainstorm, as Ebok says, look at your threats. I'd even randomly roll up some combinations - "Ok, +desperation is in effect and... a 3 means Marcer's gang. What does that look like?" That will give you some ideas to start.

Apocalypse World / Re: Hardholder's wealth move in the fiction
« on: February 07, 2018, 04:54:12 PM »
That's some great stuff from Ebok.

I'll make a briefer point, from a simpler perspective, to add to it:

Take a look at how Vincent describes this in the "Surplus and Want" chapter of the book.

These are the rules for holdings and followers who come to be in surplus or in want.

MC, your job as always is to take these and make them come true. Address yourself to the characters, not the players; misdirect; have names for people in the holding and among the followers, and use them. “Your followers’ society is breaking down” is not the thing to say. “In the night, Marser chops Jackabacka’s hand off because he wants Jackabacka’s 3year-old for his own. Jackabacka’s in your tent now, bloody-stumped, he’s sobbing like a little kid.”

That's really pretty key, here.

Remember that your job as the MC is to be making moves. On paper, maybe it looks like the Wealth move is supposed to be some kind of compass of the state of events in the holding, but, as you say, that doesn't really work. Why does it flip-flop from session to session, for instance?

Instead, think of it this way:

Normally, you make moves in play to set yourself up for harder moves (like "announcing future badness"). When a holding is in "want", though, you don't need to "set up" anything: that's a "golden opportunity" to go ahead and make a hard move.

So, an active "want" just means you have a green light to go ahead and bring to light some bad problem in the holding - no one's going to be feeling caught off-guard, because everyone can see it came from the move's outcome.

Now, to actually *make* that move, look at your threats and *their* associated moves. There's no "describe the hunger of the populace" move. Instead, you must misdirect: pick a threat, let it follow its impulse and make a move. "Everyone's hungry" is so-so. "Marser cut off Jackabacka's hand," now that's a good move.

If, in the next session, the wealth roll is a 10+, then great - there are no new complications. Like Ebok says, though, that doesn't mean no one's hungry. Just means it's not a current problem right now. And, yeah, the consequences in the fiction still hold: Jackabacka is still missing his hand, so what are you gonna do about it?

Apocalypse World / Re: NPC Name Habit
« on: February 04, 2018, 07:44:53 PM »
Those are great techniques!

I've been thinking a lot about designing approaches to RPG play (and this is particularly suited to AW) where you start with a list of names for NPCs, and then "target" them in various ways in order to create a starting situation for play. (You can see some of that here:

I very much like how you're doing that in your game. (Again, it's very much in line with some tricks I've been thinking about myself lately.)

I didn't realize there was a new one - thanks for pointing it out! I'm excited to take a look.

I haven't seen a ton of discussion of those more "oddball" playbooks. Here's a bit of a recent thread about the Contaminated:

As a sidenote, the Marmot was the best playbook? Do you mean just to read, or to play? It's always looked like a bit of a gag to me; I'd love to hear about people's experiences playing it "straight up", and how that went.

Apocalypse World / Re: Descriptive NPC Harm
« on: January 30, 2018, 01:28:50 AM »
That's interesting. So you're saying that an NPC taking 0-harm should still receive a description or detail?

I don't disagree; but that's an interesting idea. Hmmm.

Do NPCs often take 0-harm in your games? I don't think I've seen that yet...

Apocalypse World / Re: Descriptive NPC Harm
« on: January 27, 2018, 02:08:27 PM »
Thanks, bonkydog!

How do you describe harm for PCs? I'll give you three answers. But consider, first, that harm for PCs isn't strictly related to the fiction, the way it is for NPCs. One PC could be in a horrific accident, lose a hand, and break a leg, and have one segment marked on their "clock" (because they received care from an Angel, for instance, and now the harm is gradually healing). Another could be in perfectly good health, as best we can tell, in the immediate sense, but have three segments marked off (they got knocked around in a few bar fights, so they have a black eye, but it's been a few days and the harm's not getting better on its own). I was sitting still when someone stuck a bloody axe into my leg for 2-harm, whereas you took a couple of punches in a friendly bareknuckle boxing contest (twice, for 1-harm each time) - do we "look" the same, on screen? Surely not.

Usually, it corresponds to their general physical state, but not necessarily - segments of the clock are an abstract measure of how close they are to death, rather. (Hence the "countdown clock", as opposed to a "health meter" or some such thing.)

Ok, three answers:

1. Ask the PLAYER to describe it to you. There's no downside here, and the player gets to characterize their PC a little further.

2-harm for the Faceless might mean to the player gruesome wounds and blood everywhere - but he just keeps on coming! Terrifying!

2-harm for the Battlebabe, though, running around nearly naked and with Impossible Reflexes, or the gorgeous Skinner, might be a singe on their upper arm where a bullet nearly got them - and the hole in their outfit just makes it look even more eye-catching.

It's a great opportunity to learn more about the PCs and how their players perceive them, stylistically speaking.

"So, you took 3-harm in those last couple of scenes. How are you holding up? Does it hurt like a bitch, or are you in shock, not even feeling it? Do you look like a mess?" That kind of thing is a great question.

I've seen some people write down a line of description next to each segment of harm they take. It serves as a nice reminder of what's happened to your character and how you might play them in any given moment. ("Hmmm, I see I've got a black eye and a bullet to my right shin. I'm probably limping a bit and my face is swollen from last night's debacle. I'm swearing a lot more than usual, too!")

2. In terms of AW's rules, the part of the system which comes into play here is two-fold:

First, note how harm gets better and worse at different points on the clock. This means certain things for your descriptions. For instance, if a punch in the stomach takes me past 9:00, we know the harm is going to get worse with time. That means something bad happened - are you coughing up blood now? It's not the same as 1-harm taking you from 12:00 to 3:00. We have to explain why it's going to be getting worse with time.

Second, the main source of description and detail for harm isn't the harm clock. It's the harm move.

When you make that move, it tells you all kinds of things about what's going on - did you get knocked over, stunned, incapacitated by pain, or what? That's where you should get your description from.

3. If you want more than that, a while back put together various alternatives to AW's "hit points", which is more descriptive, visual, or "visceral". It works pretty much the same way as AW's system in terms of when character's die, but really brings the fiction into focus. Here's one which a lot of people liked and have been using in their AW games (I get some happy reports now and then):

Sometime later, another fellow wrote an even more detailed version called "Blood & Guts". You can do a search for that one, too, if you like!

Apocalypse World / Descriptive NPC Harm
« on: January 25, 2018, 09:04:53 PM »
NPC Harm

These guidelines may help the MC interpret harm suffered by NPCs; they are carefully aligned with the standard AW rules, but made to feel more like a “move” within the Apocalypse World ethos. It’s intended for the MC, not the players, to use.

When an NPC suffers harm, read through this list, from the top down. Start with the first option that seems to fit the situation and the source of the harm. If it’s not too serious (or 1-harm), choose one. If it’s potentially deadly (or 2-harm), choose two. If it’s gruesome (or 3-harm), choose three.

Make each subsequent choice worse than the previous (i.e. further down the list).

When a move says the harm is better or worse, choose one more or one fewer, accordingly.

• They cede something to you, submit, or flee.
• The are knocked back or knocked down.
• They are a bloody mess.
• They suffer a lasting wound.
• They are incapacitated by pain or injury.
• They will die without immediate medical attention.
• They are killed on the spot.

Example 1: Keeler hits Parcher in the face (not too serious; normally 1-harm). The MC decides that Parcher is “knocked down”. ("Parcher takes your fist in the face, and tumbles backwards over the bannister.")

Example 2: Keeler opens up on Tum Tum with a submachine gun (potentially deadly, or 2-harm) and chooses to inflict terrible harm. The MC must make three choices, so she says Tum Tum is “a bloody mess”, “incapacitated by pain”, and “will die without immediate medical attention”.

Apocalypse World / Re: Crow's Flats: Skyfall - A Scenario and brief AP
« on: January 24, 2018, 11:05:41 PM »
An update:

I've uploaded a new version of the Starter today. It has some more tips/advice and directions, based on my play experience with it, and an additional Love Letter.

I'm less sure about this particular, new Love Letter, and I'd love to hear some thoughts on it.

The good news is that, with four Letters, I feel much more comfortable saying that you don't need all of them in play, nor do all the players need one. (And, as you'll see, I've added some instructions to that effect.)

Apocalypse World / Re: Rules for Embodied Tabletop Play
« on: January 18, 2018, 02:53:24 AM »
I like that a lot.

Some variations:

The "chairs" aren't characters but they are roles (like the MC role). Perhaps one is the troublemaker, one is trying to keep war from breaking out, and so forth.

For Apocalypse World, the "roles" could by playbooks, too. At first, the Hardholder was running the place, but now that Brainer is. How will they be different? And the Hardholder... is now the medic/healer in the place of the Angel.

I have no idea what game would find this an appropriate design, but experimenting with stuff like this is usually fruitful in some fashion.

There was a one-shot at gaming club I was a part of once where there was one PC and four GMs. The GMs switched places on the hour, for a four-hour session.

That's not the way I would have organized things (each GM player is inactive for 3/4 of the playtime, for starters!) but apparently it was still a lot of fun for everyone involved, and included lots of surprises for everyone. (The GMs were not "in" on a certain plot or storyline, so each had to interpret the previous GM's input and decisions into a larger story.)

Apocalypse World / Re: Crow's Flats: Skyfall - A Scenario and brief AP
« on: January 17, 2018, 09:48:05 PM »
Groovy! Thanks.

Apocalypse World / Re: Crow's Flats: Skyfall - A Scenario and brief AP
« on: January 17, 2018, 04:20:54 AM »

I found that last post of your harder to follow, but if I understand correctly, it sounds like we're talking about the same things. I like your suggestion of tying her situation in with another faction/Front/PC/NPC/someone, to complicate the situation.

If you meant something else by "my honest suggestion is to make that position more interesting by bringing the players into that drama", then let me know!

Apocalypse World / Re: Crow's Flats: Skyfall - A Scenario and brief AP
« on: January 16, 2018, 05:42:53 PM »

I don't see anything about the description of "love letters" in the AW book to indicate that there's any kind of clear line between "custom moves" and "love letters", although I can see how you might draw a bit of a distinction, as you do in your post.

My own "love letters" tend to position PCs relative to threats and opportunities, or tease out what kind of thing they're more or less interested in. It's a more fun way of asking, "hey, are you more interested in capturing one of their spies or dealing with trouble back home?"

Introducing new material is also a good thing to do. My own love letters for this mini-campaign did some of that, although they didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped due to a couple of things we should have done differently (as I wrote in my original post).

Your post above on NPCs, however, is really solid, I think: a wonderful bit of "AW MCing theory" I'll definitely be keeping under my belt. Your stages make a lot of sense to me, and they put the focus on the right aspects of the NPCs and how to use them to tell stories.

In my case, "Newton" is still at Stage One (we haven't even seen her on stage yet, although she was invented by one of the PCs - the Hocus - so we know one of her connections already), and I'm looking at taking her to Stage Two, in terms of your framework here.

I had hoped to jump directly to Stage Three, I suppose, by creating a situation where another PC (the Savvyhead) was going to have to deal with her, establishing some kind of relationship. Unfortunately, the PC chose to delegate this business to some NPCs, who are now running off after her. Hence my need to think about how to handle a rather important situation/scene "offscreen".

Do you have any specific ideas on how to develop her further along the lines of your framework in a short timeframe? She's geographically separated from the PCs (being abducted, currently, and across a river which isn't easily crossed), so framing them into a scene together isn't entirely obvious here. A custom move, love letter, or clever MC move seems more appropriate here.

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