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Messages - Munin

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46
Apocalypse World / Re: Available In Print Again!
« on: September 11, 2017, 08:52:46 PM »
Excellent! \o/

47
the nerve core / Re: New Here wanted to say hello
« on: September 06, 2017, 01:12:16 AM »
Welcome! You're definitely in the right spot. Things have been a little quiet lately, but it runs in cycles. But there's tons of stuff in the various forum sections that will be of interest.

48
Apocalypse World / Re: Optimal number of players?
« on: July 21, 2017, 08:52:30 PM »
My regular game is GM+5. That's about as big as I want to go, and is predicated almost entirely on my players being universally awesome.

49
1. I know this might not be helpful, but it really depends on your style and the situation. But here are some handy rules of thumb I use:
  • Whoever speaks first goes first
  • If more than one person wants to do something at the same time and those things don't conflict, have them all declare their intended actions before resolving anything
  • If someone wants to wait to see the outcome of another player's action, that's totally cool, but waiting can have its own risks - look to the fiction for ideas for ways to complicate things for them
  • If someone hasn't already spoken, ask them what they're doing - this can happen before or after other rolls have happened, but it's important to keep everyone involved
  • The more chaotic the situation is, the more I'll jump around between people
  • If two PCs are going head-to-head, always give the one who didn't speak first the chance to interfere, and once the first player's move is resolved, always give them the chance to respond with an action or move of their own as the very next thing that happens

2. Again, this is going to depend largely on the fiction. In general, the more dangerous the foe, the more often I'm going to have them act. A particularly fast or vicious foe might very well do something between every PC action. A slower, less dangerous foe might take actions more slowly, letting several PCs "go" before it takes action.

That said, making a move on a PC miss is always an option - just be aware that it might be the monster doing something (lashing out with a damaging attack, etc) or it could simply be the Keeper complicating the situation (you realize your gun is hopelessly jammed and won't be of any more use to you in this fight).

One thing that will help here is simply experience; you'll start to get a feel for how lethal your PCs are and know how often to have the monster act in order to convey the relative "difficulty" of a particular encounter. If your PCs are mowing through the opposition without breaking a sweat, kick up the frequency with which you take actions on behalf of the monsters.

Finally, monsters aren't stupid. Even if they're not intelligent, they probably exhibit some kind of low, animal cunning. Nobody is going to stand there like a dope while everyone attacks them. As such, you should always be looking for good ways the monsters can limit how many people are attacking them at once. Launching a vicious ambush and then fading away before more than one or two PCs have a chance to respond is totally cool and super unnerving. Likewise, using the terrain to limit the PCs is fun (narrow sewer tunnels being a perpetual fave).

3. There are some situations in which a PC might take multiple actions in quick succession (for instance, doing something under pressure to slip, dodge, duck, and weave in past the mass of flailing tentacles before whipping out your enchanted sword and kicking some ass against the monster's actual body). But generally speaking, if it's reasonable to assume that a particular action is going to take some time to accomplish, then it's cool to give other PCs (or even the monster!) an opportunity to do stuff in between the "multiple steps" of another PC's actions.

But for the most part, I like to do things more or less one at a time because I feel like it makes for better narrative flow and leaves "mini-cliffhangers" in the fight (you're past the tentacles and ready to go to town with your enchanted sword; salivating to finally kick some ass, the anticipation as Davis tries to free the virgin from the sacrificial altar before the cultists finish the ritual is killing you!).

4. Everything depends on the monster. If it's slow or weak, then sure, it might get easily overwhelmed; other PCs might simply get to inflict harm on it, no roll necessary. But if that monster is fast or tricksy or has multiple methods of lashing out at the PCs, then everyone is at risk and everyone had better be putting their dice on the line.

5. In general, I gauge it the same way as other harm; is it like getting shot by a handgun? then 2 harm is appropriate. A shotgun or assault rifle? Maybe 3 is appropriate. Being in the blast of a grenade or getting hit by a moving vehicle? 4 harm is not out of the question. Having a roof collapse on you is pretty fucking bad, so I'd probably go 3 or 4 harm. I don't know if MotW has guidelines for falling damage, but those are usually a pretty good gauge for unconventional harm too.

6. As mentioned in the other thread, everything depends on the move's trigger. Look at the trigger condition for kick some ass - if what the player is doing sounds like the trigger, make the roll. If not, don't. Yes, the player may want to get the 10+ result, but if they don't trigger the move then no dice ("Yeah, you hit it with your rifle, but damn, the hide on that thing is tough. You're not even sure you drew blood. You're going to have to try something else to kill this thing.")

Also, for what it's worth, a one-sided application of harm (i.e. shooting at someone who can't shoot back) in AW is NOT the equivalent of kicking some ass, but rather going aggro, a completely separate move with a different trigger and different effects. MotW may make a similar distinction.

7. See above. I'd be surprised if MotW didn't have an analog for go aggro.

50
I'm with Paul on this one - I'd treat the situation with the poachers as acting under pressure, making it clear that failure (or even partial success) is going to tip the situation into a full-blown fight. And as a side note, giving this option to the player is a Keeper move - you're offering an opportunity (sure, you can try to use your blade-lash to disarm the head poacher...) with a cost (...but if you fail, someone will probably get shot and it is likely to be you). Make sense?

Also, taking a step back in time, I'm not sure I'd have had the PC try to manipulate the head poacher, as that move is predicated on having leverage. Now if the PC said, "Lower your weapons now and I promise I won't kill every one of you where you stand using only my brain," then maybe manipulate is appropriate (as it's an empty threat). But trying to talk down an excited, trigger-happy poacher might find act under pressure as a better fit - you're just trying to be super cool, super calm, and super clear to convince him you're not a threat before he starts busting caps.

The thing about PbtA games is that the triggers to the moves are super important. Look at them carefully. If the fictional situation doesn't fit a move's trigger, then DON'T ROLL. But if the PC is doing something that reasonably sounds like the trigger, then you MUST ROLL. The move's rules simply tell you what happens next based on the results of that roll.

Here's something to keep in mind - the rules of PbtA games don't model reality or simulate physics or anything like that. They serve only to drive the story. They are used to find the key dramatic moments and give the players and the Keeper ways to add interesting and unexpected complications to the narrative that you're forming collectively.

51
(You can definitely read the situation. Always read the situation.)
No, don't read the situation; it's funnier that way. But then again, I'm pretty free with giving out information to people about to do crazy things.

In the last AW campaign I ran, the Driver (Ace) provided quite a bit of the drama in the game. Just by having him there, it gave the game a much wider scope (helped by the fact that none of the other PCs were tied to a specific location). And because the scope was wider, it led us to include the following custom move we had in the game (inspired by an old thread on this very forum):
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When you return to a settlement which your character has visited before but which has not yet previously come up in-game, roll+Hot.  On a 10+ hold 3, on a 7-9 you and the MC each hold 1.  On a miss the MC holds 3.  Any time you encounter a new NPC in that settlement, you may spend your hold 1-for-1 to take +1forward with them - they like you, owe you a small favor, or maybe just remember you fondly.  The MC can similarly spend hold 1-for-1 at any time to give you -1forward with a new NPC - they dislike you, you wronged them, or they remember you being an asshole.

The real kicker here was that Ace was Hot-1 and for all of the times he made this move during the course of the campaign, he rolled a hit exactly once. So everywhere the PCs went, there were jilted lovers, jealous boyfriends, and double-crossed arms dealers wanting to have a candid word with Ace. And his player decided early on that Ace had been everywhere, so he always made the move. This was a fantastic way to play up the transient nature of playbook, and worked out really well throughout the campaign.

52
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 26, 2017, 12:24:28 AM »
OK, let's break this down:

Here's the above situation - you're fighting with a guy. He's not the only guy you need to fight to get what you want (there are others), but as of this moment, he's the guy between you and the next step towards your ultimate goal. You have decided that dedicated violence is needed to get past him (because he's in no mood to negotiate). What is your next move?

ASIDE: Note I did not say, "What do you do?" I think we all understand the relationship between the fiction and triggers for moves. I am explicitly talking about moves here, this discussion is largely mechanical in nature. END OF ASIDE

Under AW1, there is only one move for mutual violence. You are seizing by force. That's it, it's really your only option. Established harm is traded, and you pick several from 4 choices. But if you look at those 4 choices, one of them - "take definite hold of it" - essentially gets blurred by the fictional situation; there's more than one opponent between you and your ultimate goal, and I think if as MC you say, "No, taking definite hold here will not get you all the way to the MacGuffin," then you have to do either one of two things: either you invalidate one of the four choices (essentially take it off the table ~because fiction~), or you come up with some other fictional snippet (short of your ultimate goal) that can be taken hold of to offer to the player (e.g. "If you 'take definite hold' here, you can put this guy out of the fight for a tick or two whether he's dead or not").

And if you do let the PC make it all the way to the MacGuffin on a single roll, then there is a disconnect between your fictional conflict (there are multiple enemies/steps between you and your ultimate goal) and your mechanics for resolving it (fuck it, one roll takes all!)

Under AW2, you have more options. If the fictional situation is such that you're not really "seizing" anything, then you can just use single combat instead. You don't have to take one of the SBF options off the table or come up with some fictional tidbit to make that option attractive. The move only has two options and both are meaningful. It also has a built-in miss condition that is exactly a flipped move.

Ultimately, this is a stylistic choice. For the most part, I like having all of the move-related choices presented to the player be meaningful. Even in something like read a person where you think you may know the answer to something before you even roll, the move lets you confirm it beyond any doubt. Similarly with read a sitch, every one of the questions should give the player meaningful information. It might not be the information they necessarily expected and it may be an "unwelcome truth," but IMO you should never be "paring down" the options to only what is "appropriate" in your mind. And for what it's worth, I love it when they ask the questions I don't expect.

Finally, no, I didn't choose single combat because he was fighting the guards one at a time; I chose it because he was fighting them with the express goal of killing them. Had both been within arm's reach, I still would have used the same move (though how the harm was exchanged might have looked different).

53
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 25, 2017, 01:21:16 AM »
I like exchange of harm being a prerequisite - if it's worth inflicting violence, the expectation of harm should be built in.

I also have no particular problem with "you fight harder for [thing], even if ultimately you don't get it."

We had a combat in a recent one-shot where the PC (a heartless assassin based on the Battlebabe playbook) engaged in a fight with three opponents. Ultimately, the assassin's goal was to abduct the crown prince (a mere suckling babe), but rather than jumping straight into SBF, the fight shook out as a go aggro (the surprise initiation of combat, killing the first guard), two single combats (to kill the other two guards, who - due to their positioning - couldn't attack him simultaneously), and another go aggro (to get the wet-nurse to hand over the kid). In this case, single combat seemed like the appropriate move because the PC knew he needed to deal with the guards. A single "seize" roll might have gotten him the kid, but he'd still be in a fight (and at that point he'd have been applying his harm to the wet-nurse, not the guards - and they'd have been carving him up while he did it, applying more harm whether he missed or hit). Similarly, a single "seize" might have gotten him out the tower-window and to his escape, but he wouldn't have had the kid.

Like I said in one of these threads, I think the granularity of what is being seized is intended to be more specific under AW2. And if there's nothing specific you're trying to seize, then single combat is the fall-back. It seemed to shake out pretty well in play.

54
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 24, 2017, 01:32:58 AM »
Sometimes the goal of violence is "to kill that fucking guy!" I never really liked the idea that the thing you could be seizing was "someone's life." The new single combat move simplifies that whole thing tremendously. If you're fighting to fight, then it's single combat. If you're trying to do something else, then you might just be seizing by force. There's room for both, and I don't really see a need to roll them into a single move.

55
I am so confused. I feel like this is a complete contradiction. Earlier you said that the PCs should be able to answer any question they want, and the Keeper should produce the evidence to do so.
No. They should be able to ask any question they want (specifically from among the choices allowed by the move, a limitation that is very important), and the Keeper should answer it honestly. But "honestly" doesn't have to mean "completely." Use the fiction to give them clues. Where the inventing-things-in-the-fiction part comes in is in how you answer those questions.

Let me give you a more concrete example that might better illustrate what I'm talking about. Let's say the monster in question is a murderous ghost. It is generally incorporeal and/or invisible, but it can manifest in order to make its homicidal fury known. The PCs are investigating an old house where said murderous ghost has despatched a member of a work crew doing remodeling - seems the ghost didn't like having that wall knocked out to make the floorplan more "modern, open, and airy." The PCs check out the scene of the crime, looking around for any clues as to what happened here. They talk about how they're carefully casing the joint, looking for any physical evidence. The body is already gone, but they have crime-scene photos and the police report, which they are cross-referencing now that they are actually on-site.

The Keeper decides that this description of the PCs' actions is sufficient to trigger investigate a mystery and calls for a roll. Since everything they've described so far sounds like standard police work, the Keeper calls for the Expert to make the roll. The player of the Psychic decides that she's using her psychometry skills to try to spot anything the police might have overlooked or that the Expert might otherwise miss. The Keeper decides that this constitutes help and has the Psychic's player roll that. She succeeds. With the Psychic's help, the Expert gets a 10, which gives him 2 questions. First, he asks, "what sort of creature is it?"

Knowing that it's a murderous ghost, the Keeper needs to come up with some way to communicate that. Being incorporeal, the ghost can pass through walls, so the Keeper describes how the workman was in the house by himself, but in the police report all of the doors were locked; the rest of the work-crew had to break in the following morning prior to discovering the body. Other than the front door they broke, there are no other signs of forced entry. So whatever this thing was, it's the kind of creature that doesn't care about locks or walls. NOTE: the Keeper doesn't simply say, "it was a murderous ghost," because while that is true, it is also not interesting. By saying what he did ("the kind of creature that doesn't care about walls or locks"), the Keeper is answering the player's question honestly and providing them with information, but not necessarily taking all the mystery out of it. At least not yet.

Deciding to throw the Keeper a curve ball, the PC's now ask their second question: "what is being concealed here?" The Keeper knows the ghost is angry about the changes to its environment, and decides to communicate a hint of this to the players. So maybe the Keeper decides to get the helping character involved and says something like: "As Carla the Psychic is running her hand along the wall the workman was demolishing, she gets an overwhelming impression of joyous, childlike laughter. When Gunner the Expert examines the wall, he sees that it's many layers of paint over a couple layers of wallpaper over the original lath-and-plaster. On one particular fragment of the wall lying in a pile of debris, those layers are hanging loose. There, under all those years of coverings and drawn on the original plaster are fragments of little doodles. Ripping off paint-covered paper from a part of the wall still standing reveals more, including a little heart drawn around the words 'Cassie loves Daddy.'"

Man. No wonder the ghost was pissed. But at this point, the PCs have some clues as to what the creature might be and some insight into the motive behind the murder of the workman, but they don't know for sure that it's a ghost. Could be something else.

Or we could go a different way. Say instead the players decide that they want to cut to the chase and try to find this monster as quickly as possible. Right, so it can get in (and presumably out again) with ease. That makes tracking it hard, maybe. So maybe instead for their second question they ask, "where did it go?" The Keeper knows that the murderous ghost is tied to the house, and it hasn't gone anywhere. It's right here. Right now. Maybe paying attention to them, maybe just chilling on the ethereal plane endlessly reliving its last days in a fugue state. But the Keeper looks at the situation, again sees that the Psychic is helping out, and just goes for it, narrating: "As you move around the house, you encounter cold spots. Or rather, spots that are sometimes cold and sometimes not. Weird. But then, while touching the old mantle over the fireplace and using her psychometric abilities, Carla hears clearly as a bell a low, gravelly voice saying, 'Get. Out.'"

The PCs can look around the room and see that there's no one else here! Oh, shit! The monster is definitely paying attention to them now! And in answering the second question honestly, the Keeper has actually reinforced the answer to the first. Further, this situation has just snowballed in a way that it might not have had they asked a different question (e.g. "what is being concealed here?"). So now they might know (or strongly suspect) that it's a ghost, but by not asking the other questions, they have no insight into its motives. They might also have a fight on their hands, one for which they are probably ill-prepared.

Now you are saying it should be limited. If we're just poofing up whatever evidence we want, then surely then can run some test to figure out exactly what monster it was, or the victim just happened to drop their diary describing exactly the monster they were hunting, or something like that.
Not at all, and I hope the above example clarifies that. You are giving the players clues, not revealing the entire mystery. Which questions they ask help you decide which clues to give them and how. You can be as vague or specific as you like given the fictional situation, but you always have to be honest. If the creature is a ghost, don't answer "what sort of creature is it?" by describing puncture wounds in the neck and a serious lack of blood. Talk about ectoplasm, or cold spots, or weird electromagnetic effects, or the presence of limestone. If you want to be vague, talk about eyewitness accounts of someone seeing a shadowy figure standing at the foot of their bed. Ghost? Demon? Or maybe some creature that manifests not in the real world but in dreams? Leave as much uncertainty as you like, but don't lie.

And, again, you seem to be saying that all the PCs should declare all their actions up-front before starting resolving things. That really isn't how I'd pictured it working it all. I'd figure "Help Out" would go something like:

Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player: "OK, I know the organization of this place well, so I'll help with cross-referencing details and stuff".
GM: "OK, sounds like Jasper is "helping out", so roll to see if you help Beth.

Whereas two characters investigating would look like:
Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player doesn't interrupt.
GM: "OK, Beth, roll to Investigate a mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)
Jasper: "While she's doing that, I'm going to go down to the lab and run analysis on those scrapings I got earlier".
GM: "OK, Jasper roll to Investigate a Mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)

So do you go with declaring all actions first?
Typically I would, yes. If one of the PCs is doing something that might be involved or difficult or time-consuming, it's totally fair game to say, "Hang on a sec. Before you roll, what are the rest of you doing while Gunner starts walking the scene and comparing it to the forensic photos?" Get their input and decide what sounds like helping and what sounds like an entirely different "investigation."

And what would keep them from just investigating some more (assuming there isn't an immediate pressing time limit; ie, the creature only comes out and night and they are investigating first thing in the morning)?
Because the fictional situation hasn't changed.

IMPORTANT: Here's something you need to understand about PbtA games: "I do it again" is almost always the wrong thing to say. Once you've made the move to investigate a mystery, you've investigated it. You will note that there's no move to "re-investigate a mystery," so there is literally no mechanism in the rules to "just roll again and ask more questions." You've found what you're going to find, and no amount of poring over those files or photos or transcripts or physical evidence is going to turn up fresh insight.

You should also note that there is no "duration" mechanic at all in MotW. How long does it take to investigate something? As long as it takes. Could be minutes, hours, or days. Mechanically speaking, it doesn't matter. But fictionally speaking, it does. And once it's done, it's done. You can't just do it again, because the fictional trigger that led to you making the roll in the first place no longer applies.

But if the fictional situation changes - a new body turns up, the players meet someone who gives them new information, new evidence is found, etc - well, that's a new mystery, and it can be investigated. And this gets to your earlier question about multiple investigative scenes within a story.

Is this making more sense now?

Quote
That's why when you say things like...
None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat
...I quite literally have no idea what you're talking about. Because it's not just "GM fiat" if you're doing your job well - it's a consequence of the fiction. And because the players have input into that fictional landscape, the results of following that fiction can come as a surprise to everyone involved - including the GM.
GM fiat is the GM making a decision, as opposed to a rule or mechanic doing so.
A pistol doing 2 damage is a rule.
A collapsing bridge doing 10 damage is GM fiat.
Don't get confused between rules and mechanics.

Sure, the book says your garden-variety semi-auto pistol does 2 damage. But under what circumstances do you apply it? If your character is struggling over the pistol with some NPC and misses the roll? If your character is struggling over the pistol with some NPC and gets a partial success? If the NPC has made it clear that he'll shoot unless the PC backs up and gets the fuck off his front doorstep and the PC insists on continuing to try to sweet-talk his or her way inside?

By the rules as written, these are all valid applications of the rules for applying the damage mechanics. The first is a player miss for a move (with struggling for the gun being a pretty standard example of doing something under pressure), which presents the "golden opportunity" for a "hard move" (i.e. a Keeper move where the fictional situation and its consequences are narrated at the same time). Not only did you not get the gun, you got shot. Suck. The second is a partial success on doing something under pressure, for which the Keeper can offer a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice; a hard bargain is something that comes at a cost. Well, you managed to get the gun away from the guy, but not before he shot you with it. Ouch. Now what? And the last is the result of the Keeper setting up the fictional situation. The guy warned you. You didn't get off his porch. So he shoots you. Man, Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws are a bitch.

In all three cases, the Keeper is making a move - inflict harm as established - which the rules say he or she can, and lay out guidelines for the circumstances under which it's appropriate. In some sense it's GM fiat, but circumscribed by the GM's Principles and Agenda.

But how is that any different than the GM fiat involved in deciding in the first place whether that NPC had a pistol or a shotgun? How is it any different from the GM fiat involved in placing the players in a situation with an armed, angry NPC?

Constructing a setting entails scads of GM fiat; making that setting realistic (make the world feel real), engaging (make the characters' lives not boring), heroic (be a fan of the characters), and surprising for everyone involved (sometimes, disclaim decision making and play to find out) entails putting boundaries on that GM fiat. That's what people are talking about when they say, "follow the fiction."

Does that help?


56
This is super-important, and something that is easy to miss. As the Keeper, your job is not to consider the scene of the investigation before the PCs get there and predetermine the available clues; rather, your job is to honestly respond to the questions that their successes allow them to ask.
OK...yeah, this is a very different approach. It really isn't explained in the rulebook at all; there's not much for advice for how to approach this. In fact, the way the intro scenario is presented, bothering to come up with dozens of witnesses, would seem to preclude "inventing" a witness; why bother with coming up with all of those people in advance if you are just going to wing-it and new ones anyway?
I can't speak to the intro scenario, but this is how these kinds of moves in PbtA games generally work; they are essentially a cueing mechanism.

So, do you find that most games only have a single investigative "scene"? Since with a decent number of players, they can easily get enough questions to ask everything they would want to know, they'll know everything useful after one "scene" anyway, no matter how unimportant it seems like the scene should  be.

Also...if every question can be answered regardless of how logical it seems or what the approach is...doesn't that kind of take all the fun out of actually "solving" a mystery?
OK, two things here: first, you can absolutely have more than one investigative "scene," especially once minions etc. are factored in. Figuring out just WTF is going on is likely to be a multi-step process.

Second, don't just have all of the players roll to investigate willy-nilly. Instead, have one or two take the lead and have the others roll to help them. Remember, the PbtA mantra of "to do it, do it" reigns supreme here.

And actually, this may be part of the disconnect you're having with these rules: the moves are triggered by the fiction, not vice-versa. If what you are doing fits the trigger condition for a move, you roll. If it doesn't, you don't. So if all of your PCs are in a scene that might involve investigation, don't settle for having a PC just say, "I roll to investigate a mystery," because that's not good enough. Ask them how. What are they doing to investigate this mystery? How, specifically, are they going about it? And if they can't tell you, or if their answer is lame and unconvincing, don't ask for a roll. But if they have a good approach, use their answers to help you decide in turn how to answer the questions they ask. Incorporate their back-stories and particular strengths. How the Psychic investigates a mystery is going to look totally different from how an Expert does it, and it's going to yield different results.

Which gets me to my next point, which is that just because a player gets to ask a question doesn't mean you have to tell them absolutely everything pertaining to that question. This circles back to your point about multiple investigative scenes and PCs piecing together the answer. So when they ask, "what kind of monster is it?" you don't have to say "yeah, it's totally a vampire." But you can say, "The bodies are eviscerated - seriously, organs everywhere - but there is a surprising lack of blood. Whatever this thing is, it likes blood." This could be a vampire, sure. Or it could be something else, like a Red Cap. You have to be honest, but you don't have to (and shouldn't) take all of the mystery out of it in a single go.

I don't see how that's a tool at all. You can always do this; the only question is whether you have an idea or not.

If nothing is pre-planned, why even have the player ask the question? Instead of asking a question that the GM doesn't know the answer to either, why not have the PC just declare what the "best way" is?
It's not that nothing is pre-planned; the Keeper knows the truth about what the monster is and what it's up to, for instance - and the players don't, at least not initially. That knowledge informs the "best way" in directions of which players may be unaware.

But you know what? It's totally cool to flip it back on your player and say, "given what you know about the situation, what do you think the best way in is?" Chances are they'll come up with something cool that you hadn't considered. Rolling with it usually produces awesome and hilarious results.

Further, answering the player's question also changes the fiction. In some ways, it's like a reminder to the Keeper to fill in details about the world or the situation or a particular NPC or whatever; those details become important as soon as dice hit the table and someone asks about them. They might have been important before, but they're definitely important now.

As for cases in which read a bad situation might be useful, I'll give you one from our last AW session. Backstory: The Savvyhead (a techno-geek) and the Gunlugger (pretty self-explanatory) had both gotten pretty shot-up, and needed medical attention. They were in a place which we'd established was the "home town" of the Savvyhead, and were dealing with some sinister NPCs (specifically one called "The Bone Mechanic"). In the course of play, it came out that the Brainer (a freaky sci-psychic) had divined the Savvyhead's true purposes for returning to this place, and (because they asked) relayed this information to the NPCs. What none of the players knew was that those purposes were at odds with what the NPCs (including the "Bone Mechanic") were trying to accomplish. As The Bone Mechanic put the Savvyhead under sedation to begin the surgery necessary to heal him, the Brainer saw Simon (the NPC leader of the place) give the Bone Mechanic a pointed look and the slightest of head-shakes.

This immediately led the Brainer's player to read a sitch (the AW version of the same move). He got a partial, which let him ask one question. As the MC, I had already decided what was going on - left to his own devices, the Bone Mechanic was going to kill the Savvyhead on the operating table. And had the player asked, "what should I be on the lookout for," I'd have made this explicitly clear. But the player didn't ask that. Instead he asked, "which enemy is most vulnerable to me?" This told me two things: first, the player had a pretty good idea of what was going on, strong enough that he was willing to take the risk of direct action without solid confirmation. Secondly, it told me that he already viewed the Bone Mechanic and his orderlies as "enemies."

So instead of laying out the motive of the NPCs (they're going to try to kill your friend and make it look like he "couldn't be saved") and letting the player decide how to tackle the situation (which may not have involved violence), things were already headed in a "tactical" direction. This led me to say, "The orderly filling up the syringe from an ampule labeled 'potassium cyanide' is fully absorbed in his task right now, and his back is to you." What followed was a vicious surprise attack by the Brainer, which degenerated into a mad scramble versus the Bone Mechanic over the cyanide-filled syringe, and a whole lot of mayhem as a (now poisoned) Brainer managed to get free long enough to jam an adrenaline injector into the unconscious Gunlugger, who then jerked awake and started laying waste to people with her bare hands.

I had no idea going in that any of this was going to happen. The situation was a natural outgrowth of the Savvyhead's true purposes for returning to this place (purely a player-driven thing), the Brainer's ability to accurately divine that information (a side-effect of his particular playbook), the Brainer's willingness to share that information with the NPCs (another player decision), the NPCs' reactions to that information (which came from my prep about the NPCs ultimate goal), and the question that the player asked when reading the situation (another player decision).

That's why when you say things like...
None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat
...I quite literally have no idea what you're talking about. Because it's not just "GM fiat" if you're doing your job well - it's a consequence of the fiction. And because the players have input into that fictional landscape, the results of following that fiction can come as a surprise to everyone involved - including the GM.

Quote
Because you can't know what's going through the players' heads, PbtA games give you mechanics to drive the story based on what the players show an interest in (as reflected through their moves, questions, etc) rather than what the GM thinks might be cool.
Well, sure you can know what's going through the player's  heads. You can talk about it, decide what interests people and what doesn't.
What you're talking about is what you do before the campaign ever starts, i.e. "session 0," when you're deciding the tone of the campaign and creating characters. I'm talking about the stuff that happens during the course of any given session. It's what saves you from being this guy:



57
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 05, 2017, 07:40:19 PM »
Exactly.

58
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 04, 2017, 03:29:08 PM »
In my mind the clue lies in both the underlying stat and the immediate consequence: "Hard" and "Harm." If you are prepared and willing to inflict actual, honest-to-gods physical harm on someone to get what you want, you are seizing by force.

So yes, wrestling a pistol away from Pimpleface before he kills Moxie is probably acting under fire, especially if you're trying not to hurt him.

Punching Pimpleface to get the gun away from him before he kills Moxie, however, will inflict harm on him, and is thus seizing by force - but remember that 1-harm (an "unarmed attack") is still pretty nasty on NPCs; it's not that you popped poor Pimpleface just once and he dropped the gun, it's that you had to beat him literally half to death to get him to let go of it. And since the exchange of harm is mutual, he shot you in the process. This has other fictional ramifications, for sure.

And of course shooting Pimpleface in his pimply face to keep him from killing Moxie is absolutely seizing by force.

59
Apocalypse World / Re: Alternative Hack for AW2 Seize by Force
« on: May 03, 2017, 11:27:52 PM »
Yes, in some sense it is atom-splitting. I think the intent behind the changes in AW2 are to highlight the idea that violence has dire and often unintended consequences, whether the ultimate aim to which that violence is being applied is successful or not. For some of us, we've always more or less played it that way anyway and the changes in AW2 are more window-dressing than anything else. Because you're right - there is no definition (or intimation, or suggestion, or even so much as a "hint") in the AW2 rules as to what being "in battle" actually means. Viewed from that perspective alone, the change is a bad one because it doesn't leave new MCs much to go on.

60
My preferred approach to AW play is pretty heavily and dramatically fiction-first - so much that applying purely mechanical "MC moves" never occurred to me. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Should I take your response as agreeing that making fictional MC moves under those circumstances is difficult or unwelcome, at least some of the time?
Eh, sort of. You don't want to interject random extra shit into the middle of the narrative, so that's where the "mechanical" option works well. But just because it's a mechanical effect doesn't mean it doesn't have fictional underpinnings. Even if it's something like:

Deke: "Dammit. I just failed my roll+Hx to interfere with Major."
MC: "Wow, you have a really shitty poker face. Major can read you like an open smut novel. Major, take a further +1forward.
Major: "Righteous."

...has a fictional basis. And it means that the move still has consequences, but the application of those consequences is constrained in order to keep up the narrative flow. This is especially true of something like help or interfere, because that move in and of itself is all about gaining mechanical (dis)advantage - there's no incentive to do it if it has no effect on the outcome of the next roll.

Obviously the method of help or interference is important. I gave an example in the Dungeon World forum once where one character is looking for secret doors and the other character is helping. The guy who is searching succeeds, but the guy who's helping fails. What does that mean? The first thought I had was that the guy searching found the trigger for the secret door, but in doing so the heavy, rotating section of stone wall spins, trapping the "helping" character on the other side (separate them), or the "helping" character's hand happens to be probing a crack along what turns out to be the hinge edge of the heavy stone secret door, getting crushed in the process (inflict harm). These are more "fiction forward" because both the base move (searching for the secret door) and the method of helping (probing other features of the room) both interact more with the fictional environment than your initial example of two PCs trying to both read and interfere with each other.


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