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Yup

That's OK, it sounds like what you went for was awesome, glad you and the players worked it out!
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Munin on September 19, 2017, 02:53:55 PM »
To Munin, that is excellent. Seeing Tarot in action, I see it adding a lot to my games! I've already tried it on its own, and that was enough to make me excited for trying it out in-game (and maybe getting a tarot deck of my own...). So, thank you so much.
No worries! I'm glad it gave you some inspiration.
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Fniff on September 18, 2017, 06:28:03 PM »
First of all, even if I don't personally respond to it, thank you all for your posts. They were all helpful.

To Munin, that is excellent. Seeing Tarot in action, I see it adding a lot to my games! I've already tried it on its own, and that was enough to make me excited for trying it out in-game (and maybe getting a tarot deck of my own...). So, thank you so much.

To Ebok, two things.
One, the reason why I play solo RPs is that I live in an isolated area and don't get to play certain games very often. I've tried setting up Apocalypse World games before and unfortunately they've all fallen apart before they got really interesting.
Solo RPs may lack that communal aspect and if I was only playing solo RPs that would be definitely miss. However, I can do a solo RP whenever I want, about whatever I want. That is incredibly convenient.

Two, I haven't played enough Apocalypse World to truly start defining what the maelstrom means to me. However, I think I have figured out what Opening Your Brain is. Seperate the psychic stuff from it. Open Your Brain is the mechanical version of...
Well, you know that scene in a film where the twist is revealed? The characters goggle in wonder and horror while shots from earlier in the movie are shown, which now take on a completely different meaning from their initial appearance? That's Opening Your Brain.
At least to me. Don't know about you guys.
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Ebok on September 16, 2017, 09:08:58 AM »
Im not going to make a big post about this. But in an attempt to keep this answer in line with providing the OP some information for this type of game, I'll give a short touch on both.

Paul T
It happens in my games that the maelstrom just doesn't really understand people, it's some bastard thing given life and sentience without an idea of what it is or what it came from. It WANTS to know these things. So however the theme of the maelstrom is applied, for me, the maelstrom remains a source of curiosity.

I normally lead with the questions. They are thing I don't know about the character, but assume they apply. The Maelstrom might inquire:
Have you ever lost something?
What does it feel like to be alive _right now_?
Do you really love ____, or do you even like them?
I've seen all the people you've killed, all the people that are afraid of you, who isn't? I mean there's someone here that see's past that, tell me their name.
You've been spending more time with someone here lately, who is it? then followup: What brought you together?

The reasons for this are two fold. First, when you have 4 and 5 players acting all the time, screen-time is often very eventful, rather then conversational. I have had 6-7 hour long sessions with a single player just talking to NPCs before, forming real emotional and narrative bonds. When this is impossible, sometimes I need a prompt to color in the past moments and present the players with an understanding of the people that surround them. What they mean to them, and all the more subtle things that get glossed over by the action. In my games, when someone you love is killed, it's okay to cry.

The second reason is more tactical. I use the answers they give me to tell them what they see, feel or sense. The maelstrom says, you cared about that little eight year old girl because you dont know why. Well, you notice something about the scene around you, it kind of looks like her pendant, you know the one. The little sparrow in silver she wears. Well, ok, now's not the best time to be noticing shit when you're being chased, but you've got two directions to go, and one of them has a stone that looks like her necklace. Or I might say something about the smell of her on the air, or maybe they recall the little girl talking about a certain place before, a place that would be useful right about now. Maybe their minds drift back to something she said to them once.

Fniff

I know that you don't lack for screen-time with you character so this might not seem that important to you. But the reasons that it means so much to me, is that it prompted questions about who the character is, or how they're feeling, or what they might do if, or what they're most afraid of, etc... things that otherwise may never come up. Things that Matter when making the world and the people in it seem real.

I dunno why it is you're playing solo. But these things may or may not still be important to you. So. Maybe when your character takes the moment to open their brain, You have to tell the maelstrom a secret. Something that you haven't told anyone else before. This prompts you into creating that thing and giving it value, it sets up something to play off of for the hit or a miss. It's not random magic, which is an important thing for me. Dunno though, there are lots of ideas on the table here. I guess it depends on what you NEED this to be.
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Munin on September 16, 2017, 03:15:16 AM »
Paul, I can't speak for Ebok, but I often do something that sounds similar: the insights gained from opening your brain often serve to establish previously unknown relationships, preferably between the PCs and NPCs. When viewed through the lens of however the PC interacts with the Maelstrom, you see the people and events in your life in new ways.

Example: one of the PCs in a recent campaign viewed the Psychic Maelstrom as pushing his cart up and down the aisles of a massive grocery store, complete with saccharine muzak and weird announcements. At one point he opened his brain about a situation involving strange disappearances, at which point I described him pushing his shopping cart past the meat counter, where he saw a particular NPC in a butcher's apron, whistling a jaunty tune and wielding a cleaver with great gusto and enthusiasm as viscera flew. That, uh, "set the tone" for future interactions with this NPC, for sure.
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Paul T. on September 16, 2017, 02:55:22 AM »
I find the best benefit of the Weird roll is by forming relational questions between the PC and NPCs / World. I'd be worried that this wasn't taking place without making that play a major part of it.

Ebok,

This sounds like a really cool and interesting practice. Can you give some examples of what this looks like in your games? I'd like to learn how to do this - sounds like a great thing to do!
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Paul T. on September 16, 2017, 02:53:51 AM »
My gut feeling here is that - if you have, indeed, already tried using Tarot or imagery for inspiration - you could do one of two things:

1. Design a system of your own for handling the "obvious" ideas that come to mind. This could work via Tarot or other open-ended brainstorming techniques, or it could be a finite list.

The idea is that you a) form an idea for what the maelstrom wants to share, and then b) apply a "filter" to decide what actually comes of it. The "system" you're designing is what those filters are and how you choose one.

For a hyper-simple version, consider a "random table" like this:

(1) Terror (chaos, violence, madness)
(2) Love (attachment, dependence, sex, sorrow)

When someone opens their brain, you roll to see the result, and then you come up with the appropriate vision, topic, subject, or theme. (For instance, they're opening their brain about Birdie? Then Birdie is the subject, maybe.)

Finally, you randomly choose one of those themes above - Terror or Love. Now use that as a "lens" to colour, distort, or present the subject/theme/vision/topic. Reveal something to the character accordingly. What about Birdie, Birdie's past, or Birdie's present circumstances is chaotic, violent, or terrifying? (Maybe ask the player - in this case, the character - if you're not sure.) What about Birdie, Birdie's past, or Birdie's present circumstances is about Love? How does that PC feel about Birdie? What does Birdie feel attached to or who do they miss? Etc.

2. Leverage your MC prep.

Take all the stuff you've prepped - basically a bunch of threats, right? Because pretty much everything you prep is a threat. Number them all somehow, so you can randomly roll up something from your prep (or put them in a stack of index cards).

When you need a vision, revelation, or have to make a move because of an "open your brain" roll, select something randomly from your prep. You rolled "The Cult of the Returners"? Ok, what's up with them?

Maybe on a 10+, the PC gets supernatural insight into the Cult or a useful bit of information. Maybe they can ask a question of the maelstrom about this thing.

On a 7-9, they learn something, but it's disturbing, confusing, or otherwise complicated. It's new information, but not what they were hoping for - instead, it complicates the situation.

On a miss, well, you get to make a move, but make it related to the Cult. Maybe the Cult is actually making a move, or maybe the maelstrom just shows the PC some bad news about the Cult's activities.

Something like that.

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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Munin on September 16, 2017, 02:51:53 AM »
Or how about this: same system, totally different cards, yielding a different interpretation...

First card (forces in favor), 3 of Disks: John has put something into motion that is working to her advantage. Her actions have already had a ripple effect, and those ripples are helping her in some way. Maybe her violent purge and sudden disappearance has people in the community looking for her. Maybe the reason Veil is so forceful is because she knows she only has a limited amount of time to do whatever it is she plans to do to John?

Second card (forces opposing), Prince of Swords: This signifies a person who is very cerebral, calculating, considered. This is not a person of action, but rather someone who likes to manipulate others into taking action. Who might this person be? Veil doesn't seem right for this, but maybe it's the cult leader? What other NPCs might fit this bill? Maybe it's someone closer to John - and maybe deciding who clubbed her from behind would yield answers to this. Whomever it turns out to be, they are demonstrably NOT on John's side, appearances to the contrary.

Third card (pose the problem), Prince of Wands: again a signifier. Ordinarily, this is someone who is a creative force, an idea man, someone who is decisive. But in this context (because of the cards around it - the last two, in this case) the card is ill-dignified, meaning someone who is indecisive or unimaginative. I see this pretty clearly as the cult leader; if he'd kept John on a tighter leash - or stepped in when it looked like trouble with the other family  - none of this would have happened. Thus, we get to the crux of the issue: poor leadership has led to deep divisions within the settlement, a much bigger problem than the current immediate predicament.

Fourth card (possible solution), The Star: This card can represent whimsy or fantasy, but it also represents mysticism and/or esoterica. Oh, shit - the psychic! The solution to the present predicament? John needs to focus her mind and reach out to the psychic, needs to use her intimate connection with the psychic to call for help! How does this work? Is this even possible? I have no idea, but what's the harm in trying? Roll+Weird!

Fifth card (hanging in the balance), the 10 of Cups: more than just fulfillment but satiety. Having enough, maybe more then enough. The symbology of the card is cool here, because the cups literally "runneth over." But in this context, I'd interpret this as satisfaction, i.e. an end to the feuding. If she can get out of this alive, John will have proven her point.

Final card (outcome), The Hanged Man: Put simply, this card represents sacrifice. John's not getting out of this one for free, but whom (or what?) must she sacrifice? Will calling on the psychic to save herself lead to a Pyrrhic victory, where John lives but her psychic lover dies? I see massive "bloody fingerprint" potential in this one. In some ways, it makes John's predicament more dire, because she knows that getting out of it will cost her dearly. Is it a cost she'll be able to bear? Let's play to find out!

And so it goes.

One thing I wanted to add - if you end up with a partial success on open your brain, you can use this same approach, just use fewer cards. I'd just use the 1st, 2nd, and 5th cards, as these give you some idea of forces working for and against you as well as what's ultimately at stake, but they provide no insight into the larger problem, pose no likely solutions, and give no hint as to the potential outcome.
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I like that! It's a nice mix of simple and fruitful. I'll definitely be taking that trick away from this thread, thanks!
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Apocalypse World / Re: Opening Your Brain in a Solo RP?
« Last post by Ebok on September 16, 2017, 02:31:55 AM »
There would still be the question of the differences between the 7-9 or a 10+. Maybe only some of these are known to the character on a 7-9, but you still do the whole thing- aligning a stake to the question. This is what will happen, but what will she do without that knowledge? Dunno.

I find the best benefit of the Weird roll is by forming relational questions between the PC and NPCs / World. I'd be worried that this wasn't taking place without making that play a major part of it. Of course, if we held to the object of the maelstrom questioning the character...  you could always ask the character what do they feel about these choices, or who they see as what card. Dunno.
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