Author Topic: Principles for prep?  (Read 3249 times)

Arvid

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Principles for prep?
« on: January 07, 2012, 04:59:12 PM »
There are MC principles for playing, but what about principles for prep?

Despite MC:ing two campaigns and a bunch of one-shots, I still feel like I haven't mastered fronts. I do not sit down and write them after first session, when I do write them they are a bit vague. I'm not entirely sure what exactly I'm aiming for when writing them.

Regarding prep in general, I do not have a clear idea of how to prioritize fundamental scarcity, resources, threat impulses, threat moves, countdown clocks, and stake questions. They all seem good, but all of them is just too much. I have an NPC map, but it is solely organised after group affiliation.

So, what should I keep in mind when doing prep?
What's important?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 05:18:49 PM by Arvid »

noofy

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2012, 06:55:14 AM »
Hey Arvid, I found the same problem. What helped was to simply apply the principles used in play to prep. Follow what Vx tells you to do. He tells you that this is the way to MC this game. All the elements of prep you mention are helpful, if not vital to MCing the game as intended. Instead of prioritising, perhaps just sit down with a pen and paper and follow the chapter step by step? It really does help to do so.

I kept drawing analogies to what I was doing in a traditional game which was hindering my ability to 'see' what the concept and execution of AW prep (or story games prep in general) was meant to look like. You are simply writing down cues for what to think about and which moves to make in play, depending on what the players do. They are possible RESPONSES.

So, make sure you have a scarcity / want / threat sheet on hand during play, or just some paper will do. There is no one right way to note your prep and details down, but you do need some fictionally generated relationship 'map' hooks to hang your questions on.

When you jot down notes about NPCs, do what the rules say. NAME them. Give them a want/desire and a body part they follow around in response to their need. Attach them if you can to two PC's (for conflicting reasons). Always encourage imbalance and scarcity. Re-incorporate these NPCs until dead, inconsequential or they become part of the special NPC Hx move. Write any stakes questions that you have next to these NPC triangles. Drive play to answer these questions.

I found the most helpful part of the prep chapter for me was to 'Characterise' all the elements in the game: NPC's, locations, environments. Make them WANT something from the PC's. Imagine if the players did nothing about these identified threats in the fiction? What Badness and misery would their world barf forth? Therein lie your countdowns. Make note of that, and tell the characters during play as you announce future badness.

You are a fan of the characters yeah? Don't make their lives boring yeah? Well make their adversity so 'pushy' that they have to sit up and take notice. Doing nothing (from the players perspective) causes all sorts of future badness to tick down the countdown.

Whenever you have a question about the PC's and their evolving story, ask questions about it during play, but during prep, think NPCs and their situations. If you care enough, make it a stake. Design custom moves that push toward the resolution of that question in play. Push hard on those triangles that circle around the question.

When trying to come up threats for fronts, If they haven't already been mentioned in play, I hold off. I may daydream a little in the broadest terms, and if possible ask myself a stakes question about the introduction of said threat to the situation. I really have been enjoying the embracing of 'emergent play'. So, as the front and its threats get exposed during play I can 'hang' all the prep cues on fictionally generated coolness from the table, rather than my own ideas on what the fronts / threats should be.

Hope that helps?

help im a bug

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2012, 12:02:18 AM »
I find what helps is to make every threat a character with a strong personality.

Every member of the Chopper's gang. The psychic maelstrom should have a specific goal in mind. The forest of bones should have a reason for every move it makes.

That way, when the chopper fails to pack alpha, or someone fails to open their brain, or someone fails to navigate the forest, I know what that threat wants to do to them.

Arvid

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2012, 11:40:19 AM »
noofy and help im a bug both:

That DOES help! I guess I lost track of the most fundamental part of characters there is: Motivation, the change one desire, what one needs the PCs for. Fundamental scarcity is after all a means for that, not an end in itself.

So that's a principle: Think motivation.

I currently keep a map of where the NPCs are located geographically and their alliegance, like so:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mk001cofy3pt4xo/Grand%20Central%20Station.jpg

I should probably make a separate sheet for motivations.

(help im a bug, I love your alias! Is it a Calvin and Hobbes-reference? )

help im a bug

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2012, 11:11:35 PM »
Yes indeed it is :)

Glad I could help

noofy

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2012, 02:19:14 AM »
I like your map! But don't make a seperate sheet for motivations, draw lines from character to character, labelling with needs, wants, motivations and the body parts they follow around. Identify triangles and lean on them. That looks great! Lots of NPCs to play with huh? Re-incorporate them as much as you can.

Arvid

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2012, 03:26:54 PM »
I like your map! But don't make a seperate sheet for motivations, draw lines from character to character, labelling with needs, wants, motivations and the body parts they follow around. Identify triangles and lean on them. That looks great! Lots of NPCs to play with huh? Re-incorporate them as much as you can.

I would definitely prefer a single map, but won't that be cluttered as all hell? I'll give it a try, for sure! I'll probably need to identify some key NPCs to focus on.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 03:31:44 PM by Arvid »

octoscott

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Re: Principles for prep?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2012, 05:48:05 PM »
Not prep so much as a principle for 1st session, keep nearly everything internal to the holding or where the game takes place. Don't introduce a ton of invaders, distant threats, things to go OUT and do right away. Spend the first session introducing the people close to the player-characters inside their world and who they will deal with perhaps with frequency.

Announce some future badness as far as the threats which may come later, but don't send player-characters out somewhere, give them shit to deal with right there where they live.