Author Topic: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?  (Read 5242 times)

CoveredInFish

  • User
  • Posts: 20
    • View Profile
Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« on: March 09, 2012, 05:59:24 PM »
Hi all,

tomorrow I finally have the chance to host my first AW session as MC. Now my players came up with this awesome idea: a complete hardhold on two linked trains. They are really into this and already have plans and layouts drawn :) I  totally like that but I think it is complicated when it comes to fronts.

So any tips how I can handle this are welcome!

Inner-hardhold NPCs are no problem and these can probably make fine threats. But I guess thats not enough.

How do you establish NPCs/threats and fronts when the PCs can just run away/walk away?

Sure thing, I can make running away difficult. Broken tracks, running low on fuel, broken bridges, barricades ... but holding them against their will all the time gets quickly boring and frustrating.

I guess asking "Where do you get ..." questions maybe provide some go-to-addresses they would return to. But just maybe.

I think I have read about similar setups in threads around here - but the topics I find with the searh  aren't much about my problems.

DWeird

  • User
  • Posts: 166
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 06:19:51 PM »
If thinking in terms of other media helps you, here are a couple of things to ponder:

Why is Firefly interesting to watch even though they're on a spaceship and can always just fly away?

Why is Battlestar Galactica fun to watch even though it all happens on a bunch of mobile ships?

If I had to distill it down to a formula, I'd have to say this:

Make a major recurring threat that is as mobile as they are (Front).

Intersperse it with episodic encounters of interesting stuff at various 'train stops' (throwaway threats, possibly fronts), plus interesting stuff happening on the train itself (triangles, possibly fronts).

All of the above is easily doable, no?

CoveredInFish

  • User
  • Posts: 20
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 06:35:57 PM »
Yeah, good advice. Thanks. Somehow I hadnt realized yet that it isnt rare in media :)

Arvid

  • User
  • Posts: 262
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 07:28:41 PM »
Two more ideas:

- Fronts need not threaten the characters directly, but places and people they care about or are dependent on (for food, ammo, spare parts)
- Fronts could potentielly be made as one-session deals, tied to one place.

Remember, just because they're on a train doesn't mean they wont return to a place again.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 07:38:31 PM by Arvid »

DannyK

  • User
  • Posts: 157
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 07:55:50 PM »
Yeah, all the gimmicks TV shows use to keep interest in a road story.  Use those. 

Also, it might be good to draw some maps, or get some real maps, of railway networks. Trains go fast without much fuel, but they're stuck on a fixed route and can be immobilized at any time by anybody with the time and energy to tear up track.  Sherman destroyed hundreds of miles of railroad during the American Civil War with crude technology and hand labor. 

All this suggests that the masters of this rolling hardhold are going to have to spend a lot of time scouting ahead (good job for a Chopper or a Driver), protecting rails and especially bridges, and hopefully staying on pretty good terms with any other powers in the area so that they prefer to let the train-hold roll through unimpeded. 

Unless, of course, they have access to some really advanced rail-driving technology of the ancients, or just keep going in the same direction without ever retracing their steps, the MC has a million ways to keep them grounded and involved in their environment. 

djmalloc

  • User
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 09:46:08 AM »
Sounds like a lot of fun! There is a great book by China Mieville that would provide a lot of inspiration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Council

HyveMynd

  • User
  • Posts: 81
    • View Profile
    • Idle Red Hands Podcast
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 06:43:53 AM »
Hey, I'll necrotize this thread since it applies to me. After MCing my first session of AW this past Tuesday, I ended up with something I had rather dreaded; a PC group with a mobile hardhold. Now, part of my goal while MCing this game is to build up my both my "yes and..." and GM improve skills. So I'm not going to veto anything that the players come up with. If they all reach a consensus about some element of the setting, it's there/happens. Even if it alters or eliminates something I wanted to do. Even if it means the PCs have a mobile hardhold.

They haven't really detailed what it looks like yet, but basically they're a travelling horse & wagon caravan. Or a nomadic Native American village. They pack up their tents in the morning, travel during the day, then set up camp again at sundown. Maybe they'll stay in the same place for a few days, a week, or a month. We haven't figured that out either yet.

Part of me sees all the potential story hooks that this situation will birth; Who takes care of the horses? What happens if there's not enough food for the animals, or if they get sick? What happens if there's not enough food for the people, and they're forced to start eating the horses to survive? How do they protect their resources when they don't have walls or a defensible position? Who decides where the caravan goes, and what happens when people disagree? And so on.

Now obviously the players chose to have a mobile hardhold because they like the idea of travelling across the blasted, apocalyptic landscape. And I'm not going to rob them of that. But I don't really relish the idea of running a "wagon train" game where they encounter a new group of people every session. Another part of the reason I started this AW game was to get away from the "dungeon of the week" style games we'd been doing recently.

So does anyone out there is Apocalypse Land have advice for running a nomadic hardhold game?
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

@HyveMynd on Twitter

Arvid

  • User
  • Posts: 262
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 09:42:06 AM »
If you envisions this nomadic movement as a straight line, of course that leads to some disconnect, but think of it as a circle or a general territory that the hold moves around?

I think that nomadic tribes circled a set of territory, you had your summer land, your winter land, etc, so there is the possibility of having them return to a place regularly, perhaps for supplies.

Also, there is the possibility of other tribes roaming the land.

Lastly, while it can be a good idea to really hammer the "yes, and..." in, be aware that you can go too far the other way. The players would like you as a part of the game as well, and if you know you need to set something in a certain way for the game to work, do not be scared to do so. Sometimes, in terms of improv, you need to make offers, strong choices.

As an analogy, I'm a psychology student, currently treating four patients. I definitly leaned towards following and encouraging my patients at first, and dreaded interrupting them. But a therapist that never would stand up for his knowledge and expertise, who would never direct his patient but rather let them remain where they were stuck wouldn't be much help. With experience, I've found a better balance between following and leading, between encouraging and challenging.

gregpogor

  • User
  • Posts: 146
    • View Profile
    • I have a gallery.
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2012, 10:03:13 AM »
Make a map. Keep track of everything noteworthy they encounter, and try as much as possible to bring them back into the story later.

Use a lot of inner conflicts (home front, hardhold front not the same thing, condition threats, etc).

Use nomadic threats too. Or threats that can spread wide. Like a collective consciousness of birds, or a band of scavengers who got radios, or some sick fucks who can communicate via maelstrom. Use landscapes. Landscapes rock and can be quite big.

Arvid

  • User
  • Posts: 262
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2012, 12:36:08 PM »
/.../ Use a lot of inner conflicts (home front, hardhold front not the same thing, condition threats, etc).

Yeah! One of my players ran a game that more or less played out entirely in a frozen ship hardhold. What he found interesting was how tight the story played out, as everyone was squeezed together. If some brute busted another guy's head on lower deck and retreated to his home on upper deck, that guy's friends would be up on upper deck in five minutes, demanding answers.

PeterBB

  • User
  • Posts: 33
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2012, 04:46:52 PM »
I second the advice to make sure there's a lot of conflict within the holding. I've run two different traveling AW games. The successful one had a cult with lots of internal problems. The unsuccessful one didn't.

HyveMynd

  • User
  • Posts: 81
    • View Profile
    • Idle Red Hands Podcast
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2012, 11:28:29 AM »
Well, we'll see what ends up happening. My PC group consists of a Faceless, a Hocus (with a 20 person 'family' made up of mostly women), and a Touchstone. Our sessions are only about an hour long via Skype (RL making scheduling difficult) and I must not have explained to my players that they're all part of a larger caravan of about 100 people (the hardhold). They through the total body count was only 23. One of the questions asked via email after the session was "Can we leave the hardhold?" So they very well may be a group of only 23 people soon. That's not really a hardhold anymore, it's a gang. And probably a 1-harm small gang 0-armor at that.
If you see my post in your thread, it'll die within 24 hours. You've been warned.

@HyveMynd on Twitter

Harpunea

  • User
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Mobile Hardhold and Fronts - Problems?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2012, 08:18:05 PM »
Hi

We are currently playing an AW game which is based around the idea of the PCs being a convoy of vehicles travelling across the desert, fleeing from the hellish city of a despotic hardholder gang boss they used to live under.

The game is going great, and there is no reason why one can't run a travelling AW game, however we gradually realised that it does present a specific challenge for certain types of characters.

The issue is that you need to make sure there are a good solid number of NPCs travelling with the PCs at any time.  We found that the characters which are oriented towards social skills or NPC manipulation (eg. Hocus and Brainer specifically in our game) may struggle to find ways to use their skills if there are few long terms NPCs around.

Whilst there are a small number of NPCs travelling with the convoy, a lot of NPCs are only around for a session or so, as we would meet them when passing through an area, then move on.  So the pool of NPCs that one could interact with, or manipulate or recruit into a cult etc is small (and due to the nature of AW, an always diminishing pool...)  And the fact that large numbers of NPCs are only around for one session limits the long term social machinations that one can get involved in.

Its not been too much of an issue, but we did notice the challenge for certain types of characters.

My advise is basically just make sure you have plenty of NPCs actually travelling with the PCs and it won't be an issue.