Author Topic: Taking away the PC's Stuff  (Read 4768 times)

yellowhat

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Taking away the PC's Stuff
« on: November 21, 2013, 12:39:13 AM »
Hey guys.

I'm MCing my second game of AW now and I've played a few games as a PC.

One hard move I occasionally have trouble with: take away the PC's stuff. Often this conflicts with a rules caveat: don't take away the stuff that makes the PC interesting.

Three examples of how this has played out for me:
Gem is a skinner with a long beautiful coat. Cutting through a dangerous acid jungle, she rolls a 7+ on a Act under Fire check- she can get through, but her coat will be ruined. She goes anyway and discards her coat.

Scarlett Monsoon is a battlebabe who wears a nun's habit. She's kidnapped by the mud people and buried in the ground. When she escapes she sees that the leader of the mud people is wearing her habit.

June, a skinner, has a cat. She's being "rescued" by her ex-lover Smith, a battlebabe, and they have to escape via zipline before Parcher's gang comes back to their hideout. They're about to go when June hears her cat- so she goes to look for it. Smith, looking to hurry her up, finds her cat, then throws it out the window (and they're on the fiftieth floor of the building).

Basically, I want to threaten what they care about (their looks, their style/identity, their prized object/pets) but I don't want to make those things go away.

What do you guys think?

lumpley

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 01:02:34 AM »
My answer is extremely stern.

Don't take away their stuff unless you want to.

If you want to, you don't need us to explain why and when.

If you take away their stuff when you don't want to, don't come crying to us!

-Vincent

noclue

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2013, 01:42:55 AM »
With great power comes great responsibility.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Yarrum

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 03:28:01 AM »
Just my two cents: think of it as an exchange. If you take their stuff, give them an opportunity to be badass in return (maybe, but not always, could this include an opportunity to get the stuff back).

I liked the tale of Scarlett. Just made me think that someone's fucking with her - not trying to beat her up, or merely rob her, or ruin a reputation, but just plain go "Neener neener, I have something that used to be yours!" So when she gets her chance, it will be all the sweeter to take it back.

Oldy

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 04:11:06 AM »
It seems to me (just my opinion, of course) that if you're going to take away their stuff against the rules caveat, then it should be a big, momentous deal. Something where the PCs would be, not necessarily ok, but philosophical about losing the stuff.

The examples you've given seem to me (and perhaps to me only) as a bit cheap. As in, the long coat is one of those choices the Skinner made during character creation, and the player would have agonised over whether to take the wickedly awesome tatts and piercings or the wickedly awesome coat, and then suddenly for something as mundane as a second-rate roll that aspect of the character is removed.

I don't know your crew, but I think if I was your Skinner I'd probably have a problem with that. It's one thing if it's a big Story event, but for a second-rate "success" you're taking it away? Hmmm...

(just my opinion, of course!)

IvanEwert

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2013, 04:52:28 PM »
I agree with both Oldy and Yarrum ...

On the one hand, I love the June idea, because that's conflict.

Is June just going to let Smith throw the cat out the window, or is June going to interfere with the roll? Is June willing to Go Aggro or even Seize by Force to save the cat? What will that do to Smith? To their relationship? To the rescue attempt? Are there other rescuees? How do they see this? How does it change them?

On the other hand, how is Gem ever going to get that coat back? And why would you take it away, just through an inanimate force that can't be fought back against?

zefir

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2013, 02:08:24 AM »
I really don't like first case.
What if she chose "Ok, I don't want to ruin my coat, I go back."
Would that be interesting? Or would that just slow down the action, and generally make session less fun?

There is nothing cool by someone losing one of their defining items like this (I assume that was one of that items that skinner starts with).
Having to trade it off, or it getting stolen is much more interesting.

Daniel Wood

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2013, 04:42:21 AM »

Seems totally legit to me. I mean, we're not talking about the Driver's car or something, here. Your starting equipment is not sacrosanct, it's not all automatically 'what makes the PC interesting'. Now maybe this coat WAS one of those things, it's hard to say from the example. But it sounds like a classic case of 'activate their stuff's downside' to me -- the downside of luxury clothing is that it doesn't tend to deal well with jungle bushwhacking. And in this case the player had a choice, as befits a 7-9 result.


yellowhat

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 07:08:48 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.

zefir

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 08:34:31 PM »

Seems totally legit to me. I mean, we're not talking about the Driver's car or something, here. Your starting equipment is not sacrosanct, it's not all automatically 'what makes the PC interesting'. Now maybe this coat WAS one of those things, it's hard to say from the example. But it sounds like a classic case of 'activate their stuff's downside' to me -- the downside of luxury clothing is that it doesn't tend to deal well with jungle bushwhacking. And in this case the player had a choice, as befits a 7-9 result.

Depends on how much emphasis that skinner is putting on elegance and luxury, but I see your point. I'm just very wary of taking away things that form a basis of the character. I would thing twice before taking away gunlugger guns, part of chopper gang, and in case of skinner, that goes to the luxury items.
But maybe I'm too lenient? Not sure really.

sully the raptor

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 09:33:17 PM »
This move fucks with players more than almost any other move you can make as MC. Especially old school gamers, who are used to having characters take harm and die, but maybe not used to suddenly not having the thing they had.

I think a good rule of thumb is to use your NPCs to make this move for you. That way you're sure to get a story hook out of the deal, or at least a bloodbath.

Munin

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 09:40:21 PM »
I think in this case it's up to the player, really.  If the MC gave the choice of losing the coat or turning back and not making it through the swamp and the player chose to push through, then the coat isn't a "defining" item.  If the player is willing to give up the item that quickly, he or she clearly doesn't define the character by it.

I also think that there are times when situations like this are actually a really good way for the MC and the player to get a better understanding of what about the character is important to the player.  Or to expose more about hte character's internal foibles and motivations.  If the thought of getting blood on your coat means you won't help a dying man, well, that's an interesting piece of information now, isn't it?

zefir

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 09:42:43 PM »
Well, my gamers are not that old school - but things being taken away by environment seem like not that much fun. That's why I had doubts about that approach.

If someone steals the cloak, or anything - that's nice hook for something more to happen. There instantly is a score to settle, and conflict. Harsh environment doesn't offer that.

The choice is important thing of course, but in case of 'style' items, the issue is, that I can imagine sitaution, that item is not important to the character, but is important for player - cause it makes the character cool for him. And then he is posed with hard choice, act like the character would, and lose the item, or break out of role. I think this is area where MC needs to tread carefully.

Munin

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Re: Taking away the PC's Stuff
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2013, 10:31:24 PM »
The choice is important thing of course, but in case of 'style' items, the issue is, that I can imagine sitaution, that item is not important to the character, but is important for player - cause it makes the character cool for him.
Perhaps.  But I posit to you that if your character's stuff and not his or her personality is what makes the character cool to you, maybe you haven't put enough thought into developing your character.