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Author Topic: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble  (Read 1425 times)

Munin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #60 on: April 20, 2017, 07:38:17 PM »
If a hunter hits on investigate and supplies the right fictional explanation, I'm obliged to give them an answer, even if I didn't consider that the vampire left some bloody rags at the scene of its last attack.
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. So if the PC asks, "What sort of monster is it?", your job is to come up with some kind of "evidence" that reveals this information. You might have originally envisioned an attack that left no witnesses, but if the players ask something that only a witness would likely have known, congratulations, you've just invented a witness! Now tell the players who they are, how they saw what they saw, and how it is that the monster left them still alive:

"While you're investigating the murder scene, a neighbor gets stopped by the uniformed officers out front. At first you write him off as a rubber-necker trying to get a look at the carnage, but he keeps asking if 'the pretty lady in 3B' is OK. At first he doesn't want to answer any questions about who he is or what his connection to the victim is, but when you ask for his ID, you realize that he lives across the street and that his balcony overlooks hers. After you threaten to haul him off to jail for voyeurism, he agrees to cooperate. But whatever he saw has him pretty shaken up. His story is a little disjointed, but he eventually reveals that..."

It's the same with read a bad situation - you come up with the answers to their questions in the moment, adding to the fictional landscape as necessary to answer their questions and propel the story. Once you get the hang of it, this is an incredibly useful and powerful GMing tool because it lets you alter the direction of the story based on what the players are doing (as opposed to plotting/planning everything out beforehand). So if they ask, "what's my best way in?", invent a way in. If you already did a little prep and you have something in mind, great. But if not, make something up right now. "Well, there's an old storm-drain that runs under the property. Gods only know what's down there or where it comes out, but that certainly would get you inside the perimeter." This is you presenting an opportunity, with or without a cost, which is one of your basic Keeper moves.

Does this make sense?

Munin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #61 on: April 20, 2017, 07:59:03 PM »
Also, this is quite a bit of what people are talking about when they say that "the rules will fight you if you try to force things." You might have an encounter already planned for the aforementioned storm drain, but what do you do if the players don't ask "what's my best way in?" at all? Maybe they ask some other question. And sure, you could give them the information anyway and try to nudge them into the storm drain - but they'll feel smarter and more in control of the story if instead they ask "which enemy is most vulnerable to me?" (I don't know if MotW has this, but it's an option in AW) and try to have the most charismatic and persuasive PC seduce the night watchman instead.

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. The GM still populates the world with believable monsters and NPCs, but the players have much more control over how they engage with the fiction in a PbtA game than they might in a more traditional RPG. If you've run a lot of very "sandboxy" games/settings in the past, this may not feel like as much of a change. But if you've never played a game that gives the players as much low-level agency over the direction of the story, it's a huge shift.

And this is what people mean when they say, "play to find out" - I have no idea how the players are going to try to get into the bad-guys' compound. I may not even have given much (or any) prior thought to how it's laid out or what it contains. I will simply respond to their questions by presenting them with fun details, interesting opportunities, and harrowing risks. Whichever way they choose to go, sweet. I'll roll with it and we'll figure out what happens as we go.

Paul T.

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #62 on: April 21, 2017, 03:31:15 AM »
Nicely put, Munin.

Kitsunin

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Re: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble
« Reply #63 on: April 21, 2017, 04:50:56 AM »
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. The GM still populates the world with believable monsters and NPCs, but the players have much more control over how they engage with the fiction in a PbtA game than they might in a more traditional RPG. If you've run a lot of very "sandboxy" games/settings in the past, this may not feel like as much of a change. But if you've never played a game that gives the players as much low-level agency over the direction of the story, it's a huge shift.
This perfectly encapsulates why I've been loving PbtA games so much. By not prepping very much, you keep the story tightly bound to the interests of the players, and also can have very little idea what is going on as GM. In D&D (as the DMs I've played under do it, at least), when somebody does something, they consult their prep and, half the time answer with "Well, you don't accomplish anything". They knew everything that was going on, and whatever the player did failed to be related. In anything PbtA, a player investigating X should cause X to be important in some way. Which creates a vastly more pacy experience in which every player is guaranteed to feel as involved regardless of the quality of their ideas or rolls. It also allows you to truly "play to find out what happens" and have a story spill forth from the dregs you actually planned, which is incredibly exciting.

The main purpose of the rules is allowing you to keep things moving in a fun direction, where you'd have no clue how to do so otherwise. I think this might tie into some of the problems I'm seeing here? Because that is the main purpose of the GM rules in every PbtA game -- to provide direction without prep -- not to restrain or limit.