Author Topic: New to Monster of the Week and PbtA in general; having a lot of trouble  (Read 4581 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.

StormKnight

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Hey all. Been pondering how to respond to this for a while. I keep just running into walls with figuring out what to say. Still haven't a clue how to play the game - in some ways I feel even more confused than when I started. I think this particular thread has gotten way too off track; I keep thinking I should try some more specific questions, but I don't know if it will help. Its clear I don't even have a good grasp for the overall format for what a fight would like and play like, or how an "investigative" scene would go.

For ganging up:
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several people attack a foe at once, it starts to get narratively really odd when its hitting back at all of them at the same time (assuming its not something with super speed or lots of arms)
. If the monster has established it has limited attacks, then some hunters cannot be harmed - good for them, bad for the monster. (Note that I'd usually have a dog-pile like this be a single kick some ass roll, with the other hunters helping out or even protecting someone, which simplifies things a bit).
This wouldn't have remotely fit with how I'm gotten the idea MotW worked. I was assuming that generally, when someone says they are doing something that triggers a move, you would fairly immediately roll and resolve the move. The situation Mike is describing would require everyone to declare what they are doing, and then resolve it all; while some RPGs use that type of "initiative" mechanic, I really don't see it here.
Further, with a party of 4, that would take 4 rolls to only inflict 1 attack worth of damage; it would take a lot longer to accomplish things. And a "help out" move would still expose the person to trouble, so you'd still have to figure out what goes wrong on a bad roll.

StormKnight

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Your second point about "protecting" NPCs and "keeping them alive" is a little unclear--could you explain a bit more about the comparison you're drawing between MotW and "most RPGs"? To me it seems you're saying it's easier, in MotW, to apply the rules for bystander, minion, and monster creation to create an NPC that the hunters cannot eventually kill (or otherwise remove from the action).
OK, example here by way of explanation. A while ago in a very MotW themed Savage Worlds game, a PC was on the phone when demons attacked the mall she was at. A demon down the hall from her lunged for an innocent victim. She was too far away too reach it and had no ranged weapon, so in desperation, she threw her phone at it.

Now, in MotW, you might decide that would distract the demon. It might do damage, but its an improvised attack, so probably just 1 point - if it gets past armor.

But we were playing Savage Worlds, where you roll for damage and damage can "explode", where you keep rolling the die again and again. So we all stared in amazement as the mere d6 damage exploded several times, and the demon fell dead with a phone sticking out of its forehead.

That couldn't happen in Monster of the Week. One shot like that could never kill a monster.

(Now, granted, there are many RPGs that are less unexpectedly lethal than Savage Worlds; that couldn't happen in most versions of DD& either!)


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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:[/quote]
OK...yeah, this is a very different approach. It really isn't explained in the rulebook at all; there's not much for advice for how to approach this. In fact, the way the intro scenario is presented, bothering to come up with dozens of witnesses, would seem to preclude "inventing" a witness; why bother with coming up with all of those people in advance if you are just going to wing-it and new ones anyway?

So, do you find that most games only have a single investigative "scene"? Since with a decent number of players, they can easily get enough questions to ask everything they would want to know, they'll know everything useful after one "scene" anyway, no matter how unimportant it seems like the scene should  be.

Also...if every question can be answered regardless of how logical it seems or what the approach is...doesn't that kind of take all the fun out of actually "solving" a mystery?

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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.
I don't see how that's a tool at all. You can always do this; the only question is whether you have an idea or not.

If nothing is pre-planned, why even have the player ask the question? Instead of asking a question that the GM doesn't know the answer to either, why not have the PC just declare what the "best way" is?

Granted, I still haven't a clue when "Read a bad situation" would ever get used in the first place!

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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.
Well, sure you can know what's going through the player's  heads. You can talk about it, decide what interests people and what doesn't. Though generally that breaks up the pace when it happens during the game.
I don't see how the moves/questions reflect that; those reflect what the player has the PC try to do, not what their interest level is. If they are bored with a situation, they are still going to be trying to find a way to resolve it.

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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?
If you have something interesting planned for the storm drain, and they don't go in the storm drain, you'll have to improvise what happens.

If you don't have anything planned for the storm drain, you'll have to improvise what happens whether they go in the storm drain or not.

The best case with not planning is the same as the worst case with planning!

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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".
I've had bad GMs do that, but in a normal game there's no good reason for that to  happen, prep or not. I feel like what we've played in the past as an "RPG" seems to be totally different.

Though...I guess in the first game of MotW we played, a player ran off to gather up stuff to fight vampires, when there wasn't actually a vampire. Would you count that as "you don't accomplish anything?"

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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.
Shouldn't clever ideas yield better results that bad ideas? And don't bad rolls in MotW get you in trouble, while good rolls help you out?

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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.
But nothing ever happens unless you decide it does, and there's very few mechanics covering most of that. That's why I get the feel that MotW is much LESS about "finding out what happens" than most RPGs. None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat.

Again, an example;  a while ago in a miniatures based RPG a random "push" effect knocked a character through a portal to the elemental plane. That wasn't planned; it wasn't something I (as the GM) particularly wanted to happen. But hey, miniature got moved there, makes sense. It took the game in a very unexpected direction.

Now, a character could get knocked through a portal in MotW, but only if I specifically make the decision that it happens. I'll never be surprised by something like that.

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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.
That would be great, but they don't do anything of the sort. If I have no clue how to keep moving, there's absolutely no support at all for it!

Munin

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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.
OK...yeah, this is a very different approach. It really isn't explained in the rulebook at all; there's not much for advice for how to approach this. In fact, the way the intro scenario is presented, bothering to come up with dozens of witnesses, would seem to preclude "inventing" a witness; why bother with coming up with all of those people in advance if you are just going to wing-it and new ones anyway?
I can't speak to the intro scenario, but this is how these kinds of moves in PbtA games generally work; they are essentially a cueing mechanism.

So, do you find that most games only have a single investigative "scene"? Since with a decent number of players, they can easily get enough questions to ask everything they would want to know, they'll know everything useful after one "scene" anyway, no matter how unimportant it seems like the scene should  be.

Also...if every question can be answered regardless of how logical it seems or what the approach is...doesn't that kind of take all the fun out of actually "solving" a mystery?
OK, two things here: first, you can absolutely have more than one investigative "scene," especially once minions etc. are factored in. Figuring out just WTF is going on is likely to be a multi-step process.

Second, don't just have all of the players roll to investigate willy-nilly. Instead, have one or two take the lead and have the others roll to help them. Remember, the PbtA mantra of "to do it, do it" reigns supreme here.

And actually, this may be part of the disconnect you're having with these rules: the moves are triggered by the fiction, not vice-versa. If what you are doing fits the trigger condition for a move, you roll. If it doesn't, you don't. So if all of your PCs are in a scene that might involve investigation, don't settle for having a PC just say, "I roll to investigate a mystery," because that's not good enough. Ask them how. What are they doing to investigate this mystery? How, specifically, are they going about it? And if they can't tell you, or if their answer is lame and unconvincing, don't ask for a roll. But if they have a good approach, use their answers to help you decide in turn how to answer the questions they ask. Incorporate their back-stories and particular strengths. How the Psychic investigates a mystery is going to look totally different from how an Expert does it, and it's going to yield different results.

Which gets me to my next point, which is that just because a player gets to ask a question doesn't mean you have to tell them absolutely everything pertaining to that question. This circles back to your point about multiple investigative scenes and PCs piecing together the answer. So when they ask, "what kind of monster is it?" you don't have to say "yeah, it's totally a vampire." But you can say, "The bodies are eviscerated - seriously, organs everywhere - but there is a surprising lack of blood. Whatever this thing is, it likes blood." This could be a vampire, sure. Or it could be something else, like a Red Cap. You have to be honest, but you don't have to (and shouldn't) take all of the mystery out of it in a single go.

I don't see how that's a tool at all. You can always do this; the only question is whether you have an idea or not.

If nothing is pre-planned, why even have the player ask the question? Instead of asking a question that the GM doesn't know the answer to either, why not have the PC just declare what the "best way" is?
It's not that nothing is pre-planned; the Keeper knows the truth about what the monster is and what it's up to, for instance - and the players don't, at least not initially. That knowledge informs the "best way" in directions of which players may be unaware.

But you know what? It's totally cool to flip it back on your player and say, "given what you know about the situation, what do you think the best way in is?" Chances are they'll come up with something cool that you hadn't considered. Rolling with it usually produces awesome and hilarious results.

Further, answering the player's question also changes the fiction. In some ways, it's like a reminder to the Keeper to fill in details about the world or the situation or a particular NPC or whatever; those details become important as soon as dice hit the table and someone asks about them. They might have been important before, but they're definitely important now.

As for cases in which read a bad situation might be useful, I'll give you one from our last AW session. Backstory: The Savvyhead (a techno-geek) and the Gunlugger (pretty self-explanatory) had both gotten pretty shot-up, and needed medical attention. They were in a place which we'd established was the "home town" of the Savvyhead, and were dealing with some sinister NPCs (specifically one called "The Bone Mechanic"). In the course of play, it came out that the Brainer (a freaky sci-psychic) had divined the Savvyhead's true purposes for returning to this place, and (because they asked) relayed this information to the NPCs. What none of the players knew was that those purposes were at odds with what the NPCs (including the "Bone Mechanic") were trying to accomplish. As The Bone Mechanic put the Savvyhead under sedation to begin the surgery necessary to heal him, the Brainer saw Simon (the NPC leader of the place) give the Bone Mechanic a pointed look and the slightest of head-shakes.

This immediately led the Brainer's player to read a sitch (the AW version of the same move). He got a partial, which let him ask one question. As the MC, I had already decided what was going on - left to his own devices, the Bone Mechanic was going to kill the Savvyhead on the operating table. And had the player asked, "what should I be on the lookout for," I'd have made this explicitly clear. But the player didn't ask that. Instead he asked, "which enemy is most vulnerable to me?" This told me two things: first, the player had a pretty good idea of what was going on, strong enough that he was willing to take the risk of direct action without solid confirmation. Secondly, it told me that he already viewed the Bone Mechanic and his orderlies as "enemies."

So instead of laying out the motive of the NPCs (they're going to try to kill your friend and make it look like he "couldn't be saved") and letting the player decide how to tackle the situation (which may not have involved violence), things were already headed in a "tactical" direction. This led me to say, "The orderly filling up the syringe from an ampule labeled 'potassium cyanide' is fully absorbed in his task right now, and his back is to you." What followed was a vicious surprise attack by the Brainer, which degenerated into a mad scramble versus the Bone Mechanic over the cyanide-filled syringe, and a whole lot of mayhem as a (now poisoned) Brainer managed to get free long enough to jam an adrenaline injector into the unconscious Gunlugger, who then jerked awake and started laying waste to people with her bare hands.

I had no idea going in that any of this was going to happen. The situation was a natural outgrowth of the Savvyhead's true purposes for returning to this place (purely a player-driven thing), the Brainer's ability to accurately divine that information (a side-effect of his particular playbook), the Brainer's willingness to share that information with the NPCs (another player decision), the NPCs' reactions to that information (which came from my prep about the NPCs ultimate goal), and the question that the player asked when reading the situation (another player decision).

That's why when you say things like...
None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat
...I quite literally have no idea what you're talking about. Because it's not just "GM fiat" if you're doing your job well - it's a consequence of the fiction. And because the players have input into that fictional landscape, the results of following that fiction can come as a surprise to everyone involved - including the GM.

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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.
Well, sure you can know what's going through the player's  heads. You can talk about it, decide what interests people and what doesn't.
What you're talking about is what you do before the campaign ever starts, i.e. "session 0," when you're deciding the tone of the campaign and creating characters. I'm talking about the stuff that happens during the course of any given session. It's what saves you from being this guy:


« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 02:10:20 AM by Munin »

StormKnight

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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.
That would be great, but they don't do anything of the sort. If I have no clue how to keep moving, there's absolutely no support at all for it!

OK, I had to cut short my writing and didn't get to elaborate on this, because this has been a big problem with MotW for me.

Let's again take an example; in our last session, a character attempted to lash out with her chain-blade and disarm the poacher who was pointing a rifle at her. She rolled in the 7-9 range, and the game came to a crashing stop because we just couldn't figure out what should happen next - ie, what would keep things moving in a fun direction. Its been several weeks now. We just haven't gone back because this got so frustrating.

So, what rules would tell us what to do here? I am not asking "what would YOU do", or "what are some possible things I could have done", but how do I FOLLOW THE RULES and figure out what happens next here? Because that's what you are saying the rules do, but I don't see any rules that even relate to that.

StormKnight

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So, do you find that most games only have a single investigative "scene"? Since with a decent number of players, they can easily get enough questions to ask everything they would want to know, they'll know everything useful after one "scene" anyway, no matter how unimportant it seems like the scene should  be.

Also...if every question can be answered regardless of how logical it seems or what the approach is...doesn't that kind of take all the fun out of actually "solving" a mystery?
OK, two things here: first, you can absolutely have more than one investigative "scene," especially once minions etc. are factored in. Figuring out just WTF is going on is likely to be a multi-step process.

Second, don't just have all of the players roll to investigate willy-nilly. Instead, have one or two take the lead and have the others roll to help them. Remember, the PbtA mantra of "to do it, do it" reigns supreme here.

And actually, this may be part of the disconnect you're having with these rules: the moves are triggered by the fiction, not vice-versa. If what you are doing fits the trigger condition for a move, you roll. If it doesn't, you don't. So if all of your PCs are in a scene that might involve investigation, don't settle for having a PC just say, "I roll to investigate a mystery," because that's not good enough. Ask them how. What are they doing to investigate this mystery? How, specifically, are they going about it? And if they can't tell you, or if their answer is lame and unconvincing, don't ask for a roll. But if they have a good approach, use their answers to help you decide in turn how to answer the questions they ask. Incorporate their back-stories and particular strengths. How the Psychic investigates a mystery is going to look totally different from how an Expert does it, and it's going to yield different results.

Which gets me to my next point, which is that just because a player gets to ask a question doesn't mean you have to tell them absolutely everything pertaining to that question. This circles back to your point about multiple investigative scenes and PCs piecing together the answer. So when they ask, "what kind of monster is it?" you don't have to say "yeah, it's totally a vampire." But you can say, "The bodies are eviscerated - seriously, organs everywhere - but there is a surprising lack of blood. Whatever this thing is, it likes blood." This could be a vampire, sure. Or it could be something else, like a Red Cap. You have to be honest, but you don't have to (and shouldn't) take all of the mystery out of it in a single go.


I am so confused. I feel like this is a complete contradiction. Earlier you said that the PCs should be able to answer any question they want, and the Keeper should produce the evidence to do so. Now you are saying it should be limited. If we're just poofing up whatever evidence we want, then surely then can run some test to figure out exactly what monster it was, or the victim just happened to drop their diary describing exactly the monster they were hunting, or something like that.

And, again, you seem to be saying that all the PCs should declare all their actions up-front before starting resolving things. That really isn't how I'd pictured it working it all. I'd figure "Help Out" would go something like:

Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player: "OK, I know the organization of this place well, so I'll help with cross-referencing details and stuff".
GM: "OK, sounds like Jasper is "helping out", so roll to see if you help Beth.

Whereas two characters investigating would look like:
Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player doesn't interrupt.
GM: "OK, Beth, roll to Investigate a mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)
Jasper: "While she's doing that, I'm going to go down to the lab and run analysis on those scrapings I got earlier".
GM: "OK, Jasper roll to Investigate a Mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)

So do you go with declaring all actions first?

If so, most likely unless a PC intends to help another specifically they are probably all doing kind of different stuff; one PC is examining the body, one is calling some of their contacts, etc, etc. Would you just arbitrarily pick some to be "investigating" and some to be helping?

And what would keep them from just investigating some more (assuming there isn't an immediate pressing time limit; ie, the creature only comes out and night and they are investigating first thing in the morning)?

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That's why when you say things like...
None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat
...I quite literally have no idea what you're talking about. Because it's not just "GM fiat" if you're doing your job well - it's a consequence of the fiction. And because the players have input into that fictional landscape, the results of following that fiction can come as a surprise to everyone involved - including the GM.
GM fiat is the GM making a decision, as opposed to a rule or mechanic doing so.
A pistol doing 2 damage is a rule.
A collapsing bridge doing 10 damage is GM fiat.

In some RPGs, whether or not a monster can get out of a trap (especially if there don't happen to be PCs around) might be decided by a check for the monster - a rule.
In MotW, that question would just be decided by "whether or not the GM thinks it should get out" - GM fiat.

Deciding what is behind a door with a wandering monster table would be using a rule.
Deciding what is behind a door by making up something to be behind the door - GM fiat.

Is there a better word?

You can totally be surprised by what the PCs do (in any game). But I don't see how you can be surprised by something that you have to make up. (And again, I think this line of discussion is pure theory - it doesn't have any actual practical value for figuring out how in the world to play this game).

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What you're talking about is what you do before the campaign ever starts, i.e. "session 0," when you're deciding the tone of the campaign and creating characters. I'm talking about the stuff that happens during the course of any given session. It's what saves you from being this guy:

You know, I've seen a few friends post that on FB recently and I just can't make any sense out of it. I really have no idea what this is supposed to mean...I gather a lot of people have kind of dysfunctional groups I guess, so you sit down to play a game about fighting monsters and they decide to be merchants or something? I don't know. I don't think I've ever had that happen. OK, I do remember a time in one game, when two players completely ignored an arrow that whizzed out from a window and nearly hit them...like, just kept on going with their conversation. That was pretty baffling. All the other player's at the table besides those two were equally confused about why they were ignoring a possible imminent threat to their life, but...that was pretty anomalous and strange. :)
Is that the sort of thing this refers to?

But yeah, during play, PCs will say things like "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." or stuff. Again, there do tend to be problems with it being too immersion breaking.

SO...I think that perhaps that you assume players will take actions that really interest them, whereas what I've seen is that players take actions that are what they think their character would do in that situation. So, to you, if a player says "I'm going to look through the files", that means they want looking through the files to be important. While I can very well see a player saying that because it would be careless NOT to look through the files, and their character is a smart and organized person so of course they would do it, but not really having much interest in the details of that.

KidDublin

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I think this particular thread has gotten way too off track; I keep thinking I should try some more specific questions, but I don't know if it will help. Its clear I don't even have a good grasp for the overall format for what a fight would like and play like, or how an "investigative" scene would go.

I'm with you on this. Do you think it would help if we identify the main avenues you're having issues with, and then explode those out into separate threads? That way we could really dig into the specifics. Right now it seems we keep bouncing back and forth between different areas of the game you're struggling with, without ever fully addressing your questions. I could see a few possible threads:
1. Combat in MotW
2. Investigations in MotW
3. Mysteries and the Role of Prep in MotW

Any others you'd want to add, or modifications you'd want to make? For the mysteries thread, it might even be fun to write a collaborative mystery, so you can see the decision process for MotW prep yourself.

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GM fiat is the GM making a decision, as opposed to a rule or mechanic doing so.
A pistol doing 2 damage is a rule.
A collapsing bridge doing 10 damage is GM fiat.

In some RPGs, whether or not a monster can get out of a trap (especially if there don't happen to be PCs around) might be decided by a check for the monster - a rule.
In MotW, that question would just be decided by "whether or not the GM thinks it should get out" - GM fiat.

Deciding what is behind a door with a wandering monster table would be using a rule.
Deciding what is behind a door by making up something to be behind the door - GM fiat.

Is there a better word?

This is a misunderstanding of how the rules in MotW/PbtA work. By your definition, "things the rules tell you" =/= "GM fiat," while "things the GM decides outside the rules" = "GM fiat." BUT, in MotW the rules (and agenda, and principles) should always inform what the GM adds to the fiction. The GM doesn't just up and decide that a monster escapes no matter how well contained. However, if the outcome of a move would allow that to happen, the GM is following the rules if they narrate the monster escaping. Using the phrase "GM fiat" suggests that GM improvisation should be arbitrary--it shouldn't. When the GM invents or improvises, it's always in the context of the rules.

Example:
GM: Illyana, the beholder you have trapped in that ritual circle is getting agitated, and flexing its magical prowess. Looks like it's trying to bust out. What do you do?
Illyana: I'm going to reinforce the circle with my holy magic, so it can't escape.
GM: Cool, that sounds like use magic, gimme the roll. (She misses. Like, it's not even close.) Illy, you push your powers farther than you've ever done before, and... it doesn't work. The beholder busts out of the ritual circle in a flash of crimson energy. Oh, and now it's looking directly at you.


Can you see how that's not GM fiat? How that hard move only happened because the outcome of the missed use magic--combined with the fictional situation--allowed it to? If Illy had hit on that roll I wouldn't have the creature escape, because the rules tell me that's not the time for a hard move. (However, on a 7-9 hit I might have asked her to sacrifice a touch of lifeforce--1-harm's worth--to keep it imprisoned.)
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 02:42:44 PM by KidDublin »

KidDublin

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SO...I think that perhaps that you assume players will take actions that really interest them, whereas what I've seen is that players take actions that are what they think their character would do in that situation. So, to you, if a player says "I'm going to look through the files", that means they want looking through the files to be important. While I can very well see a player saying that because it would be careless NOT to look through the files, and their character is a smart and organized person so of course they would do it, but not really having much interest in the details of that.

Related: in MotW, if a character starts looking through some files that could reasonably be related to the mystery at hand, that's definitely investigate a mystery. Like, it's not a choice whether or not we roll the move at that point--them's the rules. The character asks a question--"What kind of monster is it?"--and I provide a response. Maybe the documents detail some strange experiments with gene-splicing, creating human-cockroach hybrids. I might not have known that those documents had that information when the character started rifling around, but the rules say I have to make an honest stab at answering the character's question. That's not GM fiat--that's improvisation guided by rules.

Also, you contend that the rules don't make unexpected things happen.

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But nothing ever happens unless you decide it does, and there's very few mechanics covering most of that. That's why I get the feel that MotW is much LESS about "finding out what happens" than most RPGs. None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat.

This is an example of the rules allowing unexpected things to happen! I didn't expect these files to be important, but the rules are now telling me that, in some fashion, they're important. Yes, I decide how they're important, but that decision is driven by player input (unless you're a mind-reader your players will do unexpected things which trigger the game's mechanics) and the fiction.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 03:10:16 PM by KidDublin »

Paul T.

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Good comments by KidDublin. There are a lot of different questions at work here, and it would make sense not to muddle them all together. It's also really hard to get to the bottom of a problem. Can you, maybe, describe a specific situation where you had trouble (like you started to do above), and we can show you how we might have handled it?

I think that you're right to a certain extent, StormKnight: PbtA games are largely improvisational in nature, and depend on the creativity of the participants. They depend heavily on the players approaching them with the right attitude and using the game moves in the right spirit (e.g. following the Principles). They also depend heavily on a sense of dramatic pacing and a focus on making an exciting story or fiction - like a thrilling TV show, for example. If you consider the creative aspects of roleplaying to be "fiat", then, yes, there is a lot of that present.

Like I said earlier, "system mastery" in a PbtA has a lot to do with understanding when and how to bring in the various moves and how to interpret their outcomes. (It's not too different from learning when to call for an Ability Check versus a Saving Throw in D&D, and when the right time is to roll Morale or Reaction, except the moves sometimes have a heavier impact on play, so you can't gloss over their outcomes.)

In something like Savage Worlds, an unexpected roll and the application of a specific rule can create a really unusual outcome. It's unexpected and fun because you've all agreed to a) what's happening in the fiction, and b) which rules are going to be applied to that situation, as well agreeing to abide by the outcome of the dice (or whatever).

In a PbtA game, the same thing happens, except that, instead of counting hexes or adding together move actions (or whatever thing) the participants have to reach agreement on what the rules they're using do. You're right that, by itself, a vague move like "Act Under Pressure" doesn't actually tell us a whole lot.

When it works really well as when you, as a group, commit to fleshing out the fictional situation you're describing enough that all the outcomes take on specific weight. What is the character doing? What are they hoping to accomplish? What pressure are they under, and what danger might they be exposing themselves to?

The basic guideline I find really useful is, "Keep asking questions, until the situation and the consequences of the roll are crystal-clear." By doing so, you will fix 90% of your problems. For example:

Let's again take an example; in our last session, a character attempted to lash out with her chain-blade and disarm the poacher who was pointing a rifle at her. She rolled in the 7-9 range, and the game came to a crashing stop because we just couldn't figure out what should happen next - ie, what would keep things moving in a fun direction. Its been several weeks now. We just haven't gone back because this got so frustrating.

What was actually happening here? Was the poacher threatening to shoot the character? Were they trying to get away? Were they trying to kill someone else?

What was the PC trying to accomplish? How were they doing it?

I'd have a discussion like that with the players, until it was clear we were all on the same page about which move to use. For example, if the poacher was about to shoot the PC, and they were trying to get past them, we might roll to Act Under Pressure. If, on the other hand, the PC was trying to keep the poacher from shooting someone, it might have been Protect Someone. There's a bit of negotiation here, as we determine what's happening and what move (if any) might best describe this situation. The point is that we define the fictional situation sufficiently to all know exactly what might or might not happen, together.

Once that's done, we all abide by the move. "Protect Someone" has really clear outcomes, so let's say we're going with Act Under Pressure instead - that's a trickier one. The poacher is about to shoot the PC, we can see their finger squeezing the trigger... the PC has a just a moment to jump forward and to knock the rifle out of their arms! We roll the move.

On a 10+, they do it: we know the poacher's been disarmed, the PC pulled it off. It's often fun to ask the player exactly what they do, and then play along with it, giving them their success and their desired outcome. On a miss, the opposite: it's up to the MC, but the obvious thing is that the PC gets shot before they can act, and usually the obvious thing is the best thing. On a 7-9, the easiest thing to go with for Act Under Pressure is that both happen (the PC succeeds but pays a price): they jump forward and smash the rifle out of the poacher's hands... but the poacher gets off a shot and the PC is hit, too.

You'll note that if we hadn't established what's happening - the poacher trying to shoot the PC, in this case - we would have been floundering a bit. Or, maybe, not floundering, but it would have felt like the MC was just arbitrarily picking something.

That's why nailing down a lot of descriptive detail in play makes the whole thing work - once we've done that, there's *no question* that, yeah, the poacher would totally shoot the PC here (or whatever other thing), and nothing feels arbitrary.

Your examples of how to use Investigate and Help rolls sound perfect to me. You can choose either option (or let the players choose), as seems most appropriate. (Again, this is much like deciding whether avoiding a slow-moving trap is an Ability Check or a Saving Throw, or whether those scared brigands should be rolling a Reaction Roll or a Morale Check in D&D.)

In short, this game doesn't work like a board game - it doesn't tell you exactly which rule to use when (in the way that, say, Monopoly does) nor dictate specific outcomes. Instead, it gives us constraints on our roleplaying, and we have to all be on the same page about these to play successfully. Think of the moves as formalized rulings in an old-school D&D game that's been going on for years, perhaps, if that helps.

Finally, are there any good recordings of MotW play online? YouTube videos, podcasts? The can be boring to listen to, it's true... but, at the same time, an hour or two checking out how people play will teach you a lot more than any amount of discussion, because it's an illustration of it in progress. (And at this point you've probably spent at least that much time just composing posts for this thread.) Any recommendations, other readers?

Paul T.

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Dealing with moves which allow the player to "ask questions" (like Investigate):

This is not "canonical" (and I've never read the MotW text), but my interpretation.

* The player gets to ask the questions they are given by the move.

* I, as the MC, strive to answer them as fully as I can. (And I'm excited for the players to learn more about the mystery!)

* However, I limit myself, limiting the information I give them by what they could believably learn in this fictional situation.

Sometimes that means the answers are vaguer than they would like. Sometimes, they get what they wanted and more.

But that makes the approach they take matter.

Let's say they're interrogating Farmer Jim about the murder that took place three years ago. They want to know, "What kind of monster is it?"

Let's say I know it was an green-skinned alien warrior from Zimmerthrax, the advance part of an invasion force about to hit the Earth. I'm ready to tell them all that, except...

Does Farmer Joe know about Zimmerthrax? No, that's definitely not public knowledge. Does he know about the impending invasion? Probably not.

And the event was really long ago, so his memories won't be too clear, so I won't give good detail.

He might just say he saw someone - looked kinda like a person - with green skin, and that they were moving real fast (or whatever it is that I know about these aliens).

If they asked a knowledgeable witness who was watching the event through a night-vision scope, on the other hand, they might learn everything and more!

Either way, though, they're learning something useful and can move ahead with better information.

Munin

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I am so confused. I feel like this is a complete contradiction. Earlier you said that the PCs should be able to answer any question they want, and the Keeper should produce the evidence to do so.
No. They should be able to ask any question they want (specifically from among the choices allowed by the move, a limitation that is very important), and the Keeper should answer it honestly. But "honestly" doesn't have to mean "completely." Use the fiction to give them clues. Where the inventing-things-in-the-fiction part comes in is in how you answer those questions.

Let me give you a more concrete example that might better illustrate what I'm talking about. Let's say the monster in question is a murderous ghost. It is generally incorporeal and/or invisible, but it can manifest in order to make its homicidal fury known. The PCs are investigating an old house where said murderous ghost has despatched a member of a work crew doing remodeling - seems the ghost didn't like having that wall knocked out to make the floorplan more "modern, open, and airy." The PCs check out the scene of the crime, looking around for any clues as to what happened here. They talk about how they're carefully casing the joint, looking for any physical evidence. The body is already gone, but they have crime-scene photos and the police report, which they are cross-referencing now that they are actually on-site.

The Keeper decides that this description of the PCs' actions is sufficient to trigger investigate a mystery and calls for a roll. Since everything they've described so far sounds like standard police work, the Keeper calls for the Expert to make the roll. The player of the Psychic decides that she's using her psychometry skills to try to spot anything the police might have overlooked or that the Expert might otherwise miss. The Keeper decides that this constitutes help and has the Psychic's player roll that. She succeeds. With the Psychic's help, the Expert gets a 10, which gives him 2 questions. First, he asks, "what sort of creature is it?"

Knowing that it's a murderous ghost, the Keeper needs to come up with some way to communicate that. Being incorporeal, the ghost can pass through walls, so the Keeper describes how the workman was in the house by himself, but in the police report all of the doors were locked; the rest of the work-crew had to break in the following morning prior to discovering the body. Other than the front door they broke, there are no other signs of forced entry. So whatever this thing was, it's the kind of creature that doesn't care about locks or walls. NOTE: the Keeper doesn't simply say, "it was a murderous ghost," because while that is true, it is also not interesting. By saying what he did ("the kind of creature that doesn't care about walls or locks"), the Keeper is answering the player's question honestly and providing them with information, but not necessarily taking all the mystery out of it. At least not yet.

Deciding to throw the Keeper a curve ball, the PC's now ask their second question: "what is being concealed here?" The Keeper knows the ghost is angry about the changes to its environment, and decides to communicate a hint of this to the players. So maybe the Keeper decides to get the helping character involved and says something like: "As Carla the Psychic is running her hand along the wall the workman was demolishing, she gets an overwhelming impression of joyous, childlike laughter. When Gunner the Expert examines the wall, he sees that it's many layers of paint over a couple layers of wallpaper over the original lath-and-plaster. On one particular fragment of the wall lying in a pile of debris, those layers are hanging loose. There, under all those years of coverings and drawn on the original plaster are fragments of little doodles. Ripping off paint-covered paper from a part of the wall still standing reveals more, including a little heart drawn around the words 'Cassie loves Daddy.'"

Man. No wonder the ghost was pissed. But at this point, the PCs have some clues as to what the creature might be and some insight into the motive behind the murder of the workman, but they don't know for sure that it's a ghost. Could be something else.

Or we could go a different way. Say instead the players decide that they want to cut to the chase and try to find this monster as quickly as possible. Right, so it can get in (and presumably out again) with ease. That makes tracking it hard, maybe. So maybe instead for their second question they ask, "where did it go?" The Keeper knows that the murderous ghost is tied to the house, and it hasn't gone anywhere. It's right here. Right now. Maybe paying attention to them, maybe just chilling on the ethereal plane endlessly reliving its last days in a fugue state. But the Keeper looks at the situation, again sees that the Psychic is helping out, and just goes for it, narrating: "As you move around the house, you encounter cold spots. Or rather, spots that are sometimes cold and sometimes not. Weird. But then, while touching the old mantle over the fireplace and using her psychometric abilities, Carla hears clearly as a bell a low, gravelly voice saying, 'Get. Out.'"

The PCs can look around the room and see that there's no one else here! Oh, shit! The monster is definitely paying attention to them now! And in answering the second question honestly, the Keeper has actually reinforced the answer to the first. Further, this situation has just snowballed in a way that it might not have had they asked a different question (e.g. "what is being concealed here?"). So now they might know (or strongly suspect) that it's a ghost, but by not asking the other questions, they have no insight into its motives. They might also have a fight on their hands, one for which they are probably ill-prepared.

Now you are saying it should be limited. If we're just poofing up whatever evidence we want, then surely then can run some test to figure out exactly what monster it was, or the victim just happened to drop their diary describing exactly the monster they were hunting, or something like that.
Not at all, and I hope the above example clarifies that. You are giving the players clues, not revealing the entire mystery. Which questions they ask help you decide which clues to give them and how. You can be as vague or specific as you like given the fictional situation, but you always have to be honest. If the creature is a ghost, don't answer "what sort of creature is it?" by describing puncture wounds in the neck and a serious lack of blood. Talk about ectoplasm, or cold spots, or weird electromagnetic effects, or the presence of limestone. If you want to be vague, talk about eyewitness accounts of someone seeing a shadowy figure standing at the foot of their bed. Ghost? Demon? Or maybe some creature that manifests not in the real world but in dreams? Leave as much uncertainty as you like, but don't lie.

And, again, you seem to be saying that all the PCs should declare all their actions up-front before starting resolving things. That really isn't how I'd pictured it working it all. I'd figure "Help Out" would go something like:

Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player: "OK, I know the organization of this place well, so I'll help with cross-referencing details and stuff".
GM: "OK, sounds like Jasper is "helping out", so roll to see if you help Beth.

Whereas two characters investigating would look like:
Beth's player: "I'm going to dig through the files and look for anything unusual about the murders".
Jasper's player doesn't interrupt.
GM: "OK, Beth, roll to Investigate a mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)
Jasper: "While she's doing that, I'm going to go down to the lab and run analysis on those scrapings I got earlier".
GM: "OK, Jasper roll to Investigate a Mystery" (rolls, asks some questions)

So do you go with declaring all actions first?
Typically I would, yes. If one of the PCs is doing something that might be involved or difficult or time-consuming, it's totally fair game to say, "Hang on a sec. Before you roll, what are the rest of you doing while Gunner starts walking the scene and comparing it to the forensic photos?" Get their input and decide what sounds like helping and what sounds like an entirely different "investigation."

And what would keep them from just investigating some more (assuming there isn't an immediate pressing time limit; ie, the creature only comes out and night and they are investigating first thing in the morning)?
Because the fictional situation hasn't changed.

IMPORTANT: Here's something you need to understand about PbtA games: "I do it again" is almost always the wrong thing to say. Once you've made the move to investigate a mystery, you've investigated it. You will note that there's no move to "re-investigate a mystery," so there is literally no mechanism in the rules to "just roll again and ask more questions." You've found what you're going to find, and no amount of poring over those files or photos or transcripts or physical evidence is going to turn up fresh insight.

You should also note that there is no "duration" mechanic at all in MotW. How long does it take to investigate something? As long as it takes. Could be minutes, hours, or days. Mechanically speaking, it doesn't matter. But fictionally speaking, it does. And once it's done, it's done. You can't just do it again, because the fictional trigger that led to you making the roll in the first place no longer applies.

But if the fictional situation changes - a new body turns up, the players meet someone who gives them new information, new evidence is found, etc - well, that's a new mystery, and it can be investigated. And this gets to your earlier question about multiple investigative scenes within a story.

Is this making more sense now?

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That's why when you say things like...
None of the mechanics actually cause unexpected things to happen - its just all based on player input and GM fiat
...I quite literally have no idea what you're talking about. Because it's not just "GM fiat" if you're doing your job well - it's a consequence of the fiction. And because the players have input into that fictional landscape, the results of following that fiction can come as a surprise to everyone involved - including the GM.
GM fiat is the GM making a decision, as opposed to a rule or mechanic doing so.
A pistol doing 2 damage is a rule.
A collapsing bridge doing 10 damage is GM fiat.
Don't get confused between rules and mechanics.

Sure, the book says your garden-variety semi-auto pistol does 2 damage. But under what circumstances do you apply it? If your character is struggling over the pistol with some NPC and misses the roll? If your character is struggling over the pistol with some NPC and gets a partial success? If the NPC has made it clear that he'll shoot unless the PC backs up and gets the fuck off his front doorstep and the PC insists on continuing to try to sweet-talk his or her way inside?

By the rules as written, these are all valid applications of the rules for applying the damage mechanics. The first is a player miss for a move (with struggling for the gun being a pretty standard example of doing something under pressure), which presents the "golden opportunity" for a "hard move" (i.e. a Keeper move where the fictional situation and its consequences are narrated at the same time). Not only did you not get the gun, you got shot. Suck. The second is a partial success on doing something under pressure, for which the Keeper can offer a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice; a hard bargain is something that comes at a cost. Well, you managed to get the gun away from the guy, but not before he shot you with it. Ouch. Now what? And the last is the result of the Keeper setting up the fictional situation. The guy warned you. You didn't get off his porch. So he shoots you. Man, Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws are a bitch.

In all three cases, the Keeper is making a move - inflict harm as established - which the rules say he or she can, and lay out guidelines for the circumstances under which it's appropriate. In some sense it's GM fiat, but circumscribed by the GM's Principles and Agenda.

But how is that any different than the GM fiat involved in deciding in the first place whether that NPC had a pistol or a shotgun? How is it any different from the GM fiat involved in placing the players in a situation with an armed, angry NPC?

Constructing a setting entails scads of GM fiat; making that setting realistic (make the world feel real), engaging (make the characters' lives not boring), heroic (be a fan of the characters), and surprising for everyone involved (sometimes, disclaim decision making and play to find out) entails putting boundaries on that GM fiat. That's what people are talking about when they say, "follow the fiction."

Does that help?

« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 02:00:13 AM by Munin »

StormKnight

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Wow, its been over two months since I posted here. I keep reopening this thread and trying to post, but I just get so frustrated that I don't bother. I've never gone back to the game we were playing; just left it frozen mid trying to disarm the guy. I would really, really like to finish up the game. It is driving me mad. I mean, I am literally losing sleep over this stupid game, but I feel like it will just be a disaster if I try to go back to it. I haven't the faintest idea how to play - I feel like I have even less of an idea than when this all started, with so many conflicting and confusing answers. I keep thinking I should try the individual move topic threads, but I'd be asking about all sorts of very specific details and I'm not even sure I understand the underlying concepts.

There's a lot of things that have been said that I really disagree with, but I don't think arguing will get anywhere. Munin, I'm sorry, I get that you are trying to be helpful, but I think we are just so out of sync that we're not even communicating with each other.

I'm going to try to revist an example that got made here, but I want to remind people (since this has been a long time) what the context originally was for this example. I posted this example in response to this comment:

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.

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Let's again take an example; in our last session, a character attempted to lash out with her chain-blade and disarm the poacher who was pointing a rifle at her. She rolled in the 7-9 range, and the game came to a crashing stop because we just couldn't figure out what should happen next - ie, what would keep things moving in a fun direction. Its been several weeks now. We just haven't gone back because this got so frustrating.

What was actually happening here? Was the poacher threatening to shoot the character? Were they trying to get away? Were they trying to kill someone else?

What was the PC trying to accomplish? How were they doing it?

OK, so more details: Things are going on out on a wilderness wildlife preserve, that a supernatural creature is now stalking. The first thing the PCs found indicating something was going on was a mangled body, which belong to a poacher who had run afoul of the creature. The other poachers had come in a group to find out what happened to their teammate. One was scouting ahead, and she ran into the creature. The PCs heard her screams and managed to get there in time to save her life (though her leg was badly mangled). They fought the creature briefly and it fled. While they were applying first aid to the badly injured woman, the rest of the group found them. The poacher's leader assumed they'd attacked the woman; the PCs tried to explain how a monster had done this and they were all in danger, but didn't succeed (failed Manipulate Someone). The poacher leader demanded that the PCs drop their weapons and come along. Beth wasn't willing to drop her weapon. The poacher approacher her, threatening her with the rifle. Her weapon is a mystical artifact; a set of blades built into gauntlets with an extendible chain allowing them to be whipped out at a distance. Since they were retracted when the poachers showed up (plus its a really odd weapon), he had no idea that he'd come within her reach, and she lashed out the chain to try to grab the rifle out of his hands. The PCs don't want a fight, nor do they want to have to go with the poachers.

Again, what I was trying to figure out here was not "what are things that could POSSIBLY happen", but "how do I use the rules to get to something fun happening?" Because I'm just not seeing that.

========================================

Back on actual example, I really have no idea what to do after this bit gets resolved. They'll probably try to get back to the main complex, getting the injured person to medical aid. They took a jeep out, but wrecked it (on a mixed success when they heard the scream, I gave the option to either get there in time to help but damage the jeep or get there safely but probably too late), so it will be on foot. Should the creature attack them and harry them along the way? Trying to get through wildlands with an injured person and some hostile traveling companions sounds like, in theory, it would be pretty interesting, but I haven't the faintest idea how to run a situation like this in the game.

Or, since my countdown didn't include "creature stalks the PCs while they travel" (which, obviously it wouldn't since I didn't know the PCs will do this) should it just keep heading towards the main base and eat a bunch of people. That's a possibility, but I think it would be pretty boring and basically make the PCs "fail" when they had practically no info to go on yet.