Author Topic: Going to PbtA from Forum RP  (Read 2194 times)

Mollisol

  • User
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« on: October 04, 2017, 02:28:18 AM »
(Wasn't sure whether to put this here or somewhere else. If it needs to be moved, it needs to be moved.)

Hello all,

Most of my RP experience comes from forum RP, rather than dice-based RP. While I've read a lot of advice on how traditional RPG players can have a better experience with PbtA games, I would like to know tips on how a forum RPer such as myself can get into the right headspace for Apocalypse World. I've played a few PbtA games by post, and face to face, and it gives me the impression that what works for one "medium" doesn't always work for the other. I feel like I'm always struggling to make things up or use the moves in a useful way. Any tips would be appreciated!

Ebok

  • User
  • Posts: 415
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 07:19:49 AM »
Well. Forum gaming is more like writing a book then gaming. There's a lot of do this and come back to it later and do it some more. In person, everything is immediate, you say something and you can see the reactions of those around you immediately. Play off that. You do something, and shit goes down hill, but there's no time to think and carefully mule it over, you gotta do something now. Do  the first thing that comes to the characters mind. When you're playing in person, it's best to start figuring out little rules of thumb for a character. ex: He's really aggressive, anytime I'm pushed, my reaction is to push back, even if I shouldn't. He's really aggressive, if I don't know what to do, or get stuck, I'm going to beat or threaten the right answer out of someone. He's really emotional, and doesn't know how to handle other people, so he makes contact in forceful ways.

You can figure out a few go-to rules for your character pretty quick, make sure they involve DOING something. Easy rules make for quick fall backs to decision making, which can help keep the fiction flowing.

Pretty much the only other advise I have is to play with the people around you. That's really the most important part, and the only one that makes or breaks a game.

benhamill

  • User
  • Posts: 34
    • View Profile
    • Programming Blog
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2017, 01:53:34 AM »
I'll second the "make rules" thing. The deal in the MC section of the AW rulebook about making them just not that complicated works for PCs, too. You can get complicated over time, but you don't have to start there. One of the funnest characters I ever played (a different game, but still) I came to the table with the idea that he would never consider the downsides to any potential action at all and that he'd choose to do whatever he felt he'd look coolest doing, have the most fun doing or feel the most awesome having done when it worked (no "if" because don't consider the failure cases). He was wildly consistent because that rubric is pretty simple. This made him feel more real, not less, to the other players because they couldn't detect this fairly simple rule system explicitly and only experienced the consistency implicitly. Honestly, playing a caricature is a good idea as long as it's not just straight up 100% an existing trope with no changes.

Mollisol

  • User
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2017, 12:04:20 PM »
Thank you, Ebok and Benhamill! All of your posts sound really useful and kind of zen. Do you have any tips for MCing it as well?

Ebok

  • User
  • Posts: 415
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2017, 09:21:09 PM »
Sorry for the late response. I saw this when you posted, but I needed some time to answer.

As an MC, your goal is to convey a real world to your players, something they can feel part of and inhabit. In order to do this, you need to also make the npcs that inhabit your world real. In this way, the book offers you a variety of threat types that you can start to lean into, but these threat types are often generic, and following them literally will leave you with very standardized types of people in your world. Instead you can build your npcs much in the same way I suggested above for player characters. You first put them in the world, give them a name, ask questions to players or yourself to find out who they are and the thing it is they suffer from. That is their thing, their want, and you structure a couple rules of action around it. Then you network.

You take that NPC and you ask, who does this person know, care about, need, want, fear? Why? And you step into those people and you find out who they are by having them interact with the players. Or you tie two seperate npcs together with a third. This process takes place mostly on scene, and is informed on while you ponder in between sessions. I wonder why that npc reacted like that? I wonder what makes so-so a threat? Is their threat aimed at the players or someone else? It is probably driven by a need, a lack, a scarcity in their world.

Your next focus, or perhaps your first focus as an MC is to include your players. By involving them, you don't need to come up with everything on your own, you can form a collective story. In this way you can be surprised, and play right along side them. For this reason it is essential that you enjoy the characters your players are bringing to the table. You're suppose to be a fan of them, that's how you can tell the story in a way that helps them move forward, rather push them back. Some of the biggest struggles with groups are find those sweet spots where everyone is on board, so when you do come across them, remember them. Those are what you'll want to build from most.

Mollisol

  • User
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 04:06:50 AM »
Hello Ebok,

It's okay that it took a long time to respond. Between then and now, I went on an excursion through the "roleplay theory: hardcore" section, which led me to The Forge and a few related web sites. I feel they helped give me a better understanding of how AW "plays", as well as some useful information about roleplaying games and ways they can work. Then again, that's no substitute for actually playing! (Also, please forgive me if I'm speaking oddly? I've noticed that some of these forums are kind of... old. And populated by people who almost certainly have a lot more RPG experience than me.)

Your words on threats make a lot of sense. If I view them in terms of mechanics and moves, rather than focusing on what makes them characters, then of course they'll feel generic.

Asking players questions about the NPCs and how they fit into life is something I'm not quite used to - it's a general assumption on forums I'm on that "the world outside the players" is under the GM's exclusive control - but it can't be that hard with practice and combing the forums. And forming a collective story sounds like... it's really different than what I'm used to, but you've given me some useful tips, so it's not daunting. Like, it seems to be okay that I don't know everything before it happens like some sort of novel, because the game rules tell me how to figure out the game world, the people in it, and how they act, as I play rather than deciding it all beforehand. And they (and you) are telling me it's okay and good to give the players more influence in that world. And it seems very important to pay attention to and be excited about players' characters, because the story is collective rather than "fed" by a GM or MC.

Basically, thank you. This kind of highlighted what I'd been missing. I hope this response is an illustration of me understanding rather than misconstruing what you said.

Munin

  • User
  • Posts: 395
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 05:08:32 PM »
Yeah, Mollisol, it sounds like you're getting the crux of how PbtA games play.

In terms of "the world outside the players," I think the best advice is to "ask provocative questions and build on the answers." The important caveat here, however, is that the question does have to be provocative, i.e. it must provoke a response. The trick for the MC is to structure the question such that a brief, non-committal answer isn't really relevant. You want to build a hook into a question in order to elicit a response. Asking, "Who taught Skeeter to fight?" is extremely open-ended, and doesn't really provoke the character. Instead, ask, "Who taught Skeeter how to fight, and who killed that mentor?" That establishes something in the fiction - you (the MC) have introduced a fact about the world - your mentor is dead - but left it up to the player to decide who and how. Riff off their answer.

As an aside, the Hardholder playbook is aces for this: From whom did you seize power, and how did you get into a position where that was possible? Who did you have to put down like a dog? Who still opposes you and thinks they could do a better job? What did you have to compromise to get the support of the Water Clan?

Seriously, you could (and should) have a field day with this kind of stuff.

In terms of introducing NPCs, I find that it's often most effective for the MC to give an NPC a name and some tidbit of defining detail, then ask the player a question about that NPC's motivation in regard to the player: "There's this wiry, shifty-eyed dude named Skint. Rheumy eyes, always disheveled. Anyway, he's pounding on your door in a panic - what does he want?" This establishes that the PC and NPC already know each other. They clearly have some history (as evidenced by the fact that the PC recognizes Skint by sight, knows his name, and knows he's always unkempt), and you're inviting the player's input into that history.

But the important part here is that Skint is panicked, pounding on your door. This isn't a situation you're likely to blithely ignore. You are doing this expressly to provoke the player, to present them with a situation to which they must respond.

Ebok

  • User
  • Posts: 415
    • View Profile
Re: Going to PbtA from Forum RP
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 02:26:47 AM »
It'll take practice. Don't put to much pressure on yourself to do it "perfectly". Even after years of running these sorts of games, I find myself constantly learning, and messing up. lol. Give yourself some rules of thumb, and just jump in. The only real way to learn this, is to do it.