Author Topic: Prescriptive and Descriptive - holdings, wealth, leadership, and gangs  (Read 918 times)

Paul T.

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I'm curious about people's experiences and "best practices" for when characters find themselves in charge of a holding or a gang.

When a player selects the appropriate improvement, I have no problem handling that - basically, assuming the fictional details are in place, we just conspire together to make the desired outcome happen, no problem.

But what about when a character maneuvers in the fiction so as to become the head of a gang or a holding? How do you handle it then?

Let's say the hardholder is dead, and a PC steps into his place. "I'm in charge here now!"

In your experience, what's the best timing and approach for "making it official"? Do you give the player the appropriate moves, wait for them to be paid with an Improvement, bank it in advance, or what? To what extent do you try to make the fiction and the moves coincide, if at all?

I can imagine a few different ways this could go, and I'd love to hear a) some examples of how it's gone in your games, and b) how you think it works best or should work.

Thank you!

Ebok

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Re: Prescriptive and Descriptive - holdings, wealth, leadership, and gangs
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 01:02:40 AM »
I've never had it happen without the player themselves making sure they had a suitable advancement coming.

Otherwise, I think I'd probably not give them moves for free. I mean maybe, but certainly not because the player said, I'm in charge now! I'd be like lol, okay. Sure. Then I would break the holding or gang into parts that begin to cannibalize itself. If the player is really serious, I might offer them the opportunity to change playbooks, but I'd probably just let them come up with that plan themselves.

Paul T.

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Re: Prescriptive and Descriptive - holdings, wealth, leadership, and gangs
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 11:10:17 PM »
That's been my experience, too.

However, I'm thinking about a scenario where various PCs are potentially in a position to "take over" the leadership of the holding or a gang (not too dissimilar to Sunken Sydney, perhaps) and that's got me thinking about what might be the best way to handle it.

Does anyone else have a different experience with this, either good or bad? What can we take away from that?

Paul T.

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Re: Prescriptive and Descriptive - holdings, wealth, leadership, and gangs
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2018, 05:17:06 PM »
No takers?

I'd love to hear how people have handled this, what went well, what didn't.

Maleficum

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Re: Prescriptive and Descriptive - holdings, wealth, leadership, and gangs
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2018, 05:26:33 PM »


In your experience, what's the best timing and approach for "making it official"? Do you give the player the appropriate moves, wait for them to be paid with an Improvement, bank it in advance, or what? To what extent do you try to make the fiction and the moves coincide, if at all?

I can imagine a few different ways this could go, and I'd love to hear a) some examples of how it's gone in your games, and b) how you think it works best or should work.

A)  Well, the reverse was true for my Hardholder just now. As the Gunlugger and Skinner siblings wanted Vega and his daughter to come with them to Geiger Town (which from were they escaped a year before), the three f them convinced Vega to drop, and with the XP from not killing the "pet" (a freakin' click beast) and abondining the attempt to save his Hold(sfolk) he emerged from scavenging a basement ruin as a Battlebabe.

In another game I MC'ed the Hocus, who had abonded the cult as everyone abondened the hold (NPC Hardholder) and come back to see the cult in horrible practices, actually lost 4-5 XP in the firefight as she could not decide if she'd take over the hold (advance: change playbook to Hardholder) or to do the route (advance: chance playbook to Angel). It wasn't decided until as a "worse outcome" the child she was bearing (whom the player really wasn't that involved with) was lost (MC Move: "You feel blood running inside your thighs") and suddenly the player wanted to keep the child and advanced to Angel). As she raised herself to take in the battlefield I asked what Ember thought of the people running about: "I have nothing but contempt for these sheep, who will follow any lead but their own. I still have sympathy for humans as induviduals, though."



B)   I believe there's no real true way to do it, but I believe in making players (including myself) pay for upgrades. We once had a Hold were the Angel's Hardholder wife ended in a coma and noone really took command, but people would refer to the battle-hardened medic, and it was clear he was not able to do things as easy as if he'd have the Hardholder playbook.

I'm really a fan of having players put their XP were their mouth is, and there should be a fictional difference between a Hardholder hard+2 and a gunlugger hard+2 (or even hard+3), as Vincent talked about in the X/Y-axis of playbooks. (Some have lot's of personal power, others lot's of fictional positioning - and the Battlebabe flips the bird to establish the z-axis.)

ColdLogic

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I ran a game where the PCs' holding was a more-or-less leaderless convoy of a few dozen vehicles trekking across the wastes. We had a Savvyhead with a high concept personal mission, and everyone was basically following her on it because they bought into the idea and things couldn't have gotten much worse back home out East. So early on, it became clear that she was the go-to person when people in the 'holding' had questions or needed to know what to do -- she was the smartest, always had a plan, always knew what to do, etc. By the third or fourth session she was pretty much the de facto hardholder (and always had been). The player waited until her next advance and took the 'get a gang' improvement, but we had already been playing with her having a gang the whole time. Taking the advancement just gave her leadership.

My advice -- if they get a gang in the fiction, give them a gang. They don't get leadership or pack alpha or other playbook gang moves. But they can go aggro and do battle with the gang just the same. Scratch it off their advancement list as if they took it as an advancement; don't be a grinch and make them spend their next advancement for something that happened in the fiction.

Munin

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I don't think it's necessarily an issue of "being a Grinch" but rather one of what the interplay of mechanical and fictional effects might be. Not all groups of people are "gangs."

For instance, in the case of a Hardholder or a Chopper, you have a group of people who are dedicated to doing violence at your behest or on your behalf. But in the case of a Hocus, you have a group of people following you because of their beliefs, but who may have no interest in doing violence on your behalf. Your followers are expressly not a gang (unless you whip them up to it through the use of frenzy, which has its own risks and consequences).

So no, a rag-tag caravan of people following a Savvyhead around is not a gang. It's a motley group of people who figure you're their best ticket out of whatever misery they were in before. But the moment you tell them, "OK, I need you all to go over there and kill those guys," (i.e. use them like a weapon) they're likely to balk. Why? Because they're not a gang. They're just people, and in all likelihood people who don't want any trouble. Not everyone who lives in a hold is part of the Hardholder's gang. In fact the gang is usually a pretty small minority of a hold's population.

My advice is therefore a bit different from ColdLogic's, which is that you should make a distinction between "people who follow your lead" and "people willing to do violence for you," and that you should generally reserve the latter for people who felt that it was important enough to spend an advance on. The fiction is king, obviously, but it's important to keep the underlying game mechanics in mind in that fictional context.

ColdLogic

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I think we're saying the same thing, except in the fiction of your games you decide to not have NPCs willing to fight and die for a PC unless the player takes the advance, while in mine I.. not 'do', but also am not opposed to it on principle. Either is fine. In the case I described above, by the time the question came up, it wouldn't have made sense to have the NPCs balk.

Not sure about your reading of the hocus. I haven't seen the hocus in action much (only had a few sessions with one), but it looks to me like frenzy is for a mob of non-followers. And the moves section explicitly calls out seize by force and the rules for gangs inflicting/taking harm. Seems to me like the playbook wants the hocus to be thinking about how to use their followers as a gang. I also note there's no advance to get a gang except the generic 'get a move from another playbook'. On the other hand, your followers are 'loyal to you, but not fanatical' by default. So like everything, it's up to the kind of personhood the MC gives each of them.

Munin

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Yeah, it's likely. Most of running AW is shades of interpretation, and like I said, the fiction is king.

My interpretation of the Hocus' followers comes from the fact that nowhere in the Hocus playbook, nor in the rules for Followers themselves in the GM section does it specify any of the tags associated with gangs: size, harm, and armor. In every context in which a "gang" appears, it has these things (and in order to be used as a weapon it has to). Between that and the description of "dedicated to you but not fanatical," that implies pretty strongly that this is not a combat force. They are disciples, not soldiers. Could you perhaps convince one of them to embark on a suicide mission or voluntarily give his or her life for a cause? Sure, go for it! But to fight as a cohesive group on your behalf? That's not immediately clear, and made less so by the fact that you have no associated tags to tell you what kind of a gang they might constitute.

And frenzy[/I just says a mob. The requirement that those be non-followers is never specified. Ergo, if you want to whip your followers into a frenzy of violence in order to act as though they were a gang, go for it. Just realize that unlike commanding an actual, dedicated gang, frenzy has its own requirements and drawbacks (i.e. you have to be speaking the truth, and there's the remote but very real chance the mob turns on you).

nerdwerds

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No takers?


I'm just seeing this thread now. Without reading all the responses here, I *have* had this happen in a game. The player thought maybe he could just finesse taking over a hold without taking the associated improvement, and I never told him he couldn't make the attempt, but I did make it explicitly clear that he would not get barter from being in charge until he took the move ("What honesty demands"). Basically, I treated the whole thing as an invitation to make new threats, it was a lot of fun and I spent a great deal of time looking through crosshairs and responding with fuckery and intermittent rewards.

For example, he can say he's in charge, and if he's got a big gun people will be pushed around face-to-face, but as soon as he would leave the populace would plot against him and actively undermine his authority. He got fed up and started bombing buildings (he was a Driver with an APC) and that's when an open revolt occurred. By the end of it he took the improvement, but his holding had been decimated - mostly by him - so I told him he'd either have to have a small population or make his gang +savage. I forget what he took, but he spent the rest of the game regretting the rebellion he created.
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Paul T.

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Thanks!

Lots of good answers here. I appreciate it!