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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Apocalypse World] Garyin  (Read 1183 times)
henebry
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Posts: 16


« on: December 02, 2009, 08:52:45 PM »

Just finished our first session, set in the wasted remains of Gary Indiana. The old industrial center now lies some twenty miles of cracked mudflats south of the lakeshore.

First session got off to a good start, with
Chuck Henebry (that's me) as MC

Alexander D as Nero, an ex-Hardholder from Motor City who's been running an operation out of an old service station on the outskirts of Garyin for about two years.

Mike McLawhorn as Dean, the leader of a motorcycle gang that came from a place of relative plenty in the Baltimore container port. Their education had come entirely from movies, and the gang was modeling itself on Hollywood cliches from the 50s. He's come to Garyin for the 'Fest, a fall trade festival.

Richard Hughes as Abe, an Angel who arrives in town with Dean's gang, together with her intern.

Will as James, a man of mystery from out west, who drives into town in a BMW (a "beemer") with a rep.

We had a good time fleshing out connections between characters. But I didn't ask enough pointed questions about how characters managed to get by, how they scrounged around for a living, where they found a safe place to lay their heads at night. Just asking that sort of question would have communicated the game setting's atmosphere of universal shortage. Much of what the players and I set forth has a feeling of permanence and of plenty?from Dean's background growing up watching videofilms to the tradition of a fall festival to which people travel for purposes of trade.

I think I also need to press harder for strong NPCs, characters with simple but specific motives and duties. I've been good about giving them names, but up to now not very good about giving them control over stuff that the players want. Thus, the player characters have interacted primarily with one another?but the interactions have been interesting: attempts at seduction, at intimidation, at reading the situation, etc.

Looking for fun, we ran through a number of pvp conflicts, as well as some conflicts motivated by jobs that Nero was handing out to James and to Dean. This worked pretty well, but I was still getting accustomed to the system, and have been loath to really take out the long knives.

At one point, James rolled snake eyes while trying to blow past a checkpoint manned by the Diamond Dogs. I responded by saying that they put a bullet in one of his tires, causing the car to spin out of control into a large heap of trash. How much further should I have pressed the bad guys' advantage? I wound up letting him off easy?1-barter for help changing his tire.
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 05:49:04 AM »

Huh. Well, so yeah. What happens is that the players want to set their characters up with preexisting success, security and plenty, and if you let them, that's just what they'll do.

But all it means is that you'll have to work that much harder on your fronts. The prob is twofold. First, success and plenty are boring, so you have to threaten it, no choice about that. Second, just plain threatening it, like "ha ha you made a thing, my guys are going to knock it down" is also boring. So you'll want to make threats to their security that are really grounded in the situation.

Make sense?

I'd be happy to offer any thoughts or advice I can, of course. Also if you feel like it, write up your fronts and post 'em here. I'd love to see them.

Oh and, yeah, 1-barter to help change a tire isn't the hardest, most direct move I've ever seen, but that's fine. You make the move you want to make, and if that was the move you wanted to make, great.

-Vincent
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henebry
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 05:35:36 PM »

Thanks for the offer for help with fronts. I'll take you up on it over the weekend.

No question but I let James off easily. If there were one thing I could change about myself to make myself a better GM, it's that I don't like to press my advantage. But if I had sent clear signals ahead of time (These guys look pretty tough. You'd better think before you try to just blow past them) I'd have had no compunction about leaving him roughed up and bleeding. But I'd fudged the initial description (There's some guys huddling around a fire in an oil drum. A few of them have big guns strapped over their shoulders. As you pull up, they turn around. One's trying to wave you down, the other's got his gun up and is pointing it at you.) and so felt bad giving him the shaft. The warning was there, but it came in at the very end, and didn't get the full emphasis it should have had.

I need to unlearn the habit of holding my cards close. Put them out on the table and let the players decide what to do?I know that's the key to running your games.

I really like what you're saying here about the tricky business of threatening the characters' security. The players want an interesting story but they also really love what they've created, and they hate to see it threatened?indeed that's the very emotion which motivates their clever solutions to tough predicaments.

So threats can't seem arbitrary, they have to arise from the fabric of the situation already laid down. We did have a challenge to the Chopper's authority last night?it didn't get far, but it arose from the right kind of player-generated problem on the home front: Abe had attracted the interest of Frankie (a gang member), and when Abe tried to cozy up to James, Frankie tried to start a fight with James. That brought Dean in, and so later (when a die roll went bad for Dean when he sent some gang members out on recon) I knew just what to say: Sure. Frankie and a couple of others leave right away, but six hours later they've still not come back. When Dean walked out of the compound with a few low-level guys backing him, around midnight, he found Frankie and her group waiting for him. They'd never done the recon. They'd been sitting outside drinking moonshine, badmouthing Dean and trying to work up the courage to go in and challenge him. Frankie stepped up to Dean, but Dean put her down hard. He managed to recover his leadership, but he'll start the next day with a big job to do and no useful intel.

A few miscellaneous questions:

1) if I had really come down hard on James, how should I have handled his car? It's part of his character conception, so I wouldn't want to take it away from him. But whenever he's in danger it'd seem likely that it would take damage, even lose mobility. On the one hand, I don't want to treat him with kid gloves. On the other hand it seems like that car could easily become his albatross.

2) what happens if you highlight Weird on an Angel? The Angel uses Sharp to open his brain to the psychic maelstrom, and doesn't have any other moves that use weird. So I wasn't clear if someone could highlight Weird on Abe, just to mess with him, or if that would be off-limits.

3) The players all wanted to know why a sawed off shotgun isn't classed as loud. They also noticed that a .38 appears to be at a mechanical disadvantage to a .9 mm, since it has reload while the .9 mm does not.
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DWeird
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Posts: 75


« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 01:58:25 AM »

I don't see why you're saying the challenge to Dean didn't go far. If "big job, but no recon" isn't an invitation for you to screw things up for them, I don't know what is! As for your questions:

1) I think your job isn't to protect a driver's niche or anything. It simply is to make the world seem real - so, when it feels like the car should be busted up or get a flat or something, go for it. If you feel guilty about that for some reason, well... Wait until he's driving into serious fire, or dodging explosions, and either busts a roll or gets a mixed success - then you either screw things up for him immediatelly, or give him a tough choice: "Well, now you did it. There's definitelly not enough space for you to change your course now. You could jump out the car right now and avoid most injuries, or you could drive straight into that machinegun nest, and see what happens."

I've been playing as a driver in an AW game. I've had my character get out of the car in enemy territory... I was paranoid as hell. One - what if they take my car?! And two - damnit, I'm as good as naked without my car! And, of course, the derivative of "if they take my car, I'll be like naked for way too long!" That felt really tense, and really fun. Exploit a driver's sense of vulnerability if you can! And don't worry - if it comes to the car exploding, the driver can usually just get a new car as an improvement. Or do it another way - I have a car that I really like and I wouldn't want to lose it, so in case I ever DO lose it, our MC cooked up a move that lets you roll+weird for "your car is suddenly there, with an explanation or not," similar to the savvyhead's bonefeel. Don't have the move quite yet, but it'll definitelly be the driver move I pick.

Oh, and! When a driver makes a car, he chooses weaknesses. They should come into play every once in a while, at the worst possible time. Unreliable: "You get into the car, ready to run, turn the key and put he pedal to the metal. The engine caughs and dies." Cramped: "After that shot, there some sort of... whirring sound? right behind your head. You can't really turn around and check what it is without leaving the controls untended - too little space." It both makes the world look real and spices things up some. I picked a guzzler, and I've been pretty paranoid about suddenly running out of juice since... Which now seems like it'll inevitably happen next session, but I don't know WHEN. Fun fun!

2) Quoted for justice:

Quote from: lumpley
I don?t recommend highlighting an obsolete stat - and thus screwing someone out of a stat?s advancement - as a good practice, but yep, the game allows it.

It?s obviously not something the MC will do. The MC gets to highlight a stat in order to make the characters? lives interesting, and highlighting an obsolete stat doesn?t. Choose a stat that will!

If another player highlights your obsolete stat, though, all she?s really saying is that she?s tired of being the person who knows you best. It?s time to demote her Hx with you and promote someone else?s. It?s irritating, but screw her, right?

So yes, an expected situation.

Now there?s one last wrinkle, which is that as MC you might have made threats that force rolls+weird on people. ?If the cult is in control of the food supply, whenever you eat, roll+weird? for instance. Your angel would still roll+weird for those, of course. In that case, highlighting her weird still might be the thing to do.

3) Messy automatically means it's also loud, and a sawed-off is messy (it confused me too). If the weapon is a messy mellee one, the loud comes from the victims screaming. And the weapons are not supposed to be balanced, just of appropriate colour for the character and statted up reasonably (a chopper's sawed-off and an angel's sawed-off can very well be two different things). For example - I picked a machette for my driver because I wanted him to chop people up when driving at high speeds, not because it had the best damage per second ratio. As for reloading... I think reload doesn't just mean a gun uses ammo, it means that it takes a noticeable pause to reload it? A .9 mm is fast and easy, a .38 is not.
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henebry
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2009, 06:01:32 AM »

I don't see why you're saying the challenge to Dean didn't go far.

You misunderstand me. We didn't finish that storyline due to time constraints. But no recon is golden. I'm really looking forward to making life tough for him when play resumes. I need to work out how to adapt the job into an aspect of one of my Fronts.

Thanks for your other comments about what it's like to play a driver, and how the car's vulnerability can be made a source of tension rather than bother. I'd guess that the distinction the game makes between incidental fire and concentrated fire should apply to the car's vulnerability in any given scene.

And thanks for the tips on the weapons. I'd figured that they weren't statted for balance, but your explanation re "messy" is really helpful. It wasn't intuitively clear to me that Loud would be an inheirited property of Messy.
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DWeird
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2009, 06:40:33 AM »

Yeah, the messy/loud thing is confusing... Nothing in the name tells you it is what is, and I think it's also the only "this trait is also another trait" thing in the game. Unless you count close/far, but it just doesn't seem to have that problem... There's a paragraph about the messy tag in the book, but I only found it because I was looking for it, and I was looking for it only because I confusedly asked about a weapon I picked off a large-eyed mutant.

And I think incidental/concentrated fire are only meant for all-out battles? Exploiting the car's weakness is a regular MC move (activate their stuff's downside), which means it is an option whenever you should do a hard move - on a failed roll, or when a player neglected something (forgetting to pour enough into a guzzler, for instance). And doing damage to the car is a roundabout way of dishing out harm, I think - again, you should do that when you should do a hard move.


What are the beemer's stats, by the way? Sheer curiosity here.
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henebry
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 06:48:51 AM »

The Beemer:
2 Power, 1 Looks, 1 Armor, 1 Weakness.
Sedan, fast, responsive, sleek, loud

*********

Off-topic: how does +1/-1 Forward work? My guess is that it's a modifier that applies to the pc's next roll. The Brainer's in-brain puppet strings can give a -1 right now, which I'd guess means that the Brainer gets to wait until the best moment to impose the penalty on a roll. If so, a -1 Forward isn't as bad, since a canny player could expend the -1 on something with relatively low cost ? thought the MC would be within his rights to push forward a higher-cost encounter to take advantage of the penalty.

Also: I started a second game last night with a different group of players. And with better results because I was more on-guard against the tendency of players to want to make their starting situation safe and cozy.
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henebry
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2009, 08:18:28 PM »

Vincent, DWeird, others in the know:

Here are my notes in prep for play tomorrow night. I'm sorry I didn't get them together before now; I've been busy with end-of-term grading. I hope you'll have time to read this over and comment.

I was unclear whether I need to create several fronts or just a single front. For now I have one front (with three threats). I'm sure you'll all recognize what it owes to one of Vincent's examples from the playbook, but I've given it a bit of a twist to play up the connection with the Oktoberfest seasonal harvest festival that we'd invented as the occasion for the characters gathering in Garyin.


First, details on the four characters, together with vital NPCs attached to those characters:

Nero, operator: Signature wear, Weary eyes, Sturdy body
Moves: Moonlighting, Smooth
Gigs: Doing Murders, Brokering Deals, Tech Work (cars), Revenge
Crew: Doghead (Auto Mechanic), TumTum (Muscle), Partridge (Beautiful killer)

Dean, chopper: Showy, Leather Jacket, weary eyes and wiry body
Bike: fast, tight, sleek, vintage
Gang: "The Rat Pack": small, disciplined, mobile, high-maintainence bikes
Sammy D, second to Dean; Frankie (girl), muscle

Abe, angel: Woman, casual wear, haggard face, rangy body
Sixth Sense, Battlefield Grace
Bar, intern to Abe

James, driver:
Beemer: Sedan, fast, responsive, sleek, loud



I Wonder (from first episode):
  • How far will Abe go to keep her young intern Bar out of trouble?
  • What will Frankie do after her double humiliation at the hands of Abe and Dean?
  • How much control will Dean insist upon over his crew?
  • How tight an operation is Nero running? Doghead seems loyal and dedicated, but what weaknesses does he have?


Front: cult derisively called the Fetals, though they call themselves the Pantagrulians. They drink a special liquor prepared by their godling savior and pass into a fetal stupor for days. The cult has arrived in town for the harvest holiday, along with everyone else.

Dark future / agenda: Bar has a severe reaction to the cult's Ambrosia and becomes brain-damaged. Doghead becomes an addict, dependant on the cult for his supply. Frankie leads 1/3 of the Rat Pack off to join the cult.

Stakes: (as outlined in "I Wonder"): What will Abe give up to save Bar? What will Nero do to maintain discipline in his Crew? How much of Dean's crew will leave with Frankie?

Cast:
  • III, child prophet of universal thirst
  • Li, a Warlord/Prophet
  • Shazza, Fiana, cultist bodyguards.

Threats:
  • Li: warlord/prophet of III. Moves: denounce, frenzy
  • III, a child prophet. Custom move: if III's eyes fall upon you, roll+cool. On 10+, weird intensity to that gaze, but you're cool; on 7-9, the godling's eyes lock with yours and you feel yourself seized with a powerful thirst; act under fire to avoid drinking his nectar; on a miss, you've drunk without realizing it and are dancing in a frenzy.
  • All-Thirst, disease. Move: sicken or kill (addiction, fetal stupor, etc.)

Countdown:
  • before 3, eve of the festival, Doghead and TumTum are nowhere to be found. Doghead stumbles in at breakfast time, addled in his senses. TumTum
  • nowhere to be found.
  • before 6, festival midmorning, TumTum found unconscious behind tent on midway, curled in fetal position. Abe, called in for assessment, finds Bar is
  • missing. Signs spotted on midway advertising the satisfaction of thirst.
  • before 9, festival afternoon, Frankie bursts in bearing a bottle she's seized from a friendly cultist. Passes it round the Rat Pack
  • before 10, festival in full swing, Doghead goes looking for his fix
  • before 11, chanting starts up in the cult's tent. Bar floating in giant jar.
  • before 12, Frankie leads 1/3 to 2/3 of the Rat Pack out for more o' that fine liquor. They're intent on violence, but will be converted when they get there.

Not sure I'm planning the countdown very effectively. This is the order of events if the characters fail to do anything, which of course won't be true.
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DWeird
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 01:33:31 AM »

Man, it's nice to see a full write-up for a front - I'm at the point where I'm making those for my maybe-game (one session in, not sure if it'll continue), so it helps to see how other people are doing it.

It all looks cool, except maybe the specificness of the countdown being a little too much? If the players throw a wrench in the plans, you'll be stuck there, trying to re-do the plan on the spot. Something like this may be more useful:

6 - the cult makes a move for people close to you.
9 - everyone you know get drunk on the stuff.
12 - your people - they're the cult's, now.

That's horribly sketchy, and I'm not sure I'm doing it right without the book in front of me, but the general idea seems to be "when the clock reaches that number, the front makes this move", and not "when the clock reaches that number, this happens."

Hopefully, Vincent will clarify this.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 12:46:20 PM »

You'll want to have 3 or 4 fronts in play at any given time, but you can build up to that. 1 is enough for the second session, but during the session look like crazy for the seeds for more.

The purpose of the countdown is to remind you that you've got plans, so that in the heat of play you can look down and say "oh YEAH, I remember!" Right now they look like future plot points, and you should never ever plan future plot points.

You might want a couple of countdowns. One for the cult leader's frenzied rioting (maybe 9:00, the rioting starts; 12:00, the festival is in flames) and another for the disease's influence.

Oh and your agenda/dark future is pretty tame. I'd push it to the wall: the cult burns the festival to the ground, kills or destroys the lives of all the PCs and NPCs, and totally absorbs any survivors.

Friend Chuck, you gotta sharpen your crosshairs! Repeat with me: there are no status quos in Apocalypse World. Everything is fuel for the fire! Everyone is meat!

Thanks for showing us this, it's great help and I appreciate it. I'm excited to hear what you decide, what you do and how it goes.

-Vincent
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henebry
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 12:48:56 PM »

Thanks for the pep talk, Vincent.

Blood and fire from here forward!
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