[Apocalypse World] Provocative Questions?

edited May 2010 in Story Games
I'm prepping for the first session of an Apocalypse World game and I'm trying to compile a good list of questions one might ask the players. I'm thinking a good list of questions might help when I hit a snag and need to ask something.

Does anyone have any memorable questions that were provocative from their first session of Apocalypse World?


  • Not an expert, but here are my two cents...
    Depends a lot on what characters your players are going to pick, the setup of your town etc. I'd boil it down to:

    1. Ask questions that aim at relationships. "How long have you known her?" "How does it feel when he's around?" "Which one of them do you hate the most?"

    2. Ask questions that aim at scarcity. "Where do you guys get your water?" "How long before the wild rabbits die out and you have to find a new source of food?" "Who has control over gasoline in your hold?"

    3. Ask questions that relate to their special stuff. "What does it feel like when you open your brain?" "What do you tell your followers about the gods?" "Has your gang been happy lately?"
  • If a character has a group of dudes (gang, crew, followers, whatever), I like to ask "Okay, who stands out the most? Who's the most vulnerable?" That's just because I dig Hunting Packs and Enforcers, though.
  • Relationships, yeah. If you've been doing your apocalyptic dreaming then a lot of the questions will just follow from that, but you've got to know how it all fits together. Christian asked us who we've been sleeping with, if anyone, or who we had our eye on.

    Start with a "how can I fuck with the characters" frame and a few other questions should pop to mind, things that get at what the characters care about and have to fight to get/keep.
  • Yeah, that's where "look for where they're not in control" comes in.

    Who do they care about? Who has power over them? Where are the vulnerabilities in their supply or support?

    I'm currently debating whether to ask my next set of questions along those lines via email or wait for the next session. :)
  • To be honest, when I'm running a question-based game like Lady Blackbird or Ghost/Echo and I don't have anything good handy, I cheat outrageously. Leading questions, man. Players will fall for them every time.

    "You're not just going to let Zed get away with what he did, are you?" ("Hell no!") "Right. What was it he did again?"
    "Does Ambergrease hate you even more than he hates the rest of them?" ("Oh shit yeah he does.") "Thought so. Was it because you stole from him, or was it that you made him look weak?"
    "Whitechurch thinks you're going to stab him in the back. Is he right?" ("Hmm. Yeah!") [Alternatively] ("Nope.") "Cool. Who ARE you going to betray, then?"
    "Who's the one person in this room you would save? If--just hypothetically--a grenade were to pop in the window in the next minute or so."

    The nice thing about this approach is that it allows you to sneak in some really hard framing (or Future Badness) without it feeling like fiat and making the players feel like they're being backed up to the wall. Players love to find sneaky ways out of situations where they're being pressured into doing something, but if you lead them along with questions, there's this little mental switch that goes "of course I want to do this! I answered yes!" Then you can aim them at anything you want like the engines of destruction that they are.
  • The main points have been covered pretty well but I like asking the players "Who makes life the hardest for your character? And why / how?" They basically hand you fronts. Fronts they care about.

    Care about destroying utterly, that is.
  • edited May 2010
    Another good source of provocative questions are the character playbooks themselves. Ask follow-ups to their HX questions. Like, "Oh, man, you stood up to him, gang and all? What did you stand up to him about?" or "So he left you bleeding, huh? Okay, who got you bleeding in the first place? And you, why'd you leave him instead of helping him?"

    Some playbooks are better in this regard than others.

    Edit to add: And if you've got an Operator, question that obligation gig like crazy, man. Seeking Answers? Revenge? Paying Debts? That's money, right there.
  • This is great stuff guys. Thanks for the feedback.
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