[apocaworld] doin' it right

edited June 2012 in Story Games
hey folks!
i'm going to (hopefully) be running ApocaWorld again soon, and i'll have one new player and at least 2 experienced AW players.

i'm quite comfortable running AW, but there's always room for improvement.
name one thing you wish most MC's did, or did better, and i will put it on my to-do list for this game.

Comments

  • Ask questions.
  • Ask questions +1.

    Hands off the story. Let things flow. Even when players generate cool stuff, a lot of the MCs I've played with start to put their hands all over it and try to guide it into the spotlight. It's totally rad to be excited, but play to find out! :D
  • Ask questions +1.

    Hands off the story. Let things flow. Even when players generate cool stuff, a lot of the MCs I've played with start to put their hands all over it and try to guide it into the spotlight. It's totally rad to be excited, but play to find out! :D
    No kidding. As a MC, I am the *worst* at this!

  • edited June 2012
    Ask questions +1.

    I've seen and been an MC that doesn't say a move is "do something under fire" often enough which is bad enough on the face of it, but is especially a bummer when Cool is highlighted and the MC keeps saying "okay" to everything attempted w/o making someone roll for it. No matter how much improv you've taken or how many hippie games you've been playing lately (S-G brain damage, I call it), your first instinct when someone tries to do something in Apocalypse World should often be "Maybe. It's a tough world. How exactly are you doing that again?" not "YES! And..."

    Some MCs probably have the opposite problem. Might be a left coast thing. ;)
  • · Make the Psychic Maelstrom awesome (that's my best suit).
    · Remember to ask questions back when PCs ask the Maelstrom questions (I'm terrible at this).
  • · Make the Psychic Maelstrom awesome (that's my best suit).
    · Remember to ask questions back when PCs ask the Maelstrom questions (I'm terrible at this).
    That's something I never forget because I have no idea how to make the Psychic Maelstrom awesome until I ask them something like, "Who was the first person you ever kissed? What happened?" ;)

  • I know it's in the book, but for me as an MC the hardest is "look through crosshairs". Everything should be on the verge of destruction, and the game is so much mord fun when that's out in the open at the table. The look on players' faces when they attack someone or something, and instead of making them roll you just "it burns, explodes, dies, evaporates"
  • More I read it, more I think that AW could do Game of Thrones very well. Down to the hardholder and brainer playbooks.
  • Nemo,
    Pointing out that bit with the "brain damage" is a good call - I realized when I was running Dungeon World that I should be focusing on using the moves as written, not making someone roll because there was a chance of failure. "Say yes or roll the dice" does NOT apply to AW :)
  • Make some Fronts and Threats, and only pay any attention to them when the players haven't already kind of framed conflicts for themselves.

    Your "feel" for the story will always be a little less than the PCs so, yeah, ask questions, and don't ever be "in control."
  • edited June 2012
    Your "feel" for the story will always be a little less than the PCs so, yeah, ask questions, and don't ever be "in control."
    this accurately describes how i feel when i go low on prep and look to the players as the "engine" of play. it feels slightly hollow at times, and i find that the very best moments of play occur when the players have a strong lead. that points to the importance of having self-directed players for this game - you need them to try stuff so you can bust out the hard moves.
  • Slow the fuck down. I know moves snowball and shit but take your time with the fiction. Details, positioning, colour. It's not a bloody race.
  • "Tell the consequences and ask" is a great substitute for when none of the moves seem to fit. Think of a cost or a consequence, and then ask them to commit to that or back out.

    "Sure, you can make it there in time, but you're gonna have to burn all your gas to do it."
    "You can probably get more information out of them, but it's going to cost you 1-barter and an hour of hanging around buying drinks"

    When you're making up custom moves, don't immediately jump to rolling a stat. Think first if you can make a no-roll move. "Take +1 forward" should be a last resort. The world does not need more complex subsystems for deciding if you get a +1 bonus.

  • The world does not need more complex subsystems for deciding if you get a +1 bonus.
    Indeed.

  • More I read it, more I think that AW could do Game of Thrones very well.
    Actually, this is already in the works.
  • Funny you should mention GoT, when the characters shot their first hardholder in the head and took over his town, one of the players said, "We just went from D&D adventurers, scrounging for survival to Game of fucking Thrones."
  • Slow the fuck down. I know moves snowball and shit but take your time with the fiction. Details, positioning, colour. It's not a bloody race.
    This. Revel in the build-up. Use tags like inspirational morsels to drive scenes, pull apart the fiction like warm bread and inhale deeply before making moves. Sometimes disclaim decision making... well quite occasionally if you feel comfortable.

    Don't be shy when throwing PC-NPC-PC triangle scenes together. Make the impulses obliquely at odds.
  • Don't make a front move just because you have written them down and have the opportunity to do so (related to slow down). Try to use a basic move first.
  • the triangle is another thing i need to work on. my 1st time around, i made the mistake of introducing a couple with a baby - the mistake therein being that the couple & their child had nothing in particular to do with any of the players. looking back, something as simple as "omg you're the father, Chopper!" would have made my life as MC much easier.
  • Don't make a front move just because you have written them down and have the opportunity to do so (related to slow down). Try to use a basic move first.
    This is great advice, I have a hard time not defaulting to Front moves.

  • Remember to ask questions back when PCs ask the Maelstrom questions (I'm terrible at this).
    That was going to be my hint. I think it's one of the easy balls to drop and the things the maelstrom is interested in can really shape the hell out of your game. Remember it's the maelstrom asking those questions, not you.
  • (Someone started working on a Game of Thrones AW hack over at Barf Forth Apocalyptica but the subforum doesn't seem to be active any more. Probably cause he didn't name it properly, when obviously it needed to be called "A Hack of Ice and Fire".)
  • Don't make a front move just because you have written them down and have the opportunity to do so (related to slow down). Try to use a basic move first.
    This is great advice, I have a hard time not defaulting to Front moves.

    It was hard learned. In 2 sessions I basically fast-forwarded through (what I now realize was) an entire campaign's worth of front moves, most of them off-screen. Silly me.

  • I have trouble with PC-NPC-PC triangles too. They're great when they work, but it's hard for them to not be forced or trivial. Anyone got some good ideas on setting these up?
  • I have trouble with PC-NPC-PC triangles too. They're great when they work, but it's hard for them to not be forced or trivial. Anyone got some good ideas on setting these up?
    At a convention one-shot, don't worry. Setting it up, especially via loveletter, is useful. There's a lot I'll accept as a player in a oneshot. I know we only have four hours (usually), and if you've done a lot of the prep work to start us off on full thrust, you rock.

  • I have trouble with PC-NPC-PC triangles too. They're great when they work, but it's hard for them to not be forced or trivial. Anyone got some good ideas on setting these up?
    Don't be afraid to be obvious. Think of those triangles in very broad terms, paint with broad strokes. Build on what they tell you during the Hx phase of chargen. Plan for triangles when you make Fronts.

  • The hard part of triangles is figuring out what the players will twitch at. I've had limp triangles where one of the players is just, "Umm, you know, I really *don't* care that your character did that to my gang member/follower/whatever."

    I'm a big proponent of players creating their own adversity. The gme we've sat down to play includes PC-NPC-PC triangles, so part of my job when running a PC is to help the MC create those triangles.

    In one of my games, the rest of the characters all hated an annoying sleazebag PC, so against all reason and good advice my PC was in luuuuuuv with the asshole. Not only did it provide grist for the mill, but figuring out why I loved this douche really helped me figure out the charcter. In the game I'm currently running, the players are more than willing to come up with their own reasons to go after each other's right hands and main squeezes. "Why did you kill my guard?" "He touched my hat!"
  • I think I've done it wrong every single time I run it. But I also learn something new every time I run. I often forget when to make moves as the MC. Or how moves snowball or interact. It gets kinda crunchy during combat for me sometimes. I actually find the narrative stuff easy (making NPCs real, triangles, description, pushing here and there, taking what they need, separating). It's the actual crunch that gets me (wait, does going aggro cause harm? How many holds do you have? I forget what a medium sized gang does for damage and how much armor they have).

    Look over the harm rules and the gang rules. I find those difficult. And the threats are deceptive, they get pretty complex too.
  • One strategy could be asking players more questions as you see triangle opportunities happen. "Oh, Bullet, it sounds like your gang's showing more loyalty because of that action, right? How does he show his appreciation?" If he doesn't show appreciation, that's a tell.

    Get players to declare their desires a little stronger NOT to steer them toward one's awesome triangle but to discover where triangles could be set up.
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