How to have tags/conditions matter in PbtA games

In my personal experience with pbta games (especially AW, DW and MH) both as Player and MC the theory is that the game fiction should drive the mechanics... and as such tags/conditions highlight especially important elements of the fiction.
This alone gives tags a huge impact on the game.
In theory.

In practice what I have too often experienced is different.
The group evaluates the fiction on the fly, as a whole, forgetting about tags or struggling to find a way to have them matter in the game.
And of the whole group, usually the MC is the one faced with the brunt of this process... so either the MC spends a non trivial amount of attention and energy and creativity to keep track of all the tags and to enforce their weight in the fiction... or they fade into background noise.

And while in DW and AW I noticed how tags tend to just vanish, in MH they instead tend to pile up. But the end result is the same: individual tags lose meaning and impact on the game, except for a few choice moments when someone remembers to use them (usually because there is a mechanical advantage to be gained).

Has any PbtA game managed to offer both the MC and the Players some kind of helping hand in this regard?
To create a structure, mechanic or system that makes it easier to produce the "right" kind and amount of tags, and to keep them relevant to the table?

Or are them snippets of practical wisdom you would like to share, to this effect?
Any best practices and personal solutions?

Comments

  • edited August 2016
    In AW proper, the tags should mostly vanish. They aren't there to highlight especially important elements, they're there to state the obvious at character creation, and only secondarily to provide a baseline for coming back to agreement when people's visions diverge.

    Because AW's tags mostly simply restate the obvious, evaluating the fiction on the fly as a whole usually brings all the appropriate tags into play, without any need to remember them or draw attention to them at all.
    [I]ndividual tags lose meaning and impact on the game, except for a few choice moments when someone remembers to use them (usually because there is a mechanical advantage to be gained).
    This is exactly right! This is exactly how they're supposed to work in Apocalypse World.

    (I can't speak to conditions, or to tags in other PbtA games, naturally.)

    -Vincent
  • edited August 2016
    That's a very interesting take on the matter.
    Thanks Vincent :D
    So they are not supposed to be always present and in your face, but to only surface in case of disagreement to help sort out different interpretations of the fiction?

    Example...

    Drummer has a knife and is in a situation where he is facing a guard with a spear (or a gun, or whatever that might harm him way before he gets close enough to slash with his knife).
    Drummer's player ignores (for any reason) the distance/reach issue and just describes how Drummer steps up to the guard and slashes viciously with his knife. The aim is to murder the guard because reasons. The player expects this to be a Single Combat move.

    1)
    If the MC (and the other players too) ignore the issue, everything is fine, nobody cares anyway, so to hell with it. Describe and make the Single Combat move.

    2)
    If the MC (or another player) thinks that Drummer needs to do stuff before he can actually get close enough to the guard to deliver a knife slash... and everyone agrees... everything is fine. Describe better the circumstances (here the tags might be of inspiration) and make the fitting move.

    3)
    If the MC (or another player) thinks that Drummer needs to do stuff before he can actually get close enough to the guard to deliver a knife slash... and not everyone agrees... then looking at tags might help people to align their view.
    So we look and see how the knife has a "close" tag while the spear has a "reach" tag and this should help us agree on what is happening and how.

    Is this more or less correct?
  • I haven't been on these forums for a while because I get into most conversations like this from Google+, but I'm really glad I stopped by today for this conversation. This should really help explain some things to a couple players. Thanks!
Sign In or Register to comment.