Recurring silly comment about Apocalypse World and similar RPGs

@Manbearcat I am not talking about the setting as much as structure of scores. In your experience is it usual that the scores themselves are some sort of developing dynamic situations in midst the characters arrive, as opposed to static ones like guards guarding the thing the PCs want to steal, and the situation only developing from static by PC intervention? Because in our game they have been mostly the latter.

This isn't even criticism of my GM, nor the game. It has been fun regardless. I was just pondering whether the structure of the the game somehow leads to these sort of setups or whether it was just the style of my GM. I kinda suspected that as the difficulties are supposed to mainly arise from complications caused by rolls gone badly, this sort of nudges the GM to set up situations where there are not many moving parts unless the PCs put them into motion.

I'm not tremendously clear on what you mean by "developing dynamic situations (in midst)" vs static here. Let me just throw some words at how the fundamentals of Scores and how they work in play:

Scores are informed by multiple things working in concert

* The imagined space and gamestate that predates the Score. Duskvol-at-large (and the Deathlands and the Imperium) has locales, factions, situation, momentum. The Crew has motivations, alliances, enemies, relationships, a Claim Map, and momentum. Also, nested within that is the individual PCs who have their own motivations, relationships, and momentum. All of this stuff clashes together to create opportunities and (both looming and immediate) threats for prospective Scores, for Faction/Setting Clocks to be underway and/or about to "go off", for Entanglements or Arrests to perturb things.

* Now we have Info Gathering/Free Play. Players (and Crew) should NOT be approaching this as rudderless wandering and exploration. This should be goal-directed and focused. You're looking at all the factors of the present situation in the first bullet point above. You're looking for (a) a target (an opportunity or a fire to put out or a setup for the future), (b) all the surrounding dynamics of that (Tier/Scale/Magnitude relationships, Faction fallout, if Setting/Faction clocks need to be resolved, rewards/risks), (c) vectors for Payoff (be it a client or a cache or accrued asset etc), (d) Score type and detail and enemy assets they can bring to bear (which obviously includes answering locale and personnel questions for the target), and, finally, (e) they should be thinking "Engagement Roll amplification" with all the prior mentioned things (see all the constituents of Engagement Roll dice pool for that). Now, when its a PCs turn to be spotlighted, they need to have something to say and investigate...something to look into...some content to generate for the coming Score; a location or a person or intel/research or a relationship or some kind of dynamic. They either have a very defined Info Gathering move that they're going to make > we resolve > fold that into our unfolding situation.

* Once all of that is resolved, the GM should have all that info and basically "roster out" their Score based on the target information. This will be a confluence of the statistics of the Faction/Location/Entity (if its something like an Electroplasmic Horror in the Ghost Field or a swarm of Hollows or whatever) and what goes down in Free Play/Info Gathering.

* Once all of that is done, we roll the Engagement Roll to determine Position, reference the Detail and Score archetype and all the other important particulars fleshed out during Info Gathering/Free Play and frame the initial obstacle based on the convergence of all of this. The typical play loop is carried out at this point. The players declare an Action Roll/Setup/Ask for Devil's Bargain, etc. Effect is sorted out. Off we go through the situations/obstacles/Clocks for this Score, with the momentum of snowballing action resolution, until all matters of the Score have been resolved and "we are where we are" (with setting/factions/crew perturbed and strategic gamestate in a rather different place than it was before we started).




I feel like that is the most thorough answer to your question I can give, but I don't know if it answers what you're asking because I'm not terribly clear on what is happening at your table. Situation/Scores are informed by play-to-date + Info Gathering/Free Play (pre-Score) + present gamestate dynamics + target roster/assets/tags/stats + system archetecture.

No situation/obstacle should be conflict-neutral. It should all be "charged" to use Baker's language. Every one of them and that starts from the first moment of play. Crap is going down. Constantly. When you resolve the Engagement Roll, there is a spectrum of danger/threat pending whether you land on Controlled/Risky/Desperate. From there, the play loop should pretty much take care of itself (obviously with aggressive, deft GMing and playing)?
 

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Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
@Manbearcat I am not talking about the setting as much as structure of scores. In your experience is it usual that the scores themselves are some sort of developing dynamic situations in midst the characters arrive, as opposed to static ones like guards guarding the thing the PCs want to steal, and the situation only developing from static by PC intervention? Because in our game they have been mostly the latter.

This isn't even criticism of my GM, nor the game. It has been fun regardless. I was just pondering whether the structure of the the game somehow leads to these sort of setups or whether it was just the style of my GM. I kinda suspected that as the difficulties are supposed to mainly arise from complications caused by rolls gone badly, this sort of nudges the GM to set up situations where there are not many moving parts unless the PCs put them into motion.
In the book, most of the factions have a current situation written up that is primed to cause some degree of chaos or change of status in Duskvol, and an associated clock for progress on their goal regarding that.

Whenever the PCs finish a score, and are going through the downtime phase:
GM: Choose downtime maneuvers and advance clocks for the factions you’re interested in right now. Don’t worry about the rest. Later, when you turn your attention to a faction you’ve ignored for a while, go ahead and give them several downtime phases and project clock ticks to “catch up” to current events.
So, it is a function of the PCs advancing the game state, but through this, the GM can advance the plots of factions who have not actually been directly affected by them, and force the city into new active conflict that can draw the PCs into it.
 

@Manbearcat I kinda feel we are talking past each other somewhat. You are talking about rules and principles, I am talking about the concrete fictional situation at the score. These obviously are related, but I'm sure there is learning curve on how to turn the former into the latter and also different ways to do it that might have different results. Like for example when you say that that situations should be "charged" what does that actually mean in practice? What sort of fictional situation is that?

As for my static vs dynamic, I'm not sure how better to explain it. Dynamic situation is one where something interesting is going on already, irrespective of the PCs. Static is one where nothing unusual would happen if the PCs wouldn't interfere. Like if a cult is about to sacrifice some people to summon a daemon on altar with a holy McGuffin and the PCs arrive to steal that holy McGuffin it is a more dynamic situation that if the McGuffin is just in a warehouse with some guards and the PCs arrive to steal it.
 

In the book, most of the factions have a current situation written up that is primed to cause some degree of chaos or change of status in Duskvol, and an associated clock for progress on their goal regarding that.

Whenever the PCs finish a score, and are going through the downtime phase:

So, it is a function of the PCs advancing the game state, but through this, the GM can advance the plots of factions who have not actually been directly affected by them, and force the city into new active conflict that can draw the PCs into it.

I am not really talking about the downtime, I am talking about the actual situation at the score.
 


@Manbearcat I kinda feel we are talking past each other somewhat. You are talking about rules and principles, I am talking about the concrete fictional situation at the score. These obviously are related, but I'm sure there is learning curve on how to turn the former into the latter and also different ways to do it that might have different results. Like for example when you say that that situations should be "charged" what does that actually mean in practice? What sort of fictional situation is that?

As for my static vs dynamic, I'm not sure how better to explain it. Dynamic situation is one where something interesting is going on already, irrespective of the PCs. Static is one where nothing unusual would happen if the PCs wouldn't interfere. Like if a cult is about to sacrifice some people to summon a daemon on altar with a holy McGuffin and the PCs arrive to steal that holy McGuffin it is a more dynamic situation that if the McGuffin is just in a warehouse with some guards and the PCs arrive to steal it.

"Charged" just means "ripe to bursting with conflict." An actual powderkeg with a lit fuse about to go off or a big ole opportunity for The Crew that is sitting right on top of a powderkeg.

How about this.

Take your game. Give me some ingredients of a prospective Score including the PC types of your Crew. Just throw out some stuff about your "gamescape" (lets call it) going into one of your Info Gathering/Free Play phases > Give me the broad zoom of what transpires during Info Gathering/Free Play including Score type, Score Detail, target Faction (or whatever).

I'll take those ingredients > build a dice pool for Engagement Roll > Roll for Position.

I'll then frame an opening obstacle/situation and give you some analysis so you can see how this stuff comes together.
 

"Charged" just means "ripe to bursting with conflict." An actual powderkeg with a lit fuse about to go off or a big ole opportunity for The Crew that is sitting right on top of a powderkeg.
Yes, that is obvious. What does it mean in practice?

How about this.

Take your game. Give me some ingredients of a prospective Score including the PC types of your Crew. Just throw out some stuff about your "gamescape" (lets call it) going into one of your Info Gathering/Free Play phases > Give me the broad zoom of what transpires during Info Gathering/Free Play including Score type, Score Detail, target Faction (or whatever).

I'll take those ingredients > build a dice pool for Engagement Roll > Roll for Position.

I'll then frame an opening obstacle/situation and give you some analysis so you can see how this stuff comes together.

That seem like a lot of work!

But super briefly. We are Shadows gang, our characters are a leech, a slide, a spider and a lurk (my character.) Our last score was to infiltrate to a noble lady's masquerade ball, and steal her famous necklace, or failing that, something else valuable. In the planning phase we managed to get a legit invitation via a rival of the spider, as this rival was an architect that had designed the expansion the the noble lady's mansion, opening of which the ball was celebrating. Using this invitation as a template we forged some more. Other three characters planned to arrive as guest using these invitations, whereas my character (who is a low class street rat, and thus would have hard, but potentially hilarious, time as posing as some posh socialite) got himself hired as a servant at the ball.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
@Manbearcat I kinda feel we are talking past each other somewhat. You are talking about rules and principles, I am talking about the concrete fictional situation at the score. These obviously are related, but I'm sure there is learning curve on how to turn the former into the latter and also different ways to do it that might have different results. Like for example when you say that that situations should be "charged" what does that actually mean in practice? What sort of fictional situation is that?

As for my static vs dynamic, I'm not sure how better to explain it. Dynamic situation is one where something interesting is going on already, irrespective of the PCs. Static is one where nothing unusual would happen if the PCs wouldn't interfere. Like if a cult is about to sacrifice some people to summon a daemon on altar with a holy McGuffin and the PCs arrive to steal that holy McGuffin it is a more dynamic situation that if the McGuffin is just in a warehouse with some guards and the PCs arrive to steal it.
For what it’s worth, my experience felt quite static too.
 

Yes, that is obvious. What does it mean in practice?



That seem like a lot of work!

But super briefly. We are Shadows gang, our characters are a leech, a slide, a spider and a lurk (my character.) Our last score was to infiltrate to a noble lady's masquerade ball, and steal her famous necklace, or failing that, something else valuable. In the planning phase we managed to get a legit invitation via a rival of the spider, as this rival was an architect that had designed the expansion the the noble lady's mansion, opening of which the ball was celebrating. Using this invitation as a template we forged some more. Other three characters planned to arrive as guest using these invitations, whereas my character (who is a low class street rat, and thus would have hard, but potentially hilarious, time as posing as some posh socialite) got himself hired as a servant at the ball.

Alright, I’m out with only brief downtime so I don’t have time to do the whole thing. But maybe piecemeal is better anyway.

Ok, so this is Blades in the Dark, right. So that means everything is about “climbing the ladder.” Everything you want someone dangerous already owns, someone dangerous protects (as in allied with or “protection racket”), or it’s someone’s turf you’re messing with.

Zoomed out, that is what “charged” means in terms of Blades.

So noble house.

Brightstone. If it’s against the Brightstone citizenry, that is a Tier 4 (Strong) target, with enormous Bluecoats presence (either moonlighting security, actual security, or protection racket). You’re taking -1d to Engagement Roll and Heat here is Hostile Turf.

So you’re pissing off powerful citizenry that has the ear of powerful Factions, you’re pissing off the Bluecoats. Minimum, you’re talking about -1 Faction with each at end of Score and a dangerous/powerful Crime Boss.

This sort of stuff is orthodox Blades. But while we’re doing Info Gathering/Free Play, we move through these things. The Citizenry should also have dangerous dogs (Magnitude 3 or 4 and maybe even Scale 1…like 6 of ‘em). They should have security measures of Magnitude equal to their Tier.

But maybe another gang is running an operation at the same time and it’s a race for this necklace? Maybe you can use that in your favor by misdirecting the Bluecoats onto them mid-Op (Act Now, Plan Later via Flashback). Ok, but you’re taking - Faction with this other gang…and they’re surely powerful because they’re taking on a Tier 4 target with Bluecoat protection.

Maybe it’s actually the Bluecoats themselves providing both “protection” (a front) while running an Op to steal the amurlet? Maybe we look at the Claim Map and this is actual Turf (capital T) that you’re taking from this gang or from the Bluecoats? We talk about this. Ok, sure, let’s sweeten the pot with actual Turf as a part of Payoff. You have to make a big show of this though (and we’d discuss what that Win Con means mechanically and in the fiction); send a message. Also, now you’re definitely taking -2 Faction with this gang and you’re on the cusp of At-War status (if you weren’t -1 already).

Oh, and Occult threats/presence is 2 dots here. So the other gang is either the Bluecoats, a powerful demon, The Dimmer Sisters or something like that. So your obstacles/danger here should probably be supernatural as well. Maybe the Magistrates or the press because of Brightstone’s Tier and access.

All of that should get resolved during prior play and IG/FP phase pre-score.

So that is what “charged” means here. This isn’t just Amulet001 and Noble002. It’s never that in this game.

Does that make more sense?
 
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