Recurring silly comment about Apocalypse World and similar RPGs

niklinna

satisfied?
I had in mind something a bit different from the players: if the GM decides, as part of prep, that Joe's Girl has joined the Water Cult, then the GM is bound to that, and can't change their mind in response to something subsequently happening in play that makes them want to "save" Joe's Girl.
Or that in the new situation it might be way cooler/fraught/whatever than Joe's Girl having joined the Water Cult. Assuming that would preclude her having joined the Water Cult, of course. Hm....

Edited for clarity.
 
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@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.
It is 'whatever follows'. Like, in our campaign most of the scores stemmed from something our crew was after, some goal, or from reacting to something some other group was doing, or likely to do. We also took a few 'hit jobs', but not really all that many. Some I would say were FAIRLY static, like once we hit a Hive stash location. It was a specific place where the Hive (an enemy organization, and a rather powerful one at that) stored money/valuables. So, it was 'static' in the sense of we could technically have hit it at any time, but we only came up with the idea and located the specific place maybe the session before the score. HOWEVER, the whole Hive situation was unstable, so that chance might have evaporated if we had waited very long, as they might have gone to war with us, etc.

Often our scores revolved around turf as well. So we were trying to seize control of specific locations, and stuff like that. I mean, the location, and probably ownership, was not changing much, but our political reasons for THAT score might vary a lot from one session to the next. Thus a lot of them had timing related things going on.
 

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.
Seems like a fairly cool setup. It has some similarity to our first score, which was an assassination in a club. We leveraged our contacts there to get us brought in as staff, and smuggled our weapons and stuff into a serving cart. I don't remember the details of position and effect, but I think we set things up OK, as we'd gone to the location and set things up with our guys, and then one of the PCs (Beaker) created a drug we could use to disable the targets, etc.

In your case I'd think you could work out the situation with getting in successfully as part of the setup/investigation, so I might run it like, you get in, but the level of suspicion put on you (and this might come from some other party who sees an opportunity to profit) might vary depending on the quality of the passes and stuff like that. Your initial position roll might zero in on exactly what is happening there. Anyway, it seems like a fairly straightforward situation to run, potentially. There could be, for instance, a straightup countdown clock, maybe because the goods are only going to be in position to be stolen for a limited time, so the PCs need to get things done within that time frame, else a serious complication arises (IE alarms, or guards show up, or you now have to steal the goods directly from someone's hands, etc.).
 

thefutilist

Explorer
I think Torchbearer follows different rules (as in a different super structure) but I’ll use Sorcerer, In a Wicked Age and Apocalypse world as examples because in my opinion they’re kind of the same game. Hopefully you’ve read them but I can expand a bit more if you need me to.

So in In a Wicked Age you prep by just creating characters, say about seven, that have conflicting interests. At this point your situation is set and mutually legible.

In Sorcerer you use the characters Kickers to basically do the same thing you do in In a Wicked Age but the situation isn’t yet mutually legible.

Now from an aesthetic perspective, (for me) the point of role-playing is having a mutually legible dramatic situation that we’re trying to resolve. Mutually legible means that all the pieces are on the board. No one (and this mostly means the GM) can bring new stuff into the situation because it defeats the point of play.

Binding prep means you can’t unilaterally expand what the situation is before it’s become mutually legible. Before the situation has become mutually legible though. What prep does, is it means the GM is playing to find out how the situation resolves. They’re in the same position as the players, they’re not an entertainer trying to make things awesome, they’re bound by fidelity, the resolution mechanics and the granularity of the fictional positioning.

Also I can’t use the quote function well but your bit about Joe’s girl is really important. Prep means killing Joe’s girl will piss of the water cult, so that decision is taken out of the GM’s hands but I think it’s a consequence of the stuff I ramble about above rather than the reason (maybe, I can see it both ways).

And you don’t of course follow these rules in session one of AW but session one is functionally the equivalent of creating the cast pre-play in In a Wicked Age.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
That's not really what I mean though. I don't mean literally not doing the score. I mean whether the score has people and stuff in motion, that are doing their own thing, that it is some sort of developing situation regardless of what the characters do. That it not just the NPCs reacting to the PCs, but NPCs with their own agendas which they are about to proceed with. I really don't understand why this seems to be such a difficult concept. 🤷

I don’t know… must be everyone else’s fault!
 

pemerton

Legend
@thefutilist

I don't know Sorcerer all that well, but what you say about In A Wicked Age and Apocalypse World seems right to me. I think your idea of the relationship between situation, mutual legibility and binding the GM is in the same neighbourhood as my "holding the GM's feet to the fire", but with a more sophisticated articulation and analysis of how exactly that metaphor cashes out.

Also a nice point about downstream consequences of killing Joe's Girl.
 

@Manbearcat I was mainly talking about staticness/dynamism regarding the whole situation at the score, but of course we can also examine this regarding individual elements of it. You asked about specific obstacles, so I answered regarding that.

But I really don't understand why my framing of "If the PCs did nothing, what would happen?" is misplaced. That is a question about the fictional situation, and I feel we can answer that regardless of the specific game we are playing.

I think what you say about GM soft moves and important NPCs taking initiative closely related to this. I feel this is not something that happens a lot in the game I've been playing in. Most developments in situation are due complications or success of PC actions. But good to know the mechanical avenue by which the sort of dynamism which I speak of could be inserted.
IMHO it is just FUNDAMENTALLY that we don't care much about the state of things that aren't relevant to us. Is the layout and dangers in the vaults at Saltfords unchanging? Who knows or cares? I mean, if the PCs find out something about their security details, and lets say many sessions later they decide it's time to do that score, well probably whatever they found out before still has some relevance. That doesn't mean things CANNOT have changed, sure they could. Saltfords got a tip off that the Gun Grannies have cracked 3 bank vaults, you can bet they're going to up their security! In actual terms, its just going to be some sort of complication/clock/whatever that comes up in play, or maybe during info gathering. There's certainly a goal to depict Doskvol as an actual place, it's not just some giant map-and-key dungeon to navigate.
 

That's not really what I mean though. I don't mean literally not doing the score. I mean whether the score has people and stuff in motion, that are doing their own thing, that it is some sort of developing situation regardless of what the characters do. That it not just the NPCs reacting to the PCs, but NPCs with their own agendas which they are about to proceed with. I really don't understand why this seems to be such a difficult concept. 🤷
One of our scores was to rob a group who was transporting stuff in a wagon, no it was kill a guy. We killed him in his carriage, so stuff was moving, guards and bluecoats were around various points etc. Some of the crew created a diversion, so then the situation changed, the bluecoats ran off to deal with that, etc. Situations like this are as dynamic as they need to be.
 

niklinna

satisfied?
That's not really what I mean though. I don't mean literally not doing the score. I mean whether the score has people and stuff in motion, that are doing their own thing, that it is some sort of developing situation regardless of what the characters do. That it not just the NPCs reacting to the PCs, but NPCs with their own agendas which they are about to proceed with. I really don't understand why this seems to be such a difficult concept. 🤷
Oh that happened all the time in our game, I'd even say it was the default. If we did a score, it was usually a situation in motion and our arrival definitely perturbed it. Sure they were reacting to our interference (unless we were being sneaky—which we also did), but they often already had things going on, like the one score we had to steal a rival crew's money from the armored car they were transporting. That transport wouldn't even have been on the radar for us if we hadn't specifically looked to do it (that is, nobody would even have thought it up), but once we did, it was definitely a group of NPCs doing a thing with their own agendas. Which we totally wrecked, albeit at great cost to our crew in the form of henchman death and harm and the like.
 

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