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Author Topic: [Apocalypse World] uncertainty and immersion  (Read 4336 times)
David Berg

Posts: 997

« on: January 28, 2011, 01:36:15 AM »

So, my friend Matt has been running an AW for me and 3 other friends.  He's itching to play a character, and mine is nicely poised to retire to safety or die trying, so we've decided that I'll MC next.

Matt and I have been having chats for a few years about the character-POV style of immersion that characterizes some of my favorite games, and Matt has argued to me that AW is well designed to support that.  So, I'm going to give it my best shot, but some advice would be handy!  (Even if the advice is: "Don't try it.")

As a player, of all the times I've ever tried to do a Move, here's my best guess at the breakdown of Matt's MC responses:
1) 95% -- Okay, roll!
2) 4% -- I don't think that would work here, but feel free to try something else.
3) 1% -- I don't think that would work, you're taking forever, the situation escalates, now what do you do?
4) 0% -- Okay, you try it- Stop!  Don't roll!  It doesn't work.*
5) 0% -- Okay, roll!  You got a 10?  Well, for some reason, it doesn't work!

There are very good reasons for these percentages.  However, the end result is that, as a player, I know I have the ability to rule certain possibilities (and even probabilities) into and out of the fiction.  This creates an information mismatch between me and my character.

My character is talking to an NPC.  The MC roleplays their disposition as distrustful and taciturn.  And yet, I know that all I need to do is announce an attempt to read them, and I have a high chance of finding out what they want.  But my character doesn't know this!  If I'm trying to imagine the fictional situation from my character's POV, I'm going, "Crap, they're not gonna talk."  But as a player, I know they probably are, because there's a rule that says so and all the other players keep using it.

So, back to the 5 responses above.  Without other options on the table, #2 and #3 wind up as preludes to #1, which can't help with the player/character information mismatch.  #5 seems like a dick move that would break resolution.  So, what do you think about #4? 

Allowing "you don't know what's possible/probable until you try" into the range of interactions between character and world would better synchronize player and character points of view.  But it might also undermine the way Moves are currently guaranteed to push the narrative forward.

All this is just a first guess.  "Try adding uncertainty between initiation and execution" is all I've come up with so far.  Maybe other options would be better for character POV and/or have less downside.  Any advice would be much appreciated!


*or, "It works easily."

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
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