member, 278 posts
Tue 17 Sep 2019
at 20:42
Game advice needed: Solitary character
So, I've got a player who is -slightly- (but only slightly) problematic in my Apocalypse World game.

They're playing a water bearer, and their character's personality is sort-of a wide-eye'd kid who doesn't really know how things work. He's trying to play it sort-of guru-like, and he's doing so with mixed success.

The problem is that he wants people to come to him, specifically the other PC's. He wants them to come to his sanctum and do things there. He's said he wants the place to be 'an embassy' for people who don't want to deal with violence (he's got his 'rules' there set to no violence, and any slave who shows up is freed.)

I don't mind having his base as an embassy, but it's harder to drag plot over there, especially since we also have a Maestro who runs a club, and a doctor with her own infirmary. I know the player's playstyle somewhat revolves around wanting other PC's (and NPCs) to see him as  important. And owning the local water source in a desert will certainly do that. But other than 'a slave wants to be free', I'm kind-of at a loss as to how to make it so people will want to go to his grotto, and even -more- at a loss as to how to make going there both necessary and -interesting- for the rest of the PC's.

Anyone whose dealt with this playbook, or this player type, willing to give me some advice?
 member, 218 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Tue 17 Sep 2019
at 21:20
Re: Game advice needed: Solitary character
I'm kind-of at a loss as to how to make it so people will want to go to his grotto, and even -more- at a loss as to how to make going there both necessary and -interesting- for the rest of the PC's.

You can't.

Anyone whose dealt with this playbook, or this player type, willing to give me some advice?

you have two choices, one is proactive and harsh*, they other is reactive and harsh*.

Basically, either in advance or if it comes be a problem in game; you need to tell him to suck it up and realize that the game doesn't revolve around his character.  If no one wants to have anything to do with his "embassy" or its rules, they won't.  So he can accept it and play in his threads by himself, or deal with it and join the game.

* You don't have to be harsh, but I suck at being anything other than brutally upfront, so my advice might could use some tempering.
 member, 216 posts
Tue 17 Sep 2019
at 21:30
Re: Game advice needed: Solitary character
Water is a motivating factor all its own.  Eventually everyone needs it, or at least likes to have it.  If he wants to set up a protected water source others can visit periodically that should work just fine.  Either have all the plot events happen to coincide with a time when several of the PCs are their picking up water for the day, or have the same plot need water too, and not in a particularly friendly way.
 subscriber, 50 posts
Tue 17 Sep 2019
at 21:40
Game advice needed: Solitary character
I see where you're kind of stuck.  The other players might feel like they were led by the nose to a place where the only response is 'look at this new character in his natural state of awesomeness.  You are in his playground now and must play by his rules because he is supreme.'  They would feel disadvantaged — and rightly so — because this new player is allowed from the very start to negotiate from a position of relative strength.

Alternatively, if luring the other guys to the Water Bearer's base-of-operations (seat-of-power or whatever) is unsavory, another way to skin that cat would be to rely on a plot device that necessitates removing the water-bearer from his comfort zone.  His domain could become fouled / in need of repair / needs a widget / runs into trouble of some sort (basically fill in the blank here) requiring that he now has to depart the sanctum to effect a fix.  The other guys appear on scene with the means to assist, and bada-bing, yadda, yadda ... an accord is struck and bonds formed.

But you have not really gotten rid of the original problem ... only reversed it.

Now it is the Water Bearer who feels like his guy is the one without agency.  He's the 'not cool one who has to start off groveling.'

My suggestion ... You might try a MacGuffin-type character that fills both of those roles nicely and helps to connect the two groups without making either one feel like they are the less-than in the equation.  That way, none of your players need to feel diminished in any way ... they each would be meeting / negotiating with the other from a position of relative strength / agency.

The MacGuffin could be vitally important to the other guys for some reason.  He's got Death Star plans in his head or whatever.

Well, this MacGuffin shows up on Water-bearer's doorstep in dire need of aid ... which he'll be all too happy to provide.

The other guys show up later with righteous mission in tow, if only the MacGuffin could assist.  And wouldn't you know it!?  The MacGuffin is totally on board (it cannot seem like the other guys are taking him / removing him against his will ... or else the group will start off on opposite sides of a problem).

Everyone wins.  The water-bearer gets to display 'I am a light in the darkness' and 'I am critical to all who need me' schtick for a critical NPC, and the other guys meet the MacGuffin and then develop some new and super important plot arc right before the WB's very eyes.

The WB is boss, the other guys are boss, and then everyone pals up and they agree to blow up the Death Star ...
 member, 1578 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Tue 17 Sep 2019
at 21:51
Game advice needed: Solitary character
Come up with a threat connected with the water source. That should center everyone's interest there for a while.

Meanwhile, let him know that he has to find ways and reasons to involve himself in other plots. If he just sits there and waits for attention, he may get real lonely.

Also, how is a "wide-eye'd kid who doesn't really know how things work" going to be a guru, unless you're going for some sort of "holy innocent" which will take a lot of work on your part, it seems.
 member, 333 posts
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 02:57
Game advice needed: Solitary character
We've got a problem. A big one. The controller chip for our water purification system has given up the ghost. Can't make a new one and the process is too complicated for a work around system. Simply put, we're running out of drinking water. No water, no Vault embassy.

 member, 251 posts
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 03:42
Game advice needed: Solitary character
You can also have the characters work out backstory together, if possible. This often leads to visitations, if they find common factors and common ground, to go places and do things, it might go easier.

However, the players needs to be aware that he's not the center of the world, and to get things to happen for him, he needs to step out and interact with others as well. Its really one of communication things.
 member, 992 posts
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 04:16
Game advice needed: Solitary character
It's a pity it wasn't it evident at the RTJ stage that the character/player didn't fit your game. That would have been the best time to deal with this issue - at character proposal.  A PC who is intent on solo grandstanding is never going to fit into a game that is otherwise decentralized.

That character would be much better in a solo game that focuses on his grotto. You could offer such a solo game as a 'spin-off' if you have the time, otherwise, Ski-bird's Macguffin might work.

A similar option is to bring the game to his door, but bring trouble with it.

WB might be happy to free slaves, but their owners are unlikely to agree, and might come looking for their 'stolen property' with extreme prejudice. If a bunch of slavers take over the water source, that would be bad for everyone...

Trouble is, as soon as the plot focus moves away from his little grotto, WB is going to stamp his foot again.

I think in the long term, one of you is going to have to bring your foot down with more force than the other.

If the game lasts that long.

We all hope our games will be long-lived, but sometimes problems evaporate along with the game, before it all comes to a head.
 member, 172 posts
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 07:36
Game advice needed: Solitary character
I’d say use the PC-NPC-PC triangle and the Lawbringer move. Which NPC is beholden to either the doc, or the maestro? Push there and have that NPC violate the rule of law at the source. Moon likes to get some at the maestro’s shack, and when they’re sobering up one of the WBs lackies pisses them off and Moon just punches him. Thing is, Moon is the maestros bff and the docs supplier of narcostabs. Does the WB enforce his law, or make nice? Either way, who does that piss off?

Ask a crystal obvious question: ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen in your sanctuary WB? Who would you blame if that happened? What would you do about it? Then make it happen.

‘So youv’e got this clean, unending source of wholesome water? Great, Turtle Dove and his band of Motörhead’s wants it. And guess what WB, they don’t care about your laws. Too bad you don’t let people fight in the source.’

Rule one is nobody gets to be comfortable, or in charge in AW. Not for long and not without fighting for it one way or another.

EDIT: The maestro’d has a lot of potential to directly play against the WB. Between the investors and the regulars, someone has got to be playing both sides.

Just my +2 barter.

This message was last edited by the user at 07:52, Wed 18 Sept 2019.

 member, 1529 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 08:56
Re: Game advice needed: Solitary character
In reply to evileeyore (msg # 2):

Actually, there's a third option; which I recommend; and that is to simply do nothing.   You've been put on the spot as a result of a character that .... doesn't want to play with the rest of the class.   By doing nothing, but continue advancing the story as you've planned; he'll either have to integrate or fade away.
 moderator, 15792 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 11:50
Re: Game advice needed: Solitary character
In reply to Hunter (msg # 10):


Or ask the player himself what he will do to get other characters to enter his domain, and how he would ensure that all visitors would obey his rules.

Get the details from him in character terms, not in terms of rules
 member, 160 posts
Wed 18 Sep 2019
at 19:29
Re: Game advice needed: Solitary character
let me start by saying i have no experience or knowledge with the system or setting. so take this for what it's worth. i'll ask some questions for you to think about and give some answers that hopefully will spark a good thought for you.

1) in most apocalyptic settings i'm aware of, any kind of innocent either doesn't make it or has a not-so-innocent there to help and protect them. the others' suggestions of finding out just how the WB is enforcing his non-violence rules is important, because those who take what they want by force will not care at all about his simply asking them to be nice.

2) is this a sandbox style game? if it is, then the WB could easily stay in charge of his place and never leave. he would need his own side-story and/or things to keep him busy. i would see this as similar to someone playing a shopkeeper (think D&D style game) in town while the adventurers are the ones that go out adventuring. maybe he doesn't need a big plot to stay happy and would be thrilled to simply stay at home and deal with smaller more mundane things. totally possible to pull off both sides of the story in a single game, but you have to realize up front that you're going to have to do two separate story threads that potentially overlap at some points. maybe have a number of NPC tribes in the area that come to the WB's place to settle disputes. the tribes could be totally irrelevant otherwise, but they set the precedent for using the WB as a sanctuary for settling disputes without violence. could also combine this with #3 below.

3) are there other water sources? if so, maybe they could be attacked and/or sabotaged. the WB could be one of if not the last one left standing. reasons for the attacks could be whatever fits your story, but it then makes the WB important to everyone. it also brings the other players to the WB to include them all (for a time at least) in the same plot. maybe the other players are given the plot hooks regarding why the water sources are being attacked. the WB only hears that the other WBs in the area are getting taken out. all players have to come together to save this last WB, or there will be no water sources in the area. maybe someone from somewhere else has a different reason for wanting the area (a mine, or some other resource) and don't care about their being clean water there because they have their own. regardless, after the threat has been taken care of and all is well, the WB can go back to their "shopkeeper" plot life and the other players could go back to their own plot(s) with the advantage being there is now shared history, possibly friendship, and everyone treats the WB as important because he has the only water source.

if you can find Steel Dawn (old patrick swayze movie), this might give you some ideas as well. it's a movie about a post apocalyptic world where two rival water owners compete for simply existing in their area. one of them is pretty innocent.