CyberNoir: Agendas and Principles

Some people think you should start with these first for your hack.  Here’s what I’ve been kicking around for CyberNoir.  Most of these are just reskins of the Apocalypse World stuff, with the exception of calling out Being Generous with Information, and some drilldown into what this setting is.

Agendas

 

Embody the cybernoir nature of the world.

Keep your world authentic to your cybernoir sensibilities. Portray a plausible and internally-consistent world, and your players will take it seriously.

 

Embroil the characters in a web of crime and intrigue.

Set up the Crime Web, get the characters hooked into it, and watch as they attempt to unravel the whole thing.

 

Play to find out what happens.

Your job is not to craft a masterful story arc. It is to set up the situation, wind up the PCs, and watch them go to work. When you allow the unexpected to happen, you get truly exciting play.

 

Principles

 

Always say what honesty demands.

Honesty, and the rules, demand you show fidelity to the rules, to the results of the players rolls, that you stay true to the principles, and be open, honest, and fair in your interactions with the players.

 

Be Generous with Information.

This is a mystery game. The players can’t solve the mysteries without clues. So you should be giving, even overly so with information. You have the advantage of knowing all the answers. Mysteries are meant to be solved, and secrets are meant to be revealed.

 

Think Cyber.

Consider your specific Shocks and other examples of futurism. Whenever you introduce a setting element, think of ways to emphasize the fact that the characters are living in the future. Exaggerate aspects and current trends, especially those you view as negative.

 

Think Noir.

Play up the dark aspects of the world, the corruption, the moral ambiguity, and confusion.

 

Everyone is Expendable.

Don’t protect your NPCs. They are not there to provide physical challenge to the PCs, but rather moral challenge.

 

Everyone is Human.

Any NPC you introduce, give them a name, a motive, and think a little bit about life through their lies. What do they want? How do they fit into things?

 

Collaborate With Your Players.

Allow, or prompt the players to provide setting input. This way, you’ll all feel ownership of the setting, and your players will feed you ideas you never would have thought of.

 

Take What They Give You and Run With It.

Once the players give you input, take it, expand upon it, and make it your own. Turn up the Cyber and the Noir.

 

Be a Fan of the Players and their Characters.

We’re all here to have fun, right? The players are not your adversaries, and neither are their characters. Look for what makes those characters awesome and embrace it. Give them a chance to shine, and don’t try to grind them down.

 

Think About the Big Picture.

Keep your Crime Web map in hand. Between sessions, or whenever you have a spare moment, take a look at it, and consider how events onscreen affect those actors offscreen.

 

Zoom in on the Little Details.

Take moments here or there to showcase the little details. Sometimes this can draw attention to a useful clue, but often it’s just to show off the setting and characterization.

 

Sometimes, Delegate the Big Decisions

To play to find out what happens, you need to give up some of the big decisions. Let your NPCs make them in character. Put them on your player’s hands. You can even roll for it.

 

Address yourself to the characters, not the players.

Keep the players rooted in the fiction, and the players immersed in their characters.

 

Play by the rules, think in the fiction.

When you make a move, make it about the fictional content of the move. Never say a name of a move you’re using, instead say what happens. It should seem seamless to the players. This goes for players too- when they use moves, think in the fiction- what’s going on?

 

Draw Maps Like Crazy.

Maps. Draw them.

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