My post on the Driver sparked a discussion about directives which I have now incorporated into MC’s Agenda. Here are the (now) four things that drive the MC’s moves:
Make the world dirty, high-tech and excessive.
The Sprawl is a contemporary city turned up to 11. The dangerous parts of town are more dangerous; the affluent parts are dripping with excess and guarded with lethal force; the government is more self-serving and corrupt, and more in the pocket of their corporate masters; those corps are more uncaring and arrogant; the technology is shinier and more powerful but used for dirtier and more perverse ends. Everything is dripping with money, dirt, exploitation, power and violence.
Fill the character’s lives with action, intrigue and complication.
In The Sprawl, missions are filled with opportunities for action and betrayal. Make sites inaccessible and heavily guarded not to kill the characters but to challenge them to perform daring infiltrations, engage in furious fight scenes, execute exciting heists, escape double-dealing employers and pull off skin of the teeth extractions. Be a fan of the characters; give them opportunities to be badass professionals.
Be mindful of the characters personal directives and put your bloody fingers all over them.
Moves and directives name people and organisations that the players want to interact with. Be aware of these and tie them into the game as often as possible. As a general rule, a player should have a chance to gain at least one experience from each of his or her directives in every session. That means that those lovers and children, current and former organisations, and enemies and mysteries need to appear frequently. Use those people and groups to pull the players in different directions: divide the group, distract them from the mission, threaten loved ones to compel action. Make the players make hard choices.
Play to find out what happens.
Don’t plan outcomes or storylines; plan starting positions and vectors of action. Set up a situation in which several NPCs and groups with conflicting goals come into contact, insert the characters, then have those NPCs and groups take action in pursuit of the goals and react to the characters’ interference.