Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I MC Apocalypse World, I often have the problem that +forward gets lost in the events. While bonuses do dice rolls are generally not the most interesting thing in this game, they are often tied to relevant things in the fiction, so using them for the bonus brings them up again and underlines that they are important and/or interesting.

What is the best way to keep track of all those little points when the games says “take +1forward”, while keeping the focus on the fiction of the advantage, instead of the mechanical bonus?

share|improve this question

You're asking from the perspective of the MC, but I think this is a player-facing procedure. When I MC Apocalypse World, I'll tell the players to take note of such things (forward, holds, whatever) sometimes, if it isn't going to be used (and used up) immediately. But once they aren't newbie players, it's totally their job. I, as MC, have enough stuff to track. (Though I suppose I give more attention to it when they get a -1 forward.) If they don't care to get that bonus or reincorporate that fiction, then they won't. But because you're always barfing forth more apocalyptica and putting your your bloody finger prints on everything, it's not really the end of the world when that sort of thing gets lost in the shuffle.

And flipping that around, when I'm a player in an AW game, I do make notes of those sorts of things in the margin of my playbook -- there's plenty of room to note stuff like that even if I'm not taking more formal notes on a pad or whatever.

As to the "while keeping the focus on the fiction" part of your question, when I do take those notes, I jot down something like "+1 ongoing when offering Rolfball companionship" or "+1 next time I read Dremmer using the machine Spector made" so that I have the fictional triggers right there with the mechanical effects. That level of detail is enough of a cue to remind me what led to the bonus in-game even if it was a couple sessions back.

share|improve this answer

Physical tokens. They're great. They're harder to forget than a mere note written on paper. In my group we use the unused polyhedral dice and colored glass stones (like the kind they sell for fishtanks) for Forward and Experience tokens, respectively. It's helpful as an MC to look up and see the actual XP and Forwards sitting right there on the table.

Even better if the tokens are reminiscent of the game itself. I have seen some groups use things like shotgun shells (!)

share|improve this answer
As MC, seeing XP in front of people. Now there's something I hadn't even realized I was missing! – Anaphory Mar 24 '14 at 15:57
How is seeing these tokens valuable? What do you, as MC, do differently when you parse that information? – clweeks Mar 24 '14 at 16:04
@clweeks - The forward tokens are so the players don't forget their forwards. The XP tokens are so I can quickly see if I've been giving some people way more chances at highlighted rolls, and need to focus on other players a bit more. Plus some people hate constantly erasing those little XP circles :-) – As If Mar 24 '14 at 16:05
Yeah, you don't have to be precise about equal advancement, but sometimes it helps to see it. – As If Mar 24 '14 at 16:10
The nice thing about physical tokens is that they stand out - they're right in front of you. If you're playing at a table, you're always seeing them in the periphery of your vision as you look at everyone else playing, so it helps remind you. "Oh, wait, I've got a red chip... that means I've still got that +1 forward!" Some players also do better memory-wise with things they can literally fidget with. – user9935 Mar 24 '14 at 16:38

Write the +1 and the reason on a sticker. Every time you roll look at the stickers. Is there any that applies? If so, come up with a reason in the spot.

share|improve this answer
Is this something you do as player, then? Or have the players do when you're MC? – clweeks Mar 24 '14 at 16:05
@clweeks As a player. MCs never roll dice. But the MC could write them. – Zachiel Mar 24 '14 at 16:09

For fiddly things like this I find index cards a really effective way of helping players to remember. When a player has to take +1 going forward or whatever, give them an index card with that written on it. This means they have something physical and obvious to hold that reminds them and you for when it might come up.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.