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[Apocalypse World]Setting and Characters

Started by Bret Gillan, February 11, 2009, 11:53:10 AM

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Bret Gillan

Me, Ellen, Bob, and Chris did Apocalypse World prep.

Ellen's my girlfriend. She's done enough gaming so that it's not new and strange and foreign but she's not a scarred gaming veteran.
Bob is grognardish but he digs games of a Story-Gamesish bent. Well, the ones that have swords and lasers anyway.
Chris is a good friend from college. He's mostly played D&D but I think this game is his style.

I didn't have a lot to go with here. Just a lot of love for post-apocalyptic settings and the character playbooks. While they were printing we talked about setting.

I was like, "Remember the movie The Day After Tomorrow? The one with Jake Gyllenhaal and the wolves and the second ice age?"
And Bob was like, "Yeah it was a disaster movie."
"And it sucked. But the trailer was awesome. It showed people snowshoeing through a winter wasteland and like the Statue of Liberty's head was peeking up out of the snow. That was what I wanted the movie to be about."

So that's what we're doing. And Bob said, "There could be a hardhold built around a hot spring." That seemed like a good idea so we're starting there. Nobody's playing a hardholder though so I guess that means someone else is in charge?

I read the intro's for all the character types and elaborated a bit where there was still some confusion based on what I thought I knew about the character type. Chris grabbed an Angel right away. Ellen picked up a Hocus. Bob waffled a bit between a Gunlugger and a Battlebabe and ended up picking a Gunlugger.

Names. "Do we have to pick one of the names on here or do we use them as inspiration?" "Use one of the names listed." Rabbit the Hocus. Inch the Angel. Kartak the Gunlugger.

Looks are fun too. Rabbit's gender is concealed.

Having the rules in little books for everyone was fantastic. Everyone had nothing but good things to say about it. So we went through the process. I answered what questions I could. Sometimes I just made something up with a best guess since the rules are kind of scattered here and there. Today I went back over the notes and found that my answers were right.

Things got really confused when we were doing Hx. We had a lot of arguments over whether a bonus was supposed to go on my sheet or their sheet (relative to the player, not me specifically). Does Rabbit's +3 for seeing into someone's soul go on her sheet? Or theirs? I wanted a little chart that clearly said, "Mine|Theirs." We made our best guesses and think we did okay. "What do we do for ties?" "Umm whoever has the highest Hx with you. I just made that up." It worked though. If that didn't break the tie I just let the player pick who got to highlight his shit. I had to resist the urge as MC to highlight Hot for everyone. I did highlight Hot for Inch. Oh and I guess Hx can flip when it hits a certain point. Does this happen during character creation too?

So we're all set for next week. I just need to make Fronts. Two Fronts seems like a lot of Threats but that will give me a lot to work with. I'm guess they're just linked under a Front thematically. It's not like a team of supervillains.

Everyone's excited. This is really good. I'm trying to get ahold of Doomsday to watch it here soon.


Thanks, Bret.

You know how assigning Hx should work? The MC should have a little chart to fill out. Go around and everyone tells their numbers and decisions to the MC, who writes them on the little chart. Then the MC follows the perfect, crystal-clear instructions I haven't written yet, and tells everybody back what numbers to write on their character sheets. That's how it should work.

We've had trouble keeping it straight too, I'm like "their Hx with you goes on their sheet, your Hx with them goes on yours," repeated like a mantra throughout the process. Next time I'm going to try this instead.

I had a plan for ties but I never wrote it down and now I forgot it. Isn't that clever?

Someone else is in charge of the holding, yes! It should probably be a warlord but that's up to you.


Bret Gillan

Your Hx plan sounds really good. Players might drift in later so I'll try doing something like that in the future.

Anything look like it's glaringly missing from setting setup? Like, I do Fronts and that's all I need and from there I just follow the MC responsibilities to the letter is the impression I'm getting.

It also seems like, from reading Graham's AP and elsewhere, that maybe making threats friendly with one PC and a threat to another is a good way to tie everyone up in a mess.


Yeah, threats friendly to some and unfriendly to others.

What I do is give them straightforward, sensible self-interests that involve the PCs individually, not as a group. So sometimes the PCs' interests will all happen to align with a threat's, and that threat will become an ally (at least as long as their alignment lasts). But most of the time one PC's interests will align with the threat's, but another PC's interests won't, so the threat will act friendly toward the one and hostile toward the other.

This isn't any kind of a formal thing, at all. I don't write any of this down or commit to it in any way. It's just what I do when it's time for the NPC in question to talk. There's a piece of direction in Elfs, something like "give the throne room guard (for instance) a simple, compelling, funny drive, like all he wants in the world is for someone to listen to him read his poems." It's kind of like that. Roark comes back from burning down the neighboring hold, unleashing chaos upon us all, and he's beaming because he's really just not that complicated. He wanted to burn it down, so he did, and now he wants a bubble bath because he's all sooty, and that's his entire deal.

In your game, make all your NPCs just not that complicated. They do what they want to do, when they want to do it, and if something gets in their way, they deal with it or else they change their mind and do what they want to do now instead. What they do in life is follow their parts around - their noses, their stomachs, their hearts, their clits & dicks, their guts, their ears, their inner children, their visions.

You're in a great setup for this! Think from the warlord's point of view, for instance: an angel is a valuable member of the community, worth the warlord's investment and resources, even worth holding by force if it comes to it. A gunlugger, on the other hand, is more valuable the more the warlord puts her into danger - she's more like a resource for the community to use up than an investment the community should make. And a hocus! A hocus is a potential rallying point for the community, by default outside of the warlord's control. A threat to the warlord, either now or later, unless the warlord can somehow use her.

So, yes. Friendly to some, unfriendly to others, as circumstances plus self-interests direct.



Quote from: Bret Gillan on February 11, 2009, 11:53:10 AM

So that's what we're doing. And Bob said, "There could be a hardhold built around a hot spring." That seemed like a good idea so we're starting there. Nobody's playing a hardholder though so I guess that means someone else is in charge?

Everyone's excited. This is really good. I'm trying to get ahold of Doomsday to watch it here soon.

Me! Me! Me!  I'm in charge!  Grandma's in charge!

I am joining the game, playing a Hardholder named Grandma.

Funny, I just borrowed Doomsday from a friend of mine.  I believe it is in the living room on my comfy brown chair.


I'd just like to cover my ass, here: while Doosday was an immediate inspiration for Apocalypse World, I wouldn't call it, y'know, good.



Bret, good luck with the fronts. I find that I'm having most fun with the custom moves for threats. There's something fascinating in that intersection of fiction/setting, mechanics and creativity.

How collaborative was your character creation? Was it more like people reading their own little book and filling in their character sheet, occasionally asking you questions, or did they actively discuss their choices together?

The Hx assignments were all in the open, right? How did things like "picking two characters you like", "character whose soul you've seen" or "who is prettiest" go down?
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Bret Gillan

Funnily, the custom rolls for Fronts/Threats are what I'm having the hardest time with at the moment. I'm actually not using them at all for now because I just can't think of a single thing to do with them. Maybe after tonight I'll have some ideas.

Character creation wasn't all that collaborative. I basically spread the books out on the table and let people grab whatever appealed to them. Mostly they filled in their books with little to no conversation but I forced them to stop and read their choices out loud so it wasn't totally a solo project and to give me some idea of what they were doing. But there was very little cross-table feedback beyond us occasionally reading bits we found entertaining (like I loved that one of the Chopper Names was "Shit head" and we all got a kick out of the gun lugger picking a "fuck off big gun.")

Hx assignments were out in the open. Picking the prettiest and character whose soul you've seen went based on whatever internal logic my players used for determining that kind of thing. They didn't really explain their choices which is fine but it did characterize their opinions of each other. I can't remember them that well, though. I think the Gunlugger thinks the Hocus is the prettiest, I'm guessing because the Angel is a dude and it's possible that the Hocus is a female (and the player is a female). I can't remember whose soul the Hocus saw.