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[Apocalypse World] The Rig

Started by agony, March 18, 2009, 12:05:43 AM

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We started Apocalypse World last night, I have 3 players consisting of the following:

Colonel - Hard Holder who rules the surrounding territoriy with an iron fist while fortified within his off-shore oil rig.  The rig is connected to the shore by a single highway/bridge
Keeler - Gunlugger who is the Col.'s greatest asset.  Hits like a tank and counts as a small gang in fights.
Dice - Leads a cut-throat band of motorcycle thieves who act as the Colonel's enforcers. 

First off, great session - we all loved it.  The style implicit in the character books is just so in your face and absolutely brilliant it's hard to not get excited to play.

The two fronts I utilized consist of:
-Exodus: A group of refugees from a distant holding appear on the coast-line seeking shelter.  They're lead by a Hocus and offer to work and earn their stay.  They're doggedly pursued by the vicious Warlord Barnum.
-Red Harvest: A bit like Graham's OTFWYS but I envison them as crazy wacknuts who appear wearing burlap sacks on their heads with sawed off's capturing victims to strap down and experiment on.  Their experiments involve forcefully opening their victim's minds to the Psychic Maelstrom.

Threats moved along nicely.  The aforementioned refugees arrived from the get-go to stir things up.  Their Hocus leader (Lark) was very humble and agreed to obey every order issued by the Colonel.  Later in the story we had this awesome scene where Lark was preaching to a bunch of people and the Colonel arrived to see what all the fuss was about.  Lark totally played into the Colonel's arrogance and brought him to the front of the group, thanking the gods for the gifts bestowed upon the people by such a benevolent ruler.  Lark then became so bold as to announce to the people that a king's ransom in supplies would be delivered to the community as a gift from the Colonel himself.  When you're standing in front of a bunch of your citizens and they're chanting your name you just can't say no.

We also had a fucking amazing scene where Dice's old boss (his chopper gang split from a larger group) arrived and we had previously established they had split on bad terms.  Razor (the old boss) was out for blood and Dice was up to the challenge.  Colonel decreed that whichever of the two knocked on his door the next morning would be in his employ and left Dice and Razor to spill each other's blood for the gig.  Dice of course ripped the shit out of Razor but there was this excellent moment right before the fight which went like this:

Razor: (Addressing Dice's crew) If any of you put a bullet in Dice's back right now, I'll make you my right hand man and set you up for life.
A loud gunshot rings out as T-bone, a member of Dice's crew, is levelled by Dice's second.  This started with going aggro and devolved into a full-fledged battle.

Here's questions/problems that arose:
-What's with the gang stats?  If Dice is fighting with his Chopper crew against another gang, when does his gang inflict their 3 Harm?  Instead of Dice doing harm himself?  Or, do I just use that as a guide to flavor narration (His gang does 3-harm so they must fuck some people up)?  This also applies to the Gunlugger as he counts as a small gang with 2-harm.  Does he use the 2-harm or does he use his 4-harm weapon?  What if Dice takes an action on an individual gang member - say, going aggro - and gains hold.  I decide to force his hand and take the full harm from Dice.  Does he hurt the gang?  With his own weapon's harm or the gang's harm?

-Battle can be, well, awkward.  Keeler just wanted to lay into Razor's bikers but I wasn't sure how to handle this.  I let him lay covering fire first and then he went aggro gaining 1 hold.  But then, he can't keep going aggro so we have to pretend he's firing wildly and not really hurting anyone the rest of the fight?  We rolled with it and it worked but felt forced.

-What guidelines should I use for enforcing actions in Battle?  For instance, Dice wants to run across no man's land and take cover near his woman Jenn.  I said he had to roll to attempt an action while under fire.  On his next action, should he be allowed to try to win Jenn over or does he have to maintain his untenable position first?  Is it up to the MC to decide based on the events in the fiction? 

-This kind of reflects an earlier post but how do you assassinate someone in Apocalypse World?  Go aggro, acquire hold, and the MC decides to give the players what they want? 

At the end of the night it was an amazing session and I thank you Mr. Baker for another fantastic game.
You can call me Charles


Sounds like a really cool session!

From your description, it seems that there was plenty of violence. Did you have any non-violent stuff that provoked the players to roll? What kind of things did the hardholder roll for?
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN


The Hardholder rolled to read someone twice, failing on one attempt.

Unfortunately, no one has a decent weird in the group so no one wants to open their minds to the Psychic maelstrom.  I find that one of the most interesting points of the setting which is a shame.

Oh, one other thing I wanted to point out - My player's like never failed.  I had one blown roll all session.  Granted, we only had probably 6-7 rolls but it seems like odds are extraordinarily in their favor to the point the only bammo's around are really the players.  I guess I can be persuaded to be fine with that but I'm worried that if someone progresses Hard to +3 I will never be able to push with a hard move. 

Tangentially, is it a dick move for the MC to highlight a crappy stat of the players?
You can call me Charles


Hey Agony! Thanks. I wish I had more time, this'll have to be a brief one.

Highlighting stats: the opposite. It's a dick move for the players to highlight only each others' good stats. But don't sweat it if they do. Anyway as MC, I always highlight crappy stat, and if it's a tie or close I always highlight weird.

The odds: you don't have to wait for a blown roll to make a hard move. A blown roll calls for a hard move, but it's not the only circumstance that does.

Gang stats: I'll need to sit down and write out how to use the gang stats, it's beyond the time I have this morning. The general principle is, treat a gang like its leader's weapon. A guy goes aggro with his shotgun, or lays down covering fire with it, or whatever; a gang leader goes aggro with his gang, or lays down covering fire with it, or whatever.

Did the text about "when your gang takes harm, what happens to you?" make it onto the ecretsay ogblay? I can't remember.

Assassinating: there is no move to just kill someone. Here's a funny story: my 3-yo is in a play guns phase. He points his banana at you and says "hands up." So you put your hands up. He says "bang! I shooted you." You're like, dude, kid, I put my hands up like you said, and now you shoot me? That's not how it works.

In Apocalypse World, the rules presume that you're pointing your gun like "hands up," not like an assassin.

Here's a thing to do as MC to make battles flow, I think. You have this PC shooting this NPC, right? So the player rolls hard, and hits at least a 7. You say: "he falls down, he's maybe dragging himself a little toward cover, he stops moving." You've just used up 1 hold OR forced the PC's hand and sucked up the harm.

If the player's like "cool, that guy's done, I keep going," then the aggro roll's done and you can decide at your leisure whether the NPC lives or dies.

If the player's like "is he dead?" then you can say "do you go check to make sure?" If he does, you can decide now whether you've used up 1 hold, and he's not dead, or forced the PC's hand, and he is. If he doesn't check to make sure, again, you can decide at your leisure.

I don't know if that answers what happened in your game, of course.



Thanks for the reply Vincent, it helped on a couple of points.  Most of that I kind of new/extrapolated but the gang/battle rule is sort of new - don't think you mentioned that on the ogblay.  You did, however, mention when a gang takes harm what happens to the leader in your harm post.

Although this begs the question, why would the Gunlugger want to fight as a personal gang when he does less harm than the Gunlugger who simply uses his weapon?  Sure, he takes 1 less harm but he's dishing out 2 less harm, so instead of being a bad ass he's actually weaker.  If I allow him to use his weapon's harm but benefit from being a gang at the same time would it be too powerful possibly?  The benefit of fighting as a 2-harm personal gang would then be if he ever found himself unarmed.

You can call me Charles


Second session happened last night, more awesome was brought to the table.

So we started things out with the Colonel having a meeting with a Keeler (his badass Gunlugger); both are PC's.  Colonel "suggests" that Keeler off the Hocus Lark who leads the refugees which were brought into the holding last session.  Keeler grabs the aid of the other PC Chopper Dice and they decide to send Lark packing with a biker escort from Dice's crew.  They plan to send him to a nearby holding called "The Pass".  They both meet with Lark and give him an ultimatum - "You'll leave tomorrow night or you'll be buried here."

Later that day a group of slavers arrive looking for some missing property.  In the previous session I introduced an NPC woman (Iris) who had been experimented on by my super secret front Red Harvest.  Iris was a mistake, an experiment gone wrong and now Red Harvest just wants to get rid of her before she might reveal any information about the cult/organization.  The slavers were hired by Red Harvest as lackeys to go claim Iris (who was being held at the Colonel's Oil Rig Fortress) and barter for her return.  They successfully do so giving the Colonel a finder's fee but shit hits the fan when Grinder and Widow (members of Dice's chopper crew) don't want to let them take the helpless girl.  Some good character development occurred as the slavers pissed off the chopper gang and we learned Dice and the majority of his crew despise the slavers.

Determined to really crank things up a notch, the Hardholder who forced the refugees out of their lands showed up with a legion of troops right outside the Colonel's holding.  The Colonel decides to meet with the ominous force in no man's land and find out what they want the following day.  Before that occurs, however, Keeler and Dice attempt to send Lark (the Hocus) to the nearby town, risking his life with the enemy force right outside their door.

Next day, all 3 PC's meet with the enemy hardholder (Barnum) who refuses to take their shit, demanding "his people" be returned to him.  To display his seriousness he reveals Lark in his captivity (uh-oh) and Dice's nemesis Razor (his old Chopper boss who he fought in the last session) comes riding down with Dice's man Rat dragging behind his bike - Think Achilles and Hector.  This signalled Razor's crew was working for Barnum and the holding was now seriously fucking threatened by such a massive force. 

That was the end of the session with the Colonel being given 1 day to make up his mind.  I decided to change the stat I highlighted on all of the character's before the session began and it caused Dice to attempt to use weird on 2 separate occassions - good stuff.  I also meant to ask each of the PC's to name two NPC's their character interacted with on a relatively regular basis but forgot to do this.

Josh, who's playing Dice, is absolutely loving his character.  Playing a Chopper is such the opposite of his normal wizard/spellcaster/psychic role (I completely thought he'd choose Brainer) but he's pulling it off remarkably well and find his crew the most entertaining element of our game.

Chris - the Colonel - has never played a long-term RPG campaign in his life and probably only played in about 5 one-shots.  He's really about gamism but we're slowly bringing him around.  He's enjoying the game but sometimes gets miffed at internal conflict in the group (all the rest of us actively strive to create internal conflict when it's appropriate).

Jeremy , who plays the Gunlugger Keeler, absolutely loves Apocalypse World and is already talking about playing a Brainer in our next game.  Considering our groups gamer ADD and continually switching of campaigns I am very surprised he is already willing to commit to a second campaign down the line.  He is, however, struggling with developing his character but we're actively attempting to come up with some ideas together.

Vincent, if you read this I would really appreciate it if you would give me your thoughts on my question in the previous post about Keeler using his weapon's harm while he counts as a gang (rather than the 2-harm for being a gang). 
You can call me Charles

Graham W

Could I have a go at your gun question?

I'd say...Keeler can choose whether to count as a small gang or just a guy. And let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that Keeler is fighting a small gang.

If Keeler chooses to be a small gang, he does 2 harm to the small gang he's fighting. Nice and simple.

If he chooses to just be a guy, he does his weapon's damage, which is 4 harm, but he gets a penalty: as per the rules, "A guy or two hits a small gang for -1harm". So he does 3 harm to the gang. However, he also takes more harm if the gang hits him: "A small gang hits a guy for +1harm".

Either way, it's his choice: be a small gang or be a guy.

You also asked: if Dice hits a member of the gang, does that do harm to the gang? I'd say no. It's Dice's choice whether he attacks the gang or a guy. If he focusses on a specific guy, he does no harm to the gang, and we assume he's attacking that guy for a reason: perhaps he's the gang leader or, say, a sniper who's causing serious damage.

If he focusses on the gang, he does harm to the gang. And note that, when the gang suffers harm, there's a chance that any individual gang member will suffer harm. That's in the rules somewhere.

What do you think? Does that work?



We had discussed that interpretation as being a possibility Graham but it seems a bit underwhelming.  To me, the ability to function basically as a small gang is almost as much color as it is mechanics.  It tells me this guy is a goddamn badass and probably the meanest son of a bitch in the holding. 

But, he like won't ever hurt anyone.  Most everyone has armor so he's only dishing out either 1 or 0 harm when he's fighting as a small gang.  However, for free he can inflict 4 harm, area.

It just feels a bit meh.  Maybe if it was 3-harm small gang instead of 2-harm I would feel a bit better about it. 
You can call me Charles


Graham's right, down the line. But yes, make it a 3-harm gang instead of a 2-harm gang, you're right about that.

I wrote the move before I wrote the gang rules, and didn't go back afterward to make the numbers line up. You've spotted a plain error!