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[Apocalypse World] Apocalypse averted

Started by Graham W, April 16, 2009, 01:36:09 PM

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Graham W

We finished our four-session game of Apocalypse World last night.

Our heroes flew to the headquarters of Panacea, one of the fronts. There were lots of zombies about. Panacea switched off the psychic maelstrom with a big transmitter. There was a big battle and our guys took over the headquarters.

Apocalypse World has been fun but frustrating. The fronts have worked well for me: the players don't see this, but the combination of Front write-ups, countdowns and "make a hard move on a failed roll" works wonders. It saves me thinking while GMing. Perfect.

The various rolls that allow the players to ask questions are great, too. Again, they save me thinking while GMing: to give out the next bit of plot, I just need to answer a question.

The Hx rolls, at the end, became a way to ensure success on anything. They were rather dull. Before each roll, people would make helping rolls, just to ensure success. All very mechanical.

Going Aggro never came together for us. I was never sure how Dodge, Miss Something Key or Misreact Revealingly should work in play: Dodge often seemed like a cheat; there was rarely anything key to miss; and I couldn't squeeze Misreact Revealingly in.

Also, using up three hold by doing three things was always a narrative stretch: so...I let something slip...I dodge...and then what? In practice, when someone had three hold on me, I usually caved or sucked it up. Anything else was too piecemeal.

We did a battle, too, which was difficult. Personally, I found it difficult to keep all the Gang and Harm rules in my head, so I was winging it by halfway through. (Some sort of guidance sheet would be really useful).

Also, I wasn't sure about concentrated fire: who decides where it is? Once or twice I told people they were going into concentrated fire, but it seemed arbitrary to me. Geography seemed to be important ("Your gang advances up this side"), but I wasn't quite sure how it worked.

In battles, Going Aggro seemed particularly difficult. It seemed like the most important move, but it was always narratively unsatisfying to do anything apart from Suck It Up or Cave. We joked about this: "OK, you hit him with the rocket launcher, and he lets slip that he's secretly your son!". Some clarity on how we should be Going Aggro, in battles, would be welcome.

The countdowns were good, though! I liked the three rounds of positioning, then three rounds of fighting, and then it ends how it ends. It's nice. It worked.

All in all, we did enjoy it. If this post sounds negative, it's because I'm making sure I get all the feedback in. Fronts good, countdowns good, skills which involve asking questions good. Going Aggro needs tweaking, for me, and Battles need a bit more explanation.

Thanks! We had fun.



Thanks, Graham. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm grateful for your writeups, questions and suggestions throughout.


GB Steve

I wouldn't know about fronts and countdowns because I didn't see them, except to note that Graham had some arcane symbols on a piece of paper.

It didn't really work for me. There was a lot of stuff on mine and others characters sheets that I didn't understand. There seemed to be something tactical going on but there wasn't enough information to use it properly so we just muddled through.

There was a fair amount of minmaxing. Very quickly the driver got +5 on all his rolls in his vehicle and people chose powers that meant thye would always be rolling their high stat. Failure didn't come into in so much anymore and it stopped being quite so gritty and dangerous.

And it all seemed rather unfocussed. Because the characters were so different, they really wanted different stuff and there wasn't enough in the booklets for everyone to understand how their characters worked. And also the writing was too small for one player to read.

But I was playing with a good bunch of people who were engaged with the game so it was quite fun all the same. And I would like to play it again because I think there are good possibilities but I'd like to understand better what's going on.


All this makes sense to me too. We had a similar prob in our game with failure kind of evaporating.

Thanks, Steve!