Posts Tagged ‘fast-paced’

Played our first session of Apocalypse World last night.  Cool!

The World Emerges Through Play

The setting, a post-apocalyptic world, is integral to the game but only vaguely defined in broad but suggestive brush strokes, just enough to inspire the players to fill in the details.  An agenda and worksheets are provided for the first session, which is a neat blend of character generation, setting creation and opening scenes of play.  The GM is instructed not to prepare anything for the first session, but begins play by “following around the PCs for a day” and asking questions.  After character creation, these were the first words of the game:

GM: (Points at me.)  It’s first thing in the morning.  Someone is pounding on your door.  Who is it?

Me: Ya, “Who is it??” I say.

GM: Okay, but who is it?  I’m asking you.

Me: Oh!  Well, it’s uhmm… It’s our hardholder, Rice.  No!  It’s this punk-ass piece of shit named uhh, named Dog.  Rice sent him, she wants to see me.

GM: Okay, cool.  “Wake up!” Dog growls, pounding on the door again.  “Rice wants you.   Now!”

Pretty cool, eh?  See how Mike opened a scene but asked me for the details?  It’s a very clever technique.  The idea is that there’s probably more to each player’s conception of his character and the setting than we have vocalized so far.  The GM sets up a suggestive scene and then begins asking questions.  While I narrated hastily getting dressed, trying to avoid Dog (who scares me) and sprinting for the boss’s office, we brainstormed as a group on what the compound and our hardholder’s quarters are like.  We decided that our hold includes an old hydro dam, and that Rice occupies the concrete trapezoidal control building right next to the reservoir.  The GM opened scenes in similar fashion with each of the other players.  And then…

Me: I burst into Rice’s office.  “You wanted to see me boss?”

GM: “Yes,” she says.  There are four other people in the room.  She looks pissed off.  Now, why did she want to see you?

And it’s on me again.  See, the GM is exploring what kinds of stories the players want to tell in this game.  He’s going to take what he learned in the first session, go home and plan out more locations, threats, NPCs, conflicts, etc. for the sessions to come.

So our first session was fast-paced and action-packed, and we were all surprised and impressed by how much cool detail we were able to create on the fly, just by riffing off each other’s ideas through the loose framework of the GM setting scenes and asking questions.  We defined another dozen NPCs, a rival hardhold, some psychic weirdness, a new danger on the horizon, there was a tragic drug overdose, some stupid shit shot off another stupid shit’s ear… it was great fun.

Conflict Rez: Lightning Fast

The system is simple and brilliant.  The GM never rolls.  When players take action, they choose a corresponding “move” from the rules sheet.  The player rolls the dice, and the move offers a few possible outcomes, often with complications.  For example, let’s say some no-good bikers have grabbed my lady friend and hunkered down in my shack.  I want them out of there, I draw my knives and attack.  We decide that the move “Seize by force” fits the bill.  I roll the dice, scoring a partial success.  The move tells me to choose two of the following options:

  • you take definite hold of it
  • you suffer little harm
  • you inflict terrible damage
  • you impress, dismay or frighten your enemy

I’ll choose two of those options, and the GM and I will narrate accordingly.  Let’s say I choose “you take definite hold of it” and “you suffer little harm.”  (I don’t achieve the other two conditions.)  The GM might narrate: “you burst into the room, there’s a quick knife fight in which you make a good account of yourself but take a deep cut on the arm (take 1 harm), then the two bikers lose their nerve and dive out the back window.  Your girlfriend is alright.  As you bar the door, the bikers are realizing you were alone.  ‘You’re fucking DEAD!’ one of them yells.  They aren’t going away.”

Or let’s say I had chosen “you suffer little harm” and “you inflict terrible damage.”  The GM might narrate: “You burst in, knives flashing.  One biker dies on your blade, and the other takes a nasty stomach wound before managing to drive you back out of the shack.  Take 1 harm.  He slams the door and you hear him drag something heavy up against it, probably the bed.  ‘I need a medic,’ he groans through the door, ‘get me a fucking medic or the girl dies!'”

See how much action and plot movement followed from one roll of the dice?  The basic rules provide eight or ten moves that can be adapted to a wide range of actions, and then each character has a few custom moves that fit their specialty.  For example, “the hardholder” character (leader of a compound) has a move for when her gang fights for her, and “the operator” character (dealer, schemer, opportunist) has a move to use his reputation to influence people.

Very Story Now, very fast-paced.  I’m really enjoying this game!  Can’t wait for session-2, when the shit will really hit the fan.  The Apocalypse World ain’t pretty.

-Johnny 0.

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