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Messages - michael.harrel

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Apocalypse World / Re: Gunlugger = best playbook
« on: June 09, 2012, 11:50:51 AM »
This was definitely my experience in the first AW game I played.  I was the Gunlugger, and at the beginning of the campaign I played my character, Max, as a guy who could probably beat you up, but preferred to use violence as something of a last resort.  Unfortunately for him, that meant that he spent the first few sessions of the game failing miserably at everything he tried to do.

Then he finally caught on.  He wanted to gain some independence from the cult he was working for.  Some other guy had a gang, so Max made up a flimsy pretext to pick a fight, stabbed the guy in the eyes, and took over the gang.  Things got a lot better for him after he started knocking heads. Eventually he was the only character who got retired to safety (I believe the other PCs got cannibalized).

So yeah.  Now when I run AW, I always tell the players to look at what they're characters are good at, and run with it.  It's the character's hammer, and to them the whole world sure looks like a nail.

Apocalypse World / AP - Xenoformed Chicago
« on: February 21, 2012, 04:28:33 PM »
Here's a link to the actual play reports for my current Apocalypse World campaign, set in post-alien-invasion Chicago.  It's been a blast so far!

Apocalypse World / Re: Firefly -> Apocalypse World?
« on: February 15, 2012, 09:28:45 AM »
lin_fusan speaks the truth.  As a Brainer, River has Weird as a commonly highlighted stat, and when she uses Open Your Brain to catch the subliminal message in the advertisement, she marks her sixth advance by changing to the Battlebabe playbook.

I don't think any of the playbooks need to be left out.  I'm playing an AW game with my coworkers, none of whom had ever played an RPG before, and I threw in all the core playbooks, plus all the LE playbooks save the Marmot and Quarantine (for reasons of personal taste and not accessibility), and tossed in the Ruin Runner, Feral Kid, Grotesque, and Juggernaut to boot.  A few facebook posts in our group before the game introduced everyone to their choices, and no one seemed too overwhelmed come game day.

Other than that, I'd say to stress the part about "play your characters as if they were real people".  When one of my players was looking overwhelmed staring at the basic moves sheet and wondering which moves he could make, I told him not to worry about it in terms of moves, but to think of what his character would do, and I'd tell him when something he did counted as a move.  That seems to have worked for the first session; I expect as people get more familiar with the game and how it's played, they'll start getting into using the moves from a mechanical viewpoint as well.

Apocalypse World / Re: Question about Apocalypse World LE Playbooks
« on: January 07, 2012, 07:58:11 PM »
Hey all, I'm looking for the Boy and His Dog tri-fold for my game tomorrow, if it's around.  I tried the Story Games thread but didn't get any bites yet.  I have all the "canon" LE playbooks, plus a number of the fan-mades (Feral Kid, Horseman, Juggernaut, Rat Pack, Ruin Runner, Tribal, Witch), and some of the add-ons (Witch King, Fall, Mendicant, Catalyst, Valkyrie, Broodmother, Living God, Wurm).  If you'd be interested in a trade, give me an e-mail at: michael dot harrel at gmail dot com.  Thanks!

blood & guts / Re: What can be done with Hx for NPCs?
« on: August 17, 2011, 11:31:55 AM »
Thanks Vincent!

That's true, there is the move just above about "when you declare retroactively...". After I posted I went through the playbooks and found the other "roll+Hx" moves, too:

-In the optional Extended Combat moves, you roll+Hx when following up on someone else's move.
-The Battlebabe's "Ice Cold" move allows rolling+Hx instead of +Hard when going aggro.
-The Operator's "Easy to Trust" move allows rolling+Hx instead of +Hot for seducing and manipulating.

And the LE playbooks give us one more:

-The Maestro'D rolls Hx for "Just Give Me A Motive", allowing them to poison someone's food or drink.

I expect an AW game with Hx for NPCs would probably need a couple more custom moves; possibly one that allows for Interfering/Aiding NPCS somehow?  (Although that gets muddy; the PC version is nice and clear that the only time you're interfering is if someone is rolling dice.  An NPC version would need to be careful not to overshadow the other basic moves.)

Of course, the book does say just after that adding NPC History is moving toward something that isn't fully Apocalypse World any more, so maybe that implies a bevy of other Hx based moves that aren't present given AW's structure and scope.   

I bring this up because in the game that I'm playing there are only 2 PCs, and they both kind of do their own thing and we have some sessions where they're in two different places and don't really interact directly much, and come end of session we don't really feel they've gained any insight into each other.  Plus, giving out a token +1Hx to each other every time gets old.  So, I was looking at giving NPCs Hx as a way to keep the stat relevant in our game.

Does anyone know of attempts to integrate this?  Any tips?

blood & guts / What can be done with Hx for NPCs?
« on: August 17, 2011, 10:01:26 AM »
So, there's the custom move on p. 277 that goes, "When you Read a Person in a charged situation...if you're reading an NPC, on a 10+, in addition to your hold, you can: -give yourself Hx=0 with them, if you have no Hx with them, -add +1 to your Hx with them, if you do have one (max Hx+3).

Since Hx is generally most helpful when aiding or interfering with someone's roll (which NPCs don't do), or gaining XP when it rolls over at +4 (which the above move doesn't seem to indicate), what good would it do to have Hx with NPCs?  What can be done with that?

In my pseudo-medieval fantasy game, the apocalypse has not yet occurred, but is clearly on its way.  Thinking about handling omens, portents, and the future cataclysms and disasters led to this custom threat type.  I'd love to hear any thoughts anyone has on it, as well as any suggestions for additions to the entries.  ALSO: I'd love to hear other people's custom/hacked threat lists!

FATE - A Fate threat is an extra-natural force, a current of events that lead toward a predetermined end.
Prophecy (impulse: to shape reality, to dictate future events)
Apocalypse (impulse: to destroy everything, to bring about the end)
The gods (impulse: to experiment and toy, to challenge)
Nature (impulse: to restore its own order, to punish hubris)

Moves for Fate Threats:
Announce its presence through dreams, omens, signs and symbols
Return someone's own words or actions to them, amplified greatly
Make someone choose between two impossible courses
Accelerate toward its goal with silence, stillness, unease and mounting dread
Accelerate toward its goal with violence, depravity, anarchy and chaos
Attack with hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, famines, or other extreme weather conditions
Attack with animals, vegetation, or diseases
Attack in waves, with increasing force
Establish a new cult or religion, or choose lone spokesperson
Present hope for escape, freedom, or redemption
Deny hope for escape, freedom, or redemption
Bring final goal into being

[EDIT] Oh dear.  I suspect this should probably go in Hacks instead, shouldn't it?

Apocalypse World / Re: Swell Maps of Hell
« on: December 03, 2010, 10:39:25 AM »
The base image was a public-domain map of the U.S. from (

The hexes are from the Judge's Guild site (IIRC, I had to pare the sheet down a bit to make it manageable in size.) ( I think?)

Everything else was done in Photoshop.  I cropped the US map to just the south-west, rotated and flipped things till I didn't recognize them any more, removed the Great Salt Lake, made everything a little bit redder, then combined it with the hex sheet and started brainstorming names.  The format for the words and so forth was all based on the other maps at the shaded relief site, using Consolas, the font from the AW rulebook. ( The font for the Apocalypse World logo I found browsing around the forums (VTKS Good Luck For You -

Here's another map from the same campaign:

For a while I was also making topographical maps of the hexes when the characters visited them, but that proved to be more time-consuming than it was worth, since they've mostly stuck to the cities and haven't ventured off into the wild at all.  They came in handy for charting a couple fights on the roads, though.

Apocalypse World / Re: Swell Maps of Hell
« on: December 02, 2010, 10:05:41 AM »

Full size at:

So far the caravan has been traveling back and forth between the towns between Marlboro City and Junk Haven.

brainstorming & development / Re: World of Conan
« on: November 15, 2010, 12:19:37 PM »
This hack is very relevant to my interests.  I'd totally be up for proofing if you're still looking for help.


Apocalypse World / Re: In which we vomit forth apocalyptica
« on: September 30, 2010, 11:25:19 AM »
The Children's Crusade - Like Reavers from Firefly, only they're all under the age of twelve, roaming through the desert, swarms of them attacking lone travelers or even caravans.  Is this a disease that only affects children?  Some sort of mutation?  Are they being controlled by someone?  Or are they simply what happens when children, abandoned and alone in the wilderness, clearly hear the call of the psychic maelstrom?

Apocalypse World / Re: Tools for Apocalypse World Online
« on: September 30, 2010, 08:26:26 AM »
We've been using Skype + Vyew, and it's working really well.  The Vyew whiteboard allows us to jot down random notes, post maps, and basically keep track of all the stuff we'd have on the table normally.  For rolls, we use the Wizards of the Coast dice roller (

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