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Topics - arakn_e

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Apocalypse World / Hardholder's wealth move in the fiction
« on: February 06, 2018, 02:42:22 PM »
Hi community. How do you deal with the wealth move, in the fiction, more specifically with famine?

The way I deal with the wealth move does not satisfy me. Generally I start the fiction with the  wealth move, like,  "you got 7-9, gain your surplus and, what is your need? Famine? Ok there's shortage in food and water". But I realize now that the move is not about starting the situation of shortage, but setting it in the background. More like, "there's been a shortage of food and water for a month. Everybody's starving."

Still I'm not sure how to bring the fiction to life for the famine. Would anyone mind to share her practices? Please talk about description, fiction, these stuffs, when the player got a 10+, a 7-9, a 6-. How do play the result, how do you set it in the fiction. As Flashback ? As played scenes ? If the famine is not resolved at the end of the session (ours are short: 2h max), how do you deal with it the next session? Passing time ?

Thanks for sharing!

Apocalypse World / Seize by force - to kill
« on: November 10, 2017, 03:49:07 PM »
Hi all,

I've read the previous topic about 2nd seize by force and couldn't find discussion about a question I have. Apologies if it is already written somewhere.

I'm MCing the game and I still have trouble with Seize by force in a specific situation: when a PC's intention is to kill somebody in battle situation. Can we consider that he seizes the NPC's life by force?

In this case, he can still miss and take the NPC's life by force. Or, for instance, he wants to keeps the NPC's head by force, with a chainsaw (generally, they aim for a leader). We're not in a 1vs1 situation here, really in battle situation.

Currently I play with this interpretation but want to be sure if there are other ways? Sometimes it feel weird.

Apocalypse World / Rules question: When life is untenable
« on: November 13, 2016, 09:07:10 AM »
Hello all,

Thanks for this amazing work, Vincent.

When life is untenable, here are the options: come back with -1hard, come back with +1 weird (max 3), change to a new playbook, die.

My question: can you "change to a new playbook" while keeping the same character? Or the meaning was, "change to a new character with a new playbook"?

Hi all,

I want to apology for asking newbies questions. We're having great times with our AW games who started as a one shot test play and became our main weekly campaign. We're getting used to the system and the interactions with the community on these forums are really helping. Really thanks to you all.

There's still one thing we're struggling with: the psychic maelstrom: "When you open your brain to the psychic maelstrom, roll+weird ..."

I have trouble to deal with this move. What do I answer? What do I ask for?

Here's how I deal with it for the moment:
-Generally, when the player wants to know something he cannot know on a situation, he opens his brain to the maelstrom, knowing the information will surely be very hazardous ;
-When a player opens his brain, I look at my threats. I generally have some stake questions linked to these threats. I pick some of them and ask them to the player. "You see the Horde is in fact prisonner of the tempest. You're inside and there's this big placenta of compact ashes the guys are trying to slash with axes and chainsaws. Will they get out or no?" So I put decisions in the character's vision. Not sure with the effect but for the moment we tried

I'm not 100% sure about this, I got this feeling I'm missing something. Could anyone help with :
- how to deal with this move? how do you use it? Please share.
- what information do you give? what do you ask?
- how do you deal with a fail?


Apocalypse World / Help with threats and play write-up
« on: May 16, 2016, 01:14:27 PM »
Hi all.
We played of 5th session of AW and we’re living this cool moment when we realize RPG will never be the same. We actually wanted something like this, and AW made it possible. So again, thanks to Vincent, Meg and the community for offering us this.
I have some trouble to design threats, and would like to benefit from other experiences. This post will be a bit long, because I’m gonna explain the settings to show precisely on what particular details I’m having troubles. Sometimes, some answers came at me while writing the post, but I didn’t delete my questions and let it open, in case it would open some debate. While there are many external and important threats outside the PC’s holding, they are not discussed in this post, as I’m not looking to be exhaustive, but to get some advices on the process of prep.

My main concerns :

•   I'm afraid to create too many threats, and struggling with the level of agency which determines is something need to be a threat or no.
•   I’m wondering about the criterium of choice of making something a threat or just leave it in the wilds.
•   I'm struggling with the way to connect threats, be it into front or in the threat map.
•   My concern is to a fear to « complexify » too much my prep, where AW is an excellent system to avoid unneeded prep to let open some space for collective creativity, and that's why I choose it in the first time.

Here's the campaign

This is not a description of the campaign in a chronological order, but the actual state of the game by summing up all the improvised constructions during our sessions. Most of the relationship between PC and NPC has been built on the Playbook Focus from this forum.

TumTum is a Hardholder. TumTum has inherited « The Camp », a holding who seems to be an old humanitarian camp. They have strong weapons, strong defenses, unshakable discipline and a good reserve of medics. These assets makes TumTum the main Warlord of the region and the 3 other main holdings pays him tribute. Iron walls with turrets. People lives in iron containers superposed together, organized as a roman legion camp. The camp lives on the racket of the small holding of the region, very scarce hydroponic agriculture and hunting. The population is composed of a dozen families, named after the pre-apocalypse world. TumTum is from the « Brassard » clan, and has a Doctors of the World brassard at the arm. Another family is the «Fanion clan», which owns the DoW flags and is a direct rival of TumTum, and the previous chief of the Camp (before TumTum's father). We didn't design or name other families. The population is filthy but TumTum's disciplined gang is his most important asset, and holds everything together.

As suggested by the rules, I don't make any internal factions within the gangs, and don't use it as a threat to the PC. I still consider that individual members can become threats themselves, and the population has internal rivarlies that can become threats, always showing when needed how TumTum's gang's discipline put things in order to affirm his dominance.

Entretoise is a Brainer. He's a Brainer fascinated by the Psychic Maelstrom. He puked light when he was a baby and it gave him a weird and feared status in the Camp. He works for TumTum, is always near him and providing advices, but he's not a Lieutenant. The rules is that to be Lieutenant, The Hardholder affirms his dominance by having public sex with the promoted person in some kind of military ceremony. TumTum leaves always the choice (if we can speaks about choice). This ceremony is called « The Initiation ». This simples rule creates every kind of complicated relationship in the Camp, preventing some really good gangers to be promoted as they don't want to suffer humiliation. In this regard, Entretoise has a specific status. Here I'm hesitating. Some of the lieutenants could become threats to Entretoise, but not to TumTum. This rule helps to create PC-NPC-PC triangulation (even if that's not the reason it appeared, just the pushing of the fiction after a few sessions). Actually, Entretoise's goal is to « incorporate» some people he identified as « Conducts » to the Psychic Maelstrom, and he tries to identify them, thus barter to buy them and form them. Here again I'm struggling with something : Entretoise's player told me out of game that his goalis to « have little brainers », not a sect, when I advicedhim to read the Hocus playbook  and the Fortune's move, for his character improvement. I made clear that a Brainer's a PC playbook and if some weird things can happen, his followers will not be an army of little brainers. I'm stuck in this position: I'm playing « by the book »,but I don't wont to restrain creativity. What do you think about this ? This creates all kind of ingame conflicts as Entretoise litteraly keeps children from families in the camp without retribution, when TumTum gives his support.

Internal Threats : in the camp

First, the population. I should create an affliction for them, but I'm struggling with the idea. Any advices ? Inside the Camp, Parchemin is the oldest Patriarch. He's the instructor to the youngest and the memory of the camp, and has power over TumTum. He constantly opposes TumTum in public, something TumTum struggles to contradict and speaks about how his father was far better than him, how the population is now corrupted, and constantly approves and recompenses TumTum's lieutenants publicly, while opposing TumTum. I make Parchemin a Threat : he's a Grotesque (Mindfucker) who acts a bit like a Prophet but I give him the Grotesques moves, as it seems to fit better to him. During the game, other NPC appears to be important. Screw is the only ingenior of the camp, the games begins when he sabotates the Water Filtering System. He becomes some kind of slave, tortured so much he became a kind of dog, attached to a rope. I didn't decide myself if he's gonna die, but it would be great, he's the only ingenior, that would push the story forward at a moment, but not now, as I want to disclaim decision making. There are the conducts (Entretoise's followers) : Barbeduct (a mix of Barbecue and conduct, the first « conduct » identified by Entretoise), Sunshine (a little girl), and Boiled-Face, an handicaped little girl who has no connection at all with the Maelstrom, but TumTum wanted her alive and she's simply a burden in Entretoise's shoes, a stomach to fill. We also have Ammo as the leader of the hunting team, and Fisc as the leader of the scavenging team (just names).

As there is no angel, I opted for the « make a medic NPC and write him as a threat » idea. Our Medic is called Putrid, but I'm struggling about which kind of threat. I'm thinking about a Grotesque(Disease Vector) but totally arbitrary.

We have the Gang, the Doctors of the Apocalypse World, whose motto is « The World is sick and we are the doctors » (stolen from the Iron Sky movie). Inside the gang, we have Dog Head, the chief of defense, who comes from the Fanion Clan, the rival family. Mimi is the chief of security, NiceTeeth is TumTum's personal bodyguard, Repus is the leader of the sentinels, and there's nobody to lead the control of the territory's borders. A new Lieutenant has been promoted, Harpy, after TumTum has raided against the Reserve, capture everybody and looted what he can (for reasons I'll explain later, maybe).

Thus I decided to exploit this flaw and make some territory contest as a background story. I don't make any lieutenants as a threat. But here I'm questioning myself : I consider the threats as threats to PC. But we can consider threats as threats to NPC ? As the only use of 'threat' is to provide ideas and way to put the fiction in. Thus I create the whole gang as a threat : Brutes (Enforcers). I also create Harpy as a threat. She can create interpersonal rivalries inside the gang, even if there will no be deflect of  loyalty, as TumTum choosed a disciplined gang during the creation. Here, I'm hesitating about creating the other Lieutenants as threat, because I just fear it will be too much ...

As threath, we ave the Doctors of the Apocalypse World as Brute (Enforcers), The Camp as Landscape (Fortress), Harpy as Grotesque (Mutant), Parchemin as Grotesque (Prophet/Mindfucker), Putrid as Grotesque (Disease vector? Maybe ?). But if we think about it: Screw, Sunshine, Barbeduct, Harpy, Dog Head, Mimi, etc could be threat too. I have the feeling that if I do, I'm losing myself. Harpy, Barbeduct, Sunshin Boiled-Face are good examples of different cases of agency in the fiction. Let's talk about them.

Boiled-Face will no be a threat, because when we play, she doesn't develop much agency for the moment. I play her as scared, she doesn't give as much information, we don't have much interactions.

Sunshine and Barbeduct are the more reactives when we play.  Entretoise's player expects lots of agency from Barbeducts as he wants him to become a link with the Maelstrom. I gave Barbeducts a specific behaviour. He always screams that « He's not a CONDUCT !! » which he takes as an insult (because he doesn't understand what it is). He's been beaten to death, and sometimes Entretoise gives him orders that contradicts TumTum's own orders. So he opposes Entretoise and follows TumTum's, being subjected to violence everytime. He has an iron will and never suck it up. Sunshine doesn't have this kind of « specific » behaviour (and here, I don't mean Barbeduct's iron will, but a very specific behaviour that makes her special). Struggling again: should they be threats?

Screw has been a treator since the beginning, and he's paying that. He's the community slave and scapegoat. He destroyed the Walter Filter in the first session, has been brain scanned by Entretoise, has been publicly tortured, abused, slaved by TumTum but kept in life if he repairs the filter. Which he did, crying that he has done this to help family (I don't go in details). Should it be a threat? Writing it, I would say no: he's only a tool of another threat, an external one. The destruction of the filter was only a threath move with Screw used as a tool.

On the other side,  Harpy is also a focus of TumTum's player, but when we play a scene, she's not as much important, at least the way I play her (lack of creativity, but I always forget to chose a body part and build an impulse from that, still struggling with that). I feel TumTum's expectation to put her on the stage, but didn't find a way to do it properly. So she's still there, with a bit of agency, not as much as she deserves.  We also have NiceTeeths, who is always there, as a body guard,and I play him very well, giving him personnality, interactions with other NPC, supporting TumTum's. But my feeling is doesn't have the same focus that Harpy. Even if in the fiction he has far more importance (he's the body guard, Harpy has no other responsibility and owns his grade because TumTum wants her as a regular), but for the fiction, I feel Harpy has more importance (player's focus). Which one should be a threat ?  Harpy, because I need to put her on stage ? What about NiceTeeths? He's always there, but his rôle is to represent the Gang's loyalty, that's all. Note :When I ask this question, I'm asking what's the better way to design narrative devices of course, in a clear method that's helping while playing. Not to apply a proper classification to NPC that would have no pratical use when Mcing. I'm just affraid to lose myself by creating too much threats in piles ofpaperworks. Any advices?

Answering myself : While writing, I realize how the Threat Map is made to help in this. By putting threat on geographical zones, it helps to say « when the PC are there, activate theses threats and put the others in the bakground », right ? Something the fronts can't help,by design. Because to be pratical, each session has its threats activated by the action of the player: not all of them. This is very true in my case, where we play session of 2-3 hours max, only.


In summary, if I put my own thoughts in order, I would create these threats :
•   The Camp. Landscape (Fortress)
•   Doctors of the Apocalypse World. Brutes (Enforcers).
•   Parchemin. Grotesque (Prophet/Mindfucker)
•   Putrid. Grotesque (Disease vector)
•   Barbeduct. Grotesque (Pain addict)
•   Harpy. Warlord (Mutant): I give her Mutant's impulse but Warlords' moves, seems to fit. And we have so much grotesques...

Following my own discussion, my criterium to decide if a something becomes a threat is : « will it develop agency », as the book states. I'm going a little further thou, I don't developp as threat something that already has some kind of agency, but only some things that will actively build ont the agency it already developed. NiceTeehts is not a Threat according to this statement, not because his personnality is not developped in the game, but because he will not act on itself to create fictional events that the PC will have to deal with.

I have 6 threats, including 3 grotesques, isn't it too much, and repetitive? Knowing the Doctors of the Apocalypse World are TumTum's gang and will generally not act on themselves (except their interpersonal relations), and the Camp will only be useful to react to another MC threat (an attack from a rival Warlord). Which let 3 Grotesque on the spot. Some important NPC are forgotten here, as Dog Head, the Chief of Defense (which is also there very often, but I treat him as I do with NiceTeeth). Any thought on this?

Maybe it’s because I have trouble to design clockworks and custom move, and all of this make sense if I force myself to do it?

Anybody who reads this: thank you for your interest and patience!

Apocalypse World / Advice to deal with some situations and moves
« on: May 11, 2016, 05:02:20 PM »

We're playing our 5th session of "Doctors of the Apocalypse World" with some friends. Everybody agrees that it's the best game I've ever mastered and the philosophy underlying the Apocalypse Engine solves almost all of the problems I've always dealt as a GM. Thank you Vincent and Meg for your work!

We're still struggling to deal with some situations and how to deal with basic moves. Generally it's ok, but here I would like to improve myself by benefiting from your advices :

Entretoise (we're playing in french), a Brainer and advisor to TumTum, the PC hardholder, has taken Soleil, a little 7-years old girl into its weird protection to open her to the maelstrom. The holding is inhabitated by some extensive polygamic families. Soleil is a member of the "Flag" Clan/family and the Patriarch considers that Soleil has been taken away from them without payment. He hasks TumTum that Soleil is given back to them, or that a payment is made.

Tumtum invites Entretoise and the Patriarch in the common room, and puts Soleil on a table. He asks the two parties to find an agreement, or they will share a half Soleil each, his machete threatening Soleil.

Here is Entretoise's proposal : "You can take Soleil back, but if you take her, you take Boiled-Face too". Boiled-Face is a little girl found in another holding they raided: she cannot move.

So we have a deal like this :
- a deal has to be made
- the PC propose is not "you can have this [interesting thing] in exchange", but "you can have this [burden] in exchange"

The situation is charged. How would deal with this?


I've MC'd my 4th session of AW with 2 friends these last weeks, and we're totally big fans of the game. One thing totally great is that it's so easy to include new players who actually never played a RPG game in their life. My experience with them is by far the best with AW. But I'm not here to discuss it, I'll do in another post.

I'm struggling with the Surplus of the hardholding. I've searched these last days to find an answer, but couldn't. Here it is:

- There's a list of Surplus tags in the book : Barter, Growth, Insight, Party, Stupor, ...
- But as I understood it, when a Hardholder creates a hardholding, the only possibilities offered is that his surplus will be n-barter. 1-barter as a foundation, and +1barter or -1barter depending on his choices in the list.
- As I understood it, the wealth move is : with 10+ you activate your surplus (n-barter), on 7-9 you activate your surplus AND 1 of your want, on a miss you only activate ALL of your wants.

So, when do you have a hardhold with Stupor, or Party? In the list, you can only have Barter or Growth as surplus.

Am I missing something? Does these surplus count for non-PC hardholds?

Thanks for answering

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