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Topics - bonkydog

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Apocalypse World / The Zone
« on: January 26, 2018, 08:28:45 PM »
The Psychic Maestrom is always there, pressing on your brain, trying to find a way into you with whispers, claws, and distant screaming.

But what about when you go into it?

I watched a bunch of Adam Kobel's fantastic Apocalypse World (1st ed) game on youtube (  One thing they did that I like a lot are Zones, based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's "Roadside Picnic" (which I haven't read yet) and Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker". (Stalker is *amazing*. You have to see it. Bring your longest attention span.)

The Zone in "Stalker" is the site of some unspecified ontological disaster, rife with subtle threats and strangely psychic phenomena. It is quarantined by the military, but the curious or desperate hire experienced guides, "stalkers", to sneak them in and help them navigate the Zone's invisible hazards.

In Adam's game, these Zones seem to act as physical places where the Maelstrom is manifest.  Instead of a character opening her brain and having a experience in isolation from others, the characters can enter the Maelstrom as a party and have Weird adventures together there.

I like this a lot and I am completely stealing it and warping it to fit my and my players' aesthetic (as it emerges).

Has anyone else played with similar Zones?

What was awesome? What fell flat?

Do you have any good / bad /weird ideas to share?

Apocalypse World / Rules for Embodied Tabletop Play
« on: January 11, 2018, 06:23:07 AM »
An experimental move about embodying tabletop roleplaying ever so slightly:

  When your character opens her brain and has a vision, close your eyes while it is narrated.
  All other players close their eyes too, especially the MC.

Note that the experience of opening your brain need not be visual and even when
it is, need not involve a dream-like vision separate from what is around the
character. I don't want to assume that. This rule would not apply to such

Note also that this is a rule that directly specifies player behavior
out-of-fiction following from events in the fiction.

In a sense, we already have these rules.  They say things like

"Roll+Hot. On 10+ Pick 3 of the following..."

But this might be different because it isn't telling players to follow a
resolution mechanic that effects the fiction, it's just directly changing their
experience of play.  Their experience of their body.

LARPs play tricks like this all the time, but we seem to do it less in tabletop

(I don't know, maybe this only *sounds* fun. Maybe it would actually be
annoying and contrived. Let's try it!)

What other such rules sound like they might be fun?

Apocalypse World / NPC Name Habit
« on: January 05, 2018, 08:31:11 PM »
Does anyone else have a mild obsession with collecting NPC names?

They pop into my head at any time of day and I jot them down on an index card or my phone.

Writing them down seems to encourage my subconscious to suggest more and more of them.

Adam Cadre has a game where the main characters are named after cities in Oregon and it's just so good.

Went to look at Wikipedia and dumped about 2/3 of into my file.

Apocalypse World / Mapping Freakangels to Playbooks
« on: December 29, 2017, 12:18:23 AM »
Spent today sick in bed re-reading Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield's excellent
comic Freakangels (online at and it struck
me that KK was obviously a Driver. 

And then my brain was off running and I couldn't stop mapping Freakangels to playbooks.

(Freakangels spoilers follow)

Obvious ones:

Driver: KK
Angel: Miki
Savvyhead: Caz
Kirk: Hardholder

Ones I had to think about:

Initial knee jerk was that Sirkka is the Skinner because she's Miss Hot Bitch
Baby, but after thought she's clearly the Hocus. She's all about her love cult
family and saving people.

Was initially confused between Kait being Gunlugger or Battlebabe, because she's
so cold and kind a spinny killbot but come on -- her Serious Armor, Serious
Wall of Guns, and Serious Seriousness settle it.  Gunlugger.

Jack starts out as a kind of vague, vehicle-oriented character, but it
eventually becomes clear he's the Battlebabe. He's slept with almost everyone,
does a bunch of gunplay that doesn't turn out the way he hopes, and is caught
in a Bad Romance, all moody broody, needing a shave, and smoking those horrible
little cigars.

I initially thought Arkady must be the Brainer because she's so psychic, but
that's lazy. Also she does more teleporting than brain manipulation. Luke. Luke
is all about creepy brain violation.  He's the classic Brainer gone bad.
(What about Mark? I'll get to that.)

Weird ones:

Karl is a weird kind of Maestro D, since he's such an avoidant grouch, but
eventually he assembles a crew and starts building greenhouses. He gives Alice a
strawberry. When the Freakangels need to meet up after the Freakcave is
destroyed, they meet in Karl's basement and drink his wine.

Connor is the Skinner. He's the only Freakangel who makes art. He's gentle. He's
a funny Skinner because he's romantically clueless and trying to get over being
the fat kid, but he's the Skinner.

Mark is the Chopper because he externalizes his power. Mark is all about his
gang, his zombie army. Choppers have a tendency to attack Hardholders if the two
appear in a game and Mark is playing to type. Mark has to be Alpha Dog.

Which leaves Arkady. I dunno, maybe Arkady is the Psychic Maelstrom? She comes
and goes unpredictably, and is a vector of surprising strangeness. She was the
first to die and come back weird.

(I mean obviously there's no requirement that the mapping between characters
in unrelated works lie all flat and tidy, but it's pretty uncanny.)

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