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Topics - Lukas

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Apocalypse World / Messing With Assumptions: No Gas, No Bullets
« on: December 22, 2016, 10:16:25 AM »
As the text for the Chopper states, AW in its default state has enough gas and bullets. But what about a game where that is not the case?

The idea of the postapocalyptic world being one where cars and guns are not only ubiquitous, but also necessary for survival, is deeply rooted in the genre, but I also feel that it speaks to a certain set of assumptions: masculine-coded, akin to the fantasies of the stereotypical American reactionary. When everything came crashing down, those city dwellers with their bicycles and gun control laws must have been the first ones on the skull pile, while the new world belonged to the true men, those who stocked up on guns and made sure their car had four wheel drive. However, these are also mostly resources that don't get replenished. How about an apocalypse set in a world where they've mostly dried out, and people have adapted to their absence? We'd have to ditch the Chopper and Driver, and I don't know if the Gunlugger would remain the same with a big fuck-off crossbow instead. A bunch of other playbooks would probably remain unchanged, though, except for the weapon choices. Would the tone of the game change if one of the initial premises was the rejection of the myth of the car and the gun?

Apocalypse World / Who's the average person of your apocalypse
« on: November 04, 2016, 06:54:40 AM »
Taking our eyes off the protagonists, who are the average people who populate your hardholds and wastelands? How do they survive? What do they believe in? What do they fear? What do they know of the world? What can they make for themselves, and what is beyond their ability? Can they read? Can they farm? Can they work metal? Can they make a world for themselves, or are they at the mercy of more powerful individuals? What is their capacity for violence? What is their capacity for love?

Apocalypse World / Generations of the Apocalypse
« on: January 07, 2015, 08:27:25 AM »
A while ago, I started thinking about the implied chronology of Apocalypse World, and what this would mean for teh setting we present. What do people know about the Golden Age? What are their relationships with the actual apocalypse?

For the sake of this post, I'm assuming that the apocalypse happened roughly 50 years ago, as described in the core rules. More specifically, I'm assuming an "apocalyptic period" of years 55-45 before Now, where things were breaking down and the world was in complete disarray. At some point during this time, the psychic maelstrom emerges. With this in mind, I'm thinking we can see the following generational groups in Apocalypse World:

The Ancients are 80 and older. They are the people who were adults when the apocalypse came, who already had jobs, families, valuable skills, all that stuff. They were adapted for a different time, and thus it is no surprise that most of them died during the apocalypse. Furthermore, the loss of everything they held dear and the exposure to the maelstrom is bound to have made them at least slightly insane. Still, the few who still survive are bound to have useful skills (either from before the apocalypse, or gained after) and be the best possible sources of information regarding life in the Golden Age, although their memories might be scrambled from the Maelstrom. These are likely to have "normal" names, although most of them are sufficiently unique in their communities that everyone refers to them by some monicker ("the Old One", "the Doctor", "the Teacher", "the Chief"). Surviving to this age in Apocalypse World is rare, and an Ancient is an almost legendary figure.

Elders are in their sixties and seventies, and where children or young adults during the apocalypse. They had less to lose than the Ancients, but also less security, so they, too, are the survivors of a generation that mostly died out. The maelstrom has been with them since their early years, but they are still not native to it. Many carry intense traumas, like any child growing up during an age of massive devastation. Their recollections of the Golden Age are less reliable, for they are frequently distorted by an idealised image of their childhood. They were given normal names, but some might have shedded them and donned new ones. Not all communities have Elders.

This generation consists of people in the forties and fifties. They were born during or right after the apocalypse, to parents belonging to the Ancient and Elder generations. They grew up knowing nothing but the post-apocalyptic world, but heard plenty of stories about the Golden Age, and are likely to have learned the basics of their parents' pre-apocalyptic skills. I assume that this is the generation where you find most authority figures the characters encounter. Many of them try to remake the world in the image of a Golden Age they've only heard of. Their names are more similar to the ones in the playbooks.

Natives, people in their twenties and thirties, tend to be born to Inheritors or the younger cohorts among the Elders. They are the ones who grew up without any relevant first-hand knowledge of the Golden Age in their families, except in the rare cases when a grandparent or other older relative survived long enough to tell their story. They are, therefore, the true natives of Apocalypse World, the ones for whom this is the only way to live. Their skillset is more related to present concerns than to transmitting knowledge from the past, with a few exceptions (among player characters, we might assume that Angels, Savvyheads, Hoarders and some others are exceptions). Literacy is not guaranteed. People interested in recreating the Golden Age are uncommon -- most care more about survival in the here-and-now.

And younger...
The teens and children of Apocalypse World have very little connection to the Golden Age. In the case they care about it, it's as a legend, not as something people they know actually lived through. Whatever future they make, it will be one where devastation is the natural state of the world.

Apocalypse World / Playbook Concept: The Suit
« on: March 18, 2014, 06:33:47 PM »
So, I've been toying with the idea of post-apocalypse + cyberpunk. The world below is that of the apocalypse we all know by now, but there are also higher-ups, in the great towers of steel and glass, seeking to use the resources left to maintain their own luxurious lifestyle. The Suit is an agent of these people, sent down to secure their interests. They have enough leeway to do interesting things, but are still ultimately cogs of the corporate machinery.

I'm figuring that the central pillar of this playbook is fucking up the economy like a Western blood diamond trader strolling around in Congo. The Suit has cash, not barter, and loads of it, enough to set anyone up for life, just as long as they can make use of it. Thus, everyone should have access to this move:

Flush: When you offer someone substantial cash payment, take increase Expenses by one and roll +Hot. On a 10+, they do whatever you please, led by the promise of untold riches. On a 7-9, they also do what you want, but either you or they attract unwanted attention. On a miss, your cash is no good here, and you've marked yourself out as a lucrative target. If you use this move on a PC, just increase Expenses by one and offer them to hold one if they do as you say -- if they do, they can spend their hold to use this move, just once (they obviously don't increase Expenses, since they don't have an account).

Expenses is a tally on how your much you're costing your corporate overlords. At the start of every session, roll +Expenses. On a 6-, things are good, no sweat. On a 7-9, (I don't really know what would be suitable here.). On a 10+, management wonders what the hell you are doing. You are cut off from using Flush until you provide some concrete results.

Your corporation has one specific goal in mind. Decide on one threat type: Collector, Dictator, Hive Queen or Slaver (though probably not by outright picking the type -- corporate lingo synonyms of these would be a welcome addition). Whenever you decisively and successfully follow through on your goal (i.e., follows the threat impulse of your corporation), Expenses resets to 0.

Other than that... this should probably be a Hot playbook. "Looks" needs a section on different smiles (cold smile, crooked smile, enthusiastic smile, mocking smile, pearly white smile). Some playbook moves, but probably not all, should cover new things to do with Expenses.


Apocalypse World / The lazy post-apocalypse
« on: February 07, 2014, 04:39:48 AM »
While the spontaneous and group-based setting creation of AW is good at providing a place for the PCs in the world, I often feel as though certain clich├ęs pop up ever so often. I have tried to identify some of them, to make them more avoidable (for myself, if no one else).

The acultural apocalypse: I think this might be the consequence of taking the playbooks' approach to names and gender identity and assuming that this applies for the entire setting. This type of apocalypse has communities, but they don't really have any sense of cultural identity, no common traditions, no celebrations, no common modes of dress, nothing that differentiates them from the next hardhold in terms of who they tell themselves that they are. Even in fifty years, a lot of traditions and shibboleths can become established, so it's probably a good idea to have a more anthropological approach to communities in AW.

The gimmick cult: This is a cult doesn't really seem to have a purpose other than to worship. Its activities are all centered around being part of a cult, with very little that actually makes the cult attractive. This makes it seem shallow, all ceremony and no psychology. I think, perhaps, that the Hocus playbook should come with an extra question: what does your cult promise? That way, the important part of any cult would be front and centre, instead of being an afterthough once you've decided whether they disdain hygiene or are perverse and decadent.

The term 'psychopath': I really dislike this one. It has a clinical meaning, and labelling large parts of the post-apocalyptic population with it makes things dull, about as fun as deciding that they are Always Chaotic Evil orcs. Deciding that large amounts of people of the setting are clinically incapable of empathy or remorse makes the game less interesting, since it removes something that is present in 99% of humans from social interaction.

The 'no status quo' status quo: I sometimes see the term 'no status quo' used to justify why something the PCs created should be impermanent and make no difference. They overthrow the hardholder and institute an elected council? It will fall to infighting and create a new strongman, no status quo. The savvyhead builds irrigation facilities for the desert? There will be no long-lasting agriculture, no status quo. The problem is that this attitude creates a much stronger status quo, one where every attempt at lasting change just becomes another quaint feature of the entropic wasteland that seems to overtake anything. The meta-status quo where every attempt to build something lasting is doomed to fail, because that would be seen as creating a status quo. My reasons for opposing this are also partially political: while "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" is an interesting motif and a good foundation for tragedies, it is also a fundamentally conservative attitude, one which tells us that all attempts to change things for the better will only make things worse. In order to preserve player agency, and in order to make the 'no status quo' principle ring true, there needs to be room for lasting, positive change of the setting.

Apocalypse World / Balancing the weird and the mundane
« on: February 14, 2013, 07:03:41 PM »
I've been thinking a bit about the balance between the weirdness of Apocalypse World and the agenda to make the world and the people in it seem real. I have sometimes felt as though the balance has tipped too far one way or the other -- some campaigns have felt as though they were populated by nothing but thoroughly broken people, corrupted beyond relatability by the psychic maelstrom, whereas others have been too focused on the day-to-day realities of a ruined world, with little room for the weird and fantastic stuff that also has a place in the setting. How do you balance realness and relatability with weirdness and the palpable influence of the maelstrom?

Apocalypse World / Hoarder separated from her hoard
« on: August 28, 2012, 06:27:51 AM »
During yesterday's session our Hoarder, Wembley, had to leave her hoard (a library and museum, conscious and meticulous) behind her as she fled the hardhold, but not without bringing some stuff with her. The end result was that her hoard sits unguarded with Hunger+4 in the middle of a riot, while Wembley is on the road. Anyone have any ideas for some fun custom moves to symbolize the wrath of an abandoned hoard?

Apocalypse World / [The Afterborn] A couple of questions
« on: July 15, 2012, 03:55:19 PM »
I have a couple of questions about Jonathan Walton's The Afterborn. First, is there any particular reason why all the characters start with at least Sharp+1? I don't really see any justification in the material for it. Second, what does the advance "You get suffer harm" mean? It seems like you get the "suffer physical/emotional harm" moves from the getgo, so does this simply mean that you start taking harm like an adult character? Third, if you change to a new playbook without taking all of the "get Stat+1" advances, at what level do the unaccounted-for stats start?

Apocalypse World / [Playbook] The Snake Witch
« on: June 21, 2012, 02:02:14 PM »
This is actually a playbook designed around a npc in my current campaign that I'm planning on taking on as a second character. Snake witches might seem like a kinda narrow concept, but not really that much more narrow than "big scary dude who wears a mask at all times".

The Snake Witch

Presidente, Redman, Belladonna, Cherry, Zombie, Blind, Delacroix, Don, Rum, Thulsa.

Rattler, Cottonmouth, Coral, Sidewinder, Cobra, Krait, Adder, Ferdelance.

Cool 0, Hard -1, Hot +1, Sharp +1, Weird +2
Cool -1, Hard -1, Hot 0, Sharp +2, Weird +2
Cool +1, Hard 0, Hot +1, Sharp -1, Weird +2
Cool 0, Hard +1, Hot -1, Sharp +1, Weird +2

Man, woman, concealed, transgressing or ambiguous.

Scrounge wear, casual wear, display wear, snakeskin wear or luxe wear.

Lean face, stoic face, pretty face, cruel face, tattooed face or lined face.

Darting eyes, hypnotic eyes, unblinking eyes, mocking eyes, sad eyes or feverish eyes.

Slight body, rangy body, compact body, wiry body, athletic body or graceful body.

Pick two snake witch moves:

Bitten by the Ghost Snake: You get +1 Weird (Weird +3).

Charmer: You can roll +Weird instead of +Hot to seduce or manipulate someone as long as you keep close eye contact when you do it.

Fucked-up Voodoo Shit: When someone causes harm to you and you curse their name, roll +Weird if it's an NPC and +Hx if it's another PC. On a hit they immediately take 1-harm (ap) from sudden weakness and sickness. Furthermore, on a 10+ they're immediately beset with fear and trepidation and have to act under fire to harm you or even approach you. On a miss your curse rings empty, but you suffer no negative consequences apart from, you know, being in the middle of getting stabbed.

Medicine Snake: Whenever someone gets bitten by your medicine snake, roll +Weird. On a 10+ they slip into a days-long fitful sleep and emerge healed from mental and physical afflicitions. All damage is healed down to 6 (if over 6) or by one segment (if below). On a 7-9 the same thing happens, but they're acting under fire from the psychic maelstrom the whole while. On a 6-, they take ?-harm.

Slippery: When you try to get into someplace, name your route and roll +Sharp. On a 10+ you get in unharmed and unnoticed, no problem. On a 7-9 you get in unharmed and unnoticed, but you'll have to find some new way out. On a 6-, you get caught, hurt or lost.

Stillness: When you make a harm move, you pick the consequences, not the MC.

Venomous: Whenever you deal harm to someone, through weapons or otherwise, roll +Weird. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend your hold one for one to inflict 1-harm (ap) on that person at any time in the future. If the person seeks help from someone who knows their shit, you or someone else, that counts for all remaining hold.

Snake Witch Special: When you have sex, you can use the psychic energies of yourself and your partner for augury. Doing so leaves you exhausted and gives both of you -1 forward, though.

You start with a bunch of snakes, one handy weapon, oddments worth 2-barter and fashion suitable to your look, including at your option a piece worth 1-armor.

Handy weapons: .38 revolver (2-harm close reload loud), 9mm (2-harm close loud), big knife (2-harm hand), sawed-off (3-harm close reload messy), machete (3-harm hand messy), magnum (3-harm close reload loud).

Go around for Hx. On your turn, choose one or both:
One of them has been under your spell. Tell that player Hx+3.
One of them is clearly uncomfortable around you. Tell that player Hx-1.
Tell all other Hx=0.

On the other's turn:
One of them has come to you for help. Whatever number that player tells you, ignore it; write Hx+3 next to the character's name instead.
One of them is fascinated by you. Whatever number that player tells you, ignore it; write Hx+2 next to the character's name instead.
Everyone else, whatever number they tell you, give it -1 and write it next to their character names. By default, you prefer the company of snakes to that of people.

_Get +1 Cool (max Cool +2).
_Get +1 Hard (max Hard +2).
_Get +1 Hot (max Hot +2).
_Get +1 Sharp (max Sharp +2).
_Get a new snake witch move.
_Get a new snake witch move.
_Get followers (detail) and fortunes.
_Get 2 gigs (detail) and moonlighting.
_Get a move from another playbook.
_Get a move from another playbook.

Apocalypse World / The Maestro D' and Barter
« on: July 28, 2011, 06:46:36 PM »
In this campaign, I'm playing a Maestro D'. However, a small issue has come up, namely: how does the Maestro D' get her barter? The "Barter" section of her playbook has far less concrete examples of stuff to do to earn some jingle compared to the other characters, she can't take Moonlighting, Wealth or anything like that as an advance, and her establishment doesn't seem to generate any surplus. Having "spectacular events" as her only source of income seems a bit weird. Right now, we're just assuming that the establishments generates enough income to sustain my character and her crew, but we're at a loss for more barter-related stuff to do.

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