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AW:Dark Age / Goshen Indiana Playtest Report
« on: September 21, 2014, 06:36:55 PM »
Apocalypse World: Dark Ages Playtest and Observations

Originally posted at

This past Better World Book’s monthly game day (see, I ran a playtest session of Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World: Dark Ages. There were four other players. We spent about an hour creating the stronghold, people, and characters. Then another two and a half hours “in character”.

The process of crafting the stronghold, people, and characters gave immediate shape to the characters’ environ. As this is a game about strongholds, peoples, and war companies, the game world crafting process is better than any Quickstart Guide.

The game started bumpy; I wasn’t asking my usual questions to grow the world. I fumbled a bit. I went quick to the dice for guidance. This helped me get my feet. I’m also working on a session write up.

- There is a lot of information to juggle
- This is my kind of game
- Playtest notes

Juggling Information

There are a lot of “nouns” to coordinate in Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:
- Strongholds
- Peoples
- Companies
- Notables
- Characters

There are a lot of “verbs” to process of Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:
- Basic moves
- Battle moves
- Season moves
- People moves
- Enchantments

I found it challenging to coordinate so many sheets of paper. I was not prepared.

This is My Kind of Game

My favorite long running campaign was a 2nd edition D&D Birthright game (see The campaign was a web of individual adventures and political machinations. Character level actions impacted the campaign; And likewise political actions impacted the individual adventures.

With basic moves, the characters have power to ask for more information or take action. Characters can bide their time, assessing things, asking how to affect change. Or they can leap into action to take the initiative.

Layer on the battle moves – of which we didn’t explore. The characters can either take control of something larger than themselves or be part of the scrum.

Last, the season moves provide a mechanism for advancing the campaign calendar. It is a powerful tool at the disposal of the Master of Ceremonies. A scene can be cut short. Brought to a close.

In other words, Apocalypse World: Dark Ages is a game ripe for campaign play.

Playtest Notes

Some of the players at the table wanted more information about wealth. Were they rich? Or poor? How poor? Was there a middle ground? As wealth impacts starting equipment, this was important for some of the players.

We were hesitant to dive into the mass combat rules; The closest we got was a player grabbing the dice to Avoid the Battle. It was a great moment as the player leaned on the move and in essence asked “I don’t think I want to fight for this, what can I do to avoid this battle?” My response was catered to campaign play and not the single session playtest at hand.

There were a few points in which, as a GM, I was fishing for moves that were applicable; I wanted to go to the dice because I wasn’t ready to “Say yes.” (see Things were at stake. I wasn’t as familiar with the basic moves; Things didn’t flow as smooth as they could.

Dungeon World / Random Bond Generator
« on: January 02, 2013, 01:52:53 PM »
I made a random bonds generator for Dungeon World. Simply grab a few d20s (the sadly neglected die of Dungeon World) and roll away.  _Some assembly required_

Dungeon World / Mountebank playbook for review/playtest
« on: December 05, 2012, 11:21:10 AM »
I am in the process of working through a new playbook for Dungeon World. I'm looking for some guidance.

I have made an iBooks Author template for this playbook as my InDesign copy has proved to be hopeless to get working. The template is inspired by the layout of the existing playbooks, but lighter on the ink requirements. I do intend to release this as Creative Commons and sell it on RPGNow.


Everyone wants to believe something, and you capitalize on that. Subterfuge and persuasion are your weapons of choice. You have spent hours honing your skills of deception and suggestion, deftly mixing aptitude and confidence to achieve your goals.

Halfling: Abe, Linda, Hank, Penny
Human: Saros, Jezel,

Choose one for each:
Shifty eyes, Laughing eyes, or Trusting eyes
Fancy hair, Cropped hair, or Messy hair
Clean clothes, Traveling clothes, or Common clothes
Well-fed body, Attractive body, or Thin body

Your maximum hit points is 6+Constitution.
Your base damage is d6.

Chaotic - Capitalize on confusion and misdirection
Neutral - Avoid the consequences of a brazen lie
Evil - Manipulate others for your personal gain

Your Load is 9+STR. You start with one dungeon rations (5 uses, 1 weight), leather armor (1 armor, 1 weight) and 7 coin.

Choose your treasure:
  • A forged letter of marquis
  • A fair maiden’s favor
  • A ducal ring, obviously not yours
  • A treasure map you conned from an angry dwarf
  • A letter of credit from a crime lord

Choose your arms:
  • Ragged hand crossbow (Near, reload, 1 weight), bundle of arrows (3 ammo, 1 weight) and short sword (Close, 1 weight)
  • Rapier (close, precise, 1 weight)

Choose one:
  • Adventuring gear (5 uses, 1 weight)
  • Bandages (3 uses, slow 0 weight)
  • Halfling pipeleaf (5 uses, 1 weight)


_______________ still believes every word I say.
_______________ and I have narrowly escaped an angry victim of our con.
_______________ has a secret that I will uncover.
_______________ has thus far kept quiet about past indiscretions of mine.

Starting Moves

Choose a race and gain the corresponding move:
  • Halfling - When you bluff someone, on a hit you may take from them a small item. The GM will tell you what you get.
  • Human - When you attack a staggered or confused opponent, deal +1d6 damage.

Slippery Egress - When you attempt to slink away, Roll+CHA.  ?10+ you’re gone. ?7-9, you can stay or go, but if you go it costs you: leave something behind, or take something with you, the GM will tell you what. On a miss, you’re caught vulnerable, half in and half out.

Feint - When you attempt to sucker an intelligent foe in combat, Roll+CHA. ?10+ pick 2. ?7-9 pick 1 but you take the sucker’s damage.
  • The sucker slips and staggers
  • You press the sucker into an ally’s waiting attack
  • An ally takes +1 forward against the sucker

Bluff - When you attempt to convince a GM’s character of something plausible, Roll+CHA. ?10+, they believe you. Their belief counts as leverage. ?7-9, they believe you though your lie is flimsy. Their belief counts as leverage for the time being. Choose 1:
  • Once they have time to think about it, they'll see holes in your story.
  • If someone else hears the story, they'll start asking question.

Advanced Moves

When you gain a level from 2–5, choose from these moves.

Alter Ego - With a week of intense introspection and practice, you can craft a personal alter ego that has its own look, clothing, and mannerisms. With a few seconds of concentration you can change to or from an alter ego. You may only have one crafted alter ego at a time. When you first take this move, describe the alter ego you just finished crafting.

Nondetection - Attempts to magically divine your location, thoughts, or alignment return no information.

Cold Read - When you briefly converse with someone, you may ask the character’s player one of the following questions:
  • What here has caught your attention?
  • Who here do you most want to interact with?
  • Who here do you most want to avoid?
  • What one word best describes a secret you are carrying?

Slippery Mind - When you are the target of an enchantment of the mind, you may choose to immediately dispel it without effect.

Noble Mien: When you use an Alter Ego that has authority over your mark, take +1 ongoing to Bluff them.

Savage Cunning: You can use Bluff and Feint on any creature with animal intellect or higher.

Partner in Crime: When someone Aids your Bluff by acting like the shill or straight man, take +2 instead of +1.

Play Possum: When you are successfully attacked, you can Feint to convince your attacker they have felled you. If you do, they turn their back on and ignore you. Of course no one goes for this more than once.

Multiclass Dabbler - Get one move from another class. Treat your level as one lower for choosing the move.

Confounding Feint - Add the following to your Feint options.
  • The sucker stands there and drools helplessly for a few seconds

When you gain a level from 6–10, choose from these moves or the level 2–5 moves.

Cheat Death - Your skills as a liar are legendary, and even Death itself can be fooled. When you would roll for your Last Breath, roll Bluff instead. Your days are numbered, because Death will figure you out sooner or later, but you may just manage to stay alive long enough to figure something else out.

Inceptive Bluff - when you bluff on a 12+ they strongly believe and will convince others of this belief.

Multiple Egos Requires: Alter Ego - You may craft a second alter ego. You may only have two alter egos.

Probe Thoughts: Replaces: Cold Read - As Read Thoughts, but you may ask 2 questions instead of one.

Falsify Detection Replaces: Nondetection - When someone attempts to magically divine your location, thoughts, or alignment, you may choose the answer they receive.

Misdirecting Mind Requires: Slippery Mind - When you are target of an enchantment of the mind, you may choose someone, other than the caster to instead be affected by the enchantment.

Hide in Plain Sight - So long as you remain quiet and mostly still, mundane creatures will overlook you.

Barbed Feint - When you feint on a 12+ you may also deal your damage.

Multiclass Master - Get one move from another class. Treat your level as one lower for choosing the move.

Dungeon World / Take On Establishments
« on: November 08, 2012, 09:17:12 PM »
This is a shameless plug:

I recently released "Take On Establishments" for purchase at RPG Now.

There are 11 establishments/locations. Each with the following elements:
  • Sight, Sound, and Smell – a quickly scannable section to set the tone for the establishment.
  • Person – a person, with a quick description, instinct, and some moves.
  • Location Move – A “when you do X, Roll+STAT…” move to help a GM kickstart something from that location.

There is a preview of a handful of the locations up on RPGNow.

Dungeon World / Thinking about Gambling Moves
« on: October 30, 2012, 08:22:05 PM »
When you wager something significant and play the odds during tile game, Roll+INT. On a 10+ you keep what you wagered and win something of mostly equal value. The GM will tell you what. On a 7-9, the GM will describe an item that is of roughly equal in value. Pick one from the list below.

* You keep what you wager, and manage to win a few coins. Enough for a modest room tonight.
* You lose what you wager, but win what the other character wagered.

When you wager something significant and use sleight of hand during the tile game, Roll+DEX. On a hit you keep what you wagered. On a 10+ you win something of mostly equal value. The GM will tell you what. On a 7-9, pick one from the list below.

* You win something of mostly equal value. When you leave the gambling table, the other players realize you cheated them.
* You win only a few more coins – enough to buy them all a drink.

When you wager something significant and bluff or misdirect during the tile game, Roll+CHA. On a hit you keep what you wagered. On a 10+ you win something of mostly equal value. The GM will tell you what. On a 7-9, you win nothing else. Also pick one from the list below.

* Tell the GM the name of yet another gambler that you beat, what you won, and that gambler’s tell.
* Tell the GM the name of yet another gambler that beat you and what they won.

I'm in the process of preparing to run the Moathouse portion of the Temple of Elemental Evil.  I posted a list of monsters over on my blog ( and was wondering if you might have any additional suggestions.  I've reposted them here:

Brigand [Group, Organized, Intelligent, Cautious]
  Spear (d6) 3 HP, 1 Armor [Close, Reach]
  Instinct: To get rich
  Waylay travellers, Spring an ambush

Brigand Leader [Solitary, Organized, Intelligent, Cautious]
  Spear (d10) 12 HP, 1 Armor [Close, Reach]
  Instinct: To get rich
  Order a hasty retreat, Execute a plan

Bugbear [Group, Intelligent, Large, Stealthy, Hoarder, Devious]
  Spear (d8+1) 10 HP, 2 Armor [Close, Reach]
  Instinct: To gain treasure
  Strike the unaware, Investigate the light source

Crayfish, Giant [Solitary, Large]
  Mandibles (d10+1) 16 HP, 3 Armor [Close, Reach]
  Special Qualities: Aquatic, Landcrawler
  Instinct: To drown its meal
  Lunge out of the water, Retreat into the depths

Frog, Giant [Group]
  Bash (d8) 6 HP, 0 Armor [Close, Reach]
  Special Qualities: Amphibious Instinct: To eat
  Entangle with tongue, Swallow, Digest the swallowed

Ghoul [Group]
  Talons (d8 1 piercing), 10 HP, 1 Armor [Close, Messy]
  Special Qualities: Undead
  Instinct: To eat
  Gnaw off a body part, Gain the memories of their meal, Temporarily paralyze their victim

Gnoll [Group, Organized, Intelligent]
  Longbow/Bite (d8) 6 HP, 1 Armor [Close,Near, Far]
  Special Qualities: Scent
  Instinct: To obey the alpha
  Doggedly track pray, Strike at a moment of weakness, Bite your face

Gnoll, Alpha [Solitary, Organized, Intelligent]
  Longbow/Bite (d10 1 piercing) 12 HP, 2 Armor [Close, Near, Far]
  Special Qualities: Scent
  Instinct: To get the best for his pack
  Demand obedience, Send the pack to hunt, Bite your face

Green Slime [Group, Gibbous]
  Drip (0) 9 HP, 1 Armor [Close]
  Special Qualities: Amorphous, Slow Moving
  Instinct: To assimilate all life
  Cover in slime, Transform the slimed to slime

Guardsman, Elite [Group, Organized, Intelligent]
  Longsword/Crossbow (d6) 6 HP, 1 Armor [Close,Near, Far]
  Instinct: To do as ordered
  Investigate unusual noises, Call for help

Lareth the Beautiful [Solirary, Organized, Intelligent, Devious, Magical]
  Staff (d10) 12 HP, 5 Armor [Close]
  Instinct: To survive
  Bolster allies through unholy prayers, Channel unholy energies of the demon spider goddess

Lieutenant [Solitary, Organized, Intelligent]
  Longsword/Longbow (2d10•b 1 piercing) 12 HP, 4 Armor [Close,Near,Far]
  Instinct: To protect Lareth
  Get between Lareth and enemies, Channel unholy fury

Lizard, Giant [Solitary, Large]
  Bite (d10+1) 12 HP, 2 Armor [Close]
  Instinct: To protect its nest
  Engulf prey, bite with great force, tail lash

Lubash <Ogre> [Solitary, Large, Intelligent, Horder]
  Polearm (d8+5) 10 HP, 1 Armor [Close,Reach,Forceful]
  Instinct: To grind bones to meal
  Destroy something, Throw large rocks, Smash two heads together

Rat, Giant [Horde, Small]
  Bite (d6 1 piercing) 7 HP, 1 Armor [Close, Messy]
  Instinct: To devour
  Swarm, Rip apart something

Sergeant [Solitary, Organized, Intelligent]
  Longsword (d10+1) 12 HP, 2 Armor [Close]
  Instinct: To abide by the chain of command
  Command my men, Patrol the area, Raise the alarm

Snake, Giant [Solitary, Large, Stealthy]
  Bite (d10+1) 12 HP, 2 Armor [Close, Poison]
  Instinct: To eat
  Sicken with a bite, Encoil, Slither away through maze of tunnels

Spider, Giant [Solitary, Stealthy]
  Bite (d10) 12 HP, 1 Armor [Close, Poison]
  Instinct: To eat
  Weaken with a bite, Entangle with webs, Spring from hiding place

Tick, Giant [Solitary]
  Bite (d10) 12 HP, 3 Armor [Close]
  Special Qualities: Slow Moving
  Instinct: To drink blood
  Latch onto victim, Drain blood

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