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Topics - Maelwys

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Apocalypse World / Intro and beginner questions
« on: October 17, 2012, 02:37:10 PM »
Hey guys! I'm new here, and looking for some help.

First, an intro to my campaign:

I was introduced to AW just month ago when I sponsored the Tremulus kickstarter, and got impatient waiting for my Tremulus PDF to be delivered. So when I discovered that AW was a very similar game, I figured I'd pick it up and take a look, so I'd know what to eventually expect. Then I fell in love with the idea, so a couple weeks ago when my friday night RPG group was discussing options of what to play (our two current DMs were both unavailable) I pulled out the pile of playbooks I'd printed that morning and dropped them on the table with a note of "here's something new to try, doesn't require any real prep ahead of time, won't hurt to give it a shot, right?". The first session started off great, no real issues with character creation (it's fast and clean of course), and in the course of figuring out their Hx values the group crafted an elaborate backstory for their characters and their history. The small "prompts" that they were given as choices seemed to flow really well into this detailed narrative, and I was really happy with how it turned out. We've been gaming together for about 20 years, but most of the time tend to get caught up more in cool game mechanics (story comes second, when we remember about it), so it was a nice change to see everybody working together to weave such a great story.

Then, we got to our first combat. The group was travelling between holdings and was ambushed by a gang from a third holding. That's when it felt like things fell off the rails a bit... we naturally reverted back to our D&D roots, taking actions, rolling dice, and the narrative slipped into the background. It became more about tactical actions than about cooperative storytelling. "I run into the building across the street [Act under Fire]. I shoot the guy there [Go Aggro]. I look around for more snipers [Read the Sitch]." It's hard to put my finger on exactly what happened, but it just felt like we lost something from the colourful narrative that we'd been telling.

Once the ambush wrapped up, we decided to call it a night. At this point I was supposed to do my "after the first session" homework, but felt like I really couldn't... in spite of all that we'd established with regards to the history of the group, we hadn't really figured anything out about their future. After detailing the members of their organization in their starting Holding, they immediately abandoned that Holding and fled for another one (because in their story they murdered the leader of their organization for sending them on a bad mission). So some of those might be coming after them, but I wasn't yet sure how far they were going to run. They had a potential enemy with the gang that'd ambushed them, but only if they decided to pursue them (and didn't just flee that territory as well). It felt like too much was still undecided, so I decided to call this "Session 1A", make the next part "Session 1B", and then do my homework after that.

So the next week we gave it another try, with a fourth PC joining the group (a Hardholder, that runs the holding the group was moving towards last week). He made some history with the Brainer, and jumped right into the narrative with no real problems. Overall this session went much smoother. They established a base (well, they had a Hardholder join the group, so no real choice there!), established what their current relationship was with their old organization (and fleshed out some of the NPCs there at the same time), and things seemed to flow better. Of course, we also managed to avoid combat this time, so that might've helped. And it ended with them returning to their new home, giving a nice end to the extended "First Session", and giving me no excuse to avoid my homework anymore... ;-)

So now, my questions!

- Any advice on how to run combat more smoothly, without resorting to the mechanical nature that we're used to from D&D? What's the best way to break the players (and myself) of that habit?

- I've got a list of point-form notes on possible threats, but I'm not really sure how to translate them into game elements, or put them together as a Front. Any advice on that front?

- The Hardholder has a lot of Wants on his city... should I make each of those into a Front/Threat of their own, to pull out when he fails a roll? Or just deal with them on the fly as it happens? Maybe make a single Front for his holding, with each want being a separate threat, and each time he fails one of them it advances the overall countdown towards anarchy and him being overthrown?

- I also want to make weather into a game factor. As the calendar advances towards winter, the bitter cold will start to become an issue (and this is going to be one of the coldest winters since the Apocolypse). Does anybody have any mechanics for that kind of thing written up that I can stea////reference?

- I'm thinking about starting a thread here to chronicle the details of the campaign/story. Is anybody interested in that, or would I just be rambling with everybody ignoring me? ;-) Is there a specific forum to post that on?

I'm sure I'll think of more questions later, and post them when I do. Thanks for your time!

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