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Topics - Paul T.

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Freebooting Venus / First Session, at last!
« on: July 29, 2019, 10:45:42 PM »
After years of wondering about the game and pitching it to people, I finally got some takers.

It was a group of rather OSR-oriented gamers who asked me to run it for them. So, tonight, we played a first session of the game. We didn't have a very long session (2 1/2 hours), so it was perfect for character creation and the resolution of the first scenario/situation.

We had a good time! There were a few minor awkward rules moments, but not too many - I reread this entire forum before running the game (!), so I was in good shape.

A big thanks, especially, to lumpley and Rafu for all the helpful examples and rules clarifications; many of them came in handy. I also used my "spell casting hack" (posted on this forum, as well, a while back), even though no one chose to take advantage of it; every single PC who chose a tablet managed to roll doubles, so they all had a rating of 3, and it's pretty unlikely to screw up your spell's purpose with three dice on the table.

I'd write more, but I'm not sure who is still reading this forum. Leave a quick reply or some specific questions, and I'll be back with more details!

Everyone enjoyed the Colour a great deal, and our starting situation turned out to be much more challenging and excited than I expected. A power Martian wizard was finally forced to retreat when the PC who was wrestling with his half-corporeal form Transferred his companions Wounds to the wizard!

Apocalypse World / Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« on: May 21, 2018, 11:56:54 PM »
This is intended as a play aid for setting up a game of Apocalypse World. It might be especially well-suited for a group of beginners, or anyone looking for a little help to set up the game in the first session.

When you set up your game, pick about 5-6 of your favourite NPC names, and write them in the middle of the table.

Each player makes their character normally, adding the following to the very end of the procedure, after Hx...


For each playbook:

Choose 1, 2, or 3 of the statements below.

For every blank, pick an NPC name from the list. Or, ask the other PCs which of them it might be.

You can pick the names arbitrarily, on a whim, or carefully and intentionally.

A very few blanks are for something else, instead; the parentheses after the blank indicate what might go there.

By the end, you should have at least a handful of obvious and interesting scenes to frame. You can start to play immediately!

Example NPC list



NPC Prompts, by Playbook


* ________ needs my care and attention on a regular basis.
* ________ carries an affliction, infection, or parasite I fear could spread to the locals.
* I wish ________ would agree to work under me as my assistant or apprentice.
* ________ has access to medical supplies, implements, or knowledge I could use.
* ________ is in deep [financial/emotional] debt to me for saving their life.


* Serious money is on the table for me to kill _________.
* _________ sees me as a rival, and is looking to prove (or find out) who's the top dog between us.
* _________ is terrified or awed by me.
* _________ is my lover.
* At night, the maelstrom speaks to me in _________'s voice, [soothing/cajoling/frightening/daring] me.


* I messed up _________'s brain so bad they barely know what's up and what's down.
* _________ is terrified of me, and wants me gone, the sooner the better.
* _________ desperately wants my services, to [fix ________, someone they care about / get revenge on ________, someone they're not allowed to kill].
* _________ needs my "therapy" on a regular basis.
* _________ worships me for what I can do.


* _________ was once a member of my gang, not long ago. (On what terms did they leave? Did you kick them out, or what?)
* _________ has the know-how, equipment, or facilities to maintain and repair road hogs.
* _________ is the most capable member of my gang, hands down.
* _________ desperately wishes to join the gang.
* I had to teach _________ a lesson recently, after they got in my way.


* _________ has the skills, facilities, or tools to maintain my vehicle.
* _________ has seen places beyond what I have traveled, and knows their peril.
* _________ is having trouble transporting or trading goods reliably.
* I am often needed to help _________ get where they want to go.
* _________ has a vehicle which is more __________ [adjective] than mine.


* I fear that ________ cannot fend for her/himself. I would protect them with my life.
* My trigger-finger itches to bring ________ down. (And why have you not been able to yet?)
* _________ needs me for protection, for they fear _________ [another name from the list, a new name, a PC, a faction, a group, or an affliction].
* _________ provides me with [ammunition/medical care/both].
* The maelstrom has shown me visions: I know now that _________ cannot be brought down by my bullets.


* ________ is the former hardholder. (How did you take over from them, and how do people feel about that?)
* ________ is my second-in-command. (What makes them indispensable to you? What worries you about them?)
* ________ is a thorn in my side, constantly angling for my position. (How are they dangerous?)
* I wish I had __________ by my side, as my partner, confidante, advisor, or right hand.
* _________ is the most important or indispensable person in my holding, because only they can control/understand/maintain the _________ [valuable resource, device, or location].


* _________ is on the verge of accepting the Faith, if only I could push them over the edge.
* _________ is a Believer, but comes to me in secret, and doesn't wish it known.
* I rely on _________, for no one knows what's happening with my followers better than them.
* _________ was once a member of the cult, before they got kicked out.
* _________ wants the cult gone, for we embody everything they stand against.
* I desperately need to turn _________ into a believer.


* _________ wants my establishment gone.
* I owe _________ for helping me build, set up, or secure it.
* _________ wants in on it.
* _________ is my best/worst regular.
* I want to own or possess _________; they would be the beating heart of my establishment.


* _________ is hoarding some technology, knowledge, or skilled labour I'd love to get my hands on.
* _________ helps supply me with water, food, and tech or energy, which keeps my workspace running.
* _________ is always in need of my expertise.
* It's because of _________ that my workspace is secure (perhaps from tech-hungry scumbags, or other threats).
* The maelstrom has told me that _________ is the harbinger of destruction, decay, and barbarism, threatening to erase all knowledge, sophistication, and hope from this world.


* I can't let _________ keep doing what they're doing (or about to do).
* _________ is obsessed with me, to a frightening degree. Who knows what they might do, or what they want from me?
* I've got ________ wrapped around my little finger.
* _________ has something I want, very badly. (What is it?)
* I have foreseen that _________ and I will one day bear a child; the maelstrom's whispers bring the child's name to me on the wind everywhere I turn.

Apocalypse World / Rules question: what move for restraining someone?
« on: March 06, 2018, 11:44:02 PM »
I recently started running a game of AW, and we had a situation come up which was a bit of head-scratcher (surprisingly; normally we don't struggle with this kind of thing, since we've all played a bunch of AW).

I'd like to hear some opinions on what might work well, and what you would do with your home group.

The situation is as follows:

A violent individual is trying to catch a thief, who is hiding inside a house.

The PC thinks it's a case of mistaken identity: the thief they're looking for is someone else! The person inside is someone they don't want to get hurt.

Now, this violent individual - let's say Dremmer - is in a rage, and doesn't care about the PC - he just wants to get in there and get at the person inside, who he thinks stole from him.

The PC is standing behind the violent individual at the door to the house. She doesn't want to hurt Dremmer, but she does want to protect her friend, inside. She says, "I reach out from behind, and put my pipe (she's carrying one, just in case!) around this guy's neck. I want to keep him from going inside!"

How would you resolve this? The PC wants to stop Dremmer from getting inside, and she's willing to be physical with him, but not willing to hurt him. Dremmer is pissed, but he's not looking to hurt the PC, or even really paying any attention to her - he's focused on his target.

It feels like it's a move of some sort (if not, what MC move would you respond with?), and several options are possible, but the choice isn't obvious. Sure, we can always fall back on "act under fire", but, with the fire being "he gets into the house", that feels a bit... not quite right.

I'd love to hear some takes on this. How would you handle it, at your table?

Apocalypse World / A slightly different take on the Quarantine
« on: March 04, 2018, 12:50:04 PM »
The Quarantine is one of my favourite playbooks. The way the start-of-session move fills out the history of the Apocalypse, and feels like rediscovering the Quarantine's lost memories, is just beautiful in play.

When I first saw the details of the playbook, though, I was disappointed, because the Quarantine is some kind of highly trained soldier in stasis. I was hoping for a "fish out water" character who doesn't belong, kind of like the Mortal in Monsterhearts. I was never sure what to do about that, until I saw that some of the Solace's moves could actually work pretty well to create that type of interaction with others. I've borrowed a couple to create this:


My idea for a more "Mortal-like" Quarantine. Instead of being a soldier suddenly released into the world, you're an outsider, a seeker of truth, and a carrier of the values of the Old World.

Most of the playbook is as-is. However:

Your Name

You wake up with a name tag or badge. Do you remember your own name, or is this your only clue?

For your name, choose one of the following:

A regular, boring name from the Old World, a name that carries hope for the future,  the name of a former classmate, the name of a former coworker, the name of an old flame.

Your Background

You've just appeared from stasis; this is entirely new to you. You remember only glimpses - and barely, at that - of your past life. What is this place?

For "when you were released from stasis", choose [] a few days ago, [] a few hours ago, [] just moments ago.

Your Gear

You get:

* A token of the world you left behind (you detail)
* Three antique or high-tech items. Any valuable item might be worth as much as 3-barter, to the right people.
* Fashion suitable to your look (you detail).
* Other than your items, no oddments or jingle: you have to make your own way, right from the first session.

Choose 3 antique or high-tech items:

* A field reporter's bulletproof vest (1-armor).
* A filmmaker's high quality digital video camera (valuable hi-tech)
* An archaeologist's electronic handheld recorder containing encyclopedic knowledge (valuable hi-tech)
* A writer-librarian's small collection of books (antique valuable) you detail
* A doctor's suitcase of antibiotics, medicines, and experimental drugs (valuable)
* A private investigator's small-caliber personal pistol, with laser sight and fingerprint scanner (valuable hi-tech 2-harm close)
* To create your own, think of a profession which no longer exists and an iconic item

Your Moves

You get 3 Quarantine moves.

Favorite of the maelstrom: when you help someone who’s making a roll, take +1 to your Hx with them. When someone chooses to read a person with you as the subject, or any other move which allows them to ask questions in order to learn about your inner workings or lost memories, they can choose to gain +1 Hx with you, or to lower yours with them by 1, instead. 

Self-possessed: when you highlight stats, the MC doesn’t get to highlight one. Instead, you choose one to highlight for yourself.

Alive in the world: when you take your bearings in a landscape or a settlement, ask 1:
• Where could I hide here?
• If I had to make a stand here, where would be best?
• What does this place or these people have to offer me?
• How could I gain access to this place’s  or these people’s secrets?
• How could I gain the undivided attention of all present?
• How could I best become accepted as a part of this place or these people?
• What or who is the source of the most pain here?
Whenever acting on the answer requires a roll, take +1. If you make efforts to dig further into a settlement or group of people, roll+sharp. On a 10+, ask 2 more. On a 7–9, ask 1 more. On a miss, ask 1 more, but you draw unwanted attention, here and now.

A higher standard: at the end of the session, when you would normally choose a character who knows you better, instead, consider each of the other players’ characters and decide whether or not they were good people. All that were, tell them to add +1 to their Hx with you on their sheet. You can tell none of them, any of them, or all of them, as you see fit. If this brings them to Hx+4, they mark experience and reset to Hx+1, as always.
Eager to know: when you go to someone for advice, they must tell you honestly what they think the best course is. If you pursue that course, take +1 to any rolls you make in the pursuit. If you pursue that course but don’t accomplish your ends, you mark experience.

Inspiring: when another player’s character rolls+Hx to help you, they mark experience.

I'm curious about people's experiences and "best practices" for when characters find themselves in charge of a holding or a gang.

When a player selects the appropriate improvement, I have no problem handling that - basically, assuming the fictional details are in place, we just conspire together to make the desired outcome happen, no problem.

But what about when a character maneuvers in the fiction so as to become the head of a gang or a holding? How do you handle it then?

Let's say the hardholder is dead, and a PC steps into his place. "I'm in charge here now!"

In your experience, what's the best timing and approach for "making it official"? Do you give the player the appropriate moves, wait for them to be paid with an Improvement, bank it in advance, or what? To what extent do you try to make the fiction and the moves coincide, if at all?

I can imagine a few different ways this could go, and I'd love to hear a) some examples of how it's gone in your games, and b) how you think it works best or should work.

Thank you!

Apocalypse World / Descriptive NPC Harm
« on: January 25, 2018, 04:04:53 PM »
NPC Harm

These guidelines may help the MC interpret harm suffered by NPCs; they are carefully aligned with the standard AW rules, but made to feel more like a “move” within the Apocalypse World ethos. It’s intended for the MC, not the players, to use.

When an NPC suffers harm, read through this list, from the top down. Start with the first option that seems to fit the situation and the source of the harm. If it’s not too serious (or 1-harm), choose one. If it’s potentially deadly (or 2-harm), choose two. If it’s gruesome (or 3-harm), choose three.

Make each subsequent choice worse than the previous (i.e. further down the list).

When a move says the harm is better or worse, choose one more or one fewer, accordingly.

• They cede something to you, submit, or flee.
• The are knocked back or knocked down.
• They are a bloody mess.
• They suffer a lasting wound.
• They are incapacitated by pain or injury.
• They will die without immediate medical attention.
• They are killed on the spot.

Example 1: Keeler hits Parcher in the face (not too serious; normally 1-harm). The MC decides that Parcher is “knocked down”. ("Parcher takes your fist in the face, and tumbles backwards over the bannister.")

Example 2: Keeler opens up on Tum Tum with a submachine gun (potentially deadly, or 2-harm) and chooses to inflict terrible harm. The MC must make three choices, so she says Tum Tum is “a bloody mess”, “incapacitated by pain”, and “will die without immediate medical attention”.

In my recent mini-campaign, I had a Hocus and a Savvyhead stuck in a tight spot, surrounded by enemies. They're hiding at the back of this cave, unsure what to do, and the Savvyhead starts messing around with a hatch. It doesn't really lead anywhere, but, hey, maybe it could be useful somehow?

Meanwhile, the Angel is administering aid to a dying man while one of the Black Teeth finishes off his ally and could soon turn on him.

So, the Savvyhead says, "Hey, can I use my Bonefeel hold to suddenly be there?"

Turned out part of the plan was to, you know, get out of his current predicament.

It seemed like an interesting outcome to me, and saying "no" wouldn't really give the player the sense that Bonefeel is useful or that we are interested in being fans of his character. So, it happened! The hatch at the back of the cave was a good justification for his disappearance "off-screen", as well.

The Hocus, of course, is rather pissed. Abandoned in a tight spot by a close ally!

However, the Savvyhead left his van back at the cave, too, so that's going to be a source of trouble.



1. Has anyone used Bonefeel in this way in your game(s)? What do you think of its use in this kind of situation?

2. The Bonefeel move is rolled at the beginning of the session, and always generates 1-hold. The question is: is the Savvyhead in a good position, or pinned/trapped/in trouble? Does he start the scene with 1-forward?

This means that, in theory, you could choose to roll the move *when it's used*, instead of at the beginning of the session.

In this version, once per session the Savvyhead can say that he wants to be involved in a scene, "with or without a clear explanation". *Then* we roll the dice, determining whether he is "in the right place at the right time", with exactly what's needed, or in a bad spot of sorts.

Thinking about this is interesting; the implications are quite different.

Has anyone done this? If so, how did it feel in play? Which did you prefer? Why?

Apocalypse World / Crow's Flats: Skyfall - A Scenario and brief AP
« on: December 24, 2017, 01:41:52 PM »
I started running a short-term (a handful of sessions) campaign of AW last week, and wasn't sure how creative, active, or involved my players would be, since they're hardened D&D heads and I haven't really played with them a whole lot.

To do a little prep and to make sure we had something to go on right off the bat, regardless of how passive or active the players might be, I put together this "campaign starter".

Feel free to read, comment, or use for your own games!

It could also work for a one-shot, if you make a strong effort to move through all the steps quickly, with little elaboration.

I'm fooling around with a variety of alternate rules, which you'll find some notes and shorthand for at the end of the document. Feel free to ignore those.

(I'll answer questions about them, if anyone's curious, of course.)

This is inspired by the "Skinner effectiveness" thread, which has received some fantastic replies and some great discussion. I've never had trouble understanding the Skinner.

But the Driver... now that playbook, I don't really understand. (To the point where I'd be tempted to pack it away when playing AW.)

Sure, there's the surface appeal of "Hey, I got a cool car". But is that all there is to it?

I can see that it potentially enforces a larger geographical scope for the game, as well. That's... somewhat interesting.

If you love playing the Driver (or MCing for one), why is that? What's under the hood, what makes it cool, what makes it tick?

the nerve core / It's a Mad Mad Mad Max Fury Road [video]
« on: May 13, 2017, 12:20:01 PM »

A delightful mashup.

Are you about to play a *World game, and feeling restricted by the list of playbooks? Are you looking for a way to freshen up your next game, whether personally, or as a group?

Before you get to hacking (or before you get to writing up new playbooks), try this custom character creation move:


When you pick up a playbook, whether familiar, beloved, or overlooked, ask the group - or ask yourself - what is most archetypal about this playbook?

"What is the one thing that, to us, makes a person The Hardholder?"

Now, create the character, inverting that assumption:

When you invert an assumption, choose one of the following:

* The character plays entirely opposite to type, in terms of their personality, philosophy, outlook, or goals.
* The character occupies a station or role in society entirely opposite to expectations.
* The character is perceived by others (by society) as being someone totally different from what you would expect for that playbook.

As you look through the moves, gear, and Hx choices, justify each one. Some will be immediately obvious; others will be head-scratchers. Dig in and find the nugget around which you will form this new character.

If you are the MC, use that idea to form a landscape - physical, social, and psychic - which reflects that character's position and values.

Apocalypse World

Assumption: The Angel is a healer; someone who cares about helping people, and wishes to eradicate disease and suffering.

Inversion: In your game, the Angel is a sadist, who invents - or creates! -
medical problems, wounds, and imaginary "plagues" in order to scare others into submission and garner power.

Justification: This Angel believes that only those whose insides she has seen can truly be trusted. She cuts and slices the world so she can find some semblance of security for herself.

Assumption: The Skinner is a gorgeous, nubile, desirable creature.

Inversion: In your game, the Skinner is an aging soldier with a limp.

Justification: There is something so magnetic about their stories, the twinkle in their eye, that everyone admires them, respects them, and wishes to be close to them. Their words soothe the hurt and excite the young, sowing the seeds for dreams of grandeur; their tales of a lost past are dangerously seductive.

Let yourself listen too long and you'll find yourself in their bed.

Assumption: The Brainer is the weirdest wacko around, the most twisted and creepy individual.

Inversion: In your game, the Brainer is the only level-headed, sane person left. In the aftermath of the apocalypse, everyone else has lost their mind, and she is the last even-keeled survivor, clutching desperately onto reason and sensibility.

Justification: Your Brainer's desperation has attracted the attention of the maelstrom, which has bestowed upon her powerful psychic gifts. Will she use her whisper projection, violation glove, and in-puppet strings to try to restore sense and sanity to those around her? Does she see her newfound weirdness as a problem to solve (the final erosion of everything she has been clinging to), or a tool to embrace?


Assumption: The Ghost is a nobody; a social outcast, overlooked, ignored, and easily forgotten.

Inversion: In your game, the Ghost is the most popular kid in school. He is the quarterback of the football team and Homecoming King.

Justification: His popularity has reached such a peak that other students have started to see him as above them or beyond them. Suddenly he realizes that no one really cares; no one sees his vulnerability or his pains. There is no one he can confide in, for no one would ever believe that he, the Homecoming King, could ever have any real problems in life! At the peak of his popularity... he's never felt more alone.

And so on, of course.

Pick a different assumption each time.

Try it. Have fun.

Apocalypse World / Roll+Hx to help me with the Help/Interfere move
« on: April 28, 2017, 12:39:22 PM »
A quick question about best practices when it comes to the help/interfere move:

On a miss, the player is instructed to be "prepared for the worst" - generally, an MC move.

Sometimes, in play, the help/interfere move has clear fictional context, like when Dusk is trying to manipulate someone, and I decide to try to help by drawing my blade and locking eyes with onlookers. In such a case, it's really easy to see fictional consequences to a miss.

However, in some interactions, the help/interfere move has less clear fictional context. For example, when two PCs are making moves against each other - let's say they're both reading each other, or they're in a fight and both seizing by force. If either or both decide they'd like to help or interfere:

1. How strict are you about requiring fictional context for the move? Do you demand it to be described or justified fictionally, or is it the player's option to call on the move as an attempt to gain a mechanical advantage?

Sometimes, making four rolls and being really strict about "to do it, do it" feels rather like jumping through hoops in a situation like this - what we really want to know is whether the person manages to get a read on the other, or the outcome of the fight, after all, not to be sidetracked into a whole conversation about how your character interferes and what else might be going on with them.

However, if we just roll the dice and make the moves (to get to the main roll we're interested in), then we get this:

2. If anyone misses their help/interfere roll, how does the MC make a move in response? We've got all this other stuff hanging over our heads - the other three rolls going on, getting back to the fictional action we're invested in, and so forth.

It becomes very tempting to just skip it, and to say that the missed help/interfere "did nothing", moving on to the next roll, and playing out the scene. Is that the desired dynamic here, or should we be playing it differently?

3. What's your preferred way to handle the timing of help/interfere: before the roll you're trying to affect, simultaneous with it, or afterwards (where we only roll if it's close enough that successful help/intereference could make a difference)?

I suppose it might be really helpful to have some "default miss clauses" for such moves, since, unlike "playing in turns" (as we do in most of the game), handling MC moves and misses on a bunch of simultaneous rolls is significantly trickier.

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on handling this kind of situation - I bet there are some fun and clever ways to make this feel smooth and easy at the table.

Apocalypse World / Read a Sitch - on a miss (advice?)
« on: April 27, 2017, 10:54:44 PM »
I rather like the way the 2nd Edition rules tell us to "ask anyway" on a miss.

However, there are two things which that could feel a bit uncomfortable in play, and I'd like to ask you how you handle them

The first is simple:

1. When you "ask anyway" on a miss, do you also take +1forward to act on the answer, or not? The text doesn't clarify (but implies that you do). The examples appear not to have been updated from 1st Ed.

For some people, it feels a bit too much like a 7-9, in that case, so we've been thinking that it might be more clearly a miss if the +1forward does not come into play.

2. How do you answer the question?

The first that comes to mind is that the answer can be some extremely bad news. This *feels* right in terms of the conversation, but introduces a funny wrinkle:

* If you then follow up with a move which hinges on that bad news, does the PC take +1forward? That only makes sense if the move doesn't directly address the problem being discussed.

For instance, if I read a sitch and I ask "What should I be on the lookout for?", the logical answer might be, "Plover has been stewing this whole time, and he's finally losing it. He's about to smash your face in."

However, if I am supposed to grant +1forward, then the PC should have an opportunity to avoid this danger, and then it doesn't feel any different than a 7-9 outcome. We asked a question, and now we're back to normal play, except the PC has a +1forward to whatever they decide to do.

On the other hand, if I'm intended to follow up with a "hard" move (like Plover smashing the PC in the face), then the whole process of asking "What should I be on the lookout for?" feels a little bit like a pointless dance. What good did it do for the PC to ask that question, if they couldn't respond to it?

What do you find to be the "best practices" for you at your table? Has this ever come up?


Apocalypse World / 2nd Edition and Seize by Force (and similar moves)
« on: January 15, 2017, 12:16:40 PM »
I have a question for anyone who has now had a chance to play both 1st and 2nd Edition AW.

A notable difference - at least to me - is the change in the "miss" clause for some important moves, like Seize by Force. In the 1st edition, it was a basic move, so a miss could be any kind of MC move, including sometimes very punishing ones. The 2nd edition miss clause is an exchange of harm, and, often, something that looks like "success" for the character (e.g. choosing to "take definite hold of it"). Given many PCs who have big guns and lots of armor, an exchange of harm can range from an inconvenience to something safely ignored to a full destruction of the enemy.

How has this affected your play? What are interesting "side effects" on your group, or how the game develops? Has it led to different player behaviour? Different MC behaviour? More assertive low-Hard characters? Anything else?

Feel free to discuss other moves, as well - Seize by Force is just, perhaps, the most obvious example of such a change.

Apocalypse World / Read a person - do you use holds?
« on: December 01, 2016, 07:31:35 PM »
This topic is a rough survey of sorts:

When you use the "read a person" move, how often you do use the "holds" mechanic and play out the rest of the conversation?

I've seen a lot of people ask all the questions right away (just like for Read a Sitch), so I'm curious how many don't do it that way, but keep the hold and spend it during the conversation.

If you do:

What makes it work, or what encourages people to do it?

Does it improve your game?

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