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Messages - cthulahoops

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Apocalypse World / AP: Sleep.
« on: June 28, 2011, 06:17:20 PM »

So, we're three sessions into my first proper length AW game, and I thought I'd put together some sort of AP, because people have been asking for it, and to help me prep for session four tomorrow.

The setting is a rocky desert and we're centred on the Hardhold known as sleep, a series of caves cut into the rock of a canyon with a river running through it.  At times the river is barely a trickle of water, at others it's a torrent flooding the lower caves and driving people from their homes.  It's a bustling, busy, place and a focal point for trade.  The town is called Sleep.

The place to be seen in Sleep is The Sapphire, offering luxury food, music and the purest water brought in special from a spring upstream.   It's owned by Cinnamon, a tall man, dressed immaculately in flowing whites.

If you want something done in Sleep, the guy to go to is Sway.   He's running deliveries, or brokering deals, or looking for answers about what really goes on up river.

Then there's Borroughs, not somebody you go to unless you're really desperate.  They say he can see your thoughts and put ideas in your head.

Finally, during the last heavy rains the river rose higher than it ever had when the floods cleared there was a gleaming metal capsule a mile down river.  The first guy to touch it was burned to a crisp.  There hasn't been a second guy.   From this capsule emerged Specialist Jackson, Twylla B.

So, three sessions in and the group has gelled into something of a team.   Quarantine (no one remembers her name) has proven to be an effective one woman army with that assault rifle, fighting off a biker gang with a grudge against Sway.   We've discovered the Saffron's (the Cinnamon's singer) best asset really is her singing voice (with a side order of maelstrom crazy).   Borroughs has been carrying around the severed head of someone's boyfriend.  (Dead when he found him, killed in something called a water purification plant.)   Cinnamon has accidentally poisoned one powerful guest, while the intended target, Mercer, the hardholder of sleep lives to see another day.

The setting is really evocative, and we've discovered the characters through lots of extended interaction and mutual read a person.

We were missing our Brainer for session two, so at the start of session three I asked if there was anything in particular that he did during the time.  In our couple of scene aside we had him going up river, finding a body and returning to the Sapphire just as things were getting interesting carrying a severed head.  That worked very nicely.

I've been crazy busy so I haven't really managed to properly prep fronts, but even unprepared this game works very nicely. 

We've been playing very focussed in time.  All the events so far have taken place over about a day and half.  I'd like to zoom out, but there seems to be a constant stream of stuff that needs to be done right now.  I guess that's no big deal, but it makes the Operator gigs sort of strange as there doesn't seem to be enough time for all these gigs to be happening in.

On a related note, I still find it difficult to bring barter, resources and scarcity into play.

Lots of fun.


Apocalypse World / Re: Most and least popular playbooks?
« on: June 20, 2011, 12:44:36 PM »
No Operators?  Weird!  The Operator is the playbook I've seen taken the most often.  I think I've only played one game without an Operator.  (I find this slightly odd as personally I'd choose Hardholder over Operator any day.)

After that Brainer is the other predictable choice that someone always wants to play.  (No argument here from me, I'm waiting for my chance to give this one a go.)

The playbooks I haven't seen in play are Angel (a pity), Driver (really dull) and Touchstone (I don't even have).

My personal favourite is the Hocus.  There should be more Hocii.

Apocalypse World / AP - The Dark Place.
« on: April 04, 2011, 07:04:08 PM »
We played an excellent game of AW at the London indie rpg meetup.  There were four players and the original idea was to create some characters, play the first session and see how far we got.   In the end we ended up carrying on into the evening slot, playing the second session without any time to do proper front prep.

The game was set in a holding called The Dark Place.  In the golden age it was a prison, now it's a hulking concrete fortress surrounded by the endless suburb of an unnamed city.  The Dark Place is run by Mother Superior, a cross-dressing Hardholder with a dress for every occasion and the Pretty Boys, her transvestite gang.   It's home to various students of Dust, a Hocus obsessed with destroying all forms of power, ownership and control... who's kind of frustrated at finding herself in a position of influence and power.  Also, Sundown a Brainer dressed in a doctors outfit, held prisoner by Mother Superior.   In the ruins around The Dark Place lives Gunge, a Hoarder with concious hoard.  Yes, that's three Weird focussed characters.

So, what happened?  Well there was plenty of sex, starting with the students falling into an orgy of uninhibited fucking in the exercise yard, and moving on to Dust sleeping with Gunge to prove she didn't care about appearance.  Later, we had Sundown and Dust fucking so they could Deep Brain Scan each other.

The evening of the orgy, Dust's students are partying, getting high and talking politics, when Mother Superior shows up with the Pretty Boys looking to prove her authority.   Sundown misses an In Brain Puppet Strings on Dust, Dust blacks out and Mother Superior orders the Pretty Boys to take Dust away.  The students joined hands to surround their leader.  Mother Superior misses a leadership roll and the Pretty Boys refuse to fire on the students.   So, Mother Superior takes out her gun and shoots one of the Boys in the head.  Cowed, the Boys seize Dust by force, killing six unarmed students.

Mechanics-wise there were two oddities here.  Firstly, I was very harsh in the interpretation of the one harm dealt to Dust.  Graham (Dust's player) was happy to be captured, so it was fine, but he would have been well with in his rights to demand Dust's recovery within the scene.  Secondly, I didn't call for the leadership roll. The player grabbed the dice and who was I to argue?   My interpretation was that leadership is like pack alpha in that it triggers when you push your gang hard into danger, not every fight.   Reading it again though, it does say "when your gang fights for you...".

There was a local hardhold called the Flats run by a hardholder called White, which I described as a big open concrete space in the middle of the city.  I was picturing an old Air Force base but foolishly didn't say so, so it didn't end up well defined and I think Flats was being used interchangeably to refer to the ruins and rival hardhold.  This is a problem I have a lot, having things in my head and not getting them out clearly established.

In contrast with the weird zaniness of the Pretty Boys, the Flats was run as a military base: all clean shaven and "sir, yes, sir".  Imagine my surprise when Dust declares that the speech she just given to the soldiers guarding White counts of speaking truth to mob.  I feel a little mixed here.  Are a military unit a mob?   Is it real that the soldiers would turn on their commanding officer after one speech from a political activist?  Fuck that.  I'm looking through cross-hairs and there are no status quos.  White's gunned down by his own troops, and Dust has herself an army to challenge Mother Superior's rule.

The hoard turned out to be a whole heap of fun, with its constant demands for more and more.  At one point Sundown and Dust had an open your mind conference call with it.  The freakiest moment was when Gunge returned to the hoard with the girl of his dreams, Do, White's daughter.   The hoard is excited that Gunge has brought it a gift and demands the girl.  Gunge offers his left arm, if he gets to keep the girl for week!  The hoard smiles, and Gunge asks Do to cut his arm off with a chainsaw.  (Manipulate: cut my arm off with this chainsaw, and I won't kill you and put you in the dustbin - not so much a threat as a straight-forward statement of the facts.)  Afterwards Do finds the locket of herself Gunge stole from White and tries to make a run for it, Gunge chases her, seizes the locket, injuring Do and nearly bleeding to death himself.
The fun thing here is that Gunge was really trying to do the right thing at each step, and looking more and more like a monster.   Oh, and the hoard's ridiculous demands had no mechanical weight.  Gunge could just have said no.

I was a bit less satisfied with the second half in which Mother Superior marched her troops on the flats, and then ended up in peace negotiations with Dust.  ("I need my negotiating dress, I can't negotiate in a war dress.  What would people think?")  I didn't manage to get manipulate into play to add some mechanical weight to cutting a deal.  It all ended well though, with Mother Superior's authority crumbling in front of her troops until Dust and Sundown stepped in to restore her rule publicly, while making it clear that she worked for them now.   Gunge, shot by Mother Superior, crawled off to die, giving his body to the hoard.

All in all, a very successful session (or two).  Tonnes of story material, and plenty of messy loose ends.  You could see this one carrying on.

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