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Messages - Philomorph

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Apocalypse World / Re: Playbook: The Coot
« on: May 24, 2014, 01:44:57 PM »
I recently received a request from someone wanting to translate this playbook. Tried replying to their private message but the post won't ever save for some reason, so I'm also posting here.

I'm giving anyone who wants it the right to translate this playbook as needed for non-commercial use, as long as my name remains on it for original author credit and as long as you PM me so I can get a copy of it :)

Apocalypse World / Re: Play Aids Index - Fronts Fillable Form
« on: August 14, 2011, 11:59:40 PM »
I just finished a letter-sized form for a Front that is in Acrobat format. This is mainly useful to people like me who have terrible handwriting :)

When you load it with in acrobat reader, you can simply fill in the required fields and then save and/or print it out. Then you can update it in between sessions to always have a fresh and readable version of your front.

Since it's letter sized and not legal, there's not quite as much room, but the neatness of being typed helps that a bit. Also I didn't bother putting anything on the back side, since you can get all that info from the book.

So, it's a trade off, but it works for me, and hopefully will for you.

Apocalypse World / Re: Love Letters
« on: August 14, 2011, 11:38:13 PM »
I think that Love Letter is spot-on. It provides immediate history to play off of, and it explains why that character wasn't around last time.

I probably wasn't very clear, as I wrote the post in a hurry. The character I wrote that for was indeed at our first session. The events described were just a little something to get us back in the mood of the game.

I went ahead and gave it to him, and he aced his roll, so he got a barter and nothing bad from it.

Apocalypse World / Love Letters
« on: August 14, 2011, 12:37:12 AM »
So we've played our first session, and are doing our second one tomorrow, with 2 weeks in between. One of the players can't make it, so his guy will be off on a quest of his own. A new player will be joining us, and the other two original ones will be there, with a week or two of game-time having passed since.

So my first questions is how often do you use love letters to begin a session, and what criteria do you use to decide?

Second, I was going to write the following letter to the driver, who spent the first session looking for work and not having any luck. But I'm not sure if this is being fair or not, since it doesn't give him a choice about taking the job.

Dear Gearshift,
Since we last spoke, you picked up a package delivery job for Hugo that took you somewhere you haven’t been before. Please roll+sharp.
On a 10+, good job, you made 1 barter and got to test out your machine guns. Mark one experience.
 On a 7-9 choose 1. On a miss, choose both:
•   You didn’t think you’d need your truck, so you took the sedan. That was a mistake. It takes 1 harm and needs some cosmetic repairs now that you’re back in town. At least you got paid enough to cover it, but you’re not really ahead now, are you? Mark one experience.
•   You didn’t spot the ambush in time to get away clean. You still got away, but you missed the deadline and the recipient was already gone when you arrived. You’ll need to return the cargo to Hugo now. He’s not going to be happy. Mark one experience.

Love and kisses, your MC.

So, is this mean? On a success he gets a barter and an XP, which seems ok. Anything else gets him semi-screwed, but at least he gets XP to compensate.

I find it's least intrusive and most effective to have the knowledge manifest not in what the characters say but what they know. That piece of trash lying around? The character can do something with it, or knows what it is. That sort of thing. One of the NPCs in my game who remembers the pre-apocalypse actually has plants and watered them. This looked real strange all around to the PCs. Water is scarce, and green stuff even more so, why waste water on some weird little green thing? That sort of thing.

This is exactly what I was thinking when I designed my custom playbook for The Coot! His standard move "Remembering the time before" is very much like that.

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: August 01, 2011, 06:38:47 PM »
...suggesting that people have enough to eat and are immune from sickness because a character who's nominally in charge does not have the wealth move is not sitting happy in my brain.

This is sort of my feeling, although again, it depends on the kind of world you're running. If you want "Apocalypse lite" where the scarcity isn't causing everyone to constantly wonder where their next meal is coming from and whether tomorrow will bring plague or raiders, then that's what you've got.

In my post apocalyptic scenarios, you can have your PCs on the move, using what skills they have to fend off hunger and highwaymen. But a settlement's worth of people? If there isn't someone in charge,  that's going to devolve very quickly.

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: August 01, 2011, 02:25:17 PM »
At the beginning, the characters were tied together by the Savvyhead. They all lived/worked at the workshop. This place was a neutral zone, that everyone nearby visited now and then.

The game went through to a natural end, maybe 15-20 sessions, with nobody being a hardholder. The savvyhead eventually retired, and our skinner took the place over as she became a maestro'd, so the workshop became a bar and kept the same neutral status.

How much time would you say in "years" did this scenario take to unfold?

I'm just kind of curious what sort of time frame your story took to go from start to retirement.

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: August 01, 2011, 01:50:11 PM »
Here's my 2c: Obviously there are going to be different ways of things in different worlds we come up with.

But the demolition of the status quo seems intended to prevent the boredom that can so easily come from a bunch of competent, decent people living together.

If everyone is getting along and you mainly just have to worry about scarcity, then people may come together and resolve issues and everything stays hunky dory. But in Apocalypse World, that's not supposed to be the case.

If there isn't someone with the wealth AND power to keep things together (e.g. the hardholder) then no amount of communal good will and cooperation will overcome things like disease laden rats, idleness leading to fights, and external raiders.

My players in this new session seem to think that while "things are pretty tough", they aren't so tough that you can't go along to get along, as it were. But "live and let live" is not part of the new world order, and they will find that out pretty quickly.

Apocalypse World / AP: Waking up in a burning world
« on: July 31, 2011, 02:43:45 PM »
* PART 1 *

It seems like someone knew something was coming. Whether they knew how big it would be, or how fucked up it would leave the world, I have no idea. But someone must have been preparing for it.

Now, fifty or sixty years on (who really knows?) this smooth operator named Nero was travelling with his crew on the way back from a gig they’d completed down south. About twenty minutes out of their destination, they saw a truly strange sight: a woman in strange clothes emerging from a door in the ground that seemed to appear out of nowhere as they rode past. Well, Nero and his crew hadn’t had the company of a woman in a good while, so they thought they’d be happy to make her acquaintance, but they were mistaken. As they turned off the road to ride up on her, she pulled out a mean mother fucker of a gun and opened up on them.

While the boys were busy jumping behind the flatbed for cover, the woman took her chance and ran off into the woods, occasionally looking back to provide her own cover fire, keeping the gang at bay long enough for her to disappear into the thick trees.

Well, Nero didn’t want her company that badly anyway, so they waited a bit to see if she was hiding in the trees looking for another opportunity to shoot at them. But after a bit, he figured it was safe to check out this door in the dirt and see what lay beneath. What he found was unlike anything he had ever seen! Never since before the breaking of the world had so much flash gear and hi tech wizbang been seen in one place. And the place had to be the size of a warehouse, but all underground!

So Jimmy got out his tool while Clover fired up the winch motor and the team started their scavenging with the big metal box closest to the door. Nero tied the winch rope around it nice and tight and signaled for Clover to pull it up and out.

Unfortunately for Nero and the half of his crew down in the hole, they couldn’t see or smell the deadly gas that immediately began pouring into the room as soon as that box pulled off its bracket. Thirty seconds later everyone one of them dropped like a sack of taters.

Clover and the others topside couldn’t really tell what was going on over the sound of the winch, so he just kept it running, and eventually out the door came this metal box about twice the size of a coffin. Once they had it loaded on the truck, Clover called down to Nero to see what was next. When there was no reply he poked his head over the open door and smelled the shit that must have come with all that sudden death. He stood back up, not sure what to do, and then fell over, only half conscious.

Waters rushed over and grabbed Clover by the feet, dragging him away from the opening while trying to stay as far away from it as possible. A couple minutes later Clover seemed to get his head back. No one else seemed inclined to go near the door again.

Not having anyone else left to give orders, Clover took the lead and had the others hop back on the truck. He hated to leave Nero down there. He’d been a good boss. But there wasn’t anything to be done.

The decimated crew continued north, figuring that they could probably sell the strange box for quite a pile of jingle to either the hold’s boss Hugo, or maybe to that weird savvyhead that lived on the edge of town.

The only problem with that brilliant plan was they didn’t know what was inside the metal box, and they didn’t know he was about to wake up.


Specialist Jim McClane woke up way too quickly for someone coming out of stasis. This is not how it went when the test ended last time. Had the equipment malfunctioned? The lid to his stasis chamber slid open silently. As the bright sky assaulted his sensitive eyes, something else ambushed his mind. Sky? He was supposed to be underground. What the hell is that noise? Why does my head feel like it’s got a flaming spike through it? Is this chamber moving? Jesus what the fuck is that noise? Who are these freaks, and why am I on this truck? Holy mother of god what is that noise? I can’t even hear myself think! Must. Get. Out.



Brick had been busy in his workshop when the remainder of Nero’s crew had arrived on the outskirts of his junkyard. He hadn’t seen or heard anything until his sister Sal came in.

“Joshy, I heard some bang bangs outside.”

Hearing guns wasn’t really unusual, but Sal feeling the need to mention it was, so he figured he’d better go check it out.

When he got outside he saw what looked like the front of Nero’s truck just visible behind the old red plane. He headed out there, telling Sal to stay inside for now. She usually did what he told her, even though she was the older sib. Brick considered himself lucky that even though Sal was in some ways still a child, she didn’t have a lot of initiative to go wandering about getting into trouble.

As he came around that red nosecone and prop, Brick could smell trouble. It stank of blood and gunpowder and shit and fear, all mixed up with the dust and oil of the junkyard. What he saw didn’t make much sense: about half of Nero’s crew was there, lying dead, on the ground and on the flat of the truck. There was also someone he didn’t recognize lying nearby. Unlike the others he didn’t appear to be shot, but Brick couldn’t be sure without getting closer. He wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. He clutched his big wrench a bit tighter.


"Hey mister, are you alive?" Jim felt a hard poke in his ribs.  He slowly opened his eyes.  Backlit by the too bright sky hovered a round face with bright eyes, haloed by a shock of unkempt hair, and a steak of grease across one cheek.

“Shit!” Jim thought, “Now where am I? Who the fuck is this guy?” He sat up, and immediately regretted the move. His head swam for a minute and the world tilted. He closed his eyes and counted to ten, then opened them again. He slowly looked around; taking in what appeared to be a graveyard for small aircraft and rusted out cars. To his left was his chamber, lying on the bed of a truck.

“Hey mister, you ok? You need some help? What the heck happened here? Who killed all these people? Omigod, is that Clover? Holy shit. Did you see who did this? Why didn’t they kill you too?”

Jim tried to stand, almost fell, and then got his balance. “Who are you? Where am I?”

“Oh man, you look terrible! I’m Joshua, but everyone calls me Brick.”

Jim looked at his hands and arms. They were spattered with blood, but it didn’t seem to be his own. He walked over to the truck and jumped up on the bed. His AR was there, lying next to the chamber. His 9mm was further in, next to a body that didn’t look likely to cause trouble, so he grabbed it and put it back in its holster on his hip.

The funny little guy called Brick was still asking him questions, faster than his mind could process them. Jim knew he needed to get control of this situation fast. He tried to get a read on this guy, see if he was a threat. But when he focused on the man’s face, that noise started to return, more softly now, and suddenly he had memories flashing behind his eyes. He had killed these men.


These events actually come from the introductions and character creation portion of our first session. We played last night and I've been thinking and writing this part of the story to sort of focus my mind on this world that the players have created.

I'll post more once I write down the events that took place once we actually started "playing".

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: July 31, 2011, 02:21:06 PM »
Our first session was last night, and it was interesting how the three players developed their little part of the world. I basically told them where they were (Yreka, a small town in Northern California), and that the nearby forest seemed to be on fire, although it wasn't close enough to see flames, only smoke.

The were playing a Savvyhead, a Driver, and a Quarantine. But as their situation unfolded, they described a town that was a little more well functioning than I'd expected. While there wasn't a proper "hold" in the walled-in moat around it sort of way, there is a nominal boss of the area (Hugo), who has a crew, and who people come to when they need something they can't get for themselves.

Since it's a fairly rural area, most everyone has their own little veggie patch, or raises chickens. There's a sort of farmer's market in the town center where people gather with carts of what they can scrape from the land to trade each other.

Gearshift, the PC driver, mostly runs deliveries for Hugo or anyone else that needs something sent or picked up. The savvyhead fixes stuff for people and travels into town with his mule-drawn cart and a portable tinker's setup to sharpen knives, clean guns, and do other things for jingle. If you've got a bigger job you'll find him in his workshop/house, which is a gutted 747 in the middle of his junkyard, which used to be an airplane graveyard, then an automobile graveyard, and now just a big patch of dirt with a lot of junk on it.

Anyway, so I don't give them a hold, and they sort of make one themselves. That's fine with me, because I have plans for that forest fire. This 1st session was definitely on "easy mode", which seemed appropriate. I promised them there'd be a bit more action next time.

Apocalypse World / ignore me
« on: July 30, 2011, 04:15:37 PM »
Nevermind, i was confused :)

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: July 29, 2011, 10:53:25 PM »
I'm just trying to get a feel for how people have handled games where no one is playing a hardholder and they didn't start in an NPC controlled hold.

Mine won't have one to start, so I'll get to see what the characters do to find some semblance of safety. That doesn't mean they won't ever find a hold to call home, we'll have to wait and see :)

Thanks for the feedback!

The angel kit has a move "stabilize and heal someone at 9:00 or past."

In addition to you healing them to 6:00, the MC can take "They fight you, so you're acting under fire".

So you make an "under fire" roll and you miss. What does that mean? That you didn't actually heal them? Is it like you missed the initial roll? Or is the MC supposed to make a hard/direct move of some sort?

Also, can you use the kit's move "speed the recovery of someone at 3:00 or 6:00" right after you use the above move to get them to 6:00? It doesn't require a roll, and doesn't say it requires using any stock.  So, assuming you aren't being a dick, wouldn't you pretty much always do this after stabilizing them?

Apocalypse World / Re: holdless scenarios?
« on: July 29, 2011, 08:37:58 PM »
I'll be mcing my first game tomorrow, and i've purposely left out the hardholder from the stack of characters. The only thing i know so far about the setting is that the characters start in a small northern california town that's mostly deserted and near a forest that's currently on fire.

I am excited to see where they go from there, and i'm sure they'll find holds along the way. But you raise some good points. I suspect one of the players will be drawn to the savvyhead, so we'll see what happens workspace-wise.

Apocalypse World / holdless scenarios?
« on: July 29, 2011, 07:45:33 PM »
How often do you guys start a game with no hardhold in play?
How often do you end up going for multiple sessions without one?

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