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Topics - Philomorph

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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.

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

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 / 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?

Apocalypse World / Playbook: The Coot
« on: July 21, 2011, 03:50:43 PM »
My first attempt at a playbook. This is a first draft, so I'm really looking for some feedback on how to tighten it up and make it workable. I normally wouldn't try to hack a game before I've even played it, but since I finished the rules and started talking to my players about it, I've had this idea brewing in my brain constantly, and he just needed to come out. Let me know what you think :)

You may note that I've removed some attributes from the custom weapons list, because these folks are a little less likely to be carrying really big, intimidating stuff.


The Coot

Nowadays it’s pretty rare you see someone walking around that was alive before it happened. Sure, plenty of folks you meet look to be about a hundred, but it ain’t time that wore them down.

Once in a great while, you may come across an old codger that came by his gray hair the old fashioned way – by living a long time. Most of ‘em are obviously crazy, driven mad by who knows what part of the psychic feedback that rushes in at unguarded moments.  Most of the rest have been crippled by mistakes (made by them or others) when they weren’t spry enough anymore to get out of the way.

But there are a few old-timers that remain nimble and seem to have held onto most of their wits. Along the way they’ve picked up some tricks that keep them breathing in the newly harsh world. It’s likely that they have some memory of the before times, but they aren’t necessarily willing to talk about it. No, they’re just trying to make their way, same as everyone else, relying on what they have and what they can get.


To create your coot, choose name, look, stats, moves, gear, and Hx.


Jeb, Bent, Dag, Coon, Skiff, Walnut, H.D., Jersey, Fish, Wash, Duke, Dust
Mia, Font, Gin, Anista, Mae, Fox, Amalga, Albany, Carmel, Lake, Noely, Vita


Man, woman, wrinkled, dusty

Casual wear, utility wear, worn-out wear, vintage wear, or scrounge wear.

Wrinkled face, wise face, rough face, open face, tired face.

Clear eyes, penetrating eyes, suspicious eyes, sharp eyes, weary eyes, laughing eyes.

Bent body, wiry body, chunky body, slight body, lanky body.


Choose one set:

  • Cool+2 Hard-1 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird=0
  • Cool+1 Hard+1 Hot=0 Sharp+2 Weird-1
  • Cool+1 Hard=0 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird+1
  • Cool+1 Hard-1 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird+1


You get all the basic moves (see additional rules)


You get this 1:

Look Harmless:  when you try to manipulate another player’s character, roll+Hx instead of roll+hot. An NPC, roll+Sharp instead of roll+hot.

And choose 2:

Remembering the Time Before:  when you try to identify, ken, or determine the value of some artifact from the time before (something that most nowadays wouldn’t know from their ass), roll+Sharp.
On a hit, you can ask the MC questions. On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7–9, ask 2:
  • Who or what made this?
  • What is its purpose?
  • How do I work it?
  • What’s wrong with this, and might it be fixed?
  • What’s it likely to be worth to someone who can use it?
  • What part or piece of it is most valuable to sell if it can’t be used as intended?

Crazy like a Fox: You get +1 Sharp (Sharp +3).

Play it Like You've Cracked: When you go aggro on a PC, roll+Hx instead of roll+hard. An NPC, roll+Sharp instead of roll+Hard.

Seen it Before: At the beginning of the session, roll+sharp. On a 10+, hold 2. On a 7–9, hold 1. At any time, you may spend a hold to take +1 forward on one roll+sharp or one roll+cool.


For some reason or another, whether it’s age, an injury, or something else (you detail), you are either uninterested in sex or simply not able to do it.  If you try and seduce someone, take -1, and figure out what you’re going to do when you can’t follow through on their expectations.
A hidden weapon is just that – a small, easily concealed weapon that will not be found in a quick pat-down, but will in a semi-thorough search.


You get:

  • 1 custom weapon
  • 1 ancient firearm
  • 1 hidden weapon
  • Oddments worth 1-barter
  • Fashion suitable to your look, including at your option a piece worth 1-armor (you detail)

Custom firearms

Base (choose 1):
• handgun (2-harm close reload loud)
• shotgun (3-harm close reload messy)
• rifle (2-harm far reload loud)

Options (choose 2):
• ornate (+valuable)
• antique (+valuable)
• semiautomatic (-reload)
• 3-round burst (close/far)
• silenced (-loud)
• ap ammo (+ap)
• scoped (+far, or +1harm at far)

Custom hand weapons

Base (choose 1):
• staff (1-harm hand area)
• haft (1-harm hand)
• handle (1-harm hand)

Options (choose 2):
• ornate (+valuable)
• antique (+valuable)
• head (+1harm)
• spikes (+1harm)
• blade (+1harm)
• long blade* (+2harm)
• blades* (+2harm)
*counts as 2 options

Ancient firearms

Base (choose 1):

  • handgun (2-harm close reload loud)
  • shotgun (3-harm close reload messy)
  • rifle (2-harm far reload loud)

Options (choose 1):
  • Mysterious(+valuable)
  • Hi-tech(+valuable)
  • Semiautomatic (-reload)

Penalty (choose 1):

  • Unreliable: at the beginning of each session, roll+sharp. On a 10+, you’re lucky, no penalty this time. On a 7-9, hold +1, on a miss, hold +2. The MC can spend one of these hold at any time to have the weapon malfunction instead of fire, requiring a reload.
  • Hard to find ammo: at the beginning of each session, roll+sharp. On a 10+, you’ve got plenty of ammo for now. On a 7-9, you have enough ammo for one firefight/battle. On a miss, you’ve got jack for ammo this time around.

Hidden Weapon (choose 1):

  • snubnose revolver (1-harm close reload)
  • scalpel (3-harm intimate hi-tech)
  • hidden dagger (2-harm hand)


Whenever you roll a highlighted stat, and whenever you reset your Hx with someone, mark an experience circle. When you mark the 5th, improve and erase.
Each time you improve, choose one of the following. Check it off; you can’t choose it again.

__ get +1cool (max cool+2)
__ get +1hard (max hard+2)
__ get +1sharp (max sharp+2)
__ get a new coot move
__ get a new coot move
__ get the operator move “Eye on the door

I'm looking for examples of how other MCs have handled the issue of old people that may or may not remember the pre-apocalypse times.

I sort of imagine a world where very few people that were more than young children when "it" happened are still alive. But there are bound to be not just their fuzzy memories of kindergarten, but the occasional old codger that should theoretically have some valid recollections of when things were normal.

In your worlds, do such NPCs surface much? Are they all sort of crazy? Do they tell tales that few believe, even if they are true?

And what about books and such? Do the people in your worlds know how to read still? Are there hidden caches of preserved newspapers that point to events leading up to things going all wrong? Were all the libraries burned down in your event?

Apocalypse World / pc fighting and manipulation
« on: July 19, 2011, 11:51:13 PM »
I'm still gearing up for our first session and I've been wondering about the experiences of other groups when it comes to PCs fighting, seducing, and manipulating. How often does it happen in your groups?

Coming from a more traditional fantasy rpg background, characters trying to manipulate or even harm each other is an alien concept.

What are your experiences?

I don't know if this will work for you, since you probably print the hard copies from the PDF, but something that would make the book much more readable on eReaders would be to significantly reduce the margins. For example, I've been reading my copy on my NookColor, and it works great. But with a 7" screen the text is very small and the margins are really big. Luckily the NC has a the same resolution as the iPad, so it's still readable. But I can't imagine trying to read it full page on a tablet with a lower pixel density.

Since in electronic format (on any screen) doesn't require a gutter for the center of the pages, you could chop about 75% off the margins all around and instantly give your PDF readers a larger, easier to read presentation.

I don't know what program you are doing your layout in, but you could even do it quickly and easily in Acrobat Pro by cropping the pages (leaving out the title pages, since they have full page graphics).

Anyway, just a suggestion :)

Apocalypse World / Game store promotions and books, etc (for the dev)
« on: July 10, 2011, 07:52:41 PM »
This may be a bit premature, but I figure better early than late.

A friend of mine is opening a new game store in the next 3-5 months, and we plan to have various promotions to draw people into games they may not be familiar with. I suspect AW would qualify for many customers.

I'm sort of the group's unofficial marketing guy (until he can afford to hire a pro), so I was wondering if you have any material we could use to promote AW, and if you have anything specific you've been doing with stores so far.

Also, would public demos of the game qualify as a "con" for the purposes of getting and handing out copies of the "Faceless" playbook?

I've been reading the rules in preparation for starting a game as the MC (I've never played AW before). I'm still a little unclear on the details of the "direct-brain whisper" move and the target's option to "force their hand and suck it up".

In one example in the book, a brainer uses a brain whisper to get an NPC to follow her, but the NPC stops, and forces the player's hand. The player decides NOT LOUD, and walks away, leaving the NPC bleeding from the ears a bit, with 1-harm, but no one else the wiser

So, what is really happening here?

  Is the NPC hearing a voice in her head that she recognizes, and she realizes she'd rather fight it than comply?

  Does she know there will be harm done if she resists? 1 harm seems minor compared to the other option, so why would this move ever work, unless the NPC is already seriously wounded, or the request is really mild?

Afterward, does she know there's been harm done? In the scenario, the NPC doesn't say anything to her buddies, and that may be on purpose, but I can't tell if maybe she doesn't realize yet what has happened.

Apocalypse World / Duplicate pages in free Playbooks PDF?
« on: July 06, 2011, 11:42:51 AM »
I'm new, so hopefully this isn't a dumb question. In the free download "character playbooks & MC playsheets (legal trifold)", pages 23-24 and 25-26 are both called "The Moves". They appear identical except for the image, but it's dense text, so I haven't compared every word.

Are they the same, and perhaps intended to give one copy to the MC and one to the players? Or is there a difference I missed?

Apocalypse World / Quick question from a potential buyer
« on: July 05, 2011, 08:44:24 PM »
I'm eyeballing AW and it seems cool. Our group of former Role Players have all moved on to families and lives, but I want to draw us back into an RPG for those weeks we're not in the mood for board games.

So, the questions I haven't found answers to yet:

How long do play sessions generally last, in your group?

Do you find satisfaction in a 2-hour session, or does it take 3+ hours to really feel like you've had a good one?

Is anyone playing, say, once or twice a month, and still enjoying it? Or would you lose too much momentum if you can't get together more often than that?

Finally, how feasible is playing with just the PDF, printing out small sections you refer to regularly, and keeping the rest of it on an e-reader? Do you find the hard copy invaluable, or just nice to have?

Obviously there are advantages to the self-contained experience of board games. But I can only play Agricola and Catan so many times without wanting something a bit more creative now and again.

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