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Topics - Mike Sands

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Monster of the Week / Experience marks
« on: July 04, 2011, 05:33:32 AM »
Having just reached the end of a mystery in which the two hunters on the team (one down due to player sickness) not only defeated the monsters, they did so without letting a single civilian come to any harm at all, I realised that I wanted back one of the rules that got dropped somewhere along the way:

  • At the end of the mystery, if nobody else was killed since the hunters got there, mark experience.

That's there as a benny for doing the job without any collateral damage, or letting people get killed while they muck around (like when they go shopping for crazy gadgets to trap or kill the monster, which seems like every mystery).

That also reminded me that the list of hunter relationship moments that trigger experience marks is definitely not fully done yet. Please let me know if there have been any moments in your games that ought to be on that list, because I think the current ones are probably only about half as many as it ought to be.

Monster of the Week / Running Monster of the Week as a one-off
« on: June 14, 2011, 03:24:48 PM »
Corresponding with someone thinking of running a single session game got me thinking about what works best in that format, and I took the time to get all my thoughts down.

Now, I have to admit that I haven't run many one-shots with the rules in their current format (although plenty before it was an Apocalypse World hack). So this is a little experimental, and I'll be very keen to hear how the guidelines go in play.

Here they are:

Monster of the Week as a One-Shot
If you want to run a single mystery maybe as a convention game or for something different from your usual game, here's some stuff to do, or at least consider.

First, the hunters should not have all seven luck points available. Instead give them from one to three (depending on how tough you want it to be). You might allow everyone to take a free advance when they create the character, to make them a little more awesome.

It's useful to pick a frame and just tell everyone who the team are and how they operate. You may want to emphasize certain characters, or make them mandatory, and de-emphasize or leave out others. For example, if you go for a frame centered on the Professional, having an Initiate in the team might not work easily.

I strongly advise letting everyone make up their own hunter (even if you restrict the types available). Customizing your hunter is a critical bit of ownership for the players, so resist the urge to save time by doing that for them. Pay close attention to all the class-specific moves each hunter has, so you can give them a chance to use everything.

In general, follow the instructions for a first session. Go a little easier on the questions, as you don't need to build a mythology from the answers. You might also spice up the mystery a bit more than usual for a first session, too. A twist or two works very well in a one-shot game. You should be prepared to maybe switch some things around to fit with how the hunters come out, or even quickly sketch the mystery as they make up their hunters rather than prepping it beforehand.

Even if you skip the full-fledged prep beforehand, you can make things easy on yourself if you bring a map or three of possible locations, a list of names and maybe even some pre-written bystander threats (it's a rare mystery that can't fit a suspicious cop or some naïve victims).

Without the expectation that the game will continue, you should also feel free to ramp up the dangerous threats and push for more horror.

Also, think about the scale of events. There's no reason not to let the stakes of the mystery be huge: zombie epidemics, the legions of Hell being unleashed on earth, hideous gods from beyond the stars and other enormous threats are all fair game.

If your team includes hunters with central story elements (the Chosen and her destiny, the Wronged and his nemesis, the Professional and her Agency, the Initiate and his Sect, etc) then tie those into the mystery as well.

Monster of the Week / Monster of the Week: What it's about.
« on: June 13, 2011, 03:50:44 PM »
There are monsters out there. Most people don't believe in them, but they're real. Mostly, when someone finds out that monsters are real, that's just before they die.

But some people are mean enough, smart enough, crazy enough, or hurt enough, that they live. And some of those people go and hunt down more.

That's who you are – someone who decided to go on a crusade against the evil critters that are scurrying around out there.

It could be that you make a stand and defend your hometown from everything evil that comes there. It could be you take to the road and go find them. It could be you have magic powers that help out. It could be that your name came up in prophecies thousands of years ago.

The one sure thing is you aren't gonna go back to your old, safe life.

You can read the hunter playbooks if you want to see a little more.

Monster of the Week / Welcome to the Monster of the Week forum
« on: June 13, 2011, 03:48:04 PM »

This is going to be a place to discuss playtests, as there are a few people out there with the files right now.

Questions, feedback, niggles and general discussion of the game are all welcome.

Links that might be handy:
My website, which has a link to the hunter playbooks if you want to have a look at them.
@MotW_rpg on Twitter, for the more informal news about what's going on and any general announcements.

I've got a minimal, but playable, version of my Monster of the Week hack now. I'd like a few people to have a look and (hopefully) playtest it as well.

It's all about monster slaying in a world pretty much like this one, but with monsters  and magic. Emphasis is on action-horror. The main inspiration comes from stuff like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If that sounds fun, drop me a PM or reply and I'll hook you up with a copy.

I'm rebuilding my long in creation game Monster of the Week as an Apocalypse World hack. The game is supposed to get into the zone that Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer inhabit.

It's going well, but I feel like I need a couple more character types in there. Currently it has:
  • Tough Guy: Dean Winchester
  • Spooky: Sam Winchester/Willow
  • The Chosen One: Buffy
  • Expert: Giles/Bobby/Walter from Fringe
  • Mundane: Xander
  • Monster: Angel/Spike/Castiel
  • Avenger: Gordon from Supernatural
  • Professional: Riley/Olivia from Fringe or indeed the whole other world Fringe team
  • Paladin: Member of an ancient monster hunting order - there were some short-lived examples on Buffy, and the Watchers Council fits here too

In particular, another playbook each that emphasizes Hot (currently just Mundane) and Sharp (currently Expert and Professional) would be good.

Any ideas welcome!

Apocalypse World / AP: The Diner and the Storm that's coming
« on: September 07, 2010, 07:58:02 PM »
So, I've been thinking a lot about the game I'm playing in, with Simon C MCing.

It's been a hard start - both in-game, due to the way that the little trading post we're based it got made up, and the fact that it took all three of us players a little while to get into our characters' heads. Last night's session - the 4th (although one player has missed one) - everything really seemed to come together and it has got really interesting.

There's a couple of places that the game's hitting hard for me. The big one, is that my battlebabe Sunset, I made him super lethal. So he's got a default way to deal with anyone who stands up to him, i.e. blowing them away. That, plus the fact that we're in a total anarchy, not even a hardholder around to enforce some order... well, it makes dealing with trouble difficult. Maybe it's a mindset thing: he can seduce or manipulate with the best of them, although I haven't often been in a position to do so. Then, at the end of session two, I took the advance to gain a gang (I'd previously killed the leader of these guys), so I've been in the position of having to run this group of violent bastards. This isn't easy when your default way to resolve a conflict is a deadly ultimatum. I'm finding all this pretty fascinating (and disturbing) to work through. I didn't really have a strong concept for the character at first - I was planning to let that fall out in play. I think what has ended up happening is that the game start was a turning point for him, when he decided working as any chump's bodyguard or muscle wasn't good enough, and that he'd try to do some good instead. I don't think I've managed yet, but I'm trying. Man, heavy stuff.

The other thing that came out last night was this incredibly sad and poignant series of events around our brainer, Lively. She'd been in a psychic maelstrom induced coma for a few days (i.e. the missed session) and we left her in the care of Pepper, a refugee we'd rescued from the gang that I now lead. Lively's been a profoundly broken, creepy brainer and her relationship with Pepper gave her someone to protect coupled with a tenderness that had previously never been hinted at. Later in the session, Lively blew an acting under fire roll and had to make an ugly choice - let the bad guy shoot her or Pepper. She choose Pepper, who died of those wounds. That left Lively angry, and she went to kill Millions who she decided (irrationally) to blame for the death, but couldn't bring herself to do that when the moment came (because Millions, a kind of ogre-matriarch, has all these kids who would be left behind - at least, that seemed to be the reason. Maybe also that the death wasn't really her fault in any way). So... wow... that play was really intense and awesome.

In the aftermath of that, the characters made a plan - to get out of this doomed trading post and look for a holding secure enough to ride out the storm that's coming, and hire on there (or maybe take it over if we have to). That shared decision and plan for them is the final piece of things falling into place, I think. I am really looking forward to the next session, to see where it goes.

I'm not really going anywhere in particular with this - I think I needed to write it all down to work through some of it. Plus, I figured some of the others in the game might be interested (and the rest of you, watching from the sidelines). Steve, if you read this, I'm not leaving Must out because your stuff isn't interesting, too. It's just thay I didn't need to process any of it to that level, myself.

Apocalypse World / New Playbook: The Feral Kid
« on: September 01, 2010, 06:27:09 AM »
Yes, I just watched The Road Warrior again. What of it? As with my Metal Beast/Juggernaut, any and all comments are welcome (in fact, I think I took some of the ideas from other posts here - maybe someone suggested something like this special move already?)

In any case, I present The Feral Kid:

The Feral Kid

You ain't got nothing, you ain't got no family, you just got you.

Creating a Feral Kid
Choose your name, look, stats, moves, gear and Hx.

Kid, Boy, Girl, Heya, Tiny, Scratch, Dirt, Annie, Rich, Daisy, Sammy, Knives.

Boy, girl, concealed, ambiguous.
Animal skin wear, scavenge wear, utility wear, ragged wear.
Dirty face, innocent face, feral face, hopeful face, sunburnt face.
Open eyes, distant eyes, hard eyes, sad eyes, squinting eyes.
Tough body, skinny body, dirty body, chubby body, beaten body.

Choose one set:
Cool+2, Hard+1, Hot=0, Sharp=0, Weird=0
Cool+2, Hard-1, Hot-1, Sharp=0, Weird+2
Cool+2, Hard=0, Hot-1, Sharp+1, Weird+1
Cool+2, Hard=0, Hot+1, Sharp+1, Weird-1

Basic moves
You get all the basic moves.

Feral Kid Moves
You get this one:
  • Little: When you squirm through a tiny space, roll +Cool. On 10+, you can get in and/or out of some place without being seen. On a 7-9, choose 2: you get in; you get out; you aren't spotted; you escape your bonds.
Then pick two of these:
  • Just do it: When you just attack someone, without considering the consequences, roll +Cool instead of +Hard for your first go aggro or seize by force roll.
  • Fast little bugger: If you have less than 2 armour, you count as having 2 armour.
  • Player: You can roll +Cool instead of +Hot when you manipulate someone.
  • Hungry: When someone helps you – offers food, shelter or healing – without hope of payment, you mark experience. If they are a PC, they gain +1 Hx with you.
  • Harmless: When someone tries to hurt you, roll +Hot. On a 10+, they can't bring themselves to go through with it. On a 7-9, they choose one: you run away; they inflict little harm (-1 harm); they take -1 forward; they knock you down without inflicting harm.
  • I'm helping! When someone is in a spot, you can roll +Cool. On a 10+, you are there with everything you need and in a good position. On a 7-9, you're there but (choose one): you're unprepared; you are in the line of fire; you take -1 forward.

You get clothes appropriate to your look (worth armour-1 if you want), and one freaky weapon.
Freaky weapons (choose 1):
  • Stainless steel boomerang (2-harm close/far returns messy) and an armoured glove.
  • Scythe on a chain (2-harm hand/close area messy)
  • Hatchet with spikes (2-harm hand messy)
  • Sawn-off shotgun (3-harm close messy loud)
  • Grenades (3-harm close area messy loud)
  • Gloves with knives on them (3-harm hand messy)
  • Speargun (3-harm close slow reload)

Everyone introduces their characters by name, look and outlook. Take your turn. List the other characters’ names.

Go around again for Hx. On your turn, choose 1, 2 or all 3:
  • Pick who you admire the most, tell them Hx +3.
  • Pick someone who is most like the parent you want, tell them Hx +3.
  • Someone helped you out when you were hungry, tell them Hx+2.
Everyone else, you stay distant from. Tell them Hx -1.

On the others’ turns, if you picked a person to admire or a person who is like a parent, whatever number those people tell you, add 1 and write that down. Everyone else, subtract 1 and write that down – you keep your distance from everyone else.

At the end, find the character with the highest Hx on your sheet. Ask that player which of your stats is most interesting, and highlight it. The MC will have you highlight a second stat too.

Special Move
When you have sex with another character, you've grown up. Choose a new playbook immediately (just like the ungiven future advance).


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 +1hard (max hard+2)
__ get +1hot (max hot+2)
__ get +1sharp (max cool+2)
__ get +1weird (max weird+3)
__ get a new feral kid move
__ get a new feral kid move
__ get 2 gigs (detail) and moonlighting
__ get followers and fortunes
__ get a move from another playbook
__ get a move from another playbook

If you’re charging someone wealthy for your services, 1-barter is the going rate for: one valuable item stolen, a month's work doing scavenging or similar.

1-barter will cover a month’s living expenses, if your tastes aren’t too grand.

As a one-time expenditure, and very subject to availability, 1-barter might count for: a night in high luxury; any weapon, gear or fashion not valuable or hi-tech; repair of a piece of hi-tech gear by a savvyhead; a year’s tribute to a warlord; bribes, fees and gifts sufficient to get you into almost anyone’s presence.

Apocalypse World / New playbook (draft): The Metal Beast
« on: August 26, 2010, 06:32:11 PM »
I got an urge to have some powered armour in my post-apocalypse, and the idea wouldn't let go, so I wrote it up (partly just to try out writing up a new class).

Any and all thoughts and comments are welcomed. I'm not in love with the name, in particular.

The Metal Beast

You and the machine, you are one. When you climb inside you become its brain. You are untouchable and indestructible. Nobody can stand against you.
Outside the machine, you’re just a chump like the rest of them.

Creating a Metal Beast

Choose your name, look, stats, moves, armour, gear and Hx.


Heavy, Wolf, Gunhead, Chomp, Squaddie, Hardware, UNPC, Mark IV, Teeth.
Chuck, Sarge, Jane, Ace, Snafu, Bill, Lucky, Terri, Lois, Maverick, Sam.


Man, woman, concealed, ambiguous.
Utility bodysuit, hi-tech bodysuit, military bodysuit, scrounged bodysuit.
Pale face, tough face, pudgy face, thin face.
Haunted eyes, sharp eyes, moving eyes, remote eyes.
Small body, thin body, wasted body, wiry body.


Choose one set:
Cool=0, Hard +1, Hot -1, Sharp +2, Weird+1
Cool+1, Hard=0, Hot+1, Sharp +2, Weird-1
Cool-1, Hard=0, Hot-1, Sharp +2, Weird+2
Cool+1, Hard +1, Hot=0, Sharp +2, Weird-1

Basic moves

You get all the basic moves

Metal Beast Moves

You get this one:
Beast Of War: When you are piloting your armour, you always count as a gang in combat (small, 3 armour, harm based on your suit’s weapons). You also get +1 on rolls to open your brain, go aggro or seize by force.

Then pick one of these:
I Am Iron Man: gain +1 Hard (max +3).

Heavy Suit: take an extra strength and another serious weapon for your armour.

Armory: you get a workshop to look after your armour, and maybe one or two crew to help (Sparks and Pulp, maybe). You can work on armour and weapons here like you were a savvyhead in a workshop.

Innerspace: When you are wearing your armour, you can use augury.

Recon Drones: You have a few small hi-tech machines that you control from within your suit. You can see and hear everything they see and hear. If your suit has night vision, so do these guys. If you make them fight, they’re a small gang 2 harm 1 armour. They can track someone or something without your active control, but they won’t react to anything that changes.

War Drone: You have a big hi-tech drone that is built to help you fight. You control it directly from within your suit. It has one serious gun, and 2 armour. Make a harm countdown for it, which tracks how much repair it’s gonna need when it gets shot up. You can order it to guard an area or a person or a thing, but it’s not too good at identifying friend or foe without you.


Your armour is a powered combat exoskeleton that is driven by direct neural connection. Most importantly, it has 3 armour and a weapon mount (or two).

This armour does not count as a vehicle for the A no shit driver move.

Pick your armour's look:
Hi-tech, Military, Biomechanical, Jury-rigged, Chunky, Construction, Delicate, Fluid.

Pick a strength:
Efficient, Strong, Stealth, Camo, Unstoppable, Reliable, Fast, Night-vision.

Pick a weakness:
Breakdowns, Guzzler, Rare parts, Loud, Unwieldy, Slow, Exotic fuel.

Pick it's armament, either one crazy big weapon or two serious weapons:

Crazy big weapons:
Railgun: 3-harm hi-tech far
MG: 3-harm close/far area messy
Grenade launcher: 4-harm close area messy
Rocket launcher: 4-harm far area messy loud

Serious weapons:
rifle: 2-harm far loud
shotgun: 3-harm close messy
smg: 2-harm close area loud
flamethrower: 3-harm    close area fire
power fist: 4-harm hand messy


In addition to your armour, you have:
Enough fuel to last yourself a month or so
Oddments worth 2 barter
Clothing suited to your look (maybe a jacket to go over the bodysuit)
A small handy weapon

Small handy weapons (choose 1):
• .38 revolver (2-harm close reload loud)
• 9mm (2-harm close loud)
• big knife (2-harm hand)

Special Move

When you and another character have sex, you can choose to have a recon drone track them at all times (regardless of whether you have the Recon Drones move).


If you’re charging someone wealthy for your services, 1-barter is the going rate for: one message or valuable delivered; one convoy led through hostile territory; one week’s employment as bodyguard, leading a gang into a serious battle, one month’s employment as a tank on hand.

1-barter will cover a month’s living expenses, if your tastes aren’t too grand.

As a one-time expenditure, and very subject to availability, 1-barter might count for: restoration of a damaged suit to working order, a month’s maintenance of your suit well-used but not damaged; a night in high luxury & company; any weapon, gear or fashion not valuable or hitech; repair of a piece of hi-tech gear by a savvyhead; a year’s tribute to a warlord; bribes, fees and gifts sufficient to get you into almost anyone’s presence.

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