[AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session

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[AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session
« on: July 16, 2010, 12:44:32 AM »
Okay, so I MCed my second session of the game tonight.  For a few reasons, I was MUCH more stressed out/concerned about this session than the first, but I think it went quite well, over all.

Warning, this is a really long post.  I'm doing it half just to work out my own thoughts about how things are going, but feel free to read and respond if you're interested.

For the first session I just went in with playbooks, character sheets, and a page I'd typed up with some apocalyptic imagery some of it stolen (like pigmaggots) and some of it made up myself.  A lot of the stuff on this sheet ended up becoming initial threats.  Due to me trying to do fronts "right" I ended up with 4 different fronts for the second session.  I figured "No big deal, better to be over- than under-prepared.  I'll probably only use one or two."  But nope.  I used a little from every one tonight.  Oh well.  Eventually one or two will probably become the most urgent and the others will fade into the background until the most urgent ones are resolved.

But anyway.  As a quick rundown:
There are 3 PCs: A savvyhead named Gears, a driver named Beemer, and a gunlugger named Crille.
Gears is an overweight man in his low 30's with no family or close friends.  He's lived in the holding most/all of his life, but doesn't even really live in the holding proper (more on that later).  He kind of "inherited" his workshop/garage from his adoptive father who is now dead.
Beemer is also a 30ish man.  He's also lived in the area for a long time, but as a driver, he kind of wanders around some.  Again, no close friends or family (though that's probably fairly appropriate for a driver).
Crille is a 20ish girl.  She was captured by a gang of raiders a young age and abused/kept as a slave for several years before she managed to kill the gang leader and escape.  She's fairly new to the area, so she also has no particularly close friends or family in the area.
if it matters to anyone, all of the players, myself included, are men around 29-30 years old.

The landscape of the local holding was original based on my local area, which is the Quad-Cities region of Iowa/Illinois.  I say originally, because one of the players (of Beemer) started getting into nitty-gritty talk about the highways and where there are places in real life he could the huge vehicles he was interested in.  I said, "Okay, screw this, this isn't the Quad-Cities anymore, I don't want to get bogged down in this," and I turned the map ninety degrees and said, "That's north now.  This isn't here.  This isn't now.  Let's move on."  But anyway, the key point is that there is a major river that is a feature of the area.  Most of the people of the holding live on an island in the middle of the river.  The hardholder, his wives, his closest cronies, and his bodyguards live on barges anchored near the island.  There is a market and manufactory on the island, but some other important things like the farms and Gears' workshop/garage/salvage yard are off the island, on one side of the river or the other.  Weather in my Apocalypse world is very rainy with frequent,. violent thunderstorms.  The land is very muddy in most places.

In the bit of actual play we did in session 1, after character creation, Beemer was driving back from another holding (one of the closest ones, that takes a full day to travel to or from) in his armed and armored dump truck with a delivery for the hardholder.  He had an NPC trader who was the hardholder's representative for the trade, and Crille was riding in the back, manning the truck's machine guns.  About an hour out from the holding they were attacked by strange people who kept their faces covered and didn't talk, but they fought them off pretty easily.  Gears, back at his own garage, was harassed a little by some thugs from the local gang/security force on the orders of their boss, because Gears was supposed to be fixing his machine gun.

We kicked the second session off with Beemer delivering the supplies and dropping Crille off at the infirmary (she'd gotten hit with a grenade in the fight but as she was wearing pretty heavy armor she only took two harm).  This gave me a chance to introduce Gabe, the medic.  Gabe is another 20ish girl.  Her mother had been the medic before her but died a few years back with some mysterious illness.  Though her assistants are older than her, having grown up in the infirmary she had more experience and quickly took over.  Crille got looked over, though only being at 6:00 on the harm countdown, I said Gabe couldn't really do anything much for her.  Crille (and her player) expressed some sexual/romantic interest in Gabe, asking her out for a drink after she was done for the night at the infirmary.

Beemer took care of the deliveries then headed to Gears' garage to get the superficial damage to the truck patched up.  On the road he picked up one of the members of the local gang who claimed he saw a mutant skulking around Gears' salvage yard (the garage and the salvage yard are located quite close to a really huge fenced off area called the Junk Fields.  For a long time, every year or so, someone in the holding is born with some kind of visible mutation.  These people are seen as cursed and generally abandoned or chased off.  Many/most of them hide in the Junk Fields).  Gears' used the "workspace move" to find out what he needed to fix the gang leader's gun (I told him he needed to use some of the machines at the holding manufactory) so he hitched a ride back with Beemer to talk to the factory foreman.

At the factory, a 12 year old kid (the son of the foreman) talked to Beemer, excited to be talking to a "real driver!" and the foreman told Gears' that he was closing up for the night and it would be "his ass on the line" if anything went wrong while he wasn't there so he needed to come back the next day (Gears blew a manipulation roll).  Beemer gave a ride around the island to the kid and Gears headed home on foot.  Meanwhile, Crille took Gabe out for a drink, to the only "club" in the holding, a place run by a beautiful woman who was currently the gang leader's woman.  Nothing much came of it though.  Near the garage, Gears saw a group of people with electric lights looking around but they spotted someone else and took off after them.  There was a note for him from the gang leader saying, essentially "Where the fuck is my gun, asshole?"

While asleep, Gears dreamed about a strange whispering voice.  I asked him if he wanted to listen to it (this was for a custom move I'd written for a landscape threat I'd written up called The Maw, a huge crack in the earth to the north of the holding, that some people claim to hear whispering voices coming up from at times).  He did, and it gave him advice on how to deal with the gang leader "Stand up to him, don't be his bitch." but also implanted an urge in his subconscious to listen to it more.  So in the morning, he went to the factory, fixed the machine gun, but also removed the firing pin, then dropped it off at the guy's home with a note saying, "You know who to ask if you want this fixed."  The gang leader got the point (Gears got a 7-9 hit to manipulate) and paid Gears to put the firing pin back in the gun and told Gears that he should realize that he, the gang leader, is the one who REALLY has the pull in the holding and things are going to change, so he should make sure he's on the winning side.

At the infirmary, the people that raised the pigmaggots and mudworms started coming down with a strange fever, but Gabe, the medic, didn't know what to do about it.  Crille was the only PC to eat any fresh meat lately, and she's been infected with a disease, but she's proving to be quite resistant to it.

Beemer wanted armored panels installed onto his truck that could be closed over the back.  Gears used his workshop move to figure out about it, and I told him that he could do a cheap, unreliable version easily, or he could go scavenge in the junk fields for the parts he needed to do it right.  After Crille and Beemer joined him, they agreed to all go into the junk fields to look for what he needed.

I'd written up the junk fields as a landscape threat with a custom move attached "when you scavenge the junk fields, roll+sharp.  On a 10+ choose 2, on a 7-9 choose 1, on a miss none: You find what you need, you avoid the inhabitants, you don't get lost."  He got a 10+ and chose to find what he needed and not get lost, meaning that some of the exile mutant tribe found them while he was busy cutting the doors off a freight train car with a cutting torch.  A fight ensued during which Beemer was bitten by a rat controlled by an intelligent mutant rat.  He blew it into a fine red mist with his pistol but the bite implanted him with the urge to "protect the rats."  Later he took a shot to the gut from an exile's hunting rifle.  Crille managed to take the exiles that had caught them out, but also took some serious damage, leaving it pretty much in Gears' hands to haul them back in the little tractor and trailer they'd brought in.

Gears took them to the infirmary immediately (Beemer was at 11:00, Crille at 10:00).  Gabe asked him if they'd been doing a job for the hardholder at the time.  She is basically on retainer for him, so if Gears had lied and said yes, he probably would have gotten them patched up for free.  But he was honest, so she told him she had to charge him for expenses, since Crille and Beemer were out of it at the time.  In an effort to get out of paying for the other PCs, Gears' player told me he wanted to try to seduce Gabe.  At first I was thinking "What?  No, you're an older, overweight, unsocial dude.  Who's to say she's even attracted to him?"  But then I thought, "Ya know, it'll just be more interesting even if he DOES succeed."  So he rolled and got it with a 7-9.  I told him she took him into the backroom with her after getting Beemer and Crille stabilized and told him that if they couldn't settle their bills, she'd expect Gears to.  And apparently the sweet little medic has a thing for anti-social mechanics.  This is just fine with me, especially when we decided that was as good a place as any to wrap the session so we moved onto the session end Hx adjustments and Crille's player told Gears' player to lower Gears' Hx with Crille by 1 because he fucked the girl Crille was interested in right there while Crille was laid up on a cot in the next room.

So yeah, I'm not sure how much Gears and Beemer give a shit about any of the NPCs so far, but Crille is kind of into Gabe, and now Gabe might have a bit of a thing for Gears, so that should be fun.

I still think maybe I made too many fronts, and I'm not positive I made them "right," and I'm also not sure I've been following the principles and MC moves like I should (I don't have them anywhere like ingrained in my brain, and I never have time to remind myself of them during play) but I'm pretty sure everyone is having fun (myself included) so that's pretty awesome.  I'm excited for the next session and I think and hope that my friends are too.

Re: [AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2010, 12:58:37 AM »
Oh and one more (quick!) thing I'd like to say:
I'd originally been a bit concerned about running this game due to the fact that the GM (MC, whatever) never actually rolls anything and the NPCs don't really have stats, as such.  The only other game kind of like that I've played so far is Don't Rest Your Head.  It has the GMing rolling, but only Pain, and Pain is only rolled when the players roll for something, so it's essentially just rolling the difficulty.  Lacuna is another game I own (though haven't played) in which only the players ever roll anything.

Anyway, that was an aspect of the game that had me a little nervous.  But in play it's not a big deal at all.  I never felt like I "couldn't do anything" which I had been worried about.  The lack of stats and rolling for NPCs actually feels very freeing to me at this stage of the game.  We'll see how I feel about it as time goes on.

Re: [AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2010, 11:13:48 AM »
It sounds like it went well, and you created a PC-NPC-PC triangle, so yay! :)

The MC doesn't roll, but that just means the players roll to defend (act under fire or whatnot) when you do something indtead of you rolling to attack. There was an optional rule in DnD 3E, actually, that did the very same thing (in Unearthed Arcana, maybe), so it's not totally unusual.

Thanks for the write-up, that was fun to read.

Re: [AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2010, 04:17:32 PM »
Due to me trying to do fronts "right" I ended up with 4 different fronts for the second session.  I figured "No big deal, better to be over- than under-prepared.  I'll probably only use one or two."  But nope.  I used a little from every one tonight.  Oh well.  Eventually one or two will probably become the most urgent and the others will fade into the background until the most urgent ones are resolved.

That seems to often be the case. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I like how you handled the niggling about the map. Nice move on Gears part w/the firing pin. Also, Gears-Gabe-Crille is definitely non-boring!

I'm excited for the next session and I think and hope that my friends are too.
Then you're golden! I look forward to reading more of the AP :)



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Re: [AP] Thoughts after MCing my second session
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2010, 04:25:03 PM »
I also like the response to the map niggling. It reminds me of some games I've been in with old friends who drive me a little nuts. ;)
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