I thought a lot about this and this is what I think about Apocalypse World

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I like AW. I really do.


How would one hack AW to do that? (Note: "Everyone is constantly acting under fire" doesn't count.)

New character types, mainly. The default AW types are all sexy badasses. For the apocalypse right now, you want mostly ordinary people, I think.

Maybe dial back the weirdness, unless your apocalypse is all psychic and shit.

Thinking more about it, normal people are easy:

Stats sum to +2. (+2, +1, -1, 0, 0)
No special moves.

They will be acting under fire *a lot* by default  so you probably need to tweak the basic moves. Maybe moves for escaping danger, confronting fear/horror, etc.

Apocalypse right now is a pretty different story, something closer to survival horror/disaster movies. Not that I'm advocating mimicing those genres exactly.

Are you thinking weird-ass psychic apocalypse, or real-world disaster stuff?

Some ideas for moves:
- finding resources or just having them on hand
- knowing how to do useful stuff (fight, survive, fix stuff)
- ability to fight (with guns, hand to hand)
- social skills (winning trust, giving commands, intimidating potential foes)
- connections with people or resources that can help
- reading situations and people
- keeping your shit together
- keeping other people's shit together
- knowing what's actually going on
- local or situational knowhow (high ground, nuclear targets, evaculation routes)

New character types, mainly.

Suburbanite:  Life is not supposed to do this.  You know how life is supposed to be, and this is not it.  But at least you have some idea of how to use the camping gear in the basement, and you've got a cabin in the woods if you can get there, and the car's big enough to hold the kids and maybe one or two neighbors.

Veteran: The only real difference is, this time the people shooting at you come from the same country you do.  Also, a distinct lack of MREs.  Even herding civilians isn't too far off from dealing with new recruits and their bullshit ideas about how the world works.  You're gonna get your unit out of the badness or die trying.

Scientist: It would help if you could make people see all this in a rational fashion.  Maybe if you could get enough data together, you could figure out a way to reverse this.  Failing that, at least you can survive it.  But keep an eye out--future generations will thank you for your observations.

Messiah: You always knew it was coming, and now it's here.  With the end of the world upon us, can the New Millenium be far behind?  Yes, there's the small matter of living long enough to see it, but the Lord will not allow His faithful to be struck down in the moment of their triumph.

Warlord: You've always dreamed of an opportunity like this.  The Army's still holding it together, but that won't last long, and in the vacuum that's left will be golden opportunities for anyone hard enough and smart enough to take advantage.

New character types, mainly

Fringefolk: Holy shit! All those years spent studying things no-one else cared about, like off-the-grid water filtration systems, or heritage gardening, or forging metal, or weaving or whatever? Suddenly worth a prime place in the warm and dry. Your world's been upended, socially, but the rest sort of makes sense now.

Medic: People always get sick, or hurt, and need help, no matter what the rest of the world looks like. Now's no exception, but you've got to get back to basics - that, and hope there's another unraided pharmacy you can find before your stash of painkillers and penicillin runs out.

Familyman: You made it through the first shock, and then you reached out to the neighbors. lately, a few strays have started showing up. Together, you can make a stand, fight back, hold things down. You're not leaving your home, and that's final.

So here's something I'm thinking, right.

Harper's right on track with making ordinary people - but I think you need to give them the opportunity to become extraordinary.

Maybe you all start with the "Ordinary person" playbook, and it's got 12+ results like this:

"When you hide from approaching danger...
..on a 12+, you can discover an unsuspected talent, and move on as the Shadow."

and then the Shadow gets moves and gear as his role, like...
- when you attack from ambush...
- when you tail someone
- when you listen or observe unseen

And similarly for the other basic moves; each basic move expands into one or more advanced character types.

That's pretty neat, Shreyas.

Are these advanced character types then persistant, or does the character revert back to an ordinary person after the situation changes significantly or an advanced character move is used?

Maybe you all start with the "Ordinary person" playbook, and it's got 12+ results like this:...
And similarly for the other basic moves; each basic move expands into one or more advanced character types.

That's an awesome idea.  Allows for the characters to become what they do.  You might still want some slight differentiation in the starting characters, just so people's roles are less likely to overlap, but it could be a matter of one special move.

Maybe the Ordinary Person book has a list of special moves, and only one PC can take each.  It'd be a way of saying, "I'm interested in being the sneaky guy" or whatever without it being a big thing at first, and they could grow into their roles.

Your idea reminds me a bit of this Microdungeons hack linked below, where people just start out with a "do anything" ability, and then when they succeed superbly in something, they can expand it into a more specific and more powerful ability. Whether they advance or not has nothing to do with experience points, and everything to do with how well they roll on their action. How they advance depends on what they were doing when they rolled so well.

From what I could tell, it had a tendency get a bit gonzo, but in that case people could just make up their improvements as they went along. In your AW hack, you could make advancements more pre-defined if you wanted to.


I love the thoughts going on so far. I'd add that a big component of an immediate apocalypse would be resource acquisition.

If you can get ammo, and gasoline, and canned food, and a can opener, and matches, and solid winter jackets... you're most of the way there, right?

Instead of having barter be this fairly amorphous thing, I'd have concrete resource stuff like:

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And then have "When you keep something dangerous at bay..." have a 7-9 option of "expend 1 Ammo and it works fine."

That way, you have situations where you're out of ammo and gasoline, and you only have food, and so you either need to trade with a mean bike gang, or steal their shit, or...

Maybe certain playbooks also get some new resource markers, tied to moves. Like, scientist might get "CHEMICALS" or something.



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Neat! It's consistent with the way Barter works, and you could have Playbooks that have moves based on finding supplies. Roll +sharp to find a cache of supplies, or roll +sharp to make that one tick of food last one more day...
Tupacalypse World

OK, here's my basic idea for the Apocalypse Right Now character.  Amendments and additions welcome.

Assign these numbers to your stats in whatever order you like: +2, +1, +1, -1, 0

You get all the basic moves, plus this one:

When you just try to live through the day,, roll your special stat (see below for defining your special stat).  On a 10+, pick two; on a 7-9, pick one:
--You have enough energy to do something besides just surviving
--You build up enough of a surplus to worry less for a day or two
--Nothing gets any worse

In addition, there are special moves.  Only one PC can have any particular special move:
* You've always been level-headed.  Your special stat is Cool.
* You've got some useful training in something violent.  Your special stat is Hard.
* Your endurance is better than most people's, though training or natural inclination.  Your special stat is Hard.
* People tend to want to help, protect or feed you. Your special stat is Hot.
* People tend to listen when you talk, for good or ill. Your special stat is Hot.
* You have medical training.  Your special stat is Sharp.
* Your great strength is thinking your way out of things.  Your special stat is Sharp.
* When the going gets weird, the weird get going.  Your special stat is Weird.

Everyone's Sex Move starts as:
When you and another character have sex, you get more attached to them, and they to you.  You each have +1 to spend doing something dangerous to help the other.

I like that character write up, but I feel like the "when you just try to survive a day" move is a little broad for every single day. I think something like that, maybe rolled for each character separately, with more detailed choices, could be a good situating move, since you don't have cardholder/hocus/etc moves doing that for you.

Jeff, that's a good point.  Maybe the selection of basic moves needs to be slightly altered or expanded for ARN?

When you forage for resources, state what kind of resources you're looking for and roll your special stat.  On a 10+, pick three; on a 7-9, pick 2:
* You find what you're looking for.
* You find a surplus of what you're looking for (only if you take "find what you're looking for" first).
* You don't have to risk anything to get it.
* It's in a form that's especially easy to transport.
* You find a small amount of some other type of resource as well.