Con Scenario: The Bowl

  • 26 Replies
Con Scenario: The Bowl
« on: October 12, 2011, 06:55:44 PM »
I'm running a scenario at Burning Apocalypse Con and I've come up with something that's a little risky but I think could work well. I'm posting it here for two reasons:

  • Feedback. I probably won't get to run this before the con, so feedback would be nice, especially on playbook choice and as-yet-unspecified details like custom moves and countdown clocks and such. (Don't try to talk me out of the two-team PvP, though - take it as a given. Hey, it may not work with AW, but it's a worthwhile experiment.)
  • Giving to the Community. I'm a complete novice at this kind of thing, but AW seems to be hurting for good con scenarios, so I'm hoping this will be fun and fill that void!

Without further adieu:

The Scenario:
The world's been through some shit. For generations the day and night have slowly been getting longer and longer to the point where the word "day" is a quaint, antiquated bygone from simpler times. Though in this part of the world there is what once was a large, sprawling metropolis, but there's about a circle of about 2-3 miles in diameter that's caved in underneath it. We call it The Bowl.

People in The Bowl live pretty well. They got water, shelter, and they can grow food thanks to the pseudo environments made by the jigsaw of tangled buildings. Outside the bowl life is hard; none of those things can be found very reliably; playa-like salt flats spreading out 10s of miles from The Bowl have small smatterings of shelter and the like, but not much. Most of the folks on The Flats have resorted to forming pseudo-cultist gangs that roam around plundering for survival (and recreation, if they're honest).

And guess what? The nomadic Flatlanders just found The Bowl. And they want it for themselves. Life's about to get a whole lot more interesting for everyone.

This scenario supports 2 teams of 3-4 players. Players may choose to be on either side.


  • Required:
    • Chopper
    • Hocus
  • Available:
    • Angel
    • Brainer Skinner
    • Driver
    • Battlebabe
    • Gunglugger
    • Faceless
    • Grotesque (a special playbook by Joe McDaldno!)

  • Required:
    • Hardholder
    • One of: Operator OR Maestro D'
  • Available:
    • Angel
    • Touchstone
    • Savvyhead
    • Battlebabe
    • Gunglugger
    • Hoarder

Though a playbook may appear on both lists, only one may be in the game at a time.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 01:16:17 AM by Zelbinian »

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 07:58:37 PM »
Sounds neat! I assume you're following the Burning Wheel style of con scenarios?

Do you want to have very much more scenario definition besides that?

I'd think the Touchstone makes sense as being available to the Flatlanders, if not flatlander exclusive - Who doesn't love wandering desert messiahs?

You should throw in a Skinner as a flatlander! They've come to seduce you out of your things! (A skinner bowler might make more sense to you, but I think they wouldn't have enough to do.)

Are you letting people create characters as normal? It would seem to make sense if players only did history with their own team (Maybe even getting Hx-3 with everyone on the other team. Its a sign that they DON'T UNDERSTAND YOUR WAYS. and will put a tiny stopgap on the waves of interference rolls seasoned players will most likely be putting forth.) If I was that Hardholder, I'd get my ass a suped up large gang. How do you figure a Chopper would deal with that? It seems to me like a scenario where you'd want to implement slightly buffer custom stealth moves - it seems like a good strategy, and players are going to want to get the upper hand on each other in it with some bias making judgement calls difficult.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 08:47:34 PM »
Love the auto Hx-3 for the other side. I had thought the Skinner was useless for this scenario, but I hadn't thought of the sly, sultry manipulation angle. That's pretty awesome. That's going in, probably as a custom move. I was thinking of some stealth moves for the Flatlanders, right on.

And yeah, I guess you could say Burning Wheel style. More like, I want to plant a seed and see where the players run with it. As far as the  Touchstone, I want the "hopeful" religious nut in the city - the Hocus seems more like the cult leader to me.

I do intend to do character creation as normal, complete with questions - I'm gonna come up with a decent list to make sure I get answers to things I want to know before the scenario.



  • 330
Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 08:48:23 PM »
It's not really possible to run AW with eight players at a Con. Three or four is perfect. Five is a harder but okay. Apparently, Vincent has done it with six, a challenge that I and John Harper balk at.

Eight seems like would need an extra co-MC so that you could run scenes in parallel so that everyone has enough screen-time.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 09:04:27 PM »
2nd reply and already someone ignored what I wrote. That's gotta be a new record. :p

Ever seen the Burning Wheel con scenario The Gift? In Burning Wheel, you can't do 8 players all acting individually, either. That's madness. But, if they're in two teams with diametrically opposed interests - like I'm setting up here - each team kind of acts as the MC for the other. The real MC just prods and calls for rolls and answers questions. Hey, it might go down in flames, but I think it'd be a hoot to try.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 09:10:54 PM »
Hmm, I'm thinking this also needs a "twist" - like maybe a custom move that let's the Hocus peel off supporters from the Hardholder. Something like that.

Here's an idea:

When you make contact with a member of the cult, roll+Cool. On a 10+ you didn't know they stacked shit that high - they don't do anything for you. On a 7-9, mark a notch on a Cult countdown clock (if it hits 12, you're now on their side). On a miss, mark a notch on the clock and it's as if the cult member got a 10+ to manipulate you.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 09:34:41 PM by Zelbinian »



  • 330
Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 10:16:28 PM »
I don't see where you wrote that and I've never seen the Gift scenario.

I'm not sure why you're being snarky; nowhere in the previous posts does it talk about either The Gift Burning Wheel scenario or having the players be MCs for one another, or something. You never define what you mean by PvP or teams.

Based on my experience with AW, I have no idea if it'll work or not.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 11:57:20 PM »
As far as I've heard, players are pretty resistant to being in a Hocus's cult, even we're-not-in-a-competitive-con players, even in comparison to running off and joining NPC cults.

About the Skinner: I would similarly give them ability to allow someone to switch sides (Which I see more likely going down. I think players would prefer their characters to be inspired by a Skinner than join a wacknut's cult.). I would also give them a Move that would put up barriers to players just icing the Skinner up front because they know they're on the other side.


"How could this be bad?" Being hostile to your before you've harmed anyone is Acting Under Fire.

What do you think 'being on a side' means? It seems like it would have meaning for character creation. I would discourage explicit win conditions. You might possibly want to make a move like:

When you go to the other side, you get a minimum of Hx-1 with the players of that side.

Could the Touchstone allow flatlanders to go over to the bowler side? By agreeing to not be greedy jerks and be assimilated into the community?



  • 330
Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 12:43:53 AM »
Yeah, I my AW con experience, it's a PvP free for all by default.

We were all in the Hocus' cult and the tension all came from our different relations with the faith, the faithful and the Hocus.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2011, 01:13:45 AM »
Yeah, this one is PvP, but teams. :) Oh, and I was going for playful over snarky before. My bad.

I'll dream up some custom moves and post 'em here.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2011, 12:03:33 PM »
Here's some moves I came up with:

When you enter or leave The Bowl, roll+sharp. On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 10+ either choose 3 or choose 1 and mark experience.
- You make it across unharmed
- You make it across with all your supplies
- You make it across unseen
- The passage doesn't cave in or collapse

When the game starts, mark Hx-3 with the players on the other side.

If you betray your side, subtract 3 from your Hx with those players. If your Hx rolls over, do all the normal stuff.

Stolen from the back of the book:

When you infiltrate a place with stealth, roll+cool. On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 10+, both.
- You get in.
- You go unnoticed.

If you help someone on the other side or hinder someone on your own, choose 1:
- Mark experience.
- It doesn't come back to bite you.

If you use a weapon with loud and area in the bowl, roll+sharp. On a miss, you're acting under fire from parts of buildings coming down around you.

Hocus and Touchstone: When you recruit a new follower, every player on your side takes +1 forward.

Hocus and Touchstone: When you loose a follower to the other side, roll+weird. On a 10+ that's all that happens. On a 7-9, choose one. On a miss, the MC will choose one for you:
- You're in psychic pain, take -1 forward.
- The psychic pain manifests as physical pain, take 1 harm.
- You lost a key member and 2 other NPC members follow.
- There's doubt in your vision. An NPC will challenge your leadership.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 03:44:37 PM by Zelbinian »



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Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 12:15:15 PM »
Maybe it important that the cults/belief of the hocus & the touchstone will be attractive to the other side.

About PC not wanting to join the hocus cult: we had this issue in our last setup the hocus made a wacknut cult and nobody wanted to join. After the game we noted that it could have been a good idea if the hocus had tried to create a cult attractive to the other players by asking them question to get their buy-in.

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 03:54:27 PM »
Good points about the cult stuff. I added some moves so the cult leaders get affected by adding or losing members (and therefore affects the battle).



  • 18
Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 04:11:40 PM »
What kind of questions are you going to ask? Are you going to probe to find out if individual characters have some personal issues/stuff at stakes? Or are you going to try to keep things more on a group scale? Like asking questions to find out more precise objective for each side? Or do you want to keep their goal broad?

Re: Con Scenario: The Bowl
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 04:34:27 PM »
Are you starting the scenario with the Flatlanders inside the bowl? Would everyone have to make that roll?

Because if not, the entering/leaving move seems like it would be really troublesome for 4 probably-not-very-Sharp people. It'd be pretty difficult for them to get across there without causing a collapse/being seen, which would make it difficult for others to get in or invite a head-on attack from the Hardholders gang.

You could amend the move to say that "When you enter or leave the Bowl, one person in your traveling group rolls +sharp"

What would the Maestro D' be doing about this? The first thing that would come to mind would be to try to get the Flatlanders into his party and then poison them/intimidate them with the Maestro's knifyness. Do you figure the Flatlanders would be resistant to being at a Maestro's party if they were aware what a Maestro is good at?

Do you think a workable attitude for the Maestro for this scenario is "I don't care about this conflict, I care about keeping the party going and weirdos from out of town are great party material."

Would would the Operator be doing about this?