New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)

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Hey folks, first time posting here. Woot.

I'm running my very first AW game, and after our recent first session, I've jotted down a whole mess of notes and I could use some help designing some good fronts with the Threats I've assembled. I think I've got some good threats to start with, but I'm having difficulty assembling them into proper fronts.

Here's the Skinny:
* Vega BBQ: Hardholder, he's the current honcho at New Memphis, and known for taking his enemies and burning them alive in a combination fighting pit/bbq/performance ring in NM. His gang consists of 60 well-armed hungry hyenas.
* Boxer Doom: Gunlugger, he's one of Vega's ranking thugs. Pissed off Vega by killing someone that Vega wanted to kill himself, but he doesn't know that Vega got pissed about it.
* Clover: Operator, she's the odd-jobber at NM, and collects secrets and arranges for the acquisition of tech. She's close to Boxer who once pulled her ass outta some deep shit.
* Fat Elvis: Brainer, he is the current incarnation of Fat Elvis. He's the "cultural liason" of NM, and responsible for indoctrinating new captives into the ways of life around here.
* Come this weekend, we'll have a fifth player. No clue what she'll end up bringing to the table. Could be introduced as a new arrival...

Important things Established in Session 1:
* Started with a surplus: the gang just got back from a successful raid, acquiring weapons, food, and women. Raid was on a nearby rival holding run by Mercer, who will definitely be pissed.
* Boxer finds his hunting rifle and favorite jacket were stolen while he was gone. He's pissed.
* There's a nearby tech pit called "the old memphis crumble" which is currently off limits to scavenging, due to people going there getting sick from something.

The Threats:
* Barker (warlord/alpha): Barker ran the hold from which everyone previously came. Vega was a LT who burned the place to the ground and led an exodus out of there. Barker was never found. Barker is now planning revenge in hiding. Barker has infiltrated NM by way of a ganger named Bowdy. Twice hired a thug named Bowdy to steal Boxer's rifle and plant it in Skitterdone's room, while also planting Skitterdone's banadana in Boxer's place. Boxer has taken the bait, but there has yet to be any follow-through. Barker wants to sow dissent, then rise up and take over this new holding.
* The Crumble (landscape/breeding pit): The Crumble is a potential source for gear and supplies for fortification and tech-building, but anyone who goes there gets sick. Truth is the sickness is an infection of nanobot thingies that cause violent illness, but are otherwise survivable with time. The real threat, however, is when paired with...
* Skeev (Grotesque:Mindfucker-Disease Vector): Skeev is the fat disgusting weird-ass technomantic what-the-fuck-ever guy who ligves on the compound roof. he works for Vega nominally, and helps with repairs and fortifications. However, he's also a sick fucker. He only starts as a Mindfucker, but should he somehow ever learn about the nature of the sickness (read: he gets to examine one of the infected), then he learns about its true nature and siezes a new opportunity, adding Disease Vector to his moves. he then will gather more supplies, hack the nanites, use them to build a following, and try to forcefully lead everyone en masse to the Crumble to face their new future (read: die horrible deaths at the hands of technological torture).
* Mercer (Warlord/HiveQueen): Mercer's the current head of a rival hold which Vega's gang recently hit. mercer will strike back, but right now she's recovering from the strike. I'm not sure if she shouldn't instead represent a pack of Brutes instead...
* Tick (unknown): He's a 10-year-old kid from the recent raid, kidnapped with two others and brought in as part of the haul. Clover tried to win over the kids, failed miserably, and made him all tough and "fuck off bitch" at her. Maybe not a threat, but worth considering.
* Marta (unknown): She's a late 30s woman, also one of the kidnapped folks brought to NM. She represents the captives. Fat Elvis charmed and bedded her, and had to promise her that she and her people would be safe. She might be another threat vector...


Other Notes:
* Vega has two Lts. named Skitterdone and Gnarly, both chicks. They're romancing each other, but keeping it secret for a reason I haven't figured out yet. I'm not sure if this would represent a threat of its own, or possibly be connected to Barker's plan to sow dissent.
* Clover is actually friends and contacts with Twice (Bowdy's stooge, who stole the gun), and had sex with him during the first session. In fact, that juicy encounter was interrupted by another fellow she was supposed to be having sex with instead. Drama!
* There's a npc named Bag, who is sometimes affectionately called Gramma. She's an old lady who watches over the kids.


That's the juicy stuff. So, anyone got ideas for establishment of solid fronts? I'm still rusty on that part.



- Nathanael Phillip Cole

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2010, 01:17:46 AM »
Nathan--I think the book's advice to start with a fundamental scarcity is good.

In our game, I just looked at who had been introduced into play (Omie, for example), then went down the list and said, "what fundamental scarcity does he represent?" Then I made him the first threat in that scarcity, and saw which other threats fell into line behind him (or tweaked the motives of other threats to do so, always making them cooler & more interesting to me in the process. It's key that I never felt like I was squishing NPCs into a front just to do so, but rather the Front rules helped me flesh them out and make them interesting. I hope that's true for you as well).

I also took free license with shit that had only been barely touched on during play and made stuff up about it, creating a fundamental scarcity then filling out the front, step-by-step, from there.

I haven't read your whole post thoroughly, and I'm sure you want some more detailed advice on your particular situation. I'll try to read it all and give you some.

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2010, 01:30:26 AM »
Okay, I read it.

It sounds like Barker's Envy (or perhaps Ambition?) threatens the PC's. He's your first threat in a Front that expresses Envy. And then Mercer, shit, she's totally Envy or Ambition (tweak her to fit whichever you're making Barker), so she's your second threat. Make another one or two (How could Tick or Marta or both fit Envy/Ambition?)

The Crumble & Skeev are totally another Front. Perhaps representing Decay? In any case, they both threaten the PC's because of the same scarcity, and make sure that scarcity is represented in how they're threats to the PCs. Now make another threat or two that threatens the PCs because of that same scarcity, and you're golden. Two fronts, plus the burgeoning Home Front for homeless threats (perhaps Tick and/or Marta fit in here).

It took me a number of hours to create two Fronts for our game, but I imagine that'll get faster as I get more accustomed to it. It's really simple at the heart of it, and fun, it just requires some considered thought and following the rules step-by-step. I hope this is all helpful.

Good stuff. I can't stop snickering at "Skitterdone." It looks like a lot of Mad Max influence here (well, from what I can tell; as we discussed on Tuesday after the game* I haven't seen it), and the not-by-the-book names are fantastic. Vega BBQ? Gonzo-calypse World.

*Nathan's playing in a game that I'm MCing, for those not in the know.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2010, 01:33:46 AM by Hans Otterson »

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Arvid

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2010, 08:15:12 AM »
I mainly want to say that I love your setup, Nathanael!

Hans' advice is sound. What else to say? These are things that have really helped me figure out front:

1) I suppose it makes more sense to group fronts according to fundamental scarcity and agenda, rather than according to geographics and organisations. (Quote from another thread on this forum)

2) Every NPC doesn't have to be a threat, but it can really help to organize them according to which fundamental scarcity they express in your world, as the books uggests. It gives them a position in the world. Make sure you list their resources as well, it's wicked useful.

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 02:05:57 AM »
Oh man, if Gamma doesn't come into conflict with a PC over the care of those kids (Family, Close Ranks), it's a wasted opportunity. Especially seeing as Cover was trying to win Tick over.

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 05:38:51 PM »
Nathan, have you guys played again? How did it go with the Fronts?

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 06:23:09 PM »
I apologize in advance for my "nothing helpful to contribute" post, but I'm from the Old Memphis, and I really look forward to hearing about New Memphis.
♥ Julia

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NPC

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2010, 12:31:41 AM »
I completely lost track of this thread. Not getting notifications for some reason. Odd.

Anyway, thanks for the comments, folks!

This weekend is session #3. We now have a fifth player, in the form of a fem chopper named Snake Eyes. During her first session she got challenged by her gang's second, watched the gunlugger blow the second's head to pieces, and then later fucked that same gunlugger. It was beautiful. I almost had tears of happiness in my eyes.

In session #2 we mainly just continued the "follow along" flow of things, especially since we added a fifth player. Now I'm working out some good and solid fronts and threats to focus session #3 into something more well-honed.

So here are the Fronts I've got kicking around so far:

Front #1: The Home Front

Threat: Mercer (brute/hivequeen)

Mercer is a rival hardholder from nearby Kairo, and I haven't determined her role outside of wanting to strike back at NM for its recent raids. I think Mercer will largely represent a looming angry gorilla in the distance. Mercer will attack at some point, but what matters most is how New Memphis is able to handle its own internal struggles. If NM can weather two, possibly three vectors of internal chaos, then it will hold strong against Mercer's impending raid. Otherwise, it's doomed.

Mercer's countdown could be simple: every action Vega takes to raid Mercer's lands for supplies or scout for information could/will move the countdown one further. When it reaches 12, Mercer makes her Big Move: all-out assault on New Memphis.


Front #2: Envy/Ambition (not sure)

This front represents willful threats to Vega's power over New Memphis. His violent ways have made him enemies, and those enemies will bite him hard - from within.

Not sure of countdowns yet.

Threat: Barker (warlord/alpha or dictator)

Barker is Vega's old boss, and he's out for revenge. His plans is to sow dissent from within, and attack when he senses enough instability to seize with minimal loss to his small forces. He is currently working that angle via his primary proxy Twice, who is also one of Clover's trusted crew. I think I'm going to have him a plant in Snake Eyes' chopper gang, too.

Threat: Fat Elvis's Fans! (brutes/family)

Oh yeah, like that? One of the major threats to Vega's power is his own hired cultural liason. While the player may not desire ti be such a threat, his growing band of NPC followers sure will want him to. Since Elvis represents the Velvet Glove of New Memphis to Vega's Roasting Flamethrower, the people will likely start looking to him for help against Vega's frequent violent fits. Fat Elvis's player had mentioned the desire to possibly multi-class later into a Hocus, so this could be perfect.

Marta the prisoner lady will be part of this front. Hell, she might just turn into its leader, as she's pretty hardcore into Elvis.


Front #3: Decay (not sure)

This front's countdown will involve Skeeve trying to control everyone and then lead them into the new dawn that lies supposedly within the Crumble. I'm having difficulty grasping his motivation for this aside from an Orson Welles-villain-esque "crazy fucker who just does this shit" kind of motivation. But then again, sometimes those are the best kinds?

Threat: The Crumble (landscape/breeding pit or maze)

The Tech Pit will have a custom move, roll + Sharp when you go in. Roll high and you get to pick some things from this possible list:
* Not get lost
* Not encounter Badness (includes avoiding the srumbleskurve)
* Find Something new and cool
Maybe roll high get all, roll mid choose 2, roll low you lose something you brought, get infected with the 'skurve, and maybe get lost?

Threat: Skeeve (grotesque/disease vector and mindfucker)

Skeeve needs a custom move. I want him to infect and control people that get taken up to his shed on the roof. I really badly want a PC to get exposed to this, preferrably Clover just because she rolls badly, fails at everything, and her epic lack of luck is slowly becoming the stuff of legend, especially to her player.

Note: In session #2, the PCs made the mistake of taking an infected NPC up to see Skeeve. Uh oh. That means Skeeve will begin session #3 with awareness of the crumbleskurve, and will soon begin building his following. New Memphis might already be fucked!

Should also note that at the end of session 2, Vega tried to take his gang up to the roof and get rid of Skeeve. Vega failed miserably, botching the roll big time. It was epic. I sense some major internal Big Bada Boom conflict this weekend right at the get-go.


Now, to develop some countdowns. What do you folks think so far? Comments? Suggestions?

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2010, 12:51:53 AM »
Oh yeah, other juicy bits:
  • Vega's compound is an old luxe hotel called simply the Tower. He lets the more well-off members of his town live there, both so he can hob-nob with them and so he can watch them. He's currently fucking an effeminate dealer named Harridan, a weasly guy who I might actually turn into another threat somehow.
  • In Vega's main office is a cage. In this cage is a man named Randy. Randy is never let out of the cage. I'm not sure where to go with this. It started as a very amusing joke, but i might take it further.
  • Next session will likely start with a mission. Vega sent Boxer and some of the gang out on a scouting mission into mercer's zone. Also sent clover along with them, as well as Snake Eyes and her crew. Snake Eyes worked for Mercer, but changed sides unexpectedly, so I think Vega wants to have Boxer keep an eye on them.

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NPC

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2010, 12:30:55 PM »
I'm kind of wondering if the Crumbleskurve itself and the mob of controlled followers that Skeeve builds might also be separate Threats under the Decay front.

Fronts perplex me. The separation and identification of Threats, and the definition of what they do, is an art I still haven't quite fully mastered.

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2010, 01:03:24 PM »
Fronts perplex me. The separation and identification of Threats, and the definition of what they do, is an art I still haven't quite fully mastered.
They perplex me a bit as well. As I point out in this thread, I think the book would've been helped by having the sample Front and Threats actually being pulled from the sample 1st Session Worksheet.

Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2010, 03:28:52 PM »
Yea! Another concurrent Portland campaign!  That makes five that I'm aware of.  Sounds like fun! (five players seems like it would be tough though...  how long are your sessions?)

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2010, 04:24:26 PM »
Yea! Another concurrent Portland campaign!  That makes five that I'm aware of.  Sounds like fun! (five players seems like it would be tough though...  how long are your sessions?)

We play for about 4 hours. Five players has been really awesome. It really flows kind of like an episode of Battlestar Galactica, jumping from one or two characters to the next on different sides of town. It has flowed a lot like a TV show, and I'm all about that.

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Re: New Memphis: The Graceland of the Wasteland (seeking Fronts help here)
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2010, 04:25:05 PM »
And hell, maybe we can start a running city tally? What city has the highest number of concurrent campaigns? Go Portland!