[first-time AP] Into Silicon Valley + Advancement Questions

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First post, first session. First time playing Apocalypse World.

My players are all first/second time role players, so they're not coming with many preconceptions.  I ran two sessions of a savage worlds space opera for them last month before we go bored and realised we aren't all that interested in tactical combat. AP really felt like getting to the cool shit with the least fuss of any rpg I've played. Before starting I listened to the Walking Eye Actual Play, which was super useful in getting a good idea of how the game should flow.

Thoughts and questions:

  • I *love* the MC moves, principals and agenda. We very naturally fell into playing how I felt we should. There was one or two in-character PC-PC conversations, so I will try to encourage more of that. GMing felt super easy, and the moves (and list of names) were great crutches when I wasn't sure what to do.
  • I started the game off with the "real people" speech, and told the players "to do it, do it". That worked great. As soon as we started hitting moves, I broke out the move sheets so they could see their options. Kept on re-iterating "to do it, do it".
  • Wish I had a list of location names too... I blanked every time I needed one. Will either find or prepare one before the next session.
  • The players all chose fairly internally motivated playbooks. And they all decided that their characters are unattached wanderers. No-one has a hardhold or a gang or a cult they need to worry about keeping in line. Any ideas for nailing them into the world? I haven't really managed to set up PC-NPC-PC triangles yet. That's gonna have to happen fast.

Edit: the big question that I forgot to add...

  • was the first session too exciting?


Here's how many advancements each character made in the first session:

  • The Angel: 0
  • The Skinner: 0
  • The Driver: 1
  • The Battlebabe: 3 (and three marks towards four)

Is this disparity okay? I think it's partly my fault for allowing both Sharp & Cool to be highlighted for a Battlebabe, and I was never really sure what to do with the Skinner. Any advice for this? Just make sure to give the Skinner and Angel more screentime & better highlights next session? Should I be fast-forwarding & combining moves? (ie. the Battlebabe snuck up behind a biker guard, put a gun to his neck and blew his brains out... I counted that as two moves: Defy Danger and Going Aggro. = 2xp for the Battlebabe should it have been just one?) It didn't help that she was rolling perfectly for the last encounter. I'm sure a couple of bad rolls would have slowed her down a bit.

Actual Play

So the setup was:

  • Frankie Cobra, the Driver. Dressed in vintage "downton abbey" style clothes, he was the driver for Foster, a rich old man who still clung to the finer things from before the apocalypse.
  • Tavi, the Battlebate. She was traveling with Frankie and had gotten him out of a few scrapes. She was also the reason that Foster was dead.
  • Jav Kee, the Angel. He pushes his baby pram full of meds from 'hold to 'hold, helping out where he can.
  • Lawn, the Skinner. A gothy drummer boy, with a pet albino-bat-centipede called Wilkins. Sexy pest control, Lawn travels around using his Arts to help holds out with pest problems.

Lawn drew this while we were playing:


Things kick off with Tavi and Frankie doing a smash and grab on the med-bay of Silicon Valley (a hold surrounded by a sun-baked desert). The first scene flowed nicely, with Tavi being spotted carrying a backpack of meds and getting accosted by two docs, Rothschild and Wisher. Tavi holds the attention of Rothschild using Dangerous & Sexy, but Wisher isn't having that shit so he grabs Tavi and puts a knife to her back. Frankie notices the commotion and busts in, waving his shotgun around and throwing threats. He rolls a 7-9 on Going Aggro, so I decided the docs would probably just let Tavi go and deal with the lost meds later. The scene ends with Frankie and Tavi fanging it out of town in Frankie's vintage coupe, followed by a gang of dudes on bikes screaming for their blood.

Meanwhile, Lawn arrives in town looking for work. He meets his contact, a mushroom farmer named Kettle who had recently lost his hand from *something* in his sewer mushroom farms. Lawn meets with Jav, who patched Kettle's hand up. Jav uses his Healing Touch, and reads Kettle's memories, seeing a spit second of a human face, drenched in blood.

Cut back to Tavi and Frankie, who were being pursued by five dudes on bikes, deep in the Shards. The leader Pellet, head of security at Silicon Valley, had drawn up alongside them and was ready to fire off a shot straight at Tavi, but Frankie swerves, pushing him back. Tavi leans out the window, tries to fire a shot off at Pellet and misses. I traded damage for damage, but between Tavi's armor and the car, Pellet's shotgun doesn't do much except for smash the rear window of Frankie's coupe. She does make a 7-9 on her damage roll though, so I make her drop her gun. Frankie then pulls a sharp handbrake turn, coming straight for the bikers. Tavi tries to lean out of the car and pick up her gun as they pass, but makes only a 7-9 on her Under Fire roll, so I give her a hard bargin: you can get your gun, but only by rolling out of the car and into the path of the oncoming bikers. She chooses to get her gun. Frankie fails his roll for Going Aggro with his car so I decide to separate them. Frankie overshoots, flies off the road and into a ditch. Two of the gang peel off towards him. Tavi is left facing down three of the bikers. She Reads the Sitch, and learns that the best escape route is to just turn her back and run into the Shards. She does. Frankie throws a can of petrol out of his car and shoots it, creating massive explosion, which gives enough time and distraction to escape too.

Jav and Lawn head into the sewers to investigate the case of Kettle's missing hand. As they creep though the damp, fungus-lit sewer they come to an opening to a large draining area. At the bottom are members of the Blackwater cult, performing an initiation ritual involving consumption of human flesh and gallons of putrid water. While Jav hides in the shadows, Lawn decides to join in the reverie to distract cult members and get close to the the shaman. The option he chooses with his Artful & Gracious move is that the shaman must give him a gift. The shaman promptly hacks an arm off the youth he is initiating and offers it to Lawn. Lawn doesn't take to this too well, draws his sword and tries to do the same for the shaman. This doesn't go so well and Lawn is grabbed by a couple of cult members and tied to an old fridge they're using as a sacrificial table. Jav jumps to action and runs down into the whole mess, shooting the Blackwater shaman in the chest. In the distraction, he tries to free Lawn and I give him a hard bargin: only one of you can escape. Jav chooses to sacrifice himself and let Lawn escape into the night. As he is surrounded by the angry cultists, Jav makes a desperate, and surprisingly successful attempt at manipulation and convinces the cult members that they cant eat him; he's the only one who can save their leader.

Tavi and Frankie regroup and arrive at an old gas station a bit out of town. The proprietor, Mimi, has a bit of a thing for Tavi, so Tavi seduces her in exchange for a repair job on Frankie's windshield. Frankie decides to go for a drive to clear his head.

Lawn emerges from the sewers dirty and feeling worse for wear, but runs to Isle, the hardholder of Silicon Valley. Lawn tries to convince Isle that there's brewing danger in the form of a cannibal cult under the town. Isle isn't having any of that. He's got other things to deal with; his second in command Pellet has arrived back in town and is pissed and wants Tavi and Frankie's heads. Lawn convinces Pellet to let him ride along; thinking that he can sabotage the effort to kill his friends from the inside, then get them to come back to help him rescue Jav.

It's a few hours later and Tavi is cleaning her weapons while Mimi sleeps beside her when she hears the hoots and hollers of a lynch mob arriving at the gas station where they're holed up. Tavi quickly Reads the Sitch, learning that best escape route is out of the window. She blocks the door with a chair, grabs Mimi and legs it before the dudes coming for her can bust their way in. Tavi sends Mimi to get a car ready while she shoots back at Pellet, who has seen her go though the window. She misses though and Pellet ducks back in.

As this happens, Lawn is left alone with Twice, the driver in the truck that was carrying the gang. Lawn tries to seduce the Twice, who thinks his pet albino-bat-centipede is super cute, but must make a concrete assurance; give her the pet or get what he wants (control of the truck). Before he can make a decision on this though, Frankie arrives back on the scene in his car. He drive-by shoots Putrid, Pellet's second in command in the face with a sawn off shotgun. Rice, another member of Pellet's gang is offed by Tavi, who has snuck back round the building. She puts her gun to the back of his head and blows his brains all over Frankie's car. Twice, the driver Lawn was set on seducing sees this and draws her SMG on Frankie's car. Lawn tackles her and yanks the gun out of her hands. She draws a knife and tries to tackle him, but he slams her in the face with the SMG and leaves her whimpering.

The session ended with Frankie picking up Tavi in his car, Lawn kicking Twice out of the truck into the dust and the three heading back towards town, to the dismayed yells of the gang who's transport they just stole.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 01:58:36 AM by isaacwilliams »

Re: [first-time AP] Into Silicon Valley + Advancement Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 12:01:43 PM »
That disparity is OK.  The Battlebabe will reach retirement age first and maybe bow out.  And that character, no matter what, won't be so much more powerful than the others that they can't work around it.

Remember to ask questions of the characters.  They can't all be murder-hobos even without gangs and holds and stuff if you've established their reliance on water/ammo/whatever-sellers.

Re: [first-time AP] Into Silicon Valley + Advancement Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 05:17:23 AM »
Did you fill out the first session worksheets? I find they help to nail the PCs to the world.

Re: [first-time AP] Into Silicon Valley + Advancement Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 07:50:43 PM »
Yeh, I used the first session worksheet - was a big help.

I'm feeling much better about the player's place in the world after doing my Fronts prep for next session – realised there are actually a couple of PC-NPC-PC relationships already I can bring to the fore, and the players aren't quite on top of things as I thought they were.

Re: [first-time AP] Into Silicon Valley + Advancement Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2012, 05:33:20 AM »

Awesome picture! That's a freaky pet.

And yes, it sounds like what the Battlebabe did was one move to me -- if she's successfully snuck up behind him, you probably don't need a roll to shoot him in the back of the head, unless there is some other reason dude is going to be preternaturally alert.

I'd say it sounds like you might need a few more NPCs that the PCs are not directly antagonistic towards, but otherwise it seems to be going well!