First Campaign, Lessons Learned

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Bret

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First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« on: August 11, 2010, 08:45:59 AM »
I'm about eight sessions into my first campaign of Apocalypse World. On Story Games, Paul B just asked for "best practices" and I wrote up the following that I've been thinking about lately. These summarize the things I've learned, from the mistakes I've made and the things that weren't clear to me in the book without having played it a few times. Also some things I've picked up from you all. The next game I run will be a better one because of these.

- Ask more questions. The book tells you to ask questions and give the players room to answer. I wish I'd done this more. GMing impulses and traditional authority setups will leave people looking to you to fill in setting details, and your impulse will be to do that. Look for more opportunities to have the players fill in those gaps rather than doing it yourself. Do this as much as possible.

- Make all NPCs Threats. After the first game you'll have a bunch of NPCs. They all need to be Threats. Do not handwave this. If you're like, "Well, they don't seem to belong to any of these Threat types," either make them a member of a Warlord's cast and make the Warlord the Threat, make them a Brute and figure out a larger group that the NPC belongs to that's a Threat. After every game when an NPC is introduced, go through after the game and make sure they are Threats.

- Wait. Make everything a Threat. Think about all aspects of your world as threats. The town the PCs live in? Landscape threat. That religious belief that came up in play? That's an Affliction - Delusion. The strange characters that populate the Psychic Maelstrom? Threat. The Psychic Maelstrom? That's a Threat too.

- Fill out the world with your Fronts. Different people have different numbers of Fronts that work for them. I generally have three - one that's fully manifesting, one that's being hinted at, and one in the back of the fridge. In each Front you're supposed to have four Threats. To begin with you'll maybe only be able to stick one or two existing Threats in there, so make sure to fill it out with two or three Threats that you've made up. Spin up a Warlord nearby, a Grotesque lurking in the town tht nobody realizes, etc. Once you've been playing for a bit though and if you follow the last two steps, you'll have more than enough Threats. Still, leave maybe one spot in each Front open to introduce something new.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 08:47:36 AM by Bret »
Tupacalypse World

Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 08:53:30 AM »
This looks solid, Bret. I'm starting to really want to run this thing!

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Bret

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Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 08:54:40 AM »
Do it!

I'm sure the second campaign will yield more lessons, too.
Tupacalypse World

Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 05:55:57 PM »
- Wait. Make everything a Threat. Think about all aspects of your world as threats. The town the PCs live in? Landscape threat. That religious belief that came up in play? That's an Affliction - Delusion. The strange characters that populate the Psychic Maelstrom? Threat. The Psychic Maelstrom? That's a Threat too.

I had the distinct please of writing down, in my notes for the online game I'm running, "The Sky (Landscape: Breeding Pit)".

THAT one's getting reused in the future, let me tell you.

Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 09:28:37 AM »
Thanks for the advice Bret, excellent stuff! I'm currently reading the games, mentally preparing for MCing, and this advice will definitely help.

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Chris

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Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 06:38:18 PM »
This thread kinda fell off, but I've got one some stuff to add and didn't want to start a whole new thread.

After playing in several campaigns of a lot of different lengths, I've got a list in my head of things that are important that may not be strongly stressed in the game.

The first one I want to talk about is setting. There's an implied setting in AW, but without hacking a thing, you can have vastly different set-ups. One of my weaknesses in running AW is not having a blasted landscape. I focus too much on relationships and not enough on how messed up the world around them is.

Even doing everything else mostly right, like setting up good triangles and putting the characters into good situations, an AW game without that inherent external pressure just seems flat. I've had some sessions that are good, by any real metric, but they weren't AW. They felt like episodes of Blossom, if Blossom had a gun and wasn't afraid to get her hats bloody.

Even when everything's a threat, even when almost everything is bad, not having a REALLY dark setting can make the player complacent. I submit that the setting of the game can maybe fall under Baker's z-axis mindshare, if I get that weirdness right. Without any mechanical or even fictional problems, the game still needs that lingering cloud hanging over it, especially in the early sessions.

Thoughts?
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: First Campaign, Lessons Learned
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 04:46:31 PM »
You're right about it being important. As I read this I realise it's one of the big things missing from my game. The only part of the surrounding that's really even loomed over the players is the maelstrom. I need to bring in the deserts, seas, mutant pits and jagged cliffs more. Thanks!