Running AW at Games on Demand at PAX - advice?

  • 3 Replies
Running AW at Games on Demand at PAX - advice?
« on: August 16, 2012, 03:56:49 PM »
Hey folks,
Does anyone have advice for running AW as a one-shot most effectively?

For one thing, I'm thinking about offering fewer than the full range of basic playbooks, to speed up character creation, offer me a more predictable starting situation, and allow me to run more than one con sessions with one set of printed books (by running the next ones with the excluded sets). Any thoughts about this?

I know AW works best when relationships and situations have time to ferment across sessions, but how do I approximate that adequately in just one? Or do I even need to?

In general, how can I give the curious newcomer the best possible Apocalypse World experience in one session? How should I modify my approach to the tools I have (Principles and MC Moves, etc.)?


Re: Running AW at Games on Demand at PAX - advice?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 06:38:18 PM »

I think it depends how long you have. Are we talking about a 4-hour slot? 2 hours?

If the former, I'd suggest running it as though it were two sessions -- a briefer 'First Session' (along with Chargen), then take a 10-15 minute break (which you want to do anyways for such a long slot) and write up some Fronts and come back to the game as though it were the second session. This could involve advancing time and rerolling start-of-session moves, or it could just be a mindset switch on your part (though one you might want to announce to the players through in-fictional misdirection.)

I also definitely recommend using a limited selection of playbooks, and having a strong pitch for what sort of Apocalypse it is and what your World is going to look like.

Re: Running AW at Games on Demand at PAX - advice?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2012, 01:32:19 PM »
Well, my "shift" is 6 hours, but I don't know how high demand would be for using the whole 6 hours for Apocalypse World. So I'd probably end up doing a 3-hour game, which is a bit awkward. I like the idea of breaking it up, but I don't know if I'll have enough time.

I suppose I could take a 5 minute break, develop like two fronts and then pick the one that inspires me the most and lean on it exclusively for the second hour and a half, with front 2 as a back-up. Very focused.

I think I'll offer the first group the full range of playbooks, then if I run it again the second group can choose from among the ones the first group passed on, and so forth.

Re: Running AW at Games on Demand at PAX - advice?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2012, 02:32:28 PM »
Here's a run-down of my Apocalypse World starting out. Note that I stole some ideas from AP threads here, so thanks.

Welcome to The Valley, a string of hardholds along a seepage-contaminated river, at least when droughts don't make it a sludge-lined dry riverbed. In the golden age of legend this place was fertile and moist and fresh. Now sometimes it's hot, bright, parched and dusty; sometimes it's fetid, stagnant, stinking, rusty, and swollen. It's too hot for ice run-off, so water only comes from frequent severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Water is a dubious blessing, as often death as it is life.

Reference Map, (not to scale).

The Mountains form the western horizon. No one who's ventured to the mountains has ever returned. Far to the southwest a beacon sometimes glimmers from the top of a ridge, apparently with no pattern. This has formed the basis for cults with various interpretations of the beacon's spiritual significance.

The River flows down from the mountain creating the only arable land for miles. Hardholds are scattered along both sides of the river. The Old Canal and the river form a natural barrier to The Ruins of an old city.

The Tip was a pit mine, then a landfill before the apocalypse. Now it alternates between water reservoir and salvage site. Southeastern storms and hurricanes swell the river and fill the tip, which in turn leaches into the ground water and river, causing food grown in the valley to smell like garbage. Shazza runs a crew of salvage "supervisors" to mine the tip for useful refuse using slave labor. She's one of Jackabacka's biggest customers.

Longview is a high tower perched atop the highest nearby ridge, creating a vantage point for spotting anyone crossing the desolate craggy valley. Jackabacka dispatches crews of raiders for the purpose of kidnapping the unwary, "elevating" them to the status of "undercrew" and selling them in slave auctions. Slaves are sometimes ransomed back to their hardholder, sometimes handed over to Shazza or even a rival hardholder. Slaves no one will pay for are offered to the cannibals of the glass desert. Longview can't grow food and slave labor is its only export.

The Toll Bridge is Dustwich's holding, unique because it controls the only bridge into the ruined city. His crews patrol the city for salvage and competitors, and trade both in a bustling market near the bridge. Rare or valuable things usually present themselves only at the toll bridge, and only for absurd prices. Would-be salvagers can pay a huge fee for access to the city, but will probably end up ambushed anyway. Dustwhich's crew also patrols the eastern river and canal to make sure the bridge is the only way into the city.

Places no one goes include North, where venturers inevitably fall ill and die, the Swampy Delta, guarded by insular and brutal swamp people, and The Glass Desert, where somehow roving bands of cannibals survive to menace the valley.