Front Creation: Things to do in Denver (When the Rest of the World is Dead)

  • 7 Replies
(first session thread here)

Well, MC, you've been churning this over in your brain for a while, letting it simmer while you read that crazy Chinese stuff for another game.  Let's see what you come up with.  As always: comments, criticism & suggestions from you fuckers that maybe know what you're doing? Lay it on.

Looking over my first session worksheet and my last post, I think I was scattering too much on the scarcities - trying to do a threat for each rather than a front for 2-3 of them.

I think the strongest stuff I've got so far comes from Ambition, Fear, and either Despair or Decay.  Not sure which I am going to go with. 

The way the lacks are arranged on the circle seems to suggest some kind of relationship, which I can kind of see: Fear arises from Ignorance and Decay, Ambition is the product of Envy and Hunger.  Often threats that would seem to fall into one category can be shifted to one side or another - I had originally pegged Parsons as Envy but he works as Ambition just as well, and the drugs could be either Decay or Despair.

On the other hand, nothing says Apocalypse to me like Decay, so I'm going with that.  Ambition, Fear, and Decay plus the home Front.

Aside:  Does anyone else pick the Front sheet the use for a particular front based on the picture?  Because the woman with the baby, that just says "home front" to me, and when I get to whichever front has the clouds of poison gas that are all over everything lower than Denver, well hell if I'm not going to pick the front sheet with gasmask guy.

Front 1: Ambition
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2010, 10:33:40 AM »
The PCs started the game working for Mother Superior, whacking a rival leader, so I'm going to start with her too: she's dead center on the Ambition front, which probably needs a name.  She wants to unite the various Rockies settlements and she wants to be, if not in charge, then the one pulling the strings.  I'm putting her down as a Warlord/Hive Queen: consume the other leaders and their holdings then swarm on to the next.

Threat 2 is going to be her chief enforcer, one of the first leaders she chewed up and spit out.  Shading to the envy side of Ambition, because the PCs seem to be Mother's new toys.  She's called Twice, and her gang is Brute/Enforcer.  I pick a few names for her gang: Rum, Abondo and Fuse.

Threat 3 is the mysterious Parson.  We know he's a Grotesque/Mindfucker, so he craves mastery.  I have a feeling that he's got his fingers in a lot of pies, and Mother Superior is upsetting that balance.  There's only space for one behind the curtains and he wants to be it.  I get the impression that nobody deals with Parson directly.  Like, nobody even knows what he looks like.  It's all intermediaries.

I'm leaving the fourth threat open for now in case something good shows up in play.

The fact that two threats on this front are both working "offscreen" for their ambitions makes me call this Front "Shadow War", and that lets me write the Dark Future: unless the PCs tip the balance, Mother Superior and Parson will keep up the brinksmanship until the war comes out into the open and there's blood in the streets.

Need to think about the countdowns for this one. 

Twice's countdown might look like this: every time the PCs do something for Mother Superior that she could have done, advance 1 tick.

3pm - dirty looks and the cold shoulder but nothing more
6pm - refuses to offer or accept assistance
9pm - scuffles between the thugs & PC supporters, no blood yet
10pm - betrayal on the battlefield, or anywhere else convenient
11pm - "Mother Superior, it's them or me."
midnight - pushed too far, Twice gathers her entire gang and comes after the PCs (or Mother Superior, whichever seems appropriate).

For Mother Superior - a countdown to an assassination attempt might work.

For Parson - maybe one to discovering his identity, or his reaction to attempts?  The PCs certainly seem to be heading down that path.

I know that not all threats need a countdown, but they seem pretty darn useful.

Front 2: Decay
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2010, 04:37:00 PM »
It's going to take a hell of a lot of games of AW to get me to give up decay as a front, because fighting against decay?  That's what my favorite works of the genre are about.

So what do we have? As we're playing in the first session I ask them, "So where are you?" and they tell me, "Denver" and I say "Why?" and they say "Maybe because its high up, it's safe" and I'm like "so what, anything lower than Denver is fucked, like poison gas or something?" and they're like "Yeah."

So picture it, you're looking east from Denver, CO, and instead of seeing the whole goddamn country laid out before you, you see the lad getting lower and lower, and it descends into this stuff, this yellow-green nasty fucking mist, clinging onto the ground.  Sometimes there's more of it, sometimes less.  Maybe when the weather's right you can get certain places that are usually blocked.

You know what? Have a couple maps.  Here's the western US, and the CO/UT area:

I actually did these with a "sea level rise" map overlay but it works pretty well.  Red means you're fucked; orange is the mist coverage on a typical day, yellow is as bad as it gets.

You'll notice that yellow comes right up and touches Denver - it's all around the Convent.  When the mist is at its worst, people climb up to the second floor and pray it doesn't get too high.

So yeah, the mist.  Landscape/Furnace.  I know I said breeding pit, but right now it just seems like it's dead out there beyond.  Maybe I'll change my mind later.

I figure I need a custom move for going into the stuff.  This stuff is fucked up, it's swallowed most of the goddamn planet, there is no way it's not connected somehow with the psychic maelstrom.

So, if you enter the mist unprotected: roll +hard.
On a 10+, you hold your breath and keep it together long enough to do your thing and get out.
7-9, choose one:
- burning lungs, take 0-harm AP and -1 ongoing until you're out of the mist
- You cough up a hunk of bloody mucus. At least, you hope it's just mucus. Take 1-harm AP.
- your mind gets ripped open and exposed to the psychic maelstrom. Treat it as a miss on that roll.
On a miss, all three.

The mist doesn't have a countdown, it's just there.

Front 2: Decay (part 2)
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2010, 04:54:56 PM »
Need a few more threats on the decay angle.  Next are the drugs that Parson's been distributing - decay on the moral level here, not the physical. I'm calling them Affliction/Delusion, because "to dominate people's choices & actions" sounds like a damn good description of what it's already done to Mill.

The countdown here is for the whole threat - you could have a personal addiction one too, but this is for the entire settlement.

0-3pm: there's a few takers
3-6pm: everyone knows someone on the stuff
6-9pm: junkies on every streetcorner, seems like
10pm: demand outstrips Parson's supply
11pm: theft and violence
midnight: riots, looting, and burning

Still working on threat #3 & 4 for this front.

Front 3: Fear
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2010, 08:39:46 PM »
Our last front for the moment - well, except for the home front - is Fear, which is a wonderful motivator for all sorts of fucked-up illogical actions.

I'll start with the Tunnel Rats, who just had their leader capped by a quartet of heavily armed mercenaries sent by an unknown person.  They're Brutes/Hunting Pack, a bunch of raiders who got too big for their britches and paid the price.  Their new leader's a guy named Juck.

The gang itself is 2-harm medium savage 2-armor (they've got, like, roadblocks and Jersey barriers to hide behind when they're preparing a tunnel ambush), but they're filthy and unwell (+disease).  I used the chopper gang template, it seemed more appropriate.

I'm going to take a "wait and see" attitude toward these guys - no special moves or countdown yet because I'm not sure where the PCs are going to focus their interest. 

Next up would be Mother Superior's Girls, a Brute/Family.  (Something about the Brute threat archetype screams 'fear' to me.)  They look out for each other.  A lot of them are working for Mother Superior because they're afraid of being unprotected in the Apocalypse World, and they stay because they're afraid to leave.  Not sure what to do with a special move here, or a countdown.  Maybe they don't need it until things change.

Threat #3.  You know what?  I keep imagining Parson as this mystery figure nobody ever deals with directly.  I think he belongs more to Fear than to Ambition, everybody's fucking terrified of him, so I'm going to move him here.  (Now I've got two slots in Ambition to fill.)

Threat #4.  Winter is coming.  The hold's in the mountains, and without legions of plows and salt trucks, nobody's going nowhere without a warm coat and a pair of snowshoes.

3pm: Spring is over
6pm: Summer is over
9pm: Fall is over
10pm: Snow
11pm: Fucking bizzard
midnight: snowbound! starvation, freezing.

Back to Ambition!
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2010, 09:12:38 PM »
OK, I moved Parson out of Ambition so I really ought to fill that slot, but that's OK because I had been thinking about these guys and wondering what to do with them. 

I mean, just because we've got poison gas and shit floating around doesn't mean that we want to leave all that great stuff unused - but most people don't have the balls or the equipment to go searching around long-term in the ruins that aren't habitable.

Enter the Salvagemen, a bunch of creepy bastards who do just that.  Armed with gas masks (some makeshift) and protective gear to keep the poison off their skin, they head down into places like Denver's eastern outskirts, Pueblo, Salt Lake City, take what they can find, and bring it back.

Actually you know what?  Fuck it, that's not interesting enough, and I just spotted Warlord/Prophet.  The Salvagemen are wearing all that protective shit every time you see them.  They're an insular little community with their own superstitions and tales.  They don't talk much to outsiders, except to Barter with them, because nobody else understands what it's like down there in the Fog.  They are ripe for someone to rise up and tell them why they are the chosen and everyone else is wrong.

To join the Salvagemen, you have to give yourself to the Fog.  Walk deep into it, until you can't see the group you left, then strip naked, breathe deep, and roll +weird.
On a 10+: You are accepted! The Salvagemen accept you as one of their own.  If you leave the Fog for more than a couple of hours without your Salvager gear, though, make the "if you enter the Fog unprotected" move.  Those masks aren't to keep the gas out.
On a 7-9: You have been touched by the the Fog, and it takes something from you.  What was it?  Although you do not join the Salvagemen, take +1 ongoing when dealing with them as they recognize this.
On a miss: The Fog rejects you.  Treat as if you failed the roll for entering the Fog unprotected.  Hope you can make it back out.

I figure the Salvagemen are one of the sources of food, machinery etc. Having their support would make winter a lot easier to handle.

Re: Back to Ambition!
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2010, 01:35:49 AM »
On a 10+: You are accepted! The Salvagemen accept you as one of their own.  If you leave the Fog for more than a couple of hours without your Salvager gear, though, make the "if you enter the Fog unprotected" move.  Those masks aren't to keep the gas out.

THAT, I must say, IS "interesting enough". Nice!


I only mention it because I grew up there, but if you're playing in Denver, there's also a good possibility of using that Quarantine playbook-- CSprings has the Air Force Academy (which is an enormous facility), Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Ft. Carson, and Cheyenne Mountain (NORAD). Schriever is the current HQ of Space Command, where all the GPS satellites are monitored. Ft. Carson is a mobile infantry base, and up in Denver is Buckley AFB, where they may not talk about it, but they do a lot of black stuff out of Buckley. There were also a lot of old missile silos as you headed east towards the Aurora Reservoir.

Can't wait to get my book and PDF and start reading.