Apocalypse: Emergence - a (slightly) different way to play Apocalypse World

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I was very surprised to learn a while back that Vincent Baker was not familiar with the game Fallout.

I'm not familiar with it either, but my friends used to play it, and I liked the image of the poor optimistic fool climbing out of the Vault to face a world nothing like what he expected. In my first Apocalypse World game, I played the Quarantine, and I had no idea what I was about to encounter. Wouldn't it be cool if Apocalypse World were like that? Wouldn't it be fun if we could ALL play the Quarantine?

So I made this thing. I call it "Apocalypse: Emergence". The blurb describes it as well as I can:


Apocalypse: Emergence is a simple hack of Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World. It's half a scenario of sorts and half a group playbook you all share.

The player characters are people emerging from a Vault and exploring the post-apocalyptic world for the first time. They have lived their entire lives underground, shut off from the outside world, fretting about what was happening on the Outside. One day, the Vault opens and they taste the wind and see the open sky for the first time. Having absolutely no information about how the world has changed, they're unequipped and unprepared to deal with what they are bound to encounter. What will they discover when the door of their Vault opens? What new world awaits their sheltered eyes and unguarded brains? How will their confrontation with what's out there transform their relationships to each other?

Apocalypse: Emergence is an ideal way for an experienced MC to introduce new players to Apocalypse World. The players do not need to be familiar with the rules or content of Apocalypse World, and can just jump in and learn, one step at a time, alongside their characters.


It's free.

Please take a look, have a read, try it with your friends, and let me know what you think.


Thank you for reading! And thanks to Vincent, of course, for a great game.

And, of course, just after I post this, I realize it needs something else.

It needs a good special (sex move). But I'm not sure what it should be. Anyone have any ideas? Something juicy would be a nice touch, I think.

Here's the new, updated, proofread version, included the Vault-dweller Special.


Enjoy and post here if you get a chance to try it!

And now a more updated version with the proper font (which I didn't realize was free until today):


This is really cool. I'm going to show this to my group and see if it interests them. I'll keep you posted if they bite into this hook.
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!

Thanks! Please do let me know how it goes.

Paul, thank you very much for this mod!

This is exactly what I've been looking for, and I'm going to start up a campaign with this premise.

Have you (or anybody else who has played this) got any advice for new MCs -- things to watch out for, ways in which this presents pitfalls and opportunities over the "plain" AW ruleset?

Hi, thanks for the interest.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever played this yet.

I don't think there are too many things to look out for, except to scale down the situation a little (the characters will have fun dealing with relatively mundane threats and situations, compared to "default" badass AW characters).

One thing I think you should be aware of is that the MC can't ask questions as believably as she can in standard AW. So a tiny bit more prep before the first session: brainstorm some different things you'd like to see in the apocalypse, some places, some people, some objects or events.

Then you'll tie those things in, colouring them with the players' Hopes and Fears, and applying them wherever they would fit in the players' depiction of the local geography.

Full on "Fronts" prep can probably wait longer in this version of the game: treat it as a "sandbox" exploration game at first, then switch to regular AW Fronts as the game develops and the characters become important members of the world.

I could even see doing a time-lapse thing, where you "skip" a few months (or maybe even longer) of gametime, and then look at the characters again, "much later", having adopted playbooks and established themselves in the world. This then becomes like the new "first session" of the game, according to regular rules and procedures.

Please let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear where this takes you.

I have to read it yet, but it sounds cool. I love the Quarentine, by the way.

I made a kind of "Fallout Playbook" one year ago or so (with rules for energy weapons, super mutans, radiation and drugs) but it's in spanish. Maybe I can find the time to translate it to English.


As If

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Just found this today and it's a great idea, cleverly executed.  The six "themes" for progressing location descriptions are inspiring, and I think I'll steal them for a brainstorming mechanic. :-)


As If

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I plan to run this is as a "Your Hometown" campaign.  This is something I did years ago with "Aftermath!" and it was ridiculously cool (especially given such a crunchy system).  The best thing to use is one of those Thomas Brothers' map books of your city, but one of those large folding maps will do fine.  This replaces steps 2 and 3 of the ORIGIN chapter (in A:E).  You will also have to modify the questions from step 1 a little bit.  Everything else pretty much runs as planned!


As If

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I'll be running this campaign starting this week, with an added twist: The game will be preceded by a game of "Watch the World Die" (a collaborative apocalypse generation game I'm working on).  The same players will be in both games.  Gameplay will go like this:

1. Begin playing WTWD. The world situation worsens. At a certain point it becomes evident that it's time for people to get into Vaults. Pause the WTWD game.

2. As a group, create one of these Vaults. Pull out a large map of your city. As a group, answer these questions: Where might a Vault be built? (locate it on the map) What would the interior look like? What sort of stuff would be in there? Remember it has to be self-contained and sustainable for at least fifty years.

3. Resume playing WTWD. Continue until the Great Dying occurs. Fade to black.

4. As a group, talk about what happens in the Vault over the course of fifty years, sealed off from the outside world. There's no need for great detail or specific events unless desired, but let this sink in: At least two generations of people have been born and raised inside the Vault. People who were around 30 when they went into the vault are now dead or extremely aged, and anyone who was older then is dead by now. People who went in as infants are 50 years old now, and their children are old enough to have children of their own.

4. Fade up: "Fifty years later..." Begin playing Apocalypse:Emergence from question 4 of the ORIGIN chapter, using the map of your city.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 12:27:01 AM by As If »


As If

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For anyone who wants one, I've created an A:E playbook...
PDF: http://asifproductions.com/sites/default/files/vault_dweller.pdf
DOCX: http://asifproductions.com/sites/default/files/vault_dweller.docx

The DOCX version is better, it has narrower margins.  But to display it properly you first must install the fonts:
Vtks good luck for you
Crust Clean
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 07:06:44 AM by As If »


As If

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At long last, here is an ongoing AP of the WTWD-AE-AW campaign.

And here is a sheet I made for the vault itself.  Useful for those consensus questions.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 08:00:37 PM by As If »


As If

  • 142
Hey Paul: As you know the WTWD-AE-AW campaign is running along, and I'm mixing vault-dwellers with above-grounders in the same group.  It's a special-case application of A:E, admittedly.  Even though we had to sacrifice some of the "what did you remember vs what has happened" stuff, that's still fine because we're playing in our own home town and just imagining it in the first place is freaky enough for all of us.

The only thing I'm scratching my head over is how to transition the A:E bonds over into AW Hx.  It's particularly important now that the two groups are beginning to interact directly.  Next session, a vault-dweller might want to rewrite a bond with an above-grounder, or transition to a flat-Hx-based system and toss out the old bonds.  I do like the specificity of the bonds, but using both systems at once is awkward.

Do you have any thoughts on this?