Actual Play - The Iron Road

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Actual Play - The Iron Road
« on: October 22, 2010, 02:02:14 AM »
ACTUAL PLAY – THE IRON ROAD (10/16/2010) @ Endgame Minicon
GM: Scott White
Players: Alan (Spice), Ian (Kartak), Sean (Goldman), Eric (Kal)
System: Apocalypse World

My first Apocalypse World game at convention is done. This game was a huge test for me. Whether I continue as a convention gm/mc was largely dependent on my experience at this minicon. As far as I’m concerned, I’m hooked!

My scenario was custom made, and based largely on a family history I have with trains, and a few really cool photos of old steam engines looking all apocalyptic. The world is on fire, the fires are coming this way, and the players’ characters may have a way out. An ancient steam train brought back to life through the labor of love of the PC savvyhead and his npc partner, Erie, who had left some time ago due to an injury and taken most of the holds gang with him leaving the hold in a precarious spot.

The game was left pretty wide open at start, so the players could choose any of a number of ways to go, probably responding to opening moves, and that's what pretty much propelled this session.

The players seemed to enjoy the game and while I definitely have a lot of room for improvement, some great player contributions really made it a great time for me and I think the players enjoyed the game. It even managed to come to sort of a conclusion.

The game started with character creation, which went smoothly and quickly. Three of the four players had been an mc before so there was plenty of experience. I didn’t expect that but it was great as we really could concentrate on play. The one new player picked it up quickly, as well.

The Characters:

Spice was a skinner, and wow what a character. He/she had slept with just about everyone around and was something of a pacifist. Loves the tiny silver handgun with the lipstick mark, loves the player on the spot establishing an intimate relationship with Money. a driver for the enemy gang. Loved the sex scene in the car with the Savvyhead Goldman and the violence which followed.
Spine was simply a great character and fun to have around.

Kartak the Gunlugger was tough as nails and seemed like a thoughtful character under the bad assness. In honesty I didn’t give him enough of my time and feel a little sorry I didn’t get to know him better. He really shined in the combats and had an epic atv-riding machete decapitation to begin the action of the first fight which really set a tone to the violence. A Gunlugger cannot be ignored and is NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH.

The savvyhead, who the scenario was somewhat based around was great. Somewhat injured, slightly crippled, weird man wo loves machines and speaks to them. Goldman brought the weird to the game big-time, in the form of a machine-vision where every machine has feelings and dreams and they speak and love and fear. His sex turned violence turned weird scene with Spice near the end of the game is unforgettable. We had a few nice moments between Rusty the “hot” gang leader and Goldman which I would have liked to flesh out more. Goldman’s opening move saw him start the game kidnapped and the others looking for him which really set the stage for the action of the entire game.

The Angel was great. Reasonable but tough, willing to help but expecting to be paid for his services. Kal had a great moment with Money outside the truck where his lover Spice and Goldman were having their sex-and-violence, ending with Kal murdering Money with a bullet to the face. Kal had a power struggle brewing with Kartak which would have been fun to play into more.


Very briefly we had two fights, a small opening battle with four kidnappers and a larger battle to protect a work crew featuring about 15 enemies and a handful of NPC’s backing up the PC’s. most of the non-combat action took place after, first the intense sex scene described below, then the scene with Erie returning to see the train.

Most intense moment:
Spice and Goldman having sex in the truck with Money Spice’s lover just outside threatening violence.

Unexpected twist:
There’s no way I would have expected Erie to come to the characters’ side in the conflict, but after what they told him and what they showed him it just seemed right for him to come home. “Play to find out what happens”


Opening moves
The opening moves and love letters in general are great to set the stage and get some hooks going.  Sean was the only player to roll poorly and he got kidnapped for his trouble. Here’s the two moves chosen for him:
  • You’re really fucking important to the scrapyard and the train and everyone knows it. How the hell did this ass hole sneak into the compound and brain you with a pipe. You wake up over her shoulder just outside the compound. Shit. Name one pc who knows you’re missing.
  • Erie used to be one of your best mechanics and leader of the scrapyard gang, but since he got his hand blown off by the boiler couple years ago he’s taken a bunch of his boys and turned against the hold.  He was an awesome engineer but damn. What did he take with him when he left that you really can’t bear to be without?
Turns out Erie has some critical train parts so that gave the group some immediate motivation to deal with the guy.

Big sheets of paper
I brought a huge pad of paper which I used for maps. Though this is hardly revolutionary I thought it worked well and was really flexible to switch back and forth from fight to “overland map”

The System
Most of all I need to thank Vincent Baker for the game. The thing rocks and is so easy to pick up and play. Crazy fun to MC and really challenging. Thank you!


Starting moments
Feels like I started the first few moments of play a little weak. Didn’t get intense enough right from go and fumbled around from character to character a bit. I asked some good provocative questions I thought, but also asked a few crap ones, and let a few go unanswered, just dropped them to keep things moving, but I would have liked to know. I should ask more questions. Also I was definitely nervous and stumbled on some words. Couple players had to ask me to repeat myself a few times. Will work on that.

Too much combat
Combat in apocalypse world rocks, don’t get me wrong, I like fighting in this game. But it dominated the session. I would have liked to see more equal parts combat and character driven scenes.

Player spotlight
Simply didn’t give Kartak and Kal enough of my time. The scenario centered to some extent around the Savvyhead and the Skinner was so over the top that I focused mostly on those two outside the fights. Need to work on giving everyone more equal time. All the players did a fantastic job.

Maybe inspired by Sean Nittners’ game but man, I feel like I should have made some more compelling visuals. Next time I’ll bring some more stuff.

Simply neglected to take any. Just newbie con gm error, sorry guys.

Re: Actual Play - The Iron Road
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2010, 08:09:51 PM »
Sounds like you did well and had a blast! I'm in the bayish area, so if we ever end up at the same con I'd be glad to sit at your table!


Re: Actual Play - The Iron Road
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2010, 08:33:49 PM »
Hey thanks!
Con gaming is a blast, definitely going to do it more, probably primarily Apocalypse World for the foreseeable future.  Hope I can be a worthy ambassador for the game.

Would love to hear other people's con experiences with the game. Incidentally I had played in Sean's game (described recently) at the same con and that was great fun.

Re: Actual Play - The Iron Road
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2010, 09:40:11 PM »
Sean Nittner has posted an AP as a player of this session (Thanks Sean!) Check out his own AP posts as well. You have got to see his photos.

Re: Actual Play - The Iron Road
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2010, 02:50:21 AM »
Have an AW game which could use one more player.
San Mateo area Friday nights, not every night but as many as we can get it together.