How many playbook options?

  • 5 Replies
How many playbook options?
« on: July 09, 2013, 08:25:46 PM »
Just wondering, what sort of process do you all go through when starting a game - how many playbooks is a good number to offer? All of them? A couple per player?

What process do you use for choosing which playbooks etc?

Re: How many playbook options?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 09:17:16 AM »
I usually ask first if something already has a specific idea for something they definitely want to play, and if I have a fitting playbook (and there is no reason not to) I'll hand that out. For the others: Recently I mostly played oneshots, for which I like having the players be a moderately coherent group, so I ask what kind of guys they want to be based around one of the playbooks with NPCs (Chopper, Maestro D', Operator, Hocus, Hardholder; so “Do you want to play a gang, a crew of an establishments or working with some particular guy who organizes the jobs, or members of a cult, or some important people in a holding?”) and then hand out something like two more playbooks than players that fit that theme; if I recently found a new playbook that sounded nice, I consider adding that to the selection. I mostly make sure that I have at least two Weird playbooks to choose from, other stuff depends on the type of group. (For example, with a Chopper gang I'll hand out a driver, otherwise rarely; My plans for a convention in two weeks are to hand out either the set Maestro D' – Brainer – Battle Babe – Skinner – Gunlugger – Savyhead – Angel (in that order) or Hocus – Faceless – Angel – Skinner – Battle Babe – Brainer (in that order).) For a longer play, I'd offer freer choices, so as to support the characters that lead to long-term problems (deciding loyalities between two groups, to allow interesting sex moves like the Driver or the Brainer to come into play).

Re: How many playbook options?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 12:28:04 PM »

Always the Brainer, Skinner and Battlebabe, because c'mon.
Most of the Hardholder, Hocus, Operator, Chopper, Maestro D', in about that order.
Maybe the Savvyhead, Angel, Gunlugger, or Driver, depending on the setup.
Sometimes other playbooks, if people are specifically into them or they are particularly appropriate.
Never the Touchstone, because eff that thing.

"Depending on the setup" includes whether or not it's a one-shot, and then also what sort of apocalypse everybody is into. I'm a lot more likely to limit the playbooks for a one-shot or when introducing the game to a new group. Savvyheads and Angels are good playbooks to remove for one-shots, in my experience. And of course the Driver/Chopper books are an easy one to include-or-not depending on one's vision of the setting.

But with my regular group, we've generally played enough AW that 'which playbooks get offered' becomes a sort of group decision-making process: all the basic books start on the table, and then someone might be like 'I'd like to try a game with no Angel' or 'maybe there's no Brainers out here' or 'Can we maybe have a Quarantine, if everybody's on board?' or whatever.

I never think of it in terms of how many players/how many books, though I feel like there should always be significantly more books than players.

Re: How many playbook options?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2013, 03:05:26 PM »
I agree that it depends on the format.

If I have The Chopper, I'll have The Driver. These guys encourage a mobile, exploring game with a lot of setting changes.

If I have the Hardholder, I'll have the Hoarder. These are the most settled down, location dependent playbooks. The Hardholder's choices have a big effect on the game setting, so plan accordingly when offering it.

The Maestro D' can fit either group because he might bring his setting with him. He's going to have a big influence on the overall feel of the game either way.

The Brainer, Operator, Gunlugger, Faceless, Battlebabe, Operator and Skinner can fit in pretty much anything and a game with only these makes for a sort of default "adventuring party".

If I have The Quarantine, I'll probably have The Touchstone. They both make for, if not a brighter game, a more hopeful one while still fitting the adventurer category. The Quarantine is my favorite to play. its really a whole different feel than anything else.

The Hocus and Savvyhead are great and I'll generally include them, they just don't necessarily fit any of the above categories. In a more mobile game, they require a bit of accommodation.



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Re: How many playbook options?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 02:16:36 AM »
I've been thinking about withholding the Brainer and Angel for the next game I start and insisting that these wait for players to change into them, making their existence something that comes about as the game progresses.

We'd have a 'first aid' move for stabilizing a wound, and probably the 'named NPC medic' option. Being named puts them in crosshairs though.

Re: How many playbook options?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 05:25:56 AM »
So, I played AW at a con on Saturday.
I had seven players, and the playbooks I had with me were all the core plus the Faceless and the Maestro D' (thanks Vincent) and Jeff Russel's Ruin Runner.

Due to the number of players, I thought I might have two conflicting groups within the party already, so I deviated from the lists mentioned earlier and intertwined them. I first asked if anybody had any special wishes already (nope), and then I described and tried to hand out

Hocus – Maestro D' – Battle Babe – Skinner – Brainer – Faceless

in that order, and stop after that to see what else the party would want. Turned out the Maestro was picked up first, then Brainer and Skinner were picked up at about the same time, and three people were interested in the Battle Babe and the Faceless. One of them wanted to play more of a non-weird support character, but see both of them in play, so he ended up with the Angel, and the last player after some back and forth to find out what she was after got the Ruin Runner as a more sneaky and clever option. The Hocus remained in my hand unloved, seems the religious overtones scared people off, or they found other stuff more interesting.