Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden

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Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden
« on: January 03, 2015, 02:00:31 AM »
Having played Apocalypse World a bit, and having gotten a feel for the scarcities the world threatens with, and the tough characters who inhabit it, I'm feeling the urge to use it as a sort of threat or fall from grace, for a story that starts in a state of innocence.

So, imagine a primitive jungle Eden.  Only a few elders remember the Apocalypse as a horror of their childhood -- they remember the journey to the forest only in nightmares. 

What's clear is that humanity faced extinction out there, and the few who escaped into Eden are all brothers and sisters, allies who have left true strife behind.  There are contests of will, yes, but there is no violence, and none of the tensions born of desperation.  Where Apocalypse World is a world of scarcity, Eden is a world of plenty.  Where the people of Apocalypse World often strive to get one over on each other, the people of Eden strive mostly to understand each other and work together as smoothly as possible.  Such a state can't last forever, of course, but the warnings of the elders, the community spirit of their children, and the small and isolated nature of the tribe have provided decades of relative bliss.

Unfortunately, Eden is now under siege.  There are reasons why the forest has remained unaffected by the outside world, and why the psychic maelstrom cannot reach in -- and not all of these reasons are benign.  Are the enigmatic forest sprites magical creatures, or leftovers of some strange technology?  Is the Archangel truly deserving of the worship it asks, or is it merely a powerful beast?  The people of Eden are faced with four threats which, left unchecked, will forever change them, or their world, or both.

The people of Eden aren't Cool, or Hard, or Weird; they don't have the tools to deal with those who lie, or use violence or manipulation.  And so, they have to choose: keep with the old ways of peace, or vanquish the threats to their world by whatever means necessary.

Can you somehow triumph without changing who you are?  Will you stay true to yourselves, but perish?  Or will you become Cool, and Hard, and Weird, eventually leaving Eden-that-was to take your place in the Apocalypse World?

I'd like to leave that last bit as a genuinely open question and see what others do with it, but for me personally, I'm most hooked on the idea of playing through the Eden module first (it'd have 4 pre-made fronts) and then bringing those characters into a full AW game second.  I think entering AW with a lived-through sense of "what has been lost" would add a perfect spice to the apocalypse.

More on the stats, moves, playbooks and fronts to come!

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As If

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Re: Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 03:47:47 AM »
Fascinating.  The idea of playing with the forgotten wreckage of the past in a world of abundance reminds me of "CATastrophe", which at one point was (partially) written as a PbtA hack.  Although the CATastrophe world is covered with water instead of jungle, the links on that page might give you some ideas for skills and moves.

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DWeird

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Re: Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2015, 12:15:46 PM »
This is a great setup! Relevant to my real life, even, in a metaphorical way. Was dealing with some workplace bullying in a very macho environment while being a human twig, and pushing through that to some level of respect without getting physically wrecked myself, but also somehow avoiding pumping up my adrenaline and violent fantasies to a level where I'd actually shred the other guy's face with a claw hammer. I'll spare you the details, but we ended up simply shaking on it. Somehow!

It's one of the most difficult, but also interesting and satisfying things I things I ever had to do. There's definitely a game in that theme.

Re: Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2015, 03:22:46 AM »
Thanks for the pointer, Tod!  The Cat-astrophe premise sounds fun, but the moves are mostly about combat and getting bonuses, or are just renamed AW moves.  Eden's going to have Moves about working together, maintaining traditions, facing the New, foraging, running away, and other arenas of conflict.  At the beginning, anyway.  :)

DWeird, yeah, impassioned, antagonistic conflict where neither person is quite willing to resort to violence is probably an under-explored RPG situation.  I'm not aiming Eden at that primarily, but it absolutely is an important ingredient.  I can think of many ways to handle it -- emotional hit points, custom moves with specific Stress outcomes, etc. -- but I'm thinking simple is probably best here.  Honestly, "Go Aggro" in a fictional setting whee people don't Harm each other is pretty close.  I may separate the goal (get what you want over someone else's wishes) from the method (aggression), though.  Using superior social skills to make someone back down to you in public, all in a "friendly" way, should be on the table.

Re: Apocalypse World Prequel: Eden
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 04:06:30 PM »
Somehow I have to think of those poor souls who always get slaugthered in post-apo films and novels.

Johnstone's Evil of the Stars has some 'Stress' rules, which could be handy for your design as inspiration. He also has an element he calls the Echnaton, a grand desaster or evil that befalls the community of explorers in his game. You could leave similar blanks about the Archangel and the true nature of the Eden, letting te players filling in.

The Setup reminds me of The Postapo Setting in Cloudatlas, Waterworld and The Beach. The human mind is not meant for peace nor is its soul forge for true altruism. Thats mostly the feel I get from those Settings.