First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme

  • 8 Replies
First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« on: October 09, 2016, 03:47:28 PM »
Reading through the 2nd edition and prepping for play, most of the changes are spot on and very helpful.

One change, however, is harshing my mojo: the lack of apocalyptic themes on the first session worksheet. While having spatial relation in the threat boxes is cool, the lack of themes to which I bend the players inputs during the first session is not as good.

FYI: when I MC, my first session sheet notes are open to my players. I type their inputs for all to see and associate the input with the themes on the 1st ed first session worksheet. The effect achieved is the players twist their inputs (or at least approve of their modification) so as to be corrupted by the apocalypse. It's a subtle and powerful effect for the opening sessions of the games I MC.

Question: what am I missing in this shift from themes to spatial relationships? Usually Vincent is two or more moves ahead of me, so I'm concerned I'm missing an important concept.

My intent, baring helpful advise from you all, is to continue to use the 1st ed first session "circle" whilst everything else will be 2nd ed.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 04:29:31 PM by RangerEd »

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2016, 04:01:51 PM »
For an example, feel free to pop into on Roll20. Let me know you're there and I'll give you DM permissions to see it all.

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2016, 12:51:52 PM »

When I ran AW, I didn't use the sheet (so I can't speak from a practical perspective), but I also really liked having the scarcities as creative prompts.

I'll pop in over there, too, but I'd like to hear more about this.

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2016, 02:25:24 PM »
Sorry to have missed you. I was playing with my kids. You have GM permissions and can see all my usual prep in pink. Happy to talk you through.

An example or two for you, just in case I'm not in Roll20.

1. Player says his character has an ex-wife named Linda. So I place Linda on the first session sheet. I wonder where to slap the name "Linda" and settle on despair and envy as a reason she'd be his x. She's a bit out of the picture for now, so I slide her name away from the center.

2. Then another player says the group has to hunt for food. Furthermore, its a way to be cool in the group (the mighty hunter and all that). So I put "hunting" down near hunger and ambition, but close to the PCs, since they have to take part.

The idea is to honor the input of every player by their inputs being placed on the circle, and corrupt each by association with the apocalyptic themes.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2016, 02:39:57 PM by RangerEd »

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2016, 12:32:19 PM »
That's fantastic!

Like I said, I've never used the sheets myself, but that sounds "right" to me, and very fruitful.

I'll look through your notes, and, in the meantime, I'd love to hear what other people's experiences with these things have been.

It seems that the "scarcities" sheet is great for conceptualizing/brainstorming existing threats (especially after the first session), but the spatial organization may be more useful for situating play later.

In my AW mutation, "Emergence", I use randomized thematic twists in a similar fashion. (

Perhaps using both the old and new First Session sheets would be helpful? It seems like the Thematic version (1st ed) is a great brainstorming tool, and reinforces the themes of the apocalypse (I could also see flavoring your particular game by changing some of the themes, for a given campaign); whereas the Spatial version (2nd ed) might be more useful in actual play, since it doubles as a map of sorts.

Anyone reading: what were your experiences of this like?

(Also: the roll20 link doesn't seem to work anymore!)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 01:24:25 PM by Paul T. »

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2016, 02:23:13 PM »
Sorry, that game was the victim of regular Roll20 housekeeping. Here's a similar (better?) example It's a copy of the first session material from a game started on Saturday.

Looking through the Emergence material, the world building procedures are somewhat similar to how I run the first half of the first session. When I MC, the first session break down is roughly 1 hour for world building, 1 hour for character creation, 1 hour for relationships, and 1 hour for a quick bang to establish a day in the life. Rarely does it go quite that way, but that's the plan I roll with into the first session.

The group that started on Saturday is using the thematic sheet as the group notes for the game, with the spatial relationships sitting in the threat boxes (pdf clipped and added on the map layer, my notes on the GM layer). Instead of specifying the related threats in the threat box, I draw lines between the related threats, spider web style, to be easier to reference quickly. If I see you pop in, I can give you GM permissions to check out the pink MC-only text.

Fun stuff.

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2016, 02:39:59 PM »
This is great! Thanks for sharing.

You should make a permanently-available version of some kind; I think a lot of people new to AW would learn a lot from how you organize your prep.

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2016, 04:49:45 PM »
No problem at all. Hope it helps.

One note worth offering for anyone else reading along, the game page on Roll20 begins almost completely blank for the first session. Yes, formatted to receive input from the players as we play, but blank of any fictional content. To better illustrate, I've copied to the game linked in my earlier post both the before and after (first session) game pages.

The difference between the before and after game pages is fictional content. As the players and I play the game during the first session, I take notes on what they discuss and ask questions if there are any pauses in the conversation. It's very Socratic. Post first session, I start adding information to flesh out threats, wonder about relationships within the content the players offered (triangles are my favorite), and jot down honest questions I'd like to see answered through play (aka: stakes).

To your point before, the game will remain up for a while this time. The game page therein illustrates how I use the 1st edition First Session sheet.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 05:24:54 PM by RangerEd »

Re: First Session Sheet: Spatial v Theme
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2016, 05:50:47 PM »