Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit

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Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« on: May 21, 2018, 11:56:54 PM »
This is intended as a play aid for setting up a game of Apocalypse World. It might be especially well-suited for a group of beginners, or anyone looking for a little help to set up the game in the first session.

When you set up your game, pick about 5-6 of your favourite NPC names, and write them in the middle of the table.

Each player makes their character normally, adding the following to the very end of the procedure, after Hx...


For each playbook:

Choose 1, 2, or 3 of the statements below.

For every blank, pick an NPC name from the list. Or, ask the other PCs which of them it might be.

You can pick the names arbitrarily, on a whim, or carefully and intentionally.

A very few blanks are for something else, instead; the parentheses after the blank indicate what might go there.

By the end, you should have at least a handful of obvious and interesting scenes to frame. You can start to play immediately!

Example NPC list



NPC Prompts, by Playbook


* ________ needs my care and attention on a regular basis.
* ________ carries an affliction, infection, or parasite I fear could spread to the locals.
* I wish ________ would agree to work under me as my assistant or apprentice.
* ________ has access to medical supplies, implements, or knowledge I could use.
* ________ is in deep [financial/emotional] debt to me for saving their life.


* Serious money is on the table for me to kill _________.
* _________ sees me as a rival, and is looking to prove (or find out) who's the top dog between us.
* _________ is terrified or awed by me.
* _________ is my lover.
* At night, the maelstrom speaks to me in _________'s voice, [soothing/cajoling/frightening/daring] me.


* I messed up _________'s brain so bad they barely know what's up and what's down.
* _________ is terrified of me, and wants me gone, the sooner the better.
* _________ desperately wants my services, to [fix ________, someone they care about / get revenge on ________, someone they're not allowed to kill].
* _________ needs my "therapy" on a regular basis.
* _________ worships me for what I can do.


* _________ was once a member of my gang, not long ago. (On what terms did they leave? Did you kick them out, or what?)
* _________ has the know-how, equipment, or facilities to maintain and repair road hogs.
* _________ is the most capable member of my gang, hands down.
* _________ desperately wishes to join the gang.
* I had to teach _________ a lesson recently, after they got in my way.


* _________ has the skills, facilities, or tools to maintain my vehicle.
* _________ has seen places beyond what I have traveled, and knows their peril.
* _________ is having trouble transporting or trading goods reliably.
* I am often needed to help _________ get where they want to go.
* _________ has a vehicle which is more __________ [adjective] than mine.


* I fear that ________ cannot fend for her/himself. I would protect them with my life.
* My trigger-finger itches to bring ________ down. (And why have you not been able to yet?)
* _________ needs me for protection, for they fear _________ [another name from the list, a new name, a PC, a faction, a group, or an affliction].
* _________ provides me with [ammunition/medical care/both].
* The maelstrom has shown me visions: I know now that _________ cannot be brought down by my bullets.


* ________ is the former hardholder. (How did you take over from them, and how do people feel about that?)
* ________ is my second-in-command. (What makes them indispensable to you? What worries you about them?)
* ________ is a thorn in my side, constantly angling for my position. (How are they dangerous?)
* I wish I had __________ by my side, as my partner, confidante, advisor, or right hand.
* _________ is the most important or indispensable person in my holding, because only they can control/understand/maintain the _________ [valuable resource, device, or location].


* _________ is on the verge of accepting the Faith, if only I could push them over the edge.
* _________ is a Believer, but comes to me in secret, and doesn't wish it known.
* I rely on _________, for no one knows what's happening with my followers better than them.
* _________ was once a member of the cult, before they got kicked out.
* _________ wants the cult gone, for we embody everything they stand against.
* I desperately need to turn _________ into a believer.


* _________ wants my establishment gone.
* I owe _________ for helping me build, set up, or secure it.
* _________ wants in on it.
* _________ is my best/worst regular.
* I want to own or possess _________; they would be the beating heart of my establishment.


* _________ is hoarding some technology, knowledge, or skilled labour I'd love to get my hands on.
* _________ helps supply me with water, food, and tech or energy, which keeps my workspace running.
* _________ is always in need of my expertise.
* It's because of _________ that my workspace is secure (perhaps from tech-hungry scumbags, or other threats).
* The maelstrom has told me that _________ is the harbinger of destruction, decay, and barbarism, threatening to erase all knowledge, sophistication, and hope from this world.


* I can't let _________ keep doing what they're doing (or about to do).
* _________ is obsessed with me, to a frightening degree. Who knows what they might do, or what they want from me?
* I've got ________ wrapped around my little finger.
* _________ has something I want, very badly. (What is it?)
* I have foreseen that _________ and I will one day bear a child; the maelstrom's whispers bring the child's name to me on the wind everywhere I turn.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 10:02:59 AM by Paul T. »

Re: Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 01:07:40 PM »
This is absolutely brilliant!
We are by no means a new group, but I can't wait to try these out nonetheless. Thx :D

Re: Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 04:16:14 PM »
Thanks! I think they should be just as effective for a "veteran" group as a way to get to some interesting action quickly.

Please do post here if and when you put this to use - I'd love to hear how it goes.

Re: Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 11:10:42 AM »
A fellow gamer mentioned to me that my instructions to "pick 5-6 NPC names" might be misinterpreted to be taken as a personal directive - i.e. that each player should pick 5-6 names.

Unfortunately, I can no longer edit the original post, so I will clarify here:

The entire point here is that the entire group is operating with a very small list of NPC names, which each player and each PC references, so that there is a lot of crossover.

I think 5 names is probably ideal, but I could see a group agreeing to go with 6 or 4, depending on how NPC-rich they want their play environment to be.

When you set up your game, make a *communal* list of NPC names, 5 by default, and then assign these NPCs relations.

I hope that clarification helps!

Re: Apocalypse World for Beginners: NPC Starter Kit
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 04:19:57 PM »
My recommendation is that, when you use this, you do not detail the NPCs, but choose the relations fairly "blind". At most, have the MC (or any player) describe a single distinguishing feature for each NPC. For instance, you might find out that Dremmer a) has one eye, b) is responsible for maintaining the hardhold's Reactor, c) requires the Brainer's therapy on a regular basis, and d) the Savvyhead believes that Dremmer will bring down civilization as we know it.

All of that suggests some strong hooks for the MC to develop with this NPC, and can be used, in turn, to set some "first session" scenes (for example, Dremmer coming to the Brainer for "therapy" and explaining the things his missing eye shows him).