[Apocalypse World] First Session and Beyond (Edited)

edited August 2010 in Story Games

We had our first session of Apocalypse World today. I was the MC and everyone loved it, but I feel sort of at a loss for what to do next re: Fronts. Help?

Here are some of the highlights:

Audrey, our driver, having a conversation with Dremmer, the NPC leader of a motorcycle gang:

Dremmer (shotgun aimed at Audrey's car): Pull over!
Audrey: Why?!
Dremmer: I want your fuckin' car!
Audrey: What the fuck? No way!
Dremmer: My girlfriend wants to start a family, y'see, and says I can't drive this bike around anymore! We need more room!
Audrey: *7-9 on seize by force: Dremmer's life roll* BOOM (headshot)

The gunfight caused Audrey to lose control of her vehicle, causing it to stop. Dremmer's gang stopped around her:

Ganger: You... you killed our boss! ...That means YOU'RE our new boss.
Gang: Yeah! Woo!
Audrey: Uh... okay? I shall call you Audrey's Angels!

Heron, our skinner, hypnotizing Pierre, a beefhead:

MC: He punches you in the face for 1-harm. It's worse than you thought--your teeth cut deeply into your cheek for 2-harm. There's a lot of blood.
Heron: I hypnotize him. *rolls 10+*
Pierre: I didn't mean it like that baby, honest.

Our Battlebabe, Mar, shoots a man in a barfight:

MC: He rears back to hit you with a barstool.
Mar: I shoot him in the gut.
MC: He falls to the ground after weakly hitting you with the barstool.

Jav, our Angel, heals him. A week later her returns in force:

MC: Balls is back. He has friends. You're sitting at the bar when you hear the gun cock behind your head. It's Balls.
Mar: Jav, see why we don't heal people who SHOOT US?
Jav: He didn't shoot me.
Mar: ...

Jav, getting more medical supplies:

Hugo: I have what you need! ...What do you need?
Jav: Medical supplies. I have two suitcases full of fresh dead rats and five-gallons of gas.
Hugo: I have... non-standard drugs that can... work as healing supplies, yes.
Jav: Deal. Let's do it.

Jav apparently got a bag full of hash, which Mar makes use of quite frequently (given that he gets shot a lot). He has 1-stock worth of hash in his medkit. I love this game.

We've established that we're playing in the ruins of Fresno, CA. There is a bustling marketplace run by III and a garage complex run by a Saavyhead named Old Sal. There's a raider's den nearby named... Shitstain. Audrey, the driver, has agreed to run weapons to Shitstain for Dog head, the hardholder of Fresno. The deal seems somewhat... shady. Why is a hardholder selling guns to raiders? Anyway, he's offering a whopping 2-barter worth of old coinage and bills for the job to be done, and sending one of his top men (Twice) to make sure it goes down right. Weird!

There's a bar named Slinky's where Heron hangs out, plying his/her trade. So far s/he's banged at least three NPCs and profited from it, either from hypnotize or getting barter. The hardholder, III, has a lieutenant named Twice who is under Heron's control via hypnotize. Twice and Heron are tagging along with Audrey on the arms deal; so are Jav and Mar.

Mar got shot in a poker game where he was accused of cheating. The guy who shot him, Huge, got away. He's going to mess that motherfucker up, and good, come the next session.

Jav and Audrey roll together often, Jav profiting by healing anyone who ails along the road. Jav is very opportunistic--he follows war and misery wherever it goes, offering his services to anyone who can pay. In his defense, he puts a lot of his profits into keeping his medkit stocked.

So far I have a shady hardholder and his crew, the raiders out in Shitstain, Slinky's, the Saavyhead Old Sal, and a few people Mar has pissed off or who have pissed him off. This seems like a lot to work with, but when I think about it I can't think of anything!

What do you guys think? Help me unstick my brain, please!


  • This is going to sound so lame & patronizing, but follow the rules for creating Fronts! Go down the list of scarcities, and look at what NPCs you have from the first session, and see where those NPCs threaten the players.

    Dremmer's gang, for example, is surely still around (maybe his girlfriend's now the leader?) What scarcity do they express? Hmm, sounds like it sure could be Envy to me. And what threat type are they? Sounds to me like a Brutes: Family, but any Brutes or WarLord will probably do in this case; see by what you choose you get to pick what the NPCs are? Okay, now you have a Front that expresses Envy (or whatever). Make 2 or 3 more threats that express the same thing. Why is that hardholder selling guns to raiders (I'm assuming this "hardholder" is an NPC? It's unclear from your post)? Does it have anything to do with envy? If so, she's a threat in this front, if not, what kind of threat is she expressing? Pick it, then start a new Front for that threat.

    Something to remember: All of the NPCs (& probably landscapes & whatnot as well) should be threats, but you don't have to wait for something to show-up onscreen to make it a threat. You can create threats (& fronts) from whole cloth & fill out your fronts with them.

    Does that make sense? Seriously, don't make it too complicated; just follow the rules. The first time I created Fronts it took me a handful of hours spread across two weeks and some definite work, but the work wasn't rules-wrangling, it was just getting myself to sit down and think. Give yourself some time, follow the rules, sit down and dream, and it'll work great. And it's really fun, too!

    Also remember: the only reason you're creating fronts is to give you interesting things to say, as per your agenda & principles.
  • Right, interesting things to say. That's so simple; I always forget!

    The hardholder is an NPC, yes.

    The members of Dremmer's gang that were with him joined up with Audrey (she chose to impress, dismay, or frighten her enemies and that's how it shook out). But the rest of the Dremmer's gang is surely pissed! Sweet!
  • edited August 2010
    Just because some of the gang accepted Audrey as a leader doesn't mean they're not a threat! Go ahead and put them into whichever front they fit in, too. Brutes:Sybarites or Brutes:Hunting Pack would be just fine, and I can see them easily expressing fear, given the events you described. Probably they could work with others, too.
  • this game sounds fantastic.
  • edited August 2010
    Edit: this ended up being very long. I bolded things of mechanical interest; everything else is fiction. Sorry, I'm not very good at AP reports yet...

    We had our second session tonight! It was shorter than normal (about two-hours) because it was an emergency session designed to resolve a cliffhanger so we could phase out a PC for a week or two without harming the continuity of the game. Our game is set in the suburban ruins of Fresno, near the Maze (the urban center of Fresno). We use a map I sketched at the 1in = 5mi scale using Google maps. We're about 100 miles east of the ocean, near Pinnacles and the I-5. To the north is urban wasteland, inland is the green apocalypse, and to the south lie the Burn Flats. Just across the ruined highway is the Flat Place, the remnant of ruined agricultural fields.

    Introducing, for the first time on these fora, the Cast!

    Audrey, the Driver. Doesn't like being tied down. Roams the wasteland with Jav, the Doc, providing cover, transportation, and shelter for him. He provides her with adventure. Killed Dremmer, took on some of his gang, and is now being hunted by Dremmer's (pregnant?) girlfriend and the rest of the gang.

    Heron, the Skinner. Is a boy, we think. So s/he claims. Can't really tell. S/he spends most of her time getting as many denizens of Fresno under her thumb as she can, using the Hypnotize move. Is also fond of taking of clothing, a la An Arresting Skinner. Is really excited about the Maestro D' playbook. Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that she has the hardholder's (an NPC) right-hand man under her thumb (1-hold over him). Don't fuck with this one -- s/he's a Devil with a Blade.

    Jav, the Angel. Is an opportunist. Won't help you if you can't pay, but spends most of his cash getting more supplies for his medkit. Rolls around with Audrey, looking for violence and war. Will give most people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to payment (i.e. he takes IOUs from dying men, but makes sure to let them know that they owe him).

    Mar, the Battlebabe. The ambiguously gay cowboy. Likes his guns (Clyde the M14 and Walker the ornate silenced handgun), his meat (his initial 1-barter was all fresh beef jerky), and his whiskey (Audrey showed him the glory of preapocalypse whiskey when he saved her life). May be bad at poker, but for Christ's sake don't tell him he's a cheater. Is, quite literally, Ice Cold.

    We began our second session with Mar wanting to take care of a little business. He finds out where Huge, who shot him in a poker game, lives from Huge's mother, Slinky. Mar doesn't know that Slinky is Huge's ma (I didn't know either, "play to find out" indeed!), and she don't tell him. He manipulates (rolled a 9) her into telling him where her boy lives, but she makes promise not to hurt Huge.

    Question: when you get a soft hit on the manipulate roll, does providing concrete assurance satisfy the "promise" clause, or are you mechanically bound to keep your promise at that level? Mar left Slinky his guns, which was enough for her to tell him where Huge lived. He ended up roughing him up after Huge produced a shotgun, but the manipulate move confuses me somewhat. Will a character ever be mechanically prevented from taking action, or do they just have to satisfy the MC/NPC with "concrete assurance" to satisfy the move?

    Anyway, Mar took Heron and things went south. Heron bolted after luring Huge out of his shack, Mar got into a tussle with him and lost sight of him, whereupon Huge produced a shotgun and Mar was forced to grapple with him, avoiding harm but again losing track of Huge. Mar blew apart the kid's shack with his shotgun, Jav and Audrey heard the ruckus and came to see what was going on. Jav chillstabbed Huge and Mar brought the boy and his gun back to Slinky, who gave the way-too-high Huge an earful.

    Fun fact: Jav got a soft hit on a barter roll in III's marketplace in the holding during the first session. III's narc man, whose name I can't recall just now, gave him something close to what he wanted: 1-stock worth of the stickiest of the icky, some serious hydroponic shit, the best weed you'll ever smoke. Now every time Jav chillstabs someone, there's a 50-50 chance he'll produce a joint from his bandoleer ("...You have a JOINT BANDOLEER?" "Yeah, of course.") instead of the standard hypo.

    The situation with Huge having been resolved to everyone's liking, Audrey pops in and offers the crew a job: Doghead wants Audrey to run guns to Shitstain, a raiding outpost in the Burn Flats. This causes some amount of ruckus in the bar where they're discussing the deal ("You're going to bring WHAT to WHO?"), which Mar defuses by buying everyone in the bar a round (make them buy: 1-barter worth of whiskey).

    Everyone agrees to the job, and the team departs. Audrey brings her gang, Audrey's Angels, lead by Scruffy, on the gig. Doghead's Lieutenant Twice is ordered to go along and make sure the deal goes down. Heron, attached to Twice, agrees to go along as well. The whole crew!

    On the way down, Audrey crosses into Dremmer's old territory and narrowly avoids an ambush from Look's people (Scruffy saw and informed his new boss about the ambush; this guy must have really hated Dremmer. Why?).

    The deal went down just fine, with Shithead (the leader of the Shitstain outpost) sending his man Spam out to exchange the goods for the cash (literally in this case: Doghead provided preapocalypse coinage and bills for this job, which are apparently still valued by the nostalgic residents of the Fresno area). On the way back, Audrey once again had to cross through Dremmer's territory, and because I thought it would be interesting (and because the PCs just said "We go back to Fresno." and I asked "the way you came?" and they said "Why not?"... what a golden opportunity, presented on a plate!), I had Audrey roll Dremmer's move again. She noticed the ambush coming, but was unable to avoid it.

    Highlights of the fight: Mar, with the assistance of Audrey's driving (yay +Hx!), slaughtered most of the gang with his M14 (which had the +long tag). Jav flinched when he rolled to endure fire, so I offered him the following hard bargain: he would either take the 2-harm from the pistol rounds, or he would see 1-stock worth of medical supplies get destroyed by gunfire. He took the stock damage. I love this game!

    Mar shot the tire off one of the fleeing gang member's motorcycles, and Jav quickly used Healing Hands to bring him around so he could be interrogated. He got a soft hit, so the fire from his patient's brain caused him to absorb 1-harm rather than heal it. Neat! He immediately fell backwards, as if thrown, with a splitting headache that he promptly cured by toking up.

    And that was pretty much it! Pretty action-packed for two hours, actually. I have but one request, S-G: please help me involve the Skinner more. So far s/he does what s/he wants, which is in the Skinner synopsis, but I'd like to design some interesting situations that highlight her unique talents.

    Oh, and for such a violent game, the Battlebabe is only two or three XPs ahead of everyone else, which surprised me. Everyone is at 1.1 or 1.2, except for Mar who is at 1.4 and Jav who is at 1.3 (yay Hx-for-healing!).
  • edited August 2010
    Follow-up: my threats and the fictional events surrounding them are quickly coalescing: unless the PCs do something about it, the raiders in the region will probably unite long enough to burn down the Fresno holding and kill everyone in sight before being slaughtered by the cannibals and slavers in the Maze, who are at present entangled in something of a war. One side will absorb the other, however, and future badness is growing in the region...

    The gangs are growing. The people are sick, tired, and unable to defend themselves since Doghead has turned opportunistic and is arming the local gangs for support. If Look throws in with Doghead to get at Audrey, shit is gonna get FUCKED...

    Maybe they'll unite and fight for a better world after all!
  • I have little to say except 1) Man, I love AW, and 2) Your game sounds awesome, and I kind of wish I was playing in a game instead of MCing one because I really want to play a Skinner now. Not enough social fuckery going on in my game, IMO.
  • Posted By: framweardS-G: please help me involve the Skinner more. So far s/he does what s/he wants, which is in the Skinner synopsis, but I'd like to design some interesting situations that highlight her unique talents.
    In my skinner's case, I've been carefully keeping track of all the NPCs that she's used hypnotic on. She's rapidly gathering a large pack of... suitors... who are all going to want her to do different things. Aside from the other PCs, she has picked up 3 dudes from opposed sides in the local war that is just hotting up. Now, this stuff hasn't really come to the crunch yet (except for her reluctantly getting involved in a battle because the guy who regards her as his woman insisted), but I can see it getting more and more complicated as time goes on.

    Advice wise, I'd say... just let them do all that skinner stuff, and remember that all the NPCs she does it to aren't just going to forget about it after that scene is over. Bring them all back later, and see what falls out.
  • Right on! I was just thinking I'd have a scene where a dude who just used up the last of his hold and is no longer under the Skinner's spell stop by and visit when s/he's... indisposed, then have him come back and rain down hell on the both of them. Even better that the Skinner's current plaything is the hardholder's right hand, so when shit hits the fan he's going to be PISSED.
  • edited August 2010
    Yeah, amp up the jealousy from the dude. Also, why have him leave and come back later? Have him go nuts when he visits the first time!

    Edited to add: plus, if the skinner isn't really trying to keep things secret, word will get around. Especially if, like, one of these guys likes to boast.
  • A custom move we (literally) just came up with:

    When you kill someone and open your brain in their presence, take a +1 on the roll.
  • Seems like just about everybody opens their brain about the process of dying, eventually.
  • Eventually? That was like the second thing you ever did playing Apocalypse World!
  • Heh. It was my hard bargain for a soft hit on an acting under fire roll. I told the player he could get the information he wanted from his right-hand man, but only if he killed the guy and then opened his brain immediately.
  • Highlights of our first Skype session(!):

    -Jav, Mar, and Heron realize the raiders they armed last session are the very same ones holding up a bunch of refugees (after killing two raiders). When the two sides realize what's going on, the leader of the raid (Spam) offers the boys the gear and bikes of the two men they killed in exchange for leaving the raiders alone. Everyone agrees, and the three watch as the raiders murder everyone, including a little girl.

    -Audrey stumbles upon her right-hand man, Scruffy, muttering some psychobabble shit at the moon. When she sneaks up on him, she gets a soft hit on the roll. He closes up and I tell her how she can get the information she wants: kill him and open her brain in his presence. She does this after a lot of thinking and attempting other means of ingress.

    -Heron wakes up to man with a blade to her throat. It's Biff, one of her squeezes s/he abandoned. S/he hypnotizes him and the slits his throat. She wakes up and the body is gone. Bodies don't seem to lie unmolested long in Fresno, and there's no shortage of mystery meat in Slinky's (the local bar) dishes...

    XP Tracker:
    Audrey the Driver: 1.4
    Jav the Angel: 1.2 (Touched by Death increased his weird by two though!)
    Mar the Battlebabe: 2.0
    Heron the Skinner: 1.2
  • Hey guys, I've moved my record of this game to Obsidian Portal. You can read all about it there.


    Hope you enjoy it!
  • Posted By: JohnstoneEventually? That was like the second thing you ever did playing Apocalypse World!
    clearly, some people just take longer coming to a conclusion I reached almost immediately.
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