[Apoc. World] How do I show "Pockets of humanity?"

edited July 2011 in Story Games
So I am doing a short run of Apocalypse World for my weekly Games on Demand Skype game. The last session was our first, and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but there was one comment that they did not feel the "Pockets of humanity" bit was really being represented in the fiction. And, well, I suppose it was not not, and I am not entirely sure how to do so. Basic concept of our Maelstrom, an AI ran everything on the world, nanites regulated the atmosphere and captured a persons "Soul" when they died to bring them to "Heaven" a collection of satellites that orbit the earth, and maintain the "Matrix." Well, it all went wrong, and the climate control system scourers the wasteland as it is controlled by the mad AI and collected souls. The world survives in small pockets of naturally environmentally stable areas, and others that have archaic systems able to ward off the nanite bots that control the weather.

So with that as the basis of the setting, what are some good ways of showing the "Pockets of humanity" theme?


  • Have you watched LOST? Frame "other people" as less then people. Good old fashioned bigotry, mixed with fear of the unknown.Language barriers or social differences help a lot.

    Sure, your community might be a group of murderous hyenas, but they are still PEOPLE. Those other guys, who live outside the settlement? They are less then filth; sub-human deviants who engage in all sorts of debasements without reason. And they talk funny.

    OK sure, maybe you met one Outlander family, and they were decent folk trying to get by in a hard world. They are an exception though; you met some 'good ones'. Still best to shoot first and take their stuff.

    Once the world is defined along very hard lines, us vs them it's easier to create a feeling of alienation, isolation.

    Just make sure you don't go the "noble savages" route, and do the big second act reveal of "THEY WERE GOOD PEOPLE ALL ALONG". Bigotry flows both ways, and the Outlanders will should feel the same way about the players' settlement (probably with reason). With enough violent ignorance to spread around, everyone is eventually correct!
  • I think the pockets are bounded by the number of named characters you can remember. As long as every last person is named, human memory, laziness, and boredom will keep groups small.
  • You've literally built it into the physical reality of your setting; what more do you want?

  • What does "pockets of humanity" mean?

    That there are pockets of isolated people?

    That there are moment of humanity shining through the bleakness?

    Something else?
  • Posted By: Paul T.What does "pockets of humanity" mean?
    Now that I think about it, pockets implies isolation. That means fronts need to be people within the pocket, maelstrom, or natural. No roving gangs, no next colony over, just these characters. If players leave and go somewhere else, those people will be the same.
  • edited July 2011

    When I first read your post, I assumed that you meant "have little moments of meaningful connection and beauty, human moments, designed to counterbalance the AI insanity and frequent violence." And then I went ahead and wrote a response based on that parsing of the title. And then I read more thoroughly, and found out I was wrong. I'm still posting it though, as I think it's useful.

    If so, there are some MC principles you want to pay attention to, and re-read:
    *Name everyone, make everyone human (p112).
    *Respond with fuckery and intermittent rewards (p113).

    Also, ask provocative questions. Halfway through a gun fight with Thug Nut, turn to someone not involved, and ask, "How old is Thug Nut's son?" or "What's the kindest thing Thug Nut's ever done for the community?"

    As for hard moves:
    *Offer an opportunity, with or without cost (p120).
    "The Jacobs family is offering you dinner. Their three year-old and five year-old are both trundling towards the table with little plates of food: mouse, and grilled carrots. Scoria Jacobs is, like I said, inviting you in. But she demands you leave your weapon at the doorstep, to enter as a peaceful being. What do you do?"

    *Turn their move back on them (p120).
    "A fail? Well, you still kill the shooter. After that volley of shots, the shadowy figure slumps down. A couple of your guys rush forward to check that it's really dead, and learn who the fuck it was. They call back to you, but it's with a startled and timid voice. They tell you it's Mother. Poor, tiny Mother. The village mute."
  • edited July 2011
    wrong thread. Story games keeps kicking threads around. My bad.
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