[AW] Ready to Barf...

edited December 2011 in Story Games
... Barf forth apocalyptica, that is. I've had AW for about half a year now, and I absolutely love the way it's written. The character creation process, the idea of "playing to see what happens" (I'm a total sandbox GM all the way), and treating everything as if it were real really speak to me. It's everything that I want to do as a GM laid out right there in black and white. I'm dying to run a few sessions for my group, but have hit a snag.

I tried to pitch the game to my group as being "like Mad Max but focused on character development". I got laughs, which is not what I was intending at all. No one seemed to understand what I was trying to say and didn't seem all that interested. Which is a shame. AW looks like a great game, and (in my opinion) playing several sessions would be very beneficial to at a few of my players. My group is pretty "traditional", meaning that we only play D&D-esque RPGs. You know, games that are mainly focused on "killing things and taking their stuff" instead of on who the characters are. One player in particular has never come up with a backstory or a personality for any of his characters, and just plays as a collection of stats and combat tricks.

I see the questions that get asked in AW as the perfect opportunity to get certain players in my group to be more proactive. Or at least start thinking about their characters as real people.

So, how did you all pitch Apocalypse World to your group? Or were you all lucky enough to have groups who were open to the more "narrativist-style" games?


  • This is a tough gig. We started with other games that looked more traditional and worked up to AW and similar. I think you could also start with 3:16 or Fiasco potentially as these are easier to sell. Worked great for us and we now have a group that doesn't blink at Microscope.
  • My old group was totally not up for anything but D&D. Heck, one of the players flat out refused to move from 2e to 3e, even though the other players wanted to. So I went out to local Go Play meetings and found myself a new group of awesome people to play with. We're actually right in the middle of our second AW campaign.

    So, I'm not telling you to leave your group. But if you do want to play other games, you might have to find other players. That's not a "better or worse" thing, just that people are going to have different tastes and styles.
  • edited December 2011
    Hey HyveMynd, I am in a similar position as you, having a game group of D&D fans. There is a hack of AW, called Dungeon World, which is similar like D&D but with some variation of AW like rules. What i did to convince them to play AW with me was to play a session of Dungeon World with them. They seemed to like it, so i told them that this game is a hack of a sci-fi post-apoc game. And i think we will try AW pretty soon...
    Just an idea, maybe worth trying. You might even end up just playing DW, it is a fun game in its own, having the same character based structure as AW, while also similar to D&D.
  • Some more detail on our successful transition experience, as encouragement. We had a five person group and two of us were committed to trying something more 'story game', one who didn't see any value at all in switching and two who weren't sure but were prepared to be convinced. Having that one ally really made a difference to me as I didn't feel alone in my desire, and I probably would have left without it. We resolved the disagreement that erupted like this:
    - We were open with each other about what we wanted. In particular there were no tricks about what we were trying to do.
    - From this open discussion we all agreed that playing together was the most important thing, not the game. So we had a strong common belief.
    - We then agreed to try other options to see what they provided and whether we liked it.
    - On the back of this experiment (Mouse Guard, and Dogs) we decided that the new style of games added value, and our play is better than ever because of the collaborative approach we've moved to.
    - We also agreed to continue some of our campaigns longer than we used to as one of our players really loves continuity and we didn't used to deliver this.

    Basically everyone got what they wanted and our games are rocking.

    My two tips based on this experience and other threads I've read:
    - Have a series of open and adult conversations about what everyone around the table wants: don't try a trick to get what you want.
    - Recognise you might not be able to keep playing together to get what everyone wants.
  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: HyveMynd
    So, how did you all pitch Apocalypse World to your group? Or were you all lucky enough to have groups who were open to the more "narrativist-style" games?
    I dunno, man. If your group is very "traditional" I wouldn't pitch it as anything different. It's very traditional in a lot of ways. Just pitch the setting: it's a post-apocalyptic game with some cool twists. If they're excited about PA, then run a one-shot for them. Afterwards, point out some of the ways characters can develop long-term (rules-wise). Then see if they're excited for a longer game of it.
  • My advice is, print out the character playbooks and put them on the table for your friends to look at.

    If the playbooks don't grab them, they aren't interested in the game. That's life!

  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: lumpleyMy advice is, print out the character playbooks and put them on the table for your friends to look at.

    If the playbooks don't grab them, they aren't interested in the game. That's life!

    Vincent, unsurprisingly, speaks the truth. My mistake was to go "Well, we haven't quite wrapped up this Paranoia mission, but we can't get much done in an hour, so hows about we make characters for this new game..." They ate it right up, paranoia was never returned to. I hadn't even explained to the group as a whole that I wanted to play AW, just vaguely mentioned it to a few players. Once they saw the playbooks, it wasn't me asking, it was them demanding to play AW next session.
  • That's how I got my group to play my Conan hack of AW! I showed them the playbooks, and they were like, "Oooh, shiny!"

    If "character classes" like "GUNLUGGER" or "BRAINER" doesn't get their attention, I don't know what will.
  • Yeah. Showing people the AW playbooks is probably the easiest and best way to (attempt to) grab their interest. Just slap the tri-folds down on the table, say "choose one", and go from there.

    My group's gotten into the habit of doing a sort of elevator pitch when someone's interested in a new game, since almost everyone wants to run something and we only have so much game time per month. My pitch should simply have been tossing the books onto the table.
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