[Apocalypse World] I tweaked the Ruin Runner. Is it overpowered ?

Hi there folks,

Ive always found the Ruin Runner one of the most evocative playbooks, perhaps due to my fandom of the Stalker series. So, I aint sure who the author really is (I apologize for that) but I came to discover that its based on another playbook called "The Scrapper" by Jeff Russel, which Ive just met last week and found awesome too.

So, I went ahead and tweaked the Ruin Runner by absorbing more ideas (both conceptual and explicit) from the Scrapper that Ive found cool. The result is what you see here:


Could you please offer criticize to help me improve it ? I would like for him to be more than a mere scrap-finder and tried to gave him a more Stalker vibe, by having some badass moves (exclusive for use on dangerous terrain and landscapes).

Also, I would like to have him get a bit more weird, to reflect a spiritual connection to the Zone.. oops, to the dangerous ruins of the old times. ;D

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!


  • I like this a lot. Lots of neat stuff in here, and very different from other character types.

    One thing that strikes me is the "You'd have to be crazy to follow me in here" move. It's not 100% obvious when and how you would use that move: I think it needs a specific fictional trigger. Maybe something like, "When you lead a pursuer into dangerous terrain," maybe something more involved.

    I'm not sure the Going Aggro results make sense with this move. How do you see it mapping to the fiction? (I love the idea of the move! But it's very vague as written.)

    Adding more of a supernatural/weird vibe is a good idea.

    Also, it's usually spelled "jury-rigged". (But it's not necessarily wrong to write it "jerry-rigged", and who knows how people spell things in the post-apocalypse, anyway.)
  • In response to the thread title: I don't see anything over-powered in here. If anything, I would worry about the opposite (but that's just fine).
  • It has a +1 sharp move, so yes, probably.

    Other than that, it seems fine, though I would recommend trying to rewrite the first two moves to avoid having the player mostly choosing things to _not_ happen -- but that's kind of a peeve of mine, re: AW moves. Also as Paul mentioned, the "You'd have to be crazy..." move needs some clarification.

    Lastly, the second Hx question doesn't make any sense to me, given the playbook concept; it's also kind of boring.
  • Agreed!
  • Thanks very much for the feedback, folks!

    Ok, some important things. 1) Im cross-posting this here, so feel free to contribute as you see fit. 2) this playbook is directly inspired by the Scrapper from here. With that out the way..

    I think Paul_T is spot on with the "They would be crazy to follow me here" move being too vague. I like the suggested "when you lead a pursuer into dangerous terrain". But "pursuer" there seems a somehow restrictive condition. What about simply "enemy" ? This way one could surprise/ambush trespassers too. What do you think ?

    IceCreamEmperor, what did you mean with the "It has a +1Sharp move, so yes, probrably" ? Do you mean its overpowered ?

    About the Scavenger and Jeryy-rigged moves "shop list" format, well, there is two potentially interesting things behind it: 1) a "-you avoid serious trouble" option there, which is purposeful and means that on a 7-9 it will generate instant trouble, and 2) two of the Nomad gear options (Multitool and Climbing Gear) sinnergizes with them, which I think is a pretty neat thing.

    On the other hand, I do think Scavenger is too... "timid" right now. Im considering this modification below. See what you think..

    Scavenger: when you spend some time searching through remnants of the old times, roll+sharp. On a 10+, you find precisely what you were looking for and then choose two. On a 7-9, choose one.
    - you find something worth +1barter
    - you find something that is +hi-tech
    - you avoid serious trouble
    - you do it quickly

    This way it would continue to sinnergize with the Nomad gear, but this time it would be much more powerful in a non-"shackled/timid" way, since you can simply find what you want.

    *Fake Edit* oh, and MisterOwl over at the other forum suggested making Bolthole its own section full of options like a MaestroD establishment or a Quarantine Stasis. Ive found it awesome. Any ideas on how to do it is welcome!

    Thanks boys. Keep it coming!

  • I think Paul_T is spot on with the "They would be crazy to follow me here" move being too vague. I like the suggested "when you lead a pursuer into dangerous terrain". But "pursuer" there seems a somehow restrictive condition. What about simply "enemy" ? This way one could surprise/ambush trespassers too. What do you think ?
    I think you need to be clear on what this move is for and what it does. Ambushing people in your area is very different from trying to escape pursuit, and I can't imagine both moves using the same list of results... (I'm still not sure 'go aggro' is the right move for this. E.g. "Tell you something you want to hear?")

  • edited July 2015
    Paul, the idea behind the move is to make the environemnt a weapon, not too different from a vietcong using the jungle in its favor, be it ambushing people or simply scaring them away ("dammit! no way I will follow this guy to there!"). Do you think its overpowered this way ?

    I think I can see it as overpowered if its used against the very terrain inhabitants, and certainly the way its written right now allows for this. But at the same time, restricting it to use only against pursuers seems too limiting. What about Ive been stalking a pray to the terrain just waiting to get him ? Or if some unaware wanderer steps into it and I want to ambush him ? etc. I would not be able to use the move in these contexts by your sugegstion, right ?

    What about I insert the condition "You and your enemy must be in dangerous terrain, and he must be an outsider to it, but you dont have to interact in any way, " or something in the likes ? I think the key reasoning here is that the enemy is out of its element/on a terrain he considers scary. But you, you make scary terrain you home.
  • edited July 2015
    Yeah, "When an outsider enters familiar (to you) dangerous terrain" or something like that works.

    I'm still not sure what that looks like in the fiction, though, you know? Like, what is the Ruin Runner actually *doing*? That should be the trigger: some kind of action on the part of the character.

    The short version is: if I had this playbook at my table, I just know that at some point we'd go, "Hey, so, can we use this move here?" And then we'd all scratch our heads because we're not sure.

    I like AW best when everything that happens is defined fiction-first, and in vivid colour. With "go aggro", we know there's shouting or punches or a gun drawn. With this move, I have no idea.

    Another idea (though maybe not as interesting): you could make it a custom move that the outsider must roll.

    "When an outsider enters your territory and you lead them exactly where you want them to go, have them roll+sharp/cool. (If it's an NPC, roll+Hx, and the MC chooses options for them.)

    On a 7-9 they choose one:

    * They still know exactly where they are.
    * You don't get +1 forward against them.
    * They haven't completely lost track of you.

    Horrible examples, but you get the idea.

    Thinking it over again, it IS better for the Ruin Runner to roll after all. On a miss, they keep doing what they're doing, and/or succeed. (i.e. If they were trying to corner you, they do. If they were trying to get away, they do.)

    On a 7-9, you get a minor advantage over them. On a 10+, you get your choice of several advantages.

    Seize by force might be a better starting place (except without the exchange of harm): you can frighten them or get the drop on them or you evade them and they lose track of them... they could be injured somehow, etc.
  • edited July 2015
    Ah! I think Im getting where youre going now. The confusion with this move is that its not being triggered by the player, but by the NPC or MC. Maybe including a condition for establishing some form of contact "I dare you! Come and get me !" or "Stop! Youre now on my domain. One step and you die!" or something in this vein could help ? Now, about turning it into a Seize by force with more flexible options, I can see its utility but I think it waters down the focus on making the terrain a weapon. In this sense, Going Aggro seems more fitting.

    On another front, I was thinking about options for the Bolthole (is this the best label for a Ruin Runner hideout ? "Bolthole" ? ) and came up with the following. Its just a sketch. See what you think..

    Your bolthole sits in the middle of a dangerous and twisty terrain. Its small, well hidden and of difficult access. Characterize it:
    - a cave
    - a school bus
    - a basement
    - a tree
    - a boat

    Choose 2 options:
    - it has an archive with maps of the old world. You get Somewhere out There* from the Tribal, but only for places.
    - its cozily decorated and has a warm couch ( +1forward for something ? )
    - its booby-trapped. (3-harm ap area loud if tempered ?)
    - its isolated from the psychic maelstrom
    - it has a makeshift infirmary and supplies. Get Prepared for the Inevitable** from the Gunlugger.

    *Somewhere out There: name a person, thing or place and roll +Sharp. On a hit you know where it is. On 10+ the MC chooses 2. On 7-9 the MC chooses 3:
    - its far off
    - its in hostile territory
    - its not exactly where you thought
    - its not what you expected
    - its been claimed

    ** Prepared for the Inevitable: you have a high quality well stocked first aid kit. It counts as an angel kit with a capacity of 2-stock.

    Thoughts ?
  • By the way, I was thinking about cutting out the Spooky current effect by something more.. weird. I would like something that represented a link between the Ruin Runner and the environment. I thought about allowing it to Open your Mind but using +Sharp instead of weird and only outisde on dangerous terrain. Or I could give +1forward to Open you Mind while on dangerous terrain. Alternatively, Im open to any other move that depicts this "weirdly bond between man and environment" (think about the bond between the Stalker and the Zone from the Tarkovsky movie if you will). Thoughts ?
  • edited July 2015
    In that case, I like:

    "When an outsider enters familiar (to you), dangerous territory and they end up exactly where you wanted them to go, roll+..."

    This has room for different triggering mechanisms.

    The player can do it, by walking out in the open and saying: "Come out of the trees, coward, and stand in front of me, like a man!"

    Or the MC can trigger it, by asking, "Hey, which direction are you hoping Dremmer approaches your bolthole from?" (And then deciding that, yes, that's exactly what he does.)

    Or you can go aggro on them, and what you want is to drive them off the treebridge into the crocodile-infested waters, and, if you succeed, it triggers the move, and so forth.

    Alternatively (and I don't like this as much), it could be a "when a stranger enters your home turf uninvited, roll..." kind of move. In other words, it's really a custom move related to your territory. But that's much less fun, I think.

    Another option, subtly different:

    "When an enemy enters an area you know like the back of your hand, or an area you've prepared beforehand, roll+..."
  • edited July 2015
    Dont know if I like restricting the move to a familiar (to the Ruin Runner) terrain or landscape. I find it interesting (in a spooky way) that he can use the move even in terrain he is not familiar about - perhaps his bond with the old ruins of the golden age transcends physical geography or something. Hmmm.. Ill think about.

    On another note, I came up with the following for depicting his bond with the environment. Again, feedback is apreciated. (notice the Stalker reference ;) )

    In the Zone: When you're out there, all alone and communing with a dangerous terrain, you may open your brain to the maelstrom at +1weird. On a miss the terrain tries to expurge you: take Ψ-harm.

    (and the part below - direct from the Quarantine - could be placed at the "aditional rules" part of the playbook)

    A person suffers Ψ-harm from exposure to the world’s psychic maelstrom. It might be first exposure, as in the case of people released from stasis, or it might be some subsequent unusual exposure.

    For players’ characters, when you suffer Ψ-harm, roll+Ψ-harm suffered (typically, roll+1). On a 10+, the MC can choose 1:
    • You’re out of action: unconscious, trapped, incoherent or panicked.
    • You’re out of your own control. You come to yourself again a few seconds later, having done I-don’t-know-what.

    On a 7–9, the MC can choose 1:
    • You lose your footing.
    • You lose your grip on whatever you’re holding.
    • You lose track of someone or something you’re attending to.
    • You miss noticing something important.
    • You take a single concrete action of the MC’s choosing.


    In the Zone: When you open you mind to the maelstrom roll +sharp. But only when youre out there, all alone, communing with a dangerous terrain. On a miss the terrain tries to expurge you: take Ψ-harm.

  • edited July 2015
    Ok, new version is up:


    Changes: new Bolthole section; stats reconfig to favour weird a bit more; In the Zone move; gear cleaned up. Oh, and some subtle stalker references here and there. ;)
  • You can't have a Go Aggro equivalent move that is triggered passively because Go Aggro is about making a comprehensible demand of somebody -- how does the Ruin Runner Go Aggro on somebody with no means of communicating what it is they want that person to do? Does the scary landscape just somehow tell them what it is they need to do, to avoid violence? In the case of the Brainer you have a) line of sight at least and b) psychic mojo to explain why the person might feel pressured to react.

    And yes, a +1 sharp move is probably overpowered, or at the very least there is probably a reason that such a move does not exist in any of the basic playbooks (the only playbooks that can get 3 sharp do so via specific advances, and I don't even remember if there are any.) Adding a +1 stat move that does not exist anywhere else means that option is now available to all other playbooks, making it much easier to get high sharp values.

  • The "make some sort of contact" clause on the Aggro means exactly that, no ? Did you see the updated version ?

    About the +1 sharp, I see. What about swapping this for an Act under fire with Sharp ? Do you think its fair ?

    How about "In the Zone" ? I never saw a similar one to thtat, but I couldnt think of anything else.
  • edited July 2015
    Ok, new version is up: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByF9qkt14FlUaUlheE5wRDdNdkk/view?usp=sharing

    1. the +1sharp move changed to act under fire with +sharp (+1sharp really seems overpowered).
    2. New "Places Speak" move.
    3. the Bolthole changed back to a Nomad Gear, but with sub-options;
    4. I cut off the Hoard as advancement option (this deprotagonizes the Hoarder too much).
    5. took off Somewhere out there from the Maps collection (same logic as the Hoarder, but with the Tribal this time).

    I liked it best of all versions yet. Feedback appreciated! ;D
  • Ok, final version:


    Tuned down the weirdness a notch, reduced total moves to 6, changed Pathfinder to use an advancement version of read a sitch (before it felt like a weaker version of Perfect Instincts), tweaked the advancement options to reflect her more lonely and gear-reliant nature, etc. Any feedback is welcome but I wont be able to modify it for at least the next month.

    Thanks for the help, folks. ;-)

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