Author Topic: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?  (Read 3120 times)

samtung

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Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« on: August 09, 2016, 12:31:39 AM »
Hi everyone,

About to start my first game of Apocalypse World this weekend as the MC (we've played lots of Dungeons & Dragons and more traditionally-structured tabletop games, as well as some Microscope and Fiasco.

My big question is: does AW support adventuring?  I'm a big fan of Roadside Picnic/Stalker and Hyper Light Drifter -- I like the ideas of the PCs having to scavenge and sometimes coming across strange, even alien, artifacts.  I like the idea of environmental hazards and even monsters.

The rules and playthroughs I've listened to are very society-social targeted which is awesome -- and I know it's expressly forbidden to do story prep -- but are some of the ideas I'm thinking about feasible?  I was also considering bolting on some moves from Legacy or the Stalker / Ruin Runner playbooks?

Going to run 1e with the 2e playbooks while I wait for the Kickstarter rewards to ship -- does that seem reasonable?

Thanks!

noclue

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2016, 07:55:19 AM »
My big question is: does AW support adventuring?  I'm a big fan of Roadside Picnic/Stalker and Hyper Light Drifter -- I like the ideas of the PCs having to scavenge and sometimes coming across strange, even alien, artifacts.  I like the idea of environmental hazards and even monsters.

Well, I think you could have scavenging, alien artifacts, environmental hazards and monsters without much trouble. I'm not sure that makes it adventuring. I'd expect the MC's Principles and the HX questions would make play more about the people and their interactions rather than the quest.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Ebok

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 12:46:55 AM »
The things in AW are just props. All of the story is about who the characters are and what they want. All of this is put under pressure by what what they need.

AW isn't about does that enemy have enough HP / damage / threat to challenge the party. Really AW doesn't even have a party. Your characters are just as likely to butt egos against each other and make that interesting, as butt into the world they're struggling in. If you have a big fight in AW, the fight is just the tip of the iceberg. What is underwater is what does this fight mean for the environment? Who lost family, who was wronged, who gained, who took more then they should, who in the heat of the moment did something unforgivable, who gained from the fight, what is now vulnerable after the deaths, how are either side dealing with the fallout, what is no longer guarded? In AW things rent black and white, if that guy you just killed ran an entire gang, that's a lot of chaos you just introduced into the world. Maybe he was holding back some other evil, maybe he was subjugating some religious fanatics, maybe he was supporting a larger picture you didnt even see, maybe his brother was someone doing something good for the world, but now cant, or now is distracted by you, or whatever.

AW is about all the rest that happens. It's not so much an adventure as it is a story about people. Which can be an adventure if the person is adventurous.

In D&D you might reward a fighter after an epic battle with some magic sword of all this coolness. In AW, even if they find some kick-ass weapon, it's just dressing, flavor, the real importance is how the ego of the players butts against the egos of the world, and what they try to do about it. One of my players wanted something really scare powerful, and they were already touting around dangerous weaponry, I told them what they'd have to do to get it, and they did, they pulled it off. So they got the crazy cool thing, and used it to frighten people, it had the tags terrifying, wrong and had an additional vulnerability backlash. We just described it as doing more then killing the person, it ripped their ghost into spreads (meaningful in the given apocalypse). Backlash could mean socially, morally, spiritually, or physically. It ended up rupturing the characters psyche, he lost what was real and he had full hallucinatory conversations with people that were long dead, or overlayed people from the past on people now. The player bloomed, and he drove almost all the coolest events, I just dropped generic prompts now and then, and he ended up pushing weird all over the place. 

Definitely not your traditional here's a +5 weapon.

In a word, playing an adventure like D&D in AW is hard, to impossible, and you definitely should not try to house rule it in on your first game or two. If you want something that's halfway this and halfway that, InverseWorld and DungeonWorld are both structured in that vein. 

DannyK

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2016, 05:55:17 AM »
Yes and no.  There aren't "dungeons" in AW, just different places that are all dangerous and full of dangerous people.  You can certainly do a road-based game where the characters travel to different locations to take care of business and maybe even explore dangerous ruins in the blasted desert... but you're supposed to make things seem real.  Even if you're using some adventure-game elements, be sure to run them through the MC's agenda. 

Actually, a little bit of adventuring can be a great way to kick off new plot elements; the Gunlugger and the Chopper can gun down a lot of people and take their stuff, but the MC gets to determine what happens next and maybe they won't like it.

I think the main downside of this "adventuring" mode is that it takes the characters away from the web of relationships they establish with NPC characters. 

nomadzophiel

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2016, 09:56:57 AM »
I think the main downside of this "adventuring" mode is that it takes the characters away from the web of relationships they establish with NPC characters.

Well, you've got the folks in the town of the week. They change often, sure. That's more work for the MC but for the other players it's decidedly a mixed blessing. They don't come in knowing the relationships at play or who's motivated by what. So every attempt to pick up more fuel or supplies requires learning at least some of that from scratch and getting your nose into it. Are they going to be scared of the Brainer? Expect the Hocus to solve their problems as a wandering holy person? Will the PC's have to backtrack to an old business acquaintance who tried to kill them last time because she's the only one who can move their "treasure"?

Check out Firefly for a good mix of drama, relationships and adventuring for a traveling crew. Badger, Mr Miska and Patience are all running characters. The Alliance (Threat Type - Warlord, Dictator) collectively has a relationship of some sort with most of the characters. Steal the treasure is the smallest part of each "session". Can the Skinner talk the locals out of jailing the crew? Are they going to sell the cargo to their dangerous employer now that they know it's medicine or risk his wrath by giving it to people who need it?

Unless you've got an entire party of solo characters like the Battlebabe and the Gunlugger, someone's going to have a gang, or a couple of helpers or a venue or something. Those folks will give you running relationships but also a wild card element in each new town. Do you really want to let the Hardholder's (a ship can be a Hold and a vehicle, right?) small gang (Jayne is Not To Be Fucked With) going off on his own in a new town? What happens when he takes the Alliance's offer to sell out the Angel?

Paul T.

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2016, 04:47:06 AM »
One interesting solution I've always wanted to try is to keep the traveling/adventuring in a small, finite area.

Let's say, for instance, that there is a road which connects three settlements, and encampment in the cliffs, and an abandoned factory.

The PCs have a good long-distance vehicle they use to travel between these locations, doing trade and carrying messages. However, they always end up having to come back to the same places; that allows you to build up a cast of NPCs, create PC-NPC-PC triangles, develop relationships between the locales, and all kinds of other good stuff which ties in really nicely with AW play (but would be lacking in a typical "adventuring" kind of game).

RangerEd

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2016, 07:01:48 PM »
The idea Paul highlights is both the most workable from a story building perspective as well as from a IRL perspective. People, animals, and even programmed ABM dots tend to explore for the purpose of discovering and exploiting resources for survival. Really, though...why would anyone simply keep moving into the unknown when something viable has turned up?

DannyK

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Re: Adventuring in Apocalypse World?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2016, 12:09:04 AM »
In some Apocalypse World games, scavenging is a possible way to make a living. I ran a game which took place in a small community outside a very large dead city... there was a gold rush sort of atmosphere with prospectors going out, coming back rich or crazy or dying or getting bushwhacked.
Ironically, the PCs were never ever scavengers, they were trying to get by in a post apocalyptic boomtown.

If I were to do it again, I would increase the weirdness and danger associated with scavenging... make it more like Stalker than like D&D.