Author Topic: A Solitary Apocalypse World?  (Read 1045 times)

Fniff

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A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« on: April 18, 2018, 01:08:21 PM »
My friend and I were brainstorming a post-apocalyptic role-play. Something like Threads, Fallout Dust or Frost, or The Road: something that explored the solitude of the post-apocalypse.

The way we imagined it would be is that everyone apart from the other players would be either hostile or (rarely) indifferent to the players. Due to the trauma of the apocalypse, such a gap has developed between you and other people that it simply can't be bridged.

I said, hey, I think Apocalypse World would be perfect for that! All you have to do is exaggerate the threats, ask the right provocative questions, and barf forth the correct form of apocalyptica.

He said, no, Apocalypse World wouldn't really suit.
The problem is that AW, at its heart, is social. A lot of it is establishing how you exist in a post-apocalyptic. More directly, several playbooks (Chopper, Hardholder, Hocus, Maestro’d) specifically don't work in a solitary world.

I said, what if your subordinates were just as distant and strange? Then you have an army you can't quite trust.
He said, it's still your army. He used my Chopper Trouble in a Halfpint as an example: my gang are literally the worst people around, but they're still Trouble’s gang and they follow her.

Thinking on it, you could have your subordinates be also normal. After all, isn't it meant to be special you have this many people in such a lonely world?
But as my friend said, it screws the power dynamic and it's different feeling being along with 13 people than it is being along with 3 people.

Then again, you could just ban Hardholder et all from the game, but that seems cheap.

Is there a solution or am I barking up the wrong gaming system?

lumpley

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Re: A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2018, 02:26:17 PM »
The "seems cheap" solution is the right solution.

Take all of the NPC-rich playbooks off the table, limit yourselves to the playbooks that work for the game you want to play!

-Vincent

Fniff

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Re: A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2018, 05:12:50 PM »
That is a solution, but I feel the NPC-rich playbooks are the most underused.
I feel there's a solution we're missing here.

Ebok

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Re: A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2018, 04:31:40 AM »
Underused for you? Or underused in general. The NPC rich classes are certainly NOT underused in my experience.

If the issue is one of scale... You can also shrink the scale of those playbooks. A gang is 3 people rather than 15, medium size gang is 6, etc. A hard hold is actually a single farm instead. Cut the number of npc's down by a specific scale, match that with the aggressiveness of the world, and make sure the HOT isn't just some useless stat because no one will ever talk to you. This functions fine and can keep the sense of privacy without utter isolation.  If you need more than that but want them to be afflicted by the maelstrom, enslave/capture/occupy some group of them. So they aren't immediately trying to murder you but might if released.

Otherwise, I would agree with lumpley and advise you to simply remove the offending playbooks for that given game.

The ones I would cut would be Skinner, Hardholder, News, Waterbearer.

News: Too much social, magical auto-knowing people, in an isolated world.
Skinner: A bad call if you intend to keep relationships fleeting, and lost does no favors.
Waterbearer: I don't think that this class would shine in that type of game world. Plus having the SOURCE of water, and expecting people not to be around is meh.
Hardholder: Might require too much infrastructure, and if these don't exist, then they don't exist.

Chopper is fine, a gang of 3 or maybe 6 as I said, and probably make every npc have 6 harm clock rather than 3, to heighten the fact that the PCs don't have an explicit strength more then the sitch provides. MaestroD works too, cut down the number of social ties, and have people drawn to you, rather then you come across them and their stories, but they always leave. MaestroD might just be the most lonely person in the world though.

The big key to this type of story, in my opinion, is to prevent settling down. If could be that people are just more violent and antisocial... but honestly? No. That's the wrong way to look at this. You should consider that people are inherently the same as they always were, but the number of people is so drastically less that it is hard to find that many in any one place. Reference: Girls' Last Tour / Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō (anime)

I think I'd push a maelstrom that just... makes it hard to impossible to stop. Everyone is going somewhere, and not the same somewhere. They've just got goals that are distant. Maybe because the maelstrom forces their goals away, maybe because the game takes place in some deadspace between things. Dunno.

Ebok

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Re: A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 04:52:30 AM »
A better solution might be to play AW with no playbooks at all.

I would consider dropping EXP and improvements completely. You actually don't need them. If the goal of the game is to explore solitude, replace these features with very lightweight and simple mechanisms that would compel the game design.

You can replace the emphasis on gaining moves, exp, and people, with stuff. You find a gun and a single box of ammo. You find a motorcycle, but it's barely got anything in the tank–It might get you and friend a bit further along though. You raid a story for some snickers, it could you over for a day or so, mark 1-food. Replace barter expenditure at the start of the session with food expenditure. A blanket won't help you eat, but you might be able to trade it to someone freezing for another day or two worth of food.. if you happen across them... and you convince them.

You might consider implementing a more potent Hx system. Something that goes up and down all the time. -1Hx if you have a fight. -1 Hx if you leave someone in a pinch. +1 Hx when you got their back when it counts, whatever. If your games are numerous and short, this probably doesn't need to happen. If your games are long and spread out--it might help.

I would also at the very least halve at least gang sizes because there just aren't that many people.

To focus on solitude it does have a psychological element that becomes important. Maybe you want to support that. Additionally, you'll want to zoom really close up to the characters. So any abstraction that focused on groups needs to be relooked at.

If you want some form of advancement, make a list of 10 improvements that work generally. Maybe 2 are pick a move from any playbook that makes sense. And give exp, not for rolling stats, but in DW style, at the end of the session if EVERYONE went to a place they've never been before, found/witnessed/did something truly remarkable, or /enter in some motivation you want to drive the story/.




lumpley

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Re: A Solitary Apocalypse World?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2018, 11:12:36 PM »
Solid!

-Vincent