Apocalypse World AP

A little late to the party, I know. But I just finally ran Apocalypse World for the first time. It’s an amazing game. I recommend it.

I realized last night that this is the first game I GM’d that wasn’t my own in way too long of time. I’ve brought games like Fiasco, A Penny for My Thoughts, and How We Came to Live Here to tables, and been the guy who taught the rules, but none of them require a GM really. And of course I’ve been running play tests of Technoir and Noblesse Oblige, but it really felt like I was working muscles I hadn’t for a while. 

I printed out all the standard trifold playbooks and had them sitting on the table for players to look through. They chose a savvyhead, a skinner, an angel, and a driver. We’re talking three veteran players and one new player, so you know. All of us new to AW.

They made characters. They gushed and bragged about the moves the could do. I asked questions. Like how did the driver, Gremlin, get his car, Suzi? He found it on the side of the road with a corpse in it. What kind of electronica did the Savvyhead, Robinson, mess around with? He has a big wall of old monitors and TVs that play various bits of video. They went around and introduced their characters and established their Hx with each other. 

Then the sky turned this really weird color. It started raining something fierce. Warning sirens were blasting. Huge chunks of hail came crashing down on the roof and on our cars.

I wasn’t barfing forth apocalyptica yet, this was what was really happening outside. We spent some time watching the storm and checking out the hail bouncing on the deck. So I used all of this, what was happening, to start describing the scene. I tried to make it a little weirder: it was raining green.

It took me a little while to get things going. I looked at my list of moves, I looked at the NPC names, I looked at the resources. I kept thinking of the examples in the book. I still wasn’t really sure how to get from all these elements into getting something going. 

So I threw something out there. There’s a big guy named Brace who’s mad at Gremlin, the driver, for knocking up his sister (or so Brace thinks, I don’t know if that’s true yet…we’re playing to find out). I tried some moves, they tried some moves. It felt weird…we were all trying out these new tools. Heron, the skinner, was with Gremlin and she calmed Brace down.

Then  I wanted to throw something at Robinson and get Gabe/Gabby involved too. Robinson found some teenagers—Princey, Onie, and Mill—from the compound trying to break into the lockhouse to try and steal some rations. There were some moves traded back and forth and things snowballed better than Gremlin vs. Brace. Robinson ended up getting beat up pretty bad, smashed hard in the ear by Princey’s crowbar. This was the perfect opening for Gabe/Gabby to come in and save the day.

Gabe/Gabby stabilized Robinson. His ear’s still a bit messed up but he was able to get back on his feet. I’m still trying to find in the book if it says how long Harm is supposed to take to heal up or if that’s all up to me as the MC.[1]

Then there was a big boom coming from south of the compound. And a pillar of black smoke rising into the sky. Right around the place where Gremlin and Heron saw a bike gang camping out on their drive in. The two hopped in Suzi and drove out to investigate. Meanwhile Robinson tried to open his brain to see if he could learn something that way. He got a vague impression of fire and danger.

We left off at that point, leaving things a bit ominous.

Gabe/Gabby’s player, the new one, did just as well as everyone else with it. I think everyone’s trying to figure out how to play into moves and play out of them. Or at least trying to figure out how to do so seamlessly. I’m sure I was more nervous than anyone else. 

I noticed that I swore a lot when MCing. I don’t do that a lot, but it seemed to help convey game’s written tone into play.

I was a little bummed that no-one picked a hardholder. Or a hocus or a chopper for that matter. The setting details that would have come out of that holding or cult or gang would have been nice to start with. I did have Robinson’s workshop and Gremlin’s car to work with. So that was something.

I think now that a few things are established and as I create some fronts, things will be a bit more comfortable for me going forward. I’m really looking forward to see how well we can make this game sing once we all ease into it. If you have any specific advice for a new AW campaign, please feel free to dispense your wisdom in the comments slot below.

  1. [1] This is my only real problem with the way the book is written. Sometimes things are alluded to which are actual rules, sometimes things are alluded to which are purely up to the narrative. It’s often hard to tell the difference. I’m totally cool if it’s the latter, but I don’t want to miss out on something I’m supposed to be doing.

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