19 July 2010

Adnan's Junkyard: Apocalypse World first session.

I pre-ordered Apocalypse World a while back, and got the pdf. I have been really wanting to play since then, as this game is damn good. I've been meaning to write a review, but I didn't feel like I could do it justice without a bit of play.

Which has now been done - we did the first session of a game about a savvyhead and his assorted helpers and strays. Aside from Adnan the savvyhead, we have Jackson (brainer), Keeler (gunlugger) and Lavender (skinner). We generated quite a bit of detail about the world around them, although interestingly nobody volunteered anything about exactly what had happened to the world. There's a bit that's implicit given what came up in the session, of course.

Two of the characters had particularly interesting histories (by which I mean fuel for future complications). Adnan used to live in Grome's holding, but a year ago moved to his junkyard to be an independant operator selling his services to all comers. Jackson used to be the right hand of a hocus, from the sounds of it mind controlling recalcitrant followers and the like. But there was a coup, and after killing the rest of the leaders they threw Jackson in a river to drown, but instead he washed up at the junkyard. As the session went on we found that he'd taken in a few other random wanderers too.

The day in the life as suggested from in the MC's First Session instructions was pretty fun, as they all had  a turn with the more appealing moves they had. Jackson spent a lot of time doing violation glove powered in brain puppet strings on anyone he could, for later. Lavender did similar with hypnotic, and now has hold over Adnan and Jeanette (a raiding gang member). They also uncovered a mysterious buried thing - they hoped it was a crashed, buried plane but it turned out to be a weird tunnel full of strange fungus-like stuff, and goo. They decided to seal it back up but I have a feeling that stuff is not gonna stay dormant any longer. Plus, they killed a bunch of dudes from another nearby group in the process of claiming it.

So, plenty of stuff to work on for building fronts going forward. I look forward to thinking that stuff through. We have the final chapter of our Trail of Cthulhu game to get through before we get back to this.

So, on to the game. The thing that I really like is that the character classes are filled with colour, and that the individual character books are the only background you need to read (as a player, anyhow). The MC (gamemaster) in this game... well, it's a way I've run games before, but here everything about the rules reinforces it, something I've never seen before. The style's what I think of as a sandbox game - where the player characters do their thing and the gamemaster lets things play out however seems natural based on what the other characters would do, following whatever plans they have.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but I've run games like this using rules like GURPS, and having everything built to support it makes it run really smoothly. The player characters have special moves to differentiate themselves, but the MC has their own set of moves that they use to make sure everything works naturally based on what's happening. And it does work, so that's good. Really nice for the person who wants to run a game without a whole lot of prep - you need to do a bit, but nothing onerous.

So, if you want to run a game that has that sort of sandbox play, I really recommend it. The post-apocalyptic setting is good too, but the game's pretty easily hackable if you want to do something different. In fact, I'm currently working through a re-write of Monster of the Week to use a bunch of the ideas from Apocalypse World there (there turn out to be some things that deal with some specific issues I had with that game design).