Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Apocalypse World: Season One

There are tens of different openings that I tried with and none really worked with me. The title stands for itself and tells everything that needs telling in the first place. For those initiated there is nothing to be added, while for those not familiar with the setting, we might as well just give up. But because I am too excited about what I was playing for past half of a year with my friends, I will go and try to explain the setting, the rules and the story we have woven together.

Apocalypse World is a roleplaying pen and paper game. If you never played one before, I warmly recommend. You have characters, master of ceremonies (GM) and the whole world you build together. You also roll only a pair of normal six-sided dice. This is one of those beautiful things about Apocalypse World, all the players create the world together. There is never all the burden of micromanaging the world on a GM alone, all the players contribute, and thus call the world their own. 

Great thing as well is that all characters do not need to be allies, they just need to know each other. The rolling that takes place is fast and efficient, rarely will you throw the dice for the same encounter more than once. You either fail (1-6), partially succeed (7-9), or succeed (10-12) in whatever you decided to do. Another thing that is in my opinion a strong selling point is the way of how you level up. The process is simple, at the start of every session you will highlight two of your stats. The first highlighted stat will be the one that one of your fellow players decides is good for you this session. Always the one that knows you best (another mechanic of the game). And the other highlighted stat will be decided by your GM.

What this means is that in my case, as I love to power play, and I am sure some others as well, are actually encouraged to roleplay. This is great because the group dictates how you should play. You can still go on a murderous killing spree and kill all you wish and want. It is just so that if you do not have the particular stats highlighted you will not gain any experience for all this killing you did. And you might as well end up dead. All by your own fault as the death is not really hard to achieve in a post apocalyptic setting. The health issue is simple, you have a clock divided in quarters, and the last quarter in thirds. When you are out of time, you are dead.

So, with that I think you have enough to follow through  on our adventures. We had three characters; The Brainer, the Chopper, and the Battlebabe. Our setting a frozen, snowy, cold, wintry Canada. Chopper had his own gang, Battlebabe (me) was a trouble just waiting to happen, and the Brainer was determined to stay on the sidelines. All was going great, until the motto of Apocalypse World came into play: No status quo.

It is really fascinating now to look back and wonder when did we let things escalate as quickly as they did (my friends would at this point add that things escalated mostly thanks to me, but surely I cannot take all the credit by myself). From a group of misfits that just tried to earn their daily bread by organising scientific (read scavenging) tours into the ruins of frozen T3, we quickly made an enemy of the corrupt local sheriff (that was mostly me, by foisting it on the Chopper and his gang), and couple of local gangs (that was just me).

People started to die (not all by my fault), and I gathered my own company of loyal albeit savage individuals. We decided enough was enough and teamed up against the tyranny of the corrupt sheriff and his lackey gangs. As the plan was progressing, it was our Brainer who held us back by killing a captured gang member that was meant for interrogation. It was an accident, he said.

That gave the sheriff enough time to retaliate. We had to rethink our strategy, but in the end we still decided to storm his well fortified place. We were placing our faith on Fortune, and how she proverbially favours the bold. The Brainer led us to the secret entrance that opened in the inner courtyard of the sheriff's building. This is where I should have had a suspicion about my allies and their motivation, yet I believed in them. Trusted them. And so we moved on and have fallen into an ambush in which I lost my first member of my company (I refuse to call it a gang).

We moved on, split into two groups thinking this would divide their forces and enable us a sure way of defeating the enemy. As it turned out our progress was slow. I lost more of my company and still there was no sign of the Chopper, his gang, and the Brainer. They betrayed me, left me alone in the middle of the fight against the sheriff, and ran away from the town with the local group of courtesans.

I was able to kill the sheriff and scare his men into surrender. At the end I was close to dead, with only three surviving members of the company. We lost two thirds in one night. And that was not even the end, because I prevented the sheriff to kill the mayor, and then accidentally killed the mayor myself, there was none who knew the password of the missile vault under the town, and the missiles would blow up come tomorrow. As there was nothing else I could do, but try and clean my own mess, I opened the mind to maelstorm and ended up at the doorstep of eternal sleep, failing to figure out the password of the missile vault.

And this is how the first season of our Apocalypse World campaign ended.

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