Actual Play, roleplaying games

After-Action Report: Apocalypse World, November 6th

This one was a doozy…the session summary is here.

After the drama of the previous session, I tried to make it clear that the other threats in the world weren’t sitting around and waiting for them. This session was mostly about the Scientists, a group that one of the other characters started investigating back in session two. Since then, they’ve made a quantifiable degree of progress in their mission of capturing power stations and reconnecting electrical power.

It wasn’t as tense as the previous session, but I’m glad I was able to keep the momentum going. It’s making me feel better about potentially running The Sprawl in the future. That said, I’ve finally jumped on the Patreon train, and one of the first people I funded was Vincent Baker…so I’m excited about looking at the Apocalypse World: Fallen Empires hack. I still refuse to lock down my next campaign, my ADD is simply too great.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to capture the start of this Apocalypse World game, as to me that’s clearly what created the magic. The Session Zero dynamics are actually pretty vague in most PbtA games, and the ones where it’s more specific I don’t always like. Dungeon World’s in media res approach requires the right group to work, and while it’s probably the best start for a Dungeon Crawl game I haven’t seen it work “better” than a day in the life game. Urban Shadows provides tons and tons of leading questions with the debt system and having an even more open set of setting interpretations than Apocalypse World, but it was so much it took me two sessions to get everything detailed enough when I ran it.

On another note, we’re getting the mechanics hammered down better, in terms of figuring out the very low-level issue of task resolution versus conflict resolution.  I’ve been trying to figure this out myself, as the combat rules in Apocalypse World are, well, odd (we’ve been playing in 1e and in the defense of the authors several of the issues I have are solved in 2e, so that’s a thing). It’s not even a bad thing…having fewer direct rules to just kill someone is a stylistic choice, because it’s supposed to be rare that you fight someone for the sole purpose of killing them, it’s supposed to be a consequence of another intention. So in this last session, one of the PCs had been taken captive, and another was trying to rescue them. The second PC explained that he was going to shoot one of the captors, and the lightbulb went off in my head. I asked what the goal was, and got the answer I expected: “to rescue my teammate.” So I set up the role as seizing his teammate by force, explaining that the roll provided overall results rather than individual shots fired. Everyone got it, and it didn’t hurt that the results of the roll were decent as well.

In short, while I’m keeping my groove going, I’m still learning things about the best ways to run these games and how to interface with the rules. I love this game.

 

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