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thoughts on Apocalypse World?

Bird Of Play

Explorer
This dude I know has the manual for that rpg, and looks like I may join his campaign.
The manual seems very intriguing and absolutely up my alley, but I'm confused about how the DM explained me that he doesn't prepare anything in advance. How do you make a good story like this?

Has anybody tried that rpg?
 

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I have not tried it, but have read it. That sexual activity is one of the primary mechanical subunits is, for me, off-putting; it thrusts an element I avoid in general in RPGs into a point where I would have to say, "Hey, I don't want this move used"...

The wording "To do it, do it" was, for me, the singularly most obtuse advice given in a game. (It was finally explained to me successfully by Luke Crane. "To get to roll, have the character do the triggering action in the fiction" is what it means.

It's one of the most influential games written.
 

Bird Of Play

Explorer
I have not tried it, but have read it. That sexual activity is one of the primary mechanical subunits is, for me, off-putting; it thrusts an element I avoid in general in RPGs into a point where I would have to say, "Hey, I don't want this move used"...

The wording "To do it, do it" was, for me, the singularly most obtuse advice given in a game. (It was finally explained to me successfully by Luke Crane. "To get to roll, have the character do the triggering action in the fiction" is what it means.

It's one of the most influential games written.

Yeah the whole sexual activity part, I still haven't understood since I didn't play it yet.

Looks like is actually something that..... gives a bonus or an effect to your character? Did I get it right?

If so, I like it: it allows to roleplay sexual elements as part of the story (and shock value I guess) and AVOID using them for an erotic rpg, which I don't enjoy.
If I got it right, you don't get to actually roleplay a sex scene (which would be all kind of disturbing to me....). But you get to say "ok, my character just did it with this X character, now I get this and that, and the event may influence the story".
I got it right, isn't it? ....isn't it??
 

Yeah the whole sexual activity part, I still haven't understood since I didn't play it yet.

Looks like is actually something that..... gives a bonus or an effect to your character? Did I get it right?

If so, I like it: it allows to roleplay sexual elements as part of the story (and shock value I guess) and AVOID using them for an erotic rpg, which I don't enjoy.
If I got it right, you don't get to actually roleplay a sex scene (which would be all kind of disturbing to me....). But you get to say "ok, my character just did it with this X character, now I get this and that, and the event may influence the story".
I got it right, isn't it? ....isn't it??
No, it doesn't require playing the sex scene.
But it does make sexual activity a significant part of the mechanical interest, and that's where It puts me off.
 

Numidius

Adventurer
There is an implied setting, also present on players' playbooks/class sheets, and tons of gm advice, so Not Preparing Anything isn't really true.

First session (or session zero) is when you make characters and explore the setting around them. Then gm builds on that.

Trust your gm and go with the flow is my advice

Re Sex moves: just don't overthink about it. Take them as moments of intimacy that have a mechanical bit afterwords.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This dude I know has the manual for that rpg, and looks like I may join his campaign.
The manual seems very intriguing and absolutely up my alley, but I'm confused about how the DM explained me that he doesn't prepare anything in advance. How do you make a good story like this?

Has anybody tried that rpg?
There are a LOT of RPGs built on the Apocalypse World game engine: i.e., Powered by the Apocalypse. I have not played Apocalypse World, but I have played several of these other games and their kin.

It's more accurate to say that the Master of Ceremonies (MC) does not prep storylines in advance. They may prep a scenario or scene framing, but not a plot or a story. It's a game engine that, on the whole, resists railroading. However, MCs do have what are called "Fronts," which are like linked background threats (e.g., factions, events, etc.) that the MC uses for the opposition for the PCs that may come into play. Like if this were D&D, then one front may be "a hobgoblin warlord assembling an army on the border of the kingdom," while another may be "hidden cultists of Orcus among the nobility," or "festering evil lurks in the Dark Forest."

From there it will be the MC's job to put opposition and challenges in front of your characters that make their lives interesting and exciting. Your characters will have plenty of hooks built in that the MC can play off of. The story will propel forward as a result of your character choices in the fiction and rolls triggered from them: i.e., moves. Your complicated successes and failures will likewise trigger GM moves, which will further propel the action forward.

The story is emergent rather than pre-prepped and plotted out. Apocalypse World (and, by extension, PbtA games) is less interested in your character's power progression and more interested in the drama, conflict, and snowballing action that results from the choices your character makes and the subsequent consequences of your successes and failures.
 

The "sex moves" don't have to be sexual. The moment just has to be intimate and emotional.

To answer the broader topic:

(Disclaimer: Different people have different takes on Apocalypse world. Here's mine, and only mine, but I do think it bears thinking about.)

Interparty conflict is assumed. The rules do not assume you are a unified team working together for a common goal. In fact, quite the opposite, they make the assumption that the Player Characters have competing, and sometimes directly conflicting, goals and that is OK. Interparty interaction and conflict is one of the main drivers of the action.

That is not an easy intuitive leap for many D&D players.

It's also part of why there is less prep involved. You don't need a lot of prep when everything is reactive to what the players do, to each other and the world around them. Even the Worldbuilding is co-operative in session zero.
 





Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
AW is a very different style of RPG. Many of the conventions that D&D players hold dear - don't split the party, no interparty conflict that devolves into PvP, the DM is presenting us with an adventure and we need to follow it - not only don't exist, but are against the feel of it.

The DM doesn't prep like a D&D DM would, but there are Fronts that will cause problems. The DM has specific rules to follow as well, and that the interaction between player moves and DM moves will have emergent action and plot. Characters will have things that matter to them enshrined mechanically, and players are expected to be proactive.

I would recommend trying it - worst case it's not what you like but it's expanded your thoughts on how RPG can be done. Best case you have a ton of fun and also learn more mental tools for improving the experience in any RPG you play/run.
 

PbtAr Move: Seek and ye shall find

When trying to find a suitable MC for Sex Moves, roll +Hot

10-12: Perfect Partner. The Move succeeds. Hold 2; each hold may be used to add +1 on any subsequent Sex Move
7-9: Partial Sexcess: The Sex Move is successful, but take -1 forward due to lingering awkwardness
2-6: Fun Fiasco: The MC makes a Hard move, unless a Hard move is desirable. In that case they make a floppy Soft move.
 


innerdude

Legend
Never played Apocalypse World proper. However, I do have some experience with Dungeon World, which is a somewhat "direct" conversion, and a bit more experience with Ironsworn, which is more "PbtA adjacent," as it's a bit of a hybrid between PbtA and Blades in the Dark / Forged in the Dark.

Having tried to "grok" the PbtA principles first through Dungeon World, my recommendation would be to look at Ironsworn. It won't be exactly the same as Apocalypse World, but Ironsworn does an incredible job of describing and setting the tone for the basic rhythm of play: a player makes a declaration >> see if it fits a move >> make a check >> follow the success/success with consequence/failure.

With Dungeon World, it kinda/sorta made sense, but Ironsworn goes a dozen steps further in really helping players and GMs understand what a "fiction first" paradigm should look like.

Considering the Ironsworn PDF is completely free on DTRPG, it wouldn't hurt to take a look.

Personally, playing Ironsworn was a revelation, in the best sense of the word. It completely unlocked a new way of thinking about and playing RPGs. It's so, so good. All of my players commented on how different and interesting it was, and that the in-play dynamics were fresh and engaging.
 

The most important thing about PbtA games, that is not well explained, is why the players would make moves in the first place. Because your moves WILL fail a lot of the time.

Here's the part that makes it work for me and my group.

As MC, you have to first establish what WILL happen if the players do nothing. Basically the negative environmental effect (which absolutely can include the actions of NPC) that will take place unless the actions of the players interrupt it. Because as MC, you never roll dice to take an action, all the dice rolls to drive the action take place by the players.

You are just giving them the reason they need to roll the dice,
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
A problem I have with the manual: half of the time I have no friggin' idea what it's trying to say.
Because it doesn't play like D&D. The absolute biggest thing to change is that PbtA games do not use the D&D style check system where a failure means you just don't do something. A check is a test to see who gets to say what about the fiction -- if you succeed, you get to say what happens because you succeed at what you were trying to do. If you fail, the GM gets to say what happens, and will make things worse for you. At no point does the GM get a 'turn' in the way they do in D&D -- they set the scene, establish the immediate peril, and play moves forward with the players reacting. This requires a great deal more from the players because you're not trying to get the GM to tell you more about the world or the situation or to figure out how you "solve" it, but rather you're making moves that then change what's going on in a major way. Failed checks are the closest the GM gets to having a turn, in that they can then make a move that will complicate the situation or cause harm/consequence to the players. And this harm is much more broad than losing hps, as the GM is supposed to put direct pressure on the things the PCs care about. None of it is guided play like in D&D, though.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
It doesn't have to be, but it is generally phrased that way, as I recall it. And just because it isn't graphic sex does not mean it is a thing one wants to play with just any GM.
Yeah, While I’m okay with the mechanics if they fit the genre/approach the writers could have easily used “if you get intimate with another character …” rather than “if you have sex with another character…” and applied the same mechanics without the same ickiness

Also have a look at Monsterhearts and how it used ‘Strings’ to represent the emotional ties. Of course that entire game is about protecting those Heartstrings …




There are a LOT of RPGs built on the Apocalypse World game engine: i.e., Powered by the Apocalypse. I have not played Apocalypse World, but I have played several of these other games and their kin.

It's more accurate to say that the Master of Ceremonies (MC) does not prep storylines in advance. They may prep a scenario or scene framing, but not a plot or a story. It's a game engine that, on the whole, resists railroading. However, MCs do have what are called "Fronts," which are like linked background threats (e.g., factions, events, etc.) that the MC uses for the opposition for the PCs that may come into play. Like if this were D&D, then one front may be "a hobgoblin warlord assembling an army on the border of the kingdom," while another may be "hidden cultists of Orcus among the nobility," or "festering evil lurks in the Dark Forest."

From there it will be the MC's job to put opposition and challenges in front of your characters that make their lives interesting and exciting. Your characters will have plenty of hooks built in that the MC can play off of. The story will propel forward as a result of your character choices in the fiction and rolls triggered from them: i.e., moves. Your complicated successes and failures will likewise trigger GM moves, which will further propel the action forward.

The story is emergent rather than pre-prepped and plotted out. Apocalypse World (and, by extension, PbtA games) is less interested in your character's power progression and more interested in the drama, conflict, and snowballing action that results from the choices your character makes and the subsequent consequences of your successes and failures.
Yeah the Fronts and Frameworks of PbtA are a great tool and one I’ve adopted for use in other games including D&D - it succintly covers NPC motivation, plot milestones and setting flavour on a convenient A4 sheet
 
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Randomthoughts

Adventurer
Has anybody tried that rpg?
I've read AW, but not played or ran it. I've ran a few sessions of PbtA games: Ironsworn and Zombie World, both of which (as someone else said) are AW-adjacent. That's probably why I like both of them (and I really like Zombie World).

While I was not turned off from the sex moves of AW, I would only run it with the right group...which I haven't found yet tbh. But I highly recommend you try it (so long as you're not squicky about sex moves) since AW or PbtA rule set is so influential (as someone had stated).

Two recommendations for players (from an inexperienced PbtA MC):
1. Things are done with Moves, so it's something to get used to. I initially found it jarring since the step would be a player describing what he/she does, which translate to a Move (determined by the MC usually), a random element is used (ZW uses cards for example) and the MC describes what happens. You get used to it but I found that step unnecessary and sometimes confusing (as MC, i.e., what Move applies here? Why can't I just roll?).

2. As a player, try to be proactive. The set up establishes a lot of drama, conflict and dynamics. It shines when the players go with that, pursuing their goals that inevitably conflict with other PC goals. When they sit back and wait for things to happen, it's harder on the MC (at least IME).

Which brings me to my final comment: I found both ZW and Ironsworn to be taxing on the MC (me) at the moment. I tried ZW especially to avoid prepping, and true to its word, you don't need to (besides knowing the rules). But I relied on A LOT of tropes and self-knowledge of the zombie genre to move things forward b/c (1) no one knew where things were going and (2) the players weren't that pro-active.

Anyway, good luck with the game!

EDIT: I'm definitely going to import the use of Fronts to ZW. One Front is kind of assumed (zombies, duh) but I didn't have that in mind initially. Fate cards are used to establish them.
 


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