thoughts on Apocalypse World?

pemerton

Legend
I will also say…a lot of the game’s assumptions are very “people are very bad, deep down, and only comfort and safety makes us think otherwise” which, while total nonsensical garbage as a belief about people, is certainly within genre.
I don't agree with this.

Here are three examples of play/resolution from the rulebook (pp 198, 142, 152-154):

Marie draws Roark a bath and joins him in it, with dandelion wine. She wants him to bring Joe’s Girl to her. She misses the roll [a seduce/manipulate throw], so I get to make as hard a move as I like, and I choose to separate them. “As soon as Joe’s Girl comes up in conversation, he sees what you’re up to,” I say. “He shoves you out of his way and stomps out of your rooms. He takes his shotgun with him but doesn’t even bother to get dressed. He’s muttering the whole way down the hall, like ‘f****n Marie, shoulda known, f***n trusted her, f**n Joe’s Girl…’”​
Maybe I just choose to announce off-screen badness: “Marie, when you see Isle that morning her face is a mess. Somebody cut her cheek open with a heated knife. She won’t say who.”​
Marie the brainer goes looking for Isle, to visit grief upon her, and finds her eating canned peaches on the roof of the car shed with her brother Mill and her lover Plover (all NPCs). . . .​
“Okay. I do direct-brain whisper projection [a telepathic version of the Go Aggro move] on Isle.”​
“Cool, what do you do?”​
“Uh — we don’t have to interact, so I’m walking past under their feet where she can see me, and I whisper into her brain without looking up.” She rolls+weird and hits a 10+.​
“What’s your whisper?”​
“Follow me,” she says.​
“Yeah,” I say. “She inches her butt forward to drop down behind you, but then tips her head like she’s thinking of something—”​
“Don’t do it,” Marie’s player says.​
“She forces your hand,” I say. “She takes 1-harm, right? Loud optional, right? So, loud or not?”​
“Isle, god damn it. Not loud.”​
“Sweet. Plover thinks she’s just leaning her head on his shoulder, but she’s bleeding out her ears and eventually he’ll notice his shirt sticking to his shoulder from her blood. Do you stick around?” I’m telling possible consequences and asking.​
To me, this isn't a picture of people who, deep down, are very bad. It's a picture of people who, deep down, crave intimacy but struggle to find it because of the world they find themselves in.

This is why the PCs have their special (sex) moves - at least that's what it looks like to me. Probably nothing brings that home harder than the Driver's special:

If you and another character have sex, roll+cool. On a 10+, it’s cool, no big deal. On a 7–9, give them +1 to their Hx with you on their sheet, but give yourself -1 to your Hx with them on yours. On a miss, you gotta go: take -1 ongoing, until you prove that it’s not like they own you or nothing.​

I mean, to me it seems like that could come straight from a Hank Williams or Leadbelly song!

EDIT to add a further thought:

A key vehicle in AW for the GM to express their thoughts is the world's psychic maelstrom. How this is handled, and what sorts of images and information it provides, can drive home the nature of the world (natural and social) and ways in which it might be fundamentally hostile or fundamentally a home for the protagonists.
 
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It’s a fun read, but not remotely insightful about human nature or the human experience. Completely misses what is going on when groups of boys implode, when kids bully eachother, etc, but it is very quotable!

Sure it does. I mean.....can people rise above adversity or not? That's a pretty foundational question about the human experience. I don't think there's only one answer, so I don't view Golding's novel as some kind of definitive answer to the question....but it is an answer, and it's a pretty compelling one.

And I think that's part of the point of Apocalypse World. The environment is terrible.....how do people deal with that? Can they rise above or do they give in to their baser instincts? That's the question of the game. You seem to think that the game has answered that question before play begins; I'd say it's up to each group to answer that question through play.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think that's part of the point of Apocalypse World. The environment is terrible.....how do people deal with that? Can they rise above or do they give in to their baser instincts? That's the question of the game. You seem to think that the game has answered that question before play begins; I'd say it's up to each group to answer that question through play.
You asked in another thread about whether and how a RPG might generate a "Han Solo" moment. I think AW is one answer to your question - here's how a RPG could make that possible!
 

If I was writing a set of RPG rules it wouldn't read like AW. It would read more like my posts - ie an academic essay tone but with too many dashes and italics used to introduce a vaguely spoken-word feeling.

I've no doubt that your rules would read differently from Apocalypse World...! The word I would use for them is authentic. They are both clear and purposeful, but also joyous, vibrant and thematically on point.

I find people describing them as 'try-hard' or 'pretentious' are the ones sounding like pretentious try-hards.
 

pemerton

Legend
I've no doubt that your rules would read differently from Apocalypse World...! The word I would use for them is authentic. They are both clear and purposeful, but also joyous, vibrant and thematically on point.

I find people describing them as 'try-hard' or 'pretentious' are the ones sounding like pretentious try-hards.
Upthread I explained that I think AW is brilliant but not completely novel. Part of its brilliance is that it brings to the surface ideas and approaches that have been implicit in (some) RPGing for a long time, and explains and celebrates them, and pushes them beyond previous limits and understandings.

It's as if Baker realised he needed new words to describe what he was doing, and what he was inviting us to do. And he melded that into his presentation of his imagined world and all these protagonists in it for whom this real affection, and sometimes pity, shines through - he doesn't read like an author who hates his characters!

Consider this example, of Uncle the Hardholder leading his gang who are under attack from Dremmer (it's on pp 169-70):

Uncle rolls+hard for leadership and hits with a 10+. “Great. We hold firm against a hard advance. It’s a hard advance, right?” . . .

With him as its strong, present leader, the gang will hold together just fine through this exchange, and through another one like it. The danger to this gang is that they’ll be massacred, not that they’ll break.

“Well, you hold firm,” I say. “Mifflin and Putrid go down— Putrid’s guts are all over you — and Pallor and a couple of others are badly hurt. You take a bullet yourself for 2-harm. Your gang badly wants to bug out, not endure another strike. As far as you can tell, you’ve done no damage at all to the attackers, you’ve just broken their momentum. They go to ground all over the place, you’re coming under fire from 3 directions. What do you do?”​

That shows us how the game works. And it shows us how the game puts humans, and their humanity, front-and-centre. Like I said upthread, the only RPGs I can think of that are anything like this are Burning Wheel and Over the Edge.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I do not think the game's assumptions say that at all. I think they point towards that when you live in an environment where violence is the norm rather than the exception that breaking that cycle is much harder than surrendering to inertia.
The assumptions about play, sure. The implied setting assumptions that underpin the game rely upon the assumption that in a failing world with limited resources and no centralized authority, people will largely resort to violence and resource hoarding, etc. Which like I said, is grimdark, but very true to genre.
I also think that particular take shows a distinct lack of empathy towards people who commit acts of violence.
And here ya go judging folks on a personal level because they don’t like a game as much as you do. Again.
Yeah, The story of the Tongan Castaways, six boys between 13 and 16 who got stranded on a remote island in 1965 shows the exact opposite of Lord of the Flies. The boys formed a strong bond and despite deprivations and injuries kept themselves fit and healthy for 15 months.

It could show the huge cultural difference between Tongan and British youth, but a more charitable reading is that humans are a lot nicer and less selfish than Golding and western culture generally expects
Exactly. A D&D example of the same thinking is the writeup of Goliath, but that could be a whole thread by itself.
 

I don't agree with this at all. The only other RPG I know of that competes with it for clarity of vision, as expressed by the author, is Burning Wheel. And OK, maybe Over the Edge.

I agree with you here in the sense that AW very clearly lays out how to play AW, which, as you mentioned in a later post in this thread, is often pretty rare. So I should be more specific--the flourishes in the writing are, to me, just terrible and cringe inducing and even corny. If the goal is to get across the brutal, abrasive tone of the setting, the writing is doing too much telling and not enough showing. I get why that's happening, since it can't rely on setting details the way other games might. Pulling off that sort of tone carries a very high degree of difficulty, and, for me, in that respect, AW falls on its face. I hate reading it. Just hate to do it.

I don't think that AW is as novel as some other posters in this thread. Of course it's brilliant, and hugely influential and important. But it doesn't come from nowhere. The earliest game I know that supports, at least in a loose sense, being run PbtA-style is Classic Traveller. (Except in combat, which is a bit more wargame-y.)

At the heart of AW (and so in my mind of PbtA) is if you do it, you do it - ie certain actions mandate checks, and if those fail then the GM makes a move in response as hard as they like, that (i) follows from the fiction, and (ii) drives things forward.

Here I don't agree at all. I think PbtA is a seismic shift. The GM not rolling, the complete pivot away from simulating the world that the PCs inhabit and instead making everything a reflection of their actions, and the way it makes success with consequence/cost the default roll result...that stuff is remarkably hard for trad players to wrap their heads around, requiring a major cognitive reboot for many folks. And it speeds and recenters play in huge ways, codifying a low- or no-prep approach that other games just kinda mention as an option, but then punish in practice.

However, I've read and loved your posts on this forum and you're a damn TTRPG scholar--including when it comes to PbtA--so I suspect you have some great arguments to support your position. Not trolling here at all when I ask if you can elaborate a little. For example, I've played Classic Traveler a bunch and I don't get the connection you're making. Do you mean that old-school Traveler didn't have a ton of skills, so a lot of actions were purely within the fiction?

But also, I think the fact that combat in AW doesn't shift into that traditional wargame mode is exactly why it's so novel. It's not a separate set of subsystems (or, as in a lot of games, the core system, with all non-combat as subsystems), which ditches that sense that the stuff before and after combat is sort of suspense/filler/etc., because it's initiative and damage and all those fiddly rules and numbers that settle the narrative questions. Flattening combat and non-combat is where PbtA is still at its greatest and most divisive, I think, and setting aside diceless stuff like Amber, I don't recall anyone doing that before AW in a useful or influential way.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
The assumptions about play, sure. The implied setting assumptions that underpin the game rely upon the assumption that in a failing world with limited resources and no centralized authority, people will largely resort to violence and resource hoarding, etc. Which like I said, is grimdark, but very true to genre.
Yeah, this is kind of the biggest problem with a lot of post-apocalyptic settings. The world doesn't get to the point that it does unless humans are fundamentally bastards. Which isn't true. When the chips are down, humanity is by-and-large a social creature. We are not likely to see very many cartoon villains when the dust clears, and they aren't likely going to be as successful as the genre tends to think they're going to be.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yeah, this is kind of the biggest problem with a lot of post-apocalyptic settings. The world doesn't get to the point that it does unless humans are fundamentally bastards. Which isn't true. When the chips are down, humanity is by-and-large a social creature. We are not likely to see very many cartoon villains when the dust clears, and they aren't likely going to be as successful as the genre tends to think they're going to be.
Post-Apocalyptic doesn't require humanity to be bastards. It requires humanity to define "us vs. them", which we are very good at doing, and dehumanizing the other, which we also are. Add in the definitely among those who are most willing to grab at power are those that shouldn't have it, and a trend in a lot to follow a strong leader who is bringing together and empowering you and people like you and just the concept of authoritarianism. People will be kind and supportive and social animals - within their tribes - and none of that towards the outsiders who threaten their already scarce supplies and way of life.
 

And I think if people don't like the prose, that's really on them. Vincent Baker is clearly extremely deliberate as a game designer, and I doubt that he wasn't equally deliberate in choosing how to write the rulebook. Sometimes the onus is on the audience to grapple with the work, if they want to engage with what it has to offer.
Fair point! Maybe I'll give it another read.
 

pemerton

Legend
I hate reading it. Just hate to do it.
I'll chalk this one up to there's no accounting for taste, if that's OK with you!

Here I don't agree at all. I think PbtA is a seismic shift. The GM not rolling, the complete pivot away from simulating the world that the PCs inhabit and instead making everything a reflection of their actions, and the way it makes success with consequence/cost the default roll result...that stuff is remarkably hard for trad players to wrap their heads around, requiring a major cognitive reboot for many folks. And it speeds and recenters play in huge ways, codifying a low- or no-prep approach that other games just kinda mention as an option, but then punish in practice.

However, I've read and loved your posts on this forum and you're a damn TTRPG scholar--including when it comes to PbtA--so I suspect you have some great arguments to support your position. Not trolling here at all when I ask if you can elaborate a little. For example, I've played Classic Traveler a bunch and I don't get the connection you're making. Do you mean that old-school Traveler didn't have a ton of skills, so a lot of actions were purely within the fiction?

But also, I think the fact that combat in AW doesn't shift into that traditional wargame mode is exactly why it's so novel. It's not a separate set of subsystems (or, as in a lot of games, the core system, with all non-combat as subsystems), which ditches that sense that the stuff before and after combat is sort of suspense/filler/etc., because it's initiative and damage and all those fiddly rules and numbers that settle the narrative questions. Flattening combat and non-combat is where PbtA is still at its greatest and most divisive, I think, and setting aside diceless stuff like Amber, I don't recall anyone doing that before AW in a useful or influential way.
There's a lot here!

Starting with the mechanics not simulating the world - they don't (in, say, the RQ or RM sense) but also they do. Why is there a custom move when we try to shortcut through Dremmer's territory? Why do we have a move for acting under fire but not for climbing up a scree slope - so the latter may just trigger GM narration unless it also, for some other reason in the fiction, counts as acting under fire? These are all used to establish the setting.

Look at Classic Traveller, and reword the mechanics a bit. When you try a non-ordinary manoeuvre in a vacc-suit, throw 10+ (+4 per level of vacc suit expertise). If you fail, the referee will tell you what sort of trouble you're in. Throw 7+ to remedy the situation (-4 if no vacc suit expertise; +2 per level of vacc suit expertise). If you fail, the referee will tell you the consequence - and you won't like it!

Likewise When you try to make contact for the purposes of obtaining information, hiring persons, purchasing contraband or stolen goods, etc, make a throw dictated by the referee (eg the name of an official willing to issue licenses without hassle = 5+, the location of high quality guns at a low price = 9+; -5 if no Streetwise expertise; +1 per level of Streetwise expertise). Close-knit sub-cultures (such as some portions of the lower classes, and trade groups such as workers, the underworld, etc) generally reject contact with strangers or unknown elements; if you fail, the referee will tell you how they have rejected you.

When you pilot your air/raft in a chase, throw 5+ (+1 per level of air/raft expertise); if you fail, the referee will tell you what mishap ensues. When you jump out of a starsystem in your starship, make a throw [actual number required varies a bit between 1977 and 1981 versions) to avoid drive failure.

I hope that gives the idea. I remember back in the 80s reading stuff in White Dwarf critiquing the lack of a general resolution framework in Traveller, and offering suggestions to make it more like RQ or RM (which do have such a framework). But looking at it now, and having played quite a bit of it (using the 1977 chassis) over the past few years, I see the various baroque subsystems as a strength: each is a little PbtA-style move that focuses on some bit of the action that matters for science fiction adventure in the far future. It's not as elegant as PbtA - it doesn't exploit the 2d6 maths in the same way, and tends to lack the two steps forward/one step back aspect of the PbtA 7-9 results - but I think it's there in a proto-form. And is (in my view) very playable in that sort of fashion.

Trying to pick up on some of your other points:

The integration of combat and non-combat is found in earlier systems too: Prince Valiant to a significant extent; Maelstrom Storytelling; HeroWars/Quest; as an option in Burning Wheel (using intent and task, or Bloody Versus); and of course in Baker's earlier games like DitV and In A Wicked Age. I think the PbtA innovation in this respect is taking that approach out of the scene-framed context that looms large in those other systems, and instead locating it in an if you do it, you do it framework.

On prep: I think Burning Wheel is a low-prep game (unless you count "burning" NPCs and monsters; but it has no prep of plot or even events really) that strongly rewards play in its prescribed low-prep way, and it predates AW. Prince Valiant doesn't promote itself as low-prep, but can be run like that. And so can Classic Traveller, especially taking advantage of its content-generation tools (random patron encounters, random worlds, etc). In A Wicked Age doesn't require prep beyond a "game setup" phase (that is much quicker than what I understand Fate's to be!). I tend to see this as an area where AW is at the lower end of innovation, personally.

What I see as perhaps the greatest, or at least culturally most important, innovation in AW is so clearly stating the principles that are meant to govern the GM's role. That the GM will announce future badness or misdirect by not speaking the name of the move they make is not new, from the point of view of technique. But spelling it out is a new thing.

Burning Wheel is very clear, by the standards of a RPG text, on how it is to be run. But its advice to the GM on how to narrate consequences of failure doesn't really go beyond focus on the intent rather than the task. (The Adventure Burner goes further.) Baker, on the other hand, really drills down into significant varieties of GM-fiction-introduction. One consequence in BW might be taking away their stuff (losing gear, having tools break, etc is clearly a part of the game), but Luke Crane doesn't actually come out and give you this thought-out list of consequences you might narrate on a failure.

Like I said upthread, I'm in no way wanting to deny the brilliance of AW as a game or Baker as a designer.
 

pemerton

Legend
Another thought: Baker calls the GM in AW the MC. The chapter called "The Master of Ceremonies" doesn't deny that the MC is a GM, but emphasises (p 108) that while "[t]here are a million ways to GM games; Apocalypse World calls for one way in particular."

It reminds me a little bit of Christopher Kubasik's use of "Fifth Business" in his Interactive Toolkit series:

Let’s start with roleplaying’s GM (referee, Storyteller or whatever). This is usually the person who works out the plot, the world and everything that isn’t the players’. To a greater or lesser degree, she is above the other players in importance, depending on the group’s temperament. In a Story Entertainment, she is just another player. Distinctly different, but no more and no less than any other player. The terms GM and referee fail to convey this spirit of equality. The term Storyteller suggests that the players are passive listeners of her tale. So here’s another term for this participant – one that invokes the spirit of Story Entertainments – Fifth Business.

Fifth Business is a term that originates from European opera companies. A character from Robertson Davies’ novel Fifth Business describes the’ term this way:

You cannot make a plot work without another man, and he is usually a baritone, and he is called in the profession Fifth Business. You must have a Fifth Business because he is the one who knows the secret of the hero’s birth, or comes to the assistance of the heroine when she thinks all is lost, or keeps the hermitess in her cell, or may even be the cause of somebody’s death, if that is part of the plot. The prima donna and the tenor, the contralto and the basso, get all the best music and do all the spectacular things, but you cannot manage the plot without the Fifth Business!

This certainly sounds a lot like a GM, but it also makes it clear that he’s part of the show, not the show itself.​

I'm pretty sure Vincent Baker will have read Kubasik, given his reading of Edwards who quotes Kubasik, including this passage.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, this is kind of the biggest problem with a lot of post-apocalyptic settings. The world doesn't get to the point that it does unless humans are fundamentally bastards. Which isn't true. When the chips are down, humanity is by-and-large a social creature. We are not likely to see very many cartoon villains when the dust clears, and they aren't likely going to be as successful as the genre tends to think they're going to be.
Yeah, agreed.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Post-Apocalyptic doesn't require humanity to be bastards. It requires humanity to define "us vs. them", which we are very good at doing, and dehumanizing the other, which we also are. Add in the definitely among those who are most willing to grab at power are those that shouldn't have it, and a trend in a lot to follow a strong leader who is bringing together and empowering you and people like you and just the concept of authoritarianism. People will be kind and supportive and social animals - within their tribes - and none of that towards the outsiders who threaten their already scarce supplies and way of life.
You're right, it doesn't. The scenarios you describe are actually interesting PA worlds, where the conflicts are interpersonal but relatable. The kinds of Post-Apocalypse where the biggest guy with the most spikes on his football pads gets to be King of Kentucky or whatever and rule it with an iron fist, while smaller groups of people with football pads with smaller spikes on them carve out smaller fiefdoms where they attack and kill everyone they meet... these are remarkably un-insightful and pretty well played out at this point.
 

Yeah, agreed.
Not sure which timeline you guys are currently living in, but in this one the notion that unity wins the day is already debunked. We're careening toward a climate apocalypse right now that people have known about for decades, and that no one is banding together to stop. Instead we have the most powerful people and organizations on the planet closing ranks to secure dominance in the bad times to come, or just burning cash and attention on rocket technology that's irrelevant to the actual threats that are currently wrecking societies and economies. That single case of the cuddly real-world version of Lord of the Flies gets tossed around a lot, like a bright shiny object we can focus on despite countless counter-examples of power protecting itself at all costs, the poor becoming poorer and more vulnerable, and no one coming to our rescue, including some miraculous sense of community triumphing over adversity.

I really wish I agreed, in other words, but look at anything that's happening right now on a national or international level. Look at how a sense of community could have stamped out COVID months ago, and instead many countries are right back in the thick of it.

I'm all for being optimistic, really. But I think you also have to show your work.
 

I gotta be honest, the only real difference (between AW and DnD/etc) I'm seeing here is how much emphasis is placed by different systems on encouraging the players to be proactive instead of reactive. That is, how much encouragement to be proactive is actually written into the actual rule book.

I love a proactive player. But before you can have one of them you need a setting the player understands. They need to know the what's, where's, how's, and why's of the diegesis. But also the genre conventions. Even then, more often than not, the GM has gotta push them to be proactive. Having a ruleset that literally has "be proactive" written into it is defs gonna help. Assuming the players read it. But mostly, it comes down to the table. (Doesn't it always?)
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Not sure which timeline you guys are currently living in ...
This one, it turns out...
I'm all for being optimistic, really. But I think you also have to show your work.
People Are Good, Actually

In fact, a lot of the studies that people point to that say people are bad, actually, have debunked. Stanford Prison was rigged, the actors in the electric shock experiment were not actually very good, Robber's Cave was a do-over, and many of these older experiments just aren't showing the same results when replicated using modern practices, such as actually representative and diverse samples.

Turns out, Rousseau was right after all
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
We're careening toward a climate apocalypse right now that people have known about for decades, and that no one is banding together to stop. Instead we have the most powerful people and organizations on the planet closing ranks to secure dominance in the bad times to come, or just burning cash and attention on rocket technology that's irrelevant to the actual threats that are currently wrecking societies and economies. ...despite countless counter-examples of power protecting itself at all costs, the poor becoming poorer and more vulnerable, and no one coming to our rescue, including some miraculous sense of community triumphing over adversity.
These are more complex examples that point to the intransigence of entrenched power structures built upon centuries (if not millenia) of legitimation. In a true post-apocalypse, few if any of those structures will survive; they involve symbols and tradition and not a lot of actual concrete power (one of the most typical tropes of the genre involve econonics; it turns out we've just been making money up for at least a century). When the chips are truly down, in matters of survival, we're actually pretty good at working together.
 

I gotta be honest, the only real difference (between AW and DnD/etc) I'm seeing here is how much emphasis is placed by different systems on encouraging the players to be proactive instead of reactive. That is, how much encouragement to be proactive is actually written into the actual rule book.

I love a proactive player. But before you can have one of them you need a setting the player understands. They need to know the what's, where's, how's, and why's of the diegesis. But also the genre conventions. Even then, more often than not, the GM has gotta push them to be proactive. Having a ruleset that literally has "be proactive" written into it is defs gonna help. Assuming the players read it. But mostly, it comes down to the table. (Doesn't it always?)

The inference I'm drawing from the above is either (a) you haven't read Apocalypse World or (b) you're not putting together the integrated aspects of system (agenda + principles + resolution mechanics) that create the dynamic of aggressive protagonist (players) vs aggressive antagonism/obstacles (GM)?

Play to find out what happens

+

fill their lives with danger (provacative framing that demands action and orbits around player-flagged PC dramatic needs and

+

how this is done (ask questions and use the answers + Fronts + soft moves to provoke/portend + hard moves if there is no or insufficient uptake/response to the provocation/foretold danger + snowballing move resolution structure and maths + actual danger/cost/consequence to every move made or not made)

+

deeply thematic basic moves and playbooks and reward cycles/xp triggers


The game has teeth at every turn. It will bite you if you don't respond. It will bite you when you do respond. As a GM, your job is to bite in a way the players have signaled is interesting and keep biting. As a system, its job is to help the GM bark, then bite, and deftly manage their cognitive workload as they continuously bark and bite and be surprised at what shape play takes as teeth meet flesh. As a player, your job is to signal your interests (continuously), decide where/how to take the bites, how you deal once bitten, bite the hell back, and how/if your character can withstand this both-ways nom-fest.

I don't know if that is written too "edge-lordy" or whatever, but that is pretty much the gist. The system has enormous say on how this whole thing churns.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
These are more complex examples that point to the intransigence of entrenched power structures built upon centuries (if not millenia) of legitimation. In a true post-apocalypse, few if any of those structures will survive; they involve symbols and tradition and not a lot of actual concrete power (one of the most typical tropes of the genre involve econonics; it turns out we've just been making money up for at least a century). When the chips are truly down, in matters of survival, we're actually pretty good at working together.
This. Also, while raiding was fairly common in pre-agricultural societies, trade was much more common.

In a post-apocalypse, the survivors would have the advantage of more shared language, more shared experience, and having been raised to understand that other people are well, people.

The idea that climate crisis exists because people are bad, rather than because people are ill equipped to even understand systems as complex as the ones that oppress them (the average person isn’t causing the inertia against climate action, states and mega corporations and industries are), much less formulate the means to dismantle them without armed revolt.
 

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