View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:49 am



Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
[Apocalypse World] chargen reflections 
Author Message
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 387
Post [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
Tonight is the first get-together of a group of gaming buddies on Skype to play Apocalypse World. For a change, I am not the GM (or MC, in Apoc World parlance). I'm super excited about the prospect of straight up playing.

The group of us are all pretty hyped, so we shot some emails back and forth. The MC advised us NOT to talk about character concepts before game night. He said he wanted us to work together to make PCs, which is how Apoc World works. He did suggest we come up with a couple character concepts to bring to the table, but plan on hashing out details between us.

Earlier today, I caught the MC online and we started chatting. I told him I had three solid character concepts and told him I was about to burst. He relented and I told him about my ideas for a mask-wearing Skinner named Tally. He asked, "Is Tally one of the names in the book?" referring to the fact that each character type has suggested names. I told him I had no idea, but doubted it was in the list. He told me he was trying to run it straight up by the rules and preferred I use a name from the list. I was thinking wow, but hey, I'm flexible.

Then I told him about how I saw her wearing a mask all the time because she ran away from the last warlord who was controlling her and that's why she was with the party. He asked me if the looks I described was in the Skinner write-up... which it wasn't really ( each character type has a list of "looks" to describe them and those for the Skinner were all about beauty or cute or the like). I actually retorted, "Seriously, dude?" and he replied again that he wanted to really dig into the rules, let the book steer the game from the outset and see how it plays.

So we settle on weird face and I pick a name from the list. I begin telling him about the warlord idea and he tells me, 'you know, that's a pretty cool thing that I would prefer we bring out in play' and I quickly reply, "I hear you, but I didn't want to play a PC that was all mysterious and hide things from the players, plus just because she says she wears a mask to hide, that may not be the truth." The MC agrees that making a PC untouchable is not that helpful and tells me how he wants to really dig in and ask a lot of questions about each PC and probe deeply, so coming in with answers will probably shut me off of the other players. I assure him that while I have strong ideas now, once we get in the moment, I'm just as likely to chuck them out the window.

Reflecting on this interaction this afternoon has been interesting. Part of me balks at the control and the adherence to the book. Another part of me in intrigued to get back to basics, to read the book and use it strictly to see where it takes me. I think part of my reaction of curiosity comes from thinking about Will Hindmarch's recent blog post about Apoc World and how he doesn't like how prescriptive it is. I have the same notions. But sometimes you have to fight your tendencies to go with what you're comfortable doing in order to learn new things.

Tonight I sincerely hope to learn some new things.

_________________
Rich Rogers
Host of the Canon Puncture Show
http://www.canonpuncture.com
"Thunk weeeooo KABLAM!" - Thalaba
@orklord you're the octopus of podcasting - boulet


Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:53 pm
Profile E-mail
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:19 pm
Posts: 2102
Location: Montréal, Québec
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
I read this post with interest. I haven't read Apocalypse World yet, but it sounds like the character creation is an evolution/derivation from chargen in Poison'd, which is also made up of a series of lists from which you choose options. I can see how that would feel prescriptive, but the sense I got from Poison'd was that each option on the list were very open-ended (in some ways). They said very specific things about your character's goals and behaviour (such as "you hate this person" or "you want this thing") but they left it wide open as to how you would go about expressing those things.

I really go back and forth on these things. There is a part of me that just frikking hates any kind of top-down, designer-led control. I just want to be free man! But there is another part of me that appreciates having a framework given to me that I can then fill up and decorate. I think part of it is experience (I don't mean that in the sense of being all worldly and wise, but just that I have had a ton of great, freeform gameplay since I broke the oppressive shackles of D20 and now am less freaked out about being constrained and sometimes even seek it out as a way to spur on my imagination, a bit depleted after all this freeform gameplay, you see). Another part is that, at least in Poison'd, the character build was so elegantly constructed into the gameplay that I wanted to see how it would all fit together. Finally (and this would have to be tested in play), I really get the feeling that despite these directing character attributes, I get the feeling that Vincent isn't trying to constrain you. I think he is actually coming from a motive of democracy and believes his system will free you up to do what you want. Whether or not it works is another question. But I think he believes his system is a guiding hand to steer GMs and players away from the troubled waters of group conflict and into the clear sailing of imaginary fun.

Ultimately, I really do think this is a matter of personal taste. The problem is that it gets muddied by ideology (though I don't think this is your issue; I'm just reflecting some of the comments in Will Hindmarch's post) and some people see this as the one true way while others fear that even reading this book will pollute your soul and ruin gaming forever. My cheap cubicle psychologist reading on you is that you have a natural open-ended but self-disciplined imagination that you can fit into almost any gaming situation that stimulates you and get going. So you are ready to rock. But by making your character in your own mind, you are leading the cart before the horse, given the system of AW. You aren't playing it right! :) I would suggest that you follow the GM's advice, suck it up and do exactly what Vincent tells you. We can get all freaked out about Forgey influence and designer control, but the real reason to do this is to get an objective baseline to then be able to decide if it works for you. Hell, we say the exact same thing about Savage Worlds: "play it a few times exactly as the rules say then decide if you want to tinker with it." No reason it can't apply here.

My question about AW is, can this game system do something better and richer than I can do with an open-ended system like Barbarians of the Aftermath? Or are Vincent's rules in place to deal with specific kinds of players who don't have the experience or social skills/comfortable group to run an open-ended game?

I suspect that the answer to the first question is probably not. It won't be worse and elements of it will probably be super cool. But because of my playstyle preferences and background, I think I'd prefer at least as a GM to have the open flexibility of a game like Barbarians of the Aftermath that doesn't presuppose such a narrow mode of game play. Apocalypse World is a game I'd probably enjoy a one-shot (or a mini-campaign if I had more time in my life) rather than to run it myself.

_________________
despicable, vile, little worm and rabid defender of the podcast category
----------------------
This month on the RPG Haven Podcast: VSCA - The Diaspora Crew.


Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:25 am
Profile E-mail WWW
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 387
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
Reading through AW has been, well, mostly a comfort for me. Much of the excellent MCing chapter has felt like an affirmation of my general style. I like how Vincent has encoded many of the things I found myself learning/doing over the years as a GM.

As for Apoc World vs. Barbarians of the Aftermath, I dunno. I only have Barbarians of Lemuria, and only read it. I can't say I was blown away with it. It's a light system with pretty standard set-up, just didn't get where the buzz came from other than the "spend your loot to get XP" which is neat, but not a game changer.

I would say Apoc World delivers on more immediate and personal gaming. I like how the book drives play at people and while there is apocalyptica and weirdness, the stuff I've read of BotA is much more Gamma World kooky rather than desperate struggle.

I personally imagine BotA to be a one shot game for me and I want some deep play out of Apoc World, so its an intriguing reversal, neh?

By the by, our first session was pretty awesome. I ended up playing a Skinner named Shade who had an art for theater, which is how she gets by, living in a hardhold that is actually a whorehouse in the middle of a ruined metropolis. It has much potential. And ti was all by the book. :)

_________________
Rich Rogers
Host of the Canon Puncture Show
http://www.canonpuncture.com
"Thunk weeeooo KABLAM!" - Thalaba
@orklord you're the octopus of podcasting - boulet


Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:59 pm
Profile E-mail
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:19 pm
Posts: 2102
Location: Montréal, Québec
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
orklord wrote:

As for Apoc World vs. Barbarians of the Aftermath, I dunno. I only have Barbarians of Lemuria, and only read it. I can't say I was blown away with it. It's a light system with pretty standard set-up, just didn't get where the buzz came from other than the "spend your loot to get XP" which is neat, but not a game changer.

You have much to learn, young Padawan. But that discussion will be for another day. :P

orklord wrote:
I would say Apoc World delivers on more immediate and personal gaming. I like how the book drives play at people and while there is apocalyptica and weirdness, the stuff I've read of BotA is much more Gamma World kooky rather than desperate struggle.

I think this is very well put. I would nuance it by saying, BotA can do both GW kooky and desperate struggle and anything in between, whereas Apocalypse World probably can't do the kooky so well. However, BotA's success in whatever path the group chooses does depend more on a firm hand by the GM and strong buy-in by the group to follow that chosen mode of play, whereas AW, if you are able to follow the rules properly, will deliver the desperate struggle to you on a plate.

I'm not a big fan of desperate struggle of that nature, you see, so this has been my hesitation about picking up Apocalypse World.

I am bit confused by your response, actually, because in your initial post you express a lot of concern over the "control and the adherence to the book". I thought that I responded to that, but your second post seems to suggest that all is fine with the game. What happened to your angst? Did the actual gameplay dispel it? Did a more thorough reading of the text make you more comfortable with strictly following the rules? Were you just setting me up?

_________________
despicable, vile, little worm and rabid defender of the podcast category
----------------------
This month on the RPG Haven Podcast: VSCA - The Diaspora Crew.


Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:24 pm
Profile E-mail WWW
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 387
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
walkerp wrote:
I'm not a big fan of desperate struggle of that nature, you see, so this has been my hesitation about picking up Apocalypse World.

I am bit confused by your response, actually, because in your initial post you express a lot of concern over the "control and the adherence to the book". I thought that I responded to that, but your second post seems to suggest that all is fine with the game. What happened to your angst? Did the actual gameplay dispel it? Did a more thorough reading of the text make you more comfortable with strictly following the rules? Were you just setting me up?


Its an interesting juxtaposition: on one hand, there is a desperate and almost foolhardy struggle, but each PC is extremely powerful and the MC is supposed to be a fan of your character by the book, so things will be tough, but your story is important, your character is a mover and a shaker.

Sorry, my response was a bit pat. I wasn't trying to set you up, dude.

Now yes, the book's section on MCing (being a GM) did make me more comfortable, but it didn't allay all my fears. Playing with friends I know and trust helped and getting on a skype call with them made me more excited. Lastly, I got a hook into my PC.

But it wasn't all roses. The MC section talks about taking the description of player actions and asking the player to frame it in a mechanic.

FREX:
Player: "That guy is in the doorway? I'm going to cut and run."
MC: "So, you're going aggro on him?"

That. That makes sense in the book. But in play, it was a bit clunky at one point.

I asked for a scene with another player character named Madame. Its the end of the session and I open hard, I tell her she made a rash decision and that she needs to think of the ramifications of her actions because everyone depends on her keeping things going. Now I had no agenda exactly, this was just a scene to define our relationship and to show that my PC Shade does care about surviving here, maybe even does care about Madame.

But the MC hears this and he tries to push me into a "move" defining it by the mechanics. "So, are you going to manipulate her? What do you demand of her?" I'm stuck for a bit, scrambling. So, I answer that I want Madame to off her majordomo who effed up. I mean, I didn't like the toady, but he was acting under her orders. I was doing what I wanted, I didn't need to force Madame into anything. At least, in most games, I could say my piece and go. But this is Apoc World and I needed to push for something specific.

I made the roll, demanded Madame kill her toady. She messed up and now he's out on his own, a potential future problem for us. Awesome.

But maybe it is awesome, though. I mean, a scene where Shade and Madame jaw at each other is less interesting overall than Shade pushing Madame to oust her own lieutenant and then having said lt as a new enemy.

I call it awesome because I ultimately had fun. But I'm not completely bought into the system yet, still learning the ropes.

_________________
Rich Rogers
Host of the Canon Puncture Show
http://www.canonpuncture.com
"Thunk weeeooo KABLAM!" - Thalaba
@orklord you're the octopus of podcasting - boulet


Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:37 am
Profile E-mail
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:19 pm
Posts: 2102
Location: Montréal, Québec
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
So going aggro is an actual mechanical element?

Rob Donoghue said an interesting thing about Apocalypse World:
Quote:
Ok, so for all the interesting things to say about AW the one that explains the most things is that there is a rule for everything. This is not necessarily to say there are a lot of rules (there aren't) but rather that every action taken is represented with a rule. There's no soft, interpretive space - if you're doing something, there's a rule for it.

These rules are called "moves", and there's an explicit set of them handling basic actions (Threatening people, helping, perception checks and so on) as well as class specific ones (like healing). If you want to add a new rule to the game (or make a ruling to handle a special situation) then you add a new move to represent it. This idea that everything is rules is a pretty powerful one[2] and may merit its own post at some point, but I want to zero in on a specific bit of structure to it.


Interestingly, the [2] leads to a footnote that says "2 - It's also the engine behind 4e. "

_________________
despicable, vile, little worm and rabid defender of the podcast category
----------------------
This month on the RPG Haven Podcast: VSCA - The Diaspora Crew.


Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:43 pm
Profile E-mail WWW
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 387
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] chargen reflections
J Walton is having a neat discussion on AW and Will's post as well here:

http://thouandone.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/tearing-veils-asunder

I play in the second session tonight. I'm rather excited.

_________________
Rich Rogers
Host of the Canon Puncture Show
http://www.canonpuncture.com
"Thunk weeeooo KABLAM!" - Thalaba
@orklord you're the octopus of podcasting - boulet


Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:22 pm
Profile E-mail
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 387
Post Re: [Apocalypse World] Actual Play reflections
Second session was pretty fun.

We began by higlighting stats. Evidently, this changes every game session. This is important because if a stat is higlighted and you use it, you get XP. If it isn't a higlighted stat, no XP, you just get the result of the roll in the fiction. So it drives play significantly. One stat chosen by another player, the second stat chosen by the MC (GM).

The restricted outcomes of die rolls is an interesting situation. I think Chatty DM is seeing this as well, at least from what I read of his AP on his blog. At one point early on, a player "Goes Aggro" on me and makes the roll. Now see, I have no defense against this, I just get a short list of things I do in reaction. I choose one that seemed to fit and the MC told me it was not appropriate. Even though the other player thought it was. So, we talked it out, I offered up another move, but the MC relented when I pleaded my case with the fiction logic. Ugh, this is all confusing to me and I lived it. For some graphic AP, read in the parenthesis:

(Other PC Madame came up to my PC Shade, told Shade, "I'm shutting down your theater because you hogged our technician", wins the Aggro roll. I look over the options, decide to give the PC what I think she wants and offer her my body, which makes sense because #1 this is Shade's art and lifeline for Barter and #2 in the last session, I declared that Madame was in love with Shade. But the MC ruled this was turning the Going Aggro into a Seduction roll, which... it was to a degree. Except the player for Madame says, "No, this will get me what I want" and uses it to degrade and humiliate Shade, not a fun experience at all. So, we ended up about right, but it took some doing.)

Overall, the game is still fun, but moreso due to the playgroup than the setting and ruleset. I'm finding I don't like my PC and I don't really love another PC much either. We're kinda despicable. So are a bunch of the NPCs.

Also, I blew a roll in a conflict, was messed up by Bill, an NPC wielding a chainsaw; then I blew the Harm roll, so my PC was out of commission for a week. While I'm not supposed to plot and plan between sessions, I am hoping to use this as a springboard to make my PC more like someone I like. I also hope I can get some more face time between all the PCs because up to now, we are never ever in the same room together. I'd much prefer us to basically be on the same team, perhaps in a filial role moreso than a lock-step group like a D&D party.

At the end of the session, each player gives a History point to one other PC. This is important because History is between one PC to another on an individual basis and can be used to help or hurt them as a bonus to rolls. Also, the History for a PC only goes to 4, then it is converted to an experience point and resets to 0.

_________________
Rich Rogers
Host of the Canon Puncture Show
http://www.canonpuncture.com
"Thunk weeeooo KABLAM!" - Thalaba
@orklord you're the octopus of podcasting - boulet


Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:02 pm
Profile E-mail
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 8 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.