Apocalypse World: Inspiration

Last night and this morning, I was seized by a setting for AW, a setting that excites me. It’s a very specific vision at its core, but with lots of easy messing.

The core is the Central Valley, post disaster. Like normal AW, we’ll play to discover what happened, etc. But some elements will be stable, part of the pitch.

The core idea is that it’s our topography–though minus today’s functioning dams, so we get back Tulare lake, etc. Lots of marshy areas return, but the lack of groundwater (due to current and anticipated pumping) remains, so everyone’s dependent on catchments.

The weather’s like today but worse. Winter brings back dense Tule fog everywhere, with a side of ashy grit. Spring and fall are each a seized month of bliss, before temperatures head over 100 for months. (Basically, today + humidity from the surface water, without a/c, with some climate change to add 5-10 degrees.)

Play will focus on the little towns; Fresno/Clovis and Bakersfield are gone and barren, irradiated. Hell, maybe every city with a population of 20,000+ on this list is gone–burned in the troubles. Assume that everything built post 1970s won’t work. In AW, it was built to fall apart, like fireplaces as decoration rather than useful heat sources.

Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker

This was my second read through, with over a year and exposure to several other Powered by the Apocalypse games in the meantime. It made all the difference–probably alongside seeing the new Mad Max movie and listening to discussions about how it would make an excellent AW scenario.

I want to play it now–to the point where I’m considering working on a campaign for it. I’d probably lean a little differently on my sources; it’d probably feature a lot more Canticle of Leibowitz and The Road, since I’m much more a reader than a movie goer.

Interestingly, moves of all kinds and the MC’s role came through solidly; I get, in a way I missed the first time, how the MC acts and how that results in a particular game style. The responsive nature was apparent, but this time the advice about how hard you respond, etc., really came through. (I was looking for it, of course, since it was something I’d felt that I’d lacked the first time around.)

Even Sex Moves, something I’d tittered about before, came clear on the reread. The only thing they really do is affect your history with someone–and the game makes a statement about the characters are affected. For example, the operator picks up his companion as a job to juggle; that’s very different from other playbooks that immediately leap your history (Hx) to +3… or just giving you +1 to your next roll.

A big difference in this go around, I think, was reading the characters not as classes, but as solid chunks of setting. It’s a world with characters like these, where these characters shine…