Sunday, May 17, 2015

Apocalypse in the Family

The AP report from a game I recently played with my son, Jordan, and my daughter's boyfriend, Frank.  Neither had played Apocalypse World before.  In fact, neither had played any sort of RPG before this game.  Given that, they did a fantastic job!  I originally posted this on Google+, so if you've already read it there, it's the same thing.

So, as briefly as I can, here's the AP from our game last night.  Both Jordan, my son, and Frank, my daughter's boyfriend, are very quiet and reserved people.  Jordan doesn't speak much unless he's very comfortable and I've known Frank for years and I've only heard his voice a few times, so I knew it was going to be challenging, especially if I wanted to run a "social" game.  Instead, I took the advice of +Todd Nicholas and gave them something concrete to do/accomplish right off the bat.

Seeing as how we had a Juggernaut in the game (armor described by Jordan as a "steampunk monstrosity") I determined that he would be the protector of the Hardhold.  His name was Lucky and he called his armor "Ton-O-Phun".  The Hardhold was a fortified village on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, surrounded by trees and rolling hills and very near a mountain range, from which the 'Hold mines iron and coal.  The Hardhold, back before everything went to hell in the world, was a boy scout camp called Olympic Pines.  That name stuck, but now everyone just calls it the O.P. 

The Hardholder, Foster, had not heard back from the mining supervisor who had been sent with a small party to investigate a new vein.  He decided to send Lucky and his pal, Cal, who has a dog named Icarus to investigate.  The mine was about an hour by foot away so they set off through the woods.  I described a scene in which they suddenly noticed that all wildlife sounds had ceased, and it wasn't because of the steaming, whistling monstrosity that was Lucky's armor.  I introduced them to the Read a Sitch move.  Cal rolled and only got one question.  He decided to ask about an escape route, so they did not detect the ambush when a small explosion felled a tree right on top of Lucky.  He rolled to Act under Fire to dodge the tree and got a partial success.  I allowed him the option of dodging the tree, but having it strike his machine gun, potentially damaging it, or taking the brunt of the tree himself.  He chose to allow the tree to hit him.  Since Ton-O-Phun as 4 armor, he was not hurt but was knocked off his feet into the foliage and missed seeing a couple guys slip out of the bushes on either side of the trail with submachine guns. One fired on Cal, but he successfully dived into the foliage himself, landing directly on top of Lucky.  The other fired blindly into the bushes, hoping to hit Lucky.  As Cal helped Lucky to his feet, one of the ambushers pushed through the bushes and fired a burst at Lucky's chest.  He ignored the bullets and reached out and grabbed the poor guy by the head, crushing it in his huge,  armored hand.    Meanwhile, the other ambusher had gotten in position to take an easy shot at Cal, but his dog, Icarus, streaked in out of nowhere and locked his jaws around the attacker's wrist, breaking it and forcing him to drop his gun.  Lucky let loose with a burst of machine gun fire and easily killed the attacker, but barely missed Icarus with his spray of bullets.  Lesson learned for Lucky and Cal was left breathing a sigh of relief.  The two exchanged some harsh words about Lucky's carelessness and they decided to push on.

The Mining camp was empty, but there was evidence of a fight as bullet casings littered the ground and there were many pools of blood in evidence.  The mineshaft had also been collapsed, but they investigated the ground and determined that some bodies had been dragged into the shaft before it was collapsed  (At this point I have no idea why the mineshaft is collapsed, I just wanted to give them a challenge to overcome that didn't involve combat).  I assumed that they would use the Juggernaut to try to dig through the blockage, but Cal decided to use a move that allows him to consult his dog for insight.  He wanted to find an alternate entry, perhaps an air shaft or something.  Sure enough, he hit his 10+ and so Icarus led them unerringly to a narrow air shaft higher up the mountain.  The Juggernaut couldn't fit in, so Cal slipped in and slid down into darkness by himself (armed only with the infinite knives he selected as his weapon during character creation).  Meanwhile, Lucky decided to Read the Sitch at the airshaft (unprompted by me) and so with a great roll I allowed him to spot the sniper perched in a rocky nest about 300 yards up from his position.  When Cal slipped into the shaft, the sniper opened fire.  Since I knew that I could not hurt Lucky and he was not able to hit the sniper, I decided to turn up the heat a bit.  I described how the sniper, an incredible shot, was hitting the faceplate of his helm, which he had previously described as a deep-divers helm repurposed as armor.  The first shot cracked the thick glass and the second shot put a hole in it about the size of a fifty cent piece.  This did the job and Jordan got very nervous, so he had Lucky dive for cover behind some rocks.

Down in the shaft, Cal found a couple of guys setting up some more explosives to fully collapse the mine.  He recognized one of the guys as Hugo, the brother of Matilda, the hardholder of a nearby settlement.  Those bastards were sabotaging the mine!  Cal managed to hide so that he could prepare a plan when I had Hugo hear the heavy machine gun fire from up the nearby air shaft.  He sent his partner, Monk to investigate.  Monk left through another, larger shaft that the player's had not known about.  Up top, Lucky cowered for a bit, terrified that his faceplate would be completely destroyed, until he heard the sniper moving.  He risked a quick glance (reluctantly) and saw the sniper repositioning to get a clear shot.  They saw each other and exchanged fire.  The sniper missed and Lucky's blast of machine gun fire tore him up.  Four armor and he fights like a gang?  What was I thinking?  Jordan LOVED it, though.  Over the years I guess I've gotten inured to the violence and tension in scenes like this.  It was fun and refreshing to experience it again through new players.  They were laughing and joking and speaking in first person (which I had to coax them to do in the beginning) and really getting in character.

To wrap it up, Cal managed to ambush Hugo with an awesome Go Aggro roll, taking him prisoner.  Monk was spotted by Lucky as he attempted to escape and Lucky's shots went wide, so he got away.  Monk escaping really troubled the players, which I loved.  They cared about it and felt it was a failure on their part.  I ensured them that it would just make our next session more fun.

I finished the game by explaining how I could use the elements of the story we created to push the game forward in future sessions.  What will Matilda do to get her brother back?  Why was she sabotaging the mine?  How will Lucky repair his faceplate?  Cal finds that Icarus has fathered a litter of pups back at the hardhold.  What will he do with the pups?

They cannot wait to play again and, honestly, neither can I.

(Sorry for such a long post.  TL;DR - It was fun!)