Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Solo AW session 3 - Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

Back to the grind, Apocalypse World 2nd ed + CRGE

Beginning of session stuff, rolled for random stat highlights, got Hot + Hard.  Farley is still a kept man, but after his success in the Globe of Death, it's more of a house arrest than being locked in the dungeon.  He even gets to go out partying with Drivebelt Tyra and her goons most nights.  They are keeping him well fed and even the odd bit of luxury (so 2-barter on his lifestyle), but he feels very much on a leash.  They treat him with an odd mix of respect and denigration. They own him, he's a curiosity. A bit like pulling out a precocious younger brother at a party, but the real fun doesn't start until after they've been sent to bed.

I consult the Loom of Fate from the CRGE:  Do we see the Red Mantis Gang at any of the parties?  16 - No, and...(no addition to the surge count).

Hmm, No, and. I've already determined through the Threats that they haven't left town yet. They don't leave until the Wildcats show up looking for them.


The Wildcats are here in Rope Blood Towers.  They are a big gang, so they've got a bit of status.  It makes sense that their leadership would be invited to one of Drivebelts' shindigs.

The Wildcats leader, Joe's Girl, is there, as well as three of their offsiders, Dremmer, Gnarly and Tum Tum.  Drivebelt introduces them to Farley, talking Farley up as the best wheel man in the Badlands.  The Wildcats don't seem to like this very much.

"No one is better behind the wheel than Tum Tum." Says Joe's Girl.  "Sorry, Farley, but looks like you're number two."

At this point, I invoke my Reputation move.  That's 2d6 +Cool. I get 5 all up, a miss. The rules say that the MC gets to decide what they've heard.

"I heard that the Red Mantis Gang took you down like a punk, sold your sorry ass. Can't be all that if those assholes can get the drop on you." says Joe's Girl. Drivebelt and a few of her gang are looking offended.  Joe's Girl just grins and continues. "I wouldn't worry about those Mantis jerkoffs anymore. They got what was coming to them."  Remembering that in the Threats, the arrival of the Wildcats spelled the end of the Red Mantis Gang.

Farley's blood turns to  ice.

"My car," he says "They had my ute. What happened to it?"

Loom of Fate: Did the Wildcats torch the ute? 86 - Yes, but...(still no surge count).

Yes, but. The ute did get trashed in the ambush, but...but what?  It's salvagable, I guess. Damaged, but not destroyed. I check the vehicle harm chart. 4-harm: breakdown, can be repaired in a garage. Or maybe 3-harm: serious damage.  If it's 3-harm, the Wildcats can have brought it with them more easily. If it's at 4, there's a good chance they left it behind.  Instead of using the Loom, I just roll 1d6. 1-3, 3-harm, 4-6, 4-harm. I roll a 2. It's at 3-harm, so they brought it back to town.

The reason I didn't use the Loom is because I only wanted a yes/no answer. I didn't see a role for and/but/unexpectedly answers here.

"Will you sell it to me?" asks Farley.  Joe's Girl smiles, Tum Tum looks alarmed and Drivebelt Tyra's eyebrows go through the roof.

"Everything is always for sale." replies Joe's Girl. "Sling me, say (2-barter) and she's all yours. Do you have the jingle for that?"

Tum Tum looks panicked. Farley turns to Drivebelt, who has her arms folded and looks distinctly unimpressed. She has already spent plenty of barter on Farley this week, and is a little embarrassed and annoyed about the way this conversation has gone. Plus she knows would have to pay for repairs. She's not keen on this deal. She sees no reason to agree to it.

"Drivebelt," says Farley "You get me that car, you won't regret it, I promise you. I'm good with any vehicle, but with that one, I'm magic. We have an understanding. It's like a second skin."

Farley rolls +Hot (and marks one xp) as he tries to fast talk/manipulate Drivebelt into helping him out. He lands a 9.  They'll go along with me, but need some concrete assurance, corroboration or evidence first.

Drivebelt wags a finger in Farleys face and says "You've done well so far, but there's a long way to go. If you win your next game, I promise to get you your precious car."

Farley nods and accedes. Drivebelt shakes her head a little. Tum Tum looks pissed (he sure does want that ute to himself. It would have been his idea to bring it back to Rope Blood Towers). Joe's Girl is clearly enjoying herself. The party goes on.

The next day, the games are on again.

This time, it's in a large, oval ring. A bit like a nascar track, or for an Ancient Roman chariot race. It's dirt. There is a 3 metre tall wall of tires on the outside, with a chain link fence above that. The crowd sit on stands behind that fence. It's a huge crowd, almost entirely drunk and rowdy.  On the inside of the race track, there is a steep ditch, about a metre deep, with barbed wire, spikes and caltrops beyond it.

There are four vehicles evenly placed in starting positions around the track. If anyone has ever seen pursuit races for bicycles, you'll know what I mean. Except there's four competitors, not two.

Question for the Loom of Fate: Is Tum Tum competing in this event? I get a 26, that's a straight No, with 2 added to the surge count.  I take that to mean that my old ute isn't here either, especially since it needs repairs.

1st Vehicle - A motorcycle. 2 people on it, the passenger armed with an smg. This is the only armed vehicle in the game.
Strengths: tight and responsive. Looks: vintage.  Weakness: bucking. Massive=0, Speed=0, Handling=1, 0-armour.

2nd Vehicle - A semi.
Strengths: huge. Looks: powerful. Weakness: slow.  Massive=3, Speed=0, Handling=0, 2-armour.

3rd Vehicle - a buggy
Strengths: offroad. Looks: quirky. Weakness: unreliable. Massive=1, Speed=1, Handling=1, 1-armour.

3rd Vehicle - a coupe
Strengths: aggressive. Looks: sleek.  Weakness: guzzler. Massive=2.  Speed=1. Handling=0. 1-armour.

Farley is given the coupe. He has the buggy ahead of him and the motorcycle behind. The semi is on the opposite side of the track.

Drivebelt herself fires off a shotgun into the air to signal the start of the "race".  Farley slams the pedal to the metal and goes.

First of all, Farley tries to catch up to the buggy ahead of him. He has a higher speed than the motorcycle behind him, so he's not worried about them for now. I use the Overtake move from the Road War rules. That's rolling +Cool, I get a 12!  Farley quickly catches up to the buggy and pulls alongside.  To his surprise, the driver of the buggy looks like a skinnier dirtier version of Mr Bean.  The buggy driver (Norvell is his name, not that Farley knows that) glances at Farley with a look of bored disdain.  Now I'm going to shoulder this thing off the track, into the ditch and barbed wire.  I roll Cool again, which is where my real troubles begin.

I get a 5, meaning that the buggy shoulders Farley's coupe instead.  That means I take v-harm. Between the cars relative massive vs handling plus my combat driver move from the Driver playbook, I just roll a straight 2d6. I get 11, which is bad. I lose control of the vehicle. The attacker gets to choose 1, either I crash or spin out.

For a moment, I'm tempted to determine this randomly, but then I consider the fiction.  These games are a bloodsport.  Norvell is not trying to get away from me, they want to take me out. I crash.

Since Farley had been trying to push Norvell into the centre of the track, he crashes the opposite way, into the wall.  I'm calculating this as a direct hit against a moving vehicle. It's the only thing I can find in the book that makes sense. That's 3-harm ap, plus the vehicles massive. Now, which massive am I using? The buggy that sideswiped me? Probably not, it's the wall I'm crashing against, it just sent me on the path.  The coupes? Maaayyybeee.  It's the vehicle making the hit, after all. More likely, though, it's the wall itself. That's what's causing damage to the coupe.  And its massive would be sizable, equivalent to the semi, at least.  That would be 3 massive, for a total of 6-harm ap. The car is completely destroyed and all harm blows through to Farley, completely filling up his harm clock in one blow.


Two bad rolls in a row, that's all it took.

This brings me to the "when your life becomes untenable" move for the game. By rights, his goose should be cooked. Even if he was alive after the crash by some miracle, as loser, Farley becomes property of Rolfball the Butcher and that means dinnertime.

I can envisage a different ending.  Perhaps, for reasons unknown (a stakes question right there), Rolfball takes this broken half-corpse and repairs him, making Farley almost entirely cybernetic, a servitor to aid him in his duties. I would choose a new playbook, likely the Angel.  Farley (if he retained that name) would still be trapped, a slave in Rope Blood Towers, but under the thumb of Rolfball the Butcher.  He would be an object of derision by the gang members, assuming that they would even realise who he was.  He would obviously not be directly involved in the games anymore, as the focus of play would shift more to the citizenry of Rope Blood Towers and the cannibalism affliction they hold.

As it stands, though, I'm happy to let Farley go to a more peaceful end. He'd rather go out behind the steering wheel than be trapped in a lab, I think.  I pick the "die" option from the list and bring this little campaign to a close.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Solo AW2e - Under Threat

I spent a bit of time going over the Threats, as per the MC between session prep moves.  I originally wasn't going to post this stuff, but I think it has an impact on the whole solo play angle. Setting up stuff like stakes questions and countdown clocks really set up the fiction and points in certain directions, lessening the need for stuff like story cubes and the like. Or that's the theory, anyway. We shall see.

I decided not to write up a threat map. There are mini maps with each threat anyway. NOTE: I later realised that the book actually says to use the map as a note taking tool during play, and that it's the threats that are the bulk of the between session prep. Suits me.

The rules say to write up my vehicle as a threat. I wasn't sure about that, since it got stolen, but what the hey?

NAME   Farley's V8 ute
KIND   Ferocious bastard
IMPULSE   to outrun
The Red Mantis Gang
Will Farley get his wheels back?  Will he even see it again?
3 O'CLOCK - Ute stolen
6 O'CLOCK - Farley sold
9 O'CLOCK  -  Wildcats show up in Rope Blood Tower
10 O'CLOCK  -  Red Mantis skip town
11 O'CLOCK  -  Red Mantis gang ambushed
12 O'CLOCK  -  Ute destroyed
Red Mantis Gang
Rope Blood Towers
Badlands highways

I was going to ask the Loom of Fate whether or not the RM gang had already split with my wheels at the beginning of the next session, but this largely takes care of that for me. My understanding is that the countdown should not be irrevocable until the 9 O'Clock piece is filled, so I've still got one chance.

NAME  Rope Blood Towers
KIND  Landscape, furnace
IMPULSE  to consume things
Drivebelt Tyra & her gang
The games/show
Rolfball the butcher and other cannibals
Can Farley keep winning? Will he ever escape?
3 O'CLOCK  -  Farley sold to Drivebelt
6 O'CLOCK  -  Farley competes in the games
9 O'CLOCK  -  Farley becomes the crowd favourite
10 O'CLOCK  -  Jealous rivals emerge
11 O'CLOCK  -  Sabotage!
12 O'CLOCK  -  Farley marked for death
V8 ute

At first I wasn't sure what to do with the countdown clock here, until I realised that it only mattered if Farley kept winning in the games. If he lost, he was dead anyway, so I had to track what would happen if he kept winning.  Then it practically wrote itself.

NAME  Drivebelt Tyra & her gang
KIND  Slaver (warlord)
IMPULSE  to own and sell
Drivebelt Tyra, local tyrant
Kickskirt, Drivebelts bodyguard
Blues & AT, some goons
Will they sell Farley? Will someone else make a bid for their power?
3 O'CLOCK  -  Buy Farley
6 O'CLOCK  -  Build his fame
9 O'CLOCK  -  Farley the star of the show
10 O'CLOCK  -  Promise of freedom in exchange for taking a dive
11 O'CLOCK  -  Sell Farley
12 O'CLOCK  -  Farley on the lunch menu. Literally.
Rope Blood Towers
Rolfball the butcher
Red Mantis Gang

The countdown clock here puts a different slant on Farleys future in the games.  Again, all assuming he keeps winning.

NAME  Red Mantis Gang
KIND Hunting pack (brutes)
IMPULSE  to victimise the vulnerable
Bone, Fillet and Thrice.
Are these three all that's left of the gang (ask CRGE)? Will they evade the Wildcats? Will they leave with Farleys ute?
3 O'CLOCK  -  Bring Farley to Rope Blood Towers
6 O'CLOCK  -  Spending it up in town
9 O'CLOCK  -  Wildcats come hunting
10 O'CLOCK  -  Make a run for it
11 O'CLOCK  -  Ambushed
12 O'CLOCK  -  Dead
Farley's ute
Badlands highways
Rope Blood Towers

Give me my fucking car back, you bastards!

NAME  Rolfball the Butcher
KIND  Cannibal (grotesque)
IMPULSE  craves satiety and plenty
Rolfball, the butcher
various cannibals of Rope Blood Towers
Who will they eat next?
Rope Blood Towers
Drivebelt Tyra & Gang

This one is not very fleshed out at this point. Rolfball is a stand in for the cannibals of RBT (Random Breath Test! An ironic acronym in a Driver game). By the rules, I probably should have done this as an Affliction, but this seems right somehow, until we learn more. If we learn more.

NAME  Badlands highways
KIND  Mirage
IMPULSE  to entice and entrap
Farley, his ute, the Red Mantis Gang, the Wildcats Gang.

Another not particularly thought out threat, hovering in the background. It represents a false promise of freedom and escape.

NAME  The Wildcats
IMPULSE  Riot, burn, kill scapegoats
The Wildcats, a large gang
When will the Wildcats track down the Red Mantis Gang?
How will their presence destabilise Rope Blood Towers? Will they clash with Drivebelt?
3 O'CLOCK  -   Wildcats arrive
6 O'CLOCK  -  Wipe out Red Mantis
9 O'CLOCK  -  Betting in the games
10 O'CLOCK  -  Cheating at the games
11 O'CLOCK  -  violence erupts
12 O'CLOCK  -  Rope Blood Towers burnt to the ground
Red Mantis Gang
Farleys's V8 ute
Drivebelt Tyra
Rope Blood Towers

This gang are set to ride into town and trash the whole place. Only Farley can stop it, should he want to.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Solo AW - session 2 - Open your brain to the Globe of DEATH

Part the second.

Random highlights: Cool and Weird

Lifestyle move: Since Farley's been kidnapped, he effectively has zero barter, I guess?  But he's also being kept by his gaolers. I'm thinking that Fillet and Bone provide the 1-barter, with the strings being that he's their prisoner.

Then again, maybe not? They don't really care about him. I decide to consult the CRGE.

I don't know if I'm supposed to reset the surge count or not, so I don't. I didn't get any use out of it last time, anyway. It's at 6. I roll 21. With a -6 that comes to 15, and a "No, but..," result. The surge count resets to 0.

So Bone, Fillet and Thrice (the one with the SMG who was thrown clear of the ute), make no attempt to look after Farley, but this has been mitigated somehow.  Perhaps Farley has some cornbread and a canteen (or hipflask?) stowed on his person that he is able to use on the sly, so he pays for himself and is down to 2-barter. 2-barter that he cannot really access at the moment, and is functionally under the stewardship of these three bushwacking desperados.

After d6 days on the road (4), they come to a hold. I use the Apocalypse Fuel website to generate a random one. I must make about 6 or 7 before I get one I like (is that cheating?). It's called Rope Blood Tower. It's of regular size, about 75-100 souls. It's a cluster of rough huts and tents (with one or two exceptions I have in mind) and has a reputation as cannibals (Farley's heart sinks when he realises where they've come to).  It is a tyranny, currently under the rule of Drivebelt Tyra, which is whom Bone takes him to.

Bone talks up Farley's skill as a driver, which very obviously piques Drivebelt's interest. She has an actual drive belt for a bandoleer, is well-armed and surrounded by a serious looking entourage of toughs.  She has long, black hair and carries a blood-stained machete.

Drivebelt approaches Farley and asks his name. Farley gives it freely. Now I roll the Reputation move from the Driver playbook.  I roll Cool (which is highlighted, so +1 xp for a running total of 2) and gets a 9 total.  So they've heard of Farley, my choice what. I'm hell of a wheel man, especially in battle. They pay off Bone, Fillet and Thrice (after some haggling).

I decide to consult the CRGE on two questions: Did Drivebelt buy my car? I get a "No" That truly sucks. The second question was about my barter/odds and ends, but I think we can safely say that's gone. Add to the surge count for a total of 2.

Bone, Fillet and Thrice are members of the Read Mantis gang (thank you, Apocalypse Fuel). They are a small, nomadic gang, on the run from the Wildcats. They are officially on the shit list.

Farley is put in a cell, but is well looked after. he even has a medic come and give him the once over to make sure he's fighting fit. His shoulder wound didn't heal in the four days of bouncing around the tray of the ute, and getting slapped around by Thrice, who's not looking that good herself after being thrown off the back of the truck.

The medic's name is Rolfball.  They have two prosthetic legs which appear to cause pain and discomfit with every step. Rolfball is highlty irritable, a cantankerous old bastard.

Farley tries to engage Rolfball in conversation, which Rolfball is reluctant to do.  Farley rolls to manipulate Rolfy into opening up. He's trying to get R-Ball to tell him what he can expect to happen to him, saying that there's little point in being patched up if they're just going to kill him.

I get a 7, which means that R-Ball will go along and tell Farley what's coming for him, but he needs something in return. This moves doesn't really seem to work. I've given Rolfball no real reason to help him. What can Farley give evidence or assurance of?

I use Read a Person instead. I get a 5, a miss. I get to ask 1 question, which is "How could I get Rolfball to tell me what's going to happen to me?" To be honest, I think that Farley would have to threaten him, and I can't see him doing that at this stage.  Rolfball gets extra irritable and narcostabs Farley, putting him unconscious. That'll shut him up.

While he's out, Farley opens up his mind to the psychic maelstrom. He pictures himself careening down a highway in the desert, people, road signs and other vehicles flashing by fast as he speeds past them. After a time, he moves off road, into broken lands, then launches off a rise into the sky, into the clouds...

Farley focuses on the question: how do I get my ute back? Not how do I escape from here, or what's going to happen to me, he just wants his V8. I roll weird (+1 xp, now at 3). I get 3. Back to his vision, as Farley glides through the clouds, he's repeatedly struck by lightning, pain surging through his nervous system. He falls through the sky, landing roughly on the dirt road. As he pulls himself up on his knees, he sees all manner of vehicles go whizzing past him, while he is left alone, utterly grounded. Farley lifts hits arms and suddenly finds himself gripping iron bars in his hands.  He comes to, finding himself standing at the door of his cell, utterly trapped, holding onto the bars.

The next day, Farley can hear the sounds of a crowd and festivities, growing more pronounced as the day wears on.  Late in the afternoon, Farley is taken, chained at the wrists, by a couple of of Drivebelt's goons (Blues & AT).  They lead him outside, into a throng of cheering people.  He can hear the sounds of motorcycles revving their engines (dirtbikes, by the sound of them).  In the centre of the crowd, surrounded by stands with seats, there is a large round structure, like a giant ball shaped cage.  It looks a bit like this:

On either side of the cage there are motorcycles ("Yep, dirtbikes, about 250cc" thinks Farley) being held ready. One is being sat on by crazed looking man in leathers, who is hamming up to the crowd, pointing at Farley and screaming that he will kill him. Drivebelt and her bodyguard, Kickskirt, are on the other side with an identical motorcycle. Drivebelt is holding a chainsaw.

Drivebelt motions to Blues and AT to unshackle Farley (another roar from the drunken crowd!), whom she then indicates to get on the bike.

"Win this," she says, "and it's decent food and a comfy bed for a week. I'll even throw in some beers.  Lose, and, well, it won't matter anyway."

Blues and AT have both drawn guns, levelling them straight at Farley.  Drivebelt start up the chainsaw and hands it over to him.  Two doors open down from the sides of the cage, one in front of each motorcycle, as the crowd let loose with a deafening roar.

"Welcome to the Globe of Death." says Drivebelt. "GO!" she yells and slaps Farley on the back.

Both bikes ride into the globe, Farley pulling to the left and the other rider coming straight at him, hoping to end this quickly.

I judge that Farley is trying to Outdistance the other vehicle, as per the Road War moves, to buy themselves some time.  That's a Cool roll, so one more XP for a running total of 4.  Farley rolls 14, the best he can do.

Farley easily evades the other biker, who chases them around the globe to no avail.

Farley is now going to try and change direction, going up and over the top of the Globe of Death, so he can use his speed to bear down on his opponent and attack them across their back. I judge that to be a use of the Overtake road war move.

Farley hits it with an 11. It's another Cool roll, so Farley makes his 5th XP first advance. He ups his Sharp to +2.

Farley sets up the perfect strafing run and slashes at his opponent with the chainsaw.  Since he has manouvred himself behind his opponent, I judge this to be Go Aggro. Farley rolls a straight 2d6 (his Hard is 0). My luck appears to be with me, as I get 11.

I want the other rider to fall off and quit, but he sucks it up. That's 3-harm, messy. -1 harm for their leathers, so they take 2-harm total.

They come straight off their bike as the saw cuts into their flesh and bone. It gets wedged in the shoulder blade, only coming loose while they tumble on the cage floor. Their left arm hangs uselessly as most of the back of their shoulder seems to have been pried open.

The other rider lies twitching on the floor. They will certainly die, but it may take a while. The crowd takes up the chant: "FINISH HIM!  FINISH HIM!" Farley catches Drivebelts eye, who nods, a smile on her face.

Farley is thinking cold-blooded murder on some helpless schmuck who was probably shanghaied into this crap is for shit. He tries to get a Read on the Situation to see if he can find a way out. He rolls his Sharp and gets an 8. I get 1 question - What's my best escape route?

It's difficult to see a real escape route here. The best bet is to work towards safety by winning over the crowd. And that means giving them what they want. Farley hoists up his chainsaw and finishes the job, to deafening applause.

The door is lowered and Farley leaves the Globe of Death. Drivebelt strides forward, looking very chuffed, takes Farley in their arms and hands them a VB.

As Farley takes a pull from his brew, Drivebelt talks about how well they can do together, how Farley will live like a king. Rolfball walks by Farley back into the globe, dressed in a blood-stained stained apron, holding a bonesaw in one hand a a butchers knife in the other. Farley remembers Rope Blood Towers reputation with a chill. In the corner of his eye, he sees Blues & AT keeping lockstep with him, their eyes on his every move.

End session 2.


The CRGE and its Loom of Fate made its presence felt a bit more this time around.  Again though, it was important early on in the session and tended to fall by the wayside as the moves began to snowball.  It turns out that Apocalypse World practically MC's itself at times.