Monday, 15 May 2017

The Academy of the Mind - Session 2 - We're not gonna take it

A solo Apocalypse World campaign, with support from the Miso rpg. Series begins here.

Stat highlights to start with (determined randomly on a d6). I get Cool and Sharp. Still no Weird.

I decide to continue on straight from the finish of the last session. I have a bit of a house rule with Apocalypse World, if the next session continues straight along from the next, I don't worry about beginning of session moves like lifestyle and fortunes. If I can put in a gap of time, then hell yeah, bring it on. If it's a straight up continuation from last game, set on the same day, then I figure it's still the same session, in a manner of speaking.  I don't hold stat highlights or Hx to this, though. Not that I 'm using Hx in this solo game.

Doom and her goons lead Gremlin and Must back into town. The whole place is in a flap. Members of the Academy are beside themselves (well, the ones who aren't too off their face to notice what's going on). Winkle is nowhere to be seen. Some want to lynch Gremlin then and there, especially as they realise that Must has been shot up some.

Back to Miso.

  1. Doom gets Gremlin into protective custody without trouble - 1d8 - 6 - 1
  2. Someone (maybe Orchid) from The Academy attacks Gremlin - 1d6 - 6 - 5
Miso went to a tiebreaker! In the end, the dice wanted more drama.

And so Orchid leaps out from the crowd, a brick in his hand. He's tripping on acid, but was cognizant enough to spot a time when Doom was distracted. There's no time to talk him out of it, but I should be able to sneak in a quick Read A Sitch.

I roll snake eyes. My Sharp is okay (+1), but it could be +4 and I'd still miss this one. So, I still get to ask 1 question off of the list (and mark 1 XP), but prepare for the worst.

What's my enemy's true position? I'm momentarily distracted by a sight from a window in one of the towers, above the...(er, Miso?)...
  1. Tannery - d6 - 1
  2. Academy - d6 - 5
...above the Academy hall, a small movement, a rifle being withdrawn, I can't see by who. The sniper!

Distracted as I am, Orchid has all the time in the world to bring the brick crashing down on Gremlin's head. Gremlin falls, his heels kicking, twitching like he's been electrocuted.

Everyone falls silent and still. The quiet stretches on while we all stare at each other.  Eventually...
  1. Gremlin goes still, dead - 1d10 - 6
  2. Gremlins breathing stabilises. He'll live, but his mind is shattered - 1d6 - 1
That's the end of poor old Gremlin, last of this ill-fated envoy from Clem's Tool.

Nils is the first to speak. "Doom!" he shouts. "Take control here, come on!"

Doom grinds her teeth, but springs into action. She starts ordering her guard to dispose of the bodies (including retrieving Half-Pints) and securing the entrance to the town. While she's doing the this, Must takes a moment to talk to Orchid, who is still just standing there, holding his bloodied brick.

"Orchid?" Says Must, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Orchid, come with me. We need to sit down, get you something to drink." I try to get a Read on him. I roll 2d6+Sharp (+1 XP, total 5 XP, that's an advance, I'll pick it later). I roll a 5 (3+1+1). Another flipping miss. I still get one question from the list, but also need to make an MC move. I choose Separate them.

Doom grabs me. "What are you doing?" She demands. "You're shot, you're wounded, let's get you cleaned up." And she starts leading me away from Orchid. I quickly glance at Orchid as I'm being frog marched away, trying to see what I can deduce from our short time.

QUICK ASIDE: this is the first time I've explicitly called out an MC move like that, and it feels a little odd. But while an MC shouldn't speak their moves name, they still need to think in terms of them, so I thought it was appropriate for showing the thought process involved in play here. It just goes to show that despite the term GM emulators, you are still very much wearing your GM hat in a solo game, as well as your player one

Anyway, my question, what does Orchid intend to do?

  1. Orchid stares at Doom with hate. While not immediate, it's obvious he has violent intentions toward her - d6 - 6
  2. Orchid appears overcome with remorse. He leaves, evidently wishing harm upon himself - d6 - 1
Great. More crap to worry about. Welcome to the apocalypse.

Doom takes me to see the doctor, Boo. Boo is with Dez Choke and won't come out to see anyone else at this point. The place is in lockdown, their is no admittance to Dez Chokes's sanctum. Doom is yelling and arguing with the sentries. I intervene.

"Friends, friends," I say, "We're all in this together. As head of The Academy, I am the Dez's most senior, trusted advisor. An it is imperative that the Captain of the Guard here," Must nods toward Doom, " able to confirm the safety of the Dez. Please, let us in so we can do our jobs, to protect the town."

I roll to Manipulate. I get a 9 (4+2+3), not a full success. They'll let me in, under escort, but not Doom. I tell Doom about the sniper I saw above the Academy, their eyes go wide and she rushes off without a word. I go in and am taken to a small (tiny) room with a bed, and am locked in.

After a short wait, Boo comes in. He fishes out any bullet fragments (ouch), cleans and dress the wound. He wants me to stay and rest at the compound for a few hours, so he can make sure that there's no infection or shock. After that, I can go. He gives me some painkillers and goes back to check on Dez Choke.

Must lies back on the bed, cursing himself that he didn't tell Doom about Orchid (though perhaps, he thinks, that's just as well), nor did he bring anyone here with him from the Academy whom he could send back and forth with news and instructions. He wonders about their next move. He doesn't want war with Clem's Tool. Half the Academy come from there. This Charmer character worries him as well. And, of course, Pistol Dump just isn't ready. With Dez Choke out of action and the constant arguing between Doom and Winkle. Though, perhaps, this situation is just what Doom needs to stake her claim on leadership. Then they can finally get rid of that Nils creep.

Must closes his eyes and allows his focus to shift toward the hum of the psychic maelstrom. He can always hear it, a soft, electronic purring, but he can normally filter it out. Now he allows it to take centre stage in his thoughts, letting it wash over him. I open my brain, getting an 11 (3+5+3). According to the rules, I'm supposed to get good detail on the current situation and perhaps the PC has to answer a question or two.

I start with a question for Must. How does he really feel about Doom? Is he in love with her, or is it a more casual connection?

I don't think Must is dedicated to Doom, and I'm not entirely sure Doom is really "in love" with him either. Though I think Must does have a way of getting under Dooms skin. They currently find each other useful and amusing. .

Is there someone else Must is in love with?

  1. Yes, one of the Academy, Tavi. Must finds his beauty intoxicating, and admires his extraordinary leaps of deduction during Augury. 1d12 - 6
  2. No, Must feels love for no one, save perhaps himself. 1d6 - 3
And so, back to the brain. What are the important things happening here that Must needs to know about?
  1. Who shot Cobra Jack? 1d6 - 6
  2. Who, if anyone, poisoned Dez Choke? 1d6 - 3
Must's thoughts return to Cobra Jack seeing him lying dead on the ground. Then he is alive, making fun of Winkle, making him seem small and stupid. He can see Winkle's face, ashen, sullen, almost I'll. Then Must sees again the movement of the rifle in the window, again the rifle.Then he is downstairs, arguing with the sentries, White and Dog Head. Dog Head readjusting his rifle at his shoulder as he told Doom she couldn't come in. Readjusting his rifle. The rifle. It's the same one, the one that shot Cobra Jack. Dog Head tells Must that he can come in, but it's not his voice, it's the unmistakable metallic hiss of Dez Choke.

Must wakes up, covered in sweat. He's healed 1 segment of harm, but still has 1 more. It's starting to get dark out, some time has passed, but no more than a few hours. He gets up and starts to make his way out. When Must reaches the hallway, he can hear two people talking at the bottom of the stairs. He tries to listen in without giving himself away. That's Acting Under Fire, roll +Cool, I get an eight (3+5). Also, another +1 XP, overdue for an improvement, I take the Hocus move Frenzy (it's awesome). My XP total is currently 1.

Must moves down the stairs to better hear them, but someone opens a door and starts walking out on Must's level. The only way to evade being seen by them is to go straight down the stairs towards the talkers.

Must pops down. It's Nils and Boo who are down there talking.

"It's simple," Nils says. "Just keep him in here, drugged up. We'll say the wounds got infected or something. Once Doom is out of the way, kill him off."

The figure upstairs is coming down. Must is trapped in the middle. He quickly Reads the Situation. I get a five (1+3+1). Sharp is highlighted, so that's +1XP, total 2 XP. I still get a question before the hammer comes down. What's my best escape route?

I get a quick glance above me, it's Dog Head. Definitely not that way. My best way out is to just rush downstairs, try and use the element of surprise.

Which I just lost. Dog Head walks onto the staircase and sees me plain as day. Hey! he yells. Bodies start moving below. I've got one chance to run downstaris towards the door before Nils can cut off the hallway.  I Act Under Fire again (+1 XP, 3 XP total), breaking into a sprint. I get an 8 (4+4), things don't quite shake out for me. I can evade Nils, but there's a longish clear run to the exit, and a shut, heavy door at the end. Dog Head is going to have all the time in the world to line me up and shoot me with his magnum.

I take it. I run down to the door, and just as I'm getting it open, I feel an impact rip into the small of my back as I take 3-harm, putting me on 4-harm (10 o'clock on the harm clock, dangerous territory). I roll the harm move and get an 8. Must loses his footing. He opens the door and gets outside, but falls flat on his face. That means that the door was open as the loud gun went off (Magnums have the tag: loud), which is sure to attract attention.

Back to Miso.

  1. There are townspeople there, witnessing this right now - 1d6 - 6
  2. There is no one here just yet, but soon will be after that noise -1d6 - 2
Lucky for me, there are townsfolk about, Dez Choke's compound basically opens out into the town square (I'm being generous with myself here. Sometimes, you've got to). There's plenty of folks about, which in a town this small will include some of Doom's Guard, some tannery workers and a few from the Academy. Maybe a few others, if there is much else in the town.

Dog Head is on me, but the crowd press forward, demanding answers. Dog Head tries to threaten everyone, Nils and Boo wisely stay inside, out of view.

I struggle to my feet. "Listen to me citizens of Pistol Dump!" I bellow. "We have struggled under this corrupt Dez too long! It is HE, out of pride, who has killed Cobra Jack, and brought war upon us. That's why they want me dead, to stop me from bringing you the TRUTH!"

I'm triggering my new move, Frenzy. I get a 13. That gives me 3-hold over this mob. I demand that they fight for me as a gang, overcoming Dog Head to begin with.

They attack! I demand that they arrest Dog Head, who defends himself with his magnum. I roll Seize by Force for the mob and get a 12. I choose to suffer little harm, take definite hold and impress/dismay/frighten my enemy.

The gang takes 1-harm from Dog Head (a few injuries, no one is dead), inflicts 3-harm (Dog Head gets trampled to death. Bye-bye, bozo), and inside, Nils and Boo have sped off.

The joint open, I spend one more hold to demand that they bring Dez Choke to me. They all rush in and grab him. By this time, Doom has arrived, with the core of her guard. Between my injuries and the ecstatic mob, she doesn't know whether to be pleased or terrified. She takes Dez Choke into custody.  Doom looks at me nervously, and I use the last of my hold to send the mob all quietly back to their homes. Doom comes with me to the Academy, where my students fuss over me. No one is quite sure what to do, they obviously can't go to Boo. They apply what little healing they know, stabilising the wound at least. I manage to get a private moment with Doom.

"Pistol Dump is yours now," I whisper. "Please, be merciful to Winkle. He's not your enemy."

Dooms eyes squint a little. "Best thing for Winkle now is to leave town. If he doesn't want some of what I'm going to give his father."

Doom smiles. "He's a tough old coot. I was sure the poison would knock him off, but he just kept hanging on. Not that it matters now, thanks to you."

With that, Doom departs, leaving a shocked, bloodied and thoroughly disillusioned Must lying in his cot.

End Session


I played out this session a few weeks back, now. I've tried a couple of times to start up a third, but seem to get bogged down in a lot of set-up. In all honesty, this feels a bit like an ending. There's still plenty going on, but the initial situation of the power struggles in Pistol Dump is somewhat resolved, or has at least entered a new phase.

I'm going to end this mini campaign here.

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