Sunday, 28 May 2017

1st ride last

I've decided to do a little run through a Fast and the Furious inspired game, First Ride/Last Ride, despite never have seen one of those films. What the hell? It's billed as a one-player game, so no GM emulator/solitaire play tricks necessary. How good is that?

It comes in two parts, and I start with LAST RIDE, as per the authors recommendation.

I'm playing Dan, a man who used to live on the edge, pulling heists and
racing high-performance cars. Recently he has married and had a child. Is
Dan ready to settle down to peace and stability at last? Will the siren song
of danger and freedom call him back to his own life?

The game has a series of cards with a little vignette on it, with a questions that asks you to outline a reminiscence, then another question about the situation the gives a little tag about the character. I'm not going to write up the whole vignette there goes all the IP, I'd basically be telling you the entire game. I'll still write up my answers, though. Maybe it's a fun game for readers to guess what the questions were? Maybe not.

Dan took a job where he had to drive a Suzuki Swift.  It had to be an exact replica of the marks car, with Dan dressed in exactly the same clothes. Luca and the girls intercepted the original just after the drop, with Dan appearing in the replica along the expected route. Timing was very delicate, as the Suzuki was under surveillance in a variety of spots along the way.  There could be no delay, no suspicion. It wasn't until the last second after we reached the spot that Claude jumped out of the back and all hell broke loose.  Being chased by three coupe's on a little shitbox like that is no fun.

Nothing Dan can't handle, though.

We note that Dan half-asses things.

It was a bad scene. Dan was driving one-handed, holding the kid up with the other hand. She'd lost a lot of blood. He didn't want to let her lie down, she was slipping away, it seemed best to keep her conscious. Dan copped a bullet of too in the shoulder, as well as a spray of broken windscreen across his face from that last hired gun, as they let loose with an uzi across the front of the car. Dan will never forget the sound he made as he ran him down in his car and drove over the top of him.  That was just before that crazy mofo on the Kawasaki ZX10 came up beside him, tried to grab the steering wheel. Dan sent him flying off a bridge.  They may not have stopped him, but they did slow Dan down enough, just enough...

We note that Dan is sun-burned.

Those times were better for Dan, he didn't have a care in the world. He made a lot of money, there never seemed to be a shortage of cash. When it all got too hot, he just up and went, down to Baja California, mostly. Never thought to tell nobody. He'd just pick up a map, there's a good spot, he was gone.  Always a good time to be had, friends, music, drinks, good times.

Those times were worse for Dan. He was running on empty. Always on the run, was this going to be the time he finally died? Would they catch up with him here? He had a gambling habit he couldn't control.  All that time spent laying low, assumed names, fake ID, did that person look at him funny? Has he been spotted. Time to run again.

We note that Dan is a good husband.

Dan was supposed to pick Rackham up. It was enemy territory, things had been heated lately, it wasn't good for our crew to be out there on our own. He'd just picked up the keys when the phone rang. It was the bookie, letting him know he'd lost the bet. It was a bad one, they would be after him, no rain checks on this one, Dan had to disappear, and fast. But Rackham would be alone...

Ahh, what the hell, Rackham's a big boy. He can take care of himself. I feel more sorry for whoever tries to mess with him.

Dan was still in  hiding when they held the funeral.

We note that Dan is down for whatever.

Dan is definitely more afraid of himself, and what Vrag's actions might unleash in him.

We note that Dan is a fool.

Dan's whole life has been full of sound and fury. He's always been on the move, and fast. Except lately, with Alicia and little Dan. He craves peace more than anything.

If he can't have that, then neither can anyone else. He will unleash hell.

We note that Dan is a murderer.

What kind of man is Dan?  He half-asses things. He's sunburned. He's a good husband. He's down for whatever. He's a fool and a murderer.
He has a devil inside him. He loves deeply, and desperately wants a life he isn't capable of living.

And that's Last ride.

Now for First Ride

I'm still Dan, still in the same circumstances.

 Dan took a bullet for Maceo. Vrag had them cornered, Maceo was dead to rights. Dan came crashing through, and took a .38 in the shoulder for his troubles.

We note that Dan is honest.

Both Sally and Dan's old man drove a chevy. They had a thing for American cars, and never failed to give Dan a gentle ribbing when they saw him driving Japanese machines, which he usually does.

We note that Dan is not cut out for romance.

Dan was in Atlantic City when he heard about his Mom. He had a wad of cash in his pocket and blood dripped from his bruised knuckles. Within five minutes he'd stolen a motorcycle and hit the road back west.

We note that Dan is impulsive and loves his old man.

Back when he was only thirteen, Dan was riding shotgun with his old man. They were just going up the street to get some groceries.  All of a sudden, Dan's Father starts driving like a maniac, swerving around, top speed, completely misses his turn to the store.  Then he felt an almighty crunch. Dan noticed two things at once: First, that a big-arse 4WD had rammed them from behind, and was still pushing them; Second, that his old man had hit his head against the steering wheel and was knocked out. Dan sidled over, took the wheel and managed to point the chevy into an alleyway that the 4WD couldn't fit into, getting away.

That was the first time Dan drove a car.

We note that Dan half-asses things.

Dan's greatest fear is that he can't take care of his loved ones, that he doesn't have what it takes to be a true friend, son, husband.

We note that Dan is heartless.

All this stuff about codes and rep and your word and all that is bullshit. Just a lot of ego and hot air. But love, a connection, sharing your life with someone, that's meaning. That's purpose. That's something to get you out of bed in the morning.

When he can't get at it, then Dan falls into chasing sensation, thrills, easy money. And being on the move, running away. Dan is always running away.

We note that Dan can pay the bills.

Dan is honest, he is not cut out for romance, he is impulsive and loves his old man. Dan half-asses things (but not too often), he is heartless and can pay the bills.

Yet again, Dan wants what he cannot want. He is a man who loves, who yearns for love and can inspire it, but doesn't know what to do next. So he runs. He gets in his car to escape.

It seems like that just makes folks want to chase and love him all the more.

And that's First Ride/Last Ride.

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.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Academy of the Mind - session 1; Silent Scope

A solo campaign, using Apocalypse World 2e and the Miso rpg

Series begins here

Starting moves - spend 1-barter for upkeep & lodging.  That brings Must down to 3-barter. Now we roll Fortunes, for my cult: 7 (5+1+1). A soft hit. We have surplus, bringing me back up to 4-barter (in fact, what the hell, Must will spend 2-barter on their lifestyle and live in luxury), we have access to Augury and Insight, plus my followers (sorry, my students) are largely in a drug-addled stupor. We do, however, have to choose 1 want, either desertion or desperation. I choose desperation.

So, putting that together, The Academy has harvested a good crop of the sacred mushrooms and we have done some good business of late. However, I have taken more than my fair share in order to live it up. I've been taking advantage of my leadership role to move into a better dwelling and have nicer food. I've neglected the needs of the student body and they have been growing very nervous. The Academy building is in need of repair.

I'm going to say that there is a visiting dignitary from one of the nearby holds, and I look to Miso:
A) Fleece, who trades in clothes and garments in Weak Crash - d6 - 2
B) Cobra Jack himself, of Clem's Tool - d6 - 4

Cobra Jack is in town!  CJ and a few of his cohorts from Clem's Tool have come to Pistol Dump to The Academy and receive the benefit of its psychic wisdom.  They've had to brave mutants and a troublesome landscape to do it, so they must a have real need.

First, though, it's time for stat highlights. I determine these randomly,ending up with Cool and Hard.

Jack's delegation is officially greeted by Winkle. Cobra Jack treats Winkle like a child, making crude jokes at his expense. This is not unusual, Jack & Dez Choke would rib each other mercilessly whenever they met, much to the amusement of them both. Winkle just can't handle it. He doesn't have the wit or confidence to respond and goes all sulky. It's awkard, for everybody (this is happening front and centre at the town square with most of the hold watching). Cobra Jack insists on going to the infirmary to see Dez Choke and pay his respects.

Jack and Choke talk privately, nobody knows what about(except perhaps Dez Chokes's doctor, Boo)(Doom had wanted entry but was rebuffed. She's pissed).

After that, Cobra Jack comes across to The Academy to have an audience with Must and the students. This is the first time Cobra has come to The Academy since the death of Weaver Bird. He is arrogant and condescending, as he always is. What pressing matter has he come to The Academy to resolve?

(I'm going to say that he's already paid, and that's part of what accounts for The Academy being in surplus)

I try Story Cubes

I try Zero dice

I try the Zero Tarot

I feel completely lost by all of them. Nothing comes to mind.

Then, I try the oracles from In A Wicked Age, and it worked much better for me, even though it's sword & sorcery rather than post apocalyptic. I choose three oracles:

A) The alliance by marriage of a certain tyrant family with the cult of a certain dead god - d10
B) A prodigy mage, still a maid, drunk with occult power - d6
C) A wealthy merchants son, refined and crafty

I get rid of the third one. Boring. Then I assign dice as per Miso and roll. A = 4, B = 3.
Cobra Jack has marriage on his mind. Badluck Tyrant, the lead figure in Weak Crash City, is attempting to shore up their position by allying with...

A) Me?
B) A powerful priest and miracle-worker from the badlands
I assign a d6 each's me! Well, I have been busy, haven't I? Lovers with Doom and fielding marriage proposals from Badluck Tyrant, the richest, most powerful merchant in the region. This fits in well with my using up of The Academies resources from the Fortunes roll. Perhaps I've recently returned from Weak Crash, where I've been living it up and trying to impress Badluck?

Anyway, Cobra Jack wants to know where this leaves him and Clem's Tool.



It sounds like he just wants to talk to me, why would he need a psychic vision for this stuff.  I've made this almost too personal, gotten carried away with writing fiction and lost track of the GAME.

Take it back. Cobra Jack has come to see The Academy. He wants access to their Augury move. So what does that move do?
  • Reach through to someone/thing connected to the psychic maelstrom
  • Isolate and protect from the maelstrom
  • Isolate and contain a piece of the maelstrom
  • Insert information into the maelstrom
  • Open a window into the maelstrom
So, should I roll or choose? I choose. Cobra Jack is haunted. He wants protection. I go back to the oracles I drew from In A Wicked Age earlier. I choose the second one, a prodigy mage, still a maid, drunk with occult power. Clem's Tool is a democracy, and elections are approaching. A young woman by the name of Charmer is emerging as a rival. She has an eerie hold over those that hear her speak. Once, after Cobra Jack mocked her publicly, she put a curse on him and he has been plagued by horrific nightmares ever since. He can barely sleep and is fearful and irritable, which is badly affecting his campaign. Worse, he is starting to fall into small naps during the day, where his nightmare visions visit upon him again. He seeks protection and freedom from this curse.

The Academy begin their ceremony. They all partake of this distilled essence of the mushrooms, a brew for them all to drink. They sit in a circle with their eyes closed, waiting for the visions to come to them. Each of them speaks aloud of the strange, abstract shapes they see, debating and correcting each other, until they can come to consensus over them.

A successful roll is consensus, a failure /miss is a descent into bickering and an inability to name and control what they see, a soft hit (7-9) represents lingering doubts within the group and concessions made in the debate which has weakened their overall position. Only by unifying in naming the object of their visions do they gain control over it.

I make my Augury roll. 3+6+1=10.

That's a full success! In their visions, The Academy is able to recognise and isolate the mind terrors sent after Cobra Jack by Charmer. It took some rigorous debate, but an agreement was come to. Since we hit the 10+, I get to choose two options. I choose that the effect can persist without The Academy actively maintaining it (for a while, at least), and that it reaches broadly across the psychic maelstrom, so Cobra Jack can travel back to Clem's Tool without needing us to be near him to maintain his defence.

Note that I did NOT choose for it to be stable, with no bleeding. Since this was more of a protection, pushing against psychic powers, I'm going to say that anyone attempting to Open their Brain in the vicinity of Cobra Jack will have to Act Under Fire to do so for the time being. The fire being that the suppressing nature of this ceremony blocks access to the psychic maelstrom.

Cobra Jack feels clear and confident in this head for the first time in a long while. He's very happy. He starts talking about getting The Academy to launch psychic attacks against Charmer, but Must demurs. For starters, the student body are in a drug-addled stupor, and there is also a psychic dampner all around Jack to contend with. She tells Cobra that he'll have to deal with Charmer "the old fashioned way." He laughs merrily and takes his leave. He'll need to get back home and act quickly if he wants to take full advantage.

Just as Cobra Jack is leaving, prepping his vehicle to begin the journey back to Clem's Tool...time for Miso...

A) A sniper shoots Cobra Jack dead!  d8 - 8
B) Doom confronts Jack as he is about to leave, demanding that he pay tribute to Pistol Dump (PD collects tribute from nearby communities) d6 - 3

It's the sniper! Cobra Jack is just shaking hands with Must, saying his farewells (pointedly ignoring Winkle) when a shot rings out and his blood splatters all over Must's vestments.

Cobra Jack's entourage are in a panic! One of them, Half Pint, CJ's bodyguard, grabs Must, trying to take him hostage to help their escape. Must tries to break free of Half Pints grip, Acting Under Fire to do so (that's 1 XP). I roll an 8 and have no modifier, so I flinch, hesitate or stall.

Must can wrench himself free, but the sniper is still shooting and she'll be putting himself right into the fire. The best way to avoid getting shot is to leap into the jeep with Half Pint and Gremlin.

Must decides they do not want to get shot, and so dives into the backseat of the jeep, just as Gremlin punches the accelerator and high tails it out of there. Pistol Dump is heavily foritified, but they were just being let out. It is, however, up an inaccessible crag, so it's a tough drive for Gremlin. They've got a start, but a few bikes take off in pursuit, all of whom know these trails like the back of their hands.

In the  meantime, Half Pint (who's a tough little fucker and a mutant at that, with scaly skin that gives him 1-armour) is trying to subdue Must, wrap some chain around him to keep him in. Must doesn't like this too much, so she leans backwards, brings both feet up and attempts to kick/shove Half Pint right out of the jeep. I'm going to say that that's Seizing the back of the jeep by Force (2 XP). I roll two sixes for a total of 13. Cop that! I choose to inflict terrible harm, take definite hold of the back of the jeep and to impress/frighten/dismay my enemy. To me, this means that I just kicked him clean out of the jeep and he fell off the cliff. Bye bye Half Pint. You sure are dead.

Gremlin is terrified. Cobra Jack is dead, she's gunning hell for leather down a glorified goat track on the edge of a cliff with motorcycles chasing her, now the passenger in the back has just tossed her toughest friend off a cliff. They're spooked as. Must presses the advantage.

"Let me out, NOW!" Must screams. "Stop this fucking jeep!" Must doesn't intend to attack Gremlin (that would be crazy, they would crash for sure), they just want Gremlin to think they would. So that's a manipulate, for which Must uses Weird, which is at +3. I roll 1 + 2 + 3 for a total of 6. A miss

Gremlin pulls out a 9mm, firing wildly behind her while trying to watch the road. "Fuck you, you crazy fuck!" She yells. I need to Act Under Fire to avoid the bullets. I get 2+3 = 5, another miss (3 XP). Must takes 2-harm, as one stray bullet lodges in my forearm as I madly bring it up to protect myself. I make the harm move. I roll low (2+1+2=5), which is good. Still, I think a GM move is in order.

Gremlin crashes. The car spins, the rear teetering off the cliff. My one escape route is forwards, past Gremlin over the drivers seat and hood.

Gremlin is a little banged up and a bit frightened of me, but is looking at me with a gun in her hand, she's debating in her head whether or not she has time to finish me off before she scrambles out herself.

"Gremlin," I say, giving her my most intense, mesmerising stare, "Either we both live, or we both die." I roll to manipulate, getting 11, a full hit. Gremlin sees sense, and we both scurry out, just in time to see her wheels fall down.

The motorcycles arrive and pull up. Doom is super pissed, bringing a shotgun up to Gremlin's head, who is kind of beyond responding at this point. She's going to blow her away.

I try to intercede, talking Doom down. I say that this wasn't Gremlins fault, someone shot Cobra Jack, what was she supposed to do? If we're going to avoid war with Clem's Tool, we might need Gremlins help.

Again, I'm manipulating. I get an 8. They need concrete assurance first. Fair enough, she's just shot up her boyfriend. Gremlin drops their gun and puts their hands up where we can see them. Gremlin say that if we can find whoever shot Cobra Jack and hand them over, that should be enough to head off a war. Probably. Doom accepts this, and we all make our way back up to Pistol Dump, Must needing some medical attention.

Session end.

Thoughts: Miso is quite different to CRGE, that's for sure. My earlier reservations about getting stuck coming up with possibilities and worrying about wasting creative energy and time on threads that don't get used didn't eventuate, but it did have other impacts. It puts you much more in the frame of writing fiction and has you very much wearing the GMs hat. If you look back over what I've written above, you may find me struggling with pronouns to use for Must (he or I? his or mine?). There are some points, particularly early on, before the dice started rolling in earnest, where I'm definitely writing fiction instead of playing a game. That's ok. I like writing fiction. And hey, it's only one session, maybe repeated use would give me a completely different perspective?

Apocalypse World worked great, as usual. When I started to get a little lost early on, it was honing in on that games mechanics that brought me back on track.  I was pleased with the use of oracles from In A Wicked Age as well.  There are a bunch of fan-made ones on Abulafia as well. The ones that look particularly useful to me are the Anime, Heavy Metal Fantasy and Rifts (yes, Rifts) ones.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Academy of the Mind - session 0

OVERLY LONG PREAMBLE: TL,DR - I'm running a new solo campaign, using AW2e + Miso

I spent a lot of time faffing about, trying to decide what to play next, solo wise. At first, I was going to use CRGE again, but with a different game. But I went around and around in circles, looking at lots of different games, baulking at all of them.  I'm not sure why.

In the end, I decided to go back to my tried and true Apocalypse World. I thought I should do something differently, though, so I decided to use Miso as my GM emulator.

In all honesty, I had my doubts about Miso, going in. The way the system works, you're obliged to spend time coming up with plot twists that go straight to the cutting room floor.  Seemed a waste, to me. But after looking at other solo engines, I noticed that a great deal of them seemed to spend a lot of time trying to set up some kind of "narrative structure" to the game. I specific number of scenes, specific types of scenes, forcing the game to have a start, a middle and an end.

In all honesty, that just doesn't sound like my jam.  I'm not a fan of overly formulaic storytelling, in any media. I love the feeling of unpredictability that can come from a more sandbox oriented approach. Also, after the Yes/No approach of CRGE, I was keen to try something that could be used more as a springboard for creativity, which is Miso down to tee.

I decide to make a Hocus.

Name: Must
Stats: Cool 0, Hard +1, Hot -1, Sharp +1, Weird +3
4 barter in "oddments" (figure that out later).
Look: Ambiguous, Formal vestments, Innocent Face, Mesmerising eyes, Graceful body.
Moves: Fortunes, Charismatic, Fucking Whacknut.
Followers:  My students, who travel with me. They are rigorous and argumentative and form a powerful psychic antenna. They depend on me for their lives and needs, and are drug-fixated.
20 Followers; fortunes +1; surplus - 1-barter, augury, stupor, insight; want - desertion, desperation.

I use the excellent Apocalypse Fuel website to create a random hold for Must and their students to live. I get "Pistol Dump."

Pistol Dump is a small hardhold (50-60 souls). It's heavily fortified, perched on an inaccessible crag. The hold has about 4 combat and 4 utility vehicles. It's manufactory produces leather and is always hungry for labor. It has been around a long time and tends to be set in its ways.

It is a collapsing state. It is undergoing a power struggle and has no clear leader. It's gang is undisciplined.

Notable residents: Dez Choke has a fragile prosthetic jaw, which is fine-tuned and heavy.
Dez is the leader of Pistol Dump, and has been for some time. He has recently fallen ill. Some say he has been poisoned, or cursed. His son, Winkle, is in line to take over, but isn't really the most respected figure, not a strong type.  Doom, Captain of the guard, is angling to take charge, and Nils, who runs the leatherworks is waiting in the wings, biding their time.

Most suspect Doom of poisoning Dez Choke, but many point the finger at Must and the School.

First question for Miso - where is Must's School located?
1) The school is inside Pistol Dump, and its students are part of the general populace
2) The school is close to, but outside the fortifications of Pistol Dump. They've settled into a cave system at the base of the crag.
1) d6 vs 2) d10 - the d6 rolls a 5, the d10 a 2.

Must and her school count toward the 60 odd souls that make up Pistol Dump, but don't work in the tannery. They are dependent on Must, so Must provides their needs and place in the local economy.

It's time to talk about the cult a bit more.  It's a school, an academy, and the obvious thing they have to offer is their psychic antenna, the augury. They study the ways of the psychic maelstrom, sitting in a circle to debate and analyse their observations and theories, putting them through a rigorous dialectic. They also use drugs. I'm going to reincorporate the idea of a cave complex at the base of the crag, where the special sacred mushrooms can be cultivated. It is through the use of these psychedelics that the maelstrom is accessed and the visions are later discussed and interpreted.

The Academy has been with Pistol Dump for some time, Must in an ex-student himself. It was founded by Must's old master/teacher, Weaver Bird. The Academy has always provided invaluable advise for the leadership of Pistol Dump, and folks come from all around to use it as an oracle, to the economic benefit of both the Academy and Pistol Dump itself.

What happened to Weaver Bird?
1) He died of old age    D4
2) He died in mysterious circumstances    D8
3) He wandered off on a sacred quest, leaving the Academy to Must    D6
Would you believe it, the d4 won! Weaver Bird was just plain old and went the way of all things. It happens.

Dez Choke has never really warmed to Must. He misses his old comrade and advisor, Weaver Bird. There was someone you could RESPECT. Dez is a big believer in The Academy, though. It's just Must he's not sure about.

Of the three pretenders to the throne, one hates The Academy and wants it gone.
1) Winkle (d6) - 3
2) Doom (d6)   - 1
3) Nils (d6)      - 4
Nils the Tanner. These lazy students are a drain on Pistol Dump. It's about time someone broke up their parties and put the to work. The parasites.

I roll again between Winkle and Doom to see who is a true friend to Must; it's Doom. What the hell, they're lovers.

I consider consulting Miso on who has poisoned Dez Choke (if he has indeed been poisoned), but I decide to hold back. Gives me something to wonder about, it'll come out in the wash.

In terms of the world in general, I'm thinking a little Mad Max, a little Gamma World. Mutants, talking plants. A bit of gonzo weirdness. Why not?

Pistol Dump is fortified and inaccessible to protect it from the monsters that roam the wastelands, as well as gangs of cannibals, and the occasional, terrifying patrol of robots left over from the old wars.
(NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: Threats - gangs of mutant cannibals, weird monsters of the wastelands, robots of wars gone by)

Next up: make-up of the Pistol Dump populace (mutants or no?) Attitudes to mutants in Pistol Dump. Two other nearby holds from Apocalypse Fuel.

I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the same world as the last campaign, with Farley the Driver. Farleys game was set in the deserts and the badlands. These areas are ultraviolent and in desperate scarcity, but they were actually spared the worst of the wars. They are human dominated and the psychic maelstrom is relatively weak.

This campaign is in the borderlands, where the last outposts of humanity hold alongside the mutants, braving the dangers of monsters and robots alike for the rewards of more fruitful and arable land. The psychic maelstrom feels closer here.

This sets up nicely for a trilogy, where the final game would be in the ruins of the urban centres on the coast, where the robots are in control, the monstrosities are truly terrifying and the psychic maelstrom is a constantly deafening howl. Can't wait!

So, back to Miso to clarify a few things. First of all, the makeup of the general populace of Pistol Dump.
1) Pistol Dump is a town where humans and mutants live side by side in harmony.
2) Pistol Dump is a purestrain human stronghold.
I assign a d6 to each option. The first option is the winner. Mutations abound!

Next question:
1) The Academy is predominantly mutant (d6)  = 1
2) The Academy is predominantly human (d6)  = 3
Interesting. The Academy, which deals exclusively with psychic phenomena in the region (in fact, they are the pre-eminent experts) are predominantly purestrain human in the middle of a mutant enclave.

If we relate this to the power struggles in town, we have:
Winkle, Dez Choke's son, in line to be the new Dez and nominally in charge at the moment. Everyone likes Winkle (who is a mutant), but no one considers him a leader, including himself. Dez Choke stubbornly insists on Winkle taking his leadership mantle, because that's how we do things around here, and Winkle cannot bring himself to contradict his old man.

Doom, captain of the guard,  purestrain human and lover of Must, openly talks of taking over the town. She is a natural leader and obvious candidate, but her  direct approach has rubbed a number of folks up the wrong way. 

Nils, who runs the tannery, primary industry of Pistol Dump, is a mutant and highly respected by all (especially the mutant population). Nils hates the Academy and wants to take over Pistol Dump, but is too sly to be direct about it. He is setting himself up as Winkles advisor and right hand man.

It occurs to me that, while not overtly stated, it's starting to look like Must is aligned with human supremacists in a power play with the mutants, who are the workers of the setting at that. Certainly not where my natural sympathies would lie. I decide to let it play out, trusting myself, my instincts and the dice. I'll have to keep a sharp eye on that aspect, though.


1 - Weak Crash Camp Large 200-300 souls. Poorly fortified, a straggled out collection of homes. Four combat vehicles & four utility vehicles. Major trade hub, daily market. Food is chronically scarce and expensive. High end books may be obtained at Armlock Butt's.

It's an oligarchy: an alliance of influential figures divide power between them. It marches under the corrupt leadership of The Badluck Tyrant.

It's posse is heavily armed, small (10-20 violent bastards) and ill-disciplined.

2 - Clem's Tool Large population (200 - 300 souls). Heavily fortified, multiple rings of fortifications up a hill mound. Four combat vehicles and four utility vehicles. Population is lazy and drug-stupored. It's manufactory produces alcohol and is always hungry for labor. Almost everyone can read, and locals often travel to find scribing work in less literate parts (there are a number of Clem's Tool in the Academy).

It is a representative democracy. The people hold more or less regular elections to choose a leader.  It marches under the narcissistic leadership of Cobra Jack.

It's at this point I realise that I've done waaaaaaay too much prep and need to stop.

Next up, the first session.

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.