My big to-dos for the second session were:
1) Integrate two new players, and
2) Start using my prep.
Atop our starting set of driver, chopper and battlebabe, our new players chose a savvyhead and a brainer. What an impact! Driver and chopper are quite conventional choices, which is great because it’s a very gentle on-ramp to start playing straight away. Everyone “gets” PA bike gangs and badass drivers. The battlebabe isn’t that far off-piste, mostly a showy, cinematic killer.
Adding the savvyhead upped the weirdness quotient a good bit, what with augury and the workshop and all that. Augury is very weird (not capital-W Weird but it’s also that) and just having that move looming in the background started shifting my headspace about the game toward a more uh supernatural vibe.
Oh but the brainer, good lord. Probably, In My Humble Opinion, the most distinctive wtf playbook in the whole basic set. I have no idea where the idea for the playbook even came from, I can’t track it back to my own literary/cinema database, but whatever. It’s very sci-fi, right? And sexy-kinky in a way nobody else really is. The battlebabe is empty eye candy but the brainer, well. Our player is also playing her in a very spacy weird way, which is awesome. Naturally her character knocked boots with an NPC to trigger the deep brain scan effect.
The Hx questions worked okay, not great, although everyone did pretty much get into everyone else’s business. Almost everyone has the “everyone else at the table” type effects, which helped. I think it’ll be no problem at all going forward.
Five players is…a lot of players. It feels extra-heavy because Apocalypse World is so action-heavy aaaaand there’s no formal spotlight-sharing procedure in place, ie an “initiative” system or whatever. It’s pure MC management, which is fine, even good since it’s more flexible for shaping interesting outtakes. But it’s easy to leave some players behind if they’re not shoehorning themselves into scenes. I think I did okay but first session’s players definitely got less spotlight time than our luxurious 3-player 5ish-hour start to the game last week. It’s fine, I’m back into one-shotty mode.
We changed around highlighted stats of course. First session, everyone did what they’re best at and leveled fast (a couple advances each IIRC). This session, I started picking not-quite-as-good stats. Some players took to this prompt really well — the battlebabe stopped relying on being cool and started socially hustling — while others felt dis-incented to roll anything other than their best stats. It’s a Thing about AW and not everyone loves it. Some minor grousing/wishing for DW’s XP-on-a-miss system, which is probably the most elegant and straightforward one out there. But I really did like seeing them roll for stuff other than their go-to moves.
My prep mostly worked fine, although I forgot to set up clocks and countdowns for the big/interesting crypto-Fronts. I think that’s actually okay for the second session, now that we have our full player load and everyone’s on-board with the setup and situation. But yeah, warlords warlorded, brutes were brutish, and the landscape…well, that was pretty spectacular.
There was a moment of play where the driver, chopper and battlebabe were all arguing at/past each other about the battlebabe’s scheme/mission. It was pretty great! They grabbed their dice and worked out their moves exactly right while I ran to the kitchen to refill my hydroflask. And when I came back, the driver rolled a miss while trying to hinder the battlebabe’s manipulate, which also missed.
So I took the first miss and introduced the unmistakable smell of an unkempt forest burning. And I took the second miss and put the fire right next to the most prized possession of this holding: a dozen filled fuel tankers.
In retrospect I could have maybe started two threads of badness and counted on future misses to get them both rolling. It felt a teeny bit cheaty to one-two punch with the back-to-back misses; there was, in my head, a teeny bit of retconning that the three-way argument had continued despite the whiff of smoke, and instantly fell apart when they saw flames licking at several thousand gallons of the most valuable substance in the southern Rockies.
Whatever, crosshairs, no status quos, let’s turn everything upside-down.
The characters lost their home base, saved the tankers (although who fuckin’ knows where they’re gonna end up, definitely not all where they’re supposed to!), and started a mass migration right into the home of their frenemies The Patriots (‘Murica! Fuck yeah!). I’m sure the half-dozen organized biker gangs will happily submit to the Patriots’ strict chain of command and hand over their tankers.