[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] First Session Report

Zuto Mega Stompfucker
We open with Cassa, the touchstone, who passing by meets up with Wolfie, the Ruin Runner. Wolfie is preparing to head into the ruins of the Loop to look for salvage, and asks if Cassa wants to join her. Cassa agrees.

Pallor, the Brainer, runs a brothel in the old Harold Washington Library building, one of the very few buildings left standing in the downtown area. She’s preparing for the day, checking on her girls, making sure everything went smoothly the night before. (Her girls are Ruby (our Battlebabe), Fauna, Prim, Visage, and Frankie). She discovers that Fauna hasn’t returned yet; she was last seen in the company of one of the members of the South Loop militia. Pallor takes Zuto Mega Stompfucker, the Faceless and her hired bodyguard, and heads toward the historic district to try and find Fauna. Ruby, who has been hired by Cassa to find some alien poison, reads some old, crumbling yellowing magazines from before the end of the press.

Some milita men pass by Cassa and Wolfie, but fortunately take no interest in them*, and they proceed into the loop. They search around and in the ruins of the Willis Tower, and Wolfie quickly manages to uncover a pair of unbroken spectacles; quite valuable.

Zuto and Pallor run into the militia as well, who are quite common in the historic district area. This time, they are both noted by the militia. Zuto isn’t generally welcome in this part of the city, so they demand that he explain his presence. Meanwhile the other three members of the patrol start harassing Pallor with cat calls and lewd remarks. One even goes so far as to touch her. She uses her Violation Glove to perform Puppet Strings, implanting a command that the soldiers should all leave her and Zuto alone. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that. Zuto revs up his chainsaw and cuts them all down, taking taking a couple bullets himself but not feeling it much. It’s over in a flash, and they’re both standing covered in gore.

Ruby’s researching still when Prim tells her there’s a situation downstairs. Chack, this kid everyone knows, maybe 15 years old, is drunk and has some jingle and he’s banging on the door demanding to be let in. She says he has a gun. Ruby heads for the roof and listen to him shouting. “I’ve got barter and I want some pussy!” he calls. Before things escalate too much, she heads back downstairs and lets him in. She takes him to a room and convinces him that she’ll tell Pallor to have him paid in services if he agrees to watch out for the girls as another guard. He agrees.

Cassa and Wolfie stop for lunch, which Cassa brought. As they eat, Ruthorford (Wolfie’s pack animal, a size-shifting alien monkey thing) starts acting crazy, grows up to human-size and runs off, leaping up on the old El pillars and heading north. They follow. Wolfie thinks they can coax him down with these little pellet things that grow in the forest (and sometimes downtown). Cassa knows of a patch of the plants nearby; they split up.

Ruby takes Chack into the forest to look for some sobertree to help with his inebriated state. To avoid the eyes that are constantly on the burnt ground between the city and the forest, she takes him through an old sewer pipe, using a motion sensor she got from Wolfie. The coast is clear, so they head through.

Meantime, Rutherford stops at the dry riverbed, since the El tracks have collapsed here and the pillars are too far apart to jump across. Wolfie climbs up beside him and soothes him enough that he shrinks back small enough to fit in her backpack. As she’s zipping him in, she sees a flash of something bright on the opposite side of the riverbed.

Cassa, collecting pellets from “plants” that look like sea sponges (the pellets are in the sponge-holes), is about to go back for Wolfie, when someone starts shooting at her from the top of a nearby building. She looks for building to duck into herself, but hesitates. The only place available is the Subway entrance, and the Subway has a very bad reputation. Still, must be better than being shot, right? In she goes.

Pallor stands in shock, covered in the militia men’s gore, as Zuto kneels down to collect eyeballs from the corpses. She tells him he needs to go, now. So he does, heading for the riverbank to reflect. Clarion approaches Pallor with a couple more heavily armed militia, Dremmer and Joe’s Girl. Pallor tries to seduce him into letting her off easy, but he’s got four soldiers dead, and it’s just not going to cut it this time. The militia takes her in, and though she could Puppet Strings someones she lets them take her, figuring it gets her closer to Fauna. As they enter McCormick Place, Clarion tells a few other soldiers to find and kill Zuto.

To be continued…

Hx given this session:
Cassa to Wolfie: +1 (Wolfie knows Cassa @ +2Hx)
Wolfie to Cassa: +1 (Cassa knows Wolfie @ +1Hx)
Zuto to Pallor: +1 (Pallor knows Zuto @ +2Hx)
Pallor to Zuto: +1 (Zuto knows Pallor @ 0Hx)

Experience marked this session (from rolling Highlighted Stats):
Cassa: 2 (For Act Under Fire and Getting Noticed by the Militia (Cool))
Wolfie: 1 (For Salvage (Sharp))
Zuto: 1 (For Go Aggro (Hard))
Pallor: 1 (For In Brain Puppet Strings (Weird))

A few other things we found out this session:
-Cassa’s symbol is not a necklace, but a journal in which she keeps excerpts, quotes, bits and pieces that display human purpose and achievement
-Ruby has a sword with two blades
-Wolfie’s pack animal is an alien-monkey-thing that can change size

*Encountering the Militia on the street has it’s own custom move:

When a Militia patrol spots you on the street, roll+Cool. On a 10+, it’s fine, they pass you by, you’re just one of the crowd. On a 7-9, they’re going to ask that you give an account of yourself. On a miss, the MC chooses one:

  • They harass you for sport
  • They beat you for sport
  • They apprehend you
  • They pursue you
  • They let you go, but insist that you leave something behind


[Apocalypse World] Session cancelled; Character Art

Doc, the Angel
Two of my players were sick this week, so no session to report on, unfortunately. However, they have been working on their homework a bit, and here’s a sneak peek at one of the results: Janelle’s character art for Doc, the Angel.

Another part of their homework being to detail their bartering oddments, I came up with a list of suggestions for things that people might commonly trade, with a few interesting trinkets thrown in:

  • A scarf
  • Rechargable batteries
  • A battery charger
  • Bottles o’ booze
  • Packs of MREs
  • Needles and thread
  • Pots and pans
  • Plastic beads and shiny things
  • Fuel
  • Ammunition
  • Water filtration parts
  • Drugs, drugs, drugs
  • Canned food
  • Birth-control pills
  • Painkillers
  • Bandages
  • Condiment packs (ketchup, hot sauce)
  • Spices (esp. salt)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Glass bottles
  • Candles
  • Shoes
  • Geiger counter
  • Plant/vegetable seeds
  • Hard candy
  • Chocolate
  • Writing utensils
  • Paper
  • Toilet paper
  • Books
  • Cigarettes
  • Livestock (chickens, etc)
  • Soap/Bleach/Cleaning Agents
  • Toothbrushes
  • Porn
  • Chapstick
  • Matches/cigarette lighters
  • Garden and Hand Tools
  • A music box

A good start, at least. Any suggestions to add to the list?

[Apocalypse World] Xenoformed Chicago (Character Creation)

Our first session was fan-fucking-tastic. Everyone was excited, everyone was contributing and positive and very affirming of each other’s ideas. The characters rock. I couldn’t be happier about it.

Our setting ended up being a xenoformed earth, where some alien invasion is changing the environment of the planet into their own. We also decided to set it in Chicago. Here’s the summary I wrote everyone after the session:

SETTING OVERVIEW – Something has invaded the earth, and is reshaping our world into its own. This is physically evident in the alien ecosystems that are taking over the planet; it is evident in the presence of unnatural technologies that seem to work on principles antithetical to human reason. But it is evident on a deeper level, assaulting and connecting us all at fringes of our consciousness, a primal psychic maelstrom raging at the edge of our thoughts.

Chicago. 50 years after the events that transformed the surface of the Earth, a small community of survivors live in battered ruins that were once the buildings of the South Loop, surviving on whatever they can, drawing water from the tainted iridescence of the receded Lake Michigan, purifying and making it potable through makeshift filters.
Their de-facto leader/dictator, is Shazza, an elusive figure few have ever seen face to face, whose orders are meted out through trusted lieutenants and elders.

We have six characters, which we spent the whole session creating:

THE ANGEL – Doc is old enough to remember the world ending. Ambiguously gendered, wearing rugged scrounge and utility wear, sie has quick eyes and a sturdy body. Sie works and lives in a ruined hospital building, where sie keeps hir infirmary. Sie has a crew of two assistants, Shigusa and Mox. They’ve been with hir a long time – sie practically raised them, but trusts Mox more. Shigusa is too smart. Doc doesn’t understand him fully. Doc wants to find our more about the way the world was, & to eventually die in safety and peace.

THE BATTLEBABE – Ruby Honeytree is a young woman in her early 20s. She wears casual clothes, and has a striking face, arresting eyes, and a muscular body. She juggles two jobs — one, in which she is a stripper/courtesan working for Pallor, and another, in which she is a hired assassin working primarily for Cassa and targeting mostly political figures. Her father taught her to shoot, but was himself killed by another (unknown) assassin, part of a group of killers for hire, with whom Ruby does not associate.

THE BRAINER – Pallor is a madame. She often appears in formal wear, and has a sweet face, deep eyes, and a soft body. She has known that she was a brainer since childhood. Her twin brother, Parcher, is/was also a brainer, but he has been missing for 10-15 years, after they parted ways on rather complicated terms. Pallor’s clients are generally part of the high political and military crowd; specializing in those with very “specific” tastes. Her favorite is Shazza’s #2, Clarion, the leader of the militia. Pallor has 5 girls on offer, including Ruby. She has been careful not to make any enemies…yet.

THE FACELESS – Zuto, known also as “Mega Stompfucker”, is an enigma wrapped inside a mystery. Sie is in hir early 30s. Sie dresses casually, usually including a kilt and a bullet proof vest, and never, never removes hir gas mask. Sie works as a bodyguard for hire, and is currently in Pallor’s employ. Shazza doesn’t like hir, due to Zuto preventing Shazza from killing someone in the past. Zuto cannot eat solids, and eats and drinks everything via a tube leading under hir mask. Hir face was disfigured by the alien beings that are transforming the earth.

THE RUIN RUNNER – Wolfie. A boyish-looking woman with a friendly face, sharp eyes, steady hands, and an energetic body, wears scrounged clothes and a ponytail. Shje hoards the things she finds in the ruins and wastes, but uses them at times to gain trust. Collects trinkets and gadgets mostly. Old-world stuff; stuff Doc takes interest in (sometimes too much interest for Wolfie’s comfort). Wolfie sleeps in a hole. She keeps her stuff in the hole, too, deep down. Once, Wolfie and Pallor trekked out in the wastelands — Wolfie has slept in Pallor’s presence. Significant? She’s also helped Doc save a life or two.

THE TOUCHSTONE – Cassa is a visionary. She wears comfort clothes — pants, t-shirt, a zip-up hoodie. She has a sweet face and calm eyes. Her body is very still. Her necklace carries a symbol of human purpose and achievement. She wants to offer people reassurance, and remind them what it was like Before, and that it’s not over. She wants to push forward without losing that which makes us who we are. She lives on the fringes of the South Loop community, and has friends inside (Ruby is one of her disciples, for example). She isn’t entirely welcomed by the authorities there, but she’s not willing to abandon the community.

Everyone’s homework for this week:

  • Find or make an image of your character
  • Decide where in the South Loop your character lives
  • Decide what oddments your character keeps for barter

[Apocalypse World] Game Time + Custom Audience Participation Move

Post Apocalypse

Tonight’s the first session of our Apocalypse World game, and I’m really excited about starting it. It’s been a rather long week for all of us, since most of the players are my coworkers and we just found out that our bookstore location is closing, leaving a lot of things uncertain in the coming month. Our game is our first mass get-together after hearing the news, and everyone has the closing on their mind, so it’s entirely possible we won’t get too much done in terms of actual play, which is okay. My goal is to get through character creation and have our first playing session next week.

I’ve also found out that we might be getting an audience (at least for tonight). At six players, we’re already full up, but I wanted to give the audience a chance to participate as well, so I wrote up an agenda and a custom move to make them a part of things.

Spectator Agenda

  • Enjoy the story
  • Make suggestions
  • Ask questions
  • Use the “Fan Mail” move


“Fan Mail” – When a character does something truly awesome, bad-ass, sexy, or heartrending, tell that player to mark experience.

Simple enough, but hopefully it will get everyone at the table involved and excited about the game.

[Apocalypse World] Soundtrack Sampler

Apocalypse World Soundtrack Sampler

I’ve been collecting some songs to play in the background during my upcoming Apocalypse World game. A lot of good suggestions came from a few threads on the Apocalypse World and Story Games forums (this one in particular). A couple new artists and bands I found via the threads: Zoe Keating, who plays aggressive, heart-rending cello, and 16 Horsepower, whose apocalyptic folk is littered with biblical references and anguished vocals.

As a sort of preview of the soundtrack, I’ve made a playlist on 8tracks.com with a few of my favorite songs from the mix. You can find it here: http://8tracks.com/michaelharrel/apocalypse-world-sampler

Track list:
1. “Ghosts II” (track 14) – Nine Inch Nails (03:05)
2. “Hutterite Mile” – 16 Horsepower (04:04)
3. “Escape Artist” – Zoe Keating (06:34)
4. “Goin’ Out West” – Tom Waits (03:20)
5. “Time is Running Out” (Muse Cover) – Vitamin String Quartet (03:57)
6. “Hold On for Your Love” – John Hiatt (06:22)
7. “Credits” – Allister Brimble and Nivek Ogre (02:31)
8. “Abandoned Streets” – Akira Yamaoka (04:41)