[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Final Session Report

[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Final Session Report


Because Cassa and Pallor are too wounded to drive the motorcycles, Shigusa takes Pallor on one, and Prim takes Cassa on the other.  Visage will walk back to the hospital.  They reach it without incident; Prim takes Cassa to the front door, while Shigusa takes Pallor to the back, to his own lab.  Zuto carries Cassa into the hospital, and Doc is awakened by Mox.  Doc patches Cassa up and gives her some Narco stabs, despite her struggling in her delirium.  She should be all right, but sie’ll need to keep an eye on her for the next few days to make sure she’s all right.

On the other side of the hospital, Shigusa straps Pallor onto a slab.  She’s barely conscious but awake enough to suspect that maybe healing her isn’t his full intent — since he’s touching her, she implants a command in his brain, to simply heal her and nothing more.  It works — he starts tending her wounds.

Wolfie shows up at the hospital now, and is understandably worried about Cassa’s state (unconscious and bandaged up).  Prim explains what happened to her.  Wolfie asks where Pallor is, and they realize that Shigusa must have her still.  Doc gets worried, and takes Zuto and Wolfie with hir to check Shigusa’s lab.

Ruby, Duke, and Chack sneak toward the hospital, reaching it without being seen by the militia.  The northern sky is glowing and shimmering now, and they worry it might have something to do with the aliens.  As they enter Doc’s lab, there’s only Cassa (still unconscious), Prim and Mox there.  Duke tells them about the sky.  Mox heads for the other part of the hospital to fetch Doc.  As he leaves, the trilobite-alien that Doc had been dissecting earlier awakens. It starts shimmering as well.  Duke walks over and blows it away with her BFG.

Doc and the others burst into Shigusa’s lab.  Shigusa still has Pallor strapped to the table, and is injecting her with something (a narcostab).  Doc gets him to back away.  Zuto picks her up to carry her back to Doc’s lab.  As they turn to leave, they hear a shot from the other lab.  Hurrying back, they find Mox in a hall between the labs, ducking and covering.  He was on his way to find them when he heard the shot.  He tells them about the state of the sky; Zuto gives Pallor to Mox and they all race back to the lab to find the trilobite blown to pieces and Ruby and Duke.  Rutherford starts eating the seedpods from Cassa’s pockets.  Zuto finds the trilobite’s eyes (his mask-tentacles have an incandescent sheen afterwards).  Pallor awakens, and is greeted by everyone.  Like Cassa, she is mobile but still in pretty bad shape, and Doc wants her to stick around for a couple days to make sure she’s okay (and that Shigusa hasn’t tried anything untoward).  Noting Chack, Pallor has him tied up, and Duke and Zuto comply.  Cassa awakens.  The group deliberates as to what they should do.  Pallor opens her mind to the Psychic Maelstrom.  She sees Clarion and Parcher gathering troops.  Parcher is in the alien-space bubble, which is rapidly expanding.  He’s drawing the creatures of the alien-space to him.  Pallor reveals this information to the others, and explains to them how to open their brains to the maelstrom.  Zuto goes next: sie sees that many people are in the alien-space with Parcher, drawing power from the Maelstrom.  Duke opens her brain, and is able to discern their plan: they’re using the power they draw from the Maelstrom to replace Chicago with a section of the alien dimension.  Doc opens hir brain next, but the Maelstrom strikes back at hir, stunning her and cutting hir off from it temporarily.  Wolfie goes next.  She sees that the people with Parcher (Parcher’s alien-worshipping cult, one assumes) are drawing and focusing their power through a cube-shaped object.  Perhaps like the one she lost in the Maelstrom?  Cassa checks on Clarion, sees that he’s approaching in force from the East.  Finally, Ruby tries to investigate the alien’s greater purpose in colonizing earth, but is repelled; their intentions are antithetical to human comprehension.

In the debate and discussion that follows, Wolfie decides to take Rutherford and find the cube she lost.  The others decide to sacrifice Chack and disguise him as Zuto in order to make peace with Clarion.  Chack is not a fan of this plan, but Zuto takes him into another room and kills him with Cassa’s machete and beheads him.  The others get Doc to sew Zuto’s old mask on Chack’s face, though sie has misgivings.  Pallor takes the head and she and Cassa take the motorcycles to go meet Clarion. Visage finally returns, and reports that the militia is nearing the hospital.

Ruby goes to the roof, and looks around.  From the top of the hospital she can see for quite some distance in all direction; to the north, in the depression where there was once a highway, she sees a large force of militia troops, including a tank.  To the east, (the direction Cassa and Pallor took) there’s another, smaller force.  As the tank gets in range, Ruby takes aim and shoots its gas tank.  It explodes, taking several nearby soldiers with it.  The other soldiers take cover on the side of the highway’s incline.

Wolfie tries to communicates to Rutherford what they’re looking for.  He returns to his large toucan-headed form, and indicates that she should climb on.  She does, and they rotate into the maelstrom.

Pallor and Cassa meet Clarion’s force coming from the East.  Clarion sends one of his soldiers to retrieve the head.  The soldier brings it back to him, and Clarion inspects it.  He puts it back in the back.  “So we’re even, then,” he tells Pallor.  Cassa steps forward, draws his attention to the color of the sky, and tells him that Pallor’s brother is trying to send everyone in Chicago to the alien dimension.  Clarion agrees to help.

At the hospital, the troops from the north are starting to open fire.  Unexpectedly, they suddenly stop, and Duke and Ruby see that Cassa and Pallor have made peace with Clarion to the east.  He’s radioed the northern troops, and they’re standing down.

Rutherford, misunderstanding what Wolfie wanted, takes her directly to the cult in the alien-space bubble.  The cult, who worship aliens, is awed by his sudden appearance.  Wolfie tries to hide behind Rutherford’s head, but Parcher sees her and tells he to come down.  She tries to get Rutherford to get the cube, but he can’t understand her and becomes agitated, which the cult interprets as threatening. Some of them back away, while others offer themselves as sacrifices.  Rutherford grabs Parcher in his beak.  Parcher is shouting at the cult to attack Wolfie.   Wolfie again tries to get Rutherford to go back to the hospital, but instead he snaps Parcher in half.  The cult is shocked.  Wolfie explains to them that she is the chosen voice of the aliens, and that they must obey her.  They want proof, so she has Rutherford grow — he does, becoming an enormous golden dome that covers everyone.  The cultists believe her and deliver the cube to her.  She tells Rutherford to take everyone back to the hospital– instead, he kills all of the cultists, wiping them out completely. Then he shrinks back down, and takes Wolfie through the Maelstrom.

Arriving back at the hospital Wolfie gives the cube to Doc, and the two of them and Pallor study it, and discover how it works.  Doc finds the solution, and reverses the expansion of the alien-space bubble, saving the city.  The glow in the northern sky disappears, and the remaining pieces of the trilobite fade and turn to dust.  As do Zuto’s mask tentacles.


  • Ruby goes on a journey to find and kill the assassin who killed her father.
  • Wolfie becomes a bigger part of the community, helping people find things, etc.
  • Cassa keeps spreading her vision, doing what she’s done before, only with the friendship of all the Hardhold now
  • Pallor goes back to business, getting closer to Clarion and, by extension, nearer to Shazza
  • Doc holds onto the cube, though it too has stopped functioning.  Sie works to resupply the lab, and for the first time in years, sie leaves the hospital.
  • Duke works for Pallor as a bodyguard, and helps Doc as well.
  • Zuto offers his services to Doc, who agrees ( if only to keep hir out of trouble).  Eventually, sie goes into the woods to “finish some business.”  Eventually, sie’ll try to go after Shazza.

Hx awarded this session:

  • Zuto to Doc: +1 (Reset; Doc knows Zuto at Hx+1)
  • Duke to Ruby: +1 (Reset; Ruby knows Duke at Hx+1)
  • Doc to Pallor: +1 (Pallor knows Doc at Hx+2)
  • Pallor to Wolfie: +1 (Wolfie knows Pallor at Hx=0)
  • Cassa to Doc +2 (Extra because Doc healed Cassa.  Reset; Doc knows Cassa at Hx+1)
  • Wolfie to Pallor: +1 (Reset; Pallor knows Wolfie at Hx+1)
  • Ruby to Zuto: +1 (Zuto knows Ruby at Hx+3)

Secrets learned this session:

  • Duke has a major beef with Clarion, and her face is scarred because of him
  • Biologically, Zuto is both male and female; sie also hates Shazza because sie raped hir sister
  • Before Shazza came to power, Cassa and hir worked together killing people
  • There is a reason that Wolfie can communicate with Rutherford.  Her grandmother was an oracle in a village long ago, and it’s said that she glowed

Experience marked this session:

  • Duke: +1 (Read a Sitch. Total: 2)
  •  Wolfie: +5 (Opening brain, Entering Maelstrom, Communicating with Rutherford. Reset; Total: 0)
  • Ruby: +3 (Read a Sitch, Act Under Fire, Reset Hx with Duke. Total: 3)
  • Doc: +2 (Reset Hx with Zuto and Cassa. Total: 4)
  • Pallor: +1 (Reset Hx with Wolfie. Total: 1)

Improvements Taken this Session:

  • Wolfie took +1Weird (Total +2)
  • Cassa took +1Cool (Total +2)


[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Fifth Session Report

Zuto's New Mask
(Zuto's New Mask)


Pallor, Shigusa, Prim, Visage, and Cassa scramble down a rusted and rotting stairway to get off of the elevated train platform.  Fleeing westward, they hear the sound of motorcycles in pursuit of them.  They dodge turn down a cross-street to take cover, but Prim stumbles in the middle of the road with the cycles bearing down on her.  Cassa and Pallor go back for her, as Shigusa and Visage take shelter.  Pallor tries to order the cyclists authoritatively to leave them alone, but is answered only by gunfire.  Cassa snipes one off a bike, which rolls into a nearby building and explodes.  The leading biker shoots Pallor in the torso.  Pallor throws a knife and sinks it into his shoulder.  Cassa shoots and misses; the biker runs her down, ramming her with the cycle.  Pallor throws another knife, hitting him in the throat this time — the other biker misses her.  She tries to attack the remaining militia biker psychically, as he tries ramming her — something snaps in his brain, and the bike veers past her, though he manages to shoot as he passes, .  Cassa, badly wounded and tangled in bike and dead rider, just manages to reach her rifle and hits the final rider through the back of the head.

Meantime, Ruby Honeytree and Chack, the kid, have spent most of the day lost in the Blight Forest.  They found the sobertree early on, but the Mist rolled in from the lake and they only now find their way back to the hardhold.  She’s headed for the library, not realizing that it has been taken over by the militia.

At the same time, Duke, a gunlugger, is returning to the South Loop hardhold after several months away.  She’s worked with Pallor in the past, and has heard rumors that Zuto and Pallor have had a falling out.  So she’s hoping that leaves an opening for a bodyguard.  The library brothel is dark as she approaches, but she enters anyway; only to find a dozen militia soldiers pointing their guns at her.  She and Clarion strike a deal; he’ll give her several months’ food and board, and clean her gun and sharpen her knives, if she’ll help them bring in Pallor, Ruby, Zuto, Cassa, and Pallor’s other girls.  She exits, only to see Ruby approaching.  She signals a warning to her, but it’s seen by one of the militia soldiers, who exit to see what’s going on.  Duke tries to sell them some story, but the guard calls bullshit and heads back inside to get Clarion.  Duke takes the opportunity to flee to where Ruby is, leaving her knives behind in the hands of the militia.  She fills Ruby in on what she’s seen in the library, and they decide to look for Cassa’s people, particularly Matilda, who they hope can tell them Pallor and Cassa’s current whereabouts.

Wolfie had intended to take Cassa, Pallor, and Zuto to the Sears Tower ruins earlier, but had a bad feeling that something was amiss with her hoard.  So she let them go by themselves and spent the day making sure everything was in place.  Emerging in the evening, she heads back toward Doc’s hospital.  On the way she sees Corderoy, one of Cassa’s followers, who warns her that he has heard gunfire from the west side of the hardhold.  She continues on, cautiously.

Zuto and Doc recovered from their respective surgical procedures.

To Be Continued…

Hx given this session:
Pallor to Cassa +1 (Cassa knows Pallor Hx+2)
Cassa to Pallor +1 (Pallor knows Cassa Hx+2)

Ruby knows Duke at Hx+3; Duke knows Ruby at Hx+2 (Note: Duke and Ruby gave each other +1Hx at session’s end)
Zuto knows Duke at Hx-2; Duke knows Zuto at Hx+1
Wolfie knows Duke at Hx=0; Duke knows Wolfie at Hx=0
Cassa knows Duke at Hx=0; Dukes knows Cassa at Hx+1
Pallor knows Duke at Hx+2; Duke knows Pallor at Hx-1
Doc knows Duke at HX=0 ; Duke knows Doc at +1

Experience Marked this session:
Duke: +1 (Read a person; Total: 1)
Cassa: +3 (Acting under fire; Seize by Force; Go Aggro.  Reset; Total: 1)


[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Fourth Session Report

Xenoformed Chicago - Cassa


Doc’s fungal growth has not yet advanced, but is not improving.*  Sie decides to have Mox and Shigusa remove it surgically before it has a chance to take deeper root.

Having gotten a map to the Sears Tower ruins  from Wolfie, Pallor takes Cassa and Zuto and heads back into the loop to look for a replacement gas mask.  Unfortunately, without Wolfie along they don’t find what they’re looking for.  Hoping to figure out some direction, Pallor opens her brain to the Psychic Maelstrom, and sees a glimpse of the churning storm of thought that Wolfie earlier experienced first hand.  Focusing on the idea a gas mask, she finds that she can follow the thoughts of people who are thinking about them — Zuto, of course, and Clarion…but also, in the ruins of Millennium Park, she finds Bruce (the man who tried to snipe Cassa earlier) and two people she doesn’t recognize, preparing an expedition into the Blight Forest.  They have gas masks to protect them from the mists that sometimes comes in off the lake.

Meanwhile, Shigusa and Mox are helping Doc remove the fungal growth from his arm.  Shigusa fills a syringe with the fungus, and Doc realizes that he’s about to stab it into Mox, infecting him with it.  Doc is pretty drugged up for the procedure, but he manages to talk Shigusa into delaying by promising him a lab of his own in another section of the hospital.

Pallor and the others approach Bruce’s group, who are making final preparations near the mangled remains of the Bean.  Zuto and Cassa stay out of sight while Pallor crosses the street to speak with the group.  Cassa covers her with the sniper rifle she took from Bruce earlier.  As they notice Pallor approaching, Pallor hears one of the group say something about “…his sister!” which she takes to be a reference to her missing brother, Parcher.  Bruce and his companions (Splash and Silvia) are understandably skittish, but she convinces them she comes in peace and just wants to trade for a gas mask.  They settle on a deal, but as Splash hands her the mask she brushes her finger against his skin and implants a command in his brain to tell her “everything about Parcher.”  Splash starts babbling.  Parcher is the leader of a group of people who worship the aliens, who believe that the time for humanity is over and that everyone must embrace the new form of the Earth.  Bruce and Silvia are shocked by his babbling; they pull their guns on Pallor and tell her to get the fuck away from them.  Cassa sees this but holds back from sniping at them, as they appear to be more concerned with Splash than Pallor.

They head back to Doc’s hospital, avoiding the militia.  It’s getting late, so Pallor negotiates with Doc to allow her and her girls to stay at the hospital overnight, so they can take Zuto’s mask (and a head from one of the militia soldiers he’s killed recently) to Clarion in the morning.  Doc agrees, and Pallor and Cassa leave to collect Pallor’s girls from the Library.  Doc sends Shigusa with them; then sie and Mox work together to give Zuto a new mask.

Cassa and Pallor reach the library and gather everyone together, but as they’re about to leave they see Clarion coming up the street with fifteen of his militia soldiers.  Pallor hurries everyone to the other side of the library, where they exit through the northern doors and climb onto the old El tracks.  To the north, across the loop, they can see an odd green glow from around the area where they’d encountered the alien-space bubble.  But there’s little time to reflect on that; Clarion’s troops are rounding the building, and Pallor hurries her people down the orange line track toward Doc’s hospital.  Pallor takes point, followed by Shigusa, Prim, Visage, Frankie, and then Cassa.  As they’re crossing near the hardhold’s territory, they’re spotted by a militia patrol — the first shot hits Frankie through the head, just in front of Cassa.  Everyone hits the deck; Pallor sees the patrol on the ground, using rubble and building ruins as cover.  She leads everyone down the opposite side of the El, westward, and hopefully to safety.

To be continued…

*The advancement (or lack thereof) of Doc’s fungal growth was determined by this custom move, pretty much a recasting of Vincent’s mudfish parasite move used as an example in the AW rules:

The Xeno-fungal Infection

Once you’re infected, roll+weird at the start of each session.  On a 10+, your natural immune system has fought and killed the fungus.  You’re no longer infected.  On a 7-9, you’re fighting it, but it’s still there.  It simply doesn’t advance anymore this time.  On a miss, your infection advances.

(The infection advances as per a countdown, which adds affects each time it moves forward.)

Hx given this session:
Doc to Cassa +1 (Cassa knows Doc Hx+2)
Pallor to Cassa +1 (Cassa knows Pallor Hx+1)
Cassa to Doc +1 (Doc knows Cassa Hx+2)
Zuto to Pallor +1 (Pallor knows Zuto Hx+3)

Experience marked this session:
Pallor+4 (Opened her Brain, Read a Sitch, Read a Person, In Brain Puppet Strings; Reset; total: 0)
Doc+2 (Do Something Under Fire x2; total: 2)

Advancements gained this session:
Doc: +1 cool (from last session)
Pallor: New move: Towering Presence (Touchstone playbook; from last session), and New move: Direct-brain Whisper Projection

[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Third Session Report


Wolfie and Rutherford have been knocked physically into the Psychic Maelstrom, which appears to them as a chaotic storm of wind with no sky or ground, a white space of boiling, churning currents of thought.  The shock of it hits Wolfie and she lets go of Rutherford, falling off into the storm and letting go of the metal cube she’d found in the alien-space.  Not being able to navigate the maelstrom as Rutherford can, she is carried away by the battling currents.  As she falls, she sees, in the storm, a single fixed point of light: she tries to swim toward it, but only manages to attract the attention of one of the beings that live in the maelstrom.  It detaches from a current and comes toward her.

Apocalypse World Maelstrom Creature

(The creature, a Maelstrom Wyrm.  Wolfie seems to have all the worst luck running into the beasties.)

Cassa, still in the loop, heads north looking for Wolfie and Rutherford.  She’s calling out for them as she goes.  Reaching the dry riverbed, she keeps going, and soon comes to the alien-space bubble that Wolfie had encountered earlier.  Rather than taking the risk of going inside, she skirts around its edge and continues North at a slow pace.

Pallor, fresh from gaining instructions to kill Zuto, returns to the library, where she hears that Ruby has gone off with the kid and hasn’t yet returned.  She asks after Zuto, but none of the remaining girls have seen hir.  Recalling that she’d seen Wolfie and Cassa heading north into the loop earlier, she decides to head that way to try and meet up with them.

Doc fixes up Zuto’s gun wound, made complicated by a shattered bullet and a shard positioned next to an artery.  The procedure goes without a hitch, however, and Zuto is soon back to hir full strength.

Wolfie pulls a fire extinguisher from her pack and fires, hoping to harm the creature and also to propel herself toward the fixed light.  She succeeds, hitting the beast in the face and pushing herself toward the light, which, as she nears, she recognizes as a person — Zuto.  She emerges from the Maelstrom and into Doc’s lab, appearing from a corner of the room and tumbling to the floor, spraying the opposite wall and ceiling with the fire extinguisher.  Doc grabs the extinguisher just as the wyrm follows her into the room.  Wolfie jumps out of the way, but the beast latches on to Doc’s side and begins shaking hir like a rag doll.  Zuto grabs hir chainsaw and runs to help Doc, slicing the beast’s head off.  Doc goes flying into the wall.  Miraculously, no one is hurt in the process; Doc’s heavy surgical apron took the brunt of the attack, and sie hirself is pretty sturdy for someone that old.

Pallor catches up to Cassa.  Neither of them has seen the person the other is looking for.  Pallor explains why she needs to find Zuto, and Cassa agrees to help her.  They head back toward the South Loop.

In Doc’s Lab, Rutherford appears, following Wolfie out of the Maelstrom.  Rutherford is still a nine-foot-tall toucan-beaked doughnut shape, and is excited enough to have found Wolfie that he begins prancing about the room, knocking over some of Doc’s equipment.  Wolfie calms him down, but Doc still requests firmly that she and Zuto take Rutherford outside of the lab, telling her that she’s free to stay while she recovers from her ordeal.  After their gone, Doc turns hir attention to fixing Fauna’s alien-fungal growth.

Returning to the South Loop holding, Cassa and Pallor chance to meet Wisher, one of Cassa’s followers, who introduces them to Egg, a new “convert”.  Apparently the Cassa’s commune has picked up a few new members, which is stretching it’s food supply a little too much.  Pallor volunteers some of the garden produce at the library, in exchange for word on Zuto’s location if any of the commune knows anything.  Afterwards Cassa and Pallor check at Wolfie’s den in the museum campus grounds, but find it unchanged since Cassa was there that morning.  By now it’s well into the afternoon, and Pallor’s time is running short.  She opens her brain to the psychic maelstrom and searches for hints of Zuto’s location.  She gets a vague sense of healing, which leads her to believe he may be at Doc’s place.

As Shigusa works on the sedated trilobite-thing, and Mox checks on Zuto and Wolfie, Doc works on Fauna’s fungal growth, using up some stock from hir Angel Kit.  As sie cuts into one of the growths with hir scalpel, it explodes, splattering hir arm, while Fauna begins bleeding copiously.  Doc has a choice to either save Fauna’s life or to clean the fungal ooze off hir own arm and avoid getting the infection.  Sie chooses to save Fauna, and ignores the  splatter while sie sews up the wound and finishes the procedure.

Mox finds Zuto and Wolfie trying to figure out how to play a game with a deck of cards.  He asks if they need anything, and they realize they’re quite hungry.  Though Mox would probably be willing to share some of Doc’s food, Wolfie says they don’t want to impose, and they leave to find something to eat.  Rutherford goes with them, and as they scrounge they play fetch with him, which involves throwing something small, like a stick, and receiving something large, like a lamppost.

Passing through the center of the hard hold on their way to Doc’s place, Pallor and Cassa are noticed by a group of four militia, who stop to question them and to harass Pallor.  Pallor tries to implant a command into one of them, but hurts him instead, leaving him catatonic.  He pitches forward on his face, and the others draw their guns; it looks to go ugly, but Cassa manages to intimidate them into backing off, hands where she can see them, making no sudden moves.  Continuing on they are met by Rutherford, whom they don’t recognize in the new form.  He bounds over to Cassa (who has the seed-pods that calm him), and by the time he reaches her he’s shrunk and rotated back to his smaller monkey form, and leaps onto her to dig into her bag for the seeds.  Zuto and Wolfie walk up soon after.  Pallor explains that Clarion wants Zuto dead, but she has a plan: they need to find a corpse to put Zuto’s mask on.  Zuto explains sie’ll need a new mask, then.  Sie asks Wolfie if she might know where to find one.  Wolfie remembers that the ruins she searched earlier were a rich source of salvage, so there might be a mask there.  They decide to go check.

To be continued…

*Custom move for entering the Psychic Maelstrom physically:

When you physically enter the Psychic Maelstrom, immediately Open Your Brain.  On a miss, take 1 Ψ-harm.  If it’s the first time you enter the maelstrom, take an additional +1 Ψ-harm whether you miss or not.

Hx given this session:

  • Zuto to Doc, +2 for healing 2-harm and +1 at session’s end (Reset; Doc knows Zuto Hx+3)
  • Cassa to Pallor +1 (Reset; Pallor knows Cassa Hx+1)
  • Wolfie to Zuto +1 (Zuto knows Wolfie Hx+1)
  • Pallor to Cassa +1  (Cassa knows Pallor Hx=0)
  • Doc to Zuto +1 (Zuto knows Doc Hx+1)
Experience marked this session:
  • Zuto: +2 (reset). Total: 0 (Seizing by Force, Acting Under Fire)
  • Wolfie: +2 (reset). Total: 0 (Acting Under Fire, Reading a Situation)
  • Doc: +4 (reset). Total: 0 (Acting Under Fire 3 times, Hx with Zuto)
  • Cassa: +2. Total: 2 (Towering Presence, ??)
  • Pallor: +3 (reset). Total: 1 (Opening her Brain, In Brain Puppet Strings, Hx with Cassa, )

Character Improvements this session:

  • Wolfie took +1 Cool
  • Zuto took +1 Weird
  • Pallor (will choose before next session)
  • Doc (will choose before next session)

[Apocalypse World: Xenoformed Chicago] Second Session Report


Doc lives in an abandoned hospital with Mox and Shigusa, hir assistants. As the session opens, sie and Shigusa are preparing to dissect an alien trilobite in the basement. Mox comes downstairs, calling for Doc. He explains that the militia are upstairs with an injured woman. Doc heads up to see them. The injured woman is Fauna, whom Doc recognizes as one of Pallor’s girls. She is unconscious, with some form of growth (alien and fungal) on her upper back, shoulder, and neck. The militia soldiers, Guinness and Tank, are here because they know Doc is interested in cases like this: they want barter in exchange for bringing the girl. Doc tells them the growth is contagious and gives them a vial of “antidote” as payment. Mox and Shigusa carry Fauna downstairs.

Meantime, Pallor, taken into the bowels of McCormick place, is thrown into a tiny cell with bloodstains on the wall and a filthy, overflowing bucket in the corner. The door is closed. Time passes.

Wolfie investigates the flash of light she saw before. Crossing the dry riverbed she reaches the point where the light had been, only to see another flash another ways up the street. She follows, and realizes that she’s about to enter a zone of alien-space; these are pockets or bubbles littered around the area where reality does not work as it should — the alien reality is superimposed on our own. As she enters, light seems to reverse itself: everything appears as in a negative, colors now the opposite of what they should be. Placing Rutherford in a harness and leash so that he won’t shift in size, she advances. Rutherford suddenly stops and scurries back a short way, then ducks behind a pile of debris and tugs on the leash. Wolfie joins him and starts digging at the rubble, uncovering — something, a cube of some sort, obviously alien in origin. She puts it in her pack just as Rutherford starts to panic: there’s a flash of black as a enormous creature, like a cross between a bear and a worm with a round short proboscis of rotating teeth, lumbers near them. Wolfie makes a run for it, and the creature, spying her, gives chase.

Alien Creature (The creature.)

Cassa pauses on the stairwell to the subway, glancing up at the tops of the building and isolating the location of her attacker. There seems to be only one. Using the rubble scattered between the buildings as cover, she dashes for the building and emerges on the fourth floor (which is open to the sky as the rest of the building has long since collapsed), where her would-be assassin is stationed. As she bursts through the door, the sniper starts to turn his gun, but Cassa has hers already trained on him.

Zuto, by the riverbed, encounters the two militia men that Shazza sent after hir. Charging them, sie takes another bullet, which sends hir collection of eyeballs flying into the dust and rubble. Before another shot is fired, though, Zuto closes the distance and lops off both of hir assailents’ heads. Sie pauses to collect their eyes, and then heads toward Doc’s hospital, thinking to trade the eyes in exchange for some medical attention.

Eventually, the door to Pallor’s cell opens and Clarion comes in with a guard armed with a gun. Clarion tells him to shoot Pallor if she tries anything. He and Pallor talk. She tells him that Zuto was acting on his own, and that she had nothing to do with the death of his militia. He says that’s not good enough: she tries to seduce him again, but he slaps her in the face. This gives her the opportunity to grab his arm, and implant an order to let her go. When the guard steps forward to shoot her in the face, Clarion grabs the gun away and orders him to back off. He gives the gun to Pallor and tells her he wants Zuto’s head on his doorstep by nightfall, or the militia will be coming after her and her whores. Pallor agrees, and is released.

Wolfie freezes as the creature charges her. Rutherford *rotates* somehow out of his harness, shifting in both size and shape, the constraining harness disappearing, the end of the leash connecting invisibly to something beyond sight. Rutherford is now 15 feet tall, with a toucan’s head and a large doughnut shaped hole in its body*. Wolfie jumps on, and Rutherford charges to meet the other creature, attacking with his beak, which opens into a rainbow-colored portal. The beast rears up to attack, and Rutherford opens a wide gash in its belly, into which Wolfie immediately fires with her shotgun. The beast shrieks, and rolls, dead, into Rutherford, striking him and causing him to rotate — with Wolfie — out of three-dimensional space.

Cassa’s attacker, Bruce, drops his gun, and she interrogates him. Apparently he disagrees with the message of hope and human progress that she’s preaching, believing instead that the time for humanity is over and that the remaining survivors must embrace the alien future. Cassa gives him a choice: drop his gun and leave, or die. He chooses the former, scurrying past her and disappearing down the stairwell. She pauses to retrieve his sniper rifle and then sets off to find Wolfie.

Zuto sees two more militia (Guinness and Tank) leaving Doc’s hospital, but lets them go as they don’t seem to be interested in hir. Sie knocks on Doc’s door and sie answers. Doc agrees to take hir in and look at hir wounds in exchange for the eyeballs, and to hire hir on as the hospital’s body guard.

To be continued…

Hx given this session:
Zuto to Doc: +1 (Doc knows Zuto @ Hx+3)
Doc to Zuto: +1 (Zuto knows Doc @ Hx+3)

Experienced marked this session:
Zuto 2 (Go Aggro x2 (Hard); Total: 3)
Doc 1 (Total: 1)
Cassa 3 (Indomitable and Go Aggro x2 (Hard) ; Total: 0)
Wolfie 2 (Scavenger and Read a Charged Situation; Total: 3)
Pallor 2 (Seduce, In Brain Puppet Strings; Total: 3)

Improvements marked:
Cassa: Followers + “Fortunes”

*While Wolfie’s player seemed to follow everything that was happening with Rutherford (we’d discussed his true nature a bit outside the game), the other players were looking pretty baffled. After the session, I wrote a detailed explanation of what is happening in this scene.

[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)