Apocalypse World seems to be designed for a small group of PCs, all interacting fiercely. This is a part of both the hard-and-fast mechanics, like Hx, and the MC techniques, like the emphasis on PC-NPC-PC triangles. Sometimes you really want to play a game and there's just two of you, though.

Can we play Apocalypse World as a two-player game, either player+MC or sharing MC duties?

What kinds of tricks or system tweaks make the game work better in this mode?


1 Answer 1


I would love to just say "yes", but actually it depends on the player and style of play. If you have a player who is good at coming up with details themselves, and you play the game in a very "ask questions" kind of way, and you're good at roleplaying NPCs as self-determined entities, then yes, you can have some awesome games. There are a couple caveats, however:

  1. Don't advance too many Fronts at once. One player can only deal with so much stuff at one time.

  2. Give them Hx with NPCs. This is an optional rule that lets you play the significant people in the PC's life, complete with helping/hindering. Play those NPCs with great seriousness and depth of character. If the PC develops a strong relationship with one of these NPCs, don't look at that NPC through crosshairs (at least not for a while). Then you can set up PC-NPC-GMPC triangles that work almost as well as PC-NPC-PC ones.

  3. Give them access to medical attention. If the PC doesn't have any means of healing themselves, sooner or later (probably sooner) they're going to need to have recourse to an Angel or someone with a custom medical move, either in town, or traveling around the area, etc.

  4. Let them play more than one character. This is just an option but it's worth mentioning. Some of the coolest movie "heroes" are duos.

In your note you also asked about "the pros and cons of co-MCing". Again, this depends on the two people involved, and the way you relate to each other creatively. The game is not really about having "secret plans" anyway, so if you're good at maintaining the wall between what you know and what your character knows, that's not a problem. The only special "rule" might be something like this: The MC promises not to view GMPCs through crosshairs, and instead just treats them like other PCs. If you do it right, playing a GMPC is just like playing a character: You think about that character's drives and concerns, and then you just do whatever they would do.

Remember: Both the MC and the PCs are setting up dramatic situations involving personal interaction in a world of limited resources and then playing to see what happens. They're not playing simply to antagonize each other. So if you're both dedicated to seeing that vision play out, co-MCing will not be a problem for you. It will be a lot like co-writing a movie.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Additional hint: give them at lest two other GMPCs to play with. This way, you can have two different PC-NPC-GMPC triangles with opposing needs to make the world alive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say if you both love the setting equally, then go for it. The only problem might be if one of you was setting up a "secret plan" for an NPC, but there are probably ways around that as well. Maybe you make the secret plan wait. Maybe you tell the other person about the secret plan and play it out from the other end. Depends on how you relate to each other and the game, but it's solvable. Creative solutions are always interesting, and the flexible nature of the game allows for them. \$\endgroup\$
    – As If
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ [edited answer to include new stuff about "the pros and cons of co-MCing".] \$\endgroup\$
    – As If
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re-reading this answer 4 years later. It's still good. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 3:32

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