When creating Apocalypse World characters with new players, I regularly see that picking options does not need much explanation, and where it does, I can go around the table and answer questions separately.

However, the assignment of Hx (History) is more complicated. It has two parts that are different for different playbooks (some tell different numbers, some modify numbers they hear), and for new players, the two parts are somewhat confusing. In addition, going round the table and answering questions as they come is hardly possible, because people are having similar but just about different enough* problems at the same time.

How do I best explain and facilitate Hx generation during character creation?

*) P1: “So, I write down ‘Limosine +1’?” MC: “Yes!”, sees that P2 writes down “Limosine +1” as well. MC: “No, P2, you need to write down Limosine +0, because you add –1 to it!”. Cue confusion.


The Hx determines how well you understand another character. Each of you will have two sections for the Hx setup.

One section describes what number you tell to the other players. This might be a single number you tell to everyone, or it might be a set of different numbers that you have to assign to the other players.

The other sections tells you if, when another player tells you a number, you should write it down unchanged, write it down with a modifier or ignore it completely and write down a different number. Again, you might have different rules for different players.

Take a couple of minutes to read through both sections and think about who you might apply the custom rules for. These rules help flesh out your characters' backstories and relationships. Don't lock down your plans just yet, you might change your mind about who gets what based on everyone else's histories as they develop.

OK. Let's start with Bob. Bob, go around the table and tell each player the number and why you are telling them that number. They should respond by looking at their rules, and writing down a number and telling you why.

Bob, you shouldn't write any number down until we move on to Alice and she tells everyone a number.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Having had this problem and been through it a lot: yes, the key is slowing down, taking turns how it says to, and making sure the player reads their personal instructions properly. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 15 '15 at 14:40

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