Many of my friends who play or would like to play RPGs have too tight schedules for a single long campaign, but want more continuity than what a single one-shot game would allow. I've been thinking of running Apocalypse World as an "open party" game that would work as follows:
- every session is short (2-3 hours) and self-contained, but there is continuity between sessions
- players are not expected to participate every time, some may only participate once. PCs of absent players are assumed to be "living their normal lives"
- new players are brought in when desired
- PCs of absent players can't be encountered or directly harmed (things that harm them can be set in motion, but their full force will only hit when the player is present)
- events of each session are logged to keep absent players on track of the state of the world
Apocalypse World seems like a good system for such gameplay, because the system is quick to learn and play with, and the power gap between seasoned and fresh characters is rather minor. It also assumes that PCs do non-adventuring stuff for sustenance, which provides a handy excuse for player absences. So that sounds like the mechanical side of things is well-covered!
However, having never done anything like this before, I'd like to know what exactly I'm getting involved in. What sort of storytelling, practical, social, or other table-level issues should I be on the lookout for when setting up an open party game like this?