77

When they can't tell me how. Sounds simple, but a wealth of detail is hidden in that simple question. When faced with an implausible action declaration, ask "How?". By asking, you're forcing your players to: Consider whether their action makes sense. Limit themselves to plausibility - if they can't even imagine a way that could work, then they won't be ...


57

As a baseline for why they should care: the NPCs are their resources. Self-sufficiency is an illusion in Apocalypse World. Someone grows their food, someone patches their clothes, someone makes the drugs and gas and bullets that they need to do action-hero stuff all the time. Where does the Angel keep getting supplies? How does the Gunlugger still have ...


56

There is no generic edition of Apocalypse World — that is, an edition with the setting stripped out and “just” the rules. This is for the simple reason that the rules effectively are the setting, so there's no way to have “just” the rules. All the other Powered by the Apocalypse games were created by playing and studying Apocalypse World (and other PbtA ...


44

Dungeon World is an odd beast. If looked at through the lens of existing D&D experience, it doesn't look like anything different, and lots of its differences seem stupid. To really appreciate what it does differently you have to spend some time immersing your brain in it. I'm a veteran, but I still keep learning new things about the game—it's like ...


39

Dungeon World is a narrative game, at its core, that distinguishes itself from D&D in the way it tells stories. The innovations are in the core philosophies and mechanics. Let me address each of your points in turn: Moves as Powers Moves are NOT just powers. Many are closer to D&D's feats. Others have no mechanical effect at all. Some simply tell you ...


37

New and changed moves There are several new moves, with the largest additions being Road war moves (vehicular combat) Subterfuge moves (cat and mouse -style tracking) Tactical and support moves (laying down fire, standing overwatch and keeping an eye out) Single combat (plain 1-on-1 duking it out) Seize by Force receives clarifications for use in varying ...


37

No When a player character makes an action that fulfills the conditions for triggering a move, the move is triggered. This is explicitly stated in Dungeon World rules, under Making moves: A character can't take a fictional action that triggers a move without that move occurring. This is an extension from the principles of Apocalypse World: "to do it, do ...


30

This is tricky territory. Assuming you're staying completely within the Agenda and Principles, you're not permitted to lie to the players about what's happening. You're also not permitted to have secret plans that aren't yet part of the actual play. This limits your ability to have unrevealed secrets that you know are true. The nature and fact of a PC's ...


25

Cut playbooks that don't fit As a general rule for all such cases, I would recommend removing playbooks that rely heavily on features that conflict with your own version of the Apocalypse World. Let your players know in advance that the Driver and Chopper won't be available, and no moves granting cars should be picked. For other playbooks, the vehicles are ...


24

I'd like to challenge the word "trivially" in your original assumption. Inflicting harm is definitely not going to be quick or trivial, because even taking a single point of Harm takes days to heal. The Angel has a dedicated move (and they're the dedicated medic) and that still requires you to be "blissed out on chillstabs" for 4 days. At that rate, ...


23

There's some subtleties about how the rules interact but let's just sorta focus on the big picture… Congrats on your new pain cult! You're sitting at the table narrating, "We sit around cutting each other in pursuit of some kind of self-knowledge." Then you add, "We spend a few days zonked out on drugs and repeat the process." or "We walk around in ...


22

The games are entirely different, the only similarity is in the name. Savage Worlds is a generic high-action game with simple yet deterministic mechanics. Apocalypse World (and other games that use its engine such as Dungeon World, tremulus, etc.) is a narrative game with a focus on GM improvisation.


20

Follow the instructions in the playbooks. Step two (after NAME) is STATS, which tells you "Choose one set:" followed by a list of stat arrays that are unique to each playbook. The playbooks were designed so that all the rules for players are in the playbook and the Moves sheet, and the rulebook is really only necessary for the MC. Playbooks are essentially ...


20

I think these: Do I just need to keep inventing NPCs until they find some personalities they attach to? Do I just keep bringing in new threats from elsewhere whenever they annihilate the current threat with high explosives? How can I develop threats that they won't want to solve by poisoning / fighting / blowing up everybody? are the wrong questions. ...


19

Dungeon World and Apocalypse World are all about the "fictional positioning" – the position in which characters and things are, due to what people have said previously. When you say "no" is when someone's PC is simply not in position to do what they say they do. This is an easy "no": Player: I make the demon explode! GM: What? ...


19

You are not the first GM thinking about this, and there has been quite some discussion about it on Barf Forth Apocalyptica, the forum run by Vincent Baker. All quotes below are taken from posts there. There is one thread discussing specific examples of how this move can be made real, which is where most of this insight is from. Most MCs there play the move ...


19

Triggers happen in-fiction. Never assume a player shares your fiction. Dungeon World introduces the idea of disagreement between GM and player on what's actually going on in the basic moves chapter. Not explicitly called out as such, which I think is a weakness of the book as opposed to Apocalypse World's explicit mistake-and-correction syntax. You can see ...


18

Though @Tynam's answer is excellent, I did want to give an alternative answer. When they ask me, instead of showing me. When we first started playing Dungeon World, I had reservations about my ability not to plan, and one of my players brought up something that I was already doing in the context of Fate that made me feel better about it. Letting the ...


17

Well, in Apocalypse World the moves flow from the fiction. So if he fails that first roll, and you "put him in a spot" - what is that? What does it look like? Is it just something "more sneak" can get him out of? If so, then sure, that's fair for him to do. So don't do that... If he's sneaking and fails, he comes around a crate and there's a guy ...


16

Apocalypse Engine is all about fictional positioning There are many ways that the players, the game mechanics, and the shared fiction of play interact with each other. Different systems and different groups emphasize some over others. Apocalypse World is built to emphasize "fictional positioning," which is when already-established elements of the ...


15

You're over-estimating the impact entirely, yes. The assumption that advancement in Monster of the Week is a matter of increasing power isn't correct. In the vast majority of Apocalypse World engine games, advancement isn't climbing, zero-to-hero Campbellian stuff. Monster of the Week is no exception. Instead, advancement is largely outwards and only ...


14

Not much. Apocalypse World is one of my go-to games for one-shots, and I find that it shows off well in a single 3-hour (preferably slightly more) session, even without changing too much. This includes not using pre-made characters, because I believe the setup to be an integral part of the AW experience. There are some ideas on it on the “Barf Forth ...


13

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, ...


13

I feel like many true things have already been covered in the other answers, but I still feel there's something missing on the points you used as examples. I'm gonna focus on those, while upvoting the other good answers. Moves, unified power mechanics There is a unified mechanic for 'doing stuff' called 'moves'. Reading the moves, this sounds like 4e ...


13

Keep calm. This is exactly where you should be. Apocalypse World is about telling stories from out of the wastes. They're not all happy stories. Maybe this is the story of how an army bearing down on an oasis of safety made people tear themselves apart with worry before it even got over the horizon. But as long as everyone's cool with seeing where that story ...


12

Hit points are more than just a nod to old-school D&D, but yes, that heritage is the only reason they're in the game. The Harm Clock would have worked equally well from a mechanical point of view. It just wouldn't have had the right "feel". For darker fantasy the Harm Clock would be very well-suited. Dungeon World was made to play D&D-style ...


11

This should be both abstract and specific. Gaining or losing members can be presented as a problem of scale, in which case it should be abstract, but always followed up with a personal example. Remember your principle to make everyone human. To make the gang human, you don't need to name and act them all out, but you do need to put a human face on the gang ...


11

I find it helpful when coming up with ideas for AW to ignore what the game actually calls the threats, and just focus on their trigger. Breeding Pits generate badness. A Breeding Pit can be many things, from a literal breeding pit full of rad-wolves, to an old oil refinery leeching poison into the hardhold's water reservoir. Once again, the only thing a ...


11

Only indirectly To do it, do it. If you do it, you do it —Vincent Baker, Apocalypse World A move is triggered when a character does something that triggers it. If a player wants a move to trigger, they should describe the character doing something that triggers it. If a player does not want a move to trigger, they should avoid describing something that ...


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