I’ve decided to again start listening to game-related podcasts. Last week, I listened to a Dresden Files playthrough and an Apocalypse World playthrough by The Walking Eye. I’m splitting my attention between the remaining Walking Eye podcasts and the backlog of Fear the Boot podcasts (I had previously stopped around episode 38). I’ll probably cycle in some of the PodgeCast.
I found the playthrough games by the Walking Eye to be extremely engaging. Each system is given five sessions of approximately 2 hours each. In both cases, both Apocalypse World and Dresden Files has a well defined “First Session” for character creation. The benefit is that, as a listener, I’m drawn into the collaborative story. They proceed to play 3 sessions followed by a final episode in which they review the game. And as an added perk, they are usually able to interview the game designer as a bonus episode.
Listening to the Apocalypse World character creation, play through, review, and interview helped me better understand the buzz around Apocalypse World; Not just because of its “harsh” language and definition of the effects of sex with other characters, but because there is something ingenious within the pages of this game.
D. Vincent Baker, the designer of Apocalypse World, has meticulously deconstructed the meta-roles of a role-playing game (i.e. GameMaster and non-GameMaster Player) and constructed a system that explicitly states exactly what each player can and must do. Thus the GameMaster can unabashedly cheer for the players while also being informed, by the rules, that it is their job to make hard moves against the players.
Let’s look at the following player move:
When you try to seize something by force, or to secure your hold on something, roll+hard. On a hit, choose options. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2: you take definite hold of it, you suffer little harm, you inflict terrible harm, you impress, dismay or frighten your enemy
The player chooses the action to initiate, then based on success gets to choose a few options, but not all of them. On a 6 or less, the GM* gets to make one of their moves, which will develop or advance the various threats. Take a look at Conflict Rez: Lightning Fast from Thinking Outside The Red Box Set.
All of this got me thinking about what the probability curve is for the various actions. So whipped up the following chart:
So go ahead and give a listen to the Apocalypse World sessions by the Walking Eye, and listen to the corresponding interview with D. Vincent Baker. It’s good stuff.