I had the privilege of attending GenCon this year. I was a volunteer for Games on Demand and a regular player at Games on Demand.
One of the events that I was eager to join was the Apocalypse World KristaCon-style game, run by Mark Diaz Truman and Travis Scott. Earlier at Origins, my son had the privilege to play in a Dungeon World KristaCon-style event run by Travis and Mark. He had such a fantastic time in their game.
For the uninitiated a KristaCon-style event eschews the convention-style one-shot session in favor of something more involved. In the case of Origins and GenCon's KristaCon-style events, this meant two GMs coordinating three sessions with many of the same players playing in each session.
The result was a mini-campaign where player characters were moving between tables, building the game over the course of 3 sessions.
Barf Forth Apocalyptica
At the table was Mark, Derrick, and sadly 3 other players whose names slip my memory. I had previously played a very memorable game of Dungeon World with Derrick, Travis, and Mark. Derrick and I had played Apocalypse World before, though no more than a handful of times. The other 3 were new to the game system, but quickly proved up for the task.
Mark kicked things off by having us sketch up a bit of our world. We spent about an hour defining our little piece of civilization at the end of the road. Thank you Derrick for kicking things off with your vivid descriptions; It sets the tone for everything. Everyone remained quite engaged, leaning into the game, ready to give but also eager to hear how other things were going.
I ended up playing Found Spider (Hocus). I was a bit confused early on thinking I was grabbing the Brainer, but it turned out a better fit. I based Found Spider loosely on Pennsetucky from Orange is the New Black. Found Spider was a religious nut job with a following.
Found Spider's followers were her family, congregating near her. They were hungry, desperate, and diseased. But also dedicated and were a powerful psychic antenna.
Three Sessions in Brief
Over the course of three sessions, I watched the fortunes of Found Spider ebb and flow. In the first session Found Spider was quickly on her heels as one of her followers committed a senseless act of destruction – that desperation tag flared up.
In the second session, Found Spider had only 15 minutes of screen time, but it was so very creepy and defining of Found Spider's character. In those moments I really grew to understand Found Spider and the lengths she would go to.
Most people may howl at having only 15 minutes in a 3.5 hour game, but I was captivated by what was transpiring amongst the other players and was quite content to hear the story unfold.
The phrase that so very much summed up Found Spider was “A spider web requires something sturdy and permanent as its anchor.” This realization that Found Spider was in fact a team player helped to position Found Spider in session three.
In the third session, Found Spider became the euphoric zealot, driven by love. Mark and Travis had some interesting custom moves for the game, one was related to “doing things out of love”. Found Spider stood beside Chairman Proper, fighting for the coffee shop at the end of the road.
The KristaCon-style event provided a framework for seeing Apocalypse World in its best light…a continuing series of sessions, in which characters develop in interesting and unexpected ways.
I went into the game knowing that Found Spider was bat shit crazy, but I didn't realize how bat shit and desperate Found Spider would actually be; Nor did I know at the outset what Found Spider's actual driving force was.
One of the challenges was making sure that our table focused on the story and not on digging through playbooks to find our next advancement; We addressed that for session three, and things really sang at that point.
After our massive confrontation, Mark closed things out by asking for an epilogue for each of our characters. Found Spider ended up marrying Chairman Proper, changing from a religious nut-job to one driven to create a better place – mechanically speaking Found Spider likely shifted to a Touchstone.