Apocalypse World: Dark Ages Playtest and Observations

This past Saturday at Better World Book’s monthly game day, I ran a playtest session of Vincent Baker‘s Apocalypse World: Dark Ages. There were four other players. We spent about an hour creating the stronghold, people, and characters. Then another two and a half hours “in character”.

The process of crafting the stronghold, people, and characters gave immediate shape to the characters’ environment. As this is a game about strongholds, peoples, and war companies, the game world crafting process is better than any Quickstart Guide.

The game started bumpy; I wasn’t asking my usual questions to grow the world. I fumbled a bit. I went quick to the dice for guidance. This helped me get my feet. I’m also working on a session write up.

Observations

  1. There is a lot of information to juggle
  2. This is my kind of game
  3. Playtest notes

Juggling Information

There are a lot of “nouns” to coordinate in Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:

  • Strongholds
  • Peoples
  • Companies
  • Notables
  • Characters

There are a lot of “verbs” to process of Apocalypse World: Dark Ages:

  • Basic moves
  • Battle moves
  • Season moves
  • People moves
  • Enchantments

I found it challenging to coordinate so many sheets of paper. I was not prepared.

This is My Kind of Game

My favorite long running campaign was a 2nd edition D&D Birthright game. The campaign was a web of individual adventures and political machinations. Character level actions impacted the campaign; And likewise political actions impacted the individual adventures.

With basic moves, the characters have power to ask for more information or take action. Characters can bide their time, assessing things, asking how to affect change. Or they can leap into action to take the initiative.

Layer on the battle moves – of which we didn’t explore. The characters can either take control of something larger than themselves or be part of the scrum.

Last, the season moves provide a mechanism for advancing the campaign calendar. It is a powerful tool at the disposal of the Master of Ceremonies. A scene can be cut short. Brought to a close.

In other words, Apocalypse World: Dark Ages is a game ripe for campaign play.

Playtest Notes

Some of the players at the table wanted more information about wealth. Were they rich? Or poor? How poor? Was there a middle ground? As wealth impacts starting equipment, this was important for some of the players.

We were hesitant to dive into the mass combat rules; The closest we got was a player grabbing the dice to Avoid the Battle. It was a great moment as the player leaned on the move and in essence asked “I don’t think I want to fight for this, what can I do to avoid this battle?” My response was catered to campaign play and not the single session playtest at hand.

There were a few points in which, as a GM, I was fishing for moves that were applicable; I wanted to go to the dice because I wasn’t ready to “Say yes.” Things were at stake. I wasn’t as familiar with the basic moves; Things didn’t flow as smooth as they could.

 

 

 

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