Apocalypse World: Structured Freeform, Take 1

February 1, 2011

A Twitter discussion with John Harper and Rob Donoghue made me think of drafting up something like this. This version isn’t quite what I originally had in mind when I started typing, but it’s okay. It’s called “Take 1” because I’m going to keep thinking about it and try to come up with another version that doesn’t use resource management (tokens), which is a bit of a cop-out as far as freeform designs go.

At the beginning of a session, the MC starts with a number of tokens representing the harshness of the world. He takes a token for every step the countdown clocks on his Threats have advanced, representing the progress of fundamental scarcities, and assigns these tokens to specific threats. Additionally, whenever he advances a countdown clock, the MC places another token on this threat.

Play Apocalypse World as normal, but, when a player makes a move:

  • they succeed with a 7-9 as the default
  • if another player decides to help, bump this up a tier (frex: to a 10+)
  • if another player decides to interfere, bump this down a tier (frex: to a 6-)
  • if the player declares that they are cooler, harder, hotter, sharper, weirder, better prepared (stuff), or more expert (playbook move) than their opposition, bump their result up one tier and mark off one point of their stat for this session (for example, a +3 becomes a +2)
  • if the player declares they are superior, but no longer have a positive attribute in that stat, the MC takes a token for pride
  • if the player uses a move from a stat in which they have a -1 or below, they begin with a 6- result
  • at any point, the MC can spend a token from the appropriate threat to narrate additional bad shit that lowers the player’s current result by a tier

The main problem with this current setup is that it might become a battle of attrition between the MC and the players, to see whose resources hold out the longest, and that’s less than ideal. I really want a setup were the players choose the level of result that they get, telling the MC what kind of moves he gets to make in response. Still working that out in my head.

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