The owner of a post-apocalyptic truck stop with a shotgun under the counter and debts to pay. A valkyrie of the wasteland, beautiful in the deadliest way with ice water in her veins. A traveler who lives and who’ll die behind the wheel of his ride, but not any time soon if he can help it. A tech expert who swears the machines talk to them, who’s so damn weird not even gunfire can faze them. Every Meet the Party article gives you an entire group of ready-to-play adventurers (maybe even some heroes) for your gaming needs for a variety of systems and settings. Get ready to open your brain to the psychic maelstrom, because we’re going to Meet the Party for the 2nd Edition of Apocalypse World from D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker!
Apocalypse World has been out and about for a while now, and its system has been used for the basis of many more games, such as CRUSH the REBELLION and Night Witches. In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a very basic summary of the system: for nearly every action, you’ll 2d6 + a stat. If your total is a 6 or less, you’ve missed and the MC gets to decide what happens to you. If you roll a 10 or more, you’ve gotten a great success: you either succeed without flaw or get the maximum number of options. But (and here’s where things get interesting) if you get a 7-9 you succeed with complications: either you get to choose from a limited number of options, or succeed with some complications. With the average result of 2d6 being 7 in the first place, and with AW’s setting being a post-apocalyptic wasteland where nothing is easy, it’s a quick system to learn that gets its flavor across easily.
Making AW characters is actually pretty easy: you pick a playbook from the list, and the playbook guides you through selecting your stats, gear, appearance, and such. A lot of the fun of it is establishing the personality of the characters, including the relationships and History (Hx) among the group. There were some interesting changes between the 1st and 2nd Editions, and I’ll point out the ones that come up during the creation of this party. Let’s Meet the Party and see what sort of trouble they’re getting up to.
Jackbird The Maestro D’
Look: Woman, Casual Wear, Tattooed Face, Inquisitive Eyes, Curvy Body, Scarred Hands
Cool +1 Hard +2 Hot +2 Sharp 0 Weird -1
Moves: Fingers in every pie, Everybody eats, even that guy
Hx: Gremlin is my favorite. Hx+3.
Raksha and Hossfield Hx+1; It’s my business to see people clearly.
Gear: A wicked blade (2-harm hand), oddments worth 2-barter, fashion including a piece with 1-armor.
Joe at Jackbird’s, The Establishment
Main Attraction: Coffee
Secondary Attractions: Easy food, Drinks
Atmosphere: Bustle, Nostalgia, Eavesdropping, Protection
Best Regular: Toyata. Drives through here all the time, always orders a pot for himself, never skips out without paying. Usually has some interesting news, too.
Worst Regular: Lamprey. Name fits, he’s always around, can’t get rid of him, which wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t stink to high heaven and stare all the time. Least he pays.
Wants in on it: Gams. Wants to rent out the back rooms, set up shop offering comfort for the drivers. Good profit, not sure I want it though.
I owe for it: Rolfball. Used to drive together, he found the place, helped me get started, but he’ll want his share eventually.
Who wants it gone: Been. Bastard’s got a ‘roach coach’, convoys up with drivers and brings the joe with ’em. Doesn’t much like that the drivers come to me now instead.
Security: A convenient shotgun (3-harm close reload messy) and a bouncer who knows his biz (2-harm 1-armor)
Jackbird is a Maestro D’, a playbook that replaced 1st Edition’s Operator. The Operator was something of a mercenary, with a lot of different gigs and the potential to have a crew. The Maestro D’ is more tied down, with a business of their own to manage, protect, and lose if they’re not careful. Fingers in every pie lets Jackbird put out the word when she needs something – a person, a little somethin somethin, whatever – while Everybody eats, even that guy lets her learn things about her customers. She’s got a place of her own and good Hx with everyone. Of course, having more than most gives her more headaches and more to lose.
Raksha, The Battlebabe
Look: Woman, Showy Armor, Striking Face, Frosty Eyes, Angular Body
Cool +3 Hard +0 Hot +1 Sharp +1 Weird -1
Moves: Dangerous and sexy, Ice cold
Hx: I can trust Jackbird and Gremlin. Hx-1.
I can’t trust Hossfield. Hx+3.
Gear: 2 custom weapons (see below), oddments worth 4-barter, fashion suitable to your look including body armor (2-armor)
Custom Firearm: Bianca, the Ornate Handgun with a 3 Round Burst (3-harm close reload load valuable)
Custom Hand Weapon: Fabiola, the Gilded Spiked Chain (2-harm hand area valuable)
Raksha, as a Battlebabe, is the coolest character in the wasteland. Seriously, the Battlebabe is the only playbook that lets a character start with a stat at the maximum of +3, and that stat is Cool. It’s going to be quite difficult to get her to flinch, no matter what is going on. Dangerous and sexy lets her roll Hot to get others to flinch, and Ice cold lets her use Cool for the go aggro move on NPCs and Hx against fellow PCs. As for her Hx, she’s not very close with people she can trust, because they bore her: the potentially dangerous, however, draw her eyes easily.
Gremlin, The Driver
Look: Man, Utility Wear, Worn Face, Hooded Eyes, Stocky Body
Cool +2 Hard +1 Hot -1 Sharp 0 Weird +1
Moves: Eye on the door, Reputation
Hx: I’ve sometimes caught Hossfield staring out at the horizon. Hx+3.
Jackbird has been with me for days on the road. Hx+2.
Raksha Hx-1. I’m not naturally inclined to get too close to too many people.
Gear: .38 Revolver (2-harm close reload load), oddments worth 4-barter, fashion suitable to your look
Speed +1, Handling 0, 1-armor, Massive 2, Fast, Rugged, Powerful, Muscular, Loud, Sloppy
Gremlin has the wheels to cross the wasteland, a vital skill and resource in a wasteland civilization mad up of scattered settlements and hardholds. Eye on the door helps him make a run for it when he has to, and Reputation lets him determine what the movers and shakers of the wasteland have heard about him. He has good Hx with people who’ve been out in the wastes with him, and with those who always look to the horizon. Otherwise, not so much. The Driver’s vehicle has gotten a bit streamlined, with fewer numbered stats that you need to keep track of and tags that are purely narrative.
Hossfield, the Savvyhead
Look: Ambiguous, Scrounge Wear plus Tech, Plain Face, Squinty Eyes, Wiry Body
Cool -1 Hard 0 Hot +1 Sharp +1 Weird +2
Moves: Things speak, Spooky Intense
Hx: Raksha is the most strange. Hx+1.
Jackbird is the biggest potential problem. Hx+2.
Gremlin Hx-1. I’ve got other stuff to do and other stuff to learn.
Gear: fashion suitable to your look, oddments worth 6-barter, a piece or three of normal gear or weaponry
Workspace: Garage, a junkyard of raw materials, machining tools
Hossfield is a strange one, but in a world where everything breaks down, someone who thinks the car engine is talking to them might be just what’s needed. Things speak allows Hossfield to use Weird to ask questions of the MC while examining items and objects, garnering info on things like emotional imprints and words that have been spoken near it. Being weird enough to do that sort of thing, it’s probably not surprising that they’re Spooky intense, getting to use Weird for doing something under fire, standing overwatch, or baiting a trap. Hossfield’s Hx are best with those that provide something strange or challenging, while those they view as boring aren’t as close. And there’s no denying the usefulness of a full-functional workshop in the wasteland.
In addition to some different basic and battle Moves available to every character, the Hx process has been streamlined. In 1st Edition, from time to time you’d run into subterfuge when determining Hx. The 1E Battlebabe, for instance, would choose which character they trusted the least in secret, and then ignore whatever number they were told when it was that character’s turn and replace it with Hx+3. Now who the Battlebabe trusts most or least is all out in the open.
Who They Are
Jackbird runs an establishment called Joe at Jackbird’s, which is something right out of the past: a truck stop. Drivers cross the wasteland moving from hardhold to hardhold all the time, so Jackbird gave up driving herself to provide the coffee and food, plus a few harder drinks, that drivers crave. Of course, just ’cause she isn’t running a full hardhold herself doesn’t mean she doesn’t have headaches, but she’s got a home and a life, and she’ll fight to defend it.
Raksha is a dangerous woman, no doubt about it, but she’s got the style and skill that makes people want to associate with her all the same. Plenty of those folk end up dead along the way, but none of the newcomers seem to the heed the warnings from the survivors. There are few gigs that Raksha won’t take, and the more dangerous the better. It’s all about the style and the thrill for her, along with freezing her opponents with a mere look. Nothing else makes her feel more powerful. Jackbird’s makes as good a place as any to operate out of.
Gremlin is an older soul, a little worn out and more than a little beat up. He’s been plying what’s left of the roads since he could get behind the wheel, and doesn’t expect to stop any time soon. He’s not skittish, not precisely, but when things go sideways its best to keep an eye on him because about when the first bullet flies he’s already burning rubber towards the best way out. He’s got a pretty good rep, mostly formed from experiences out on the road, but he’s always got one eye on the horizon. The road isn’t just a way of life, it’s the point of life in the first place.
Hossfield‘s always known that they could hear and see things others couldn’t, but never really thought much of it. It’s not that Gremlin’s truck engine doesn’t talk to the driver, it’s just that Gremlin doesn’t know how to listen. That’s always the way it is. Hossfield isn’t much suited to the wasteland, but inside their garage with a pile of scrap and their tools the savvyhead can cook up miracles. They’re drawn to the strangest of passers-by, or to people with the most problems, out of a somewhat eerie curiosity. Hossfield knows people wish they would blink more, but how could they when there might be something new to see?
How They Interact
One of the nicer parts about Apocalypse World and many of the game that use its system is the relationship mechanic, Hx in Apocalypse World’s case. These largely take care of the party interactions on their own, but to summarize:
Jackbird gets along best with Gremlin, who is a frequent customer and who she has spent time out on the road with. Beyond him, she knows a bit about everyone, from the cool Raksha to the kooky Hossfield. That’s just smart business, after all.
Raksha knows that Jackbird and Gremlin are dependable and trustworthy, which makes them boring. Hossfield, though, well that’s an entirely different story. The savvyhead is a wild card, and one that Raksha likes to stick around just to see what might happen.
Gremlin sympathizes greatly with Hossfield, since wanting to see new things is a large part of what got him behind the wheel in the first place. Jackbird might be something of a retired driver, but she’s still part of the extended family, and they share experiences. Raksha’s just another thug, though; more intriguing and flashy than most, perhaps, but nothing Gremlin hasn’t seen before.
Hossfield is a little fascinated by Raksha’s levelheadedness and style, but actually pays the most attention to Jackbird. The Maestro D’ puts a target on her back just by running her little establishment, and all the potential problems prove fascinating. Gremlin’s just another driver, though, Hossfield’s seen more than enough of his type and grown bored with them.
There’s plenty of trouble that could swirl around Joe at Jackbird’s, and lots of things that could end up on the threat map (2E’s replacement for 1E’s fronts). Will our wastelanders survive whatever comes over the horizon, or will they get consumed by whatever manages to finally bring them to heel? Will you swing by the Apocalypse World site to check out the rest of the playbooks for yourself?
That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!
Originally posted 10/7/16 on the Mad Adventurers Society!