[The Jungle] Welcome to the Jungle

edited November 2011 in Out-Of-Game
I know there's a lot of new blood here at Snail's Pace eager to do some AW (myself included), so I'm gonna try my hand at some Apocalypse World MCing.

I've been reading Alan Weisman's very awesome The World Without Us and watching History Channel's considerably less awesome Life After People, so I'm presently infatuated with a non-specific apocalypse resulting ultimately in a world mostly devoid of humans but teeming with rampant, dangerous life.

I'm a sort of visual person, so I put together a little collection of post-apocalyptic imagery I liked. Specifically, the pieces that inspire me most are these screens from a game called Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (which is itself notable as a future, post apocalyptic adaptation of Journey to the West, which hits pretty much all of my buttons):

image image
image image
(click for a larger view or just hit the gallery link above)

As much as I'd like to include all the fantastic players already here, I know there's a whole crowd of folks like me waiting to play, so I'd like to give them the first attempt. We'll probably only use playbooks from the main rulebook, simply because it's my first shot at AW and, well, I only have those playbooks. If you're interested, post here with your intent, what playbooks you'd be most interested in, any concepts you've got rolling around in your head, and/or any brainstorming on the setting and/or its apocalypse! I'm not sure how many folks makes for a decent game, so any feedback or advice from any of the more experienced MC is more than welcome!


  • edited November 2011
    Jungle sounds very neat, and a 'nature took it all back'-looking postapocalypse is even more meaty.

    Count me in! I'm mainly interested in Battlebabe or Savvyhead (or Hocus, as a third choice).
    As for brainstorming, imagining civilization pits me on two main ideas: the few standing, liana-trodden palaces used as tower-holdings or, on the other hand, tree-houses or so on.

    Also I would dare suggest some alien-looking ecosystem like in Gareth Edwards' Monsters, with the likes of tentacleish fauna, glowing out-there-coloured moss and so on.

    EDIT: An epiphany occurred in the form os viewing a lake. A vast, peaceful body of still water. Probably because some image of harmony alike, in a setting of ruins, sounds so beautifully oxymorical.
  • (After watching the trailer for Monsters, I have now added it to my instant queue.) I am all for a setting in which nature has not only taken everything back but also gone to the "next level", either as a result of some fundamental element of the apocalypse, like radiation, or simply by overcoming it's primary adversary: mankind.

    I'm also a big fan of the whole "rising sea level" scenario, so a coastal city with most of its lower floors submerged also appeals to me (partly because it's still familiar and accessible, just with added difficulty and danger), and definitely works well with the concept of the tower-holdings.
  • edited November 2011
    Atlantis and the Jungle: I'm kinda trembling with awe.
    Anyway, lake or sea? (The former appeals more to me, both for being less obvious and more fascinating with its apparent serenity, but it's only a suggestion. Anyways, better to wait for fresh meat the other guys.)
  • edited November 2011
    You know, Jon. You could set it in a formerly landlocked city that the sea encorached on during a deluge. I always thought a coastal East Tennessee would be neat... but I'm from East TN, so I have my biases.
  • Anyway, fellow Albi_SG asked me to hold one seat for him as he might have troubles with login at least for today D:
  • I know exactly zero about Tennessee, but I'm not averse to researching it. I once spent some time looking up the elevations of Connecticut, where one of my RL friends is from, with the intent of using it in our Gamma World campaign. Really, as it stands, I'm personally about as landlocked as it gets, unless the Western Interior Seaway opens up again -- which is not an idea that's off-limits.

    I'm also okay with leaving the location as generic_urban_ruin_153 (although I'd still probably secretly have a real world location in mind).
  • oh hey, it's your game, just throwing out an idea. I think the basic premise you have is keen. I'd rather some newbies and those without a game on here in the game, but if the dust settles and there is an open slot, I'm interested.
  • edited November 2011
    Understood! I didn't mean to sound like I was either putting too much or too little emphasis on your suggestion, I just enjoy playing with ideas!

    EDIT: Fabio, I'm intrigued by the idea of a Savvyhead that is a botanist or some sort of cognoscente with the strange, wild flora of the new landscape. That's not to say you can't be a Battlebabe, if you prefer, just something I was thinking about.

    (And Albi_SG's interest has been noted!)
  • That would be great indeed; let's say I am mostly keen on the Savvy from now on, but let's see what the other folks will want to play too!

    And yeah, Jon, I guess you could think about 'where are we, actually?' from behind our eyes as MC prep.
    So the basic idea should be jungle on one side, the menacing tides on the other, flora-haunted ruins beneath and one tower-palace hosting the remnants of human life, at least in this area ? Sounds like needing a Hardholder... but hey, who knows what kinds of surprise could be thrown.
  • We stole the first round of Microscope rules to start my last Face-to-Face AW world game. Worked brilliantly. Something you might want to consider.
  • I have considered Microscrope (incidentally, my first true introduction to narrative games beyond your more traditional RPGs) for creating settings in which we then play a different game!
  • edited November 2011
    Hey. I did a similar drowned thing in the first game on my wiki.


    Take a look at the people and places thread for some pics. I can tell you how to do that for some awesome maps. The pic gallery is good for drowned stuff too.
  • Posted By: FlashbackJonAs much as I'd like to include all the fantastic players already here, I know there's a whole crowd of folks like me waiting to play
    I get this. If you have room, I'm interested.

    I'm happy to play literally any playbook. Skinner and gunlugger are the two at the top of my list, but whatever.

    I'd generally suggest that four players is perfect around a table. In a PBF/PBP game, you can go bigger without too much worry. Something else you should talk about with your prospective players is posting frequency. The game works best when everyone's on the same page. (But also just know in advance that whatever people say, it'll fluctuate for everyone.)
  • edited November 2011
    Hey there! sorry, when Vortex told me a game had been launched i was at a concert... just come home!!!

    I'm most definitely in!!! the first playbooks that come from the top of my head are Chopper, Skinner and brainer, but this is still loose: i might change idea, and if somebody is particularly keen on any of these, step up please!!! EDIT: if Vortex goes for the Savvyhead, i might go for the Battlebabe...

    Definitely like the setting Vibe we're going for... in particular:

    Like: "lake" idea, mutated/weird nature (not as far as Avatar, but something quite strong, i'd say.. with vibrant colors and powerful life)
    Don't like: "the sea on one side, the jungle on the other"... c'mon, it's too easy! let's find a way to bring them together...

    You know those huge underground openings in south america? why not bring those in the picture? huge pits where the earth has just collapsed... creating a big circular hole in the surface, and vast undergound spaces half-open to the outside... usually those places fill with water, also, for the doouble action of rain and underground rivers... could it be that there's been a sort of global ground collapse, leading to a planet covered in such formations? cities could have been broken, half outside, and still standing... the other half buried, possibly submerged... thus with it treasures still potentially intact!!! the jungle may be predominant outside, with lianas, moss (glowy moss?) and other smaller forms of vegetable lives in the caves... this also leaces plenty of possibilities for human colonies...

    Something that might also come in handy, for Jungle inspiration, is Nausicaa from the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki... giant insects as animals? fungi?
  • And here I was worried that re-introducing Pleistocene megafauna would be a stretch!

    Albi, your ground collapse reminds me of another piece I like:
  • edited November 2011
    Albi's suggestions speak wisdom. As for me, I'm definitely about taking the Savvy and making him/her a botanist-agronomist in charge of some fields and maybe a relic of the past, probably adding some social skil and agenda. I wanna see some kind of raw economic reconstruction subtext, you know, the "we're gonna rebuild, how do we rebuild?" issue, so I think I'll be building a character keen both on those things and on the visionary side.

    Also, but these are just suggestions, what I see about the setting makes me defintely want to see a Driver able to cross chasms and rivers to reach other communities or the treasure-filled depths; and maybe a Skinner (*looks at Christopher) with mysterious arts or superstition influenced by the Green. Okay, please stop me before I rant too much.
  • FlashbackJon, thanks! the image is soo cool!

    I was thinking abouut how cool a driver would be, also...

    anyway, Pleistocene Megafauna = cool.

    something we should also focus on is: how and why is life *really* hard in our Apocalypse World? AW is really about Scarcity... what's scarce in this world? we have lotsa water and plants... is food easy to get? or have natural life forms become poisoned? is there a scarcity of Security, with huge hard beasts coming to get you every moment? what do people squabble, fight, and die over? I like it not to be a radioactive wasteland, but we should be careful not to make it too easy :P
  • edited November 2011
    Well, no one is taking for granted that post-apoc food is edible. Or that water is drinkable and does not turn pre-apoc lifeforms into something.
    Or maybe, if we do not want mutations... well, plants do not bear edible fruits, herbivores are scarce and carnivores have been given a Darwinian thumbs-up, therefore roam the neighborhood as the aforementioned Megafauna. Maybe the tower(s?)' first meaning is a minimal protection, then a place for gathering.
  • Yeah, was forgetting about the tower... what about the things growing on the ground/near other plants/whatever being toxic because of something in the soil or in the other plants?... so you could only actially farm edible things by separating them from the rest... either on barges in the middle of the lakes, or on the top of towers... but... are the lakes safe? and... how many towers remain thatstill are tall enough?

    (i know, the "plants are NOT toxic if you grow them in clean soil" is straight form nausicaa. but it might work...)
  • edited November 2011
    I was thinking about one tower, hosting a vertically ordered dwelling (not necessarily in a hierarchical sense, though); or maybe two or three palaces crumbled one against each other, forming a sorta tripod-ziggurat. Or maybe there are several towers connected by rope-bridges, or maybe there are no bridges at all.

    Actually I'm not much convinced by the "plants are NOT toxic if you grow them in clean soil" argument. For now I'd be more on a "edible plants get eaten by the dominant fauna, you gotta plant them in a safer environment" side of things. But hey, I would also be blatantly trying to put some strategic advantage (and source of danger) for my agronomist, so feel free to argue against it.

    EDIT: By the way, calling the more expert players: aren't we kinda risking to define too much before the MC's questions during play?
  • edited November 2011
    as a possible followup to that... the jungle, basically, is NOT composed of plants and vegetable life forms that were there BEFORE the apocalypse. it's new stuff. and it is VERY different from the ecosystem humans thrived in. and wherever it grows in sufficient numbers and strength, it slightly alters its environment to its advantage, through spores, or chemicals, or whatever. Animals have "adapted" to this. and we saw what came out of them. regular plants have adapted halfway, and you gotta keep them in a "clean" atmosphere to make them edible.

    ...and down to the south, according to a guy with a big car that passed through here once, there's PEOPLE who have "adapted". and they are VERY different.

    (i'm imagining the jungle as some sort of "Avatar meets Nausicaa Meets Alien" thing... it's beautiful and creepy and full of wonders and it's out to get us.)

    EDIT: Tripod Ziggurat of fallen buildings? Damn, YES.
  • edited November 2011
    One of the more salient points in Alan Weisman's book is that most food (at least, of the fruit and vegetable variety) is edible because humans selectively plant for big, delicious apples or oversized ears of corn, whereas these are not necessarily advantageous to the plant on an evolutionary scale. Although he's talking about a much longer timeline, he mentions large, sweet, orange carrots being quickly eaten up by the local fauna and the bitter, woody Queen Anne's lace becoming dominant (as well as other examples like maize, the broccoli family, and apples). I haven't decided how close to the vest I want to play this -- in this case "the vest" is the scientifically-grounded, logical consequences of an almost complete lack of humans. Because while I do love that, I also love the inexplicable and surreal: in this case exemplified by the aforementioned "Avatar jungle" (beautiful, creepy, full of wonders, out to get us).

    That said, I'd like the scarcity to be defined by (roughly) these two statements: "we don't know what this is and what exactly will happen if we eat it" and "everything out there with it wants to kill us."

    I'm not too worried about defining too much, as long as we stay within the realm of the environment, whereas the "first session" will be responsible for the people and their place in it. :)
  • Well, I like the facts you enumber for Weisman's analysis, they are a great scarcity fuel and maybe being close to the vest and adding surrealty can be both accomplished; being a new element, the surreal can be used to enforce 'the vest' itself. By the way, I think your summary does a freat job of summing up.

    So OK, I think we should be waiting to be complete and with ideas about the characters, as the setting ideas are quite meaty and waiting to be approved or argued against; don't we?
  • Another bit of setting flavor: "you can't stop the growth." The jungle claims everything eventually, so the best you can hope for is to hold it back long enough to eek out a living. At one point, I considered the idea of a railway, where the crews either have to cut away the growth daily or the trains/railcarts themselves have blades of some sort attached. That doesn't fit great right now, but still indicates the level of inexorable growth I'm thinking.

    Yeah, I think I have a pretty solid grasp on the look and feel, as well as a few behind-the-scenes MC details. I'll probably leave it open over the weekend (as much as it kills me to wait) for some of the others who had expressed interest in the "More AW" thread to see this and pipe up if interested. If we don't have a bunch of sign-ups, Rich and Chris, I'd love to have you guys involved. :)
  • I like the look&sound of the setting. I'd love to try a Savvyhead. I like to tinker, and I like the names on the list. I'll have to mull over them to find my favorite. I'm a noob, too.
    Sign me up, Flashback!
  • Oops, I just noticed the great ideas already posted for the savvyhead. Rather than fighting over it, I could go for the Angel. I could see an advantage to having all those plants around if I know the right ones that are useful.
  • Seems like an Angel would hae a lot of business with Megafauna around. Nevertheless, with the playbooks involved and those named as a possibile chioce (Skinner Battlebabe...) sounds like a bunch of bartering, service and Hot waiting to happen. Which sounds really cool.
  • What you need is a weird little kid brainer.
  • edited November 2011
    On my way home from work, I got some much more vivid images for a Hocus... maybe named Always. I could see me and my followers hanging out and having drum circles in our tree-house. I'd call them my Monkeys. Can I do that instead of an Angel?

    EDIT: I like Rabbit as his name better.
  • More mindfuck coming along, a-ha. Lovely!
    Actually the setting-forming part was on the palace-tower (or towers) rather than treehouses but... can there be both? Like a scarce 'neighbourhood' of people living on the margin, or maybe the cult itself alone?
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