[AW - OOG] Apocalypse World: Characters

edited July 2010 in Out-Of-Game
This game works with character playbooks: you pick a character type, get that character's book, and follow the rules therein. Your playbook determines what kind of stuff you can do, as well as your advancement over time (the playbooks do allow you to pick things from other playbooks as part of advancement, so this isn't a straightjacket).

Refer to the website (website) for downloads of character playbooks. A couple of those, I think, aren't perfectly up-to-date, but they're close enough for government work. Note: only one person per playbook (only one person can be the brainer, only one person can be the hardholder, etc). PCs are unique and significant people in the game world.

If someone wants to play the hardholder, then the game will definitely have a strong home base. If someone wants to play the driver, there had better be interesting places to drive. Etc. So tag a comment on any characters you're thinking about.

Quoted from the book:

- Angels are medics. If you want everybody to love you, or at least rely on you, play an angel. Warning: if things are going well, maybe nobody will rely on you. Make interesting relationships so you’ll stay relevant. Or sabotage things, I guess.

- Battlebabes are good in battle, of course, but they’re wicked social too. If you want to play somebody dangerous and provocative, play a battlebabe. Warning: you might find that you’re better at making trouble than getting out of it. If you want to play the baddest ass, play a gunlugger instead.

- Brainers are spooky, weird, and really fun to play. Their moves are powerful but strange. If you want everybody else to be at least a little bit afraid of you, a brainer is a good choice. Warning: you’ll be happy anyway, but you’ll be happiest if somebody wants to have sex with you even though you’re a brainer. Angle for that if you can.

- Choppers lead biker gangs. They’re powerful but lots of their power is external, in their gang. If you want weight to throw around, play a chopper — but if you want to be really in charge, play a hardholder instead. Warning: externalizing your power means drama. Expect drama.

- Drivers have cars, meaning mobility, freedom, and places to go. If you can’t see the post-apocalypse without cars, you gotta be a driver. Warning: your car’s going to be awesome, but you’ll be at a pretty significant disadvantage when you aren’t behind the wheel, so be prepared for that.

- Gunluggers are the baddest asses. Their moves are simple, direct and violent. Crude, even. If you want to take no shit, play a gunlugger. Warning: like angels, if things are going well, you might be kicking your heels. Interesting relationships can keep you in the scene.

- Hardholders are landlords, warlords, governors of their own little strongholds. If anybody plays a hardholder, the game’s going to have a serious and immobile home base. If you want to be the one who owns it, it better be you. Warning: don’t be a hardholder unless you want the burdens.

- Hocuses have cult followers the way choppers have gangs. They’re strange, social, public and compelling. If you want to sway mobs, play a hocus. Warning: things are going to come looking for you. Being a cult leader means having to deal with your fucking cult.

- Operators are freelancers, moonlighters, odd jobbers, schemers and fixers. They’ve always got one thing cooking, one thing in prep, and one thing on the verge of going wrong. If you play an operator you’ll always have something to do; unlike angels and gunluggers, you make your own business. Warning: your life is half getting ahead and half going under. Expect to swallow your share of water.

- Savvyheads are techies. They have really cool abilities in the form of their workspace, and a couple of fun reality-bending moves. Play a savvyhead if you want to be powerful and useful as an ally, but maybe not the leader yourself. Warning: your workspace depends on resources, and lots of them, so make friends with everyone you can.

- Skinners are pure hot. They’re entirely social and they have great, directly manipulative moves. Play a skinner if you want to be unignorable. Warning: skinners have the tools, but unlike hardholders, operators and hocuses, they don’t have a steady influx of motivation. You’ll have most fun if you can roll your own.


  • Also, since I preordered the game, I got a bonus playbook. It's not in the main text, but it's available for someone to play: the maestro d'. They are fixers, barkeeps, club owners, and pimps ... you get an establishment+staff that provides some kind of service, and you have very good moves for manipulating people and acquiring/selling just about anything.
  • edited July 2010
    It's worth noting that the hardholder and the operator have the most baked-in drive - with both of those, you are guaranteed to have shit going down pretty regularly. Choppers, hocuses, and maestros also get that (since your people can bring issues to you), but to a somewhat lesser extent. These guys can't help but to run into problems, which keeps things interesting.

    The other playbooks are more reactive ... the angel fixes people, the gunlugger shoots people, the savvyhead builds stuff, etc. You have to find your own reasons to do those things, and you'll probably find that you're often dealing with, say, the problem that the operator created when he rolled for crap on his gigs in downtime. These guys tend to be better at getting stuff done than the above group.

    The battlebabe is interesting in that she (or he) doesn't really fit into this relationship. She's built to be self-sufficient, so anything you do will be all personal motivation.

    It's good, I think, to have a nice mix of the reactive guys and the guys with the driving issues.
  • edited July 2010
    Apocalypse-World.com has most the stuff you'll need. If you haven't already, download "player's refbook pt 1" - that has almost everything you'll need (it lacks a couple of minor things, like the barter moves and the harm move, but I can write those up somewhere). There are a few mistakes in that document, as well ... they'll be fixed soon, but in the meantime:

    • an angel's kit works differently, but nothing to worry about right now

    • for the gunlugger, the move a secret cache of arms is gone, replaced by prepared for the inevitable, which gives you a small angel kit - not as good as a real angel's kit, but still good in an emergency

    • the seduce or manipulate basic move is very, very slightly changed ... on a 10+, you still have to promise something, but you can do it (or not) later. On a 7-9, you have to provide some assurance.

    Incidentally? When you roll something, you roll 2d6+whatever, according to the move you're making.

    Also incidentally, the seize by force basic move should be taken generally. For instance, trying to kill someone is trying to seize, like, his life. By force. Same with do something under fire. You use that whenever you try something under circumstances that are difficult or dangerous.

    And a last incidental: Yes, you actually are supposed to pick your name/look/etc from those little lists at the beginning. If you really, really don't want to, I guess I'll be soft on the point, but give it a try. The game's going for a feel, and those lists contribute.

    I totally suggest actually downloading your specific playbook, once you pick one out. They're made so you can print double-sided, cut them up, fold, and staple into a little booklet. It has your character sheet as a centerfold and all the rules you're likely to need ... it's a really nice artifact.
  • Question: what does your character need/want? What does he or she provide to others?

    meat, salt, grain, fresh foods, staple foods, preserved foods, meat (don’t ask), drinking water, hot water, shelter, liberty, leisure, fuel, heat, security, time, health, medical supplies, information, status, specialized goods, luxury goods, gasoline, weaponry, labor, skilled labor, acclaim, loyalty, blood kin, strategic position, drugs, work animals, livestock, know-how, walls, living space, storage space, machinery, connections, access, raw materials, books

    Is this group going to be based out of a certain holding? If so, where does the holding, as a whole, get these things?
  • And, lastly, a few notes about Apocalypse World:

    • The PCs know each other, and they're on fairly good terms. Maybe not friends, but at least associates. They work together regularly. If the game is based in a holding, this can be a little more loose, since you can be tied together in triangles with NPCs, as well. If you're moving around more, then you're probably a definite group (after all, you're traveling from place to place as a group, yes?).

    • The PCs are different. There is no other brainer, no other gunlugger. There are folks with psychic that people might call brainers, and there are certainly other people who lug guns, but only you have those playbooks - never will you run into an NPC who is quite what you are.

    • The PCs are better. On one hand, it's a mechanical thing ... a PC can take more damage, for instance, and the GM never rolls dice against you (if you succeed at your roll, that's that, so if you're very good at what you do, you can reliably accomplish quite a lot). On the other, it's a fictional thing ... the driver is that guy. With the car. The angel is called that for a reason.

    • The PCs are better. Every other damn person you encounter in the game is part of the Apocalypse World. They may not (all) be part of the problem, but they certainly aren't part of the solution. The PCs can be better than that. While they might very well fail to live up to it (might not even try to live up to it), they are the sole source of real hope in the world.

    The hardholder isn't just another warlord. He's someone who can carve out a piece of lasting peace and stability in this horrible world. The skinner can create things of real beauty, while everyone else just scrapes around in the dirt. This isn't clearly shown in the playbooks, but it is true, and there are mechanics to support it (they start to kick in after you've gained a certain amount of experience). They're optional - you absolutely get to decide if you want to try to be a hero or not.
  • We've got:

    - Cory is the brainer

    - Kathy is the gunlugger

    - Nick is the maestro d' or the operator

    - Max is undecided ... maybe skinner, operator, angel, or maestro d'
  • Yup, thinking about the gunlugger... I would like to see other's character ideas, I am toying with the idea of maybe being a hired bodyguard or something along those lines for another character and/or their business... and I still need to go read up on AW, it has been forever since I last looked at it!
  • It's worth noting that a few of the people signed up for this, including myself, are also involved in a wedding coming up this weekend. Between that and you wrapping up your classes, I figured I wouldn't push much until next week.

    Of course, the link above gives you the player's refbook, which - though still un-updated - is about 93% accurate. I'll also do that example of play thread I was thinking about posting ... it'll be just cut-and-paste from the book with a little editing.
  • Definitely prefer the Maestro d' option. Sketching him out - think Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca, but covered in scars. Would love to have a PC gunlugger in my crew. Kathy, would your gunlugger work for money, rep, etc? Do we have a past? Do you know why I'm covered in latticework of scar tissue?
  • Mike - Nope, didn't make it past the first ep of Carnivale, but it's on the radar for me and lynn. Queuing it up.

    ::Proper is wearing an immaculate white three-piece suit; black, fingerless gloves; patent leather shoes (ok, probably shiny plastic). His face and fingers are covered in scars. Whatever did the work wasn't all acid or fire -some of the lines are too straight for that. He's wearing a top-hat and has a cane in his right hand. He spreads his arms wide::

    Ladies and gentleman, squirmies and gypsies, wanderers, fat-heads, and the thirsty, come cool your heels and quench your thirst at Proper's Vox Populi. If you have a talent to showcase, we'll get you set up for an Open Mike performance. Crowd favorite gets a prize, every time! Get outta the heat and set yourself down on my cushioned seats and enjoy a glass of Madame Blavatsky's Finest Turnip Gin on ice, made with filtered water!

    I have performers who will delight and amaze! Feats of strength and skill for you to marvel at!

    I am looking for anyone with talent, but specific paid-gigs are offered for a singer and dancer. My vinyl of Some Girls is getting worn, and could use someone with a smoky, sultry, sinuous voice, some luxe moves and luxier skin. If you've got the sound of sorrow and longing in your vocal cords, if you have the beat of what's left living on the earth in your bones, if you can dance with ethereal grace -I have work for you.

    I'm also looking for a hard-ass gun-lugging nut with a tolerance for circus living. Primo coin and a private bedroom.

    You can find me at Proper's Vox Populi -open every hour of the stinkin' day and night.
  • Type: Brainer

    Name: Unknown (going to work on what he goes by, was never named.

    Stats: Cool +1, Hard +1, Hot -2, Sharp +1, Weird +2

    Look: Concealed, Environmental wear improper to the local environment, bony face, dead eyes, awkward angular body

    Moves: Preternatural at-will brain attunement (+1 Weird), Unnatural Lust Transfixtion (roll +weird instead of +hot for seduction)

    Will post again with what all that means as allowed. =)
  • edited August 2010
    Like, yesterday, Proper wants:
    His fucking water filtering apparatus cleaned up 'cause some fuckers threw a bunch of fermented shit into it. Not booze, literal fermenting excrement. Not OK.
    Or a new set-up.
    The balls of the sunovabitch behind the sabotage.

    He'll need more of this weekly:
    money to pay Gams, because he's buying the joint from her (what, like 1 barter a week? What's a tough payment that isn't designed to actually make you default?)
    knick-knacks, oddments, etc for the prize on Amateur Night.
    Perfume, patchouli, potpourri, incense

    Periodically he'll need:

    Long Game[/edit] Proper wants:
    To visit his daughter, Sunny, in **city too far to reach without an armored caravan** on her 16th birthday with a full, Proper Circus. Just like he promised when she was five and he took The Job.

    To never go back to bustin' his ass on a bicycle-seat lashed to a dunebuggy with an AK-47, all for a couple bags of salted gopher ears.

    To entertain you, shock and amaze you, get you likker'd up and settled down -at least for a couple hours.

    Proper Provides:
    Entertainment! Spectacle! A chance at the prize! Cold drinks, served over ice made with filtered water. A place to relax and enjoy a soft place to sit. All that and whatever else you're lookin' for, pal.

    Stats: Cool = +0, Hard = +1, Hot = +2, Sharp = +1, Weird = -1
  • money to pay Gams, because he's buying the joint from her (what, like 1 barter a week? What's a tough payment that isn't designed to actually make you default?)
    That actually sounds like a custom move. Let's see ...
    When you scrape together oddments to make a payment to Gams, roll+sharp to see. On a 10+, it's good and you're set for another week. On a 7-9, what she needs, you don't have, so choose 1:

    • She takes it, but you also have to pay 1-barter in turnip gin to make her feel it's worth her while.
    • She takes it, but she's not happy. Tick up her countdown clock a segment.
    • You make it work, but you have to cut corners in your operation: the MC can offer you a hard bargain or an ugly choice.

    On a miss, choose 2.
    Her clock is probably something like:
    • before 3:00, she's pretty much forgotten about you
    • at 3:00, her threats are the usual: casual and habitual
    • at 6:00, she has to sit down and have a serious talk with you
    • at 9:00 and 10:00, her people start hanging around your operation, then hassling you to remind you who you're fucking with
    • at 11:00 and 12:00, she has to make an example of someone (at 12:00, it's you)

    I think you start at 3:00 - she's not yet convinced that you were a good investment. Note that it's possible to tick forward her clock by simply doing something stupid that undermines her faith in you, without involving her custom move at all.

    You should be able to turn back her clock on a case-by-case basis, by going to her in person and doing something to make right. Like: give her something she wants, do something she needs done, give her your left pinky up to the first knuckle.

    You won't actually pay off your debt this way - you're hitting it in dribs and drabs. To pay off your debt entire, you need to find and seize an opportunity.
  • edited August 2010
    Miscellaneous note:

    Remember to check your sex moves. They're in there for a reason - AW is kinda based on exploitation movies in the first place, with the goal that every PC is cool and tough and sexy. The sex moves encourage the last bit, by attaching mechanical effects to fucking someone. Each of the playbooks works differently here, and not all of the sex moves work with NPCs:

    - The gunlugger has a definite incentive to have sex often, with anybody. She doesn't care if her partner is a PC or an NPC, but PCs can benefit from having sex with her (she can choose whether the benefit is 2-way or not).

    - The brainer doesn't care whether hir partner is a PC or NPC either, and hir partner gains no benefit (in fact, having sex with a brainer is slightly risky). During sex, the brainer sees into hir partner's mind, so there's an incentive there for hir. Be careful, though, since on a bad roll you can hurt your partner.

    - A maestro d' is a bit odd in that he has no 'sex' move. Instead, he triggers other characters' sex moves whenever he sets them up with something they want. Because maestros are just that Hot (this does suggest that maestros are very 'personal' in their transactions). This actually means that he has no specific incentive to jump into sex ... maybe he only screws people he's honestly interested in?! That largely depends on which side of the seduce/manipulate move he favors - does he control people with sex, or with promises?
  • Our gunlugger is gone - she ended up bowing out.

    For those who don't know already, our brainer player is currently traveling, which is why we haven't heard much from him.
  • Okay so, as the latest recruit I just thought I'd double-check. We currently have: a Maestro D' (Proper), a Brainer (Unknown?), and an as-yet-undetermined third PC.

    And whatever-I-got?
  • We have a maestro and a brainer, for sure. There are two other people who have expressed interest, but who have not yet posted here, so - for the moment - just assume the maestro and brainer.
  • edited August 2010
    I'm ruminating on what I want to play. Proper's gonna need some muscle, and some talent. Everybody needs an angel and a savvyhead somewhere in the crew.

    You have any thoughts, Daniel? (edit: as in, thoughts about what you might want to play, thoughts about character dynamics you might want to see?)
  • Okay, here are some thoughts.

    These interest me: angel, battlebabe, gunlugger, hocus, operator, savvyhead, skinner.

    I like connections between characters. With njhenry's consent, I could play a battlebabe or gunlugger who owed Proper a favor and was working security, or a battlebabe or skinner who was some sort of entertainment (or who wanted to be).

    Hocuses and operators seem to me like plot-leading characters, and we've already got one of those in the maestro d'. If nobody else wants to play a plot-leader, I'd play a hocus or operator.

    And support crew: I've got ideas for an angel, and could come up with some for a savvyhead.

    Maybe I'm being too cooperative and conciliatory, and I should just pick one.
  • I'm thinking of playing either an Operator -- a desperate scavenger/urchin type who spends a lot of time Upstairs, looking for valuables -- or maybe a shell-shocked, bullet-naive Battlebabe who decides who lives and who dies.
  • And yeah, in my opinion/experience you should just pick one -- connections are easy to come by, and everyone ends up with lots of stuff to do, the main thing is to be excited about your character and their role in the post-apocalypse.
  • I'm being strongly influenced by some AP reports by some friends who are playing, who thought about relationships pregnant with possibility from the beginning and who seriously hit the ground running with some beautiful chemistry. Seriously, their MC has an easy job: they worked out several PC-PC-PC triangles, no NPC involvement.

    And I'm excited about all of them, damn it. I just spent ten minutes typing "I think I'm looking at a hocus, or maybe a skinner," and deleting it and retyping it with just about every combination. I'll sleep on it and see what my subconscious comes up with by the morning.
  • There is something in that, actually. Since PbP is such a relatively slow medium, it does pay to put in a little extra effort up front so that there's less feeling around once the game starts. Still, better to grab a book you like, then go from there.
  • Oh, absolutely. I mostly just meant that you can create those sorts of relationships out of all sorts of combinations of playbooks/roles.
  • Okay, the subconscious has spoken.

    Frost, the Skinner.

    His look: man; casual wear; striking face; mocking eyes; steady hands; toned body.

    His stats: Cool+1, Hard+1, Hot+2, Sharp+1, Weird-2

    His moves: Artful & gracious, An arresting skinner

    His gear: hidden knives, spectacular tattoos, long gorgeous coat; oddments including a guitar handmade by an ex-lover and a tattered notebook of songs

    Frost dresses casual-punk: ratty blue jeans, t-shirts, shit-stomping boots, and a heavy pre-apocalypse black leather jacket covered in decorative steel and zippers, still in pristine condition. (I suppose I could ask for it to be 1-armor, but I think the thought of it actually getting cut or otherwise damaged would horrify Frost, who tries to be much more of a lover than a fighter.) Underneath them every inch of his skin from his neck to his wrists and ankles is covered in strikingly graceful tribal tattoos, asymmetric arabesques, some of them complementing body piercings as well. Recently he's been making his living as a wandering musician, with a voice like Ute Lemper's or Jeff Buckley's, capable of going from a soft whiskey caress to a strident wail, and understated skill on the guitar.

    I think he's only arrived here comparatively recently, possibly to try out at Open Mic Night. Most of his 1-barter is tied up in things he really doesn't want to give away - he'd rather sell his body, possibly even sell his body parts, than his guitar.

    What does he want? He wants a home - not necessarily a fixed address. He wants a family. He wants true love. (And in that last one, he's probably his own worst enemy.) But right this very minute, he wants a steady gig, and he doesn't want to go back to the days of sleeping Outside under black rain because the only other option was trading his guitar for a place to sleep.
  • Yeah, this was a good choice, because he's been simmering in my head.

    His tattoos: a close look shows that they were obviously done by someone who was intimately familiar with his body, a close friend or lover.

    I want to poke at that Weird-2 a lot. I figure that he's tried to open his mind to the psychic maelstrom, and every time he has, something's been taken away from him. Maybe he lost his memories of the lover who made him the guitar: he just knows that someone he loved made it for him, and maybe that's why he hangs on to it.

    He feels deeply broken to me inside, and I'm not sure whether it's the result of the psychic maelstrom. I think he's really really good at faking it, and God help anyone who actually connects with the real Frost.

    And it occurs to me that it works just as well for me if he's been around for a while, and part of Proper's organization, but I'd really like to play out his first Open Mic Night, maybe even later on as a flashback.
  • Cwilbur

    I think it'd be fun for your Skinner to play an open-mic and then we can role-play whether her gets hired. I judge it probable.
  • So as a suggestion: before we work out all the Hx scores, we play out Frost's Open Mic Night debut.
  • This is Max. I think I'd like to go with the Battlebabe. If that's cool, I'll write her up and post it here.
  • edited August 2010
    Okay then, my turn.


    Kite is a Battlebabe.

    Cool +3, Hard -2, Hot +1, Sharp +1, Weird+1

    Look: Woman, display wear, sweet face, indifferent eyes, gorgeous body

    Moves: Visions of death, Impossible reflexes

    Kite has seen a lot of death, up close and personal. She's the sole survivor of more battles than she can count, and she stopped counting after the first one; some of their names are still whispered in the underground. Maybe that's why it doesn't phase her anymore -- or maybe it's just that she's permanently phased, and any more violence is just a drop in the bucket. Phased is a good word for Kite, though some might prefer oblivious or touched or just flat-out crazy -- most of the time she seems to live in her own version of the world. She wanders the tunnels, seemingly unconcerned with local dangers; she finds weird things and trades them for food or a place to sleep; sometimes people give her food or a place to sleep, just in case; sometimes she takes jobs, then just as soon quits them. Certainly nobody would call her reliable; the only thing reliable about Kite is that if there's a fight, she's probably nearby, watching with that strangely unaffected look of hers.

    Here is a picture of Kite in her 2-armour threads: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anomalous/605824376/
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