[Apocalypse World] Daycare in New Kiev

Started by Abkajud, December 06, 2010, 06:00:43 PM

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I played the playtest AW once; we didn't really explore Hx very much, and all MC characters in the scenario were adversaries or mooks rather than anyone the MC tried to get us to care about.

Last night's for-real AW session, however, had lots and lots of awesome relationship fodder; the MC might forget a character's name here and there, and we were all so drawn and invested in that we all knew exactly who he was trying to identify. It rocked.

So - background and setup.
Introducing: (characters)
Mercury - a flirty, put-together Skinner whose primary services include child care and dance lessons. Gender unclear/unknown; zhe has been with Jaygrip the Angel for some time, and provides a little harmless entertainment for the biker gang, the Cutters. (played by me)
Lively - an eccentric, inquisitive, happy-go-lucky Brainer who functions as a traveling circuit court judge for the people of New Kiev and other vassal states of apocalyptic Moscow. S/he rides with the Cutters, and s/he's friends with Mercury. (played by George)
Wire - a somber, violent, smoldering Chopper who's in love with Mercury will kick your ass if you touch hir. Pack alpha for the Cutters. (played by Buddha)
Jaygrip - a quiet, serious, compassionate Angel who provides medical care for the Cutters. A little jealous and possessive of Mercury, but he's a peaceful person. A little fixated on sexual reassignment surgery, though, and presumably only he could definitively tell us what Mercury's sex really is. Not that he would, he's a gentleman. (played by Sam)

Buddha- the host. A friend of mine from game night for coming up on a year now. We can joke around about sex and politics pretty easily, and I chose his character, Wire, initially, to be my Skinner's lover. But then Sam volunteered, and Buddha was cool either way, so I figured, "Why not?"
George - one of my more hilarious friends, someone I don't really talk sex or politics with, but we can be silly together like nobody's business. I wanted to use all three of my Skinner's Hx clauses, so I gave his Brainer, Lively, my friendship.
Sam - I actually had only met Sam once before, and he's pretty quiet. I tend to yell and jump around a lot when I'm playing a character I really like, and George tends to get a little rowdy too, so I made a point of trying to draw Sam's Angel into my hijinx. When I asked who'd be comfortable being Mercury's lover, he said right away that he'd do it. I am the only out gay or bisexual person in this group, and I don't know Sam very well, so it was both awkward and a good learning experience to role-play being lovers with him.
Joe - the MC. We talk anime, politics, and other hobbies pretty easily, and, like with Buddha and George, I've known Joe for about a year. He ran a game of Nobilis I was (briefly) in, and I like his style - it's all lots-of-questions and what-a-twist!

The game

All of us, plus our biker gang and two nurses, roll up to New Kiev, which Mercury and Jaygrip insist should be called Neo-Kiev, as there is still the original Kiev back in the Ukraine, from which Jaygrip hails. Anyway, we'd decided in pre-play prep that we're a sort of traveling court/hospital/entertainer, so when we ride into town, Lively gets up in hir seat, pink wig atop hir head, and holds a pair of scales in one hand, a gun in the other, with a blindfold on. Justice. ^__^

To everyone's surprise, my go-to was to set up a child care facility; it's also my regular thing, as I retconned. Two siblings ran up to say hi: Iris, the 12yo boy who works at a local "glee house", and Scarlet, his 5yo sister so-named for her big, purple birthmark across her face.
Iris basically left us to take care of his sister while he went to work. Things went awry quickly when Scarlet reached out to pat Lively on the hand, and Lively was wearing hir violation glove.
The kid flew back like she'd been shot, and her nose started bleeding way too much.
Mercury ran and got Jaygrip, the whole timing cursing and muttering, "Fuck fuck fuck, my reptuation's fucking ruined, fuck!" You know, cause if the little girl died, Mercury's day care biz would fold overnight.
Thankfully, the kid woke up after Jaygrip got his hands on her. And she muttered something about raiders. Raiders coming to New Kiev.
Her brother, Iris, had said something about raiders hitting the city. And something about the raiders making people sad. People like him. Conspicuously, Iris and Scarlet's parents had yet to make an appearance. Mercury did the math, and decided it was time to root out the city's cowardly mayor.
A little rumormongering on the way over made it clear that the divorce officiated by Judge Lively for the mayor and his wife, Clarion, had been the source of the trouble - she had been really unhappy about the divorce for some reason (as-yet undefined), so much so that she'd sent armed men to kill New Kievians and try to take over.
When we got to the mayor's residence, the guards refused to let us in, and were very unhappy to see Lively, who was seen as the source of the trouble. Kind of unfair, but it was easier than blaming their boss.
Wire didn't appreciate the guards' attitude, and said, "If you all won't let us see the mayor, we could just leave town today, and never fucking come back."
The guards are pissed to hear that, especially with the recent raids and all - this would be the worst thing that could happen to the town. So, freaking out, the guards grab Wire and throw him inside the house with guns drawn. They leave their junior officer, Pellet, on watch, to keep Mercury and Lively from trying anything fancy.
Mercury promptly promises to fuck Pellet later if he'll let us in. He thinks about it for about five seconds, and then goes in the house. We hear gunshots and wrestling, and then he comes back out with Wire, safe and sound. Pellet then makes a beeline for Mercury, all creeping and trying to sex hir up. "So, we gonna do it now, right?"
Wire looks at both of them, pissed. "You're going to screw him?" he says to Mercury. Zhe leans in, right up in his face, and whispers, "Sorry." Then zhe takes Pellet by the libido and runs off to give him his payment.
Wire, grumbling and jealous, takes Lively with him into the house. They find the mayor in a spider-hole under the main room, and with a little psychic trauma from Lively, convince him to come out and talk.
He does. Now for a little exposition: when Mayor Corbitt divorced his crazy wife Clarion, she decided she'd been robbed - whatever happened to splitting the estate 50/50, eh? Except in this case, Clarion's share would be 50% of New Kiev. Whoops. That's why she's been raiding, why the mayor's been flipping his shit; hell, that's why Iris and Scarlet's parents are fucking dead. [I faintly feel like I should apologize for all the profanity, but reading the AW rulebook makes you want to swear every third word]
Judge Lively thinks for a bit, and render a verdict - Wire should go out into the badlands with his gang and the New Kiev Guard and, with a show of force, get Clarion to sit down to negotiate. Wire is pretty surprised to be selected for this job, but Mayor Corbitt sure as hell won't do it. Corbitt loves the idea - he goes over to a day-glo velvet painting of Lenin, pushes the frame aside, and withdraws a locked trunk containing ... yes. A hammer and sickle. He shouts, "Wire shall be the Acting War-Czar for the duration of hostilities." His whole demeanor's changed - he's upbeat, full of pep, finally acting less like a besieged drug lord and more like the duly-elected mayor of this little fief.
Wire gets paraded out into the town square by Lively, who announces her buddy's new title to the community. Round of applause, cheers, and fade to black.

My only misgiving is that we didn't spend a lot of time on Jaygrip, but there was some very cool stuff in there about messing with gender, comfort levels, and romance-play. Having to pucker up and blow a kiss to a near-total stranger who's playing your boy-girl character's boyfriend? A little weird, a lot awkward, but kind of cool in a "Yep, we're broadening ourselves" kind of way.

Ok, gang - what jumps out at you about all this?
Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress - http://abbysgamerbasement.blogspot.com/

Ron Edwards

Geez, with all that great text to work with, I'm not sure. It makes me extra proud of my book Sex & Sorcery.

One point of interest for me is why Lively's gender is as ambiguous as Mercury's, if I'm reading that correctly. The reason I'm interested is that Mercury's ambiguity is awesome and wonderfully integrated with the other characters' concepts. So at least at this reading it seems to make more sense to me to have all the other characters be un-ambiguous by way of contrast, and I'm not seeing the same thematic charge with Lively's ambiguity. Or maybe I'm not understanding what I'm reading, or some orientation (no pun intended; I mean for the reader) is missing from the post.

I love the idea of a happy-go-lucky Brainer. That's even scarier than the typical grim, cold, glove-snapping stereotype. Reminds me of Dr. Skippy from the kill puppies for satan scenario, a little bit.

The resolution seemed quite climactic. Is the group planning to continue playing? I hope so. One of the strongest features of Apocalypse World, based only on my reading, may be that although the player-characters are fun to play in their initial rather iconic forms, the rules for altering them and retiring them are also very robust. So it's impossible to predict what will become of a given character, and that seems to me to be one of the most productive features of the design.

Best, Ron


Hey Ron, thanks for the reply!

George, Lively's player, seemed to be playing the Brainer as a totally asexual, out-to-lunch sort of figure, someone who seems a bit silly until you remember how dangerous and invasive they can be. It was my assumption that George didn't want Lively's sex or gender to really apply or matter to how the character was being played - to whit, zhe was just Lively.

As for the continuity of the game, we discussed this afterwards and agreed that we all wanted to try and play again, with the same characters and everything. Since our regular Thursday group has had a recurring Smallville game going of late, it might just be that Joe had the idea of punchy closing scenes in his head, all that television sort of stuff going on, if that makes sense.

George and I are quite excited as to what we're going to do as soon as our characters take advances. Lively actually got an advance through this session, thanks to so many highlighted +Weird rolls, and the rest of us are all close, which is nice. I might take my character further in a +Sharp direction; it definitely felt like my Skinner's "toolkit" (that is, source of agency) was a tad narrow, not overly so, but something I'd like to adjust as we go.
Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress - http://abbysgamerbasement.blogspot.com/