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Tabletop Game / Apocalypse World

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This is The End. Now play.

Apocalypse World is a Tabletop RPG from Vincent and Meguey Baker of lumpley games, also known for Dogs in the Vineyard. It focuses on a post-apocalyptic setting, but also supplies suggestions for hacking the game for use with other settings—see Powered by the Apocalypse. It is available here:

The second edition of the game has been funded on Kickstarter.

This game contains examples of:

  • After the End: The default is roughly fifty years after a Societal Collapse apocalypse. What exactly happened is left up to the MC and players.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey! / Cargo Cult: Absolutely possible with the Hocus class' cult, or NPC cults.
  • Anyone Can Die: One of the 'Principles' for MCs is 'Look Through Crosshairs,' which essentially translates to this. And NPCs die VERY easily.
  • The Apunkalypse: Befitting to its name, Apocalypse World centers around sexy, edgy, and awesome survivors braving a horrific but cool post-apocalyptic world. The principle "Barf forth apocalyptica" encapsulates the aesthetic.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: As a general rule. The Chopper and Hardholder classes even have moves allowing them to use their Asskicking stat (Hard) to exercise their authority.
  • Badass Crew: The Operator class' whole shtick is that they run one of these. Although if it's made up entirely of NPCs, they die as easily as anyone else.
  • Class Change Level Reset: One of the advanced level-up options is to have your character change class, which involves giving up everything that ties them to their current class (up to and including leadership of a settlement).
  • Combat Medic: The Angel class can easily be this. One of their moves gives them extra armour when they are healing people.
  • Continuing is Painful: When a player character is very badly damaged (and probably unconscious), they will just keep taking damage until they die, unless they're saved by another player...or they can take a Debility, which permanently reduces one of their stats by one point (a significant amount when stats only go up to three).
  • Disaster Scavengers: All over the place. A Hardholder rules over quite a few, by default.
  • Driving Question: "What caused the Apocalypse, and how can we fix it?" is suggested as an overarching plot/theme.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Maybe. Each class has something different happen if they have sex, so if the party is made up of a Gunlugger, a Brainer and a Skinner, then lots of sex is pretty likely. On the other hand, if the party is made up of a Driver, a Touchstone and an Operator...
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The MC is encouraged to make everything a threat of some kind – to resources, to stability, or just to your life and limb. This includes everyone and everything you meet, and everywhere you go.
  • The Face: The Skinner class fits perfectly into this, as they're all about social interaction. They even have an ability that can make NPCs unwilling to act against them, which is pretty remarkable in a setting like this.
  • The Faceless: The Faceless class. If their mask is removed, it's always treated as The Reveal, stunning everyone nearby and freaking the Faceless out, with varying negative effects.
  • The Famine: Codified as one of the basic post-apocalyptic scarcities that can serve as catalysts for in-game storylines and events.
  • Human Popsicle: The Quarantine class. They get a base full of wonderful stuff, but they don't understand the culture and they aren't prepared for the damage The Maelstrom can do to one's psyche.
  • Level Up At Intimacy +/-4: When your Hx with another character hits either top or bottom, it resets to almost neutral and you get experience.
  • Machine Empathy: Implied to be how The Savvyhead class fixes things - their highest stat isn't Sharp, but Weird.
  • Made of Iron: The Gunlugger and the Faceless tend to be this. The Gunlugger, notably, can take a move making them as tough as a small group of people.
  • Mask of Power: The Faceless' mask can be played as this, depending on which moves they have and whether they lose them without the mask.
  • Mind Rape: The Brainer class (psychics, essentially) can start with an item that allows them to do things which normally require 'time and intimacy' with simple skin contact. It's called the ''Violation Glove'' .
  • No Experience Points for Medic: Completely averted by the Angel, the designated medic playbook: if anything, they have the potential to gain more XP than anyone else, because for every point of harm a PC (read: Angel, because no one else really has healing abilities) heals another PC of, the former gains Hx+1 with the latter, quickly maxing out and resetting Hx for bonus XP.
  • No-Sell: The Battlebabe's special sex move automatically cancels out any sex move their partner(s) may have.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Cool and Sharp both have this reputation. The other three stats apply to fairly specific situations (Hard is for hurting or threatening people, Hot is for persuading people, and Weird is for going on bizarre psychic dream-quests), while Sharp gives you bonuses to any other roll as long as you follow the MC's advice, and Cool is for almost EVERYTHING else.
    • To a lesser extent, one can build one's character to make this the case for whichever stat they prefer, so that they (for example) roll against Weird whenever they would normally roll Cool.
  • Plot Armor: The "looking through the crosshairs" principle the MC is required to follow generally means that any NPC may be offed with no build-up at any time. There are two exceptions to this, however: a PC who has been retired to safety via an advanced improvement and an NPC who has been turned into an ally via a 12+ roll on the advanced Seduce or Manipulate move. They are (mostly) safe from the MC's capriciousness.
  • Preacher Man / Sinister Minister: The Hocus class is all about this – a spiritual leader with a customisable cult of followers.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: The Psychic Maelstrom functions a bit like this: one of the basic moves (things any class can do) is to 'Open their Brain' to it and get psychic answers about whatever they want, often in a completely baffling way.
  • Relationship Values: Every PC has a 'History' stat for every other PC, which indicates not their feelings towards that character, but rather how well they understand them. This stat is rolled against whenever a player wants to help (or hinder) another's roll. It's initially set by choosing options during character creation which determine certain feelings or past events (the Faceless thinks someone is pretty, and someone once helped them do something nasty, for example).
  • Religion is Magic: Mostly religion is people worshipping water, machinery, or Abe Lincoln, but it is possible for the Hocus class to play this somewhat straight, notably with a move that gives them armour (as long as they aren't wearing any other armour) with no real explanation other than 'from the gods.'
  • Role-Playing Endgame: Players can retire their characters to safety as a special Advanced Upgrade. A retired PC becomes an NPC, but unlike almost all others, the Game Master is explicitly forbidden from messing with their lives (i.e. they get Plot Armor for their trouble). The game encourages players to retire long-lived characters with the debility mechanic, which imposes permanent penalties on their stats every time they're critically injured, — accruing too many of them makes characters largely unplayable.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: Again, very easy for the Hocus' cult to be this.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: All of the Brainer's moves have long and... brainy-sounding names.
  • Shout-Out: The Faceless character type has a move letting them smash through scenery. It's called "Oh yeah!"
  • Uniqueness Rule: This game and most games Powered by the Apocalypse have a rule that stipulates that only one copy of a playbook can be in the game at any time. This is justified by a form of enforced Cast Speciation, where a player with the Hardholder playbook is not a Hardholder but the Hardholder in the context of the story.
  • Wasteland Warlord: The Hardholder class is all about being one of these, as the leader of a settlement who got there by Asskicking Leads to Leadership.
  • You Bastard!: From the Operator's playbook no less. The Operator can have a move to interfere with people's action by rolling for Cool, the playbook comments by calling the player out as an asshole for taking this literal dick move.