One of my groups just wrapped up a Dungeon World campaign, so we’re planning to play a few one-shots from various…

One of my groups just wrapped up a Dungeon World campaign, so we’re planning to play a few one-shots from various…

One of my groups just wrapped up a Dungeon World campaign, so we’re planning to play a few one-shots from various systems while we prep for our next campaign. I’ve taken on running a one-shot in Apocalypse World, which is a game I’ve always wanted to try. Up to now, my only experience has been running Dungeon World; Apocalypse World looks very similar, mechanically, but with less focus on heroics and nods to D&D mechanics and more possibilities for inter-character conflicts, as well as interesting principles like “Respond with fuckery and intermittent rewards.”

For those of you who’ve run both systems, what do you wish you’d known going in the first time you ran Apocalypse World?

7 thoughts on “One of my groups just wrapped up a Dungeon World campaign, so we’re planning to play a few one-shots from various…”

  1. Ok, so I haven’t run both. But I’ve run lots of DW, and just played in my first AW game (which was excellent). I think the player conflict (PvP) part would come up more, and so understanding how to deal with that.

    I’m also curious what split of people just define the Holding in game but assume a setting with the flavor of the rules (mad max-ish?), versus do a full on “what’s the world like” type roundtable, where you end up with any sort of crazy (waterworld, alien invader apocalypse, etc.)

  2. Tomer Gurantz

    Given that it’s a one-shot, I’m planning to define a basic world backdrop in advance, with some buy-in and discussion over our Discord prior to the session.  Right now the concept is the remnants of humanity have been rounded up and placed into a ‘wildlife preserve’ on the island of Oahu, with mysterious overlords dropping off supplies and weapons intermittently to observe how the humans interact.  We probably won’t define too much more than that in advance since the interesting details will likely depend heavily on the kinds of characters we’re going to be exploring.

  3. It’s hard to do true one-shots with PbtA games because charactr creation takes up quite a bit of the first session.

    The most important thing, IMO, about taking DW players (or more traditional RPG players) into Apocalypse World or Urban Shadows or similar is that you’re not a party. Everyone is capable and sufficient on their own, and don’t rely on the others simply to get through some dungeon. You might need assistance from others sometimes, but those favors shouldn’t be given just because everyone is a PC.

  4. Just as an FYI, my understanding is that Apocalypse World doesn’t really ‘get going’ until the third or fourth sessions. Something to be aware of heading into a one shot scenario might be that it’s not going to really shine without that backlog of events/story defined by the first pair of or few sessions.

  5. jon boylan And to that end, coming out of a 4-hour con game that did feel really satisfying even with full char gen, I’d add the following notes on what worked well:

    – Definitely make part of the character questions focus on what the PCs have recently struggled against (maybe even thought they overcame), which you can tie into the session in some manner; Maybe they didn’t really fix the situation, or caused new rivalries to spawn.

    – Agree with the statement of “each PC is sufficient on their own” / not a party. Stoke those conflicts, but also find out where they have had common ground. They aren’t a party, but the story will be about how they interact (for good or ill)

  6. Tomer Gurantz that’s awesome to hear! I’ve only had the fortune to play in one very brief AW game, and never at a con unfortunately, but I’m primed for another opportunity. I think one of my goals this year is to run a game of 2nd Edition.

    Thanks for tips!

  7. I have mixed feelings about one-shots. The trouble is that when you have a good one-shot, you can develop some really cool characters and settings in just that short period. But then, it’s like a promising new TV show that gets cancelled right after the pilot. I want to find out what happens! You play just long enough to get a taste for how the characters tick and the kinds of things that might develop. It’s still a lot of fun and it’s great experience to explore a range of different characters, but there’s almost always a part of me that wishes it could’ve gone just a little bit longer. Those momentary fragments of ephemeral experience vanish so quickly and mysteriously that it’s almost as if they left before they even had a chance to arrive. But I suppose that’s as good a reason as any to come back to the table. 🙂

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