Well then folks, that was it. The last gasp of our Apocalypse World game, Frozen City. I feel like now that we have produced the greatest ever piece of post apocalyptic fiction ever, its time for a change. George Miller, I’ll be expecting those Oscars in the mail.
Its been utterly wild, its been weird, its been feral (just like the fantastic McDaldno taught me not so long ago). I love Apocalypse World, and though dropping newbies in what might be called the deep end felt like a risk initially, our little ducks swam on just fine.
I mean, they destroyed the paltry remnants of any civilization the Frozen City had been able to hang onto, but… hey, it was good while it lasted. I feel like with new catchphrases along the lines of “weird highlighted episode”, “NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH” and “the Winter of our discuntent” now circulating happily in our vernacular, I would say that the end of the end of the world was a reasonable price to pay.
Anyway, I felt like you might get lonely for post apocalyptic shenanigan now that we’ve hit our little finale, so I figured I’d point you in the direction of some of the stuff I was devouring while the Frozen City was crystalising like lake water in my brain.
If you like Actual Play Podcasts, I would recommend the following for their rather charming post-apocalyptic playouts.
The Jankcast‘s Apocalypse World sessions, both the original run of Leviathan and the follow up Black Diamond make great listens, both as great stories and fun gaming groups. Its got everything; comings of age, lost love, and the fires of revolution. They also play AW’s younger siblings, Monsterhearts and Dream Askew (McDaldno again!) which are great, and you’ve probably already heard me ranting about.
You Don’t Meet in an Inn are a charming bunch from Canada with a taste for playing more obscure RPGs, Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts once again among them. I would say that their take is a little more classic than that of the Jankcast, complete with scooter gangs, fuel wars and surprisingly jovial cannibals. Don’t let that put you off though; their gloriously awkward senses of humour put them in a realm of their own.
If you don’t mind a stash of text, Derendel’s long running Apocalypse World game The Climbers is one of rpg.net’s jewels. It has also influenced me to include ‘retire as Conan’ as one of my long term life goals.
Then there was this. But I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about this any more than I have.
Anyway, hope y’all are still having fun. All the best, and I won’t see you all in our upcoming casts. Cause that’s not really how this medium works.
All things end. With the last bastions of civilization burning and the sanity of saviours falling apart, Barbarianna the Gunlugger, Dent the Faceless, October the Skinner and the Angel called The Doctor decide who will live and who will die.
Witness the end of the end times.
If you would prefer to stream it, the episodes are available on Podomatic. At least until I learn how to make widgets…
Apocalypse World is a product of Vincent Baker and Lumpley Games, soon to enter its second edition. Feast upon its furious corpus.
The Frozen City is a weird place, and with the last vestiges of civilization crashing down around their ears, some are left out in the cold… will Dent the Faceless, Lemma the Savvyhead, October the Skinner and the Angel called the Doctor puzzle a way out of this long night?
Apocalypse World is a product of Vincent Baker and Lumpley Games. Buy it, and be devoured by its numerous tendrils.
There’s a pretty big appeal to the Post-Apocalyptic genre.
Yeah, I know. Statement of the century. This is well trod ground – this isn’t a first on this topic, even for me – but I promised y’all an article, so I suppose you’re getting it whether its decent or not.
I’ve thought quite a lot about the appeal of stories following a civilization annihilating catastrophe, and its one that persists across every medium I can call to mind; it is especially prolific in gaming, but lets just say that George Miller didn’t find all of those Oscars under the couch.
On pondering what it is that draws us to these kinds of stories, I’ve heard a few threads echoing back around. Some theories, particularly those that follow the zombie subgenre, gather that we gain a kind of catharsis from watching otherwise good people crack under the pressures of scarcity and violence. A theme that seems to surface in a lot of roleplaying games, from Dungeons and Dragons to Numenara, is the appeal of a return to an age of exploration, and the chance to grow rich picking over the bones of a dead civilization. Some works use the breakdown of law as an excuse for gratuitous hyper-violence, but others use it to examine the formation of culture and faith in times of flux. Fury Road even found a way to do both.
I’ve never felt particularly satisfied with any of these assumptions. Desperation isn’t something you need to destroy civilization to find, as Shakespeare was so happy showing us, and the exploratory angle is one that overlaps heavily with your fantasy and western genres. So I look for a different point of appeal.
I believe, and this is something that Apocalypse World really hammers home, is that it has to do with agency.
I’ve frequently joked that libertarians are anarchists without the spine to accept their own decisions, and Apocalypse World throws us right into the anarchy of a world where rule limited by the far range of your eyesight and weaponry. The bonds of civilization have been shattered, and this allows our central players, against a chorus of devourers, demagogues and desperate lost souls, to do something that civilization could never allow them by its own nature.
It allows them to reshape the world in their own image.
This has been, I believe, a huge part of the recent appeal of Apocalypse World, and has kept wind in the sails for its second edition. Your players set out into a world that they create, with the only assumptions being that civilization is long gone and that the world has been enveloped by a miasma of telepathic resonance, the Psychic Maelstrom. The depopulated world, and the character’s relative power within it, allow them to come into this setting and live out their own destiny, unhindered by those more powerful than they are, whether that destiny is as conqueror, saint or destroyer.
For those of you who have been following the podcast, you’ll know that the destiny crafted by an impulsive artist, a mutant prairie dog and a deluded, theatrically inclined murderer is going to be pretty weird.
Ultimately, I think one of Apocalypse World’s most appealing features is almost a surrender of agency from the GM (or MC in this case) to their players; not complete, but more in the manner of giving them enough rope to hang themselves, a sentiment that has rather pervaded my MCing career. Baker has encoded into his rules an idea that has always worked well for me, and that is that roleplayers will make their own trouble. my players have always wanted to make their stories interesting as much as their MC does.
Apocalypse World has the advantage of letting a character choose when they die.
Some hang on despite the horrifying costs, and some let it go. We’ll have our share of both as Frozen City runs to its grim, exultant finale.
Hope you’re all enjoying the ride.
With Barbariana and Lemma on hiatus, Dent the Faceless, October the Skinner and the Angel called the Doctor must vie with one of the Frozen City’s power players, Mother Superior. Problem is, somebody murdered her twin sister – not to name names – and maybe someone let the cat out of the bag.
May the clusterfuck ensue.
Apocalypse World is a product of Lumpley Games and Vincent Baker. Second Edition is coming, so y’all should check that out.
The grim chill of the Frozen City lays its claim on yet another victim, and Pedro the Marmot leaves our stage. Those who remain, then, are stuck with the unsavoury job of coping with the legacy of chaos he left behind.
Barbariana the Gunlugger and Lemma the Savvyhead join forces to elevate their destructive potential to alarming new heights, while October the Skinner struggles to keep the revelatory frenzy of her followers in check. Dent the Faceless finds himself once again drawn into the role of warlord he changed so much to escape, while from Mother Superior’s fortress comes an Angel who answers only to “the Doctor”…
Apocalypse World was developed by Vincent Baker. More info can be found here http://apocalypse-world.com/. Second Edition is underway, so get excited!
After laying waste to some small patch of civilization’s remains, and watching the party bus wander into the snow, and our strange heroes must face the consequences. Barbariana the Gunlugger, Lemma the Savvyhead, October the Skinner and Dent the Faceless dive to protect their beliefs, while Pedro the Marmot crawls to confront the inevitable…
This is our ongoing session using Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World.
After an attempt to mollify the usually violent Shingles with a bath of psychic gravy, the chill sun rises over what may be the greatest sheet metal heist the Frozen City has seen since the Golden Age. New arrivals Lemma the Savvyhead and Birdie the Hocus make their move on the status quo, and along with Dent the Faceless, Barbariana the Gunlugger, Pedro the Marmot and October the ill-fated Skinner… there’s only one way that ever seems to end.
This is a broadcast of our game of Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker. Most of the last few years has been Powered by the Apocalypse, so if you’re not on the bandwagon yet now is the time.
Happy Midsummer listeners! And as our gift to you in the festive season, we bring you… the gratuitous shipping episode! Dent and Barbariana! Wicked and October! Pedro and his ego! Mind I never said any of these would end well…
But as another snowy day drags on in the Frozen City, new arrivals Lemma the Savvyhead and Birdie the Hocus bring the party bus to town, and along with Dent the Faceless, Barbariana the Gunlugger, Pedro the Marmot and October the ill-fated Skinner, enter terrible bargains for the future.
It is said that in the Golden Age of legend, if one spoke the right magic words into the contraption at the golden arched food hall, then food would rain forth into your vehicle, more than it was safe to eat. Dent the Faceless, Pedro the Marmot and October the Skinner must have chosen the wrong words, because all they got was a berserk clown trying to kill them with a chainsaw. Joined this session by Barbariana the Gunlugger, they must fight their way clear of the deep-fryer of death!
Apocalypse World was written by Vincent Baker, and has exploded onto the rpg scene like nothing else in the last few years. Read it. Seriously.