by Delos

Apocalypse World One Shot

So this weekend I’ll get to run an Apocalypse World (AW) game for some folks down in Milwaukee. We’re just doing a one shot since I can only make it down once every few months, and I realized that I have never ran AW as just a one shot. So now I was wondering what’s the best way to go about doing it. Thankfully I got some wonderful advice from the G+ community. First off here is what I have to work with.

I know that I have 5-6 players attending. All but one of them have played AW before. I will have 4-8 hours to work with (depends on if our real life kids can entertain themselves for a while). I’m going to be using most/all of the core play books and a few of the limited edition play books written by Vincent.


  • Get to playing as fast as possible
  • Create dynamic and unbalanced power struggles
  • Establish PC-NPC-PC relationships asap

So how to go about this? Well I’m stealing an idea from Trevis Martin where the game will take place in/near a race track and open air mall. The race track might become something else (arena, concert hall, etc) but I’ll decide that when we get there. As for play book selection I’m going to go with a leading question method.

  • “Ok so the world ended 50 years ago and the psychic maelstrom has ripped through the world leaving its mark on everything. Before we get into the setting too much let’s figure a few things out. Who here at the table is in charge?”
    • Wait for someone to volunteer
      • “Awesome, are you in charge because you own everything (hands over Hardholder), because you have a gang of vicious thugs (Chopper), or because people want to follow you (Hocus)?”
  • “Which one of you are a pain in the ass to the leader?”
    • Wait for volunteer
      • “Great, are you a pain because you don’t give a damn about the rules and do your own thing (Battlebabe), you’re a psycho mind humper (Brainer), or do you terrify everyone in the hard hold (Faceless)?”
  • “Which of you is the biggest celebrity in the hard hold?”
    • Wait for victim volunteer
      • “Super, are in well known because you are the best at the death races (Driver), you’re the best gladiator in the arena (Gun Lugger), or you put on an amazing show and drive everyone wild (Skinner)?”
        • This will determine what the race track/arena/concert hall turns into.
  • “Which of you wants the celebrity as your own?”
    • Wait for volunteer
      • “Great, do you want them because you want to add them to your collection (Hoarder), you want them to join your secret society (Macaluso), or are they the key to your visions (Touchstone)?”
  • “Alright, everyone else, what’s your deal?”
    • Hand out the rest of the sheets

This should give us 2 really good power struggles right out of the gate. I don’t know how far we’ll get with the stories, but hopefully we’ll to some satisfying exchanges. I’ll be sure to give a play report once I get back home. Thanks for reading and thanks again for everyone who gave me advice on G+.


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