With three gaming sessions with this Apocalypse World hack I am beginning to see where I want this game to go. I started out with of what I was doing and what the game is about but have ended up realising there is a lot to change.
I want this game to resemble X-Files with working class characters. Sessions should be about mysteries the group is trying to solve (without getting killed). The deeper they get into the mystery the more entangled with unanswered questions they become. The action and the story flow should be fast enough to be easily narrated but still retain the elements of this being a game.
When writing this hack I started out with a lot of setting rules. Most of them were tested in my own gaming system and only transferred to this new engine. Some of them were stolen from other AWhack (namely tremulus). Little by little I have been removing them from the rules. The last one to go was the Sanity damage mechanic. The reason for removing of the rules has been mostly the same for each case. The rule does not support the style AWengine presents. It might hinder the narrative with too many rolls or just be too restrictive. Or we have just forgotten to use the rule. This was actually the case with the Sanity damage.
When the characters have encountered something horrible I’ve found it much easier to make them just roll Act Under Pressure and build upon that than forcing them to lose another for of hit points. I trust my players (and most of AWengine players for that matter) to develop their character in a way that explains his mind maybe getting a little corrupted on the process of fighting the unknown terrors. I still haven’t found a game where the insanities the characters could gain actually made the game any better.
There are also things that work but still might need changing. As Aki said in his earlier post the characters are pretty good at what they do. When they can also use advances to increase their traits I am now considering of reducing their starting values. As it is the failures that make the game more challenging and/or interesting I think their number should be increased. For example we see a lot of Investigate action during our gaming sessions and it rarely fails. To me this seems like a point that needs a little grinding. Maybe this move could use a downside or maybe simply decreasing the trait values could do the trick.
All in all I am very happy of how the Wayward Sons is coming together. We have had good sessions and the system is quite suitable for this kind of game and this kind of gaming group. I was really pleased and new I had done at least something right when during our last session one of the players compared the story to X-Files.
I think lowering the starting stats is a good idea. Besides making these characters more like normal humans, it might also be hard to leave room for all the strange stuff you might want players to learn in the future through taint or other means. After all, 2d6 isn’t an overly large playing field.