Legacy: Finding the Drama

While players in Legacy have plenty of ways to proactively chase their plots and change the world, it’s helpful as a GM to have ways of introducing adversity and opportunity into the character’s lives. Here are some places to find inspiration in Legacy.

First Session

The procedure laid out in Chapter 1 builds a world for your game to happen in, and provides you as GM with the following resources:

The World Before

The ideas you develop for the World Before give you as a GM a general aesthetic for the Tech the characters find, but it also gives the characters an idea of the sort of miracles they can find in the wasteland. When a problem they’re facing could be solved by something within the World Before’s remit, remind them that there could be devices out there able to fix their issue. Reading the Wind and Wasteland Survival are great for planning out and performing these scavenging expeditions.

The Fall

You’ll have a general idea of what your Fall looks like and how the monsters it created manifest. The twisted spawn of the Fall can nearly always be introduced to add pace and danger to a scene (when you feel things are going slowly or someone rolls a miss on a move). Its contaminating effects can also be a source of longer-term plots: threatening the player’s power base or their allies with the Fall’s corruption can be a great way to send people out into the wasteland in search of a cure.

A Looming Threat

The group will have made up a looming threat that will define the first Age of play. As something that has recently come to prominence and is affecting every Family, it’s a great way to get the characters together initially as they work to find a solution. As the game goes on they may split off to pursue their own business, but to begin with this gives you a way to keep everyone together and focused on a single issue.

I’d recommend you plan the looming threat out using the Front framework of Chapter 6, so that you have a range of ways in mind for this to cause issues for the players. The Homeland is sufficiently fragile that any major threat can threaten it on political, technological and military fronts, and making this true of your Front means that all characters can have something to do in addressing it. In later Ages, you can be a bit more flexible with this: a Front that’s comprehensively military in the threats it presents can give a distinct tone to the Age, and the world should be developed enough for problems in other spheres to arise organically.

Family Objectives

Each family looks at their Needs and History and creates a single Objective their family is trying to pursue. If the looming threat is your A-plot – what brings the characters together and sets the tone for the first Age – these Objectives are the B-plot, and are your opportunity to highlight each Family’s situation and ways of doing things. For each Objective, try to link its solution to a location in the wasteland or an NPC settlement in the Homeland so that you can use this Family’s B-plot to detail your settling and plant the seeds for future problems or solutions.

As The Age Turns

In new ages, you’ll have other resources to draw on for your dangers, opportunities and dilemmas:

  • Trials and Fortunes often present a situation that has had some initial effects but is still unresolved. For example, a Family might have been savaged by a monster from the wasteland and must hunt it down, or found a wondrous resource that has provided some intial benefits but needs further work.
  • Enemies and dangers found over the course of the previous Age may still be around, grown and changed in their own way to present new threats.
  • Each player names something new in the wasteland that could be a risk to their Family (or a valuable thing to try and seize).
  • Each Family puts together a new Objective. As already discussed these can be very useful for you.

Legacy: The Road Wars

Post-apocalyptic fiction and over-the-top vehicles are strongly linked in many minds, and if Legacy had been written after seeingFury Road you can bet it would have had more focus devoted to the chariots of the wasteland! The core game’s rules allow you to play a game where these vehicles play a part, but it’d be difficult to give them the focus they deserve without mechanical support. As plenty of people have asked for a way of giving them more prominence, I thought I’d adapt Apocalypse World’s vehicle rules for Legacy’s mechanics to give you something to play with. These haven’t been playtested, but if you give them a try please let me know how it goes!

  • Might: The vehicle’s horsepower and offensive capabilities. Each point gives you a tag to apply to the vehicle’s onboard weapons. Use Might instead of Force when Fiercely Assaulting using the car itself as your weapon (tags: melee, brutal).
  • Chrome: The vehicle’s comfort, attractiveness and handling. Use instead of any other stat when Defusing by manoeuvring out of danger, and subtract from rolls to Shake it Off while in the vehicle.
  • Brawn: The vehicle’s toughness, range, and off-road ability. Acts as Armour for the vehicle and adds to Wasteland Survival rolls.

Points in these probably range from 1 (basic bandit car) to 5 (legendary pre-fall vehicle) – the vehicles you get with Family gear should be 2 points. For every point you put in a stat, name 1 exceptional feature the vehicle has that contributes to that stat.

Vehicles come with 4 harm boxes:

  • Bullet Holed
  • Hard to Steer (-1 Chrome)
  • Engine Burning (-1 Might)
  • Wrecked (cannot be used).

When a vehicle’s armour fails to fully absorb harm, the driver and passengers may also suffer harm at the GM’s discretion, though no more harm than the vehicle suffered. To repair, either exhaust an appropriate surplus in a place of safety or use Shake It Off adding the harm the vehicle’s suffered – adjusting results to make sense with cars rather than people!

What Ho, World! Design Diary 3: Simple Setup and the Virtues of Cards

One of the weaknesses of RPGs compared to other tabletop games can be the high levels of investment a group has to put in before starting to play a game. While the majority of board games aside from the most complex can be set up and ready to go within half an hour, many RPGs need hours of character creation, not to mention however long people need to read through the game text to get a handle on how the game’s system works. With What Ho, World! we’re looking for something much breezier, to match the tone of the genre and make it easier to pick up and play.

Characters in What Ho, World! have three things that define them – their appearance and moves, their place in society, and their assets and needs. Going with an entirely card-based game makes it easy to streamline these three steps, and means that the players won’t need to need to refer to a book or make notes while making their choices.

First, appearance and moves. Each character archetype comes with its own mini-deck giving their basic description and appearance options to select, and 5 move cards to choose from – your 3 unchosen move cards then flip over into tokens to spend to get extra effects from moves.

Second, relationships. Each archetype also has two of these and each is unbalanced – one is in your favour, while the other works against you. For example, the Gentleman’s Gentleman is implicitly trusted by their employer, but struggles to keep their composure in the presence of someone else. Your character card reminds you how you can use your positive relationship, while your negative relationship card is passed to the player who it’s with.

Finally, each character in What Ho, World! has Assets they control and can use in game, and Goals they need to meet. Assets are things like A Fabulous Motor CarAn Engagement Ring, or A Journal Full of Secrets – things which can help you in your plans, but might need a bit of lateral thinking. Goals, on the other hand, are obligations or desires your character needs to fulfill, and could be anything from Get Out of Debt to Marry Above Your Station. They come paired on cards, and can be independent or linked (i.e. Asset: A Precocious Ward/Goal: Get the Ward Out of Trouble). Each player gets two cards, and should flesh them out and tweak them to fit into their character concept and their social position.

By the end of this process each player has:

  • A named, described character with two unique abilities and a pool of resources to spend.
  • Relationships with at least two other characters.
  • Assets to draw upon and Goals to aim for.

Ending up with a card spread looking something like this:

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Next time: Playtest Documents!

What Ho, World! Design Diary 2: Stats and Moves

Thanks for joining us again for another look at the What Ho, World! design process! This time, I’m looking at the basic nuts and bolts of the game’s system.

Stats

Once you have the archetypes you want sorted (see part 1)  you’re most of the way to deciding on the stats you want. I tend to do this by looking at the different characters and working out what sets them apart from each other, what sort of things they’re all reasonably competent in and what things none of them are good at. In the source fiction for What Ho, World! people’s interaction with society and social mores is the key focus, so we needed to frame stats in relation to that with each character having some way of succeeding in society. The main distinction comes in whether you excel through perfect charm, quick thinking, roguish contempt, or knowledge of connections and etiquette – giving us our four stats.

Stat images are courtesy of game-icons.net

Wits (♦)

The intellect to guess other people’s choices, the quick thinking to take advantage of a momentary opportunity, and the insight to spot the tells others would want to keep hidden.

Grace (♥)

That combination of poise, elegance and charm that makes people pay attention to your words, desire your love and respect, and overlook your faux pas.

Knowhow (♣)

Knowledge is power, and with high Knowhow you’re able to use that power to know the right people for the job, the correct etiquette for a marriage proposal, and the perfect quote or fact to drive your point home.

Skulduggery (♠)

While society is bound by rules of convention and class, there is much to be gained by going outside the lines. You use Skulduggery to get leverage on people, to pick pockets, to sneak about and to avoid attention.

Using Stats

In a standard Powered by the Apocalypse game your character would then have a rating in each stat between -1 and +3, and added to a 2d6 roll such that a 6 or below is a failure, a 7-9 is a mixed success and 10+ is a complete success. For What Ho, World! we wanted to make the game completely card-based, though, so a different setup was in order. Taking inspiration from Avery McDaldno’s Dream Askew, the basic idea is that if someone is attempting something the default is a partial success, boosted to a full success by spending a limited resource. Failures, on the other hand, occur when the player wants them to and give the character more of that limited resource.

To adapt this for What Ho, World! characters will have a pool of ‘tokens’, represented by double-ended cards that count as a token for one stat or another. The cards a character has available to them vary according to their starting moves, because you flip the unchosen move cards to get your pool. Once you’ve chosen your two moves, you’ll have three of these token cards, giving you 6 different tokens to use and 0-3 of each stat. When you spend a token, it’s tucked under the relevant move card and unusable until you can trigger your archetype’s refresh condition to free it up again (in exchange for introducing some complication into your character’s life).

This leads to three types of moves; the first, where you spend tokens to get an additional benefit:

Bamboozle

When you pull the wool over someone’s eyes with fast talk and misdirection, choose one:

  • They come away suspicious of your motives.
  • Your extravagant patter attracts further attention.
  • They repeat your story to others with their own embellishments.

They’re so entranced you can take something from them or place something on them.
Say where they go when you stop talking to them.

The second, where the default is to spend tokens and there’s worse results if you don’t:

Match-Making

When you’re convinced that two other people would be a good match in business or romance and let everyone know about it, spend:

To convince society at large that they would be a good match.
To convince them to give your proposal a shot.

If you spend no tokens, the match gains traction so long as you accept a match for yourself proposed by the target’s player(s).

And the third, where the move can only be activated if you spend a token:

Steely Glare
When you fix someone with your glare and spend ♦, they must choose one:

  • Stumble their words and reveal a secret motive or plan.
  • Flee the scene.
  • Offer to perform a task for you.

One side benefit of this way of doing things is that you can choose to spend multiple tokens on a move if you want to activate multiple effects of it. This system still has a few rough edges, but I’m looking forward to seeing it work in play – playtesting documents should be available soon if you’re interested!

Next Time: Character Creation and Game Setup