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:


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.


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:


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:


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

What Ho World Design Diary 1: The Basics

We’re big fans of the whimsical, free-wheeling chaos of books like P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories, Fred and Ginger films like Top Hat and The Gay Divorcee and similar works, so after I’d finished putting together Legacy I thought it’d be a nice change – not to mention a challenge – to build a game that tried to evoke that feel.

We started with a simple idea – a hybrid of the one-session improvised chaos of Jacob Morningstar’s Fiasco, coupled with the playbook and move framework of Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World. Building from that, we set these goals for the system:

  • Flavourful but flexible character archetypes.
  • Mechanics that are consistent with the source material.
  • Simple and streamlined set up and play.
  • Good pacing and spotlight distribution without needing a GM.

The forth one’s probably going to be the hardest, but each present their own challenges. I’ll begin these diaries with our ideas for the first and most important one: interesting character archetypes consistent with the source material.


From the idiotic but endlessly optimistic Bertie Wooster to the relentlessly cheerful but ruthlessly ambitious Elizabeth Mapp the characters in the source material are active,  eccentric in their strengths and heedless of their weaknesses. There are other similarities – none of them reject the dance of society completely, violence is limited to threats and the occasional coshings, and overly grand ambitions (like the fascist dreams of Roderick Spode) are roundly mocked.

The first step in working out how characters are made in a game like this is to work out the main archetypes characters fall into, and the basic actions they all tend to perform. After a lot of enjoyable hours of watching, reading and listening, we came up with these archetypes:

The Gentleman or Lady of Leisure

A social butterfly very much at home in the galas and clubs of high society but utterly naive about anything else, the gentleman or lady of leisure is constantly in motion – getting engaged and breaking it off, showing impeccable etiquette and then flouting conventions, they can cope with pretty much anything so long as nobody pins them down and pens them in.

A little note on gender – we’re not making a game where your character’s gender is any more important than you want it to be. In the best of the source material, gender discrimination isn’t a factor – Bertie Wooster and Stephanie ‘Stiffy’ Byng are equally free to do whatever they like with whoever they like, and Aunt Agatha and Sir Watkyn Basset have a similar level of social power. A character’s capabilities in this game come from their playbook rather than their gender, and while that’s made the names of this playbook and the next one a little clunky we think it’s the best call. 

The Gentleman’s Gentleman or Lady’s Lady

Where the Gentleman/Lady of Leisure is mercurial the Gentleman’s Gentleman or Lady’s Lady is solid and dependable, always ready to offer sage advice, a bracing drink, or surprising skills from their time in the forces. Even when they’re unavailable to assist their master, it’s only because a more urgent or important errand has taken up their attention.

The Aged Relative

Their years have given the Aged Relative a healthy disregard for society’s mores, as well as the status needed to get away with it. Whether they’re foisting an inconvenient duty onto their nephew, throwing a grand gala to embarrass their social rivals, or demonstrating stealth and blackjacking skills that rival the best footpad, they’re an indomitable juggernaut of a force.

The Highbrow

Whether they’re an artist, a priest or a scholar, the Highbrow has been given a license by society to ignore social conventions, think strange thoughts and create shocking works – so long as they don’t go too far. Their moves play into this duality, whether it’s through being so oblivious you’re impervious to social influence and knowing the most obscure, strangely useful facts, or cannily putting together work whose ideas are just shocking enough to spread through the chattering classes like wildfire.

The Pillar of Society

The Pillar of Society is a key figure of the establishment – a judge, a major, a minor royal or the chair of the local Women’s Institute. Their word carries weight, and their judgement is feared by all, but their doctrinal mindset leaves them open to crafty plots and fast talk. Further, the organisation that is the source of their power can demand the Pillar’s attention at inconvenient times.

Next up: The basic mechanics and moves

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