In two years on intense playtesting, Vitoria’s Cutthroats have played at least 8 campaigns with more than 5 sessions (of average 4 hours), with a total roster of 10 players and two GMs. Of course, the core group is much smaller, 4 players who played only 3 campaigns that exceeded 10 sessions. Our current one has been the longest so far with 16 sessions, 5 Wonder and 7 Ages altogether.
Obviously, some patterns became clear in the development and flow of these campaigns. And I would like to share them with you and contrast them with your own experiences. I hope this discussion helps novice players to find their rhythm and GMs to at least know a bit what to expect. So, just going an extra mile to keep it clear: this is NOT an instruction or a how-to-play article, just a collection of OUR observations on OUR campaigns.
The first Era is obvious and very cemented in our perception: The Era of Troubles, where everyone must deal with Threats generated by History and Backstory. It may take more than one Age and see a couple of Character generations go by until things fall into place. And not every Threat will be neutralized – some will simply be integrated into the Homeland, becoming Factions, environmental conditions and the like. Cooperation tends to be intense in this period as Families simply must struggle to survive, but small betrayals or hard deals might pop up and set the mood for the coming ages. Families must work hard either to win more Surpluses or erase their Needs.
The next step tends to be The Era of Wonders, where Families apply their Surpluses either to solve the remaining Threats once and for all, improve the Homeland as a whole, or simply impose their view on the Fiction. If a GM focuses heavily on Character development, this Era might happen further down the road. It may also be delayed if players are Resource starved – be it because they lacked the drive to search for them or because the GM might have not rewarded them enough with Finding a Surplus. GMs beware! You also don’t want to drown them in Surpluses or else you will suffer a Wonder rush, which will accelerate Fiction too much. In any case, by now players most likely will take the reins of the Fiction and the GM will have plenty of story seeds from the Turn of Ages and Wonders to deal with, which takes us to…
The Era of Heroes. It is ushered by a combination of Families exhausting their Surpluses on their Wonder building efforts and plot hooks generated by the Turns of Ages and Wonders demanding extra attention. In any case, fiction slows down and focuses on Character development as they deal with powerful Factions and new Threats over a much changed and colourful Homeland. Also, with the tools provided by the Wonders and evolved Families, they can now affect change on a deeper level, to the point that the impact of Role fulfilment elevates them to historical (almost mythical, in fact) relevance. Families perform their duties toward the Homeland, deal with their allies and vie for influence at all levels. Wonders are still built, sure, but the Fiction’s focus clearly changes to the Characters’ level.
But what happens when the Homeland matures to the point where the regular person in the Homeland’s streets is not any longer under the direct and obvious strain of the Fall? Surely, your chronicles might never reach this point as your players devastate the Homeland and everything everyone tries to rebuild. But odds are in favour of civic Wonders, such as The Capital or Energy Revolution (and the upcoming Engine of Life’s Transportation Hub and Green Defiance) changing the scenario forever… and for the better! At some point, your group might end up turning the Homeland into a nation, with its own particular shared culture, economy and heroes.
Then what? Is it even within Legacy’s scope?
Definitely! This is The Age of Nations. The Homeland is not enough anymore and it’s time to open up the map and find what now lies beyond the Wastelands. The Age of Discovery is tailor-made to jumpstart this Era, but it just scratches the surface. There is much more out there than just savages and Hostile Grounds! What other civilizations managed to crawl their way up from the Fall? How did they organize themselves? How will you all deal with the shock of finding out these answers? They may seem monolithic in their alien ways, but be sure they are probably a patchwork of different factions glued together by necessity, pretty much like your own Families. From the tension of first contact diplomacy to the despair of all-out wars, every Character can and should play a vital role, counting with their Families’ full support.
(Coming to think of it The Walking Dead TV series has been following along very similar lines, don’t you think?)
The GM now should shape the Fiction to remind the group of the harsh realities and elements of a post-apocalyptic scenario and its threats. But everything should be bigger and the stakes should be much higher: more people, more weapons, more resources, more pollution… graver consequences. And it is still very much Legacy: Life Among the Ruins!
From here on we honestly don’t know, but we suppose the setting should march towards an Endgame. At some point, the Families might have balanced their world towards civilization. Or it is time to face off the utmost reasons behind the Fall on a final showdown where everything hangs on the scales – as our newest supplement, End Game, evokes and implies. A third option is The Race to the Stars, a Wonder from the upcoming book End Game. It’s a great tool to extend the chronicle’s length, by repeating the cycle from Age of Wonders on to a grander scale.
I tend to end chronicles with a strong focus on closing Characters’ arcs, mirroring the developments of the Homeland and their Families – but that is just my personal style. A new and harsher Fall, the surpassing of the glories of Before, the challenges to achieve and maintain the Next World – it all should be felt by a closer look and focus on the Characters. Let them witness and feel they embody the best and worst of their people and times. But go ahead and give them closure. Take responsibility like never before as the Narrator, find out the meaning and an underlying theme from all your stories and conclude it all focusing on these fundamental dilemmas or challenges.
But now, it’s hard not to remember my favourite quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:
“Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: ‘Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here’”.
Have fun and tells us about your group’s experiences!
One thing people new to Apocalypse World-derived games trip up on is how quickly you can resolve a situation – Fiercely Assault, for example, lets you finish a fight in a single roll. Douglas Mota, co-author of Legacy, is here to talk about how you can expand these scenes out while still bringing in plenty of drama.
Do you think that a battle should be more than a single roll? Well, we do too.
Sure, Fiercely Assault alone can seal the deal of a fight or a battle. But sometimes, it is all too much hang on a single roll and you may want more depth and detail. With that in mind, let’s go to our “Cutthroat’s pro tips for Legacy battles”.
Do you know their defences and positioning? A great moment to roll Under Orders as you send in Companions to get the lay of the land. Attacking blindly is a sure way face well-entrenched forces, usually spread in clusters and covering angles in order to put you in a hot killzone. My players usually learn rather quickly that the those who survived the Fall and the harsh world it created had to be (or become) wary and ruthless fighters.
Do your opponents have the numbers advantage? If so, your weapons need the Area tag to attack effectively, or the Brutal tag to demoralize them and perhaps open them to surrender or retreat. Alternatively, you can manoeuvre to split them into more manageable numbers for a Fiercely Assault. In this case…
Are you properly placed to attack? Unlikely! The best case scenario is if you are laying in wait for them to walk in your ambush – in this case, several Character Moves can enhance your attack. If you are approaching them, you can either rush in, triggering Forge a Path, or sneak in and use Defuse as you deal with their sentries and defences.
Can you count on the cavalry? Vehicles are instrumental in maneuvering and reaching best tactical position safely. Besides, even base gear Vehicles help in soaking up damage. However, no other investment will increase your odds in battle as pumping Mighty/Swift, Durable, Med Bay, Transport and/or Turrets in a Vehicle when Tooling Up.
Lock them down
Do you need to pin them in place to manoeuvre? Strafing and overwatch became popular concepts in modern warfare, and a Defuse with Steel should convince enemy forces to stop their advances and hunker down. Beware, though, if they move in with greater numbers!
BIg enough guns
Is your ordnance adequate for the mission? Melee weapons should only go against Ranged weapons after a stealth approach or a rushed charge, triggering Forge a Path. Remember that the Aberrant tag is there for a reason, and you might find foes who won’t just die with a well-placed bullet. On the other hand, sometimes all you need is exactly ONE very well placed strike! Never underestimate the Elegant and/or Far tags.
Is your gear adequate for the mission? Sure, Tough armour tag saves lives, but it should be your last line of defence. Consider that Comms, Mobile and Camo tags can enable you to bypass conflict altogether. Also, as every force who ever tried to invade Russia can tell you, sometimes your enemies’ attacks are the least of your worries. Andinn the wake of the Fall it’s safe to expect battlefields to be a deadly collection of environmental extremes, pathogens, radiation and more. Again, it is fundamental to know your theater of operations before going in… and not everyone might be ready to do battle there, regardless of martial prowess.
The Best Playbook
Is your skill set adequate for the mission? Besides the holy trinity of war (Hunter, Sentinel, and Untamed), your Machine and the Survivor Characters don’t stay far behind… they are just not as obviously potent as those three. In any case, keep in mind that EVERY character has at least a couple of moves that can save the day or turn the tide of a battle. If you hadn’t pick them you have no place in a battle – duck, cover and get out of the way.
Enemy of my Enemy
Is the engagement clearly defined? Many conflicts are not clear cut two sided affairs. In case conflict between you and this new third party doesn’t escalate too quickly, you might end up rolling an oddly-placed Find Common Ground, or maybe a Defuse using Sway.
Are you hurt? You will be… once the battle begins. If it piles up in minor harm boxes, Shake it Off as soon as tactically viable and find the proper cover to blunt the inevitable response. It is impossible to predict what will change in the battlefield (and what soft or hard reaction the GM will use), so at the very least have assets prepared to support you through Under Orders or Call for Aid. Finally, as prepared as you are, Harm is NOT progressive and one true strike might go straight into critical harm boxes – though that will only tip the balance of the battle for less martial Characters. In that case, thanks for the spirited effort, but it’s time to leave the battle for professionals.
Know When to Fold
Is the battle lost? If so, it might be worthwhile to Fiercely Assault a deadly opposition just so your venue of escape is clear to break off the engagement. Keep in mind that the GM is within their rights to dish out increased Harm as a consequence of a clumsy attack. Give Companions a chance to shine and take one for the team, even if it’s a fatal, pulverizing one. If things look dire enough, consider the party’s Death Move options…
And after all that, even when you succeed at the final, decisive Fiercely Assault, remember your goal was to “hurt, capture or drive off” enemies, not to annihilate them at once. What now then?
We all know Legacy is much more than just fighting. You’ve got a whole world to rebuild, after all. But if you and your group want to run through post-apocalyptic battles, Legacy is still your game.
The part of Legacy I get the most questions about is the interface between the Family and Character levels. We’re working on ways of making this more flexible in Legacy 2e, but for the current version I try to stick to two ideas:
1) The Character has de facto control over the Family’s operations.
2) All Family moves should begin with the Character asking Family members to do things and end with the Character being informed of the results.
This way the player’s role in the fiction is maintained and doesn’t cause dissonance. It does have the weakness that it limits what role the Character could have in the Family, but you can still create rebels and apostates by saying that this Age the player only has control of the wing of the Family that actually pays attention to the Character – or just ignore the Family layer if it’s completely irrelevant to your current character.
Family: The Last Battalion (Lawgivers). A surviving remnant of the pre-Fall military, dedicated to protecting the survivors in the territory around their bunker.
Character: Isolde (Sentinel). A battle-hardened tactician, in charge of the Battalion’s Special Forces group.
Family: Reclaimers (Enclave). A scattered mystery cult who teach secrets of the World Before to those members who successfully hunt down and dissect the aberrant robot beasts.
Character: Karl (Hunter). A rising star in the Reclaimers whose hunts have brought him fame but who takes too many risks for some of the cult’s elders.
GM: Let’s start with you, Chris. Which settlement are you heading to?
The Reclaimers are Dispersed – they maintain bunkhouses/workshops in most of the Homeland’s settlements.
Chris: Let’s say I head to the South Circle. It’s the closest to where we left the Wasteland and I know they’re willing to fight.
South Circle was the grand park’s Metro station, and with the tunnels barricaded up, it’s well-defended and sheltered.
Chris: So Karl kicks open the door to the Reclaimer house and drags the dead bot in. Big entrance, you know?
GM: You see two of the Acolyte-Engineers – Skols and Warren – are here. They rush over as they see your haul and start poking the machinery and arguing over what different bits are for. Get 2 Tech from Holding Back Another Fall as they disassemble it.
Chris: I’ll leave them to their fun and head to the terminal to talk with the rest of the Reclaimers. I need to get plans of that facility if we have a chance of shutting it down, so I’ll put some of scouts and scavengers on the search.
GM: Ok, roll for Reading the Wind.
The Reclaimers have a Reach of +2, and added to the dice get a result of 9. Chris gets to pick one thing to learn about the power facility.
Chris: Let’s go with “The perspective of its neighbours” – I want to know the legends the scavengers tell about it.
GM: So your scouts come back having found some hermits in the wasteland and got their stories. There aren’t many willing to go near the plant, but they say its activity has peaks and troughs. During the day, the place is quiet – though still enough bots to be deadly. During the night, though, it lights up and there’s a strange humming noise, and bots from far and wide pour into it and leave at dawn.
Chris: I guess we should strike during the day, then. Wait, An Eye For Details gets me an extra question – what sort of power plant is it? How can we shut it down?
GM: Alright, one of the scouts took down notes of numbers and icons stencilled on the building. After a few days of research, a scribe of the order presents you with their findings. They say it’s a design that creates a self-sustaining fusion reaction that can be throttled up or down but never stopped – if you can disrupt the reaction at all it’ll be super difficult to start it up again, though the reaction chamber will be full of radiation.
Chris: Interesting, interesting. I’ll start planning out an assault.
GM: Ok, let’s move over to the Battalion. Alex, what’s Isolde up to?
Alex: Arming up. The Reclaimers can help us with the whole hi-tech stuff, but to take this territory we need strength of arms. You said Karl’s scouting took a few days, right? So once she got back to the bunker and briefed the colonel on the plant she’d have got to work requisitioning arms and vehicles for the Special Forces unit. I’m activating Tooled Up and Looking for Trouble – I’ll exhaust Surplus: Weaponry, Transportation and Reconnaissance, getting me three hold.
GM: Going all in, eh? Ok, so you’re on the parade grounds looking out over your forces. Three dozen soldiers standing proud in haphazard armour they’ve painted to look like uniforms, two jeeps rigged to run completely non-electrically, a half-track with a mounted gun, and a whole heap of weapons. The Colonel’s there with you to send you off. She turns to you. “Looks like a small party, Sergeant. Are you sure this is enough?” Alex: “I’m quite confident, sir. And there are people out there counting on our patrols – I can’t justify the risk of leaving them undefended.”
GM: She nods and motions for the compound gate to open. She looks back at you. “And, Isolde?”
GM: “Come back safe, alright?”
Alex: I nod. “Yes, mother”. Then I motion the convoy to head out.
GM: You drive out, the gate guards saluting as you pass.
Alex: The convoy’s going to head south, swinging by South Circle. Karl, you coming?
Chris: Yeah. Though – we may need to do some way of dealing with the radiation. Do the Reclaimers have anything that would work?
GM: Not particularly – it’s not a common hazard in the robot hunting line of work.
Chris: The Hammer of Thorium still owes us a favour for stopping their meltdown, right? I’ll call that in to try and get some of their protection suits.
In an earlier age the Reclaimers showed a group of A-bomb worshipping cultists how to make the warhead they worship ‘safer’ to live around, and so gained 1-Treaty on them via their Alliance Move.
GM: Sounds good. How does that look?
Chris: I’ll send a local acolyte over to their stronghold, saying that we need the blessing of Thorium for our battle against the False Men. I think that’s their lingo, right?
GM: Sure, roll Access.
A Reach of +2 and a dice roll of 7 gives a result of 9.
Chris: Ugh, not quite enough. I’ll spend that point of Treaty and bump it up to an 11.
GM: That works. So your acolyte makes it out of there with four radiation suits, having had to hand back the holy sign of Thorium your grandparents won from them last Age.
Chris: Ok, less than I would have liked but better than nothing. Want to get this show on the road?
Alex: Sure. You bringing anyone along?
Chris: Yeah, Karl will bring a few other hunters and some Acolyte-Engineers – Skols and Warren, wasn’t it? We’ll hitch a ride on a jeep.
Alex: Alright, let’s get going.
Into the Ruins
GM: It’s many day’s travel to the Plant and it’s hostile territory – especially with three loud vehicles. What’s the plan?
Alex: Let’s go slow and quiet until we’re almost upon the plant. I’ll draw up a route given what we saw last time we were here.
GM: OK, give me a Wasteland Survival roll.
We’re temporarily going back into Character moves – Isolde is leading the expedition and is a dedicated navigator of the wasteland so the GM thinks that makes the most sense. Another option would be to roll Hold Together to see how well the unit handles the trip. It’s perfectly fine to read the fiction and see in that moment if the Characters as leaders or the Family as a group is the most important entity to focus on.
With Isolde’s Steel of +2 and a dice roll of 6 Alex gets a result of 8 – she must pick two out of staying out of danger, staying well-supplied and keeping to the schedule. After some consideration, she selects ‘you don’t get into danger’ and ‘you don’t get delayed’.
Alex: I figure we have to push the jeeps to their limit to get through this terrain and escape the occasional rogue bot. You ok with that supply loss removing one of my Tooled Up hold?
Attacking the Plant
GM: So the sun’s dawning as you reach the plant’s perimeter and it’s as the Reclaimer’s scouts described it – almost completely quiet, with a few bots wandering around chewing on power outlets.
Chris: No reason to wait, right?
Alex: Yup. I make sure the squad’s ready and equipped, and start moving on the compound. First up, I don’t like the thought of fighting room by room. I nod to my heavy weapons guy, Frank, and point at the biggest window I can see. I’m spending 1 Tooled Up hold on ‘force your enemy out into the open’.
GM: Alright – Frank nods, hefts his rocket launcher and fires a missile straight through the window. There’s an explosion that shakes the glass from the power plant’s windows and a loud droning noise starts up as insectile robots pour out of the plant. You see one in particular striding through the horde, towering over the others. Electricity keeps jumping from it to the other droids in bright blue arcs, and the electrified droids seem to be entering some kind of frenzy and smoking.
Alex: I don’t like the look of that. I make a motion at the unit’s sniper to target it. Spending 1 hold on ’Take out a specified target immediately’.
GM: Hah! Ok then, a shot rings out and the thing crumples to the ground, its giant capacitors exploding in a shower of sparks and lightning.
Alex: That should have softened them up. I signal the charge. Chris?
Chris: The Reclaimers are ready to back you up – I’ll let you deal with the straightforward attackers and try to shut down the ones that try anything weird.
GM: Alex, you’re taking the lead, so you roll +Grasp on Claim By Force. Chris, roll +Treaty with the Battalion to help out.
Chris has a +1 forward from his Reading the Wind about the plant. He adds that to his Family’s Treaty on the Lawgivers of +2 and his roll of 5 to get an 8 – the Reclaimers add +1 to the Battalion’s assault but are exposed to danger, retribution or unforeseen consequences.
Alex adds her Grasp of +1 and Chris’s bonus of +1 to her roll of 8 to get a 10. She succeeds at taking the plant, but has to choose a cost.
Alex: Thanks, Chris. I don’t want to get wounded or make more enemies, so I’ll pick that our hold on it is tenuous.
GM: So I reckon your assault is enough to completely drive off or destroy the robots that were squatting here, but more will come tonight if the power’s still flowing. Karl, as the battle’s raging a suicide bot flanked the unit as was about to explode when Warren jumped on its back and tore out the detonator. He stopped the explosion but was crushed when it rolled over – he didn’t make it. Meanwhile, Skols caught a bit of shrapnel to the temple and is still woozy.
The group could have chosen to Claim by Force as soon as they got to the plant, but the Battalion’s precision attacks meant that the fictional consequences they suffered were much better than they could have been otherwise. Positioning yourself in the fiction to minimise your risks is a powerful tool!
Chris: Ah crap, I was relying on them to shut this place down.
Shutting it down
GM: Without the experts, you have two options. You can try to remotely shut down the reactor from the control console, but that’s been rewired and probed by generations of hungry robots. Or you could head directly into the reactor chamber to turn off the reaction manually, but you’d have to trust in the radiation suits.
Chris: Sure, we’ve had casualties, but this is why the Reclaimers came along. I’ll put the suit on.
Alex: Isolde takes a brief break from securing the plant to come and talk to you. “Are you sure you want to do this? We’ve done the hard part of flushing them out – we can hold this place long enough to get support in.”
Chris: Karl pulls the battered and patched helmet on, and through the helmet’s faceplate you can see he’s determined. “C’mon, Sarge, we both know you don’t have enough ammo to last that long. Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” He grins. “And they’ll have no choice but to make me an elder if I pull this off!” Then I pass my bow to Isolde and head to the airlock. “Look after that, alright?”
GM: As the airlock cycles and opens, the room’s filled with a blinding blue light. The bad news is it’s Harm 4 – good news is that your suit’s 2 Armour against this.
Chris: Ouch. I’ll mark off ‘On the Defensive’ and ‘Blood-soaked’. Can’t stay long here. What do I see?
GM: There’s the reactor assembly – a globe suspended in the centre of this huge, multi-story room. It’s glowing bright blue and the light’s pulsing painfully. There’s all sort of cables and pipes going in and out of the sphere, attaching to various places on the room’s walls.
Chris: I mutter curses about those superstitious idiots and their shoddy protective gear and start working out what needs to be sabotaged.
GM: So you only have enough time for one approach: do you want to break whatever you can, or work out a controlled way to shut it down?
Chris eyes his Force of +2 and Lore of +1.
Chris: The second one… probably sounds better for everyone involved. Let’s give it a go.
GM: Ok, roll for Defuse with Lore.
A Lore of +1 and a roll of 3 is not enough!
Chris: Well, shit.
GM: Yeah, it’s not good. You’re scanning over the pipes and cables, frantically trying to find a way to shut it down, but you’re getting woozy and it’s hard to focus. You find yourself staggering and stumbling. Take another 2 Harm. Maybe you have time to get back to the airlock?
Chris: No, I don’t think so. Even if my lore has failed me there’s always smashing. I’m going to mark my Dead box – even as I die I make one last strike, destroying whatever killed me.
GM: Yeah, that’d do it. Want to describe what happens?
Chris: Sure. I always have more weapons, right? There’s a blast arrow still in my back quiver – probably shouldn’t have brought that in, but too late now. I tear open the suit, grab the arrow, and start climbing the cables. I climb on top of the reactor, and smash the arrow into it where the cables and supports are holding it up. I’m thrown away by the explosion, as the reactor falls to the floor and crumples apart in a second blast.
GM: Alex, how’s Isolde taking this?
Alex: I’ve been watching tensely on the plant’s monitors. As Karl starts climbing it I’m already running to the airlock and I’m putting a radioactive suit on as the explosion happens. I try and open the airlock – maybe I can still help?
GM: The generator’s gone – the airlock isn’t working. Maybe you could push it open with Force?
Alex: No, I can put two and two together – if there’s no power he succeeded and he wouldn’t want me risking my life for nothing. I say a prayer for Karl, then go to the roof and launch a flare so the Battalion know that the mission’s succeeded.
GM: Yeah, you’ve definitely seized claim of this plant and this territory.
Alex: Good. I’ll leave the troops to secure this place and head back to the farmland – I have to deliver Karl’s bow to the Reclaimers.
Chris: Thanks – I’ll pick that bow as Karl’s Relic.
With a section of the city made safe and the Homeland greatly expanded, the group decide it’s time for a Turn of Ages…
Any questions or comments? Want an example of another mechanic? Let me know!
Douglas Santana Mota, main author of the upcoming Mirrors in the Ruins, wanted to talk a little about the lessons he’s learned running Legacy. More GM advice is one of the regular requests I get for a revised version of Legacy, so I thought I’d give him a place to talk. Take it away, Douglas!
We all look for novelty and quality, to experience something truly different. But sometimes when we find it we end up overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and fail to relate to it exactly because it doesn’t fit our preconceptions, our usual shared experiences.
Legacy offered me this novelty like few others games before. But I must confess: my first session blew. Really, it stunk. I narrated and we played like any other game from our shared experience. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t right. So, I experimented and developed procedures to make the most of Legacy epic-friendly rules and singular pace. Here it is the little I learned so far:
Let’s start with the obvious: who are Legacy’s protagonists? The families, right!? After all, they remain Age after Age as the linchpins of your story. So, try starting your sessions with a round of Family moves. Once all the rolls are resolved you will have enough immediate plot threads to weave into Character scenes. Let them lessen the damage of a failed Family roll… or just feel its effects on a personal level. Drop them in the thick of action of good Family rolls too, putting their abilities to good use and greater effect.
From this Family-centered beginning you can then explore the Characters and their motivations and inter-relations, just as in any of your favourite and familiar games. But as soon as the Character Scenes feel somehow resolved, don’t dally and shift focus right back to Families.
Tip: remind and encourage players to Lend Aid. It will make framing scenes with Characters in a group that much easier.
Tip: teach your players that Character actions focus in minutes and hours, while Family focus in days and weeks.
Tip: always remember that Characters serve their Families… and not the other way around.
Resources Tell Stories
There’s a reason Surpluses and Needs are in the History section of Family Playbooks. Give them some thought: who does your Family have to get Revenge from? What happened so they need Medicine? If you have a Surplus of Leadership, tell us about who these leaders are.
Connect these threads with other Families’ too and a whole recent backstory will unfold. Exploit it for maximum effect. Moreover, let’s say a Family Erases Progress to save a failed Claim by Force roll. Ask the players what kind of sacrifice had to be made by the Family to justify in Fiction this move. Make it relevant. Make it personal. Engage other parties. Powerful scenes lie hidden in these simple Resources moves.
Factions Have Faces
It’s important to populate the Homeland (and the Wasteland) with memorable faces so that Characters interact with a rich and varied supporting cast. Pay attention to variety and going outside stereotypes, so your cast is not only comprised of the leaders of their factions and settlements but also warleaders, firebrands, lawmen and priests in surprising combinations; say, the barbaric raiders’ priest or the warleader of the scientist enclave, and so on.
Tip: you know you want them to be fearsome, beautiful, wise, etc. but what makes them so can be easily prompted by the players, increasing collaboration and immersion.
Think of History with a capital H. Your players’ Families are the proto-nations of the future, the building blocks of a new world. The sessions and scenes might have lighter tones, but never forget they should be relevant and charged events, such as brutal conquest of the New World, the Apollo program and the space race, or WW2, with all its dramatic consequences, epic conquests and failures, bitter rivalries and surprising betrayals.
Even small skirmishes should have high stakes – imagine that people studying about them in the far future should be surprised that so much was decided by such meagre forces. Every Tech found should point to a discovery as important as penicillin or the astrolabe for whatever is left of Mankind.
Lastly, consider if our species is on the verge of collapse or extinction – and paint this theme in stark strokes. Otherwise, if the Homeland people is simply stranded somewhere, answer what have happened to everyone else in the world or the universe; where are they and why have they not yet sent sorely needed rescue?
Tip: after the Turn of Ages ask players how the events of the previous Age impacted in their new Characters lives. Where were they when pivotal events took place? Have they ever met the previous Character?
Tip: remember important victories and achievements through holidays and festivals in future Ages. Monuments to alliances, resistances, triumphal returns and victories celebrate Characters and their deeds, keeping perspective of the importance of their actions.
Conventional games always surprise me with the amount of pain, horror and shock characters undergo on a daily basis. I remember that Pendragon was the first game I read where there would be longs periods of regular life in between adventures, keeping adventure events wondrous and strange, and pregnant with long lasting consequences. Legacy benefits from the same approach due to its broader scope.
Regarding Turns of Ages, I recommend one of two options: first, you have frequent Turns with shorter lapses of time for a very dynamic Family story, where you end up with veteran Characters who may have lived through more than one Age. The other option is longer lapses of time between Ages with Turns somewhat rare, for a grander tale of epic Character choices and drastic Family development. You can even change from one to the other over the course of your chronicle, to emphasise different moments and dilemmas. Always decide as a group the length of time in between Ages.
Tip: make use of relations between Characters from one Age to the other. Say you have a Promethean, who created next Age’s Borg. Or a Hunter who lived long enough to become an Elder. Or a powerful Remnant, who keeps coming back, Age after Age.
Hands on Maps
During the setup, tell players to draw on the the elements from the world Before, signs of the Fall, and settlements. This is a hands on and engaging activity, so no mysteries here. The map is probably the GMs best friend to set up a good Legacy chronicle.
Tip: instruct them to show in boundaries the growth of faction’s power and influence.
Tip: re-draw maps as the Ages Turn, changing the scales to show the extent of new territories claimed and discovered.
Tip: use colors to highlight shifting alliances and the weight of Treaties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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