WinterRat1
 member, 147 posts
Sun 16 Feb 2020
at 19:34
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
I've recently become very curious about the Powered by the Apocalypse game engine. I've heard about the games and the various hacks before, but never played or GMed one.

I am currently considering running a Powered by the Apocalypse game, but there are many games/hacks out there that use that engine, with varying degrees of success.

My question is:

Which PBTA game is best to run for a GM who has never used or played in the PBTA system before?


I'm currently considering (in no particular order):

1) The Sprawl
+ I own this already
+ I've been GMing Shadowrun for decades so I feel very comfortable with the cyberpunk setting, but I'd like to run something in that setting that isn't anywhere near as crunchy as Shadowrun


2) Dungeon World
+ It's classic D&D fantasy, so again, very familiar with the setting/concept


3) Apocalypse World, but minus the psychic stuff and run in a Fallout type setting
+ I've always wanted to run a Fallout type game and this is the original, so I assume it hews the closest to the intent of the engine


4) Uncharted Worlds, in a Mass Effect setting
+ I've always wanted to run a Mass Effect game and this seems like it might let me, although it might also take a lot more work than the other three options listed above. Just putting it out there for discussion because it caught my eye.


Thanks to anyone who can help a newbie to the system start feeling their way around it!

This message was last edited by the user at 19:35, Sun 16 Feb.

von_das
 member, 172 posts
Sun 16 Feb 2020
at 19:44
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Have you considered Masks, about teenage superheroes? Having ran it (somewhat briefly and elsewhere) with only some limited prior experience with PbtA as a player, I found it to be pretty simple to get into (more so than AW itself seems to be, at a glance, as AW seems to have rather more moving parts both for the player and the GM). And I suspect you won't be lacking for willing players. That said, as with all those games it does depend on you liking the genre.
steelsmiter
 member, 2076 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 00:16
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
I'd first consider what actual themes of games you want to run the most before evaluating which system to run... but that's because I tend to find that no system fits what I want to run so I write my own.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:16, Mon 17 Feb.

LordIce
 member, 217 posts
 Superheroes, D&D, Zombies
 Best DM in the world
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 00:31
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
I agree with ss. Imagine the game you want to play, then pick the best rules for it.
If you're looking to play another cyberpunk game, then run Sprawl.
WinterRat1
 member, 148 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 01:11
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
With respect to genre, those are all genres I'm interested in, which is why I'm curious if there are any mechanical differences between them that would make one easier or harder for a newbie to the engine to run.

Is it required to generate the setting in conjunction with the players? Part of my interest in some of the genres listed is there are specific settings I'm interested in that don't really have a corresponding system I like (e.g. Fallout).
Purple Dragon Faerie
 member, 11 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 01:49
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Any powered by the apocalypse game you'll need to do some story building with the players because one of the strengths of the system is the bonds of the players but that doesn't mean you can't have the world already mostly established just be clear about what things are preset with your players.
steelsmiter
 member, 2077 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 03:37
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Addendum to what I said earlier, I really have been meaning to play The Sprawl. I also have ran several iterations of Dungeon World, and have a little AW experience. Personally I prefer Monster of the week over AW, but whatevs. anywho, if you need someone around who might assist, I'm willing to help.
DrTachyon
 member, 89 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 04:44
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
PBTA games are mechanically pretty much the same (roll 2d6 plus modifiers and get a result). They differ in that they each are adapted to the genre/setting that they are trying to evoke. Focus first on the type of story you want to tell in your game, then find the PBTA game that was designed to best tell those types of stories.

There is a key point that I want to emphasize. PBTA games are radically different than other more traditional games. I mean that you need to take a completely different approach and have a completely different way of GMing when you run a PBTA game (or any other 'story focused game' for that matter). What sets apart most PBTA games is that they give a lot of narrative control to the players, much more so than in traditional rpgs. The GM co-creates the game with the players, and it is often the players who decide what the focus of a session is (as opposed to the GM having an 'adventure' set up for them). There are exceptions to this (Monster of the Week comes to mind), but generally you are going to have a set of threats lined up - important world changing things that, if the players don't do anything, will move ahead of their own accord. Your job as the GM is to follow the players around, throw out clues as to what the threats are up to, and see what the players do and react to that as the story demands.

PBTA games are generally crafted so that their systems/moves are tailored to a very specific type of story. That's not to say that you can't deviate from that story type, but I find that the games work best when you stick pretty close to the type of story they were designed to tell.

The Sprawl is best used for telling mission based cyberpunk stories where the characters are running afoul of the schemes of devious megacorps.

Apocalypse World is great for telling stories about the grim struggle to survive in a post apocalyptic world where everything is against you. You would be co-creating the world with the players, and in the first session learn what their characters are interested in/fear/are like. You'll create threats based on the players interests (at least that's the best way to do it - listen to them during the first session and design your threats to give the players the types of stories they are interested in).

Again, the key to these sorts of games are that they are focused on the players and the types of stories they want to be involved in - the GM facilitates making this happen. This is in contrast to old school games where the GM sets up the world and the stories and the players experience them and react to them.
WinterRat1
 member, 149 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 06:00
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
How does a PBTA game differ from a sandbox game?

They seem very similar, with the possible exception that the players seem to have more involvement/agency in setting up the world.
steelsmiter
 member, 2078 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 06:04
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Well, sandbox games don't tend to compel or even advise their GMs write out things like Fronts (or whatever your particular PBTA calls that DW feature).
WinterRat1
 member, 150 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 06:59
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
What are Fronts, if you don't mind explaining? I don't actually own Dungeon World yet (only The Sprawl), since I'm still in the 'doing research' phase.

This message was last edited by the user at 06:59, Mon 17 Feb.

DrTachyon
 member, 90 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 13:06
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
A Front is a series of threats, connected together in a story. Think of the metaplot of a season of a TV series and you have the idea. Usually, in PBTA games the 'campaign' lasts 12-15 sessions or so (this can vary greatly) afer the players have dealt with the major threats and metaplot/front. If you want to continue the game, you create new threats/front and carry on much like a new season of a TV show would.
atminn
 member, 47 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 17:01
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
I would maybe advise a new PbtA GM away from Dungeon World, actually. Assumptions and expectations from D&D will likely carry into the game and make it trickier to let PbtA do what it does best.

For instance, PbtA thrives on narrative facts carrying a lot of weight, often seen mechanically in gear tags or monster moves, but also in asking players a ton of questions and leaving many blanks for their answers to fill in.

If you run DW like D&D, you may try to lean too heavily on turn order, players making one move per 'turn', and exchanging damage as a default event (when most of the other GM moves tend to be far more interesting). PCs do things in the fiction and only sometimes does that trigger a certain mechanical move, and when it does, moves tend to represent much more fiction than a single player's turn in D&D. You're not just swinging your weapon, you're completing an engagement.

The PbtA games I most enjoy recently provide great levers for players themselves to inject the plot with conflict and events beyond the immediate scene, so it all doesn't fall to the GM. Examples of that are Impulse Drive (about a ragtag scifi ship crew) or Bite Marks (about a pack of passionate werewolves).
WinterRat1
 member, 151 posts
Mon 17 Feb 2020
at 18:00
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Atminn - Thank you, that's the kind of advice I'm looking for! I could definitely see myself getting confused with how to handle damage and turn order, and things like that. In fact, when I first saw Dungeon World (knowing nothing about PBTA) I was very confused by the system and why it seemed so similar to D&D yet so different.

Perhaps it might be better to start with something like The Sprawl or Apocalypse World. It's easier for me to understand a combat roll as not representing each individual bullet, but rather the engagement as a whole. Mostly because it is already a pain to track individual bullets/shots fired so it's a little more natural to abstract a lot of it.
Peachyco
 member, 1 post
Tue 18 Feb 2020
at 05:42
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
I'm on a different boat regarding Dungeon World and a GM transitioning from D&D and its variants. I'm more likely to suggest it for new GMs in the system.

DW has enough of both worlds for the GM to comfortably lean toward either side at any time. And isn't the GM's comfort in running the game the most important thing? Everyone at the table - GM and players alike - would enjoy the game and the story more if the GM is comfortable with the game system.

Maybe you're not comfortable enough right now to handle things in the way of the PBTA. No problem - run it like D&D today. Maybe you get the gist of it by the next or some later session - run it in PBTA then without having to switch game systems and having to rebuild the characters.
Alyse
 member, 691 posts
 Pretty, witty, and gay
 [married since 2011!]
Wed 19 Feb 2020
at 09:11
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
The Warren... because The Warren is totally amazeballs. It's also perhaps the most brutal PBTA game in existence.
horus
 member, 941 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Mon 24 Feb 2020
at 08:13
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
If memory serves correctly, Night Witches is a PTBA game (in the form of Apocalypse World).  If nothing else, it will spark some interesting ideas.

A lot is going to depend on:

What do you want to play as GM?
What do your prospective players want?

PTBA is adaptable to a wide range of settings.  How much work do you want to do?
WinterRat1
 member, 152 posts
Thu 27 Feb 2020
at 05:08
Which Powered by the Apocalypse Game? [Seeking Advice]
Thanks to everyone who has taken time to give input, it's been really helpful as I try to understand a new system!

In answer to Horus, I'm thinking of waiting until Thousand Arrows comes out and trying to run that. I'd like to run something similar to Legend of the Five Rings, and while I really enjoy FFG's version, I think it might be too cumbersome to run in a PBP medium. Thousand Arrows seems like it could be similar enough to hit the right notes, which would save me a lot of work that I'd like to avoid, especially seeing as how I am new to the PBTA engine.