Actual Play – The Garden for a can opener (9/5/2015)

Apocalypse WorldGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Kyra Sims, Keith Stetson, and Dev Purkayastha
System: Apocalypse World
Scenario: The Garden by Karen Twelves

The Apocalypse

The world ended two years ago, or at least it did for everyone besides Mama Ban.

Chemical weapons. A global civil war. It hit so quick, it didn’t matter where it started, the world was ash tray full of burnt out butts of civilization.

What’s left now are spore storms. If the spores get on you, and then get on everything, they just start eating away and never stop. Detergent, gasoline, bleach, they all work for a fashion, but the spores keep coming, keep eating away at every organic material they touch.

There were pockets of survivors, like the on on a long stretch of I-55. South of the Hungry Ones, west of The Fortress Brutal, as a lone Garden. Rumored to still have food because of some underground hydroponics lab, or vast hidden stores, or because it was delivered by the psychic maelstrom. Not many knew exactly how they still had them, but they did. Unlimited salad. And breadsticks. Always.

Effective as of the ApocalypseWhat came before

Before the fall was Banta, who everyone calls Mama Ban. She was manager of the Garden and still is. She wears combat boots and a clean floral dress. She runs the Garden and awaits the day things will be normal again. She holds onto that belief so strongly, many believe she is right.

Here head chef was T-bone, he made the best sauce in the land. But this isn’t T-bone’s story. T-bone was traded for Domino after the Brutalitiarians took them. Now we have Domino, and now they run the kitchen. Now they have to find a replacement for T-bone.

What we have now

Keeler works the door. He loves Mama Ban but doesn’t see any good way out of this. He keeps us safe and hates October, who just wants to break everything. She’s a regular, a regular pain in the ass.

Humphrey was an old chef but he was broken by the fall. Out of pity they keep in him in the kitchen as a dishwasher. A broken dishwasher as well. Hooch and Blues run the kitchen when Domino isn’t directing things. They a veterans. They miss T-bone but don’t speak of it. They are still a cook down, but no one seems to last.

Darby and Ghost work the front. Darby is still in shock. He takes everything literally, gets confused easily, and when in doubt, gets it wrong. Ghost is fine.

Dune, October, Jackson, and Sammy are regulars. Most of them are fine. They don’t cause much trouble. Most of the time.

Everyone outside is hungry.

The Big Day

The red phone that says CORP on it rang yesterday. Ronald Dexler, the Franchise Owner, not seen since before the Fall called. He’s coming to the Garden. Today.

A caravan pulled up. Two well armed women, Frost and Plum, mother and daughter, guarded it. They were on a pilgrimage along I-55 and needed to rest because the knew a spore storm was coming. They knew because a young one they called grace told them one was coming, and she had never been wrong before.

A day in the life

Mostly people were just people. Plum and Frost offered to guard the Garden in exchange for food. October wanted a job. Grace was a little weird but kept to herself. Meanwhile.

Mama Ban traded for other things as well. She took several oddments from the traveling cult, including, a much coveted can opener, for which Domino rewarded her with a can of sweetened condensed milk. She also had to deal with Plum setting up her giant fucking gun right in the middle of the restaurant.

Keeler keep trying to keep everything normal. No, October should not be working for us. No, Plum should not have a giant gun set up at a table. No, that giant dust cloud on the horizon does not bode well. Two fists full of bacon (despite new company policy) solved one of his problems. One out of three ain’t bad, right?

Domino’s hold on the kitchen never slipped, but it was challenged often. Someone had to replace T-bone, especially with all these hungry mouths.

Smoke on the horizon

At the end of our session, the franchise owner arrived, and with him a roaring mass of Brutalitarians, ready to take the garden.

Which they did. Domino fought, and Keeler fought and Mama Ban Fought, and so did Plum and Frost, and Hooch and Blues, and October. A lot of them died.

Those that didn’t got on the vehicles the caravan came in on and fled the destruction.

“When you’re here, you’re family.” – The Garden’s motto.

“If you stay here, you’re dead.” – The truth.

Mama Ban’s dream was finally broken.

 

What Rocked

The game was, almost entirely about the relationships between the PCs, and in some cases between the PC-NPC-PC triangles. Until the end there just wasn’t that many high pressure things that had to be fixed. This was in part because the players were all rolling 10+ on most rolls (until the end, when a string of 4s really made things bad), but more than that, it was because the items at stake weren’t about violence and domination, they were about finding a home and understanding people. It was Sandcon, it was a small game, it was taking place next to the Sweedish government enforced speed dating larp. It was late and we had all been playing games all day. Lots of reasons, I’m sure, but the end result was a low key gang.

In fact, none of us were really excited about the violence in the end, and we condensed the result down to a couple of rolls. Mama Ban’s Leadership should have saved the garden, if she didn’t roll a 4. So it was lost, but had we the time there was more story to tell, and most of it about how Domino and Mama Ban and Keeler would live now.

What could have improved

My NPCs should have wanted more. When the cult arrived looking for shelter and food, I explicitly didn’t want to make them wierd. I mean, yeah they are weird because they have a child they named grace who can predict the storms and has them traveling on some pilgrimage to parts unknown. But they weren’t weird wierd. Basically, their practices were practical. Two armed women (mother and daughter) guarded the caravan, while the rest did what they could to contribute. They weren’t cannibals and they didn’t want the PCs to go naked into the storm or any crazy shit like that. Which, in retrospect is all fine, but they should have needed something. Lots of italics in this point. They should have wanted to move in, or to take some of the regulars with them, or to steal the garden’s good. Basic, but a threat.

On the other hand October had a really simple role, to take Keeler’s job. She just wanted to be the one with the power to tell people to fuck off or be seated as she wished. And she didn’t mind working and or fucking her way to the top (well, I guess to the middle really). Everyone was afraid of October, and rightfully so. Her motivation was simple, but her means were erratic and short sighted. She didn’t take no for an answer and she just kept poking at things till she got what she wanted. October wanted!