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Monday, September 22, 2014

Kickstarter - Broken World - A Post-Apocalypse Tabletop RPG

Let me see if I have the lineage correct: Apocalypse World, the game without failure, just complications, begat Dungeon World, and there was much rejoicing as the hordes of fantasy role players could now play a game without failure, just complications.

And so it was that Dungeon World begat an offspring, one that would climb the no longer so high gates of the land of Kickstarter, and the offspring it left unto the Worlds was a broken one. A Broken World to be exact.

This Broken World was to be a post-apoc RPG.

Say what?

Didn't this all start with Apocalypse World, which is by it's very name "an apocalypse world?" Did we come full circle so soon? No one wanted to do a Star World or Cthulhu World or even Land Before the World?

A retread of the game that started this line of gaming? Which has already hit over $9k against a $3k goal.

Shit. I need to quit my job and roll out some games written with the Apoc Engine. Maybe tack on some fate. FATE World. Ka-Ching!


  1. "Apocalypse World, the game without failure, just complications..."
    That is incorrect. There is plenty of failure in Apocalypse World. If you're playing Apocalypse World and you're not experiencing failures, then your GM is doing something wrong.

    1. I stand corrected - hardly ever fails ;)

    2. 40% chance of failing without modifiers
      I guess the average first-level character in D&D hardly ever fail too.

    3. actually, 6- is a failure

      so, success of some sort is 58% or so BEFORE modifiers

      it's been over 2 years since I played AW, but as I recall most moves / rolls I made had positive modifiers, so I'd say some sort of success was made in 2 out of 3 rolls

    4. how is 40% failing different from 58% succeeding? are you counting that 2% differential?

      I MC an Apocalypse World game and I play in one as well and I see a lot more failure than success in both groups. We don't have players who are only trying to roll their good stats though, so if your Hard is +2 and you tackle every problem by shooting it, well then, yeah, you're going to succeed more often than fail. But sooner or later everybody is just going to think you're a homicidal maniac because role-playing happens inbetween roll-playing.

      In the last session I played in I didn't roll anything higher than a 7, so I was failing a lot and I suffered losses everywhere. My characters got exiled, then crippled, then threatened, then stranded. "Game without failure?" Try actually playing it more than once.

    5. 60 % is the base - as you play your character to it's strengths, you're probably looking closer to 75% on most rolls.

      If you couldn't roll over a 7, you must have been using Roll20 - it gets stuck on a series of number sometimes and refuses to go outside the sample ;)

      Suffice to say, my experience with AW (beyond the IMHO horrible writing style of the book itself) is the lack of true risk compared to more traditional games. My perception, and it may very well be wrong. I doubt I'll play enough AW in the future to change that perception.

      I've never played DW - have it somewhere on the bookshelf. Didn't read it enough to see how it differs in play from AW beyond the basic moves and such.

    6. You only get experience in DW for failing rolls.
      AW and DW both share a mechanic that failing a roll means that something bad happens, it means the GM can potentially treat any failure like a critical failure (e.g. your weapon breaks, you lose track of the enemy, you're blinded, etc.). So you're right, on average you're going to succeed at your rolls, but when you fail then bad stuff is always going to happen to you or the people around you.
      Saying it's a game without failure just makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

    7. Interesting. I think the reason that the "fail-forward" concept gets a reputation is because the usual pitch I've heard for the mechanic is "you don't just roll and fail/succeed, something HAPPENS" but the problem is most GMs who know what they're doing already do this, so it sounds like the mechanic is just codifying good GM narration into a mechanic. Also, fail-forward is often pitched as a "failure is never fun" which usually comes off the wrong way as someone saying. "I don't like to lose, so I want to play a game where I never lose." A better pitch would be "failure should never be boring, it should always be something that scares the hell out of you, but moves the plot forward." That's a pitch I could get behind.

  2. Also, they should have called Broken World "Ouroborous: The Game That Eats Its Own Tail"
    That's a fucking RPG cash grab if I ever saw one!

  3. Having played Apoc World (and most of the PbtA games), I felt much the same. That is, until I read the FAQ. Apoc World is a very specific experience and I backed this project because what they appear to be doing is something much more what I'm looking for in an apocalypse game.

    (From the FAQ)
    Wait, Isn't Dungeon World based off Apocalypse World?
    Yes it is. Apocalypse World is a very interesting system but it wasn't what I wanted from a post apocalypse system and setting. I felt that many of the changes the Dungeon World team made would work very well in my own system, so I'll be carrying them further. I also enjoy a more light hearted and quirky experience when role-playing, and a setting that doesn't take itself too seriously. My aim is to produce a game with a much easier point of entry for new players, and a more creative environment for players to explore character creation. I've added a section called "What Will Your Game Be Like?" to talk about this.

    1. This particular hack seems much more Gamma world which I guess is something that appealed to me. Just sharing my $0.02.

    2. This. I didn't like the Apocolypse World style. I found it was trying to hard to be edgy, and frankly I found the writing to be too much trouble to bother with. The sex moves didn't help. DW was far more user friendly and didn't take itself so seriously. It was approachable enough that I finally groked the system and seems to be geared towards having interesting things happen. I don't have enough experience with the system to be able to comment on whether 30% for failure is enough to qualify it to be fun (not really sure what the point is there - the more failure the more fun maybe?). Broken World seems to have the same vibe I got out of Gamma World way back in the day. Plus I like pictures. I backed it. My biggest worry is the designer is new, and we all know how that can go on Kickstarter.

  4. So, you're critical of a the "*World" crowd for producing two somewhat similar games of post-apocalyptic adventure, yet you're a self-proclaimed fan of the OSR, which primarily produces somewhat similar games of dungeon-crawling and murder-hobo-ing. Interesting...

    But seriously, if there is room for D&D (and D&D and D&D) and Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord and Ambition & Avarice and Blood & Treasure etc... surely there is room for Apocalypse World and Broken World.

    1. If James Raggi ran a Kickstarter for a weird fantasy game called "Tribulations of the Ice Queen", I'm pretty sure everyone in the OSR would call him on it.

    2. Yeah, now that I think about it that does sound pretty awesome.

      Who knows, maybe Broken World is cool too.

    3. Good point Steven! I suppose I should be less critical of Broken World.

      TheShadowKnows, I would totally buy "Tribulations of the Ice Queen"!

    4. This pretty much nails it. I've got about 20 different versions of "D&D".

  5. Three comments:

    1. There are a lot of brands of post-apoc, this one looks more traditional than Apocalypse World

    2. I am not hip enough to play the -World games, apparently.

    3. The fail forward mechanic is (to some people) equivalent to jumping into an arena covered in pillows and oven mitts with an oversized crash helmet. If you're doing it "right" then the experience should be indistinguishable from a good GM who understands that all games prior to the fail-forward concept were not actually binary success/failure rolls, ever.

    ....but....it seems like you can't just talk about "making rolls interesting" in the GM section anymore, it's all got to be mechanically baked in and pillowed up so you don't hurt your player's feelings. As with many other contemporary indie RPGs I honestly don't get how "risk free gaming" can sustain itself....and given that I only know of one gamer locally who is even remotely interested in these titles, and he never runs them, I'd say the interest isn't all that strong (around here anyway).

    YMV and all, I think these -World games are great, just not for me.