Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When it comes to RPGs, I’ve always been a bit of a traditionalist. I grew up with D&D and to this day roleplaying brings to mind the Silver Marches of the Forgotten Realms and the blistering heat of the Anarauoch desert.
Over the years I’ve explored different rule-sets and settings but one thing has always remained constant; preparation. I’ve never been that good at improvisation and, like many, live in fear of sitting like a Roo in headlights with no idea what to do next.
So my first impression when I read these rules, particularly the part that said “DO NOT PREPARE ANYTHING”, was “you gotta be kidding.”
I finished reading the book though and I must say its got some fascinating ideas in it. The flavour text is well written with some nice classes and examples evoking all the grittiness of a post-apocalyptic setting. The rules were quite different than a regular GM would be used to as well, with the GM rarely (if ever) rolling dice, with all of that reserved instead for the players. All NPCs are named, but none have stats; so the full mechanical agency rests with the players, NPCs given narrative agency only.
By the time I got to the end of this book, I knew two things. 1) This was like no rpg I’d ever played and 2) I had to try it.
The book itself has nice production values, particularly for an independent PDF publication. It suffers a little from inconsistency as the same rules are sometimes presented in multiple places, with differences in wording that make one of the places far more clear. This can make it harder when searching for a ruling at the table. Some of the rules are also quite abstract and need several readings to understand what is being attempted (a few more examples wouldn’t have gone astray.)
Overall, a well-thought-out and present core book, with plenty to interest the post-apocalyptic roleplayer. Even if you’ve never played improv before, give it a go. There are lots of little tools in the book to help you figure out how to do it; and they work excellently.