Wednesday, 8 May 2013

AW: Spring Hill the First

This week I started a one-on-one Apocalypse World game with John. We usually meet up on Tuesdays for wargaming (Anima Tactics) or board/card games, but I thought it might be interesting to try something different. I also wanted to exercise my *World brain-muscles to improve my tremulus Keeper-ing.

  • John plays Uncle Mike, a Hardholder  He's a man with a mix of casual and junta wear, an aristocratic face, commanding eyes, and a wiry body.

Uncle's Holding is the walled town of Spring Hill, built around a natural spring on a hill in the middle of fertile plains. The town has a large population, but owes protection tribute. Its walls are tall, deep and mighty. (1-barter hunger disease reprisals, +2armour when fighting in its defence).

Uncle's personal gang is small, but well-disciplined and with a sophisticated and extensive armoury (4-harm gang small 1-armour).

There are several other settlements on the plains around Spring Hill, most notably the holding of Bad Stump, ruled by a warlord who commands large raiding parties of motorcycle warriors. It is to Bad Stump that Spring Hill (and most other local towns) owes tribute. In the hills to the East lies the irradiated ruins of a town from the before-time. Downstream some distance from the hill's spring lies the crater swamp, and the small village of Fishwallow.

Uncle 'missed' on his initial Wealth roll, so as the curtain lifts on Spring Hill, the Holding is suffering from hunger, disease, and imminent reprisals for not paying tribute...

Uncle discusses the situation with his lieutenants, notably his gang leader Bridget and his PR officer Johnny the Voice. He initially puts out an edict for the population to work harder in the fields, but this unpopular order meets resistance from a hungry and unwell workforce. He instructs them to work inside the city walls instead, tending market gardens rather than the farms outside - the sort of things that may support the city in times of siege.

Ganger Tom-Tom, on sentry duty, announces the approach of a small motorcycle pack. Uncle meets them at the gates, welcoming them with a table and jug of wine under a flag of truce. These bikers are emissaries of Bad Stump, led by Gnarly, come to demand recompense for the late tribute. Uncle offers them training in the use of heavy weapons, but they are more interested in getting actual heavy weapons that Uncle is unwilling to part with. Instead, they demand tribute in the form of slaves - twenty-five members of his population, to take back to Bad Stump. Uncle says he'll only hand over volunteers, and goes to see if he can find any.

The Voice suggests Spring Hill offload some of their sick onto Bad Stump. Uncle gathers some reasonably able infected and asks them to go voluntarily, with the promise of a better life or at least more food. His speech is unconvincing, and nobody is willing to go along with the plan.

Uncle missed a roll to Manipulate the infected; I really should have pulled a hard move here instead of just saying they were unwilling to go along with his plan. They might have rioted, or spread nasty rumours, or revealed a worse stage of the infection. Something for me to keep in mind for later. At the very least, it did keep things moving by forcing Uncle to come up with an alternative solution...

Back at the city gates, Uncle has his gang assault the raiders, cutting off their retreat and impressing them with firepower and discipline. Some of the bikers are killed, but eight are captured including Gnarly, along with their bikes and gear. Uncle has them chained and put to work in the Holding. The population derides them, and throws things, but Uncle's gangers prevent any lynchings. 

Uncle walks through the town; many of the sick are still working, so he suggests they spend their time indoors to limit the spread of infection. At sunset he gives a rousing speech to the population, blaming Bad Stump for the hard times. He throws Gnarly to the crowd, who beat him to death.

The next day, Uncle personally leads some of his gang on the stolen bikes to the tiny settlement of Fishwallow; with their high mobility and superior firepower, they slaughter most of the population and rout the rest. They take all of the food and a small amount of loot, and return home.

This raid was resolved in a single Seize by Force move, as the villagers were massively outgunned. I'm not sure if I actually made a move of any sort once the raid succeeded; Uncle and his gang just took everything and went back to Spring Hill. I could have had him run into a raiding gang from Bad Stump (which now I think about it would have been pretty tense, given they were on stolen bikes). I did ask how he planned to feed a town of over 200 with a small village's fish supply, though.

He had the fish turned into soup and stew, enough to keep the population fed for a couple of days. He then decided to send 30 or so citizens to go occupy Fishwallow and turn it into a colony of Spring Hill. This began a general easing-up of the population pressure the city was experiencing; in addition, around 10 people had died from the disease.

After feeding the people, Uncle walks through the town to show his concern for the population, but is bodyguarded by Jimbo the Tough. Young rebellious townsfolk ask him how he's going to feed them once the fish runs out. He drafts the youths into a new gang, outfitting them with looted weapons from Bad Stump's bikers, and sends them out to hunt in the forested hills under the command of Tweet and other younger members of his original gang.

Back at his residence, his secretary and sweetheart Miss Annabel has begun showing symptoms of the disease. He gets Doc Jones on it right away.

Lastly, he decided to send small groups out in all directions to make diplomatic contact with other towns, in the hope of creating an alliance against Bad Stump.

>>> To be continued?

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