Heroes Fall: Thoughts on a Fantasy Hack of Apocalypse World

Apocalypse World has been kicking around my brainpan after I finished my review last night. The default setting just isn’t my thing. Weird post-apocalyptic stuff simply doesn’t appeal to me. Since I came to the game through Dungeon World, my initial thoughts are in the fantasy direction though any setting that prominently features the politics of strong opposing groups would do as well.

Dungeon World is a great game. It’s a lot of fun. I can vouch for that from first hand experience. The game is just missing some of the core facets of Apocalypse World that make the original game really pop. The politics, sex, and very personal focus of the role playing just aren’t present in Dungeon World. Not that they should be; Dungeon World has its own identity as a game and does its own thing very well. There’s more to fantasy than dungeon crawls, though.

I’ve been imagining a fantasy game that takes all the politics and sex from Apocalypse World and runs with it. Think Game of Thrones but with powerful mages, clans of barbarians, and hordes of orcs. A few things from Dungeon World would be absolutely applicable to this new game; race moves for the different playbooks. They’re essentially just a classification of “you get one of these” like in Apocalypse World. The various playbooks should be named after iconic D&D characters but I would like to see them closer to the original playbooks.

For the most part, I don’t want wizards hurling fireballs or magic missiles. Magic is powerful but it is not quick. In Grim World magic involves summoning demons, binding dark creatures to one’s will, calling forth storms and crafting items of great power. I’m going for a Conan-esque feeling of great power at great risk. Want to be a powerful mage? No problem! You didn’t need your soul anyway, right?

Here are some of my ideas for the playbooks. There are other D&D classes to be explored but these are just the core classes from the D&D 3.0 PHB.

Bard – Charming, sexy, and dangerous. That’s the bard in Grim World. She brings something beautiful and compelling into an otherwise dark world. Based off the Skinner from Apocalypse World, the Bard is all about sex and seduction. The moves might not even change all that much.

Barbarian – This guy is the chief of a small tribe. He’s tough, wild, and in charge of a powerful group of warriors. The barbarian is a living legend, a hero to his people like in the Norse sagas. That also makes him the target of rivals and upstarts. What better way to become a hero than to slay the greatest one alive? He’ll be modeled after the Chopper, right down to an unruly mob of toughs with some group weakness.

The Cleric – She is a priestess governing over a holy house. Her order offers aid and succor to weary travellers and the sick. Players will design the deity’s portfolio, deciding which realm of civilization is dedicated to it and what is important to the people of the faith. I see her as a combination of the Angel and the Maestro D’.

Druid – An elven wanderer who will never call a city or town home. He protects the forests and plains with a zealous purpose. Orcs defile the natural world while men and dwarves have the hubris to reshape it. Druids live in harmony with nature and are able to commune with it. They will have their own version of the psychic maelstrom that deals with the spirits of the natural world. Other than that, I see it as sort of inspired by the Driver. Instead of jobs, the Druid will have causes or vengeances.

Fighter – The Fighter is one dangerous son of a bitch. He’s been hardened by dozens of battles and mastered the art of combat through hard trial. He lives in his armor and always has a variety of weapons ready for a fight. No one is harder or deadlier than the Fighter. He’s based on the Gunlugger splat.

Monk – Not all who wander are lost. The Monk is one such. She wanders the known world seeking enlightenment. Perhaps there is a monastery nearby she calls home but perhaps not. The Monk stays cool under pressure, reaching deep reserves of inner calm that have been honed through years of meditation. When it comes to blows, the Monk’s greatest weapon is his own body. I’m thinking the Monk’s two biggest stats should be Cool and whatever the analog for Weird ends up being. Actually, with a little reflavoring basing him off the Battlebabe wouldnt be too far off the mark.

Paladin – Holy avenger. Righteous warrior. Implacable foe. These are all terms to describe the Paladin. He’s all Hard. Whatever his beliefs are, he believes them absolutely. It is his duty and holy obligation to slay the wicked and defend the faith. Sounds like a Gunlugger or a Hardholder to me.

Ranger – Much like the Druid, the Ranger is at home in the wilds. Insead of protecting nature from the destructive powers of society they instead patrol the wilds to safeguard civilization. He fights by his wits and cunning, Sharper than most. Let’s imagine this guy as a translation of the Driver.

Thief – Stealthy, clever and amoral, the Thief operates on the fringe of society. She takes the things other people are too weak to hold onto. She sells secrets to the highest bidder. She is an important figure of the underworld. As he levels up he may gain a guild of lesser thieves to help him in his shady doings. The Thief is the Operator of Grim World, constantly juggling jobs and contacts.

Sorceror – Psycho cult leader. This chick is weird (or whatever we call that stat). She’s got power. Power you’ve never seen before and she’s got a fanatical cult to tell you just how much power she has. The Sorceror is a Hocus, pretty much without any changes.

Wizard – The laws of power are not constant. They shift and change, ebb and flow. You are tapped into those laws. You are a Wizard. The Sorceror has power, sure. But she can’t control it. You understand. Your power isn’t a fluke of nature. It is an exercise of your will. Who cares if you’re bugfuck crazy and without a soul? The Wizard is a combination Savvyhead and Hocus.

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.

This entry was posted in Game Design, Heroes Fall, Role Playing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Heroes Fall: Thoughts on a Fantasy Hack of Apocalypse World

  1. Den says:

    I love it! I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog….

Leave a Reply