Apocalypse World is focused like a laser on character-driven narrative; the mechanics help the MC (gamemaster) and players create interesting stories that flow organically from the hard choices decisions player characters make in a post-apocalyptic setting. Conflicts between player characters are particularly important in Apocalypse World; survival means cooperating while looking out for Number One.
The game is written with a strong point of view; although there is no defined setting (it’s created as the game progresses), there is only one way to play the game correctly, and that path is strongly delineated. Task resolution mechanics are simple and focused on how the outcome affects the story.
It is designed for highly dramatic campaign play in a bleak setting. Several games, including Dungeon World and Monsterhearts use the Apocalypse World mechanics. Apocalypse World is not for those who are offended by strong language and references to sex.
Here’s how the publisher describes Apocalypse World:
Now the world is not what it was. Look around you: evidently, certainly, not what it was. But also close your eyes, open your brain: something is wrong. At the limits of perception, something howling, everpresent, full of hate and terror. From this, the world’s psychic maelstrom, we none of us have shelter.
Three Things About Apocalypse World
- Succeed at a Cost: A roll of 7-9 results in an action that succeeds, but with negative consequences. This provides rich narrative possibilities between unmitigated success and sheer failure.
- Intraparty Dynamics: Apocalypse World is as much about what happens between the player characters as what happens in the larger world.
- The Psychic Maelstrom: The destruction of the old world created windows into a strange, unpredictable storm of psychic energy that can provide insight or insanity.
Note: These reviews refer to v1 of the game. v2 is a refinement rather than an overhaul.
- “After 4 sessions and reading through the book multiple times, I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited about a game since I was introduced to the role playing at the age of 10.” – Ross Cowman, RPGGeek
- “The whole book really does wonders to evoke the subject matter, and the mechanics themselves are very ingenious as well” – Kris Vanhoyland, RPGGeek
- Buy the book or PDF from Nightsky Games
- The publisher runs an active forum and provides a variety of free downloads
- RPG StackExchange