I ran my first one-shot of Apocalypse World this weekend for a group that normally plays D&D 3rd edition (almost religiously). I sent them the playbooks I was willing to use and asked them to decide what they wanted to be before I got there, and then wrote generic love letters for each chosen playbook.
When I first sat down to make characters with them, the biggest thing was that they didn't understand Hx. In trying to explain it one player in particular kept trying to push for ways of maximizing their Hx, and seemed really confused that you could choose to give somebody's Hx a -1. Going around the table for Hx was also a sticky point because everybody thought it worked differently. I eventually walked them through it step by step and I think it clicked for them.
Another player was confused as to why he could choose to have armor or not.
"Why wouldn't I wear armor?"
"Because you wouldn't like it, maybe? Or it gets in the way? It's not your style?"
"That seems stupid to not wear armor."
*shrug "That's cool."
(It didn't occur to me to say "Well, an Angel who wears armor might not be trusted by everybody he meets." but then he also failed every healing roll he made, so he was more like an angel of death.)
They all asked about the countdown clocks, and after I explained how they work they all seemed a bit upset that they only had 6 hit points effectively. I told them "It's really hard to die. In the game I'm playing we had a building fall on a character at the end of a gunfight and he's still alive." This seemed to mollify them temporarily, and by the time we started playing they had forgotten it completely.
We ended up with:
a Skinner named Dusk who specialized in being a con artist and tricking people out of their money and food, everybody else thinks she's a stripper though nobody can ever remember seeing her strip
an Angel named Doc (not his real name) who really liked to drink booze and received his Angel Kit from his mother
a Maestro'd named Francois who ran a restaurant and brothel, the Mouton Noir, out of an old,huge dilapidated bookstore
a Grotesque named Blakesly who ran around town with a musician, performing dances with her drones alongside the music
and a Savvyhead named Oliver, who had been set up in the hold of Lynnback for five years now and was an often relied upon member of the community
I went around the table and found out who these people were.
Oliver was hit on by an enforcer named Foster but she turned him down cold.
Foster found Doc examining a break-in and was about to arrest him, but Doc's lack of tools slowed him up.
Blakesly shared some of her food with an old crone and some kid started a fight with her about it.
Dusk defused the situation, and she and Francois spent some time distracting enforcers who were insistent on searching the Mouton Noir.
Almost everybody fell in love or lust with Dusk.
Then I took a little break, treating it like the end of a session. The Skinner was the most active with everybody else and she had set up two of her Hx at +3, which means when everybody said she knew them better she got two experience. When I came back from my break, I handed out the love letters and instructed them to re-highlight stats as if this were a new session.
It turns out Francois the Maestro'd had the highest Hx with everybody and he got a little overwhelmed. Most everybody highlighted the best stat they had, so I tried to push for Doc and Dusk to fight a little with Hard, and everybody else I either marked Sharp or Cool.
Doc had been invited to have dinner with the leader of their hold. I went around the table asking the players "What's his name?" "What does he look like?" "Does he have a family?" "Why does he keep so many enforcers around his mansion?" and got some great answers. Rosebottom is a slovenly and overweight guy with a bald head and a scarred face, he doesn't have a family because everybody thinks they got killed when he set this place up, or maybe he killed them, but he's paranoid and protective of his house, he keeps the guards running around 24-7 because he doesn't like unexpected visitors.
Dusk was invited to this dinner as the entertainment and she fumbled around trying to keep the focus off of her because she didn't want to have to dance for Rosebottom or any of his enforcers. Doc was keeping an eye out for Foster since they had bad blood but he wasn't around. Odd that. At the end of the festivities Rosebottom told Doc there was a patient he needed seeing to and they took Doc downstairs into the basement, where the entrance to an underground mine was hidden. In the mine, Rosebottom had slaves digging up some sort of coal that electrified the air around it. One of the slaves had these weird white lines along his skin, almost like they were scars but growing out from the inside of his body. Doc sat down to work on the patient.
Dusk meanwhile was rousing Francois because she knew Doc was being held prisoner. While Dusk was trying to convince Francois that they needed to go up and save Doc, a fight was brewing at the entrance to the Mouton Noir. When I asked Francois "What do you do?" he said "Nothing. This is why I hired Rum to be the doorman, he can handle it."
"Cool. You hear a gunshot and when you look up Rum is flat out on the floor, looks like his face is gone."
Blakesly's musician friend, Krin, was fighting with Rum about their unborn baby and didn't shine to his dismissive attitude towards her, and Rum had just split her face open. (None of the players ever learned this because they never took the time to properly interrogate her.) She was now losing blood and it looked like her lips and nose were permanently fucked. Dusk and Francois disarmed Krin, and Blakesly insisted on taking her to Doc, at this point also learning that Dusk thought he was being held prisoner. They took Krin to Oliver, because they knew she had an infirmary in her workspace, and after patching up a now-unconscious Krin they headed back to Rosebottom's mansion. (There was some confusion about Krin because I had named another NPC Crine, something I'll have to keep better track of in the future.)
Dusk had hypnotized one of the guards earlier and was now calling favors. They were let into the mansion and found most of the guards sleeping off the party from earlier. In the basement, they found Doc being guarded by an enforcer who was also in love with Dusk (she had been busy). They managed to get him out of the building just as a rival gang was rolling into town and shooting the place up. I ended with the Savvyhead acting under fire and trying to escape, she rolled an 8. Because nobody got hurt throughout the whole game, I asked "You can either take a bullet in the back as you're fleeing, or you'll have to kill one of Rosebottom's guards with your crowbar in order to sneak away." She chose to kill the enforcer.
If we could have kept going with these characters I was left with a lot of great leads.
Foster is hurt really bad in the fighting and Doc is called upon to heal him.
It's pretty obvious that Oliver killed one of Rosebottom's guards and they would be pissed about that.
Dusk has left a trail of broken hearts and compromised enforcers, who are all going to be scratching their heads about why they suddenly don't feel so loyal (read as: hypnotized) anymore.
Blakesly managed to keep her head down, but she was seen along with the rest of them wen they were all over Rosebottom's place, so that makes her an accomplice in the enforcers' eyes.
Francois's entourage were basically escorting them all to go get Doc and Rosebottom saw them all. Like I said, he's going to be pissed.
All in all, everybody had a great time. And it's always a little scary to play with new people but refreshing to play with people who are eager to play.