Original SA post
Single-post: SEID IHR DAS ESSEN, NEIN, WER SIND DER JAGERRRR
Titan World is a hack for
based on the anime Attack on Titan. I recommend reading that link as Evil Mastermind explains the basics of Apocalypse World quite nicely there, although this is even simpler than base Apocalypse World.
If this review seems a bit Spartan, it's because the manual has no artwork whatsoever. Very no-frills.
Warning: If you've never, ever seen Attack on Titan, there's some spoilers below in the playbook segment.
It's notable for being:
A) Rules-light even by the standards of Apocalypse World hacks.
B) Absurdly lethal to its PCs. Like, XCOM-level casualty rates. Apocalypse World has the harm clock, Dungeon World has HP, but at least early on Titan World has you either winning or dying en masse. It's true to the source material, at least!
So what exactly *is* the premise here? I'll let the manual itself explain:
Long ago, the world belonged to humans. Those days vanished, however, when the Titans came.
The origins of the Titans remain shrouded in mystery. All we know is that their rise was sudden and brutal, and soon, they were everywhere. Massive and all but indestructible, the Titans sought nothing but to eat humans. And eat they did - before long, humans had been pushed to the brink of extinction.
Now this world belongs to the Titans. All that remains of humanity lives in a single nation, surrounded by three enormous walls. The world beyond the
walls is a dangerous one, full of ravenous Titans that seek nothing more than to consume human flesh. Behind the walls, humanity is safe - but all it would
take is a single breach to plunge humanity into chaos once more. If the first wall were to break, half of humanity’s territory would be lost. If the second were
to break, what little remained would not be able to support even its own population, let alone the refugees from outside. If the third wall broke, then every
last human would surely be devoured.
You have just graduated from the military training corps, and been trained in the dangerous craft of fighting Titans. People like you patrol the walls, keep the peace, and go on expeditions beyond the walls to unearth resources and information. You do not know the true horror of battle between man and Titan.
But you will.
Welcome to Titan World.
Next, the manual lists the stats, and what playbook (read: class) they go with. They are:
(Used for getting where you need to go, when you need to be there, flitting around Titans and reaching spots for an advantageous attack. It is the primary stat for the Natural playbook.)
(Used to when you make a killing blow on Titans. Or humans. You never know! Primary stat for the Warrior playbook.)
(Your tactical acumen and ability to analyze a situation. Primary stat for the Tactician playbook.)
(Keeping your own shit and that of your teammates together when said shit has hit the fan. Primary stat for the Leader playbook.)
(Sheer hatred of the Titans and all-around anger-mismanagement. Used for breaking out of hopeless situations through sheer gumption. Primary stat for the Shifter playbook.)
Next is a list of selectable first and last names for characters. You don't get a last name to start with---the odds are against your first character surviving your first sortie.
Now for the basic moves. As per usual Apocalypse World rules, a 10+ means you do what you set out to do and maybe a little more, a 7-9 means you pull it off with a hitch, and a 6- indicates you flat-out don't do it, or worse if indicated:
Avoid Harm (Agility)
- You either escape from danger, make it out of the frying pan and into the fire, or you're plain out in danger.
Get Into Position (Agility)
- You use your 3D manuevering gear (basically a sort of grappling-hook-jetpack thing) and get in a position to strike at a Titan's weakspot. Optimally, you get into a position where you have a clear shot at the Titan, but if you flub, you get there but get spotted/run low on gas or blades/have a pants-soiling close call.
Strike to Kill (Execution)
- You close in for a strike on the Titan's weakpoint, burning an accumulated Advantage (gained from Get Into Position) in the process. You either pull it off with flawless grace, or you do it but put yourself in a vulnerable spot/have an unnervingly close call/run low on blades or gas.
Hand to Hand (Execution)
- For when you fight humans. On a perfect hit, you trounce your opponent, on a near-miss they either manage to limp away or you take -1 ongoing to Execution.
Assess the Situation (Awareness)
- You ask your GM/MC some useful questions about the situation. How well you roll determines how many questions you can ask.
Keep Your Cool (Discipline)
- You attempt to keep your sanity intact in the middle of the horrors of the battlefield. Success means you keep calm and carry on. 7-9 means you lose hope and pick up the Panicked disadvantage.
Desperate Rescue (Discipline
- You attempt to free a friend from the grip of the Titans. 10+ means you pull them to safety, 7-9 means they live and you die, 6- means you're both KIA. Grimdark, much?
Escape Death (Rage)
- You attempt to fight your way out of the clutches of a Titan. On a 10+, you get out of there. On a 7-9, you either take an injury as a Disadvantage, or you've spent your fighting spirit for the moment, taking -1 Ongoing to rage until you have a minute to rest. On a 6-, you're giant chow. Nasty.
Luck - You get Luck points over time in this hack, and spending them lets you upgrade a 7-9 you rolled to a 12, or any roll your friends make to a 7.
Next, the manual discusses Advantages and Disadvantages. Advantages are a sort of fiction-currency that you can spend to either make a sucky roll not suck or make a good roll great, or burn them to execute certain Moves.
Disadvantages are ammo for the MC to use on making your life difficult. Disadvantages can be used to either make your shiny 10+ roll a less-good 7-9 roll, or to introduce a new complication to the scene.
Now's a bit of terminology: Rolling +Stat means rolling 2d6 and then adding the relevant stat number. +Forward means that the next time you make a roll relevant to whatever you're +Forwarding, you modify the dieroll by that amount. +Ongoing means that until the given condition ends, you take this modifier to the relevant rolls.
Curiously not mentioned is +Hold, which is 'currency' of sorts generated by certain moves that you can burn 1-for-1 to get nifty effects.
Now for character classes/playbooks!
: Everyone starts as one of these. You get +2/+1/+1/0/-1 to assign to whatever stats you see fit, a pair of special blades capable of getting through the Titan's thick skin, your 3D manuevering gear, and one piece of specialist equipment (spare blades, spare gas for the 3DMG, a rifle useful for poking out Titan's eyes, a torch for night ops, or a flare gun with colored smoke rounds). A character can carry three pieces of equipment without suffering the Encumbered Disadvantage, and a pair of blades and a 3DMG are one item each. A pack horse can carry four pieces. You do not get any moves besides the basic ones mentioned above. You start at level 0, and do not even get the honor of having a last name for your character. The only way to get better and be recognized is to distinguish yourself, and the only way to distinguish yourself is to survive.
: An ace 3DMG pilot who can weave circles around Titans, and serves as the team's scout. Their moves allow them to stay one step ahead of Titans, recon unknown terrain, use their speed to get past otherwise daunting swarms of Titans, use their Agility to Strike to Kill instead of the Execution stat, use their nimbleness to counterattack Titans, and use parkour to get to the high ground without the use of their 3DMG.
: Natural born giantkillers. They can slay Titans without having to make a prep manuever first, save allies by attacking the Titans instead of trying to pull out the ally, coerce reluctant/stubborn people into doing what needs doing with threats of violence, and literally beat useful lessons into allies.
: The brains of the team. Skilled in making sure everyone is put where they'll do the most damage. They can devise plans to get a task done with the greatest efficiency, spot moments of opportunity for offense or defense, hobknob through the chain of command to get something they need, get added info from Assess the Situation, get bonuses from coordinating with sister teams, and devise ambushes to give teammates Advantages.
: The heart of the team, able to stand firm where others falter. He's better at Desperate Rescue moves than the rest of the team (He WILL save them, no matter the cost), deliver motivating speeches, give first aid to injured teammates, use his reputation with the command staff to request necessary favors, get bonuses from synchronized attacks, and help shake terrified teammates out of their stupor.
: A riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a giant humanoid shell of flesh and rage the size of an office building, the Shifter is notable because they have the ability to turn into Titans themselves while retaining their humanity. This can go wrong, through---uncontrollable berserk fits, incomplete transformations, and transforming so dramatically that every Titan in the tri-county area wants to come check it out. Plus sides: Ignoring getting Titan-punched in the faces, punching other Titans in the face, and epic feats of strength. A Shifter will likely need to rest and take a breather after one of his episodes, though. A Shifter's improvements include specialized Titanform bodies (armored/regeneration/highly agile/huge even by Titan standards), the ability to generate a steam cloud to cover your movements/scare off smaller Titans when you revert back to a puny human, an ear-splitting roar that can either scare off or aggro Titans (depending on your luck), and becoming too angry to kill.
Now for the more metagame-centric section. The goal in Apocalypse World games is not to try and kill the players, even despite Titan World's mortifying casualty rate: The goal is to make things INTERESTING. The goal isn't to see whether players succeed or fail, it's to see how they react to situations.
GM Agenda posted:
• Show the best and the worst of the world.
• Raise the stakes constantly.
• Play to find out what happens.
GM Principles posted:
• Begin and end with the fiction.
• Follow every glimpse of despair with a glimpse of hope.
• Follow every glimpse of hope with a glimpse of despair.
• Let nothing worthwhile be easy.
• Reward desperate plans with a chance at great success.
• Show that nothing is guaranteed.
• Make every Titan memorable.
Player Principles posted:
Read this to the players at the
beginning of the game:
• Risk everything for victory.
• Value your allies above yourself.
• Uncover the secrets of the world.
And now, GM moves.
Reveal a New Complication
- An added variable makes the situation much more dangerous than before.
Inflict/Exploit a Disadvantage
- Hamstring a character on some level, making it harder for them to react effectively.
Damage Their Equipment
: Shit breaks. Shit ESPECIALLY breaks when it's most inconvenient. Ain't Murphy's Law wonderful?
Separate Them From Their Allies
: Teamwork is one of the few advantages humans have against the Titans. If you're caught soloing a Titan, you're either a fool, desperate, or very very brave.
Throw Them Into the Jaws of Death
: The most harrowing move available to the GM, this is when a Titan has a PC a step away from death. Ironically, this will likely only result in mass casualties to an all-Rookie team, as veteran characters have many options for survival. That much said, by all means, do kill the rookies. Kill ALL the rookies.
A small sidebar explains the details of Titans, or at least the basic details---half the point of Apocalypse World games is crafting the canon a step at a time with player help. Titans regenerate blows to anything but a hit to the back of the neck, which is their weak point. Large amounts of smaller trauma elsewhere COULD kill them, but it's most efficient to slow them down with a blow elsewhere on their bodies and then land a killing strike to their neck.
At least, that's for NORMAL Titans. Then we have Advanced Titans.
Some unusual Titans move differently or wildly, are much larger than the norm, have either incredible regenerative powers or metal-hard skin, or perhaps most alarmingly, can THINK, just like a human.
Last page. The manual explains the difference between Temporary or Persistent Advantages or Disadvantages, the specifics of the "Low on Gas/Blades" disadvantages, and lists credits for Attack on Titan and the Apocalypse World system, as well as an ApocWorld hack and entirely other TTRPG that Titan World borrows some mechanics from (Monster of the Week, FATE Core).
Aaand that's it! Told you it was minimal!
I think Titan World's a really good way to introduce people to ApocWorld games, myself. It's simple and takes next-to-no time to get started, and since starting PCs are totally green recruits with no preexisting ties, you don't have to worry about ApocWorld's confusing History system.
Hope this was a good writeup for you! The smallish size of Titan World doesn't lend itself well to a chapter-by-chapter writeup, so I did it all in one lump sum.