I found my old post about this. It’s just a rough idea, and in need of improvement, but I’ll post it here, since it is the topic of conversation:
Someone asked for help running an AW one-shot over on the “barf” forums, and I came up with this. The idea is to leverage people’s familiarity with the Mad Max film to jump quickly and effortlessly into a short game of AW.
It’s a “first draft”, but I thought I would share it. What do you think? Does it have legs?
Q: How do I run an AW one-shot?
A: If (IF!) all your players have seen “Mad Max: Fury Road” (and you have, obviously, right?), tell them this:
"We’re going to make our own ‘Mad Max’ film. It will start in a similar way, but then it’s free to go in any kind of direction. OK? Imagine the first few minutes of the film - that’s where we start. Big rock stronghold in the middle of the wasteland, the local overlord rules it all, and pours water out of huge floodgates onto the thirsty masses… But today, something major is about to happen here.
Now, who are you? You can be:
(A) The boss. You run the place. You’re in charge. Create your character as the Hardholder.
If your Wives (or even just one of them) were to go missing, who would be more furious?
Even though it makes sense to introduce this character first dramatically, you may wish to leave the Hardholder as an NPC. Make sure you mention that to the players now.
(The Hardholder is likely to be seen as a villain here if you stick closely to the nature of the wives’ imprisonment as portrayed in the movie. I’d recommend leaving this character as an NPC unless you make the effort to reframe the situation somewhat, or like the idea of playing a villain. Note that the second option, above, allows the Hardholder to be a reluctant “good guy”. Reenvisioning the Wives’ situation as less cruel is another way to handle this character.)
(B) The Hardholder’s most prized Wife. Whatever your relationship to the boss before, now you’re a prisoner.
Not for long, though: you’re about to escape.
The other Wives, in your view, are generally weak, stupid, loyal to the Hardholder, or pregnant. But you, you’re special. Choose: are you the Skinner, the Battlebabe, or the Angel?
Also tell us:
If you had a chance to escape, would you want to take the other Wives with you, or make a go of it on your own? (You can change your mind later.)
What do you yearn for or seek, out in the wild?
© You’re a prisoner, a new person: someone who doesn’t belong here. No one really knows you.
What’s your deal? Choose the Quarantine, the Gunlugger, or the Battlebabe (for the last, only if the Wife’s player didn’t already claim that playbook).
- You’ve just spotted the perfect opportunity for an escape. Describe it! Which other character will be a witness when you make a break for it?
- Another character (or one of their lieutenants) has come to rescue you or let you escape. Ask who it is, and ask them: Why are they helping you?
(D) You work for the Hardholder, you’re one of his lieutenants. Which are you?
- You’re the Driver. You’ve got a big-ass truck, mighty and fast, which you know inside and out.
- You’re the Brainer. There’s another crony who drives a huge truck, and you’ve got him wrapped around your finger - you can play him like a marionette. He drives where you tell him to.
Now! You’ve stumbled on an opportunity to take something the Hardholder loves so dearly: his Wives.
- You’re doing it because you’ve had enough. You want to help, you want to improve the world, you want to rescue someone from terrible slavery.
- You’re doing it because you need a bargaining chip to get what you REALLY want. What is it?
(E) You’re not one of the Hardholder’s people - you hold your own, and you are important around here. Perhaps a rival warlord, or something like that.
Choose if you are the Chopper, the Hocus, or the Maestro’d.
Your home base is the next settlement over, not too far away, maybe in the cliffs on the horizon: another oasis in this wasteland, smaller but still lively.
- You’re hanging out just outside the Hardhold, with your people, ready for action.
- You’re an honoured guest at the Hardhold, enjoying the Hardholder’s finest.
- Choose one of characters B, C, or D. You feel that they owe you… or that they are owed to you. Either way, you’re not leaving until you get your hands on them, or some compensation. Which character is it, and why?
Now, if the Hardholder is a PC, ask them:
- What do you depend on me for? What would happen to your Hardhold without my help?
If not, tell the MC to ask you the same:
- What does the Hardhold depend on you for? What would happen to the people here without your help?
(MC: Think about this and create it in your mind as a Threat. Later, if the game flags, bring it into play.)
Finally, all of you:
Choose Hx options in ways that make your relationships more interesting and unstable.
This is particularly key for the Wife, for whom the Hx choices may add a lot of character and motivation, so make sure to take extra care with her Hx choices (and others’ choices about her).
To start the game:
- For the prisoners with valuable gear: ask them where it is, and how hard (or how easy) it would be to get their hands on it. Accept their answer! You’re trying to find an excuse to give it to them, not keep it away. Tell them it’s an option to just “find it” or steal it - it’s not actually theirs just yet - and that, in this case, you’ll contrive an opportunity for that shortly.
The first scene:
- Find out who’s helping the Wife escape. Ask them what the situation is like, and why they don’t have much time. What’s the immediate danger?
Ask the players (any of them!) lots of questions about this; find out what the circumstances of the escape are.
Frame the first scene right as it’s happening! Maybe the Driver is busting open the door to the Wives’ quarters, with some of the Hardholder’s hit squad just moments away; something active and juicy like that.
Your Mad Max movie starts now…
Recommendations if you have fewer than five players:
For four players, leave out (A).
For three players, leave out (A) and (E).
For two players, choose (D) and either (B) or ©. (The actual movie, it seems to me, features Furiosa and Max as PCs. I consider Furiosa the central character there, however. In this scenario, you might consider to change that up, by assuming that the Wife is the central protagonist, instead.)