If you are interested in designing a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) tabletop roleplaying game:
- First, buy a copy of Apocalypse World. After all, that’s where this all started.
- Second, buy and read a few systems from different branches of the PbtA family tree, to get a glimpse of the range of possibilities. Sam Sorensen has a great taxonomy of PbtA games (shown above).
- Third, decide whether you are going to use 2d6, dice pools, or an alternative system (yes, you don’t have to use 2d6 to be PbtA).
- Fourth, download @lackingceremony‘s Simple World. As she wrote, “I created Simple World in order to showcase that an Apocalypse World hack didn’t need to be a monumental undertaking, and that a ‘get it on the table fast’ mentality was possible!”
- Fifth, read @lumpleygames‘ series of blog posts on “Using Apocalypse World to Outline and Draft Your Own RPG.” After doing so, go support Vincent Baker on Patreon.
- Sixth, think about conflict systems in PbtA games and what might work for you. “There are no wrong answers! Just design decisions! :-)”
- Seventh, you might find it helpful to review how many different game designers all approached the same core mores. Check out my Dungeon World Patch Kit or Uncommon World’s configuration tool.
- Eighth, join, lurk, then contribute to the PbtA subreddit.
- Ninth, don’t argue about whether a game is #PbtA or not. It’s PbtA if its designer says it is; otherwise it’s not.
Originally published 03/21/21. Revised to remove a reference to an older version of Vincent Baker’s series of blog posts and to include a reference to the Dungeon World Patch Kit. Updated 10/22/2022 with links to 2d6 probabilities and Uncommon World.
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