Apocalypse World: Custom Moves

This week, I thought I’d share some of the custom moves I put together for Space World, an Apocalypse World game set in a Firefly-like space setting that my friends and I co-MC’ed last year. Each of us took over a Front or set of Threats and ran those sections of the game for the rest. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed creating new and different threats for the other player characters to face.

The Would Be King


A lot of the moves circled around the threat of Bluejay, a warlord with dreams of empire.  The lost brother of the Angel, I spent several sessions building up tension. Visions of his ship getting closer, rumors in the major ports, and finally an invitation to meet him.

By the time he arrived on the scene, the characters had many advancement so I needed moves to ensure they didn’t just stomp him.  Of particular concern was the Brainer turned Battlebabe. Armed with armor-piercing smgs and potent psychic powers, he generally murdered any straight forward opponent.

So I made Bluejay, a character who was always two steps ahead, who never came at you the same way twice and who always had an ace up his sleeve.

The first move was simply a way to keep the Brainer under control.  For this I created a pet for Bluejay, a strange alien insect the size of a small cat:

Skirr: When a Brainer uses his powers in front of a Skirr or someone uses Opens their Minds to the Psychic Maelstrom in the presence of one, roll+Hard. On a 10+ things go okay, just a bit of buzzing in your head. 7-9, you choose 1. On a miss the effect is reflected back on you:

    • Nose bleed: 1 harm (ap)
    • Headache: your next action (after this) is acting under fire
    • It is in your head: answer the following question: in what ways is your character’s mind and soul most vulnerable?

The Skirr can also attack physically. It deals s-harm or 1-harm (ap loud-optional) and has 1-armor and can take 1-harm.

This worked wonderfully, as the Brainer chose to use Direct Brain Whisper Projection only for it to reflect back on him. That really scared the character, making for a memorable meeting.

The next move was more of a backup plan. I never got to use it. I’m still curious how it would have turned out in play.

Art of War: When dealing with Bluejay in a conflict (social or martial) roll+Sharp. On a hit everything is fine, you anticipate his counter strikes. On a 7-9 he brings some aspect of his empire to bear that adds an additional complication. On a miss he makes a move.

Finally I created a move that let me use Barter against the PCs.  I’m not sure if this is the best implementation. I definitely would like playtest it a few more times.

Money Talks: Bluejay drops a large amount of jingle for you to do something. Roll acting under fire. On a 10+ you can walk away. On a 7-9 he had 1 hold over you. You can spend this hold by doing what he wants. He can spend this hold make you take -1 forward. On a miss he has 3 hold over you.


Part way through the game, Bluejay took over the port of Megaton.  Under his rule, it became a much less friendly place (in game terms, it became a Landscape: Prison threat).  To add some excitement I added the following custom move:

Suspicion: Roll acting under fire whenever dealing with weapons, other threats, or subversive activities. On a hit you are contacted by the resistance. On a 7-9, you are watched by Bluejay’s men. On a miss the guards try to bring you in for ‘questioning’.

Tied into Bluejay’s front was a deal he had with an ancient tycoon known as Edward “King” Williams. The fact he has a real name signified that he actually was a survivor of the apocalypse. A creepy old man (Grotesque: Mindfucker) living in an alien jungle, it was never clear what he was trading with Bluejay. The PCs ended up agreeing to deliver a package for Bluejay in exchange for resolving the Maestro’D’s obligation to him.


As a threat King was eliminated early on due to a good manipulation roll (which had been advanced). Turned into an ally, I never did get to use his custom moves:

The Collector: King has used his money to buy a medium gang. They are loyal and armed (3-harm hand, 2-harm ranged, 1-armor). He can make the following Warlord moves:

    • Outflank or corner someone
    • Seize someone or something for leverage or information
    • Offer to negotiate
    • Make a show of force

Protect the Master: King’s medical robot is also combat ready. AD3000 deals 3-harm messy with its medical saws, has 2-armor and can take 3-harm before being disabled.

Tied to King was the psychic jungle of Everett (Landscape: Mirage) that protected the planet from the main psychic maelstrom.  I think the effect was pretty cool and I would certainly love to run a game set just in the jungle. Made up of strange land corals and huge trees, this is the native environment of the skirr. The various lifeforms here have all evolved into a symbiotic psychic network hostile to foreign life. Existence is a struggle between what you think is there and the horrors eating into your psyche.

Acclimatize: When leaving Kingsport and entering the jungle roll +weird. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 3. On a miss answer a question from the landscape and take -1 forward:

    • The whispers of alien minds distracts you, take -1 forward
    • The landscape asks you a question, answer truthfully.
    • You can ask the landscape one question, it will answer truthfully.
    • You can ask the landscape one question, it will lie.

Psychic Predators: when fighting the local wildlife roll +cool. On a 10+ things go okay, just a bit of buzzing in your head. 7-9, you choose 1. On a miss choose 2:

    • Nose bleed: 1 harm (ap)
    • Headache: your next action is acting under fire
    • Reads your mind: Take -1 forward against it
    • It’s in your head: answer in what ways is your character’s mind and soul most vulnerable?

Hope you enjoyed these.  Let me know what you think.