Retired: Oz

Character: Oz
Game: Apocalypse World 1st Ed
Episodes Played: 12
Theme Song: Comin' Home by Murdered by Death
Keywords: Stoic, unflinching, indomitable

Can I let you in on a bit of a secret? Apocalypse World is, so far, my least favourite game that uses that system. I played it once for a few episodes as a Battlebabe when it first came out. I also playtested it back when the playbooks were tiny books. And then a few years and many hacks later, Rob said "let's play Apocalypse World!" because neither Rach nor I were into it.

It was a great game. But I had no idea what the hell I was doing. It was probably the game I floundered the most in, like, ever. When going over the playbooks, I decided on a Touchstone, because I wanted to play someone who brought hope and vision to the wasteland. That and Rob said it was his favourite, and since he and I are oddly similar at times, I went for it.

Despite circling all the things, Oz was a mystery to me. He started out as an androgynous, nondefined, wibbly wobbly, drug taking to speak to the sands, weirdo. I knew he was in love with Grace, a friend's character, who was also all over the place and kinda inconsistent. I'm very accustomed to having very well defined characters going into a game. I make a playlist before hand. I think of pivotal moments in their life. I know them intimately by the time I play them.

Oz was a half-assed character compared to everything else I usually run. But I played him regardless. His opening scene was him being too high, trying to get a vision from the maelstrom, as he waited to find out who he should stop next. At this point, Oz was a 'they' as I hadn't figured out much beside what he looked like. He was promptly harassed and stabbed a woman in the foot before stealing her gun and making her run away.

The Touchstone is an interesting playbook, if only because it's about bringing home but doesn't have moves that facilitate that. It has moves that make you a fucking badass though. Oz became an unstoppable force that reminded me of Buffy in a way. When there was a bad guy, one of the players would go "We should go find Oz" because that's what he did. He stopped bad guys. He never wanted money for it or help, he just wanted to kill the things that hurt people.

That became how he brought hope. He would show up and save people. There was no way he could properly lead people, and his definitions on right and wrong were so cemented that anything grey was often lumped in with the bad, but he thought he was doing good. Woe to any who hurt his friends, and woe to those who preyed upon the weak.

It took me at least six episodes to get a real feel for Oz. Once I did though, I began to understand him a lot better. I knew his world view was simple and there was a deadly elegance to him. There was also a quiet badassery. He didn't talk much and didn't like talking particularly. He preferred, deeply, the sound of silence and the emptiness of the wasteland.

After overthrowing a car park community that was eating people, he shot the man who owned it and tied him to the flag pole then dropped him off the side of the car park so everyone would see what happened to Jolly Billy. When Oz was faced with a moment of uncertainty, he took off and sat on the side of the car park and had a conversation with the very dead, very bloated, very gross Jolly Billy. It was a great scene and revealed a lot about how Oz worked. Whether he was truly getting inspiration from the psychic maelstrom or just being a weirdo, I'll never know. To him, it was real.

Throughout the rest of his story, Oz killed a lot of people, with his driver bestie Camero at his side. While he loved Grace, I'm not sure he knew why. She was bizarre and estranged and intense. That was probably why he loved her. She didn't love him in return. But she made beauty (a skinner) where he made destruction. He tore communities apart when he removed threats, she brought them together with entertainment and elegance. Oz never pursued Grace. Not openly and not quietly either. He loved her, but that was it. When he knew she didn't feel that for him, he never mentioned it again. Like all he traveled with, he silently protected her and avoided getting in her way if he could.

Overall I really really enjoyed the quiet intensity of Oz. There was an assuredness in his world view that I found very familiar and eerily beautiful. It was the first time I had played a male character, which is partly why I struggled so deeply with him. I didn't have a challenge in mind when I started playing him either. I just wanted to play a touchstone and rolled with it. Rob helped me a fair bit with guiding me in making him, mostly with provocative questions I struggled to answer. But he gave me space. And I was grateful.

In the end, he was a semi-successful character. He became a secondary character when I started to play a second, easier to play character (an angel). Naturally his epic moments were all really badass and really grand in terms of battles. He was unstoppable and would become a legend, the man who showed up when hell was upon them and he pulled them out by killing the devil himself. That was Oz. He was the man who could stop the apocalypse, and fucking did.


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