Talking About An Apocalypse: Legacy - Life Among The Ruins
  • Talking About An Apocalypse: Legacy - Life Among The Ruins

    Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is a Powered by the Apocalypse game that draws on the post-apocalyptic origin of this stream of design while introducing a wildly different tone from Apocalypse World. Where the original Apocalypse World is about the hardcore, survival-of-the-fittest-style endurance, Legacy instead tackles the decades-long, even centuries-long, process of rebuilding. Where Apocalypse World strongly focuses on the "now", the focal point of Legacy is most certainly the future.

    How does the game tackle this kind of long view? By having two subsets of playbooks - each player selects, not only a character playbook like the Elder, the Hunter, or the Sentinel, but also a "family" to represent: the Tyrant Kings, the Stranded Starfarers, the Enclave of Bygone Lore. In a campaign-style game, players will create new characters (and new playbooks) numerous times, even every session. But the family persists, and the characters they make now are the descendants of earlier iterations. A campaign of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins could easily span a thousand years in this way.

    This is a fantastic way of enforcing the tone of the game - while the individual actions of each person may fade, the endeavors that they work towards live on. It deconstructs the idea of the single lone hero or group of heroes, and instead provides the ideal of a long line of people devoting their lives to the work of rebuilding the world. This is, as best as I've seen, exceedingly rare in RPGs, though I'd be interested in seeing much more of it.

    Unfortunately, I don't think this game is a good introduction to the world of PbtA games (or tabletop RPGs in general); I don't think this works for brand new players. The additional complexity, not just in managing two playbooks, one of which is constantly changing, but in additional resource tracking, alliance tracking, and unusually long-term planning and goals required - it all adds up to make this game not really representative of the body of PbtA games. It's a lot to manage if you're just getting the hang of the PbtA system in the first place, but it's a great step if you're already familiar with the gist of it.

    Legacy: Life Among the Ruins also makes a lot of differing assumptions about the style of play of a post-apocalyptic game - the family playbooks are sorted into three main categories: "ruins", which are considered to be general or non-specific; "echoes", which assume a degree of leftover technology from the before-times, so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic; and "mirrors", which add things like monstrous creatures, aliens, psychic powers, etc. Some of these playbooks may not play nicely with each other, and setting up ways in which some of them might work together or be opposed can require some additional creativity on the part of the GM.

    Legacy feels like a more refined evolution both of the setting of Apocalypse World and the mechanics of it. Where Apocalypse World is purposefully raw - the world has just ended, the wounds are still fresh - Legacy: Life Among the Ruins has the benefit of time. Dozens of PbtA games have been published in the interim, making some of the possibilities more apparent, much of the experimentation has paid off. Add that to a fresh and invigorating theme - what can I say, I just love stories about rebuilding - and Legacy is a definite winner, to my mind.

    contributed by Jennifer Adcock
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      Legacy is a fantastic RPG. My pick for best RPG of 2018.
    1. Charles Dunwoody -
      This game sounds interesting to me, especially with the new settings now available. Sounds like it would support longer campaign play?
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      It explicitly supports long term play through generations of each Family.
    1. Leatherhead's Avatar
      Leatherhead -
      We need a better word for post-post-apocalypse settings.
    1. dwayne's Avatar
      dwayne -
      Quote Originally Posted by Leatherhead View Post
      We need a better word for post-post-apocalypse settings.
      Darksun comes to mind, or warlord of mars like setting, or could go with a hard core sci fi thing and do a planet of the apes like setting or thumdarr the barbarian with or without the fantisy stuff.
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Leatherhead View Post
      We need a better word for post-post-apocalypse settings.
      Maybe "Near" and "Far" post-apocalyptic. I'm sure there are terms out there for what you are referencing. The setting Numenera is post-apocalyptic only in the sense that eight prior grand civilizations have risen to overwhelming heights and then disappeared for unknown reasons, but you are simply playing in a world littered with their legacies without any sense of being in a post-apocalyptic world. It's about like calling modern day Rome "post-apocalyptic" for living amidst the scattered ruins of fallen classical Imperial Rome.
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