Musings On Post Apocalyptic RPGs

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Riffing on @Laurefindel and @Bill Zebub here:

Post-Apocalyptic (PA) RPGs are among my favorites. I actually got lucky enough to work on Gamma World d20 (quiet you -- it was a great project) and so I have LOTS of opinions about what makes a good PA RPG. Of course, not all of those opinions have anything to do with GW, but many do.

That said, I am curious what people feel are important elements in a good post-apocalyptic role-playing game. I am asking both from a mechanical perspective -- what kinds of systems and sub-sytsems focus and/or enhance PA games -- and from a thematic pespective -- what sorts of apocalypses make good PA games, etc.

Broadly speaking, I like my PA games to have at least a hint of science fantasy about them. By that I mean, Twilight 2000 or The Walking Dead are not good PA fits for me, personally. I love the Fallout CRPG series, and that is about as "mundane" as I want to get. I prefer some weird powers and too-advanced science and general Thundarr shenanigans.

System wise, I feel like a good PA game manages to walk the line between desperate survival and over the top action. Like, you should be able to brain a giant mutant with a rocket propelled battle axe made out of a street sign, but you should also have to find fresh water or die.

So, what do you think makes a good PA RPG? What mechanical elements are important as well as thematic or setting elements? How important is the "survival" game? Do you want fantastical elements in there? And what genres make good mixes with PA? For example, I love the post alien invasion PA game, where the alien invasion happened in 1340s and the Black Death pulled the War of the Worlds ending.
 

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One game I liked...I forget what it was - maybe a Cthulhu game where EVERY action risked some kind of stress.

So, over time, your body was worn down and you gradually went insane. It doesn't have to be that awful but the mechanics just made everything seem desperate. I liked it....before my character died a horrible death.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I can go for PARPGs from full fantasy to full sci-fi. That’s not my issue. Nor do mechanics top my list of concerns.

My #1 issue is in the game’s setting itself. The doom that befell the world has to mean something to me, and have interesting choices for me to make when creating and playing my character.
 


MGibster

Legend
I wish I could remember the book, it was one of those compilation of silly examples of role playing game rules, but it had what they called the most realistic post nuclear war RPG ever. You rolled on a table to see how your character fared after the bomb and the best result was to be killed in the immediate blast while the worst result was starving or freezing to death months later.

Like just about any RPG, I suppose I like my post apocalyptic games to have the fanastic in there whether it be mutants, psychics, super science technology, or what not. Though I'd be happy with something like Twilight 2000 or The Walking Dead for a change of pace. The PA game I've played the most in recent hears has been Deadlands: Hell on Earth. Here's the thing, I don't care for keeping track of how much water or food I have. That's not the part of gaming that's fun for me, so anything in that regard needs to be abstract for me to enjoy it.
 

I don’t think it need a game to play post apocalyptic style.
PA is all about setting, and make PCs shine because everyone else is gone!
PA or some extent decadent, chaotic, uncivilized world offer plenty of occasion to let the PCs do task that matter.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
So, what do you think makes a good PA RPG? What mechanical elements are important as well as thematic or setting elements? How important is the "survival" game? Do you want fantastical elements in there? And what genres make good mixes with PA? For example, I love the post alien invasion PA game, where the alien invasion happened in 1340s and the Black Death pulled the War of the Worlds ending.
On the topic of survival, I think it needs to be all or nothing. Like major resource attrition, put you in multiple moral quandaries level of survival. Otherwise, full blown action game like Mad Max and the Thunderdome. Resources are not an issue unless it fits the narrative. The point in full blown action is to be a bad ass in a crazy world. I know thats pretty far apart, but I think that is biggest question a PA RPG needs to answer. Going a little of survival and a little of action is likely (for me of course) going to fail.
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I don’t think it need a game to play post apocalyptic style.
PA is all about setting, and make PCs shine because everyone else is gone!
PA or some extent decadent, chaotic, uncivilized world offer plenty of occasion to let the PCs do task that matter.
Yes and no. I do think you can do PA settings with D&D/PF/Savage Worlds/Etc.. Though, I think there can be value in an RPG designed to do PA mechanically as well. FFG/Edge released a a series of PA games using the Genesys system (Zombies, Alien invasion, Mythos). As to what I said above, I think PA theme and flavor are separate and each benefits from tighter or looser mechanical enforcement. YMMV.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
More seriously, here's what I would want in PA:
  • Scavenging/Hacking rules at least as rich as the combat rules (hacking in the original sense of repurposing things for unintended purposes, not the lay 'break into computer system' meaning.)
  • Ditto for vehicles
  • Serious resource constraints. Stuff should break, wear out, run out of batteries/fuel/ammo, etc. Hand-to-hand combat should be non-optional.
  • Mutants, both people and animals
  • Cyber-enhancements, but subject to the same unreliable nature of all gear. (It was installed by the same guy who rebuilt your tranny, after all.)
 

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