Musings On Post Apocalyptic RPGs

MGibster

Legend
The problem is this would exclude Hiero's Journey, which would seem--odd.
I just read the description of the book on Wikipedia and I'm pretty sure whoever wrote it was high at the time. But now I kinda want a moose with whom I have a telepathic relationship with. The story takes place 5,000 years after the apocalypse. To put that in perspective, to us that would be about 3,000 BCE as was a time when Sumer was a collection of city-states and the Egyptian pyramids were constructed. It doesn't seem odd to excluse Hiero's Journey because at some point it's no longer post apocalpytic. According to Wikipedia, Hierio goes on his quest to save his own civilization. i.e. To prevent an apocalypse.
 

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Yeah I just can't get behind a claim that there's an arbitrary time limit on "post-apocalyptic".

It depends on how far the fall, and how much recovery/advance has been made since the apocalypse in question. The "dark ages" might last for thousands of years. (Think of what Hari Seldon is trying to prevent, for example.)
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I just read the description of the book on Wikipedia and I'm pretty sure whoever wrote it was high at the time. But now I kinda want a moose with whom I have a telepathic relationship with. The story takes place 5,000 years after the apocalypse. To put that in perspective, to us that would be about 3,000 BCE as was a time when Sumer was a collection of city-states and the Egyptian pyramids were constructed. It doesn't seem odd to excluse Hiero's Journey because at some point it's no longer post apocalpytic. According to Wikipedia, Hierio goes on his quest to save his own civilization. i.e. To prevent an apocalypse.

The problem is that most of the world is still in disarray to one degree or another; you have large chunks of, essentially, uncontrolled wilderness, groups of pirates and bandits, and even a monstrous fungal colony that may be a threat to everything (and no, that's not the primary problem that Hiero is dealing with; he stumbles into it along the way).

And none of this is because they started from zero after all; its because they're taking so long recovering from the hit.

(Don't draw too much conclusion from the time frame; that's just Lanier either not understanding how long it takes to recover from things or being excessively pessimistic. Hack at least a zero off of that if you want get any sort of sane model for the recovery rate involved).

I think I have to stand by the opinion if the world is still in substantially more disarray than it was before the apocalypse, its still in recovery. And its in vastly more disarray than the world would have been before the war, both there and in the Fallout setting. You can not have as big a cultures (it took an awfully long time before you saw much that was the size of the old imperial cultures that existed in the time of Rome) but you shouldn't have large adjacent areas that are still wildlands. That's just not a complete recovery in any meaningful way.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I'm thinking about the comment (I can't remember who/where...if anybody has the reference please share) about the Antikythera device: "If they had had 300 more years, they would have gotten to the moon."

EDIT: Found it. Arthur C. Clarke. Turns out there's this amazing thing called "Google". Not to be confused with Googol.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Apocalypse World seems to really do it right, I’d say.

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is a PbtA take that’s about society crawling from the wreckage. It adds a generational aspect to the game… so the game becomes about how humanity manages to restore itself… or not… over generations.

Those are the two I’d be most likely to play.
Ditto
 

Reynard

Legend
I have a novel that I qualify as post-post apocalyptic, which I think Fallout also falls into (although mine isn't much like Fallout). The old world is still dead and you can see the remnants of it, but the new world has already begun to rise.
 

I think a good rule of thumb is its still post-apocalyptic until its climbed back up to the equivalent of the prior civilization. As far as I know at no point in the FO timeline are you back to global communication and transport, so...
I don't think that's necessary. It took centuries before Europe re-acquired the abilities of Rome, but to say it was all 'post apocalyptic' until the Renaissance seems sketchy. At some point post Roman Empire, people stopped thinking they were post-Roman Empire and were a new, stable, thing.

I think some baselines are
  • food shortages have ceased to be endemic for at least a decade, maybe two. (Regional or short lived shortages can still happen but most of the time there are surpluses in storage that can bridge gaps)
  • there is rule of law. It can be brutal, but it has to be be considered appropriate by the populace.
  • people don't outright fear small numbers of strangers. Wary is fine, fear is not.
  • some form of peace exists with neighbors. It can be a "North/South Korea" peace, where you stare at each other across a no-man's land, but if it has been years since the last conflict, it qualifies.
  • trade within the polity is common and there are at least two external polities where trade can happen without someone being killed for being a witch/traitor/spy/monster.
  • The above hold true for a bloc of at least a half dozen polities and not just a few "beacons of light surrounded by darkness."

If all those are not true, I think the setting is still clawing its way out. If none of those are true, well, that's basically Apocalypse-adjacent.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I don't think that's necessary. It took centuries before Europe re-acquired the abilities of Rome, but to say it was all 'post apocalyptic' until the Renaissance seems sketchy. At some point post Roman Empire, people stopped thinking they were post-Roman Empire and were a new, stable, thing.

I think some baselines are
  • food shortages have ceased to be endemic for at least a decade, maybe two. (Regional or short lived shortages can still happen but most of the time there are surpluses in storage that can bridge gaps)
  • there is rule of law. It can be brutal, but it has to be be considered appropriate by the populace.
  • people don't outright fear small numbers of strangers. Wary is fine, fear is not.
  • some form of peace exists with neighbors. It can be a "North/South Korea" peace, where you stare at each other across a no-man's land, but if it has been years since the last conflict, it qualifies.
  • trade within the polity is common and there are at least two external polities where trade can happen without someone being killed for being a witch/traitor/spy/monster.
  • The above hold true for a bloc of at least a half dozen polities and not just a few "beacons of light surrounded by darkness."

If all those are not true, I think the setting is still clawing its way out. If none of those are true, well, that's basically Apocalypse-adjacent.
Huh... Walking Dead does not map to those bullet points. Is Walking Dead PA?
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I don't think that's necessary. It took centuries before Europe re-acquired the abilities of Rome, but to say it was all 'post apocalyptic' until the Renaissance seems sketchy. At some point post Roman Empire, people stopped thinking they were post-Roman Empire and were a new, stable, thing.

That's a common read, but when you did into technological archeology, its not true. They didn't get a country that had the reach Rome did, and there were selective areas where Rome had an edge (we just figured out what they were doing with their form of concrete in the last few years), but the overall technological level of Europe had caught back up by about the sixth century.

And frankly, for long periods prior to that, I would describe some parts of Europe as post-apocalyptic. The only reason the rest weren't was that those parts didn't really fall in the first place. Rome just withdrew, but the regions still kept going under local leadership. Its more analogous to a situation where, say, the U.S. fragmented into separate nations. The not only didn't really fall, a lot of them never stopped trading with other nations in the first place.

What you lacked for a long time was anyone in serious expansionist-mode, but that's not a necessity.
 

aramis erak

Legend
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.
My personal preferences for PA are either "It's been the last three years" -- specifically, T2K 2E or 4E -- or it's way in the past, and the game is just fantasy with high tech bits strewn about, such as Pugmire. Yeah, Pugmire's the remnants of a blown up world.... Technically, Judge Dredd is also PA, but not the kind most think of.

My favorite settings for PA are T2K and Pugmire.
My favorite mechanics are for T2K 4e, with T2K 2.0 (NOT 2.2).
I did like running Dragonlance Fifth Age - which is a very much post-apocalypse for the setting... The gods withdraw, save for one, Tasselhoff, and he's just watching... and the Dragon-Gods... especially when you have "afflicted kender" - no longer cheerful, they came to know fear, and don't like it. And want to end the sources of it.... at any cost.

I liked the Dark Sun setting, but it only delayed my departure from AD&D by a few months. Most of my friends ported it to GURPS.

I didn't care for Aftermath as a set of mechanics. Nor Morrow Project. Like both concepts, tho'.

I don't have much desire for the silly mutant fantasy like Gamma World, Radz, or Gamma Trollworld.

I also prefer trans-apocalypse to post apocalypse... specifically Shadowrun (where in 1E, the apocalypse was almost over), Alien (where meeting the Xenomorphs is a personal version). Tales from the Loop, Vaesen, and Things from the Flood can all be seen as trans-apocalyptic.
The End of the World series (from FFG, now from Edge Studios) is another - especially since the PCs are modeled directly after the PC by the RAW. I can't speak to the EotW game, as I've yet to run it... but conceptually, it's trans apocalyptic.
 

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