Degenesis: Rebirth is a visually astounding, sumptuous, two-volume, 704-page passion project — a richly-layered, horrific, intrigue-riddled, techno-mystical post-apocalypse Earth that feels like it was discovered rather than created. This is truly a game for players who enjoy being immersed in a deep, artfully-revealed setting. If you are looking for flashy system innovation you’ll have to look elsewhere, but the straightforward KatharSys mechanics incorporate some clever touches and are well-suited to the tone of the game. Read on for more details.
I’ve run several post-apocalypse campaigns over the years, using a variety of game systems:
- Gamma World — gonzo mutant jackrabbits and all
- Aftermath! — 20 years after a nuclear war, using my hometown as a setting
- Twilight: 2000 — the default WWIII-is-petering-out setting
- Basic Roleplaying — zombies take over America in multi-generational campaign
- Apocalypse World — small, isolated enclaves eke out a living, avoiding poisoned skies and other enclaves
- NEMESIS — WWIII-has-just-ended journey across the remains of America
- Mutant: Year Zero —the NEMESIS campaign extended forward by three generations
Along the way I’ve learned a few things about post-apocalypse settings and running campaigns in them. Much of that education has come the hard way, through trial and error, and I’m certainly still learning. As with any GM advice, your game is your game, and some or all of this may not make sense for you and your campaign. So take it as food for thought. With that in mind, whether you’re already game mastering a post-apocalypse campaign or are in the planning stages hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful. Read more
When I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons in junior high school, it was mind-blowing just to be able to take on the role of a Corum (yes, I was that unoriginal) a sword-wielding fighter who took on orks and skeletons. Leveling up and making Corum increasingly powerful was very gratifying. At a time in my life when not all that much made sense, D&D gave me the ability to confront and overcome challenges using my knowledge of the game, my wits, and the assistance of my friends. That was all I needed from Corum.
As I moved into adulthood, the lens through which I viewed RPG characters changed. It wasn’t anything conscious, but as the range of emotions I was allowed to express in my daily life became constrained, I found myself increasingly interested in exploring the inner lives of the characters I played. Read more
Thinking About the Unthinkable
If a biological armageddon hits the United States, how do vaccines reach Americans quickly? In the event of a nuclear war, who gets the word out about who is in charge and what laws are being enacted?
If you’re planning backstory for a post-apocalypse campaign, these little details can add to the verisimilitude you’re trying to invoke. They’re even more useful if you’re planning a near-future apocalypse-in-progress campaign. For example, when the zombies take over, where’s the President of the United States hiding out? As the GM it’d be good to know, right? Read more
What’s a One-Shot?
A one-shot session is a stand-alone game session not meant to be part of a larger campaign. It’s a low-risk way to give a new game a spin without the investment of a campaign. If the group doesn’t like the rules or the setting, it’s no big deal; you’ve learned more about your group’s preferences, which is a good thing. Read more
Yes, Florence is often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Yes, it’s the home of the Medicis. Yes, it’s littered with epic works of art, from Michelangelo’s David to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Yes, you’ll walk under the Duomo and across the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll stroll down narrow cobblestone alleys and through marble-tiled museums.
But that’s really not why you should visit Florence. Read more
Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t grab me at first, but as it progressed I found myself sucked into the story. It’s not my favorite Star Wars movie by a long shot, but I grade it a solid B.
As an Edge of the Empire veteran, I was struck by how much the movie felt like the first few sessions of an EotE campaign. If you ever thought about playing EotE but weren’t sure what it would be like, watch Solo. It demonstrates what EotE is all about.
Here are a few examples (don’t worry, I’ll avoid spoilers): Read more
The Door is Open
If you’re coming to tabletop roleplaying by way of Critical Role, Maze Arcana, or another streaming web series, welcome! Read more
I have this odd relationship with Fate Core. The premise excites me, but I’ve never been able to really make it sing as a player or as a GM. Oddly, my best Fate Core experience occurred recently when I ran a one-shot Eclipse Phase scenario using Fate Core rules by way of the Transhumanity’s Fate conversion guide.
Man Out of Time
Yesterday I had the privilege of playtesting a Dungeon Crawl Classics level 0 adventure under development by my friend Steve Bean, the man behind Steve Bean Games. It was my first time playing DCC. We all had fun with the adventure, and as with so many of Steve’s creations, it’s gonzo and thought-provoking at the same time. I won’t reveal anything about it except to say it’s tailored to the Umerica setting first seen in Reid San Filippo’s Crawling Under A Broken Moon blog & ’zine.
Though I’d played with three of the four folks at the table before, this wasn’t my normal weekly group. As fate would have it, the house we played in was a stone’s throw from the house where I played The Arduin Grimoire way back in 1982 as a high school freshman. I found myself thinking back to Saturday afternoons of long ago and how playing Dungeon Crawl Classics echoes the feel of those sessions. Read more