Tag Archives: tabletop

RPG Project

Post-Apocalyptic World

Something like this would be a Post-Apocalyptic survivor junky's wet dream...

I’ve got the general makings for a pseudo-Post-Apocalyptic RPG setting running around in my head and I haven’t decided what to do with it yet (including whether I should scrap it or not).

The basic idea is a serious world, as most PA tabletop RPGs are a bit tongue-in-cheek, and that’s about it. Other than that I’m still torn between quite a few options, some of which I am going to lay out here.

Setting – The setting of an RPG can sometimes be the most important thing. Most Post-Apocalyptic worlds or either Realistic, Horror, or Sci-Fi. But there are many other options as well – High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Western, Victorian-era, even Steampunk (haha no). So what time of world would I want to play in? Idealistically the game that comes out of this project would be adaptable to whatever setting the players want. If the rules allow for slight variation or customization, then you can transplant them from Horror straight into a Victorina-era Post-Apocalypse complete with vampires (or some such nonsense). So my thoughts are to design for a vaguely Realistic, maybe Low Fantasy-style world, but with complete adaptability.

Rules – Ah the rules. If the setting is the flesh of a game, the Rules are the bones of it. For creation testing, I will probably keep this in a D20 rule setting. Everyone I know that might be interested in playtesting knows it already, it’s easy to adapt, and most importantly I know it like the back of my hand… Wait, where’d that scar come from? Anyway. Ultimately I’d like to adapt whatever rule set that I use to come similar enough to feel comfortable to the players, but unique enough that… um… it’s unique.

Characters (Classes and Races) – Ah yes… to continue the terrible analogy, if setting is the flesh and rules are the bones, the characters are the blood of a game – the life force. Every game as characters, that’s the point. So what do I do with the character options? Well in part that depends on the setting. If this is a High, or even Low Fantasy setting, could players pick Elves and Dwarves for their classes? Ehhhh… yes. But what about Victorian, Horror, Western, etc.? What are the options there, just Human? Ideally, I would like to create a… rough outline of races based more on location. Think Midnight or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion/Skyrim for those more familiar with video games. The Northerners are a tall, stocky group with these natural skill sets… while Southerners are lithe and agile with these natural skills… That sort of thing. And if those goes well, addendum rules for Fantasy races are always an option. But at that point shouldn’t you just go play Eberron?

Finally, we come to the most important aspect… what makes a game Post-Apocalyptic? Well, that’s actually quite easy (to me).

Any PA-style game must have four basic elements to it, other than a ruined landscape (which, honestly, it doesn’t have to have).

  • A feeling of survival.
  • You must scavenge to survive.
  • Scavenging includes finding items to repair or replace current equipment… and health (you can’t just go to a shop and buy a new gun or some penicillin).
  • And a feeling of fear.

These may be the most important points for me in this game. If I capture those perfectly (or at least well) then I will be happy.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them.

~Ian


A gaming we will go…

Tabletop Gaming at PAXHello, my name is Ian, and I’m a geek. I’ve been gaming since I was young, probably since I was old enough to talk. My mother and I used to play board games and card games all the time. I was brought up on games, books, and music far more than television (hell, I don’t think we even had cable till I was in 8th grade…). Besides the usual suspects of Uno, Clue, and Scrabble, we played Backgammon, Checkers (also known as Draughts), Milles Bornes (a French card game), and Mancala, a game my mother learned where she grew up – Africa (and a game I used to know as “the bean game”). Now don’t get me wrong, I spent plenty of time outdoors also, I used to love playing in the woods, climbing trees, riding my bike, and swimming. But playing games with my mom is probably my fondest childhood memory, next to reading.
And then, probably a few years after its release, I got a Super Nintendo. Tons of fun, some of my favorite games of all time are from that console. Final Fantasy VI will forever remain the penultimate gaming experience for me… laughing at Gau’s antics, shedding a tear during the Opera scene… ah, the wonders that game introduced to me. And let’s not forget Mario, of course… ah Mario… the howls of laughter at watching my mother consistently drive backwards around the track in Mario Kart (and this is the person who taught me how to drive… frightening). And of course… Lord of the Rings. For Super Nintendo, this game was particularly frustrating, because not only was it almost impossible to figure out how to beat on your own, but many of the copies of the game were released bugged, so you couldn’tbeat the game. I was never able to figure out if ours was the bugged version or not… by the time we got the internet and I was able to look the game up I never got around to playing it again…
D&DAnd then… Middle School. A harrowing time for many boys just hitting puberty. School didn’t worry me. I made friends, I had fun. But this was the year it happened. I was placed in the high school band because I play trombone, and they needed a good trombone player. Here I met a guy named Kyle. Kyle discovered that I was pretty knowledgeable about computers, and told me about an issue he was having with a game he had bought. So after school that day I went over and showed him how to fix the issue he was having. And he showed me his Advanced Dungeons and DragonsPlayers Handbook. I was entranced. A version of Final Fantasy I could play with friends? Where I controlled my character? Where the story could go on forever, and I could change things far more directly through my actions than in any video game (at the time…)? Yes! Sign me up!

This was of course only one of many new games I encountered over the years. From AD&D I discovered White Wolf’s World of Darkness, specifically Werewolf: the Apocalypse, and from there Vampire: the Masquerade… Now, Vampire was I game I could get into. The mix of darkness (and by this point I was a teenager in high school, so I thought my life was pretty dark…), political intrigue, history, and ripping people’s faces off? I was there. I immediately devoured all the material on this game I could and started running a game with my friends. A game that I ran for four years straight. Now… those of you not familiar with gaming might not think much of that, but those of you who are familiar will know that four years is a damn long time to run a game. But I did, almost every weekend. For four years. And it was glorious.

Then came college. I changed a lot in college, as I’m sure most people would say. A lot. For one thing, I stopped gaming. I knew I wanted to do well in school, and focused on my grades. Well… I tried to anyway. Or at least I started focusing on my grades after I changed my major twice… but that’s another story. I stopped gaming. Sure I played the occasional computer game, a little Counter-Strike, but it stopped being the center of my free time. I hung out with people, did a lot of new things. I really dove head first into the whole college experience. Then a friend introduced me to World of Warcraft (thanks Will…). And I was, once again, immersed. A free-form RPG that I play online with thousands of other people? Wow (pun intended). Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games… $15 dollars a month starts to add up… and by the time I had moved off campus and delved into my final choice in major (Philosophy), I was done with WoW. Enough of the late night gaming sessions and wasted hours farming materials for crafting. No more!

And then my best friend, and roommate at the time, Brandon asked me if I wanted to come to his Sunday D&D sessions with him. A new version of Dungeons and Dragons (3.5) and a 10th level rogue/shadowdancer later… I was back in the game.

Now that I’ve graduated, moved away from Boston (for now), and jumped into the “real world,” I still game. Of course there’s XBox 360, and Wii, and PC games still… And I still run a World of Darkness game, or play D&D with friends. And once again I’ve discovered the joys of board games… now that I’m older I’ve discovered all the “adult” board/card games… Dominion, Munchkin, “We Didn’t Playtest This At All,” Catan… But when I look back over the years the thing I remember best is the thrill of a new game, a new character, a new adventure. In an age where children are brought up on television, watered down educations, and books like Twilight, it’s no wonder that geeks are the ones leading the way in innovation. When you think of the most important aspects of the last ten, twenty… even thirty years, what comes to mind? The internet… smart phones, GPS, CERN and their Large Hadron Collider. And who are the people behind these inventions? The guys and girls that grew up rolling dice and slaying dragons in their parents’ basements… in their college dorms. The kids that spent hours jumping on mushroom guys and turtles till three in the morning when they had school the next day. The teenagers who would have rather been learning the rules to that new board game than swinging a bat or throwing a ball.

Don't worry... this isn't mine.

Lately I’ve wondered what my life would have been like without games. Even if you leave the board games there, but take out the Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering cards… Would I be the same person? I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t see how my life could have gone any other way. Would I still want to be a writer? Who knows… I don’t care.

As a final note… take a look over at Critical Table. Soon you’ll start seeing some articles written by me floating around on the site. I recently struck a deal with Courtney, the creator and owner, and I’m really looking forward to joining the team over there and writing for them. And if you’re looking for any advice on new games to try out, feel free to ask. I’m always looking to let someone know about that awesome card game I played last week…