Post-Apocalyptic #

Post-apocalyptic literature, movies, and games are a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the dystopia that follows the fall of civilization. Strictly speaking, post-apocalyptic stories take place after the end of the world. At least, the end of the world for most people. Players take the role of the survivors (or their descendants) trying to persevere in the face of immense hardship. Popular post-apocalyptic scenarios include those set after nuclear war, in the aftermath of a zombie plague, in the months and years following an alien invasion, or after the environment collapses in the face of human overpopulation. Other ways the world could end include a massive meteorite strike, the long-awaited robot uprising, a powerful solar flare that burns out the world’s power grids and communications, or even something as prosaic as a global disease pandemic.

Suggested Types For A Post-Apocalyptic Game #

Role Type
Survivor Explorer with stealth flavor
Heavy Warrior
Dealer Speaker
Trader Speaker with skills flavor
Sage Explorer with knowledge flavor
Evolved Adept

Basic Creatures And NPCs For A Post-Apocalyptic Game #

  • Crazy loner: level 3, deception and attacks as level 5
  • Gamma snake: level 4; bite inflicts 5 points of Speed damage (ignores Armor)
  • Innocuous rodent: level 1
  • Mongrel dog: level 4
  • Survivor, sickened: level 3, interaction and knowledge tasks as level 1; carries level 4 infectious disease
  • Survivor, typical: level 3

Additional Post-Apocalyptic Equipment #

In a post-apocalyptic setting, the items on the Additional Modern Equipment table as well as the following items might be available in trade from other survivors, or in the rare trade town.

Inexpensive Items #

Weapons Notes
Knife Rusty and worn
Light weapon Won’t last long
Wooden club
Armor Notes
Animal hide
Light armor Smell hinders stealth tasks
Shield Asset to Speed defense
Other Items Notes
———– —————————————
Plastic bag Useful and ubiquitous (won’t last long)

Moderately Priced Items #

Weapons Notes
Handaxe Light weapon
Knife, multipurpose Light weapon; asset to small repair tasks
Other Items Notes
Gas mask Breathable air for four hours
Padlock with keys
Portable lamp, solar

Expensive Items #

Other Items Notes
Radiation detector
Nightvision goggles
Radiation tent Prevents radiation damage for three days
Radiation pill (pack of 5) Asset for defense tasks against radiation effects for twelve hours

Scavenging #

Characters in a post-apocalyptic setting must usually spend part of each day scavenging for supplies or a place of safety.

Food and Shelter: Generally speaking, characters must spend two to four hours searching through the rubble and ruins before succeeding. Finding enough food for a group of characters to eat for one day is a difficulty 5 Intellect task. Finding a place of relative safety to regroup and rest is also difficulty 5. Characters who succeed on either one of these also get to roll up to once each day on the Useful Stuff table and three times on the Junk table.

Found food often takes the form of canned, processed, dried, or otherwise preserved goods from before the apocalypse, but sometimes it includes fresh fruits and vegetables found growing wild or cultivated by other survivors. Safe places to hole up include homes, RVs, offices, apartments, or any location that can be secured and defended and isn’t radioactive, poisoned, or overrun with hostile creatures.

The difficulty of succeeding at finding food, water, and a safe place varies by location and by how many days the characters have already spent in one location. Each week the PCs spend at the same location hinders subsequent scavenging tasks and requires that they succeed on a new task to determine if the place they’re staying is still safe. The result of failing to find food and water is obvious. If the PCs fail at the task of finding (or keeping) a safe place, their presence is noticed by hostile forces, or they face a result from the Wasteland Threats table.

Useful Stuff: Food, water, and a safe place to rest are the most important finds, and are the basis of each scavenging task. But other obviously useful stuff is often found along with these basic requirements. When a group of characters successfully finds either food and water or a safe place, consult the Useful Stuff table up to once per day. If it’s the first day the PCs have searched in a particular area, each character might find something useful, but in succeeding days, a group normally gets only a single roll to find useful stuff.

Useful stuff also includes a “loot” entry. Loot includes collectible coins from before the apocalypse, such as silver dollars and gold eagles. It also includes jewelry and artwork that survived the disaster and related material that can be used as currency or barter when the characters find other survivors or arrive at a trade town.

Items found on the Useful Stuff table are generally expensive or exorbitant items (except for firearms, which start in the expensive category).

Junk: Characters who find food and water also find lots of junk. They are free to ignore that junk, but some PCs might have a use for what they find, especially those with the Scavenges focus. All characters gain up to three results on the Junk table each time they successfully scavenge for food or a safe place to stay. Sometimes junk can be fixed, but more often it can be disassembled and used as parts to create something else.

Useful Stuff #

d100 Item Found
01–10 Tools (provide an asset to tasks related to repair and crafting)
11–20 Medicine (provides an asset to one healing-related task)
21–25 Binoculars
26–35 Chocolate bar or similarly sought-after candy or snack
36–45 Textbook (provides an asset to a knowledge-related task)
46–50 Coffee or tea
51–55 Gun or rifle with ten shells or bullets
56–60 Flashlight
61–65 Loot
66–70 Gasoline (2d6 × 10 gallons)
71–75 Batteries
76–80 Functioning vehicle (sedan, pickup, motorcycle, etc.)
81–85 Generator
86–90 MRE cache (food and water for six people for 1d6 weeks)
91–95 Ammunition cache (100 shells or bullets for 1d6 different weapons)
96–97 Helpful stranger (level 1d6 + 2, stays with the PCs for a week or two)
98–99 Cypher (in addition to any other cyphers the GM awards)
00 Artifact (in addition to any other artifacts the GM awards)

Junk #

d6 Item Found
1 Electronic junk (stereo, DVD/Blu-ray player, smartphone, electric fan, printer, router, etc.)
2 Plastic junk (lawn furniture, baby seat, simple toys, inflatable pool, etc.)
3 Dangerous junk (paint, rat poison, solvents, industrial chemicals, etc.)
4 Metallic junk (car bodies, old playsets, grills, empty barrels, frying pan, etc.)
5 Glass junk (vases, windows, bowls, decorative pieces, etc.)
6 Textile junk (coats, pants, shirts, bathing suits, blankets, rugs, etc.)

Post-Apocalyptic Artifacts #

Artifacts in a post-apocalyptic game include still-working technology from before the disaster that is not widely available, as well as cobbled-together pieces of tech that can weaponize previously prosaic items. If the apocalypse was related to some kind of alien invasion, artifacts would include even stranger items.

Autodoc #

Level: 1d6

Form: Backpack-sized plastic module from which clamps, forceps, scalpels, and needles can extend

Effect: When strapped to a target (or when someone wearing the autodoc is damaged), the autodoc activates and restores 1 point to a target’s Pools each round for ten rounds or until the target is fully healed, whichever happens first.

Depletion: 1 in 1d10

Enviroscanner #

Level: 1d6

Form: Forearm-mounted computer tablet

Effect: This multifunction device can receive radio transmissions, automatically map locations the wearer has visited, play various forms of media, keep voice and written records, and provide an asset to any task related to interfacing with other computerized systems or machines. Also, the wearer can scan for specific materials, toxic traces, and life forms within short range.

Depletion: 1 in 1d10 (check per use of scanning function)

Military Exoskeleton #

Level: 1d6 + 1

Form: Articulated metal struts with deformable padding and straps for custom fit to a human frame

Effect: For one hour per use (when the exoskeleton is powered on), the wearer has +1 to their Speed Edge and +1 to their Might Edge.

Depletion: 1 in 1d10

Rocket Fist #

Level: 1d6 + 2

Form: Metal gauntlet with flaring rocket exhaust nozzles

Effect: If the user activates the fist as part of an attack, the punch gains a rocket assist. If the attack is successful, the fist inflicts additional damage equal to the artifact level and throws the target back a short distance.

Depletion: 1 in 1d10

Rocket-Propelled Grenade #

Level: 1d6 + 3

Form: Tube with sight and trigger

Effect: The user can make a long-range attack with a rocket-propelled grenade that inflicts 7 points of damage to the target and every creature and object next to the target.

Depletion: 1 in 1d6

Terahertz Scanner #

Level: 1d6 + 1

Form: Visor fitted with bulky electronics

Effect: By emitting terahertz and long-range infrared light, this device allows a user to see a short distance through most interior walls of standard structures, through normal clothing, and into normal bags and briefcases. Only stone or concrete more than 6 inches (15 cm) thick prevents a scan. Regardless, images are black and white and fuzzy, and lack fine detail.

Depletion: 1 in 1d20

Post-Apocalyptic Species Descriptors #

In a post-apocalyptic setting, some GMs may want to offer species affected by the disaster.

Morlock #

You have lived your life deep underground in artificial bunkers, hidden from the world’s destruction and the brutal scavengers that live above. As a morlock, you have a keen mind for the technology salvaged from the before-time. In fact, every morlock comes of age by fitting a piece of morlock technology to its body to provide enhancement and extend its life. This means that you are part flesh and part machine. Your skin is as pale as milk, except where it’s been replaced with strips of metal and glowing circuits.

You gain the following characteristics:

Enhanced Intelligence: +2 to your Intellect Pool.

Cyborg Body: +2 to your Might Pool and your Speed Pool.

Partially Metallic: +1 to Armor.

Repair and Maintenance: As an entity of living flesh and humming machinery, you must first succeed on a difficulty 2 repair task before making a recovery roll. On a failure, the recovery roll is not used; however, the normal rules for retrying apply, and you must use Effort on a new roll if you wish to try again. In addition to the normal options for using Effort, you can choose to use Effort to heal additional points to your Pools (each level of Effort healing an additional 2 points to your Pools if you succeed).

Morlock Prejudice: While among non-morlocks, all positive interaction tasks are hindered.

Initial Link to the Starting Adventure: From the following list of options, choose how you became involved in the first adventure.

  1. The PCs found you in a collapsed subterranean tunnel.
  2. The other PCs encountered you exploring underground, and you convinced them to allow you to accompany them.
  3. You were exiled from the morlock communities and needed help on the surface.
  4. The only way to save the morlock community you hail from is to venture to the surface and find a mechanical part needed to repair a failing ancient system.

Roach #

You are born of a species of evolved insects once called “cockroach,” but that is far in the past. Radiation and forced evolution have radically increased your size, shape, and ability to think. Your exoskeleton mimics the shape of a human being, though not perfectly. When you move about human society, shadows and cloaks are your ally if you wish to pass unnoticed. When those of your kind are discovered, it usually goes poorly for someone. You, however, have a wandering spirit and seek to explore the fallen world and find a new way forward.

You gain the following characteristics:

Scuttler: Your Speed Edge increases by 1.

Sense by Scent: You can sense your environment even in total darkness.

Cling: You can move an immediate distance each round on walls or clinging to the ceiling.

Carapace: +1 to Armor.

Glide: You can extend small wings from your carapace that grant an asset in jumping tasks and allow you to fall up to a short distance without taking damage.

Skill: You are trained in disguise tasks.

Inability: You are susceptible to disease and poison. Defense rolls against disease or poison are hindered.

Inability: You mimic a human, but you are not as fierce. Tasks involving combat— including attack and defense rolls—are hindered.

Insect Prejudice: While among non-roaches, all positive interaction tasks are hindered.

Initial Link to the Starting Adventure: From the following list of options, choose how you became involved in the first adventure.

  1. The PCs didn’t realize what you were when they asked for your help.
  2. You’ve managed to hide your roach ancestry so well that everyone thinks you are like them.
  3. You are the last of your kind.
  4. You have a secret agenda, and the PCs were gullible enough to let you come along.