Roleplaying on the Fury Road

Thanks to the recent Mad Max movie, Post-Apocalypse is once again a genre people are talking about. I have seen numerous requests online for RPG recommendations  to play a Fury Road style campaign. There are many Post-Apocalyptic RPGs out there (some going almost as far as the beginning of our hobby), but it seems the genre wasn't very popular in recent years and people forgotten about many good games that let us have adventures in various wastelands. With that in mind, I present you a rundown of my current favorite post-apocalyptic games:

Outside of Polish only Neuroshima (that you might know from some board games), Atomic Highway is my current go-to post-apocalyptic game that does not use one of my favorite generic systems (more on that later). It is perfect for mad max style campaign as it has a whole chapter on cars and their customization. In fact, cars are pretty important part of the game. It uses a simple dice pool engine (called V6) with a twist. It is a straightforward  mechanic, with attributes and skills. It uses backgrounds to give you extra skills and starting equipment, which is something I always liked in my RPGs. It is a pretty vanilla post-apocalypse, with mutants, deserts, modified cars and a lot of action, so it is really easy to adapt it to the world of Mad Max. Best of all, is available for FREE!  Also, if you are not keen on the dice pool system, check out this awesome conversion from Zach S. to D&D5e. If you want to start exploring post-apocalyptic wastelands on the cheap, this is the way to go!

Barbarians of the Aftermath uses a rules lite, narrative system from Barbarians of Lemuria. I understand that narrative systems are not everybody's cup of tea, but hear me out. This book can be used as a system neutral guide to running post-apocalyptic games. The apocalypse generator is worth the price of admission alone. The book gives you a pages upon pages of different options (which can also be used as a random generator) to create different apocalypses and then play in this world. You can create everything from standard Fallout-esque 50s nuclear holocaust to the Great Old Ones rising and ending the world in 2012. All those choices change the world in various ways, from availability of certain items, to how gonzo the setting is. The game is available on DriveThruRPG for $10 and would be great for one-shots or short campaigns, and a perfect tool to make your own post-apocalyptic world from a scratch for a long campaign.

If creating your own post-apocalyptic settlement sounds exciting, then The Quiet Year is for you. It is not much of a roleplaying game, as it is story game. You don't play singular characters, you represent voices in a community. The gameplay is something between board gaming and roleplaying. You draw a card and narrate events based on its prompt. It is also a map drawing game. You will create a basic map on the beginning and as the game progresses you will draw extra stuff on the map. At the end of the game you will have a fully mapped and fully fledged settlement with NPCs, buildings, nearby points of interest and all that jazz. While the game can be enjoyed on its own, it is a great tool creating a "homebase" for your campaign. After playing it, you and your players will have a good knowledge of their surroundings, which is always a nice thing. It is available in PDF and print from the author's website. If you want to check out the style of game, a free fantasy version is available.

If the narrative and story games above sound too artsy-fartsy for you, you might be interested in Other Dust. It is a retro-clone, so it is based on the 0 edition dungeons and dragons. It doesn't get more "traditional" than classes, levels and d20s. Being a part of the Old School Renaissance comes with its own set of pros and cons, but overall it is a solid game. It is a little more gonzo, than Mad Max, with more prominent mutants and psychic powers, but those can be easily omitted. The highlight here is the advice on running a post-apocalyptic sandbox campaign. Sine Nomine Publishing is famous for their sandbox toolboxes (Stars Without Numbers, Silent Legions) and Other Dust is no exception. You get a plethora of random generators and advice on running a sandbox campaign, most of which is system agnostic and can be used in basically any game.  The game is available at DriveThru in both PDF and Print-on-Demand.

The above games, while solid stand alone products, are my go to products when it comes to mining for post apocalyptic ideas. If I were to run a campaign set in atomic wasteland I would go with Savage Worlds. It is a pretty quick and action oriented system, is suitable for long-term play and is one of my go-to system for traditional roleplaying. The system is simple enough, that I can mind the ideas from other games and "transplant" them almost on-the-fly to my Savage Worlds game. And, if you want to just to jump into a ready-made post-apocalyptic world Savage Worlds has you covered:

The above games offer a slightly different take on post-apocalyptic gaming. Those are the four big, commercial Savage Worlds games that I am familiar with:

  • Darwin's World is the most gonzo of the bunch. You have multiple playable mutant races and it is more fantastic take on post-apocalypse. You can play Mad Max style campaign using this book, but you would need to cut some stuff out. Darwin's World was originally a D20 game, and it shows here and there.
  • Day After Ragnarok adds a little supernatural to the standard atomic wasteland formula. Apocalypse happened after Nazis started the mythic Ragnarok and Allies shot down the giant Serpent down. The world has ended in the 40s, which limits the technology, but also gives the game more gritty, dieselpunk feel. If you are looking for Mad Max mixed with Hellboy - this is the game for you. 
  • Hell on Earth: Reloaded adds even more supernatural to the mix. It is more or less post-apocalyptic Deadlands, western in the wasteland.  While Deadlands is one of my favorite settings, the idea of future cowboys is not my cup of tea, but if you are looking for a game with more emphasis on vehicles and supernatural, check it out!
  • Broken Earth would be the most vanilla take on post apocalypse - which is far from a bad thing! It focuses heavily on building and developing a settlement/community and has a good system for tracking that. It is a solid book, full of good ideas and plot hooks. if you are looking for the "Lone Wanderer" feel of Fallout games, this is a game for you.

All of the games are available both in print and as PDFs, from various retailers. As with anything Savage Worlds, there are also some great fan-created supplements available for free. Savage Appocalypse and Raiders and Ruins are two that I am familiar with. There are also conversions of other games like Fallout or Redline (that is very focused on vehicular combat). So take your pick, or put them all into a blender to brew your own flavor of post-apocalyptic goodness.

I will add Appocalypse World here as an obligatory mention. Appocalypse World has a bit more narrative approach to gaming and is pretty rules lite. It is a fine blend of traditional roleplaying and storygaming techniques. It has spawned many conversions and hacks since it was released and it seemed people were interested more in the mechanic, than the world. But, it is a solid post-apocalyptic toolbox style game - grim, gritty with just a dash of weird. If you are interested in finding more about it, and how it can be used for Mad Max style campaign, check out this article from Charlie Etheridge-Nunn on

3D printed Dice?

Somehow related shameless self-promotion. I was learning 3d modelling for 3d printing in last couple months. As one of my projects I have recreated the portal companion cube. Soon after that, I have modified it into a D6, as seen above. I think it would be a decent Wild Die for Savage Worlds, or simply a die for any d6 based system. I have ordered some samples from Shapeways to see how this die would work. There are already some awesome dice designs ready for 3D printing, but it would be cool to have some genre specific dice. I am thinking of designing some wild dice to go with different flavors of Savage Worlds and 3D printing them to use in game. 3D printing opens up the design to be something more than just numbers and small graphics on each side. I would like to play with this idea.

I wonder if people would be interested in something like that? Would you buy a 3d printed die? What designs would you be interested in? What genres do not have a good dice to go with them?

Now, I need to work a bit more on my modelling skills to create a proper RPG dice set in a single theme, because that would be even cooler!

What do I think about Lankhmar: City of Thieves

Savage Worlds had ventured before into the Sword & Sorcery genre with Beast and Barbarians from GRAMEL. Now, Pinnacle has thrown in the hat into the ring with Lankhmar: City of Thieves, based on the Fritz Leiber's stories.

I never really got into the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. I bought the paperback of Ill met in Lankhmar, but the version I had started with the origin stories of the duo and those didn't really drawn me in. I think I should revisit the book and start with some later stories. Nevertheless, I consider myself a fan of Sword&Sorcery and almost every fantasy game I run was heavily inspired by the genre. Quite frankly, I never could get on board with the "magic is part of everyday life" approach of high fantasy, but I digress...

I was excited to get my hands on another of Sword&Sorcery Savage Worlds game. While, just like the Beast and Barbarians, I will probably not run the game as is, I am always on a prowl for some tweaks to the Savage Worlds system to use in my own campaigns. So, with this in mind, this is what I think about Lankhmar: City of Thieves.

If you have never played/run Sword&Sorcery style game, Lankhmar would be a great start. The book gives some good advice on the genre without being condescending. Those hints are scattered and hidden among the descriptions of locales, magic items and rules, but they are there. In fact, the descriptions of Lankhmar and the surrounding lands are full of good Sword&Sorcery fluff. Reading through the gazetteer and  GM's will give you numerous ideas for adventures. The book also sports a selection of Savage Tales - short adventures ready to be used in almost any campaign. It was disappointing not to see an adventure generator. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the one in Savages Worlds of Solomon Kane, and not having one specific to Lankhmar is somewhat of a let down.
Overall, I enjoyed the fluff portion of the book. I would have probably enjoyed it more, if I was more familiar with the world. Surprisingly fluff is not where the book shines for me, it is all in the...


Honestly, I think the designers behind Lankhmar had really outdone themselves. I enjoyed each and every new rule and rules tweak they had put in. You get the expected new races, edges and hindrances, but you also get an expanded magic system and a half dozen setting rules. All of those combined emulate Sword & Sorcery genre very well. Those are my favorite parts of the book, so let's look at them one by one:

  • Races -  Ghouls (humanoids with transparent flesh), Ratlings (offspring of humans and intelligent rats who live under Lankhmar, who still look a bit rat-like) and Humans, that come in four different flavors, depending on the culture. It is nothing really special here. All of them are pretty solid and distinctive, and fit the genre and the source material pretty well.
  • Hindrances - You only get six of them. Most of them are here to add flavor, and one (Obligation) is used with the setting rules. I don't personally care for those, but they are nice to have.
  • Edges - This is where the fun starts. You get almost thirty new edges, most of them being quite useful and powerful. Combat edges are great for hardy warriors and I can see many of those edges being used in my other campaigns. Then you get three new Arcane Backgrounds, that are tweaked versions of the no power point rule, but are one of the best version of Savage Worlds magic I have seen so far. They are supplemented by a set of power edges. As an icing on the cake you get a handful of professional and social edges. The highlight here is definitely the combat edges, followed closely by the magic system.
  • Magic - Magic is split into three categories: black, white and elemental. Black and white is what you think when you imagine good and evil wizards, with black magic being more powerful, but corrupting you over time. Elemental is basically everything outside the black/white spectrum. It would be considered neutral and has extra rules for connecting to the element it is based on. You get some advice on how to create new strains of elemental magic outside of the three (Ice, Fire and Sea) described. As mentioned before, the system uses no power point rule, but the negative modifier can be "paid off" by spending extra turns casting. You also need ingredients to cast spells and lacking those gives you more negative modifiers. You also get another set of rules for rituals, similar to those from Solomon Kane. You also get some new Powers along with a table of stats for all the existing ones.  I see myself using this system for most of my Savage Worlds games.
  • Setting Rules - all of the six rules make emulating the Sword & Sorcery genre a little bit easier. You get rules explaining why characters in Sword and Sorcery seem broke all the time, why berrying  betraying your allays is so effective and why don't they use armor. The highlight here is the Knock Out Blow rule. You know how in Sword&Sorcery (and pulp in general) you can one hit a guy into unconsciousness? Would you like to have that in your game? Then, this rule is for you! It uses The Drop rule from Savage Worlds to do so and, in my opinion, makes this rule much more exciting.

I was presently surprised with this book. I was on a fence about getting another Swords&Sorcery Savage Worlds game, because Beast and Barbarians worked well for my needs. What I found is some awesome rules and cool city setting. Fortunately, knowledge of Fritz Leiber's works is not a necessity, and the book gives you enough lore to run a campaign comfortably. Even if you are not planning on running a game in Lankhmar, there is enough good stuff here that is worth the price of admission. If you are fan of  Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser,  thinking about running a Sword&Sorcery game, or you would like some cool tweaks to the Savage Worlds system you should check out this book. In the meantime, I will give my paperback copy of Ill met in Lankhmar another spin.