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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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 WhoDaresRolls.com