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View Full Version : Post-Apocalyptic D&D - help me brainstorm!



arrowhen
2010-09-06, 07:41 PM
I want to run some post-apocalyptic D&D (er, E6 PF). That is, of course, a hopelessly vague concept, so help me focus it!

What would you want to see in post-apocalyptic D&D? What *wouldn't* you want to see? What should I read/watch/play for inspiration?

Boren
2010-09-06, 07:45 PM
First question:
What kind of Apocalypse happened?
was it a modern world that nuked itself?
or perhaps a world long over run with undead or some other nasty?
that's step one...after that we can go on to steps 2-infinity

Frozen_Feet
2010-09-06, 07:56 PM
The local sun god has been slain. It has been perpetual night for days, and the temperature is dropping steadily. Next rainfall will be snow. Plants will all die and famine will come. While it will take a while before everything dies, the world is pretty clearly heading for its doom.

Of course, one day a new sun god will ascend to take the new one's place, and a new dawn will come, and reveal the snow-covered ruins of the old world. The question is, who will be there to see it?

Random NPC
2010-09-06, 08:00 PM
My favorite Post-Apocaliyptic element in D&D is the Tarrasque. The Tarrasque won and destroyed the world and it's still running around :smalleek:

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-06, 08:04 PM
Dark Sun's a perfect example of post-apocalyptic D&D, if you don't mind using established campaign settings.

Gavinfoxx
2010-09-06, 08:09 PM
How about some of the ideas mentioned in the Tome books? I'm especially partial to the "Triumph of the Necromancers: Endless Night" one...

http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/A_World_at_War

comicshorse
2010-09-06, 08:10 PM
You know the high-level party that were meant to stop Bane replacing Ao. They failed !

The mage
2010-09-06, 08:18 PM
Epic spellcaster + insane mitigation = world domination

Ilmryn
2010-09-06, 08:28 PM
For as long as the characters can remember, magic on the world had been fading. A strange plague, which was harmless to ordinary people, stripped mages of their powers. Unbeknowst to the mages, some of the people who contracted the plague developed psionic powers. A group of epic casters developed an epic spell to stop this, and cast it in a ritual taking months.
It backfired.
Half the world was covered in a firestorm of corrupted arcane energy, killing almost all life. The other half made it through relatively unscathed, and magic seemed to return.
However, the ritual had brought back magic, but magic had been corrupted. Some casters mutated into horrible abominations, and soon the world was lain to waste.
To this day, scattered villages and maybe the odd town survive. The black husk that is the half covered in the initial blast of The Disaster, as it is known, is spreading. Vile abominations live there, and periodically attack the living part of the world. In the center of the Dead World, ín the tower where the spell that devastated the world was cast, something is stirring...

heymejack
2010-09-06, 08:37 PM
i had one campaign where there was an evil epic cleric/wizard. the pc's were supposed to stop him from opening up a connection with some random demon dimension and summoning a demon army. they successfully killed the BBEG, but it was, in fact, too late to stop his evil plan from coming to fruition. sadly, this was the worst thing that could have happened, and there was an open gate to the demon dimension and no high level cleric/wizard to control it. the PCs, having played the campaign for months (and successfully resolved a number of other plot points), were all promptly eaten by an army of rampaging demons.

Next campaign:, they're low-level and from far, far away, but the demon apocalypse has begun to encroach on their pastoral and boring home lives. they must travel across the land (facing progressively higher CR demons/devils) until they get to the epicenter of the badness, the same tower where they had they're former defeat/ripping of their limbs from their limbs, where they must fight off the army of high level demons coming out of the gate/portal thing while the high level cleric performs a ritual to close it. good times.

The mage
2010-09-06, 08:38 PM
[QUOTE=Ilmryn;9305870]
It backfired.
Half the world was covered in a firestorm of corrupted arcane energy, killing almost all life. The other half made it through relatively unscathed, and magic seemed to return.[QUOTE=Ilmryn;9305870]
Did you take this from avatar the last airbender and just change it

The mage
2010-09-06, 08:41 PM
I don't know what happened to the quote on my post but I don't if it's just that I'm writing on my ipod

arrowhen
2010-09-06, 09:38 PM
First question:
What kind of Apocalypse happened?
was it a modern world that nuked itself?
or perhaps a world long over run with undead or some other nasty?
that's step one...after that we can go on to steps 2-infinity

In my view, a post-apocalypse story is a subverting of an aspect of the Western genre. Instead of hearty pioneers leaving the civilized world behind to bravely conquer the frontier, the frontier comes to you, whether you like it or not. You're forced to become a pioneer just to survive, and pioneering isn't just a simple matter of spreading civilization (with plenty of support and resources from Back East), it's a matter of rebuilding civilization, tinged with the knowledge that whatever civilization arises from that rebuilding, it'll never be the same as the one that was lost.

So to me, it seems like an important aspect of a post-apocalyptic setting is a constant reminder of the contrast between the lost civilized world and the harsh new one. It's not enough to see people scrabbling to survive, they need to be scrabbling to survive in the ruins of their civilization's former glory.

My current leaning is to set the game in a very standard, very generic D&D-style fantasy world that's "nuked itself" in some (almost certainly magical) way. It would be a setting filled with instantly-recognizable fantasy tropes -- your basic magic floating castle/elven old-growth forest/huge-ass cave full of dwarves kind of world, but with all of those places now in ruins or changed in some sinister way.

mobdrazhar
2010-09-06, 11:12 PM
Dark Sun's a perfect example of post-apocalyptic D&D, if you don't mind using established campaign settings.

+1 to this. It is an established post-apoc setting. things in it can be refluffed if needed such as the Soceror Kings and such.

It's the harshed of enviroments nwhere there is always someone, or something, out to get you.

Randel
2010-09-06, 11:17 PM
Hmm...

How about an outbreak of some sort of petrification disease? A magical disease that spreads through a population and turns people into stone. The disease is unnoticable for the first few days but then they start feeling stiff and eventually turn into statues. The petrified statues of the people remain contagious and touching them spreads the disease.

The party comes across huge cities filled with the petrified remains of its inhabitants who stand rigid forever. Touching any of the statues carries the risk of petrification so you have to navigate around them if you traverse the city.

Then you find that there are members of a monstrous race who are immune to it, who can touch the statues with impunity. With most of the humanoid population turned to stone, they plan to take the country for themselves before any cure can be found. They even decide to shatter the statues so they can't be restored and use the pieces as weapons... using shattered bits of cursed stone as sling ammo or carving them into arrow heads or the like.

Can you find a cure for the plague? Can you save the survivors of your race? Can you protect the statues who may yet be restored someday even as you must avoid them? And further, how can you deal with the invaders who decided to take your weakened nation for themselves?

Froogleyboy
2010-09-08, 08:36 PM
The local sun god has been slain. It has been perpetual night for days, and the temperature is dropping steadily. Next rainfall will be snow. Plants will all die and famine will come. While it will take a while before everything dies, the world is pretty clearly heading for its doom.

Of course, one day a new sun god will ascend to take the new one's place, and a new dawn will come, and reveal the snow-covered ruins of the old world. The question is, who will be there to see it?

I love this idea. Do you mind if I use this idea and expand on it a bit. I'm starting a new campaign and I'm tired of using the same world.

kyoryu
2010-09-10, 01:25 PM
Obligatory: D&D *is* the apocalypse (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_258/7683-D-D-Is-the-Apocalypse)

WinWin
2010-09-10, 01:57 PM
Isolated pockets of civilisation, herded into ramshackle towns by monsters.

Vampires and Mind Flayers are the types of creaturesthat would farm people, and would most like count as a monsterous governance/power centre as described in the DMG.

You might also get a few powerful good creatures like Couatls protecting a few villages.

Troy9922
2010-11-09, 11:24 AM
Try reading these books by Terry brooks:

The word and the void series:
* Running with the Demon
* A Knight of the Word
* Angel Fire East
This Series is the events leading up to the apocalypse. Where demons posing as humans started the apocalypse. With nuclear holocaust.


Genesis of Shannara
* Armageddon's Children
* The Elves of Cintra
* The Gypsy Morph

This series is the events 100 years after the the beginning of the apocalypse
and how a band of children and a knight of the word (Basiclly a sorcerer) save the remaining population by obtaining an elf stone ( magic talisman that would hold the remaining population of the United states and the remaining elves and dwarves until the apocalypse is over. Using D20 rules and 3.5 rules, I my self played this campaign and found it to be awesome. If you need the books to read, I have them as ebooks.

Every one I played with, loved it. If you have any specific questions. Just ask.
This is a futuristic campaignthere;there's not many guns. Most people have makeshift swords or axes. The cars are solar powered. and ther are very few of them still working. Most people are hold up in compounds (ie, sports stadiums, civic centers, big buildings with a good position). There are people who live in the streets outside of compounds. Most compounds are in big or major cities. I could tell the whole plot but it's better to read the books. If you wants them just email me at [email protected]

RebelRogue
2010-11-09, 11:29 AM
The D20 Modern Apocalypse sourcebook might be worth a look if you can find it, although it obviously focuses on non-fantasy apocalypses.

Troy9922
2010-11-09, 12:32 PM
If you read the books I suggested it will show you that a futuristic Apocalypse game can be fantasy and non fantasy at the same time

Mark Hall
2010-11-09, 12:59 PM
I personally don't see Dark Sun as being post-apocalyptic in the usual sense; it's post-post-apocalyptic, the point where everyone has adjusted to the fact that the world just sucks. It's a great source for ideas, but the existence of giant, decadent city-states takes away from its PA street cred.

However, I think the key to a PA game is familiarity what the pre-apocalpyse world was like. There's the scrabbling in the ruins aspect, but part of what made Fallout 3 so impactful, in a way that Fallout 1 & 2 were not was seeing some iconic landmarks completely destroyed.

For a fantasy wasteland, you actually run into the problem, IMO, that people are not as divorced from the land as they are today, and are less dependent on non-mechanical technology. If you trash the modern world, all the cell phones die, all the regular phones die, we lose the ability to support our massive cities when refrigerated trucks stop bringing in food, etc. If you trash the D&D world... there's a lot of open land and a lot of corpses. Sure, your blacksmith might have died, but there's someone who knows horseshoes and nails well enough to figure out knives and spearheads. Unless you do something like kill all the adults, or fundamentally change the nature of magic (No more gods! End to Arcane Magic!), then you have trouble evoking a PA atmosphere, instead of a simple "world sucks".

Tvtyrant
2010-11-09, 01:47 PM
The answer is simple: the ground no longer produces food. All of the world's food stores are accounted for by hungry soldiers, and most of the world is currently starving to death. The one thing keeping the world alive are a few Clerics making food via magic. Wars and conflicts over these clerics are constant, and slave children are brought up to be pacifist cleric-cows. In fact Clerics are slowly becoming a new form of cattle, raised to believe that this is what the gods intended. Your party discovers (while trying to protect their cleric) that the gods intended for all life to be wiped out but the clerics. This would create the paradise they wanted from the beginning.

Eventually the party discovers that they have to kill the goddess of nature and sacrifice themselves to become an amalgamated being to replace it.

Benejeseret
2010-11-09, 02:03 PM
Whatever trope you go with, remember to add in The Lost.

The Lost being the feral, twisted forms of what was to add in that horror/loss feeling to really contrast the civilization that was lost.

Fallout has the ghouls/feral ghouls

I am Legend had the infected Darkseekers

The Time Machine had the Morlocks


My take is that they have to be somehow depraved/feral/terrifying but retaining just enough of their 'humanity' (or dwarfanity, or elfanity) to make the characters pity them or feel moral dilemmas about killing them all.

___

Other thoughts - Cannibalism always adds some creep/survival atmosphere, but having some outside monstrous race eating your friends does not quite impact a character the way having the sweet halfling granny who runs the inn trying to eat you.

dsmiles
2010-11-09, 02:07 PM
+1 to this. It is an established post-apoc setting. things in it can be refluffed if needed such as the Soceror Kings and such.

It's the harshed of enviroments nwhere there is always someone, or something, out to get you.

+ another for Dark Sun.

kyoryu
2010-11-09, 02:27 PM
However, I think the key to a PA game is familiarity what the pre-apocalpyse world was like. There's the scrabbling in the ruins aspect, but part of what made Fallout 3 so impactful, in a way that Fallout 1 & 2 were not was seeing some iconic landmarks completely destroyed.


+1. I've been considering a multi-campaign setting where the different campaigns are different spots in the rise/fall/rebirth timeline, ending in the "Points of Light" kind of setting. I quickly came to the conclusion that the post-apocalypse was pointless until the players had done some of the other settings.


Whatever trope you go with, remember to add in The Lost.

The Time Machine had the Morlocks


Morlocks don't really fit that trope. The Time Machine was more about about the widening gulf between the upper and lower classes than it was really anything else. They don't really represent "lost humanity" as much as they represent an extreme view of the lower classes of the time, pushed underground and forced to labor for their masters. Inhuman, perhaps, but the Eloi are arguably more inhuman.

Anterean
2010-11-09, 02:29 PM
A friend of mine is currently running a campaign, where a few centuries ago the dwarves foresaw the apocalypse, whether or not they tried to warn their neighbours I don´t know, but long story short they seal off their mountain holds to save them self (I'm not playing in said campaign my self so I am not that clear on the specifics).
Obviously all the players are dwarves, and as far as I know they have yet to travel top side, still for some reason I like the idea.

TheDarkDM
2010-11-09, 02:34 PM
Well, how about this:

The Blood War is ended. After aeons of conflict, the Baatezu have chained the Tanar'ri and their servitors deep in the heart of the Abyss, sealing that place forevermore. The forces of the Upper Planes, so long dependent on the eternal stalemate, were unprepared for the subsequent Infernal invasion, and fell quickly. With none to oppose them, the Devils invaded the manifold worlds of mortalkind, enslaving the weak and the willing and slaying all others. One by one, the stars in the sky have faded to flickering red reminders of the fiend's victory. Celestia burns under a never-ending siege, and the once idyllic planes of good have become the hunting grounds of Devilish nobility and the last refuge of the few remaining celestials. On the material plane, vast slave states have risen up to serve the fiends, strip mining entire continents for their uncaring masters, and as the years pass all memory of freedom and hope begins to fade.

Bu tall is not lost, for in isolated pockets of the multiverse, in hidden demiplanes and long-forgotten variations of the material, lurk the last remnants of mortal society. They tell tales of Sigil, the last refuge from the Devilish horde, and send out scouts and scavengers into the surrounding planes, ever wary of drawing the eye of the Baatezu. These scavenger worlds have but one hope - to unseal the Abyss and release the Demons to break the shackles of the new order.