View Full Version : Roleplaying Displeased with Post-Apo. But why?

2015-10-27, 07:24 AM
I struggle with the post apocalyptic setting, I really do.

I have always considered myself more of a fantasy type. To an extent, sci-fi or science fantasy (Star Wars!) does the trick for me, but there is a reason I never played more than 2 hours of Fallout. But now my DM is dead set about this new edition of Degenesis (and quite happy about it). And while I can make do I always wonder how I could use my time in more fun ways and I only really participate because it is fun to be with the guys. The game isn't as much incentive as the people I play it with.

But I wonder why I am so displeased with the setting or settings. They've told me we PCs would be scrounging for food and shelter, and yet everyone is taken care of, and food (often of questionable quality) is also free because we all are members of organizations (basically a requirement from the system, substituting for classes). Then there's a wild mixture of weaponry and epochs. Some tribes hunt with primitive spears, but obviously guns have a huge mechanical advantage and can only be challenged by melee weapons if the character is built heavily towards it (read: if the PC can tank at least two gunwounds and then one or twoshot the gunner).

But I guess the major issue is with it lacking a certain kind of excitement. Fantasy allows you to use fantasical monsters, magic and other impossible things. Science Fiction allows you to technobabble yourself out of situations, introduces possible alien species and a vast array of worlds unimagined of. Post Apocalyptic in its current form allows for a dirtier version of our world. Yay, I guess? There's still politics (no major govt. but smaller warlords gaining areas of influence) and the thrill of survival has been taken from the PCs. In one occasion the PC of the DM's wife ventured out solo into enemy territory covering what is essentially gang signs with her marks. The degenerated mutants confronted her in an intense standoff. And while it was climactic at the time, she survived because you could see the DM thinking about a way to not kill his wives' PC (reason was because you don't kill a woman who could bear children). He likes to treat players equally so we can expect to survive other impossible encounters. And I feel plot armor is the absolutely wrong thing for such a game.

Enlighten me please. I feel like I could like this genre. I feel like the possibility of tension and drama has been wasted. How would you up the ante for me without deliberately doing stupid things? At the moment it feels like a more dull and boring version of today.

There is mutated wildlife (which we either kill by the dozen because we are so heavily armed or the packs avoid us because our group is so big). there are mutated humanoids (which aren't known for being in the area we are playing in) and there is possibility for politics in the city (which honestly bore me not matter what setting). There's also a big chemical facility which is heavily guarded (and slipping into there would give us rank, power and money) but it is a suicide run and nothing my PC would do (a teenager with younger siblings).

I know "no gaming is better than bad gaming". But it has the potential to be good (the majority of my group enjoys it so there has to be something) and I want to awaken said potential.

2015-10-27, 08:27 AM
"no gaming is better than bad gaming"

That's one I never quite understood. Plenty of kinds of gaming are better than bad gaming! I know!

My reaction to your problem (beyond sympathy): Sounds to me like your main problem could be how close post-apocalypse is to settings you really like. You can't help subconsciously comparing. If that's the case, it's a tough nut to crack. I suppose you could embrace as close as you can a different kind of setting, and yet fit in. Could you make a Don Quijote-like character, who fancies himself a noble knight, and sees everything in high fantasy trope terms? It could be more subtle than that and still work, perhaps.
I think a lot of the attraction of the Fallout setting is how it manages to blend many genres, and still retain its very own tone and style. There's techno-thriller, western, heroic adventure, survival horror and noir film all rolled into one (and I'm sure that doesn't exhaust the list of genres being borrowed from). Maybe you can find the things you like and somehow grab onto them.

At any rate, best of luck.

2015-10-27, 08:38 AM
Well, like a lot things, it all comes down to how the group plays it. If you're playing a post apocalypse setting like a dirty version of the modern world, where everyone is somehow well fed and well armed, that's not really what I would call "in the spirit of the post-apocalypse."

The way my group plays them is that even the most basic tasks can lead to adventure. Want to eat today? The small ramshackle town you wandered into is running low on supplies. A decent meal is expensive, so the PCs can either pay the fee and try to take a job to recoup the money, they can try bartering the mutant lizard skins they harvested in the wastes, they can try to steal it, they can help the town hunt for more food, they can try to scavenge some old-world tech and build a better irrigation system for their crops, or they can think of something completely different.

It sounds like that if everyone in your group is well fed and well supplied, you're pretty powerful people. Maybe you could suggest trying to spread the wealth, or going on an expedition into the wastes to either bring law and order out there, or set up new outposts and expand territory for your faction, or try to find a piece of old world tech that would change the balance of power dramatically. If you can get the party cut off from the supply lines and the safety net of their organizations, then you might be able to find some real tension and excitement as supplies dwindle, and you're forced to start thinking resourcefully to solve problems.

2015-10-27, 09:21 AM
What the Admiral said. (I love that name. AdmiralCheez. Heh.) It sounds like you're disappointed with the post-apocalyptic world largely because it doesn't play like a post-apocalyptic world. What your GM is running looks like "we could've done this already withouy the post-apocalypse, but now we have aesthetically pleasing ruins instead of dungeons and gangs instead of bandits." It's not like there's anything wrong with that if people are having fun, but it doesn't really change anything meaningfully from the standard so it can easily cause opening-scene mood wiplash for many people. "This setting is dark and we have to act desperately to live!... Or not."

Maybe try asking your GM to increase the amount of threats related to the condition of the world? But I dunno, it seems like the others are having fun. Maybe you can think about the possibility of a more post-apocalyptic post-apocalypse for the next game you play or run. Doesn't really help you enjoy this one, though.

Storm Bringer
2015-10-27, 09:32 AM
like cheez said, its sounds like your DM is playing a sort of "apocalypse lite" game. Your gripes are not that your playing a post apocalyptic setting, its that you don't feel like your playing a post apocalyptic setting. Tellingly, You don't complain about on the rules set itself, which makes me think your happy enough with the rules, just not the setting.

also, it sounds like you don't feel challenged by the threats your facing. The incident with the DMs wife seems to have broken your suspension of disbelief to a degree. because you now perceive that your DM isn't going to be lethal with you, and you're not invested in the fights*.

I think what you should do is have a quiet word with the DM, just to two of you, before or after the game proper, and explain your feelings.

Point out that you feel (or were lead to believe) that you were facing a survival situation type game, where you were balancing your resources at a most basic level ("well, we could just chuck a grenade in their.....but we only have one left....", but that is not the case. You feel that your not really in a survival game, just a standard dungeon crawler game with more dirt, and that just isn't enthusing you.

if he's a good DM (and since your looking for ways to stay with him and the party, I'd guess he is), he should listen to your concerns, and maybe he has a few ideas of his own for you.

An alternative, if you like the players, but don't like the game, would be to offer to DM yourself in a system or setting you enjoy, perhaps on alternate weeks. who knows? you might find you enjoy being the DM.

* personally, I have always been in favour of letting a PC who has done something really, fundamentally stupid die, to remind the players that actions can have consequences, and to discourage a metagame approach to problem solving (I.e. starting a fight with a superior force, knowing that the DM won't let you die, for example) .

Lvl 2 Expert
2015-10-27, 10:39 AM
Well, if you want to find fun bits about the setting, try to find fun bits about the setting?

You've got weapons covered, how about vehicles? Say a Mad Max style dune buggy cobbled together from 80's technology with some forward mounted machine guns on it, or a Waterworld-esque boat? If this is not the "survive in this barren landscape" post-apocalyptic setting, it must be the other kind. Maybe try traveling around, see if there are lands nearby where there might be big oasis strongholds, or swamps full of powerful mutants guarding some kind of treasure with which you could built a scrap powered laser for on your battletruck, or people reviving ancient technology that lets them take the form of a dinosaur for arena battles. Okay, that last one is probably a little too much. Maybe try inventing a gas turbine that runs on pig **** and Tina Turner hits, maybe try to see if magic has suddenly started working with all of our technological fields gone. The setting is too empty it seems, fill it up, as far as the DM let's you...

2015-10-27, 10:50 AM
SO, fantasy is most definitely post apocalyptic.

Lets take a look at supporting evidence

Post Apocalutpic as you are describing it. Once there was civilization then bad stuff happened now everybody is like whoa ruins. wow what does this fancy thing do? oh and its set in current times.

Forgotten Realms: Yeah there used to be dozens ( maybe hundreds) of super awesome and magically powerful nations but then DOOM of one kind or another happened, so now everybody is stuck running around these old ruins and finidng mighty artifacts that nobody really understand fully.

Pathfinder: yeah there used to be this super cool diety of prophecy and a few awesome nations, talking to you Thassilon, But then a giant rock fell out of the sky cuz of super genius cat-fish alien monsters and smashed everything to death, now everybody is like, what is up wit that weird monument and other ruins?

I think the issue stems not from the idea that you dislike Post apocalyptic settings, a much as in your mind even when playing in a very post apocalyptic setting, the idea of mad max or doomsday esque idea and visuals is your only self belived version of post apocalyptic .

To me you should take in the greater understanding that not all post apocalyptic settings and stories are going to be mad max rip offs. I mean truth be told if you took of those shaded glasses, Id wager money that some of your faveorite stories and settings are indeed Post apocalyptic.

2015-10-27, 11:38 AM
In this case, ngilop, that isn't really true; the post-apocalyptic genre is different from the "post-apocalypse" descriptor in the same way fantasy is different from fiction despite all fiction being fanciful by definition. The thing about the worlds you're describing as post-apocalyptic are only such in the descriptive sense, not the genre sense. A world is only post-apocalyptic in the genre sense if the apocalypse is a major (and probably, though not necessarily, recent) event that destroyed society on many levels and, here's the important part, which the world hasn't yet recovered from. Many settings have prior glorious empires destroyed by apocalyptic circumstances, but in most cases, the world has long since recovered from those events; the apocalypse itself doesn't define the world anymore.

The purpose of language is to facilitate communication. Verbal semantics aside, most of us know what's meant when somebody refers to a setting as post-apocalyptic. Trying to generalize that definition down to apply to any setting that had an apocalypse at some point in its history just makes communicating the idea more confusing, not less. I shouldn't need to go through the lengthy process of referring to it as "setting where wastelands are common and society has collapsed due to recent apocalypse from which the world has not recovered" every time I could be saying "post-apocalyptic setting."

(Also, you know you just referred to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the greatest fantasy works produced throughout the literary age as "Mad Max ripoffs," right? That's silly.)

2015-10-27, 11:59 AM
Tolkein's world is the ur fantasy one, and is quite simply a bombed out ruin. Most of it is abandoned to bioweapons that have gone rogue, and even "safe" areas are extremely dangerous as a result.

2015-10-27, 02:01 PM
In my book, there are two varieties of post-apocalyptic settingssettings where wastelands are common and society has collapsed due to recent apocalypse from which the world has not recovered. In the first type everything is harsh, and people have to struggle to survive. There isn't much time to rebuild beyond basic society until you've managed to start farming again.

The second type takes out the survival aspect, and replaces it with trying to rebuild civilisation. In this variety of post-apocalyptic settingsetting where wastelands are common and society has collapsed due to recent apocalypse from which the world has not recovered the focus isn't upon trying to nab enough food to survive, but rather getting groups of people together and trying to rebuild civilisation.

I think the problem may be that your GM is running the second variety of post-apocalyptic settingsetting where wastelands are common and society has collapsed due to recent apocalypse from which the world has not recovered, while you're expecting the first.

As a side note, this is why I hate the idea of any Fallout games coming out and destroying the NCR, because they bring the second type into the first. Just keep the games outside the NCR and have them just touch on the territory.

2015-10-27, 02:49 PM

Actually it is far from silly; As evident by the OP as well as what you have just stated. Did a great civilization and near extinction happen? Is society somewhat lesser than when it was before the big doomy gloomy event happen?

If yes then that means that the game is set in a post [something bad happened] time frame/story or to sum it up. Post Apocalyptic.

the main problem is when everybody and their cousin and 5 legged dog thinks of Post Apocalyptic they think of people out in a eradiated desert, looking for food, oil, water or what have you.

Wearing repurposed sport and biker outfits and driving weird vehicles that really make no sense. And guess what the BIGGEST example of this in recent memory is the Mad Max series.

If you say that Post Apocalyptic only describes a very very very specific setting, time frame, and story line to me is asinine.

So, what I actually said was
that not all post apocalyptic settings and stories are going to be mad max rip offs wherein mad max ripoffs being what you so eloquently defined as a
setting where wastelands are common and society has collapsed due to recent apocalypse from which the world has not recovered you describe that to anybody and I bet one of the first 3 answers is going to be 'Mad max."

I did not say that any literary works that are post apocalyptic are so totally rip offs on mad max, but that a setting does not have to be a mad max rip off to be Post Apocalyptic, to which you seem to say that indeed it does need to be, and that is the only way to be Post Apocalyptic.

2015-10-27, 03:07 PM
I think a post-apocalyptic setting really needs to be defined by the apocalypse. Like, a cataclysmic event is the defining trait of the state of the world. The land is barren because of the nuclear fallout, big city society is crumbling because all electronics stopped working, a supervolcano spread ash across the surface so now everyone lives underground, things like that. If a meteor struck and destroyed the ancient civilizations, and hundreds of years later there's new kingdoms that are stable, with active trade and everyone's living happy lives, I don't think that really counts as a post-apocalyptic setting. It might be an interesting background element, but if everyday life isn't somehow shaped by the aftermath of an apocalypse, it could fit any other genre.

I mean, the Shannarra series is technically set on post-apocalyptic Earth in the ruins of our modern civilization, but I wouldn't consider it a post-apocalyptic story.

2015-10-27, 03:30 PM
To borrow a line from the comic:
“You are who you are on your very worst day. Anything less is a comforting lie you tell yourself to numb the pain.”

That’s what makes post apocalyptic fiction interesting. Watching the characters make decisions they wouldn’t normally have to make. The chips are down; life sucks and you have two choices: survive or die. But how? Does a group choose to kill and rape and plunder to get the resources they need to survive? Do they try to build a peaceful colony and develop an agrarian lifestyle to support their needs? Do people band together and work as a group towards a common goal? Or do people go at it alone and rely upon nothing but their own strength?

What happens when these different philosophies meet head on and clash? You can have all the biker gangs, flesh eating cockroaches, zombie mutants and other hazards all you want. But without asking those tough questions those hazards are just hazards. By asking those questions those hazards become part of a bigger story about how people survive the great collapse; how they rebuilt and what sort of society(ies) rise from the ashes.

2015-10-27, 06:10 PM
For the setting: We play in Middle Europe after a bunch of meteorites destroyed basically everything in 2070ish (is 2595 to date). Technology to date was some kind of physical internet/real virtual reality. Those meteorites shifted the poles (so the magnetic north pole should be where Denmark was. Africa survived the whole hubbub majorily untouched while America, Australia and Asia was completely annihilated. Middle Europe has some kind of dusty Northern European weather now.

The Alien spores "aboard" the meteorites infest humans and animals alike making them into (unplayable) super mutants, yet the most dangerous thing we have faced yet was the son of the local warlord.

As far as rules go death is very VERY easy to achieve (basically a Shotgun blast from point blank kills the average dude and our insane tanky guy survived a double barrel shot barely). Think damage ranging from 6-12 (double barrel shot being 24) and Stamina being around 8-14 while actual hitpoints are 6-10.

So either the character agrees to missions where death risk is minimal or you don't do them. Risk is easily calculatable with many options simply being suicide and other options being practically risk free.

What happens when these different philosophies meet head on and clash?

That is actually one of the main motifs and one of the strong points of the game. The organizations are vastly different in their credo. A doctor might see the devil in a spore infection and will purge it with fire and not help the victim, a bunker dweller would deify someone showing first signs of mutation powers.

A scrapper can see the value of a damaged microcomputer while an anabaptist would smelt the thing in order to create more swords and plowshares.

2015-10-27, 09:15 PM
So either the character agrees to missions where death risk is minimal or you don't do them. Risk is easily calculatable with many options simply being suicide and other options being practically risk free.

I think this is part of the problem. Risk should be nearly everywhere. The PCs should be hired to do dangerous things; after all they’re well armed and tough (surviving a shotgun blast period is a feat). That risk should usually lead to reward. If the group is actively avoiding dangerous situations because they could die; that’s fairly realistic but they shouldn’t be well equipped or wealthy for doing it.

Try talking the players into taking more risks. Maybe that’ll help.

2015-10-28, 01:58 AM
Suicide vs Risk-free? That sounds like unfun on both sides of the spectrum.

There has to be a moderate amount of risk involved.