Leading tabletop and roleplaying game publisher Fantasy Flight Games has in recent years begun dabbling in scary apocalyptic scenarios as roleplaying games in a line called End of the World. What do they know that we don’t, and why are their games so stylish and built for new and old gamers alike? Are they prophetic doomsayers, preparing us for a coming end times?
These games are particularly interesting in that player characters are literally the players themselves. You get together, vote on each others characteristics, and reveal any traumas you’re currently suffering you want to bring into the game. This has the strange result of allowing you to deal with your real world stuff through the context of a zombie survival scenario or alien invasion drama. Equipment is easy because you have whatever you’ve got with you in real life.
The dice mechanic is similar to the one used in their popular Star Wars roleplaying game line, but paired down for use with regular old 6-sided dice. It’s a nice change, since it doesn’t mean buying specialized dice, and the mechanic itself allows for partial successes and Pyrrhic victories perfect for gritty survival horror. Here are just some of the ways that everything might come to an end or not if you happen to have a good dice roll.
Despite having a premise that is at this time rather well-trod ground, the Zombie Apocalypse installment of the line shines as a fascinating application of the line’s use of players as player characters. It’s one thing to try to survive an apocalyptic scenario yourself, quite another to face your own friends and family turned or turning into flesh eating monsters.
Each of the five scenarios presents new and different zombies for your group to struggle against, but it’s your own sacrifices and decisions that will haunt you once the game is over.
Wrath of the Gods
This is perhaps the most interesting book in the game line in terms of the breadth of the scenarios presented. The basic premise of the Wrath of the Gods is that intelligent, incredibly powerful supernatural beings are taking over or destroying the earth. But each of the scenarios is wholly different in terms of the source of this danger.
From Cthulhu rising from the deep, to the Norse gods at war with each other, to the earth itself fighting back against human encroachment; these scenarios are diverse and epic in scope.
Though this one appears to be named after the tagline from Terminator 3, the Revolt of the Machines installment has all sorts of robotic and nanite threats. From dangerous satellites to overly personal home appliances, we have a lot of pent up fears surrounding technology, and this book aims to leverage those fears.
If your friends are itching to bash in some metallic brains, this might be the book for you.
In Alien Invasion, you and your friends are confronted with a host of strange and familiar invading forces. Gray aliens, lizard men, sea invaders, and even giant insects. This particular set of scenarios feel more tongue-in-cheek than the rest and might do well as a more slapstick, light-hearted end of the world.
Straight faced or goofy, these adventures seem perfectly suited to survival horror in that they’re unpredictable, yet familiar and easy to describe.
So what’s your favorite apocalypse or post-apocalypse scenario? Do you have a plan for when zombies rise? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credits: Fantasy Flight Games