Thursday, 13 August 2015

World building, or, Apocalypse How?

So, with Xander making a start on describing the world of our display game - I must admit I hadn't given much thought to it before today - I thought I should give you an idea of how world building affects your game.

I mentioned on the About page that All That Remains is designed to allow you to set your games in any post apocalyptic setting you want, including - as Xander noted - any of the various settings found throughout the post apocalyptic genre.

The most obvious detail you'll want to decide on is how civilisation came to an end in your  world. Your choice of apocalypse will make itself felt through the board you fight on, and the Fog of War deck, a deck of cards drawn on any time one of your units rolls a 1 on a Quality Check.

Depopulation bombs are one type of apocalypse you can consider. For whatever reason the population of earth has been reduced, suddenly and drastically. Pandemics, environmental collapse or a global economic meltdown are all good examples of this kind of apocalypse.

This is the "vanilla" setting for ATR, and doesn't affect the board or add new cards to the FoW deck.

Nuclear war - the big one. This setting adds cards to the FoW deck that can render terrain pieces suddenly unusable as pockets of fallout are found lingering to poison the unwary. New items such as Geiger counters and HAZMAT gear can be bought to protect your troops from its effects. Background radiation fluctuates wildly, potentially blocking radio messages to your support assets and troops.

A super volcano or small asteroid may have hit your world, plunging it into a deep winter. Blizzards may spring up without warning slowing, but concealing troop movements, or disappear just as suddenly, leaving your units exposed.

And lastly, everybody's favourite, Zombies! Now you might think that this would result in a very different game. And you'd be right. And wrong. Remember how in The Walking Dead zombies sort of became a secondary threat? It's a bit like that. The zombies of this world have started to decay and recede as survivors bind together to create new societies. And of course forgetting that they were almost wiped out, begin the time honoured tradition of competing with each other for dominance.

In a Zombie apocalypse game you can use your silence as a weapon, or open up to quickly achieve your objectives. Because zombies without a unit in sight will head towards the noisiest unit, and the noisier both sides are combined, the more zombies are attracted to the fight... Best bring those crossbows, just in case... The FoW deck also becomes zombie themed, with zombies suddenly lurking in the cellars of houses you thought were safe, and infected among your own men, because of course, "it's just a scratch." Just remember that the focus is force on force violence, the zombies are just an inconvenience. A hungry, hungry inconvenience...

These are the three I've put thought into so far, I'll probably post a thread over at the Post-Apocalyptic Wargames Forum (check 'em out) to brainstorm more.

 Of course there's nothing to stop you mixing these settings. Mix nuclear and deep freeze and you've got a Nuclear Winter, for instance.

And if you combine zombies and deep winter you get...

Ha! No but seriously, G.R.R.M's lawyers would metaphorically eat us. Then G.R.R.M. would actually eat us...
More exotic settings can also be handled, albeit in different ways. Machine apocalypses can be handled with the upcoming future tech rules, with all machine factions. Alien invasions can be easily represented, either by treating the invaders as basically human with advanced technology, or by using the upcoming mutant rules to flesh out truly alien species.

In both these cases, it should be remembered that ATR is designed to be a post apocalyptic ruleset. Thus machine factions and alien armies are better dealt with in this light. For machine factions, perhaps view as just yet another powerful group in the wasteland, like the various robotic factions of Darwin's World. For aliens, consider a scenario more like Armageddon Empires. Earth there was fairly ancillary, merely a planet caught in the crossfire of an interplanetary war. Once the front moved on, the stragglers and deserters of the two alien empires were no more impressive than the angry humans set on reclaiming their planet.

Hopefully, this has given you an overview on how you will be able to inform your games of All That Remains through your world building. In my next post I'll talk about the variable technology level and the plug and play elements.

-- Sebastian

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