Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The post-apocalyptic setting is a world that has been devastated by some catastrophic event, leaving behind a desolate and dangerous landscape. This setting is often explored in post-apocalyptic role-playing games (RPGs), where players must navigate the ruins of a once-thriving civilization and face new challenges in a world that is forever changed. In this guide, we will delve into the key elements of the post-apocalyptic setting and explore the best post-apocalyptic RPGs available today. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, this guide will provide you with the information you need to explore this exciting and unique setting.

Understanding the Post-Apocalyptic Setting

Definition of Post-Apocalyptic

The term “post-apocalyptic” refers to a world that has been devastated by a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war, environmental disaster, or a zombie outbreak. This setting is characterized by a ruined society, where the survivors must navigate a dangerous and unpredictable world.

The importance of the setting in post-apocalyptic RPGs lies in its ability to create a sense of urgency and tension. In these games, the players are often faced with limited resources, hostile environments, and a constant struggle for survival. This creates a unique and challenging gameplay experience, where the players must make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions.

In post-apocalyptic RPGs, the players take on the role of survivors, scavenging for supplies, and navigating through a dangerous world. The setting provides a rich backdrop for storytelling, allowing for the exploration of themes such as survival, human nature, and the struggle for power in a post-societal world.

Elements of Post-Apocalyptic Setting

The post-apocalyptic setting is characterized by several key elements that set it apart from other types of settings in RPGs. These elements help to create a unique and immersive experience for players, as they navigate a world that has been ravaged by disaster and struggle to survive in the aftermath.

  • Desolation and destruction: The post-apocalyptic setting is defined by the devastation that has occurred. This can take many forms, such as a nuclear war, a pandemic, a natural disaster, or a technological collapse. The world is left in ruins, with crumbling infrastructure, destroyed cities, and scarce resources.
  • Survival and scarcity of resources: In a post-apocalyptic world, survival is the primary concern for most characters. Resources are scarce, and people must fight tooth and nail to obtain food, water, shelter, and medicine. This creates a sense of urgency and desperation that permeates every aspect of the game.
  • New societies and social structures: In the aftermath of the apocalypse, new societies and social structures emerge. These can range from small, tight-knit communities to sprawling, authoritarian regimes. Characters must navigate these new social hierarchies and alliances, and may even find themselves questioning their own beliefs and values.
  • Dangers and threats: The post-apocalyptic setting is also characterized by the presence of many dangers and threats. These can include hostile mutants, raiders, or other survivors who are willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Characters must be constantly vigilant and prepared to defend themselves, or risk falling victim to these dangers.

Overall, the elements of the post-apocalyptic setting work together to create a bleak and unforgiving world that challenges players to survive against all odds. By understanding these elements, players can better prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead, and immerse themselves in the rich and vibrant world of post-apocalyptic RPGs.

The Evolution of Post-Apocalyptic Settings in RPGs

Key takeaway: Post-apocalyptic RPGs are a subgenre of tabletop role-playing games that take place in a world that has been devastated by a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war, environmental disaster, or a zombie outbreak. The setting is characterized by desolation and destruction, survival and scarcity of resources, new societies and social structures, and dangers and threats. Modern post-apocalyptic RPGs have expanded upon the foundation laid by earlier titles, offering more immersive worlds, complex storylines, and advanced gameplay mechanics. Factors to consider when choosing a post-apocalyptic RPG include gameplay mechanics, story and setting, replayability and longevity.

Early Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

The First Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

The first post-apocalyptic RPGs emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during the heyday of tabletop role-playing games. Some of the earliest examples include Gamma World (1978) and Metamorphosis Alpha (1980), both of which were set in post-apocalyptic worlds ravaged by nuclear war. These games introduced players to the concept of a post-apocalyptic setting, where they could explore the remnants of a destroyed civilization and battle mutated creatures and other dangers.

The Influence of Early Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

These early post-apocalyptic RPGs had a significant impact on the genre, paving the way for future games to explore similar themes and settings. They established the post-apocalyptic setting as a viable and compelling backdrop for RPGs, where players could explore the remnants of a destroyed world and confront the challenges of a hostile environment. These games also introduced the concept of “living off the land,” where players had to scavenge for resources and make tough decisions to survive in a harsh world.

The influence of these early post-apocalyptic RPGs can still be seen in modern games, with many drawing inspiration from their pioneering spirit and focus on survival in a hostile world. These games remain a valuable part of the post-apocalyptic RPG canon, and continue to inspire new generations of players and game designers.

Modern Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

  • In recent years, a slew of modern post-apocalyptic RPGs have hit the market, each offering a unique take on the genre.
  • These games build upon the foundation laid by earlier titles, offering more immersive worlds, complex storylines, and advanced gameplay mechanics.

Notable Examples

  • Fallout 4: Bethesda’s critically acclaimed installment in the Fallout series takes place in the post-apocalyptic world of the Commonwealth, where players must navigate the dangerous landscape and build their own settlements.
  • The Last of Us Part II: Naughty Dog’s emotional narrative follows a young girl and a woman as they navigate a post-apocalyptic United States, facing both human and infected adversaries.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Developed by Guerrilla Games, this game is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by robotic creatures, where players take on the role of a skilled hunter named Aloy.

Enhanced Storytelling and Character Development

  • Modern post-apocalyptic RPGs place a greater emphasis on storytelling and character development, creating a more immersive experience for players.
  • Complex narratives explore themes such as survival, morality, and the struggle for power in a world gone awry.
  • Characters are more fleshed out, with well-defined motivations and emotional arcs that drive the story forward.

Advanced Gameplay Mechanics

  • In addition to improved storytelling, modern post-apocalyptic RPGs also boast advanced gameplay mechanics that enhance the overall experience.
  • These games often feature open-world environments, allowing players to explore and interact with the world in a more organic manner.
  • Complex crafting systems and customization options enable players to tailor their character’s abilities and appearance to suit their preferred playstyle.
  • Dynamic weather systems and day-night cycles add an extra layer of realism to the game world.

Innovative Multiplayer Experiences

  • Some modern post-apocalyptic RPGs have introduced innovative multiplayer experiences, allowing players to team up and face the challenges of the post-apocalyptic world together.
  • Examples include Fallout 76, which features a multiplayer component where players can form teams and explore the vast wasteland of West Virginia, and Days Gone, where players can team up to combat hordes of Freakers in a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest.

Overall, modern post-apocalyptic RPGs have expanded upon the foundation laid by earlier titles, offering more immersive worlds, complex storylines, and advanced gameplay mechanics. These games provide players with a captivating and often haunting glimpse into a world struggling to survive after a catastrophic event, offering hours of engaging gameplay and thought-provoking narratives.

The Future of Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

  • Potential future developments in the genre
  • How technology may influence the evolution of post-apocalyptic RPGs

Potential Future Developments in the Genre

  1. Increased focus on environmental and ecological issues: As climate change and environmental degradation continue to be pressing concerns, it is likely that post-apocalyptic RPGs will increasingly explore these themes, with characters grappling with the aftermath of ecological disasters and the struggle to rebuild sustainable societies.
  2. The rise of alternative post-apocalyptic scenarios: While nuclear war and pandemics have been the primary drivers of post-apocalyptic settings, there is potential for the genre to explore other catastrophic events, such as artificial intelligence gone rogue, large-scale natural disasters, or even the impact of space exploration gone awry.
  3. Expansion beyond Western settings: Post-apocalyptic RPGs have largely been set in Western contexts, but there is potential for the genre to explore other cultures and regions, providing unique perspectives on how different societies cope with catastrophe and rebuild.

How Technology May Influence the Evolution of Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

  1. Enhanced immersion through virtual reality: As VR technology advances, there is potential for post-apocalyptic RPGs to become even more immersive, allowing players to explore desolate landscapes and interact with characters in a more realistic manner.
  2. AI-driven narratives: The integration of AI in game design could lead to more dynamic and unpredictable storytelling, with characters reacting to player choices in real-time and generating unique narrative paths based on player actions.
  3. The impact of automation and robotics: As automation and robotics become more prevalent in society, post-apocalyptic RPGs may explore the implications of a world where machines have taken over, either as allies or adversaries, and how humans adapt to this new reality.
  4. Crowdsourced content and player-generated stories: With the rise of online communities and user-generated content, post-apocalyptic RPGs may evolve to incorporate more player input, allowing players to shape the world and narrative through their actions and choices.

Choosing a Post-Apocalyptic RPG

Factors to Consider

When choosing a post-apocalyptic RPG, there are several factors to consider to ensure that the game meets your expectations and preferences. These factors include:

  • Gameplay mechanics: The gameplay mechanics of a post-apocalyptic RPG are essential to consider, as they determine the overall experience of the game. Factors to consider include the level of difficulty, the combat system, the loot and equipment system, and the character progression system.
  • Story and setting: The story and setting of a post-apocalyptic RPG are critical to the overall experience of the game. Factors to consider include the quality of the writing, the depth of the world-building, the plausibility of the apocalypse, and the pacing of the story.
  • Replayability and longevity: Replayability and longevity are important factors to consider when choosing a post-apocalyptic RPG. Factors to consider include the length of the game, the amount of content, the level of difficulty, and the potential for modding and user-generated content.

Considering these factors will help you choose a post-apocalyptic RPG that meets your expectations and preferences, providing you with a unique and engaging gaming experience.

Recommended Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

If you’re looking to explore the post-apocalyptic setting in a tabletop RPG, there are several great options to choose from. Here are some recommended post-apocalyptic RPGs that offer unique and engaging worlds to explore:

  • Gamma World: This science fiction RPG is set in a post-apocalyptic world where nuclear war has devastated the planet. Players take on the role of mutants, scavengers, and survivors as they navigate the dangerous wasteland in search of treasure and adventure.
  • Mutant: Year Zero: This Swedish RPG is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mutant strain of the common cold has wiped out most of humanity. Players take on the role of mutants as they navigate the dangerous world, facing challenges and threats from both the environment and other survivors.
  • Dark Sun: This fantasy RPG is set in the world of Athas, a planet that has been ravaged by a catastrophic event known as “The Age of Darkness.” Players take on the role of sorcerers, warriors, and rogues as they navigate the dangerous world, battling monsters, overcoming obstacles, and uncovering ancient secrets.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy: This science fiction RPG is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, a grim darkness of a far-future where humanity has spread throughout the galaxy. Players take on the role of a Space Marine, an elite soldier of the Imperium, as they navigate the dangerous world, battling threats from within and without the Imperium.
  • The Walking Dead: The RPG: This RPG is based on the popular comic book series and TV show, and is set in the same post-apocalyptic world where a zombie outbreak has ravaged the world. Players take on the role of survivors as they navigate the dangerous world, facing challenges and threats from both the undead and other survivors.

Each of these RPGs offers a unique post-apocalyptic setting, with its own challenges and opportunities for adventure. Whether you’re looking for a science fiction, fantasy, or horror setting, there’s a post-apocalyptic RPG out there that’s perfect for you.

Tips for Playing Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

Character Creation

Creating a character that fits the post-apocalyptic setting is essential for an immersive and enjoyable roleplaying experience. Here are some tips to help you build a character that will thrive in a post-apocalyptic world:

Consider the Setting

The first step in creating a character for a post-apocalyptic RPG is to consider the setting. The game’s setting will dictate the type of character you should create. For example, if the game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, you may want to create a character who is skilled in survival and combat. On the other hand, if the game is set in a dystopian society, you may want to create a character who is skilled in diplomacy and negotiation.

Choose a Role

Once you have considered the setting, you should choose a role for your character. In a post-apocalyptic RPG, you may want to choose a role that is unique and different from other players. For example, you may want to create a character who is a doctor or a scientist, rather than a soldier or a hunter.

Determine Your Character’s Background

Your character’s background will play a significant role in how they interact with the world and other characters. Determine your character’s backstory, including their family, education, and occupation. This information will help you roleplay your character in a more authentic and believable way.

Allocate Points

Most post-apocalyptic RPGs use a point-based system to determine a character’s abilities and skills. Allocate points wisely to ensure that your character is balanced and effective in combat, survival, and social situations.

Choose Skills and Abilities

Choose skills and abilities that are relevant to your character’s role and background. For example, if your character is a doctor, you may want to choose skills related to medicine and first aid. If your character is a soldier, you may want to choose skills related to combat and tactics.

Customize Your Character

Finally, customize your character to make them unique and interesting. Choose a name, appearance, and personality that reflect your character’s background and role. You may also want to choose quirks or mannerisms that will make your character stand out in the game.

In summary, creating a character for a post-apocalyptic RPG requires careful consideration of the setting, role, background, and abilities. By following these tips, you can create a character that is well-suited to the post-apocalyptic world and ready to face any challenges that come their way.

Survival Mechanics

In post-apocalyptic RPGs, survival mechanics play a crucial role in determining the success or failure of a player’s journey. These mechanics are the set of rules and gameplay elements that govern how a player navigates and survives in a post-apocalyptic world. In this section, we will delve into the details of survival mechanics in post-apocalyptic RPGs.

Understanding Survival Mechanics

To survive in a post-apocalyptic world, players must understand the mechanics that govern their survival. This includes knowledge of the environment, the resources available, and the threats that they may encounter.

For example, in the game Fallout, players must understand the principles of radiation, the effects of radiation on the body, and how to manage their radiation levels to avoid death. They must also learn how to scavenge for food, water, and other resources, and how to craft weapons and armor to defend themselves against hostile creatures and raiders.

Navigating and Surviving in a Post-Apocalyptic World

In addition to understanding the survival mechanics, players must also learn how to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world. This includes knowing how to find and follow maps, how to navigate through dangerous terrain, and how to avoid danger.

For example, in the game The Last of Us, players must navigate through a post-apocalyptic world filled with infected creatures and hostile survivors. They must learn how to avoid detection, how to sneak past enemies, and how to use the environment to their advantage.

In conclusion, survival mechanics play a crucial role in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Understanding these mechanics and learning how to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world is essential for a player’s success. Whether it’s managing radiation levels, scavenging for resources, or avoiding danger, players must be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to survive in this harsh and unforgiving world.

Combat and Danger

In post-apocalyptic RPGs, combat and danger are inevitable elements that players must be prepared for. Here are some tips for surviving combat and dealing with dangers in the post-apocalyptic setting:

  • Understand the environment: Knowing the environment is crucial in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Players must understand the layout of the area, potential cover, and escape routes. They should also be aware of the weather and time of day, as these factors can affect combat and danger.
  • Choose the right equipment: Equipment is essential in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Players should choose weapons and armor that are suitable for the environment and enemies they will face. They should also consider carrying supplies such as medical kits, ammunition, and rations.
  • Use stealth: Stealth is often the best approach in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Players should try to avoid combat whenever possible, as it increases the risk of injury or death. Stealth allows players to take out enemies quietly and avoid attracting attention.
  • Use the environment to your advantage: The environment can be a powerful tool in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Players should use cover, obstacles, and terrain to their advantage. They should also be aware of potential traps and hazards in the environment that could cause danger.
  • Be prepared for different types of enemies: Post-apocalyptic RPGs often feature a variety of enemies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Players should be prepared for different types of enemies, such as mutants, bandits, or military forces. They should also be aware of the tactics and weapons used by these enemies.
  • Manage your resources: Resources are limited in post-apocalyptic RPGs. Players must manage their resources carefully, such as ammunition, medical supplies, and food. They should also consider the risk of losing resources when engaging in combat or exploring dangerous areas.
  • Work with your team: In post-apocalyptic RPGs, players often work in teams. Players should communicate and coordinate with their team members to increase their chances of survival. They should also be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and use them to their advantage.

By following these tips, players can increase their chances of survival in post-apocalyptic RPGs and navigate the dangers of the post-apocalyptic setting.

Exploration and Quests

Finding and completing quests in post-apocalyptic RPGs

In post-apocalyptic RPGs, quests are an essential part of the gameplay, as they provide players with a sense of purpose and direction in the desolate world. Quests are typically designed to give players objectives to complete, which can range from finding and delivering supplies to saving survivors. The variety of quests ensures that players are constantly engaged and challenged in their journey through the post-apocalyptic world.

To successfully complete quests, players must explore the game world thoroughly, searching for clues and information that will help them achieve their objectives. This often involves navigating through dangerous environments, such as ruins and abandoned buildings, where players must be on guard against hostile creatures and other hazards. The exploration aspect of post-apocalyptic RPGs adds an extra layer of excitement and challenge to the gameplay, as players never know what they might discover around the next corner.

The importance of exploration in the genre

Exploration is a crucial element of post-apocalyptic RPGs, as it allows players to fully immerse themselves in the game world and experience the desolate landscapes and abandoned locations that make the genre so captivating. Exploration also provides players with opportunities to discover hidden treasures, valuable resources, and unique items that can enhance their character’s abilities and improve their chances of survival.

In addition to the rewards that come from exploration, the act of exploring itself can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. The sense of discovery and the unknown that comes with exploring a post-apocalyptic world can be a significant draw for players, as it allows them to imagine what life might be like in a world where civilization has been destroyed.

Overall, exploration and quests are essential components of post-apocalyptic RPGs, providing players with a sense of purpose, challenges to overcome, and opportunities for discovery and adventure in a desolate and dangerous world.


1. What is a post-apocalyptic setting?

A post-apocalyptic setting is a fictional world that has been devastated by a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war, environmental disaster, or a zombie outbreak. In this world, the characters must navigate the remnants of civilization, dealing with the aftermath of the disaster and trying to survive in a hostile environment.

2. What are some common features of post-apocalyptic settings?

Some common features of post-apocalyptic settings include a destroyed or dying society, limited resources, a dangerous environment, and a struggle for survival. The characters in these settings often face challenges such as finding food, water, and shelter, as well as dealing with hostile creatures or other survivors.

3. What are some examples of post-apocalyptic RPGs?

There are many post-apocalyptic RPGs, including Fallout, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series, and Metro 2033. These games often have a strong emphasis on survival, exploration, and combat, and feature a post-apocalyptic world that is rich in detail and atmosphere.

4. How do I create a post-apocalyptic setting for my own RPG campaign?

Creating a post-apocalyptic setting for your own RPG campaign involves worldbuilding and creating a sense of atmosphere. You can start by thinking about the cause of the apocalypse, the state of the world, and the challenges that the characters will face. Consider the environment, the society, and the other characters that the players will encounter. You can also add unique elements to your setting, such as mutated creatures or unique survival techniques.

World Building – The Post-Apocalypse

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