Users Guide: The Post-Apocalyptic Genre

The following article is a continuation of the Genres in Gaming series of articles written to help players and GMs determine which games are available within the genres they want to play. The lists of systems contained throughout or by no means exhaustive. All game systems are listed within the sub-genre as I understand from the knowledge I have. If they are improperly categorized, please post a comment further explaining what the sub-genre should be and why.

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Post-Apocalyptic is often reflected with dark themes including devastation, infestation, supernatural beings, decay, or the horrific war for survival.  For this, many of the sub-genres have are inherently horror in nature, but should not be confused with actual horror publications.  Post-Apocalyptic is about surviving the world after the apocalypse has occurred (or before if preventing the apocalypse).  While this may seem similar to horror, the underlying theme is not the fear factor imposed by the supernatural or horrific scenes, but rather how the characters’ actions, decisions, and encounters keep them surviving for another day.

Modern Post-Apocalyptic

Modern Post-Apocalyptic is the modern day vision of what the apocalypse will look like.  This includes ideas like World War III, nuclear fallout, or the devastation of Earth from supernatural or natural occurrences.  This is the version of the apocalypse often glorified by modern films and often believed by people everywhere.  The source of the apocalypse could vary from system to system or setting to setting, but the time period remains in the modern era whether that is near past, present day, or near future.

The following systems are representative of Modern Post-Apocalyptic and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Science Fiction Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic

Science Fiction Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic brings in elements of both Science Fiction and Fantasy into the post-apocalyptic world for various reasons. The science aspect could be a progression of technology while the apocalypse allowed the fantasy aspect to appear (or re-appear) within the world.  There are numerous explanations but they all incorporate two things: science fiction technology and fantasy.

The following systems are representative of Science Fiction Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Gothic Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic

Gothic Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic is the incorporation of more horror and supernatural into the system or setting, much more than the Modern sub-genre.  Society may have grown from the post-apocalyptic time, but the apocalypse brought horrific beings into the world and now society is faced with the supernatural.  These supernatural beings may have caused the apocalypse or possibly technology was the reason, either way the supernatural beings are now present and have to be faced on a day-to-day basis.

Even though Post-Apocalyptic takes a grim look at the world after the apocalyptic event, Gothic Science Fiction adds in more aspects of chaos, horror, and/or the supernatural.  All of this is combined with technology that has evolved within a society that may be thriving, surviving, or failing.

The following systems are representative of Gothic Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Dark Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic

Dark Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic is the fantasy equivalent of Gothic Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic. One thing to note is that the fantasy portion may be modern or epic in nature, but the underlying theme is the chaos and/or supernatural beings prevalent throughout. A fantasy apocalypse could be caused from numerous sources such as plague, chaos, natural destruction, or something similar, but does not contain aspects that are science fiction in nature (such as nuclear fallout).

Some Dark Fantasy settings deal with death and decay but not necessarily the apocalypse.  The biggest different between these standard Dark Fantasy systems/settings and those of Post-Apocalyptic is that the apocalypse is a single event that causes massive destruction.  Death and decay could be a slow process that makes survival more difficult but isn’t a single event that that basically changed life in a matter of minutes.

The following systems are representative of Dark Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).

Stay tuned for the continuation of the Genres in Gaming series of articles as I delve into the Superhero genre.

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