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GURPS After the End 2: The New World, Jason Levine Tags: RPGs, 20 May 2016

This second supplement in a new line deals with the world after the end of civilisation: friends, foes and environment.

Disclaimer: I received an additional material credit in this book and therefore did not pay for it.

This is the companion piece to Wastelanders, rather longer at 56 PDF pages, and is split into four chapters. First is The End, listing potential reasons for the end of civilisation, from Bombs Away (nuclear warfare) to X-Factor (aliens) at greater length than in the first book. For each, notes are given for making it the primary cause of the end or a secondary effect (including how they link to each other), and for the sorts of hazard that will be common in each case. For example, a global nuclear war is the only one large enough to end everything, but anything down to single detonations is plausible as a military or terrorist side issue when something else is going on; apart from the obvious radiation hazards, chemicals, munitions and adverse climates will be inanimate concerns, while human problems will include gangs, paramilitaries, and perhaps "zombies" if the GM wants to point mutations in that direction. The chapter ends with notes on selecting a pre-crash tech level and time since the collapse, with their effects on the flavour of the game, as well as notes on how the existence of off-world colonies may change people's expectations even if those colonies don't appear in play.

Chapter two lays out more details of those hazards, from Chemicals and Munitions to Zombies. Each one gets a few pages and specific details: Mutants mentions identification and treatment, then gives some packages for humans and some example animals and plants. Most worlds won't have all of these, but there's enough of a framework here for the energetic GM to build challenges for a decently-long campaign.

The third chapter addresses adventuring challenges other than those major hazards, ones that are likely to appear in any ruined world: finding food and water, travelling and camping, getting into and around ruined buildings, scavenging, building and repairing tech (which may well be adaptable elsewhere), combat (with simplified range bands from Action), and persuasion and bartering. Many of these rules are somewhere in GURPS already, but as in Action 2: Exploits this section is a handy quick reference.

The final chapter deals with running a post-apocalyptic campaign, considering settings for cinematic vs realistic and morality, things to do between adventures (fairly abstracted), keeping good equipment from overpowering the enemies, and a particularly welcome set of notes on how to make each character archetype useful: things that can be thrown into the game so that the player of a bruiser, or an inventor, can feel that he's still contributing to the game even if it's mostly dealing with other things.

As expected, the really big gap in this pair of books is building and maintaining a community. It's clear that lots of players don't find this a problem, and are happy to go about looting and pillaging with an amorphous "town" in which to heal up and upgrade their gear. If I were running AtE directly, rather than stealing bits from it for my existing games (as I most certainly shall be), I'd be very inclined to set up some sort of rules structure for the economics of a settlement, how much farmland it takes to feed one non-farming mouth, the costs of paranoia versus the risks of welcoming strangers, and so on. Clearly this would be a significant task, and difficult to research, but I'm kind of tempted now. GURPS After the End 2: The New World is available from Warehouse 23.

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