Saturday, September 12, 2009
Barbarians of the Aftermath – An overview
I haven’t had the opportunity to play the game but here are my observations after a thorough read through-
Right off the top I’ll admit that the Post –Apocalyptic genre isn’t one of my favorites to play in. I do however enjoy the fiction of the genre. Lucifer’s Hammer is one of my all time favorite books that I re-read every few years and I used to gobble up books from the Horseclans series just as fast as Robert Adams wrote them. So I am a fan of the genre. And now with the release of Barbarians of the Aftermath, I can honestly say that playing a survivor coming out of a bunker with a sawed off shotgun in one hand and a Geiger counter in the other, finally has appeal.
With Barbarians of the Aftermath (BotA), Nathaniel Torson has successfully taken the core rules from Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria (BoL) Role playing game and turned them upside down taking us from the Sword & Sorcery genre to The Post Apocalyptic.
Weighing in at 172 pages, BotA has added a lot of fluff and crunch to the sleek and simple BoL engine. But Torson has managed to do so in a modular style that is very friendly to GM’s and players who like to get under the hood of a game and make it their own. He starts off with a confidence inspiring treatment of the genre and the possible futures that destroyed the game worlds. Torson shows a solid knowledge and enjoyment of the genre. BotA doesn’t just give you one reason for the fall, it goes over several and allows you to pick and choose, and the options are all laid out there for you to pick your particular poison.
One thing I noticed is, if you are the type of gamer who loves charts and randomization, then you will have a nerdgasm reading these rules. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that there is so much information to be covered, so many options that charts just have to be the way to go. And that’s not to say that there are pages and pages of bare dry charts- not so at all. These rules grab you and reel you in. they are well written and presented in a very attractive layout. No space is wasted but none of the book looks overcrowded.
The next chapter covered the basics of character creation, this was a quick read for me since Post Apocalyptic-is all about the world rather than the characters. In Fantasy gaming the heroes attack the world, in BotA the world attacks the players. But still I dusted off all my favorite Post Apocalyptic archetypes to see if BotA could handle them –
Genetically created creatures from World enough, and time?
Jon Shannow “The Jerusalem man”?
Horseclansmen and the Cat clans from the Horseclans series?
Juggers from Blood of heroes ?
Princess Ariel from Thundarr the Barbarian? (This one would be a deal breaker)…
Well alright then. Let’s move on.
The next section states Tools not Rules. I like it already. We go into mutations, psi abilities, firearms rules, radiation, vehicles (with a special section on “downgrading vehicles and equipment-nice) , and more. Here is where we start to see that we have left the “quick, slick and elegant” which is the hallmark of the original BoL system. But it feels right. In order to embrace this whole new genre we need to crunch it up a bit. Just a bit though. It has to be that way if you want to introduce Psi abilities, Hovertanks, and Killbots. But here again is where Torson saves himself and us- he keeps the “modular feel” going all the way through. Personally I could care less for mutations- I really won’t be using them. If you ever play in The Evil DM’s BotA game at a Con, you will never encounter an 8’ green celery stalk with furry rabbit ears carrying an M16 – it just ain’t gonna happen. And so I have no problem completely ignoring that section.
Torson wraps things up with a section on the flora, fauna, aliens and other nastiness out there to do your character death. And a 15 page Gamemasters kit that gathers all the pertinent charts in one place.
As far as the editing or grammar issues- If there were any I didn’t see them. But if so, far be it from me to point them out.
There was one piece of art that I thought inappropriate, but I learned that it will be addressed in future release. Mistakes happen and kudos to Torson for addressing it quickly.
Is it still BoL? Kind of, but more and I say that in a good way.
Does it make me want to play in a genre I previously never cared for? Yes. Yes it does.
Is it worth the price? Every penny.
You can pick up Barbarians of the Aftermath at RPGNow.