More Rules of the Apocalypse


Last week, I talked a little about the Basic Crafting system in the Apocalypse Campaign Guide for Savage Worlds. As I stated, though, there are also some advanced rules . . . well, rules options, really . . . for those who also want to use their resource hoarding in the process.

The Apocalypse Campaign Guide has rules for scavenging that utilize a combination of the dice and cards from the Action Deck. There are also rules for cargo spaces, be it the saddlebags on a motorcycle, the trunk or back seat of a car, or the backpack on your shoulders. The cargo space rules are optional rules for determining how much you can carry and store (should you have some sort of purchased storage capacity back at the town). A car trunk, for example, represents one cargo space. If you remove one of the seats from the vehicle, which also means one less passenger, you can get an additional cargo space. Meanwhile, an empty tractor-trailer can hold a whopping 100 cargo spaces.

What is a cargo space? It’s an abstract representation of storage capacity. Whenever you get salvage or other goods, they’ll have a cargo space range based on how much you get. That’s how much cargo space you’ll need to carry or store them.

Now for those who want a little extra chance in their crafting, there’s an optional (or Advanced) rule that lets you use that cargo space in the process. For every one full cargo space you have, draw a card from the Action Deck. The maximum number of cards you can draw is four, so even if you managed to eventually fill an entire tractor-trailer, you’re not drawing 100 cards. Pick one card (obviously, the best) and consult the chart to see what, if any, benefits or problems you might suffer. Such as getting a bonus or penalty to the crafting roll due to material quality (which you managed to have on hand in storage), not having what you need but it being available enough that you can trade for it, or even the resource not being available at all and it needing to be found at some point through scavenging.

So using the optional rules, you not only roll for the crafting attempt as outlined last week, but you also have to deal with a benefit or setback based on what you might or might not have stored in your cargo spaces.

Originally, we’d developed a system for cargo spaces that forced the players to keep a list of everything they traded, stole, or scavenged. That list then played into crafting, providing bonuses or penalties for quality, number of needed resources, and et cetera. After a lot of play testing, we came to a conclusion: that sub-system would work good in some role-playing games, but not in Savage Worlds. At least not in our opinion. And while that’s something I might eventually release as another optional rule in one of the smaller PDF support products, for the core toolkit book I wanted a system that kept it a little more abstract and, as I said about Savage Worlds in the previous entry, got out of the way during play instead of boggling down the game.

Okay, moving on.

Naturally the Apocalypse Campaign Guide contains write-ups for all sorts of vehicles. The vehicles also have two additional stats: the already mentioned cargo space capacity, and the vehicle’s MPG.

As with several rules in the toolkit, you don’t have to deal with MPG at your table. But the vehicle stats offer the option, and each stat block states not only the miles per gallon that the vehicle can get, but also how many miles it can typically get on a full tank, and even the average number of miles the vehicle can travel in a single day (assuming rest breaks). Add in full cargo spaces (more weight) or even tow a trailer, and that MPG can drop. There’s not much more to it than that, and the option is there for those post-apocalyptic fans out there that really want to deal with fuel consumption as a needed resource. This can be particularly useful in something like a Mad Max setting where vehicles and fuel are central to the story, or in any apocalypse where the GM wants to keep vehicles on a leash. Can’t get the fuel, can’t move the car. It also allows for an interesting choice balance in play. Yeah, the characters might want to take that tractor-trailer, but the gas mileage is going to suck (not to mention it needs diesel fuel), compared to that sedan or SUV.

You also aren’t stuck with the stock vehicles. Want to add armor to the sedan, or a heavy gun into the bed of the pick-up truck? No problem. That’s where the Modification rules come into play, which allow you to do just that sort of thing. The rules discuss bonuses and penalties to the roll, time, and any potential malfunctions that could occur later. Going back to the whole MPG thing, the modification chart also lists what, if any, drop in MPG the vehicle will suffer due to the extra weight. Not to mention any penalties to the Driving rolls due to all that extra weight.

So yes, you too can be Mad Max. Just don’t wreck the damned thing.

Communities are the final thing I’ll touch upon this week. Building a community is an easy, straight forward affair. Based on the size of the community you want; you’ll be granted a number of points with which to construct it. It might be a very small encampment, or an entire underground bunker like in the Wool novels. Using the points, you’ll purchase things like defense perimeter, location (even underground), manufacturing capabilities, medical facilities, types of housing available to your citizens, and so forth. There are also special Community Edges you can purchase for additional benefits, such as working electricity and water filtration systems.

Based on the size of your community, you’ll have to undertake abstract Upkeep Missions every so often. These are done using the community’s assigned dice, and receive an overall bonus or penalty to the roll based upon the types and qualities of different features your community has. Failure on the missions might result in a feature being reduced in quality, while a success or raise might result in some type of quality increase or expansion into a new resource type. Upkeep missions are the main way your community will dwindle or grow over time.

The size of the community will also bring with it some other benefits and drawbacks, such as what is expected of the player-characters as part of the upkeep, bonuses to certain types of rolls, or even penalties to rolls for lacking or low quality resources. So, you’re free to pick and choose any sized community you want to build, but remember nothing is truly free in the post-apocalypse.

You’ll see those rules tweaked throughout the toolkit book for different things as well, such as building your own starship freighter to a full-blown capital ship.

Next week in the final content update, I’ll talk briefly about genetic mutations, cybernetics, and that sort of stuff; as well as introduce you to a new character option: Values, and how they affect the game.

The Apocalypse Campaign Guide is currently in its final 14 days over at Kickstarter. Feel free to check it out.