Posted on February 28, 2011 by GRIM
Available at RPGNow.com
I previously reviewed Barbarians of Lemuria for which this is supplemental/replacement material. BoL is an excellent product with a strong focus and some innovative ideas. Barbarians of the Aftermath isn’t quite so great and doesn’t add a fantastic amount to BoL but what it is, is a good source of inspiration and ideas. It doesn’t present an ‘after the apocalypse’ world but, rather, provides a toolkit for you to create your own. I’ll include some examples of what I came up with using the tables in the book, after the review proper…
There isn’t one. As mentioned before this book is more of a toolkit for coming up with your own ideas and backgrounds and what it does well is to generate fairly scant backgrounds via random tables (reminiscent of a simplified Central Casting) which you can then hammer into a vaguely cohesive gameworld.
BotA has some rules additions but none of them are particularly major. There’s a lot of technological gear, random antagonist generation, new careers – and their descriptions – mutations, psychic powers, vehicle rules, modern weapons and a bunch of other stuff which sounds like a lot but these are mostly implications and expansions upon existing rules.
The meat of the book is really the random generation tables for world generation, antagonists, adventures and so forth, great for pick-up or convention games where you might need ideas – and characters – swiftly.
I’m not 100% convinced that the career system works as well for a post-apocalyptic setting as it does for the original Barbarian setting. Skills are simply too diverse in a remotely modernised setting to be covered in this fashion and for it to make sense. Some way of taking individual skills separately to careers would fix this, but would also defeat the point of the career system. It’s a bit of a pickle to solve that one.
Since the book has no central apocalypse theme and tries to cover all the possible bases at once there’s no real, cohesive atmosphere. The artwork evokes the sort of post-pulp trash fiction of the 50s to the 70s which doesn’t necessarily lock-in to modern concepts of an apocalyptic event, though it does evoke nostalgia in anyone who’s read those old paperbacks. This is part of the problem with producing a generic book, you can’t have a specific vision of it that fits for all these different interpretations.
The lineart ain’t great and it’s a shame ‘Grumph’ couldn’t reprise his role as artist from the BoL book. The old-style art is good, but out of step with modern sensibilities and not subject to the same nostalgia level/worship as Pulp or Victorian style art. The book could have really done with having one or two artists do everything, new, so that there was a cohesive style/vision.
A good source of ideas and great for pick-up games, not hugely worthwhile otherwise and a little crude/scant where I’d have liked to have seen more detail. Expanded and spruced up a bit (larger tables with more options, more cohesive artistic vision) and the score would go up by about a point. I’m still not convinced the career system works well within many of these settings but it would work very well for something like Enslaved or Thundarr.
On the plus side:
* Full of ideas.
* Covers a lot of ground.
* Plenty of rules expansions.
On the minus side:
* Tables could be expanded more.
* Lacks focus.
* Bad line art.
An ongoing Biblical Apocalypse with technology reduced to a renaissance/steam level of accomplishment. Basic resources are available to those who work hard for them, nation states still exist but on a smaller level, reduced to a number of fortified city-states loosely allied to form a nation. There are psychic and supernatural powers, triggered by the presence of the divine and infernal.
Heaven and hell are warring over the Earth and their struggles have decimated the human population. Some places are resisting both sides, seeking their own way, trying to fight back or escape notice but these are subject to the attacks of zealots as much as angels and devils. Outside the cities – most of which are under the patronage of heaven or hell – the countryside is a blasted wasteland, the two sides in stalemate for the present, trying to sway the survivors to one side or the other.
The mission goal is to survive. The characters have the bad luck to run into an old missile silo in the wilderness which is infested with strange plants under the control of an otherworldly entity. The reward for completing the adventure is access to pre-disaster technology. The entity’s goal is to seize control of resources.
Driven to take shelter in the missile silo in the teeth of a horsefly swarm of epic proportions – sent to scour the land by Beelzebub – the characters find themselves in a strange, overgrown military base which is overgrown with plants and filled with plant-zombie succubi, agents of the demon lord Buer who has mastery of the realm of plants. Buer is tasked to take and hold facilities such as these because nuclear weapons – as ‘unnatural’ creations of man, are one of the few things that can harm a devil or an angel – perhaps even a god. If they succeed they’ll gain access to the leftover missiles as well as a stash of military equipment and ammunition – which is in short supply at present.
I rolled/My interpretation:
Mind – Plant
Attacks – Blade 2
Poison Spit – d3
Siren flowers are women, infected with Buer’s plant-essence at the point of death, their flesh turned green and shiny, their bodies made lush and attractive but they are vicious creatues, Driven to kill and – thus – make more of themselves. Despite this, if they can be captured and denuded of their thorn-claws and poison glands, they have a certain ‘value’ on the black market.
Review by James “Grim” Desborough