Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dealing With The Apocalypse In Fantasy

So, it’s happened. The meteor struck, the plague hit, the Dark Lord’s reavers destroyed everything in sight. What’s a fantasy world to do when it’s been through the wringer?

As a GM, you may not immediately know how to deal with such a wild shake-up to your setting. If you’re a fan of random determination as a starting point, a basic method you can try is rolling a d6 on each inhabited hex of your map to see what the results of massive destruction have yielded.

(Roll 1d6 on the table below)

1 Population Eradicated: Any settlements in the area have been destroyed or uprooted. Not a living soul remains.

2 Facing Starvation: Either by poor harvest or ruined earth, a famine has hit this area. Those who remain slowly starve, or will flee (if able) for greener pastures.

3 Population reduced by 80%: Most of the former populace of the area have died or been driven away. The few that remain are a shadow of whatever prior civilization or settlement existed here. Any infrastructure or settlements are in ruins.

4 Population Reduced by 50%: Any settlements remaining are heavily damaged, have suffered large population losses, and are likely unstable at best.

5 Population Reduced by 10%: Things could be worse. 1 out of every 10 souls has fled or perished, but the infrastructure largely remains intact.

6 Business As Usual: This area was spared the destruction of its neighbors. It may be poised to be a leader or power in this new world.

You want to have fun, use this simple method on a map of Greyhawk to see what happens. Of course, you could also expand the chart to your liking, if you’d like to get a bit more gruesome with the details. When I tried it, Dyvers made it through with flying colors. The city of Greyhawk was wiped out. And of course, doing this will create entirely new powers. If your campaign world has become dry and you’re not sure where to start, this may be a good way to shake things up.


mthomas768 said...

Neat approach! You could do a similar table for other changes too. New cults or religious orders, new strongmen, altered terrain, changed watercourses, etc. Nice idea!

Zachary The First said...

@mthomas: Absolutely! It'd be fun to see what cults, factions, and nations rise to the top...

jaerdaph said...

As an alternative to the random table for something like a meteor strike, I think I would start by having effects like what you've listed radiate outward (with effects decreasing in severity) from the hex of impact (most severe effects). For a little variety, I'd roll 1d6 for each hex, and if the result is a 1, then I would roll on the table and have that result supersede the concentric effects for that hex.

Zachary The First said...

I like the idea of the effects radiating outward.

That reminds me of a product Malhavoc did along those lines: When The Sky Falls:

Aaron said...

There was a game, I think that Desolation was the title, that deals with the aftermath of a magical apocalypse. Interesting premise, but killed by dogawful execution.

As for the table, I think I'd go with a d10, so there would room for new effects, like:

Influx of refugees: The local population has swelled due to people from affected areas seeking shelter and/or food.

Ecological disruption: Lots of fun in fantasy setting where some sort of magic may have triggered the upheaval. Perhaps a slight change in temperature has made the area attractive to animals that shunned it before, or the local plant life is undergoing a rapid shift.

Et cetera...