My thanks to the folks at Rock Manor Games for providing me with a review PDF of the Core Rulebook from their upcoming Kickstarter.
This is the tabletop role-playing version of the previously released Maximum Apocalypse board/card game (see a video looking at the original game here). The end of the world has happened. Maybe environmental collapse. Maybe nuclear war. I’m not saying it was aliens (but, it was aliens). Whatever the truth, civilization is gone. You play survivors trying to scrape together the means of survival.
There is a type of game we used to refer to as “beer & pretzels.” These were games, sometimes board games, sometimes role-playing, that didn’t involve a ton of preparation, didn’t require a ton of intellectual or emotional investment. They were games you played on a random Friday night when friends came by, sitting around with some beer and pretzels, laughing and shooting the breeze. Illuminati, Family Business, Paranoia, Ghostbusters, etc. These were the classics of the type. I recently read Dungeon Crawl Classics, and though it might be a bit more complicated, I think it falls in line. It’s a game that’s more about watching exciting and terrible things happen to your character, as opposed to many RPGs where it’s about becoming invested in your character and his or her goals. I think Maximum Apocalypse fits comfortably into this type of game.
There’s a bit of what I guess the kids are calling “Old School” in the game. Resources are supremely important. You have to fret over every shell casing, over ever drop of water, over ever piece of scrap metal. The world is extremely hostile. Resources are extremely scarce. You are always fighting off an ugly death. There are a bunch of moving pieces to the game mechanics, but nothing too extreme. The general roll is a simple percentile (two ten sided dice with one as the tens place and one as the ones place). You pick archetypes for your survivor, customize it and get ready for action. There are rules for creating items, repairing them, building vehicles, scrounging for material, etc.
I think if you wanted to recreate some of the feel of the Mad Max films or video games like Fallout, this game has what you need. This is, however, simply the Core Rulebook. You’ll likely want the monster book and game master’s book, though if you’re familiar with the genre and experienced with running role-playing games, you could probably start up with just this. If you’re looking for something that’s more free form and expansive than a board game or a card game, but maybe aren’t ready to dive into a super-narrative heavy or buy-in demanding role-playing game, Maximum Apocalypse seems like a nice middle ground. And who doesn’t want to cobble together a dune buggy made of scrap, ride out into the desert and battle mutants?