Rapture: The Second Coming is a product of its time. If this came out today, it would be a setting book for a successful ‘generic’ system, like Savage Worlds or Genesys. In the 90s, however, unless you were putting out a GURPS book, you pretty much had to have your own, unique game mechanics. There weren’t really ‘open gaming licenses’ and a lot less of the DIY vibe that’s become a staple of the industry today. This definitely suffers for all of that. I don’t even know that the system doesn’t work, it’s just that it doesn’t fit and feels like it’s there because it’s expected. Yet while the game talks about how it’s story, character and mood based that almost extraneous system takes up a lot of pages and is weirdly combat and technology heavy. The game would probably function better with a ‘rules light’ system, like my go-to from Atlas Games, WaRP. Again, not something that was available to use in 1995.
There are other ‘of its time’ problems. The art is wildly inconsistent. Some of it is pretty good but some looks like crap. And it’s not consistent at all, so doesn’t really help to build an overall sense of the setting. The layout is haphazard, often confusing. Unrelated sections bleed into each other with little warning or division. I was reminded a bit of Space 1889 where the book waffled back and forth between setting and rules in a way that would make using the book ‘in game’ very difficult. I can imagine struggling to find the rules for a weapon, then flipping through the book to get the background for an angel, then having to track down how magic works, but none of it being in logical places that are easy to find. A GM screen was produced, so perhaps that helped.
Unfortunately, something insurmountable will keep me from running this game. I really, really didn’t respond to the actual setting. While not as silly and condescending as the Left Behind novels or any given Pure Flix film, it’s still got an uncomfortable vibe. It’s definitely pulling from Evangelical mythology as opposed to Biblical mythology (and yes, they’re very different). There’s some lip service paid to other religions, but it feels extremely American Evangelical-centric in a way that feels very off-putting.
I do think the idea could work. Obviously, apocalyptic fiction, film, and tabletop role-playing have been staples for a long time. Using Christian mythology could be interesting. Alas, I don’t think this is the way to do it. If, however, you’re really amped about the idea of running a Left Behind style of game…well, I guess this might be the one for you.