"What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?"
Oh man I totally had to talk about Fallout yesterday. Well, since post-apocalyptic is my RPG genre cup of tea, I guess I'll talk about my three favorites: Fallout, Dark Sun, and oh god why can't I remember it's called Deadlands thank god. Each offers its own spin on the post-apocalypse, but all of them are wonderful in that they take place in wasted deserts that have been created by various types of armageddon-generating energy. Let's start with Fallout, because it's my fav, and it'll be like continuing out last conversation, where I talk and you listen.
Fallout's apocalypse came about due to global thermonuclear war. A cold war turned hot, then frozen in nuclear winter, turned hot again by the vast irradiated deserts now carpeting the earth. The most commonly attributed inspiration for Fallout has been the Mad Max films, and various easter eggs have been inserted into the games to let people know it isn't just rumor.
In Fallout, wastelanders stumble around in the remnants of great cities, or in the construction of new ones, living day to day lives. The average intersection of culture is between the Raider, the Trader, and the Mutant. And the Victim, of course, but those types don't really last long in the wasteland.
Stories in Fallout tend to focus on survival. Earning enough cash to scrape by. The games give you a hero, but not everyone in the Fallout universe is the Chosen One. There are schlubs, too. That's what interests me the most about potentially running Fallout. The intersection between the players' perceptions and my machinations. Seeing who would come out on top.
Deadlands is a Weird-West setting that I suppose isn't 100% post apocalyptic, it's more accurate to say that the setting is about five minutes away from an apocalypse. Set about ten years after the events of the Civil War, in an effort to drive out European settlers (now calling themselves Americans), delegates from native american tribes opened a breach from our world into the spirit realm, in an event known as "The Reckoning."
Essentially, the denizens of the spirit realm aren't very cool dudes, so they want to bring terror to our side of the rift in order to manifest here physically, and bring a hell on earth. As a side-effect to the rift, magic has appeared as well as a new fuel source, known as ghost-rock, which powers all the weird technology that appears in Deadlands.
Characters can play investigators, lawmen, scientists, or other variations on western tropes while trying to resolve the abundance of weird that keeps appearing on our side. One only has to take a look at the supplemental materials to know how well that panned out for us.
Ah Dark Sun. Technically D&D, and by technically I mean absolutely D&D. Athas is yet another scorched wasteland, this time razed by unchecked use of arcane magic, powered by the life force of plants and animals, and the machinations of a group of nigh-eternal sorcerer kings bent on achieving as much power as possible, usually through the tried-and-true method of mass genocide. Trolls, Orcs, Gnomes, Goblins, and a plethora of other demi-human races have been exterminated in order to fuel the ascendancy of the various SKs.
What I love about the Dark Sun setting are its subversions of standard D&D tropes. Elves are like gypsies, wandering traders that aren't trusted by anyone. Halflings are xenophobic cannibals. Dwarves are beardless. Psionics are the name of the game, anyone using magic is likely to be run out of any populated area on a good day; ripped apart by an angry mob on a normal one. Slavery is all-but universal.
Everything wants to kill you.
Gods I love Dark Sun.