Post Apocalypse

Most post-apocalypse stories are set after a nuclear war, natural disaster (asteroid strikes and plagues are popular), or supernatural force (often zombies) has devastated the world. Civilization has collapsed or is rapidly disintegrating, and its comforts - from automobiles to mass-produced ammunition - are in short supply. In some scenarios, tiny pockets of survivors carve out lives in the aftermath. In others, warlords forge empires from the ruins.

This is an ideal backdrop for a Martial Arts game, because the GM can inject limited doses of the technology that makes modern-day campaigns amusing - snazzy firearms, explosives, etc. - into a world where melee combat enjoys the same importance that it has in a pre-gunpowder setting. Ammo and spare parts for high-tech gear are in short supply . . . but fists, feet, sticks, and knives always work. Any art that suits a modern-day game might survive. The "Military," "Street," and "Self-Defense" style lenses (pp. 144-145) are all useful for stripping down martial arts for combat. If there are unusual threats to confront, completely new styles might emerge - just imagine one built around weapons and tactics effective against zombies!

The role of martial artists can vary. If the GM emphasizes "might makes right," then a pocket empire might grow around a martial-arts master and his loyal disciples - or a warlord could employ such fighters to train his army. Alternatively, martial artists might go into voluntary exile, shunning the shattered world to concentrate on their art. Hermit masters are a trope of martial-arts fiction. Campy, mutant-filled worlds are another post-apocalypse staple, and equally suitable for a Martial Arts game. Mutants might roam the hostile wastelands, and ultra-tech weapons could go hand-in-hand with kung fu. "Chi powers" could even be mutant powers!

The Quest (p. 247) is the most important theme, and typically involves the search for some lost bit of technology that can save the world. However, War is Hell (p. 248) works for soldiers serving a warlord, and The Contender (p. 250) suits a game centered on B-movie death sports played out in the ruins of civilization. Any realism level is possible. Mutants, or sword-wielding barbarians fighting sorcerers in the ruins, call for Epic (p. 239) or Over-the-Top (p. 239). For survivors eking out an existence in an unfriendly world, though, Gritty Realism (p. 237) is ideal.

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