About a week ago, I participated in an online Q&A session with Dan Davenport discussing Reclamation. One of the things that I got asked from a participant was “what kind of adventure do you intend for people to play in this game?” or something to that effect. It really is an interesting question, because most of the time my marketing of the game is always the same. I focus on a bleak, dystopian future focused on Cthulu-esque horror. I usually pitch Reclamation as a game where the protagonists are trying to “reclaim” some kind of glory over an almost ethereal foe… but first and foremost, they have to SURVIVE!
And that’s all well and good I suppose, but honestly, I seldom follow my own advice. Ultimately, I wanted Reclamation to achieve two things:
- Have an engaging, unique setting
- Have a flexible rule system
In terms of setting, the only consistent theme in my games has been that the world is always a post-apocalyptic and nuclear fallout-poisoned earth. Sometimes I give my protagonists absolutely nothing; they wield rocks and scissors and try to defend themselves against the tides of darkness. Other games they are in thriving, prosperous haven-cities that have not seen the mortis-horde in years but the political and civil warfare that ensues is just as bloody. Sometimes I have players explore parts of the world that have not been tread by men in decades; the landscape has become something out of a fantasy novel, and the things they encounter are Tolkien-esque. I play games that are focused on The Black Dream… the psychological horror in this world that keeps dragging the players to the edge of mental damnation. Other times the protagonists are trying to build their own settlements, schools, etc. They are laying the foundations of a bright new civilization. There have been prison escapes, giant monsters that swallow protagonists whole (and then they cut their way out). They have fought mechanical terminators created by the Host and taken down Magi Pharisees who have proclaimed themselves living Gods. I could just keep going… the point is… there is so much flexibility in the setting. I intentionally wrote in little excerpts about the world and the factions that inhabit it to inspire storytellers to come up with their own angle. You could run an entire game focused on the CDC (I have), the Masonry, Iron Angels, etc.
But here’s the other thing, I wanted the action system to stand on its own, because if you just wanted to port the rules over to an entirely different setting, you still could. I’ve had people talk to me about modding the game to fit their Fallout game (okay… similar theme there), but another person was running an Old West cowboy game. The core game fits any environment, any setting. The Marks of the Fallout might require slight re-explanation, but people who make the extra effort to port a system usually have no trouble in the creativity department. Not to mention, I typically utilize certain rules in more games than others. When psychological horror is a cornerstone of the game, the Soul Path becomes invaluable. Other times… honestly, sometimes I forget to use it, lol. If your party has nothing, the rules for “improvised” weapons and armor is important, but if your players are seasoned soldiers with rifles and Kevlar, they probably don’t need to worry about fashioning items from nearby debris.
In the end, I am very proud of the card-based action system; I do think it accommodates 99% percent of the situations that arise in a game, and it offers unique mechanics that you can’t get with dice. Now I understand that if you are a dice purist, it might be hard to take the leap and try some cards (but… but… that 5 pound sack of dice in the corner looks so sad…….) but I guess all I can say is try it out. It won’t kill you…….
…………….no. It won’t kill you. Don’t be ridiculous.
Feel free to tag this post with your own ideas or experiences. How are you playing Reclamation? What would be your ideal environment for the rules?