On a Pale Horse

On a Pale Horse
Ninety Percent of You Die

Russ Pitts | 22 May 2007 08:02
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Each type of firearm ammunition in Aftermath! (there are over 50) has a particular damage modifier. This is called the Bullet Damage Group, and there is a table for it. There are also multiple types of damage in Aftermath! (lethal, subdual, crushing and combination), also with tables, but in this case it's simple: Firearms deal lethal damage, so we consult the BDG table to see how many dice we must roll. We discover that the .357 Magnum has a BDG of 11, which, according to the Aftermath! firearm damage formula, means we roll one d10, then add one point. Max rolls a 10, adds one, and so deals 11 points of lethal damage to Bob's face. Smashing! But we're not done yet.

We now consult Bob's Damage Resistance Total (his hit points) to see how he fares against this attack, and discover that his DRT is only 15. The 11 point attack devastates him. We could, if we wanted (or had time), consult Bob's System Shock Factor, to determine if the amount of damage done exceeds his ability to keep from going into shock - which would force him to roll a save against his Health Ability to see if he is immediately rendered unable to defend himself - but we're going to make an executive ruling in this case and decide that an 11-point blow to his face with a .357 caliber bullet does the job. Bob is faceless and will soon be dead. Success! Max, in the cave, with the revolver.

This sequence of events typically takes anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour, with the players and GM doing all of the addition, subtraction and bookkeeping. Compare that to the three seconds it takes to perform the exact same actions in a computer RPG, like, for example, Fallout, with the computer doing all of the grunt work, and you begin to see why computer games are wiping the floor with their paper-bound ancestors.


"It is not necessary to be fully conversant with all the details in order to start to play. Diseases and poisons, for example, may not come into play for many game sessions." - Aftermath! Basic Rules

Although an Aftermath! session often feels more like doing taxes than playing a game, the very structure that makes playing Aftermath! such a tedious chore also allows for some truly remarkable play experiences. The depth offered by Hume and Charette's attention to detail is unparalleled by any other RPG, and if you can manage to slog through the immense, Mt. Kilimanjaro-esque learning curve (after almost a month of intense studying of the rules, I still had to consult the rule books every session), you'll find yourself playing in a world that feels as real as our own. And that, depending on the imagination of your GM and fellow players, is when things can get interesting.

Want to assault an underwater laboratory manned by extra terrestrial sex slavers and guarded by zombie sharks? Aftermath! has rules for that. You can also be a mutated tribal human, if you want, and carry any kind of gun you've ever imagined. Do you like that lever-action Winchester Chuck Conner carried in The Rifleman? It's in there: Game Master's Guide, page 75, classification: R8. How about Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum ("the most powerful handgun in the world")? Page 74, classification: P24. There are, in fact, over 200 different firearms represented in Aftermath!, more perhaps than at a militia meeting, and each has a full set of "true-to-life" stats.


"By now, it is probably crystal clear to most of you that an Aftermath! campaign can get pretty sickening." - Aftermath! Player's Guide

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