To the Editors: Dear Escapist,
Excellent issue. The apocalypse never fails to fire the imagination, whether in fiction, games or seemingly, religion.

I was especially glad to see an article on the fabled RPG Aftermath. I sometimes regret the passing of such projects, because even though they offer none of the ease of video games, I sometimes think that switching over my playtime to more electronic pursuits has dulled a certain sense of imagination that we all want games to capture. Unfortunately, they are at present finite in their possibilities compared to the mind, and something remains missing.

Aftermath was too tough for us to play “correctly” back in the mid 80’s, but it had a special poignancy as the idea that Reagan and the Soviets would create such a scenario was so real. Future Problem Solvers discussed the possible environmental effects of nuclear winter in school, and we rolled up our Aftermath characters when we got home. There was adventure in such anxiety!

Bravo for bringing back the bomb.

– Arlo

In response to “Ninety Percent of You Die” from The Escapist Forum:
We’re touching on gamism, narrativism, and simulationism here (or, more recently, here). From what you guys have said about it, Aftermath is clearly a system designed by simulationists, for simulationists. That doesn’t mean it necessarily excludes narrativists and gamists, of course, but the focus of the ruleset is on modeling events realistically.

In contrast, my personal favorite PnP RPG system is Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. It’s similar to Aftermath in that it lends itself readily to an extremely bleak yet engrossing brand of storytelling, but it’s very different in that the mechanics are extremely simple. Skills are a straight percentage with only minimal modifiers; the most complex mechanic is a check against opposed stats (e.g. strength vs. strength to break down a door).

The mechanics impart a crushing sense of inevitability to the gameplay, precisely in keeping with H. P. Lovecraft’s vision of the Cthulhu Mythos. Combat is to be avoided at all costs, but even so, a character – investigator – who plays too many sessions will inevitably either die or go insane. In Cthulhu, the apocalypse hasn’t happened (yet).

– Ajar

In response to “The End is Definitely Nigh” from The Escapist Forum:
The key to a truly enjoyable Urban Dead experience is to join a good group, like The RRF for example – if you’re a zombie. Better yet, join one of the RRF’s strike teams and play a key part in the effort to stamp out those filthy harmans!

I used to be a member of The GMT Breakfast Club – one of the oldest RRF strike groups in the game – and they’re an absolute scream to play with. The group congregates on IRC every morning and, for about 20 blood-soaked mintues, shreds those souless breathers limb from limb. Then they all fall down again and go back to sleep for another 24 hours.

What’s nice about Urban Dead is that you can roleplay as little or as much as you like, contributing to the (now-considerable) mythos, or merely observing it as you pass by. UD‘s also great if your play time is limited or you don’t want to spend hours in front of a screen. I recommend anyone even remotely interested in MMOGs, traditional roleplaying games or turn-based strategy give it a go.

And you could do a lot worse than joining The GMT – just tell them Mardigan sent you!

– Wrestlevania

In response to “It’s OK to Advertise – If We Like You” from The Escapist Daily:
Even if marketers knew exactly how to make gamers happy through advertising, they’re won’t stop there. They’ll continue on until they figure out the tipping point where putting in more advertising will not just reduce revenue from units sold because people are turned off; they’ll push it to the point where that loss of revenue is no longer offset by increased marketing revenue. Like how sports adopted the ‘TV time out’; real-life games found the audience will put up with a break in the action, and went so far a change was written into the rules for advertising.

Never disputing that people have to pay the bills and might make an unpopular (i.e., value negative) ad inclusion if it means net revenue increases. Just can’t buy the explanation that gamers are more fickle than the general audience. The general audience saw added value in putting a rock inside of a box that had the words “Pet Rock” written on it, so, I just can’t buy that the gaming segment is more fickle than a general public that will buy a rock if you put the right label on it.

To me, it seems they’re, ahh … ‘Jumping to Conclusions’.

– Cheeze_Pavilion

In response to “The Official Game Character Versus Game Character Thread” from The Escapist Forum:
I’m going with Riddick [over Hitman’s Agent 47], no contest. Also, I’m going with the “Pitch Black” Riddick (more mysterious, more dangerous, and less humane), not the “Chronicles of Riddick” one. 47 is cool, but he still seems to operate within human rules, Riddick, on the other hand is simply an animal.

And, I was thinking, Cloud would stand still and Link cut him up while “waiting his turn” and probably crying too… yeah… crying. Emo punk with his crazy hair.

How about (doubt anyone is familar enough with the first character) Goku vs Superman. Both have comics, cartoons, and games.

– Blaxton

Realism in MMOs OR My Sister’s Virtual toothbrush

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