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I've been a fan of the "Terminator" series of movies for ages. I'd like to know if there is an RPG system geared towards a future holocaust style of play. Man (or man + alien) vs. Machine.

What I'm looking for in a perfect sense would be just a generic framework for a system, nothing tied to a storyline. I'll make up my own storyline but just wanted the framework for various weapon damages, hit points for man and machine, armor (etc.) against a futuristic setting.

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Did you ever check out Apocalypse World? – Pureferret Jan 14 '12 at 15:41
Unfortunately no I haven't yet. It's on my to-do list but several life changes have put a temporary halt to RPG's. – user5 Jan 16 '12 at 13:28
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Dude, you totally need to play Apocalypse World. It's dark and gritty post-apocalyptic goodness. There's no metaplot. There's really no setting other than "people forgot what happened to the world over 50 years ago" and "there's this thing called the psychic maelstrom" (but you define what that is in play). There's a bit of setting tied up in the playbooks (essentially, the game's "classes"), as you have Battlebabes, Operators, Hocuses, and so on, but that's easy enough to drift and modify to suit your tastes. Check it out.

Check out this thread on custom moves in AW to see what I mean!

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Agreed -- Apocalypse World has all the tools you need to build adventures in this mould. You may wish to restrict or hack one aspect of the game: it's treatment of the spooky "beyond" (immediate knee jerk thought -- you could recast it as internetwork hax0ring). – Viktor Haag Oct 6 '10 at 18:27
excellent! I'll give it a look !! – user5 Oct 6 '10 at 18:46
Yeah, interpreting the maelstrom as a rogue machine network that is beaming into people's brains via microwaves (or whatever the CIA paranoia mind-control du jour is) would be doable out of the box. Give terminators 3-armour and assault rifles, or make them count as gangs, and your ready with no work. – SevenSidedDie Oct 6 '10 at 22:01
I'm going to have to check out this Apocalypse World thing of which you speak...My present apocalyptic itches are being scratched by The Day After Ragnarok. – gomad Oct 6 '10 at 22:08

The GURPS sourcebook Reign of Steel is pretty much exactly this setting. If you don't want the storyline, you could just use it for the stats.

Since you really don't want a storyline, you could just use GURPS and whatever expansions you think would help, like Robots and Vehicles, and High-Tech and Bio-Tech (if you've got biological enhancements / cybernetics or something) in your setting.

GURPS is designed as a generic framework system, so instead of taking a setting-tied system and tearing out stuff you don't want, you start with an approximately normal world and add whatever you think you need.

That said, depending on your play style and the mood you're after any setting-agnostic system would work. Savage Worlds comes to mind.

I would ask you what sort of play experience you're looking for. System does matter, after all, so the game you play is going to be flavored by the system you choose. So it makes sense to assure that the flavor get from the system is one you want.

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excellent ! didn't know GURPS had this one ! thanks ! – user5 Oct 6 '10 at 18:47

One possibility is the Palladium Books line of RPGs. Specifically, Rifts, Robotech, and Mechanoids.

The "Mechanoids Trillogy" and the old Mechanoids book have a strong storyline, but it's just a "kicker" storyline; it has no details past the starting situation. Lots of good stuff, SDC only (no MegaDamage), no personal SDC.

Rifts and Robotech are both strong settings as well, but the mecha can easily be reused in other ways. One could easily cast the Zentraedi and Invid mecha as Robotic instead of alien-manned.

And then there is the Rifts: Mechanoids book... which brings the original mechanoids back as MDC nasties.

The systems are simple, loved by a large fanbase, filled with excellent illos... but they are also controversial, because the utterly lack any interpersonal skills or abilities for the characters, have an "almost never miss" combat system, and have issues with new character classes having been added in supplements that are vastly superior to older ones.

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Unfortunately I don't play a lot of post-apocalyptic RPGs, so there might be a system out there that targets this specifically but I'm not aware of it. Having said that, if I were to put a campaign together for a Terminator style robot apocalypse, my first inclination would be to use Shadowrun and rip out the magic (i.e. I would not allow anyone to create a character with magical abilities and have them play human, and conversely as a GM I wouldn't have them encounter any of the magical creatures or effects presented in the books).

I suggest Shadowrun because, much like Terminator, its a near future setting so the technology level seems about right, and it has rules for drones and other robots which you could use for the Skynet forces. In addition, I think Shadowrun's tone and rules would help the campaign's desperate fight against the Skynet's forces theme.

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Leading Edge games did a Terminator RPG back in the late 80s. Impossible to find, anywhere.

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Link to said Terminator game... Terminator Future Fate – Jeffrywith1e Jan 3 '11 at 0:28
@Jeffrywith1e That's a different book published in 2003, not the 80s Terminator RPG this answer is referring to. – SevenSidedDie Jul 5 '12 at 17:53
d'oh! I see that I was completely wrong there. Thanks. – Jeffrywith1e Jul 16 '12 at 14:45

Mekton-Zeta can easily do this kind of game.

It's focused on Mecha-Anime, but it's also got decent simplified cybernetics rules, and some AI rules somewhere. Plus, the system focuses on building mechs and bots, so you can make the battles quite dramatic, and can run them in narrative or boardgame modes, as you choose.

Great fun!

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