Dark Fantasy Roleplaying in a “Vaguely” Post-Apocalyptic Victorian Age
Overview: Imagine, if you will, that the apocalypse struck mere decades into the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, only to have the world be piece-mealed back together a century and a half later. Sordid Dystopia is a post-Industrial, post-apocalyptic roleplaying game set in a low fantasy world. Whatever sense of magic, whimsy, or supernatural terrors have been lost to the ages. Mankind, busying itself with centuries of picking up the pieces, remains perpetually ignorant to the inhuman eyes watching from each and every shadow.
This is a harsh world, cruel and merciless. Born into this world--where mankind is scattered amongst a scarce few surviving countries, where people will fight and kill for the necessary components to understand Old World technology, where men and women of power prey upon their people, and where men and women with those impossible demands are not only praised for their contributions to society, but put into positions of authority -- your task is a simple one: find hope in this otherwise hopeless world, and defy whatever odds you must to make your own little slice of heaven from this sordid dystopia.
Themes: Sordid Dystopia uses a fairly easy-to-learn and rules light system, focusing more on narrative and adventure than dice rolling and rules. The book contains expansive histories about countries and politics, but fully invites any new ideas to the world.
The game's history and setting contains hooks for all varieties of stories to be told inthis world. Examples include:
- Low-Fantasy Adventures - A group of miners who discover an ancient hidden temple, only to find themselves fighting the company they work for soon after.
- Cosmic Horror - Becoming embroiled with a monster that exists outside of any perceived reality you understand.
- Dark High Fantasy - A band of adventurers, turned into pariahs by their supernatural powers, try to find a place to exist in a world that is hunting them down.
The TOPIA Engine: Sordid Dystopia is the flagship game for the TOPIA engine. The TOPIA engine uses scaling dice, with character skill level keyed to specific dice, from d4s up to a d20.
Ship of Fools: A fully written intro playtest campaign, featuring a full cast of NPCs, PC pregens, and character creation rules.
The World: An overview of the shattered world of Sordid Dystopia. Adventure across four different continents and four great countries. Learn of the terrors that lie between the shadows and in the hearts of the men and women of Dystopia.
Welcome to Dystopia:
A century and a half ago, the Old World was shattered and left mankind in a century-long dark age. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and diseases ripped into the world. Entire cities mysteriously disappeared over the course of what is now known as Year Zero, or the End, by those who couldn’t fathom mankind’s survival. Year Zero left entire nations in ruins, taking a world once populated to billions and reducing it to mere millions.Before these end times, the human race was vast enough to push its lands to the brink of overpopulation, warred endlessly, and developed technologies with the utmost haste. Now, a century and a half later, nearly all records of that Old World have been lost, including the knowledge to use, repair, and recreate the now scattered and often busted Old World technology.
The world is broken up into three continents: Sevalia to the west, Procio to the east, and Evonae to the south.
Upon Sevalia stands the lands of Old Xexoria and Cizok. Old Xexoria, a civilization long since founded on a vast desert, forever in-fighting and run by the criminal underworld and their puppet despot. This Old World culture is one that remains most unchanged by Year Zero, driven by endless paranoia and social discord. The war-like Xexorian culture hosts an army larger than any other than the world, constantly poised on the edge of a war of conquest.
Cizok is a tropical country that once existed in blissful self exile, only to recently be forced into trade with the world at large. Now a land of novelty, it struggles with the industrial world forcing its way in, eroding its Old World culture, and destroying its way of life.
On Procio stands the moutainous country of New Xexoria, founded hundreds of years ago by Xexorian refugees of war. Of all the Old World lands before the End, New Xexoria possessed the greatest potential to bring some manner of remote peace to man; Year Zero, however, crippled it to near destruction. Even now, it is little more than city states surrounding a failing government trying to pull it all back together again.Finally, in Evonae, there is Vontier. The Vontais people are a race of survivors, an Old World country that pulled together to survive an otherwise endless onslaught of outside threats and invaders, only to be driven to near extinction by the diseases wrought by Year Zero. They are hardy, jaded, and religious, most having seen loved ones die of disease or even survived disease themselves. The Vontais political, economic, and religious worlds are rife with subtle maneuvering and backstabbing. Shadowy issues are kept from the public eye, and are dealt with harshly when brought to light...
These four seafaring nations, having only recently pieced Old World industrialism back together--which is now experimental at best--are barely into of their own brand of Victorian age. Between them, trade and exploration is critical, and contact, despite the ocean between them, is regular.
For the people of the world, rediscovery is key: recollecting, understanding, and recreating Old World technology and long lost history. Ancient ruins, hollowed out cities, and rusted, industrial-era machines are spread about the lands of Sevalia and Procio. Some aspects of the Old World, however, are better left buried...
Greater Description of Rewards:Playtest Access: All who contribute $10 or more receive a copy of the Sordid Dystopia playtest notes, which include over 100 pages of history and potential adventure ideas. Those who provide feedback will be listed as playtesters in the first published edition of the guide.
Preview AP Episodes: Either 6 or 11, depending on the contributor level. All AP packages include 2 early Sordid Dystopia playtests, 3 MaOCT games run by Matt Campen or Ross Payton, and a preview episode of Mrs, Frieda's Halfway Home.
Games run by The Drunk and The Ugly: During the months following the funding of this project, we will run between 1 and 3 games for contributors. Scenarios and systems are still being decided on, but we have at least 4 GMs who will run games for this.
- (32 days)