Dyson Logos

Prophet of the deadEarth
Validated User
#1
Seriously people.

I picked up this game in 2000 at a local convention and tried it once and then tossed it into storage. I figured it was a local product and that was part of my explanation to myself as to why it sucked so ferociously and why I had bought it.

Later research showed that the game wasn't a local product, but had seen a fair-sized publication run somewhere in Wisconsin. It had active fan forums and even fanfiction and so on. After a few years of selling the game, the publisher made it available for free from the website, which is now gone - so I can't figure out a way to inflict the horror of this game on you other than to write this post.

It is the worst post-apocalyptic RPG I have ever tried to play.

I own a lot of crappy games. I admit that. I love games though, and I love the post-apocalyptic genre, and I have incredibly low expectations from a game. But I can't look past the horror that is this game.

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The Back Cover

I'm one of those guys who gets pissed off as soon as I see an edition war or someone bashing another system (and yet, here I am posting a rant about another system - I am the crown prince of Irony - it's related to Evony, honest, check out the ads all over the internet).

That's what the back cover is. One big "we are better than the other role-playing games" bullet list.

The best though are the claims of realism and flexibility.

Realism - because no one in the real world can survive a sword blow to the neck.
Realism - because radiation makes people pee napalm, become a woman, have PMS, or suddenly swap all their skills with another person.
Realism - because the universal european currency was deployed world wide pre-world war III, and is still traded at face value in a post-war apocalyptic economy.

And flexibility. "Other role-playing games require a new book for every character you want to play, every setting you want to use, and every piece of quipment you might come across. deadEarth has unlimited flexibility in characters, equipment and setting, depending only on the imagination of the players"

That's right. You can't make stuff up in other games, that's against the rules. Only deadEarth allows you to make stuff up and use your imagination.

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The Skill System

Skills are rated from 2d6 to xd6 (but generally no higher than 6d6 but with references to characters with up to 8d6 in a skill). The average difficulty for a skill roll is 15, so you need 5d6 in a skill to usually succeed at the average task. That costs 70 skill points during chargen (from the average character's starting alotment of about 600 skill points). But there are 100 skills in the game, and many of them have a half-dozen prerequisite skills that you have to buy up to 4d6 before you can get.

And to make things fun, difficult rolls are difficulty 24. And that's the next step up from Average. So if you want to be able to do difficult things with a decent chance of success, you need a skill level of 8d6. Which would cost 630 skill points (assuming the skill has no prerequisites).

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The Mutations

"Radiation Manipulations" is what they are called in here. And there are 1,000 of them in the book. In fact, the majority of the book (over 90 of the 170 pages) is the Radiation Manipulations table.

You start the game with a number of radiation manipulations based on your age. Because in the nine years since WWIII, older people have obviously been exposed to a lot more radiation than younger people. There's that realism again.

And the radiations are awesome. I would go into them here, but I'm going to roll up a few characters and some of the good ones should show up through that process. Then I'll post the other good ones I managed to miss. But I will mention a few... (970) Kindred - you are a vampire now. (898) Freudian - roll to see how big your genitals (male) or butt (female) is. Depending on the result, you gain bonuses or penalties based on self-esteem. And somewhere on the list (I'm not willing to read the whole thing right now to find it - since the list isn't categorized in any way by usefulness or the alphabet) is the ever-realistic "Pee Napalm".

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Combat

The combat system is tick-based and you get a number of ticks (usually around 7) to act each turn. You plan your actions for the round and chart them, and then if you get attacked you can abort actions into defensive actions. Of course, if someone has more ticks than you (measured by the moves attribute), then they can attack with impunity once you've run out of ticks - so don't defend, kill them first.

It is no harder to hit someone in the throat as to hit their torso. And every hit location has a specific number of hit points. Which is awesome because the damage of a sword (1d6+2+Strength) is enough that the average human (Strength 1) will automatically kill someone with a sword blow to the neck (which has 4 hit points). Fear the realism!

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Character Creation

This is a nice little slice of hell all on its own. I'll explain in my next post, as I try to roll up a character for this game.
 
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Dyson Logos

Prophet of the deadEarth
Validated User
#2
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on everyone's "Worst Games List"?

(Crossposted from my blog - http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/deadearth-rikky-the-beautiful-dead-eunuch-butler/ )

Enough ranting and laughing at this brutally realistic game, lets make a character. One of the first notes in the game is that you only get to make 3 characters, so you had better work on making sure that at least one of the three doesn’t suck.

The first stat we roll for is Moves. This is the stat that determines how many “moves” you get during a round of combat – so a character with more mvoes gets to do a lot more stuff than one with only a few. We get 2d6 moves – and roll a nice average 7. Next is Resiliency (toughness) which is d6+3 (7). Strength is easy to determine – it always starts at zero.

Now for the most important roll in the game. Age. Age determines if you get penalties to Moves, Strength and Resiliency, how many skill points you start with, and how many Radiations. My first roll is a 95 on the table… Roll again and add 1d6 to an attribute. (I’ll add that 1d6 to Strength and make a nice strong guy – Strength of 1 is average, Strength of 3 is Arnold Schwarzenegger… I get a Strength of 5. Godlike). The reroll is an 84 – Roll again and subtract 100 skill points. The next reroll is a 66 – Roll again and add 1d6 radiation manipulations. The NEXT reroll is 45. So I’m 45 years old (-3 moves, 800+d6×10 skill points, -1 Resiliency, 3d6 Radiations).

Height is calculated as 6d6+48 inches. This is actually important in this game. 74 inches is my total (6′2″). Weight is determined by rolling 5d6 and comparing the result to a table which indicates how much you multiply your height by to determine your weight. A very high roll of 28 means my weight is equal to 4 times my height, or 296 pounds. Now we corssreference the character’s height and weight on the table to determine modifiers to Moves, Resiliency & Strength (-1, +1 and +1 respectively). I’m starting to feel like I’m making a character in an FGU game again. I’ve already got a Strength of 6… that’s incredible. This mutant is going to SMASH (and carry a lot of gear – so far he can lug around 90 pounds of gear with no penalty).

Now I have to go through the full skill list in the game (all 100 skills) and roll 2d6 for each one. Any skill I roll a 12 for I have a “Natural Ability” with (I get to reroll any crappy 1’s I roll) and any skill I roll a 2 for I have a “Natural Inability” for (and I am forced to reroll any awesome 6’s I roll). Yep… 100 2d6 rolls to determine abilities and inabilities. This game IS retarded.

And my dice hate me. After 100 2d6 rolls I have a natural ability in Armor Repair (could be handy – the kind of think I probably didn’t even realize I had a knack for until after the end of the world) and natural inabilities in Drive Plane, Forgery, Gamble, Intimidate, Medic and WS Shield.

Now I get my choice of either adding or subtracting 1d6 to my age, height, initiative, carrying weight, moves, resiliency, shielding or weight, or adding 2d6×10 to my skill points. d6 extra moves is probably a good idea if I’m making a combat machine, and my dice try to make up for the crappy abilities / inabilities rolls and I get +6 moves bringing me up to 12. Awesome.

I get to spend 740 points on skills next before rolling for radiation manipulations, although I can cash in 10 skill points per roll for additional radiations. But I already have 4d6 radiations, that should be more than enough to kill off the character before game play begins.

Remember that list of 100 skills I mentioned? You start with all the ones you qualify for at 2d6. But most of them have prerequisites so they start at 0d6 until you have 4d6 in the prereq, at which point you qualify for them and they go up to 2d6. It costs 10 skill points to bring a skill from 2d6 to 3d6, 20 skill points from 3d6 to 4d6, 40 skill points from 4 to 5 and 80 from 5 to 6, at nauseum. Standard Difficulty for a roll is 15, and a Difficult roll is 24. So at 4d6 you will still fail a standard roll more often than not.

Now, let’s look at those prerequisites. I want to get some skill levels in Armor Repair, my natural ability. Well, it has 3 prerequisites – Smithing, Construction and Chemistry. So I need each of those at 4d6. But Smithing in turn requires Metallurgy and a Weapon Skill at 4d6. Construction also has a prerequisite – it needs Physics. And of course Physics has the prerequisite of Math (which is also the prerequisite for Chemistry). So I immediately need to spend 30 skill points on each of Math, Physics, Chemistry, Construction, Metallurgy, Smithing and a Weapon Skill appropriate to Smithing before I can spend any points on Armor Repair. Nice and simple – and I’ve spent 210 of my skill points before I can buy a single level of Armor Repair. o_O

Since I’m going for a melee bruiser (to best take advantage of that massive strength), and since he has a natural inability with shields, I’ll focus on WS Melee and WS Paired Melee. Also, Armor Repair is the prereq for Armor Penetration and if I attack someone with that and roll a total of 51 or better between the attack roll and the Armor Penetration roll, then I ignore his armor. With 6 dice in WS Melee, this sounds like a possibility. I also grab 4d6 in senses, and that opens up Intuition, so I bring that up to 3d6. If I ever get Intuition up to 4d6 I finally get “Reason” and “Streetwise”.

The prerequisites are awesome. Because of them, a typical character has 2d6 in herb lore (no prereqs) but 0d6 in haggle (because haggle happens to have no less than 5 prerequisites!).

And with that painful shopping trip through skill land done, it is time to deal with the insanity of 4d6 random “radiation manipulations” – you know, those totally realistic and heavily researched side-effects of exposure to the horrors of deadEarth. (as a footnote – why do older characters have more mutations than young characters when WWIII ended only 9 years ago? We’ve all basically had the same length of exposure to the deadEarth…)

The dice feel a bit gentle on me and the 4d6 roll is a 12. Each one is a d1000 roll on the table and let’s see what we get.

650 – Nil – Gain one skill point

986 – Rite of the Lost Soul – By touching someone at the time of their last breath of life, I may capture their soul and replace all of my Strength, Moves and Resiliency with theirs.

711 – Strength Augmentation – Gain +1 Strength for every level of Weight Training instead of every even level of weight training.

199 – Eunuch – Genderless. Groin hits no longer cause double stun damage.

448 – Extreme Beauty – Influence is a natural ability, add 1d6 to all Influence rolls, add an additional 1d6 when influencing someone who’s sexual preference is your sex (not bloody likely with the Eunuch radiation – and not all that useful when Influence has something close to a dozen prerequisites… so I get 1d6 Influence effectively)

401 – Doorman – Your skill with domestics is written all over your actions. Every person you meet wants to obtain you for a servant – including players. (Awesome, especially since I don’t actually have the Domestics skill either).

579 – Telepathy – I can speak to anyone anywhere by telepathy as long as I know they exist. They can’t talk back without this radiation themselves. I must beat their resolve roll with my own, and spend 2 skill points. (Hmmm… Resolve… so I need to bring Running, Reason and Intuition up to 4d6 each before I can even roll Resolve. Wish I got these radiations BEFORE spending my skill points!)

519 – Immutable Consequences – All radiations received up to this point can never be removed or changed by other rolls on the table.

968 – Hemorrhoids – 1 in 6 chance each day of a hemorrhoid flare-up causing -2d6 running and 1/2 moves for the day. (What a pain in the ass.)

034 – Invertebrate – Bones are strong enough to support me, but carrying weight is reduced to 10 pounds. +10 Resiliency. (So much for my awesome carrying capacity).

833 – Fatality – Roll a d6… 2 – You are dead.

Well.

Fuck.

That was fun.

So tomorrow I’ll roll up ANOTHER deadEarth character and see if he survives the pre-game.

Rikky the beautiful dead eunuch butler

Gender: None

Age: 45
Height: 6′2″
Weight: 296 lbs
Carrying Weight: 10 pounds

Moves: 12
Resiliency: 18
Strength: 6

Skills:
Acrobatics 2d6
Armor Penetration 6d6
+ Armor Repair 6d6
Beast Lore 2d6
Beast Ride 2d6
Biology 2d6
Brawling 2d6
Charisma 2d6
Chemistry 4d6
Climbing 2d6
Computer Operations 2d6
Construction 4d6
Domestics 2d6
Drive Automobile 2d6
Drive Boat 2d6
Drive Cart 2d6
Drive Heavy Machine 2d6
Drive Non-Motorized 2d6
- Drive Plane 0d6
Drive Railed 2d6
Drive Recreational 2d6
Drive Sailcar 2d6
Drive Tracked 2d6
Escape 2d6
First Aid 2d6
- Forgery 2d6
- Gamble 0d6
Guile 2d6
Herb Lore 2d6
- Intimidate 0d6
Intuition 3d6
Jimmy Lock 2d6
Jury Rig 2d6
Math 4d6
- Medic 0d6
Memory 2d6
Metallurgy 4d6
Mining 2d6
Navigate 2d6
Physics 4d6
Pioneering 2d6
Running 2d6
Senses 4d6
Sensors 2d6
Smithing 4d6
Stealth 2d6
Swimming 2d6
Tracking 2d6
Trapping / Fishing 2d6
Weight Training 2d6
Wrestling 2d6
WS Ballista 2d6
WS Blade 2d6
WS Handgun 2d6
WS Melee 6d6
WS Melee Paired 5d6
WS Missile 2d6
WS Rifle 2d6
- WS Shield 2d6
WS Thrown 2d6

Skill Points: 1

Radiations:
650 – Nil
986 – Rite of the Lost Soul
711 – Strength Augmentation
199 – Eunuch
448 – Extreme Beauty
401 – Doorman
579 – Telepathy
519 – Immutable Consequences
968 – Hemorrhoids
034 – Invertebrate
833 – Fatality
 

Willow

Awesome Adventuress
#3
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on everyone's "Worst Games List"?

Later research showed that the game wasn't a local product, but had seen a fair-sized publication run somewhere in Wisconsin
I think you answered your own question there. I'm a Wisconsinite, so I have seen this game for sale and laughed at it, but I don't know anyone who actually bought or even played it.
 

Dyson Logos

Prophet of the deadEarth
Validated User
#4
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on everyone's "Worst Games List"?

But that's what I'm saying - I thought no one had heard of it because it was a "local product" with no promotion and sales. But I didn't buy it in Wisconsin - I bought it in Ottawa, Canada. The game obviously was out there beyond Wisconsin.
 

Royal Heart

Northern Downpour
#5
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on everyone's "Worst Games List"?

Eh. You have to roll some kind of d6 for everything? That's more of a burden than a feature, for me as a gamer.
 

Dyson Logos

Prophet of the deadEarth
Validated User
#6
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on everyone's "Worst Games List"?

Eh. You have to roll some kind of d6 for everything? That's more of a burden than a feature, for me as a gamer.
Agreed.

But not according to the back of the book!

"deadEarth is a simple game. Other role-playing games become bogged down with dice rolling, bonuses, modifiers, and huge tables describing them. deadEarth uses only six-sided dice (occasionally percentiles) and a single, simple difficulty table for determining success. If the gaming system is simple to use, more time is spent gaming and less time on mechanics."

And then they proceed to put in a painfully awkward combat system, complex character creation and skill prerequisites, and a d1000 table of mutations (I mean "Radiation Manipulations").
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
#7
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on anyone's "Worst Games List"?

The game actually has an Index entry and a pair of reviews, one of which is quite blatantly a shill and the other of which isn't shillish but still gets torn apart in the threads associated with it. (Scary thing: According to the reviews there were at least 2 editions: a hardcopy 1st and a PDF-only 2nd.)

Index link

One of the comments mentions another, significantly more negative review, but it doesn't seem to be in the system. :( (A search for both "deadEarth" and "Dead Earth" in the Reviews DB only came up with those two linked from the Index page.)

Edit: Ah. It wasn't posted as a review here but on another site. But here it is archived: Mytholder's deadEarth rant.
 
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#8
Re: deadEarth - why isn't this game on anyone's "Worst Games List"?

Realism - because radiation makes people pee napalm, become a woman, have PMS, or suddenly swap all their skills with another person.
This kind of makes me want to play it...

It’s at the bottom of the page of background notes that my brain exploded in laughter. Despite 95% of the Earth getting wiped out, despite technology being knocked back to the Iron age, despite the whole goddamn planet being a radioactive wasteland, “The people of this wasteland called Earth now use a unified currency. It is called $tandard. A $tandard is equivalent to about a dollar.”
Oh my.
 
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