Mail Order Apocalypse — Design Diaries

I can’t quite believe it, but it’s been one and a half years since I started writing my own RPG, Mail Order Apocalypse.

On the upside, it is mostly done by now. What is left is a lot of editing and layout, both things that will mostly be done by people better at these things than me. Looking back to the past 18 something months made me realise quite a few things though:

  1. Commissioning artwork for your prospective new game is a neat thing to kick yourself in the butt and get going, but it is no cure all. I commissioned mine from Alex Mayo — that man is a pleasure to work with.
  2. MOA started out as a „powered by the Apocalypse“ game. I wrote a all the basic moves and a lot of the class-specific ones, but eventually hit a dead end. My main problem was that I had nifty ideas for a „Desperation“ status, which never quite came together.
  3. So, when Paolo Greco mentioned Into the Odd to me, I got me a copy (thanks Harald!) and things immediately clicked. This is the simple basis I was looking for.
  4. Simple“ means that MOA is a great pick up game. A new character is made within a few minutes and the rules are super easy to grasp.
  5. Providing simple stats and a randomized but eclectic starting equipment also means, that players have just a handful of things to grab on to when starting the game. But these things are evocative and inspiring. Every player I had so far did something interesting with the starting equipment within the first hour.
  6. The loot and encounter tables started out as an exercise of coming up with „silly, but believable“ stuff. But in the end, they have constantly created a set of loot that felt rewarding enough and also inspired players to, again, do something interesting with it.
  7. One leftover from the games PbtA roots are found with the referee instructions. Adhering to them ensures that the game coasts along the fine line of forcing the survivors to constantly do something, but never made them succumb to desperation.

I look forward to finishing this, and who knows, maybe more than a handful of people will buy it.

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