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After the End 1

4th Edition

A Generic RPG That Let's You Experience Any Post-Apocalyptic Setting

Publisher Description

Welcome to the Generic Universal RolePlaying System!

With GURPS, you can be anyone you want – an elf hero fighting for the forces of good, a shadowy femme fatale on a deep-cover mission, a futuristic swashbuckler carving up foes with a force sword in his hand and a beautiful woman by his side . . . or literally anything else! Thanks to its flexibility, quality writing, and ease of use, GURPS has been the premiere universal roleplaying game for over three decades!


A Generic Approach [ edit ]

Although GURPS is a generic RPG system, it's long had post-apocalyptic popularity, and in fact the original Fallout game:

was initially intended to use Steve Jackson Games' system GURPS, but Interplay eventually used their own internally developed system, SPECIAL

The "SPECIAL" system borrowed many aspects from GURPS, and so this made the RPG a popular choice for post-apocalyptic campaigns.  Also, GURPS rules lean a little on the more "crunchy" and realistic side, while still allowing for some cinematic flourishes, and this fits the "almost-realistic" feel of movies like Mad Max.

GURPS Character Creation [ edit ]

Character creation in GURPS is detailed, but slow.  There are no levels or classes, just points, which can be used to buy attributes, advantages, disadvantages, or skills.  Different campaigns start with different amounts of points, so you can begin as a seasoned survivor or a fresh vault escapee.


Skills are how characters accomplish things in GURPS; for instance to shoot someone you would want the "Guns" skill.  Skills are based on two of your attributes: if you improve your Dexterity, for instance, you similar improve your chance to ride a horse, shoot a gun, or do anything else physical.  The remaining two attributes set how strong and tough the character is.


Advantages cover any non-skill benefit a character might have, such as a high pain threshold, wizard training, or the ability to move objects with their mind.  Advantages can also be further be customized with enhancements or limitations, allowing you to gain more or less powerful versions, that cost more or less points as a result.  This can allow for a nearly any power you can imagine to be described as a GURPS advantage.


Similarly players can also take disadvantages for their character, such as Code of Honor or Blind, to gain extra points.  All together this system allows for incredibly individualized character, including almost any you'd want to re-create from fiction or real-life (in fact, there are multiple GURPS books with stats for historical NPCs such as Ghengis Khan).

The only problem with GURPS's creation system is simply how detailed it is: it takes awhile even for experienced players to make a character, and first time players may find all of the options a bit overwhelming initially.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

To succeed at an action in GURPS, players roll 3d6 and attempt to rull under a target number, which varies depending on the action.  Most of the time the actio will be a "skill check", meaning the player will have to rul equal to or less than the character's relevant skill. 

Critical Successes and Failures

If you fail a roll by more than 10 you critically fail the roll, and the GM decides what terrible fate results.  Similarly if you beat the roll by more than 10 you instead get a critical success, dealing extra damage or otherwise succeeding with flair.

A Note About 3d6 (vs. d20 or Other Dice)

3d6 results in a far more predictable distribution of rolls than a single die roll (typical in other systems).  Think about when you roll stats for a Dungeons and Dragons character: you usually get a lot of more 10's and 11s than 3's and 18's.  In contrast, every d20 roll has an equal (5%) chance of rolling a 1 or 20 as it does a 10 or 11.

This allows GURPS to have critical successes and failures, but have them be rarer and more dramatic, while leaving most rolls with fairly predictable/average outcomes.

Combat [ edit ]

Hexagonal Grid

GURPS uses a hexagonal grid for combat.  Hexes offers a benefit vs. square grids, when it comes to diagonal movemen: in square grid games (eg. D&D) characters moving diagonally move more quickly ... but since hexes don't have corners, they don't have this problem.


Unlike most games, GURPS does not have a random element to initiative.  Instead, characters always move in order based on their basic speed (a stat derived from their Dexterity and Health scores).

If one group surprises the other they can potentially get several seconds of actions before their opponent can react ... and since a single round of combat in GURPS lasts a second, that can be significant.


On their (one second) turn a a character can take a single maneuver, plus any number of free actions (eg. talk or drop an item).  A maneuver could be to move, attack, or move and attack (at a penalty), as well as other options such as aiming or feinting.  A character who moves can move a number of yards equal to their basic move (ie. basic speed with fractions rounded off).


To attack a character makes a skill check with the appropriate weapon skill, applying a variety of modifiers for things like the target's size, range, and speed, or the weapon's accuracy bonus (if they took the time to aim), the lighting conditions, any cover the target has, etc.

Active Defenses

If the check succeeds the target can then opt to make an "active defense". There are three options: Dodge, Block (eg. with a shield) and Parry (with a weapon), and ranged attacks can only be dodged.  Active defenses are also a skill check, for Block and Parry; to Dodge you simply roll your Basic Move + 3.

If the active defense roll succeeds, the attack misses.


If an attack roll succeeds the attacker gets to make a damage roll, which will vary based on the weapon they use and other factors (eg. ranged weapons do half their damage when far enough away from a target).  If the defender is wearing any armor they can subtract it's "DR" (damage resistance) from the damage, and the rest goes through.

Depending on the type of damage dealt, it might be multiplied now (eg. cutting weapons deal 1.5x ).

GURPS: Great With Just the Core Rules [ edit ]

The GURPS Characters book has so many different options, most of which are applicable to post-apocalyptic games, that it's really all you need to re-create any character from post-apocalyptic fiction (or your imagination).  And similarly the GURPS core rules cover just about everything a post-apocalyptic adventurer might want to do, from hacking computers, to racing across the wastelands, to battling with guns and/or knives.

If you're curious, the free GURPS Lite rules can give you a taste of what GURPS has to offer, and then all you need to get started is the core two books.

The "After the End Line" [ edit ]

While the GURPS core rules are all you truly need, if you want to suplpement them GURPS has a number of books that can provide options for a post-apocalyptic campaign.

One strong option for a post-apocalypse with futuristic technology is the GURPS Ultra-Tech supplement, which provides stats for the various futuristic weapons found in such settings (eg. Fallout).  For less advanced settings, GURPS Hi-Tech instead provides gameplay details on all sorts of modern (and earlier) weapons and technologies.

GURPS also has a post-apocalyptic product line called After the End, which features two published books (one for players and one for GMs), as well as a series of articles in the game's Illuminati magazine (see:

After the End 1: Wastelanders [ edit ]

The first book in the series is named Wastelanders (which happens to also be the name of the game which inspired Fallout).  This book is primarily focused on the PCs, and contains new rules to handle survival mechanics with minimal bookkeeping, as well as rules for radiation and mutations.  It also contains a variety of new gear for surviving the wasteland.

The book also includes a number of character templates and "lenses", which you can combine to fill a similar role to classes in other systems.  This can make it easier to create your first wasteland warriors ... or possibly your second, third, or fourth: the wasteland can be a dangerous place!

After the End 2: The New World [ edit ]

The second book is Game Master-focused, helping them to plan and run a post-apocalyptic campaign.  The book provides rules for common scenarios such as finding food, navigating ruins, scavenging for gear, etc.  It also details various hazzards, ranging from toxic chemicals, to raiding gangs,  to mutated plants or animals, robots, or even more exotic threats.

In typical GURPS fashion, this book doesn't so much tell you how to create your wasteland, and to some this will be a disadvantage, as it means that the GM has to do more preparatory work.  However, if you're looking to explore a setting that isn't detailed in any published supplement (such as the world of Mad Max, or your own imagine post-apocalyptic setting), GURPS will provide everything you need to create that world for your GURPS players.

P.S. For a further discussion of how to use After the Earth to create a non-Fallout (but Fallout-derived) campaign, see this Reddit thread.