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Legacy: Life Among the Ruins

Second Edition


Publisher Description

What Happens after the Apocalypse?

Your ancestors survived thanks to luck, preparation or pure grit. Now it’s time to leave their shelters and start rebuilding the world. But the wasteland has other inhabitants: families with different philosophies and abilities, secretive factions with their own agendas, and bizarre monsters stalking the ruins. As generations pass and your family evolves to suit this new world, what stories will you tell?


Another Narrative-Focused Post-Apocalyptic Game [ edit ]

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is a game that is heavily influenced by another game featured here, Apocalypse World, and this isn't just supposition.  The author of Legacy, James Iles, even wrote that the game's system was "heavily inspired by Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World".

As you might expect, the two games share a great deal in common: both have a post-apocalyptic setting, both are "powered by the apocalypse" (ie. use a version of the Apocalypse World core rules), and both have a focus more on narrative elements and less on mechanics and "simulationist" aspects (ie. they focus on storytelling over having rules for things like battle maps and miniatures).

A Game of (Multi-Generational) Legacies [ edit ]

However, Legacy: Life Among the Ruins also has some major differences from its parent game.  Most notably, as its name suggests, is its focus on playing multiple generations of a family.

In Legacy characters "level up to max" relatively quickly (although the game doesn't have literal levels).  When a character reaches their end, the player simply creates a new character ... quite possibly one who's a descendant of one of their previous characters.

This unique approach allows players the opportunity to try and tackle challenges such as building a new mega-city, creating a wonder of the post-apocalyptic world, or revolutionizing the world order, challenges which might be impossible (or at least unrealistic) for any single character in a traditional RPG to achieve.

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, Second Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]


Unlike most games character creation in Legacy doesn't begin with the character themselves, but rather with their family (typically 20-30 people).  There are eleven "playbooks" (think classes) that can be used to create a family, ranging from The Cultivators of
New Flesh (farmers/tamers of nature) to the  Gilded Company of Merchants, to The Order of the
Titan (who battle and tame giant monsters that inhabit the wasteland).

Family Stats and Resource Tracks

Just like a character, each family has three "stats": Reach (influence in the outside world), Grasp (ability to hold onto their resources), and Sleight (their ability to hide secrets and misdirect others).

Also, similar to a character's hit points, a family has three resource tracks: Mood (overall wellbeing), Tech (accumulated technology), and Data (information about the world).

Other Family Details

To create their family the player also needs to decide on various role-playing aspects of their family, such as their doctrine, lifestyle, and traditions.  They also have to select their two family moves (most families have one fixed move, and then the player can choose from several optional moves for their second).

After that the player needs to determine relationships (and treaties) with other families, and both which resources they have in surplus, and which they need.  Finally, they determine the gear the family has that the player can use for their character.

Character Stats

With all that work to create the family out of the way, the player can then begin actual character creation.

Characters in Legacy have four stats: Force (fighting ability), Sway (charisma), Steel (withs/survival instinct), and Lore (knowledge of the strange devices found in the wasteland).

To select their stats a player chooses a stat array and then adds two +1 bonuses determined by their family.

Character Playbooks

Just as with families there are a variety (thirteen) different playbooks to choose from.  A character can be a Firebrand (ie. revolutionary), The Machine (a robot), The Remnant (a sort of mutant), etc.

Each playbook provides stat bonuses/penalties, two moves (again, typically one fixed and a choice of several others for the second), as well as starting gear and harm boxes (which are somewhat like hit points).


Each character also needs to choose one of four roles: Leader, Agent, Rebel, or Outsider.  Each role gets a special, specific move when combined with different playbook.  For instance, a Firebrand Leader gets to specify where his forces will lay in ambush, when rising up against an oppressor, while The Remnant Leaders instead get to keep their family safe and fed when traveling through hostile ground.


Each family has a stockpile of gear, organized into six categories: Armoury (ie. weapons), Outfit, Vehicles, Companions, Intel, and Devices (pre-apocalypse tech).  Characters can equip themselves from this stockpile.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

As a PbtA system Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, accomplishing most actions is as simple as saying "my character does ___".  However, when an action requires game rules, it becomes a "move".


Both families and individual characters can make (different) moves, and there are both standard moves that all players can take, and specific moves that only certain characters/families can take.

To make a move a player rolls 2d6 and adds their appropriate stat for the move to the result.  For instance, if a character was making a "defuse" move to deescalate a dangerous situation through physical intimidation they would add their "Force" stat to the roll, whereas if they wanted to talk their way out they would use their "Sway" stat instead.

On a 6 or less the character/family suffers some sort of setback: either the move fails, or it succeeds, but with a negative side effect.  On a 7-9 the action definitely succeeds, but with some form of (more minor) complication, and a 10+ is an unqualified success.

Combat [ edit ]

As a PbtA game Legacy doesn't have specific combat rules: there's no initiative, no battlemap, no combat rounds, etc.

Instead, whenever a character wishes to use violence to achieve an end, they simply make a "Fiercely Assault" move.  The GM then determines the result of that move which (depending on how low the roll is) may result in harm to the character and/or their target. After the move the GM can react, and then the player(s) can make more moves (either more "Fiercely Assault", or something else).


Each character has a harm track, similar to an amount of hit points, which is determined by their playbook.  For example, The Revenant has the harm boxes "Shape-shifting, Angry, Exhausted (-1 Force), Hallucinating (-1 Steel), Dead".

As a character takes damage they mark off harm boxes.  Different weapons can do anywhere from 1 to 5 harm (eg. unarmed attacks do 1-2, while pre-apocalyptic weapons can deal 4-5).


The character's first few harm boxes (which are descriptive but have no penalty) heal immediately once the threat of combat is over.  If a character is injured to the point of reaching penalty harm boxes they require medical attention and several days to heal up.

Is it Any Good? [ edit ]

Aggregated Review Scores

SourceAverage Score# of ReviewsAs Of
Amazon4.7 / 5161/27/2022
Drive Thru RPG4.7 / 5601/27/2022
Good Reads5 / 541/27/2022
RPG Geek8.62 / 1041/27/2022

The fact that Legacy was popular enough to make it to a second edition certainly shows that some people are enjoying it, but is the game's unique take on multi-generational post-apocalyptic gaming a real innovation, or just a gimmick that appeals to its dedicated fans?

Based on the review scores, it's safe to say that Legacy has genuine appeal.  Even RPG Geek, traditionally the site with the harshest critics, gave the game an 8.62 / 10 average.  And with far more reviews (60, vs. RPG Geek's 4) Drive Thru RPG's customers gave the game an even stronger 4.7 / 5 average score.

In short, if you're looking for a narrative post-apocalyptic game that gives players a chance to truly "leave a legacy" on the game world, in a unique multi-character/multi-generational way, you won't be disappointed with Legacy: Life Among the Ruins.