67/52 New RPGs: The Grey Death

I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.

The cover of the Mutant: Year Zero adventure The Grey Death

The Grey Death is an adventure for the roleplaying game Mutant: Year Zero. All of the major releases for Mutant up until this point have been all about setting up the baseline status quo of the Zone, pointing to the Year Zero of the title: A starting point from which the Zone begins to develop in individual campaigns.

The Grey Death is different in the sense that it makes a foray into the future. The events of Genlab Alpha, Mechatron and Elysium have happened. What’s next?

There’s a progression that happens in postapocalyptic stories where the narrative of reconstruction eventually leads the world out of the genre altogether. The Fallout series of videogames is one example of this. Fallout 3 is dark and dismal, set in a ruined world. In Fallout 4, civilization is re-emerging and it feels like future stories in this world would be increasingly less postapocalyptic.

In The Grey Death, the beginnings of a similar process affect the Zone. A villain representing the bygone world emerges with an army of his own, determined to establish control over the settlements being built in the new world. The player characters can stop him.

Structurally, the adventure consists of fairly open-ended encounter locations that also show up in other Fria ligan games. It’s a very good basis for adventure design, making the adventure open-ended and responsive to player choice while also keeping the events on track. It feels like the story will emerge in play and belong to the players.

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