Broken Earth Campaign Setting
This massive tome clocks in at 195 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page
editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 191 pages of content,
so let's take a look!
First of all - what is Broken
Earth? the easy answer would be that it is a post-nuclear campaign
setting for Pathfinder, set in an Allotopia (an alternate reality of our
own world for non-literature mayors) - this means that no magic is
assumed to exist per se, though adding in rare magic would be no issue
Now the book kicks off with a vast array of
crunch - from new races (ape-men and synthetic humanoids) and then
receive archetypes - a lot of them - from the chem-head alchemist to
scrappers, we get a cool selection here - now one peculiarity I *LOVE*
about Broken Earth would be its awareness - its awareness of what's out
there. If you're like me and have this great sub-system from 3pp XYZ,
you want to use it - only every supplement seems to add a new one
instead, often less refined. well, not so this book - from nodding
towards Kobold Press' Spell-less Ranger to Rogue Genius Games'
Anachronistic Adventurers-series (and the superb research-rules
therein!) to Dreamscarred Press' psionics, Broken Earth provides support
for all of them and still manages to maintain functionality without
access to them - everyone wins. Beyond that, a mechanic that balances
character creation modularity with mutations and drawbacks makes for a
cool way of handling racial restrictions and still maintain flexibility.
The pdf also provides an array of equipment and vehicles, rules for
radiation, overland hexploration and even sample communities and
associated traits. We even receive a MASSIVE array of different
supplemental options for the kingdom-building rules of Ultimate
Campaign! Sounds familiar so far? Well, that's because the generally
known components have been released before in the separate player's
guide to broken earth, which I've also reviewed in much more detail -
thus, if you're interested in the details of the crunch, please check
out this review.
Now a general look at the page-count
shows you that this pdf mostly of new content, but what exactly? Well,
for one, the book is a campaign setting - but it's also something
different. When you hear "campaign setting", you usually expect
write-ups of different locations and nations, politics, history and the
like - here, Broken Earth, while still providing that, sets its focus in
a completely different way - and is better off for it. First of all,
you'll notice an unusual amount of scrappers, NPCs etc. all ready to
drop into your campaign. Secondly, you'll notice something different -
think about Fallout, Wasteland and games like that - what's their draw?
Scarcity, exploration, a sense of desolation and lack -and the constant
fear and wonder what lies beyond the next hilltop or dune. While the
crunch sports rules for fuel etc., while there are pieces of
information, extensive ones, that is, on tech levels etc., the result
could have ended up as something a kin to a fantasy world with a
post-apocalyptic spray-paint. That is NOT the case.
proper army statblocks to enclaves of high-tech hopes for a
resettlement of earth, from mutants and supercomputers to drones, the
narrative potential here is perfect - to the pitch. Whether you like
your post-apocalypse gritty or over the op, this book supports all
playstyles from Mad Max to Katmandi at Earth's End to The Last of Us -
whatever your preferred flavor of end-times would be, a certain spirit
of the end-times suffuses every single component of the writing, an
endzeitgeist if you will.
Yeah. I'm gonna punch myself
in the face later for writing that. (And no, I am not affiliated with
this book in any way!) Essentially, the rest of the book is a DM's
toolbox akin to one massive, huge survival wilderness module - or AP.
This book essentially doubles as its very own, superb campaign
outline-collection - player-driven exploration and a vast collection of
iconic locales drive an overall experience that is, by virtue of its
very presentation, radically different not only in its spray-paint, but
also in the experience. Exceedingly detailed hooks that can be developed
in less than a couple of hours into inspiring scenarios suffuse the
pages of this tome. Whether you just want a
depths-of-humanity's-depravity theme or rather have your PCs fight
cyber-enhanced apes - this book has you covered and oscillation between
themes and tropes can be handled exceedingly easily. From giant ants to
telekinetic wolves to dragons (mutated, irradiated eagles with
radioactive fire breath), everything you would ask from a basic
post-apocalyptic bestiary is here.
As a mostly
wilderness/survival-themed sandbox, random encounter tables are
obviously non-optional, and they do come in excessive detail for each
general locale. The NPC-Codex like array of generic stats, rare item
tables, lists of psioncs used and even an index and an appendix of media
for further inspiration are provided. (The latter deserves a ruffle
though -each appendix like that ought to reference the grandfather of
post-apocalypse movies, "A Boy and His Dog" - if you haven't seen that
gem, it has aged pretty well!)
I could go on spoiling
the details, the truth behind "Phoenix", what can be found in the
monster lands, comment on the pseudo-neo-feudal kingdom of Geneva...but I
formatting are very good - while there are some typos and glitches in
here, the overall quality, especially for a "small" 3pp like Sneak
Attack Press, is damn impressive. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column
b/w-standard that manages to remain printer-friendly. The original
pieces of b/w-artwork are awesome and the cartography (the main map also
comes as a full-color pdf with the book!) can also stand up to this
level. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your
convenience, with one bookmark out of order - no biggie, though. I can't
comment on the quality of softcover/hardcover, since I do not own the
Matthew J. Hanson has written
singlehandedly what usually takes a team of authors. Usually, that is
cause for alarm or at least, deep scrutiny. So I went through the
checklist in my head: Settlement statblocks? Check. Full-blown kingdom
building support, with modified end-times appropriate new content
galore? Check. MASSIVE 3pp-support, though always modular/optional?
Check. Proper grasp of psionics? Check. I'd drop the f-bomb now, but I
know that some filters don't like it. Just imagine me uttering it.
honestly didn't expect to like this book - I, like so many others, have
been waiting for Warlords of the Apocalypse for a LONG time. I have
grown fond of RGG's anachronistic adventurer-classes and did not expect
them to be supported here. I was firmly in the WotA-bandwagon. Well,
they are and this massive tome manages to get post-apocalypse just
RIGHT. In all its facets, in its peculiarities and different flavors.
Could you introduce banned classes and elements? Yes. Could you
annihilate anything super-natural/sci-fi for a full-blown extreme-gritty
campaign? Yes, you could. Vehicles, survival radiation, rebuilding
civilization and settlements - this book offers just about everything I
could ask for. And even if you don't plan on playing in this Broken
Earth, going full-blown steampunk, refluffing just about every rule
herein to fit your tastes will still deliver a vast amount of content.
Magical wastes, desolate planes - this book's massive array of content,
even when used in unintended ways, makes for a glorious grab-bag.
Earth is the benchmark that any future take on the post-apocalyptic
will have to surpass -and have an exceedingly hard time doing so. Is
every component perfectly finetuned? No, but seeing how much we get, how
much of that just oozes the right spirit, like a possessed radiation
sore, this book has slowly taken me over. Broken Earth is one
exceedingly awesome tome, one that will have anyone even remotely into
post-apocalyptic games grin with glee. Add to that the more than fair,
very low price and we have a glorious tome indeed - well worth of 5
stars + seal of approval and a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten
You can get this awesome post-apocalyptic survival-hex-crawl-toolbox/setting here on OBS!
You prefer Savage Worlds-rules? Here's the SW-rules-version!