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deadEarth

deadEarth

Warriors of the post-apocalyptic landscape. Realistic brutal combat, strange mutations, and the end of the world…

Whenever there is a discussion about “worst RPG ever” I keep being startled to not find deadEarth mentioned. I picked up a copy of deadEarth at CanGames in 2000, prior to the release of D&D3e from a booth that was manned by what looked like a team of survivors of the apocalypse, but all wearing orange coveralls. (And it turns out that I game with one of that crew now).

It is fucking horrendous. It is so bad in fact that it is the first game where I CANNOT find a scan of the cover of the book anywhere through google or google images. Seriously. And this is AFTER it was re-released as a free RPG for at least 5 years before the website disappeared.

I’m going to have to stop ranting for a couple of minutes so I can scan the cover of my copy to post with this article.

deadEarth immediately turns me off when I read it because it spends most of the back cover bashing other games. “deadEarth is a realistic game. Other role-playing games are often based in fantasy or science ficiton settings, or deal with fanciful and mthical creatures. Although deadEarth is set in the future, the game setting and mechanics are as brutally real as possible.” Yeah… that’s why one of the mutations in the game lets you urinate napalm.

Anyways, deadEarth is one of those games that sits on my shelf of post-apocalyptic games and only gets pulled down to boggle at it on occasion. The core of the game isn’t the overly complex combat system, nor the very simple skill system. The core of the game is a table of 1000 mutations (called “radiations”). They start on page 21 and run through all the way to page 117. About 20-25% of these radiations are incredibly detrimental to your character, and will quite likely even kill him if he has any of them.

Enough ranting and laughing at this brutally realistic game, lets make a character. One of the first notes in the game is that you only get to make 3 characters, so you had better work on making sure that at least one of the three doesn’t suck.

The first stat we roll for is Moves. This is the stat that determines how many “moves” you get during a round of combat – so a character with more mvoes gets to do a lot more stuff than one with only a few. We get 2d6 moves – and roll a nice average 7. Next is Resiliency (toughness) which is d6+3 (7). Strength is easy to determine – it always starts at zero.

Now for the most important roll in the game. Age. Age determines if you get penalties to Moves, Strength and Resiliency, how many skill points you start with, and how many Radiations. My first roll is a 95 on the table… Roll again and add 1d6 to an attribute. (I’ll add that 1d6 to Strength and make a nice strong guy – Strength of 1 is average, Strength of 3 is Arnold Schwarzenegger… I get a Strength of 5. Godlike). The reroll is an 84 – Roll again and subtract 100 skill points. The next reroll is a 66 – Roll again and add 1d6 radiation manipulations. The NEXT reroll is 45. So I’m 45 years old (-3 moves, 800+d6x10 skill points, -1 Resiliency, 3d6 Radiations).

Height is calculated as 6d6+48 inches. This is actually important in this game. 74 inches is my total (6’2″). Weight is determined by rolling 5d6 and comparing the result to a table which indicates how much you multiply your height by to determine your weight. A very high roll of 28 means my weight is equal to 4 times my height, or 296 pounds. Now we corssreference the character’s height and weight on the table to determine modifiers to Moves, Resiliency & Strength (-1, +1 and +1 respectively). I’m starting to feel like I’m making a character in an FGU game again. I’ve already got a Strength of 6… that’s incredible. This mutant is going to SMASH (and carry a lot of gear – so far he can lug around 90 pounds of gear with no penalty).

Now I have to go through the full skill list in the game (all 100 skills) and roll 2d6 for each one. Any skill I roll a 12 for I have a “Natural Ability” with (I get to reroll any crappy 1′s I roll) and any skill I roll a 2 for I have a “Natural Inability” for (and I am forced to reroll any awesome 6′s I roll). Yep… 100 2d6 rolls to determine abilities and inabilities. This game IS retarded.

And my dice hate me. After 100 2d6 rolls I have a natural ability in Armor Repair (could be handy – the kind of think I probably didn’t even realize I had a knack for until after the end of the world) and natural inabilities in Drive Plane, Forgery, Gamble, Intimidate, Medic and WS Shield.

Now I get my choice of either adding or subtracting 1d6 to my age, height, initiative, carrying weight, moves, resiliency, shielding or weight, or adding 2d6x10 to my skill points. d6 extra moves is probably a good idea if I’m making a combat machine, and my dice try to make up for the crappy abilities / inabilities rolls and I get +6 moves bringing me up to 12. Awesome.

I get to spend 740 points on skills next before rolling for radiation manipulations, although I can cash in 10 skill points per roll for additional radiations. But I already have 4d6 radiations, that should be more than enough to kill off the character before game play begins.

Remember that list of 100 skills I mentioned? You start with all the ones you qualify for at 2d6. But most of them have prerequisites so they start at 0d6 until you have 4d6 in the prereq, at which point you qualify for them and they go up to 2d6. It costs 10 skill points to bring a skill from 2d6 to 3d6, 20 skill points from 3d6 to 4d6, 40 skill points from 4 to 5 and 80 from 5 to 6, at nauseum. Standard Difficulty for a roll is 15, and a Difficult roll is 24. So at 4d6 you will still fail a standard roll more often than not.

Now, let’s look at those prerequisites. I want to get some skill levels in Armor Repair, my natural ability. Well, it has 3 prerequisites – Smithing, Construction and Chemistry. So I need each of those at 4d6. But Smithing in turn requires Metallurgy and a Weapon Skill at 4d6. Construction also has a prerequisite – it needs Physics. And of course Physics has the prerequisite of Math (which is also the prerequisite for Chemistry). So I immediately need to spend 30 skill points on each of Math, Physics, Chemistry, Construction, Metallurgy, Smithing and a Weapon Skill appropriate to Smithing before I can spend any points on Armor Repair. Nice and simple – and I’ve spent 210 of my skill points before I can buy a single level of Armor Repair.  o.O

Since I’m going for a melee bruiser (to best take advantage of that massive strength), and since he has a natural inability with shields, I’ll focus on WS Melee and WS Paired Melee. Also, Armor Repair is the prereq for Armor Penetration and if I attack someone with that and roll a total of 51 or better between the attack roll and the Armor Penetration roll, then I ignore his armor. With 6 dice in WS Melee, this sounds like a possibility. I also grab 4d6 in senses, and that opens up Intuition, so I bring that up to 3d6. If I ever get Intuition up to 4d6 I finally get “Reason” and “Streetwise”.

The prerequisites are awesome. Because of them, a typical character has 2d6 in herb lore (no prereqs) but 0d6 in haggle (because haggle happens to have no less than 5 prerequisites!).

And with that painful shopping trip through skill land done, it is time to deal with the insanity of 4d6 random “radiation manipulations” – you know, those totally realistic and heavily researched side-effects of exposure to the horrors of deadEarth. (as a footnote – why do older characters have more mutations than young characters when WWIII ended only 9 years ago? We’ve all basically had the same length of exposure to the deadEarth…)

The dice feel a bit gentle on me and the 4d6 roll is a 12. Each one is a d1000 roll on the table and let’s see what we get.

650 – Nil – Gain one skill point

986 – Rite of the Lost Soul – By touching someone at the time of their last breath of life, I may capture their soul and replace all of my Strength, Moves and Resiliency with theirs.

711 – Strength Augmentation – Gain +1 Strength for every level of Weight Training instead of every even level of weight training.

199 – Eunuch – Genderless. Groin hits no longer cause double stun damage.

448 – Extreme Beauty – Influence is a natural ability, add 1d6 to all Influence rolls, add an additional 1d6 when influencing someone who’s sexual preference is your sex (not bloody likely with the Eunuch radiation – and not all that useful when Influence has something close to a dozen prerequisites… so I get 1d6 Influence effectively)

401 – Doorman – Your skill with domestics is written all over your actions. Every person you meet wants to obtain you for a servant – including players. (Awesome, especially since I don’t actually have the Domestics skill either).

579 – Telepathy – I can speak to anyone anywhere by telepathy as long as I know they exist. They can’t talk back without this radiation themselves. I must beat their resolve roll with my own, and spend 2 skill points. (Hmmm… Resolve… so I need to bring Running, Reason and Intuition up to 4d6 each before I can even roll Resolve. Wish I got these radiations BEFORE spending my skill points!)

519 – Immutable Consequences – All radiations received up to this point can never be removed or changed by other rolls on the table.

968 – Hemorrhoids – 1 in 6 chance each day of a hemorrhoid flare-up causing -2d6 running and 1/2 moves for the day. (What a pain in the ass.)

034 – Invertebrate – Bones are strong enough to support me, but carrying weight is reduced to 10 pounds. +10 Resiliency. (So much for my awesome carrying capacity).

833 – Fatality – Roll a d6… 2 – You are dead.

Well.

Fuck.

That was fun.

So tomorrow I’ll roll up ANOTHER deadEarth character and see if he survives the pre-game.

Rikky the beautiful dead eunuch butler
Gender: None

Age: 45
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 296 lbs
Carrying Weight: 10 pounds

Moves: 12
Resiliency: 18
Strength: 6

Skills:
Acrobatics 2d6
Armor Penetration 6d6
+ Armor Repair 6d6
Beast Lore 2d6
Beast Ride 2d6
Biology 2d6
Brawling 2d6
Charisma 2d6
Chemistry 4d6
Climbing 2d6
Computer Operations 2d6
Construction 4d6
Domestics 2d6
Drive Automobile 2d6
Drive Boat 2d6
Drive Cart 2d6
Drive Heavy Machine 2d6
Drive Non-Motorized 2d6
- Drive Plane 0d6
Drive Railed 2d6
Drive Recreational 2d6
Drive Sailcar 2d6
Drive Tracked 2d6
Escape 2d6
First Aid 2d6
- Forgery 2d6
- Gamble 0d6
Guile 2d6
Herb Lore 2d6
- Intimidate 0d6
Intuition 3d6
Jimmy Lock 2d6
Jury Rig 2d6
Math 4d6
- Medic 0d6
Memory 2d6
Metallurgy 4d6
Mining 2d6
Navigate 2d6
Physics 4d6
Pioneering 2d6
Running 2d6
Senses 4d6
Sensors 2d6
Smithing 4d6
Stealth 2d6
Swimming 2d6
Tracking 2d6
Trapping / Fishing 2d6
Weight Training 2d6
Wrestling 2d6
WS Ballista 2d6
WS Blade 2d6
WS Handgun 2d6
WS Melee 6d6
WS Melee Paired 5d6
WS Missile 2d6
WS Rifle 2d6
- WS Shield 2d6
WS Thrown 2d6

Skill Points: 1

Radiations:
650 – Nil
986 – Rite of the Lost Soul
711 – Strength Augmentation
199 – Eunuch
448 – Extreme Beauty
401 – Doorman
579 – Telepathy
519 – Immutable Consequences
968 – Hemorrhoids
034 – Invertebrate
833 – Fatality

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