Today’s World of Legacy isPrimal Pathways, written by Laurence Phillips and illustrated by Juan Ochoa.
Primal Pathways begins at the dawn of life. As alien creatures make their first trembling steps onto land, they find ethereal spirits waiting for them: denizens of the Primal Plane, Guardians formed of the raw energy and power of life. Each spirit, focused on one aspect of life, picks a species to uplift, granting them sentience. So your first choice as a player is twofold: what sort of creatures are you, and who was the Guardian who uplifted you?
So, maybe you’re a herd of armoured elephantine creatures, empowered by the Devourer – the Guardian that favours creatures who consume without pity or remorse. Or perhaps you’re a hive of flying, stinging insects, chosen by the Hunter – the Guardian of those that seek out greater and greater challenges for their skills. Or maybe you’re a nimble race of tunnel-dwelling scuttling rodents, who draw on the genetic memory of their ancestors as they follow the edicts of the Otherworldly – Guardian of those that seek to understand the metaphysics of the world.
As you begin your game, your species barely know what it means to be people rather than animals. To guide them, you have a viewpoint character – maybe a Chosen, particularly empowered by the Guardian, or a Magus able to channel the Primal Plane. As you form new bonds with the other characters and explore this new world, you’ll improve your tribe’s lot – pushing back the threats that menace them, getting the resources they need to grow and prosper. Or maybe you run into problems, and things go badly for the tribe. How you’re tribe’s doing has its greatest impact when the Evolution move is triggered and generations rise and fall. If your mood is high, you can choose between experiencing fortunes or evolving new traits. If mood is low, you can only evolve if you also experience calamities.
Each Guardian has its own tree of evolutions, split into three pathways. Here’s the Builder‘s. Each evolution is another choice from the next tier, giving your creatures new traits, making your people more effective when working together, or giving them entirely new moves.
When you pass thresholds in the tree your People reach new stages of development, from Tribe to Realm to State. Making each jump brings new powers and new tags for your gear, but also its own problems. How will your people deal with a new need for Alliances, Mass Media, Energy?
And as your People become more and more advanced, maybe they start toying with the fabric of reality with Primal Pathway‘s new Wonders – The Grand Temple, The Primal Gate, even repeating the uplifiting process on another species with A New Awakening.
So that’s Primal Pathways – telling the story of how your People evolve, and how their way of life shifts and mutates as the scope of their society exponentially grows.
But maybe you don’t want to be the servants of intangible spirits. Maybe you want to play the gods themselves – or their servants. If so, tune in tomorrow, when I’ll be talking about Godsend.
At the start of a game of Worldfall, you have just founded a colony on an alien world. The trip has been extensive and transformative, and the first thing you decide is the politics your cabal of colonists formed during the journey.
Maybe they were the Officer Class, in charge then and looking to keep control now? Or the Workers Intergalactic, the labourers keeping the ship – and now the colony – running and finding solidarity with each other?
Or maybe they tended to the culture of the ship, whether they’re the new religion of the Keepers of the Flame or the anarchist upstarts of the Scum of the Universe?
Together, you build your cabals, making choices about the society of the fledgling colony and the world you have landed on. It’s a strange and wonderful land, bursting with life. What will you make of it? To answer that, you make Characters. Each character is the key viewpoint we have from that Cabal at this moment in time. You could go with a match for your Cabal (a Gasoline Fire from the Scum, maybe?) or something that’s orthogonal, like a Priestex from the Officer Class.
Your character explores the new world, makes deals with other factions, builds grand art projects and battles for the soul of the colony. As they do so, they’ll win or lose your Cabal points of Reputation – a marker for their influence over colony society. You play in this mode until someone completes Worldfall‘s signature Wonder – the Constitutional Convention. Once it’s completed, you all take turns to choose the colony’s negative and positive liberties. What things does it swear to provide its citizenry? What does it forbid? Each choice comes with its own government institution that you now control, as well as effects on the wider colony. Once you’ve divided them up between you, you move the clock forward a generation – and see what your choices have resulted in.
That’s how Worldfall plays: shifting between the challenges of colony development and the struggle to build a more perfect union. As generations pass, will the colony grow and thrive? Or will it shatter and wither? And all the while, maybe the planet is pushing back: learning more about you, sending its own emissaries to interfere, and try to co-opt you into its own ecosystem. Particularly if someone has chosen to play the Worldsoul – the gestalt representation of life on this planet.
So, that’s Worldfall. Please do check it out! And if getting into the mindset of weird, alien life appeals, tune in tomorrow when I tell you about Primal Pathways.
The Worlds of Legacy are now live! Check them out at our store – I’m very excited by the variety in these books, and the work my authors have put in. In celebration, I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into each of them in turn. First up – Generation Ship by Aaron Griffin and illustrated by Tithi Luadthong.
In Generation Ship, you’re trapped in the bowels of a titanic machine and the machine is freezing to death in the void of space. You aren’t meant to be here. You shouldn’t even exist, as your ancestors were meant to be unfrozen when the ship reached its goal. But still, you live.
So, what do you do? You have a family of fellow passengers, who have carved out ling space in the ship’s guts. Maybe they’ve set up algae tanks to feed the community. Maybe they protect and revere the still-unfrozen. Maybe they’re maintenance bots, jolted out of the programmed-in behaviour.
Your family has goals, friendly factions, enemies and needs. And that’s where your character comes in. They’ll delve into the ship’s tunnels, make threats safe, find the legendary ship systems, and restore – and control – them.
That’s the work of generations. Each generation the society on the ship changes, and you pick a different character type to show a different side of your family. Maybe a wise Advisor, a lethal Soldier, or even the void-empowered Touched.
So you’re telling the story over generations of how society survives and adapts to this hostile environment, and how your family repairs or claims control of one of the ship systems – the bridge, the dropships, navigation, sensors. What happens when you’ve fixed them all? Well, you face a final decision – where do you land, and what flaws are you willing to accept from your new homeland to finally feel the earth under your feet?
Of course, there are more stories you can tell once the ship has landed and the colony as formed – but that’s a different game. Maybe I’ll tell you about Worldfall next.
With Legacy out now and physical books on their way, it’s time to talk about what’s next. We’ll be returning to Legacy’s post-apocalyptica soon, but first up we’re doing something new: Worlds of Legacy.
Each one is a brand new setting for Legacy by a new author, bringing new playbooks, moves and ideas for your game. They’re slim books but pack a lot of ideas in there. Each of them draws on Legacy’s faction and character gameplay, and lets you tell a story over generations, but the stories you’ll be telling are completely different. I’m currently looking over the final art and texts for all five, and I’m really excited to share them with you!
First up is Primal Pathways, written by Laurence Phillips and illustrated by Juan Ochoa. Each player controls a species enlightened by an otherworldly Guardian and must guide the growth of their civilisation and the evolution of the creatures, from the dawn of sentient life to the development of cities, nations and more.
Your Guardian might be the Devourer, the Builder, or many more; your character might be an Emissary, a Chosen of their Guardian, or one of four other playbooks.
What I love about this book is the evolution mechanics Laurence put together: the many diverse traits let you create some really weird civilisations (Ambulatory slugs! Parasitic and carnivorous plants! Spiders building cities in a jungle canopy!), while the evolution trees each Guardian provides let you radically change your species as the ages turn while remaining true to its primordial origins.
Next we have Generation Ship, written by Aaron Griffin and illustrated by Tithi Luadthong. Long ago, your ancestors boarded a starship that’d take them to a new colony under a distant star. Frozen in rows hundreds deep, they slumbered through the centuries – until something went wrong. Woken up too early, you must now scavenge and survive within the bowels of a slowly-dying ship.
In this game, your families are organisations within the City that the Awoken have formed in the ship’s tunnels. Your playbook could be The Alliance of Agronomists, bio-engineers keeping the ship fed; The Maintenence Collective, autonomous bots gone far from their original programming; or maybe The Throng of Pleasure, those who tend to the City’s vices. Your character, meanwhile, might be a Diplomat skilled at making the disparate factions work together; a Sleeper, a newly woken remnant of the ship’s original builders; or The Touched, who has made contact with the void outside the ship and has drawn strange power from it.
And as you play, you’ll be working towards your final arrival – seeking out the ship’s key systems, working out how they’ve gone wrong, and claiming them for your Family. Each activated system – from the Astrogation Arrays to the Dropships – gives your family particular advantages so long as they claim them, and brings you all closer to your final arrival at a place you can call home.
Of course, getting to a new planet is only half of the struggle. When you arrive, what sort of society will you all build?
That question is the heart of Worldfall, written by Katherine Cross and illustrated by Claudia Cangini and Tithi Luadthong. It’s a game of political sci-fi in a new colony, with each player controlling an ideological cabal within the colony’s society. You might be the Officer Class, still clinging to their ship-borne authority in this new society; the Guardians of Eden, attempting to understand and protect the ecosystem of their new home; or the Scum of the Universe, agitators, provocateurs and artists partying on the fringes of society.
Worldfall is a game of reputation and favours. As your character deals with the colony’s problems – the Hero of the People winning fairer wages for the workers, the Gasoline Fire burning the midnight oil to create age-defining artworks, the Flag pushing back over-aggressive wildlife – your cabal will accumulate political capital they can use to get what they need. Defining all that is your Constitutional Convention – a brand-new Wonder that sets out the freedoms your colony enshrines in law and responsibilities it enforces. As you play the constitution mutates and changes, to match your colony’s expansion.
Let’s depart from the shores of sci-fi, and head to a mythic land. A land where gods bicker in their heavens. Where their avatars face down armies single-handed, and where the end of days is fast approaching.
In Godsend, written by Khelren and illustrated by Jess Taylor and Tithi Luadthong, you’ll come together to tell a story of faith and despair in a mythic age. You’ll make your divinity – maybe a domineering god of Knowledge who’s the head of the Pantheon, or a conniving Trickster deity who everyone keeps at arm’s length. Then you’ll make an avatar – for another player’s god. Maybe you’re an Angel, sent by them on a mission? A Pandora, mother of monsters? Or a Prometheus, who has stolen power from their god and must somehow deal with their wrath?
Godsend is bringing a lot of interesting things to the table. First, you’ll have a built-in relationship with two other players: you’ll be the god of one, and the avatar of another. Second, it’s entirely diceless: as rulers of fate, it’s fitting that you’re unconstrained by random chance. Instead, your stats determine how many good things happen when you use your divine abilities – and how many calamities you avoid. Finally, you will fill your map with grand civilisations to lay low, armies to challenge, monsters that can rampage – escalating in scale and drama as the apocalypse approaches.
Rhapsody of Blood
Every generation the blood moon rises, and the castle exalts a villain with its dark gifts. They shall command its legions, use its powers to twist reality, and seek the godlike power of the unholy grail.
In Rhapsody of Blood, written by me (James Iles) and illustrated by Adrian Stone, you are the ones here to stop them. Your bloodlines have fought the castle since its first emergence, and that legacy has granted you endless tenacity, strange powers, or unbreakable faith. Together, you will root out the wards of the castle where they have infested the mundane world, slay the acolytes of the castle’s regent, steal their dark power for your own and banish the regent and the castle with them.
But the castle is immortal, and the blood moon will rise again. As generations rise and fall, what tales of heroic action and gothic bloodshed will you tell?
Look out for more details in the coming weeks as we get closer to these game’s release!
One thing people new to Apocalypse World-derived games trip up on is how quickly you can resolve a situation – Fiercely Assault, for example, lets you finish a fight in a single roll. Douglas Mota, co-author of Legacy, is here to talk about how you can expand these scenes out while still bringing in plenty of drama.
Do you think that a battle should be more than a single roll? Well, we do too.
Sure, Fiercely Assault alone can seal the deal of a fight or a battle. But sometimes, it is all too much hang on a single roll and you may want more depth and detail. With that in mind, let’s go to our “Cutthroat’s pro tips for Legacy battles”.
Do you know their defences and positioning? A great moment to roll Under Orders as you send in Companions to get the lay of the land. Attacking blindly is a sure way face well-entrenched forces, usually spread in clusters and covering angles in order to put you in a hot killzone. My players usually learn rather quickly that the those who survived the Fall and the harsh world it created had to be (or become) wary and ruthless fighters.
Do your opponents have the numbers advantage? If so, your weapons need the Area tag to attack effectively, or the Brutal tag to demoralize them and perhaps open them to surrender or retreat. Alternatively, you can manoeuvre to split them into more manageable numbers for a Fiercely Assault. In this case…
Are you properly placed to attack? Unlikely! The best case scenario is if you are laying in wait for them to walk in your ambush – in this case, several Character Moves can enhance your attack. If you are approaching them, you can either rush in, triggering Forge a Path, or sneak in and use Defuse as you deal with their sentries and defences.
Can you count on the cavalry? Vehicles are instrumental in maneuvering and reaching best tactical position safely. Besides, even base gear Vehicles help in soaking up damage. However, no other investment will increase your odds in battle as pumping Mighty/Swift, Durable, Med Bay, Transport and/or Turrets in a Vehicle when Tooling Up.
Lock them down
Do you need to pin them in place to manoeuvre? Strafing and overwatch became popular concepts in modern warfare, and a Defuse with Steel should convince enemy forces to stop their advances and hunker down. Beware, though, if they move in with greater numbers!
BIg enough guns
Is your ordnance adequate for the mission? Melee weapons should only go against Ranged weapons after a stealth approach or a rushed charge, triggering Forge a Path. Remember that the Aberrant tag is there for a reason, and you might find foes who won’t just die with a well-placed bullet. On the other hand, sometimes all you need is exactly ONE very well placed strike! Never underestimate the Elegant and/or Far tags.
Is your gear adequate for the mission? Sure, Tough armour tag saves lives, but it should be your last line of defence. Consider that Comms, Mobile and Camo tags can enable you to bypass conflict altogether. Also, as every force who ever tried to invade Russia can tell you, sometimes your enemies’ attacks are the least of your worries. Andinn the wake of the Fall it’s safe to expect battlefields to be a deadly collection of environmental extremes, pathogens, radiation and more. Again, it is fundamental to know your theater of operations before going in… and not everyone might be ready to do battle there, regardless of martial prowess.
The Best Playbook
Is your skill set adequate for the mission? Besides the holy trinity of war (Hunter, Sentinel, and Untamed), your Machine and the Survivor Characters don’t stay far behind… they are just not as obviously potent as those three. In any case, keep in mind that EVERY character has at least a couple of moves that can save the day or turn the tide of a battle. If you hadn’t pick them you have no place in a battle – duck, cover and get out of the way.
Enemy of my Enemy
Is the engagement clearly defined? Many conflicts are not clear cut two sided affairs. In case conflict between you and this new third party doesn’t escalate too quickly, you might end up rolling an oddly-placed Find Common Ground, or maybe a Defuse using Sway.
Are you hurt? You will be… once the battle begins. If it piles up in minor harm boxes, Shake it Off as soon as tactically viable and find the proper cover to blunt the inevitable response. It is impossible to predict what will change in the battlefield (and what soft or hard reaction the GM will use), so at the very least have assets prepared to support you through Under Orders or Call for Aid. Finally, as prepared as you are, Harm is NOT progressive and one true strike might go straight into critical harm boxes – though that will only tip the balance of the battle for less martial Characters. In that case, thanks for the spirited effort, but it’s time to leave the battle for professionals.
Know When to Fold
Is the battle lost? If so, it might be worthwhile to Fiercely Assault a deadly opposition just so your venue of escape is clear to break off the engagement. Keep in mind that the GM is within their rights to dish out increased Harm as a consequence of a clumsy attack. Give Companions a chance to shine and take one for the team, even if it’s a fatal, pulverizing one. If things look dire enough, consider the party’s Death Move options…
And after all that, even when you succeed at the final, decisive Fiercely Assault, remember your goal was to “hurt, capture or drive off” enemies, not to annihilate them at once. What now then?
We all know Legacy is much more than just fighting. You’ve got a whole world to rebuild, after all. But if you and your group want to run through post-apocalyptic battles, Legacy is still your game.
In the new edition of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins you’ll make your own post-apocalyptic world, control a family of survivors, and tell the saga of your new society over generations. Based on years of feedback from 1st edition, the new edition tightens up the flow of the game, ties characters to their families like never before, and gives you even more tools to create a distinctive and compelling world. Pick it up today!
From grand strategy to desperate struggle. Shift freely between commanding the movements of spies and armies and fighting monsters in a ruined wasteland, using the fast and dramatic rules of the Powered by the Apocalypse engine.
A game of histories. Write the saga of your family over generations and draw on your ancestor’s powers, even as you face the unexpected consequences of their actions.
Endless variety. 11 family types and 13 character types create hundreds of possibilities, each with its own meaning for the story you’re telling.
Hit the ground running. Start playing today with the included quickstart, complete with five pairs of families and characters, story prompts and a sunless world filled with hungry spectres.
As I’ve been promoting Legacy 2nd Edition basically everywhere it’s made me really think about what sets it apart from Apocalypse World. It’d be easy to say it’s the family mechanics – that’s certainly the big showcase mechanic. But for me it goes deeper.
Essentially, it’s about the philosophy of the game. Most post-apoc fiction is about scarcity: of food, meds, shelter, whatever. Legacy certainly has some of that – Surpluses and Needs define families. But it’s far more about evolution and adaptation.
See, it’s not like the world ended. It just changed. In ecological terms, the old ways have low fitness for this new environment, but there are new niches out there, ready for whoever adapts to exploit them. Or you can spend effort building a niche for yourself.
This means that families gradually become as weird as the world you’ve created – culturally, technologically or biologically. And who’s to say the monsters of the wasteland remain monstrous? A few generations down the line, ghouls might be your best friends.
So, Legacy’s wasteland isn’t dusty and entropic. It’s a verdant, vibrant and chaotic, bursting with bright and deadly colours. But it’s a place life can thrive – the question is whether that includes humanity, or if you’ll move beyond humanity to survive.
With the Kickstarter for Legacy 2e coming soon I’ve been thinking about stretch goals. I want the core game to be mostly done by the time I launch the Kickstarter, so I don’t want stretch goals to add bells and whistles to the book.
Instead, I’m opening it up to others. The main reason I got interested in doing more with Legacy is that Douglas Santana brought me a great new idea with Mirrors in the Ruins – I’m very excited to see what other people might do with the framework!
Here’s my breakdown of what Legacy offers, and where you might be interested in taking it:
What’re the core themes of Legacy?
Scale. Each player controls a broader family as well as characters. Action happens on a family scale of hundreds of people and months of work as well as a character scale of individuals taking action over minutes or hours.
Ages. You spend limited time at a particular point in history, using your character as a lens to highlight a particular aspect of your family. Between these ages, there are moves to guide how your family evolves or suffers and how the world changes.
The world. The players build up a map of the world that informs how dangerous travel can be, what threats and resources are out there, and how the different families and factions interact with each other.
History. As you play you make permanent changes to the world and see the unexpected results of previous actions. You can draw on the power of previous characters, create giant mega-projects that redefine the world, and build the world’s saga together.
What are the assumptions of Legacy that you might want to break?
Post-apocalyptic: Legacy takes place after a reality-twisting apocalypse, with survivors finding a way to adapt to the new world. Maybe you want to set a hack in a world that hasn’t crashed – a near-future cyberpunk world? Or maybe you want to tell the story of colonists on an alien world, still removed from their support but not due to a cataclysm.
A golden age: The World Before had all sorts of strange technology. As you play you’ll find marvels among the ruins you can draw great power from. In your hack, maybe the marvels are created by the characters – the dawn of civilisation, with players inventing farming, medicine and magic?
Multi-generation play: Legacy assumes significant time passes between ages – there a few generations or more. In a different context, though, significant time could only be a few months or years. Maybe you’d like to make a hack set during a military campaign like Night Witches, with time skips moving the front towards its eventual conclusion?
Tense relationships between families: By default, the families are competing for scarce resources, with peace maintained by a web of obligations and treaties. Maybe you want to see what happens when families are more closely allied? Or maybe you want to put them more directly at each other’s throats?
How to get started
If you have ideas, get in touch and we can start talking through the details. If we’re both excited to move forward with it, I’ll put it on the list of stretch goals. Assuming the goal’s hit, I will offer you feedback, talk through ideas, cheerlead you and give you layout, editing and an art budget.
Once it’s done we’ll sell the game as its own pdf splitting revenue 50/50. You’ll have full rights to give it away, hack it further, and do whatever you want with it, so long as you credit Legacy according to a creative commons attribution-share alike license.