The Worlds of Legacy SRD

The Worlds of Legacy SRD

What is this?

This System Reference Document (SRD) contains the core mechanics derived from the Legacy: Life Among the Ruins RPG. We’d love for you to use these mechanics in your own game – check the Licensing page for details on how you can do that. You can also download this SRD as a PDF on the Downloads page.

As this document takes you through the workings of Legacy, it may be helpful to refer to the playbooks and wonders in the Printer Friendly Handouts on the Downloads page – though remember that those details are not covered by the license agreements that allow you to use the Worlds of Legacy SRD content in your own creations.

The Game

Legacy: Life Among the Ruins is a game about the survivors of a reality-twisting apocalypse, and the society they form in its ruins. We play to find out how they evolve and adapt to their new world, and tell the saga of the society they build over generations.

Legacy is based on Vincent and Meguey Baker’s Apocalypse World, and uses that game’s framework of the conversation, moves, and playbooks. The purpose of this SRD is not to claim credit for any of those innovations – if all your game takes from Legacy is the ideas of the Powered by the Apocalypse framework, you can use the guidance here ( instead.

The Players

Each player in a game of Legacy controls a Family of survivors, and a Character from that family. When the game’s Zoomed Out they make broad-scale decisions about the actions the Family is taking, and when it’s Zoomed In they tell tense, action packed tales of the character’s adventure in the wasteland.

Characters are held onto lightly – when the game is Zoomed In away from your character you can pick up a Quick Character to play as a supporting cast member, and you’ll say goodbye to the old character and make a new one whenever they die, get sufficient experience to retire, or the generations pass by.

The GM

Legacy has a GM – a player whose job it is to portray the wasteland’s threats and opportunities, ensure the character’s lives are interesting and the faction’s tales historic, and play to find out what happens. They are mainly reactive, adding details to the scene and asking questions of the players, but under certain circumstances they can use their reactions to narrate specific consequences for the players in the fiction.

The World

Legacy games have a strong worldbuilding element – often the first session of the game will be entirely devoted to establishing your setting and the factions and characters that exist within it. You’ll likely draw a communal map to help you track the details you’ve set up, and add to it or edit it as the game goes on. 

Setting Assumptions

Legacy has a default style of setting – a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the technology used by the survivors is a patchwork of the medieval-level tech they’ve put together themselves and the advanced and enigmatic devices of the World Before that lead to that society’s destruction. It’s a broad tent, but here’s the basic assumptions the system works on:

  • 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 particular points in history, using a character as a lens to highlight a new aspect of your family. Between these ages, moves guide how your family evolves 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. You draw on the power of previous characters, create giant wonders that redefine the world, and build the world’s saga together.

The rules in this SRD are written to suit a world fitting the following ideas:

  • The world only entered its current state very recently.
  • The world is dangerous, home to a wide range of monsters and foes.
  • Objects can be found that are impossible to build or repair and capable of performing feats far beyond the characters’ tools.
  • Resources are scarce, and every faction has things they’re lacking.

So long as your setting matches those, you won’t need to rewrite any of the core rules, though you’ll need to make new playbooks.

If you want to take things in a direction that might need some tweaking of mechanics, here’s some ideas:

  • Change from sci-fi to fantasy: When the ancient dragons rampaged, the collected efforts of men, elves and dwarves were barely enough to stop them. The unleashed power destroyed the dragons and civilisation alike, leaving the ‘monstrous’ races to recover and build the society they were denied.
  • The Fall and the hyper-advanced tech weren’t mankind’s creation: Aliens invaded, lasers flashing and engines glowing. By the time they left, human civilisation was reduced to rubble. The survivors must now use the strange devices the aliens left behind to contend with other factions, WMD-created wastelands, and the alien’s minions.
  • The Fall never happened:The gleaming spires of wonders and miracles still stand, but you’re not welcome in them. The tunnels and slums at the base of the towers are where you make your home, picking through the elite’s refuse and working thankless jobs to keep the great machines turning. Food is running scarce, and something needs to change…