Each player controls a family: a group of survivors bound together by blood, ideology or practicality. Your family playbook says how your family was changed by the fall, and what strength they used to survive – faith, science, might, or something stranger.
Your story starts with the first generation of survivors able to look beyond the next day and their immediate survival. Starting with that first age of discovery, you’ll tell the story of your families building a new world from the old world’s ashes.
Each age will present new challenges, and you’ll move between the actions of the family at large to specific heroic characters from their ranks as you tell that age’s story. Sometimes characters from multiple players’ families will work together; other times the story will focus on one player’s family, and other players will pick up Quick Characters to fill out the cast.
As your characters work to protect their family, undermine their enemies and explore the wasteland, they may move between different roles in their family, changing the family’s makeup and gaining more experience. As characters die or step back from an active role in the family, they leave behind a relic – a tool of theirs that future family members can use to remember them and call on their skills.
When the drama of the current age has been resolved or someone completes a grand project, the ages turn. You move the clock forward a significant chunk of time – maybe a few years, a generation, even a century. Each family goes through trials and fortunes based on their resources, and this determines how they begin the new age. The game moves back to the family and character levels, and the story continues.
One of you won’t control a Family but instead take the role of Game Master (GM). The GM is there to keep track of the setting, provide resistance and challenge to the characters, and make sure all the players get an equal chance to shine. They’re also there to portray nonplayer characters (NPCs), voicing them in conversations and giving the players a supporting cast. It’s a role with a different set of responsibilities, detailed in their own chapter of this book. The GM also normally (though not always) takes the role of facilitator, arranging the game sessions and making sure the rules and procedures of the game are followed. If you’d like to run this game but aren’t comfortable keeping all the rules in your head or making the real-world arrangements of session planning, ask for volunteers among the other players.
Legacy draws on the rule design philosophy of Vincent and Meguey Baker’s Apocalypse World, which means that it concerns itself first and foremost with the conversation that’s happening at the table. Legacy is a roleplaying game: a conversation between the players and the GM, working together to build a story and see what happens to the world. Most of the time you’ll be talking without using any rules. The players describe the actions their characters or families are taking, the GM describes how those actions change the situation, and the conversation continues.
Sometimes events in the ongoing conversation will activate a discrete chunk of rules (called a “move”) that guides the story based on the player’s dice rolls, choices or established fictional circumstances. Each move has an in-fiction trigger. This is something your character or family has to do in the story for the mechanics to start up. The consequences of moves are often just as much fictional as mechanical.
It’s vital to note that you can make big changes to the world without triggering any moves by building on elements already established in the story. If someone’s already offered to help, you don’t need to roll Find Common Ground; if you’ve positioned an invisible force-field between you and an enemy, you don’t need to roll Defuse to avoid their fire. Other times you may want to use a particular move, but be unable to. If you’re in a bad situation – say, tied to a chair with your hands behind your back your ability to hit your moves’ triggers and use them to move the story in a favourable direction will be severely limited.
Simply put: everything in the game starts and ends with the story you’re telling. Moves tell you how particular flashpoints in the story play out.
The GM’s Role
The GM doesn’t make moves, but instead has reactions. These are specific ways to guide the story towards Legacy’s themes and create a fun experience. The GM never rolls dice, and instead uses reactions in response to the players’ actions: when a player rolls a 6 or below, when everyone looks to them to say what happens next, or when the players do something with already established consequences (a ‘golden opportunity’).
Each GM reaction is a way of raising the stakes, shaking up the situation and providing adversity. Check out the GM section to see more details on these.
Making Your Move
Moves vary in complexity. The simplest don’t have any sort of dice roll or choices; they just state that this fiction trigger will lead to this outcome. Others give you choices, or use dice to make the outcome less predictable.
When a move uses dice, you’ll be told to roll +Stat. This means you take two six-sided dice, roll them, and add the total to the stat indicated.
- A 6 or lower (6-) is a setback. The GM makes a reaction, adding complications to your life.
- A 7 or above is a hit. You’ve succeeded, at least partially:
- A 7-9 is a mixed success. You don’t succeed fully, or maybe there’s a cost.
- A 10 or above is a full success. You succeed with style, and maybe learn something about the world.
When you roll with advantage, roll 3 dice and pick the highest two.
When you roll with disadvantage, roll 3 dice and pick the lowest two.
If you have advantage and disadvantage, roll normally.
Sources of advantage will specify which actions they apply to, and if they ever run out. Fleeting advantage is a special case that simply boosts your next roll, whatever move it’s for, and then goes away.
Forge a Path1
When you find a way up, through or over precarious terrain2 , roll +Force3. On a hit you make it to your destination. On a 7-9 pick two, or on a 10+ pick one:
- You’re exposed to danger as you travel.
- The route you took is lost.
- You can’t take others with you.
- You take a lot longer than you expected.
- The name of the move. All moves are formatted in this way.
- The fiction trigger for the move. If your character does this, you carry out the move; if you want to activate the move, you need to perform the trigger.
- The stat that you add to the dice roll.
Example of Play
To give you an idea of what Legacy looks like in play, read on. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything that happens – it’ll all be explained later!
This group has decided that their wasteland is a parched desert, scoured of life after weather control devices went out of control. A recent attempt by the players to bring rain has had disastrous effects: swarms of giant insects hibernating beneath the earth were awakened by the moisture and are now hunting for more, threatening to devour the homeland’s crops, livestock, and maybe even populace.
The GM starts by asking questions to set the ball rolling.
GM: You’ve seen what those swarms have done to the outlying settlements – you’ve got a month or so before they hit you. How are you dealing with the refugees?
Erika: (controlling The Players, a travelling Gilded Company of Merchants that trade in performance and music). We don’t have any land to house them, but we do need recruits. Any refugee willing to sign on will be well-fed and trained up.
GM: OK, that gets you a dozen or so rookies, though they’ll need some training before you can mark off that need. How about you, Morton?
Zach: (Playing The Academy, an Enclave of Fallen Lore who conduct their experiments in an underground bunker). We’re pretty resource-stretched down here already. I’ll cash in some of my treaties with the farmers around here to get them to take the refugees in.
GM: Alright, so the immediate crisis is kept under control but those bugs are out there. What’s the plan?
Zach: I think we can put something together: I’m using Weird Science to build a nerve agent that’ll eradicate the bugs but leave us unharmed.
GM: I get to pick what you need to make that, right? I’ll choose ‘It’ll take weeks to build’ and ‘you’ll need to erase a certain surplus’ – specifically, Rare Materials. You need hard-to-find chemicals for this.
Zach: Hm. Well, might as well ask around to see if anyone’s heard of a good place to find them.
The Academy send agents out to their allies for information, triggering the Conduct Diplomacy basic move. Zach rolls two dice and gets 8; that plus his Reach of 2 makes 10, a full success.
Zach: Alright, I’ll choose that I learn an opportunity for profit; I get advantage acting on it, and 1 Data.
GM: You hear from some traders that the Well’s recently found some hidden scientific supplies, which they’re selling for a high price.
Zach: Great, I’ll need a negotiator. Erika, you want to help out?
Erika: Sure. We’ll send a truck from our convoy with your people. We have friends at the Well that can help.
GM: Sounds like you’re triggering Diplomacy, Erika.
Zach: I might as well put our weight behind that too.
He adds his Treaty rating with The Players to a 2d6 roll and gets an 11, meaning that Erika gets a boost to her Diplomacy roll.
Erika: Thanks! So I add that to my Reach of 1 and a… 6 on the dice. An 8. I get a meeting with a VIP at the Well, but we needed the Dust Devils to vouch for us, so they get 1 Treaty on us.
GM: OK, let’s Zoom In there.
When you move from the family to the character level, you set the scene, say which characters are there, and decide what gear they’re carrying.
GM: After a week of travelling through the parched desert wasteland, you arrived at the Well – a giant hole bored into the earth with a settlement around its rim. It’s Rex and Dupree, I assume?
Erika: (Playing Rex, an Envoy) Yep, plus some extra support from the Players. I’ve brought some hardy, utilitarian travelling clothes and one of our sturdier trucks, piled with the devices Dupree’s brought to trade.
Zach: (Playing Dupree, a Seeker) Not before I’ve had a chance to see the chemicals though! I’m perfectly comfortable in my temperature-controlled biosuit, though it’s not subtle. I also put together our intel on the Well before leaving, in case it’ll help negotiations.
GM: Right, so you’ve driven into the town around the borehole and parked outside the foreman’s mansion. You head inside, stepping over drugged-up people and around gaudy drapes hanging down, and reach the foreman. He’s lying on cushions surrounded by followers who are currently topping up an incense burner that’s filling this area with mind-numbing smoke.
Erika: I’ll take the lead. “Your eminence, we have travelled far to trade with you. You have recently extracted strange resources from the world before, but I doubt that they are of much use to you. We will happily take them, and in exchange give you potent tools used by the ancients of old and far more useful to your current circumstances.”
GM: Sounds like you’re trying to Find Common Ground. Roll it!
Rex has a Sway of +2, but that’s not much help when the dice come up 3.
GM: The Foreman’s small eyes glower at you. He says, “I got no patience for outsiders telling me what I need. Leave the toys here. If they’re as good as you say, maybe we can make a deal. Maybe.”
Erika: I bow graciously. “Thank you, your eminence. If you please, my friend and I will retreat and discuss your most kind offer.” Then I drag Dupree out of there before he opens his mouth and gets us in trouble.
Zach: Once we’re by the truck I turn to Rex. “Well, I guess we’re not going with that, eh?”
Erika: “Only if you want to leave here with nothing.” I try and remember what happened last time I was here with Long Memories. 5 on the dice plus my Lore of 2 gives me 7 – I name a secret and an enemy of the foreman’s. Let’s say… the foreman picked up a taste for a strange drug of the before, and has been sending secret crews to search the borehole for more of it. Some of the crews are getting angry at risking their lives for their boss’ addiction, and have started plotting against him.
Zach: Would be good to have a backup plan too. I’m going to look for friends, see if we have some allies we can use in the area.
GM: Sounds like you’re trying to find a Familiar Face. Give me a Sway roll.
Zach: I’ll boost that with a point of Data. I’ll say that we found out the Well’s miners have been buying some of our tech under the table to better survive down there, and they might appreciate getting the stuff straight from the source. Rolling Sway with advantage gives me… an 11!
GM: OK, nice. Pick your options.
Zach: I’ll say that we don’t owe this miner, they’re influential in the settlement, and they’re invested in our mission – maybe they have relatives facing starvation. On the downside, they’re caught up in a crisis of their own.
Erika: Great. Let’s send the truck out of the city so they don’t steal our stuff, then go and meet these miners.
The two head out into the settlement, and the game goes on…
Questions to Consider
- The GM chose to give the insecticide production a long development time and a surplus cost. Do you think those were appropriate requirements, for an action that would resolve the main crisis of this age?
- How would a different Conduct Diplomacy result have changed the situation? If the Academy had rolled a 6 or lower, would they still have heard about the Well’s bounty? If so, what extra complications might have been revealed?
- Zach spent data to add a detail about the Well’s miners. How would you include this information in future scenes? How would it have changed things if he’d instead used that data to get blackmail material on the Foreman? What’s the most outlandish thing you’d be OK with a player introducing in his position?