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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

[Milieu] AFTERMATH, Killraven, Sabre, The Elementals, and Urutsk-

Much of this is stream of consciousness.
--I had to put-down my beloved cat of 17 years today, and I'm slightly deranged as a result.


:: While an organisational nightmare far too common in that period of gaming, and the system is equally opaque (possibly due to the distribution of core concepts and 'setting-mechanics') upon first and second glance, the data contained within this game was for me extremely though-provoking and in fact, caused me to seek out Real-World knowledge on the various subjects. This is also true of The Morrow Project. Twilight 2000 came late in my interest in Post-Apocalyptic gaming.
:: I realised just a few moments ago upon glancing at the upright-standing box of AFTERMATH I purchased (my replacement copy) in Jacksonville, FL. around 1997, the strange world depicted in the books has had a noticeable impact in the psychic construction of Urutsk, given that my setting began in much the same condition as that of those illustrations.
--Strange, slightly futuristic armours, relatively plausible energy weapons, skinny/gaunt figures in streets reclaimed by nature but otherwise untouched by 'hot' weapons, and less of a fantasy-P-A, nor the military/martial P-A of T2k and TMP.

2 & 3). Stir-in Jonathan Raven from War of the Worlds/Killraven, and McGregor's later work, Sabre, and a very different sort of P-A setting has been half-formed in this weird chick's brain.

4). But, since Urutsk started as a Supers game set very near the end of global civilisation's final grasp on normal existence (normal, of course relative to Urutsk), there has to be Powered individuals. Cue Marvel Superheroes, Heroes Unlimited, Mayfair DCH, GURPS Supers, and in our case, Villains & Vigilantes in that order. But, before any of those (for me), there was the obscure comic book by TSR and OS great, Bill Willingham: The Elementals (and the semi-related non-Willingham, Justice Machine).
--While the apparently anti-Judeo-Christian themes in The Elementals are no longer ones I embrace, the rest:


The Elementals, and indeed most of the superhumans in the comic, are dead. In the comic, the main ways to gain superhuman powers are through dying, often in a manner that attracts the roaming energy of Shadowspear. While the Elementals, and other superhumans, lived on after death they were changed, generally being physically tougher than ordinary humans but also more emotionally distant, and often able to only relate fully to other superhumans.


Unlike most other superhero comics, Elementals did not sharply distinguish between superhuman powers and magic. Indeed, all of the superhuman powers in the comic come, in one way or another, from supernatural sources.


After the Elementals dealt with Saker and his minions, they were the only super-beings walking free on the planet. The four quickly became the world's most famous celebrities; according to Tommy, this wasn't due to their abilities, but the fact they were dead. The Elementals were, at least until other paranormals began to appear, the ultimate pop icons.


The Elementals had a love-hate relationship with the Federal government of the United States, which sought to control them. At first, a single agent, Porter Scott, was assigned to tag along with them. Later, an entire government agency, F.I.S.H. (Federal Intelligence Security Headquarters) was created to monitor paranormal activity. Later still, the Elementals began to wonder if they and their fellow super-beings should not simply govern themselves.


The series had a gruesome flair, as Willingham exposed all consequences of fights. As Morningstar said, "This is a war, and in war people die." The protagonists' ability to heal wounds enabled them to survive brutal amounts of damage; Vortex, in particular, managed to get badly mauled with alarming regularity.


Peekaboo nudity was a staple of Elementals, as the author tried to push the limits of (then) acceptability in American comics world. Also controversial was the issue in which Morningstar discovered that her fiancé, Eric Chessman, was actually the sadistic villainess Shapeshifter, toying with her emotions."

-played a very large role in Urutsk's conception, and these influences, I feel, are ones not only under-represented in gaming ([including the idea of retro-clones/simulacra of the FGU game , TMP, or T2k]), but under-exposed cultural gems of a bygone era --post-Reagan administration, Ministry's new-found voice of distrust/hatred of government, and Camper Van Beethoven's Key Lime Pie.


  1. Aftermath! is one of my all-time favorite post-apocalyptic RPGs. I love the detail, but more than that I love its adventures, particularly Operation Morpheus and Sydney. Rich stuff!

  2. Sincere condolences for your loss.

  3. I played in a demo game of Aftermath at DragonCon a few years ago with one of the game's authors. He had a one-page summary of the rule mechanics, which made comprehending the system much easier. Makes me wonder of Aftermath would have achieved its status as being complex-to-the-point-of-unplayability if the game had actually been, y'know, edited.

    A fan of both Killraven and Elementals? Oh hells yeah!

  4. Good post, thank you!

    Very, very sorry to hear about the feline; I know exactly what you mean. I lost my pair of fur balls at 18 and 20 years, respectively, over a decade ago and I still miss them despite *still* cleaning cat hair out of things. Let us know if there's anything we can do, eh?

  5. Sorry to hear about your grand kitty, TS. Though I played some other FGU games, I did not play Aftermath. Thanks for the low-down.

  6. Sorry to hear of the passing of your cat! I lost me feline companion just over a year ago, she was 19-1/2 years old. I still haven't made up my mine to get another one or two.

  7. @Yesmar: Agreed. Comparing them to the TMP's very detailed adventures, I felt that the Aftermath ones were more 'playable'.

    @Knightsky: One-page rules summary? Surely that was only for playing and not char-gen, or could it be true? :D I'd love to find that, regardless.

    @Rob L, Jeff, Rob K, Kagesh: It is an ache in my heart. I miss him so badly I want to scream, so instead I whimper and cry.

  8. Sorry to hear about your cat, Kyrinn.

    I haven't played any of those PA games or read the comics so its interesting to read how they've influenced Urutsk.

  9. Sean: Thanks.

    Yeah, if you dig Urutsk, and you get a chance to look at any of those (on the cheap), you have my hearty recommendation.

    Still working on Kelzsyn's Bluff stuff.
    --I hope to get it to you by mid-next week or so, possibly, likely-maybe. ;)

  10. My condolences... the relationships we have with our pets are so much less complicated. I know how much it can hurt - my heart goes out to you.

  11. @ze: Thanks, man. I really appreciate it.
    --The Mob Rules and other loud music is helping a bit.

  12. What terrible news about your cat... my condolences. It never gets easier to say goodbye, does it?

  13. Limpey: As far as I am concerned, he is better off than any of us, but I'm struggling with that and my selfish, material nature.
    --In that regard, it is difficult, although I have my particular sort of faith to aid me.

    Thanks for your condolences.
    --They are very much appreciated; all of you: thanks.

  14. If you go to the Aftermath page on wikipedia, there's a section called 'Aftermath 101', which seems to cover the basics of what was one the one page in question, although not in as much detail. It mainly covered skill rolls and other basic game mechanics, but touched on the scale of attributes and skills and such, as well. If I ever run across said page, I'll send you a copy.

  15. Adding my voice to the choir to offer you my condolences for your keetom. :(

  16. Aww, sorry to hear about your kitty, TS. We lost Henry, my wife's old cat last year. How the old man lasted as long as he did, I don't know. He was a fine fellow, but without any sense.
    Aftermath is one of those games I never did find a copy of, I remember Kilraven though. In a similar vein, Marvel restarted the Warlord a while ago, but I havn't read any of them.

  17. E. G. Palmer: Thanks. Yeah, they are pretty resiliant critters, oft times, especially those that are loved. It gives them a sense of purpose, I think.

    DC comics? Travis Morgan? Skartaris?
    ---Pretty darned cool, if you ask me.