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"Where do you get your ideas?"

That has to be the single most common question I get in email; most DMs probably get asked the same thing a lot if they have a good game.

This page is to answer that question, and to provide other DMs with ideas and tools they might find useful - for it is the never-ending job of the Dungeon Master to come up with new ideas.

Serious Steel

Before anything else, my primary inspiration for this campaign was Leslie Fish's song Serious Steel. You can read the lyrics here, and buy the CD (which has a bunch of other great music on it!) through the link on the bottom of the page.


When I was first designing the campaign, I found a great article on running post-apocalyptic games. I've tried to contact the author, but to no avail. I'm making it available for download since it is a great article, and I hope the author understands.

After The Apocalypse: They Said It Could Not Happen Here! ©1996 B. Vince Heuschkel


Books Movies Role-Playing Games
Computer Games Music Television

The Postman Forget the movie - the book is actually good.
The Logan's Run trilogy
William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson
Forget the movie here too - although a rumored remake sounds VERY interesting - and enjoy the series. Terrific cultures and lots of great adventure hooks for the creative DM.

The Fifth Millennium series
S.M. Stirling & Shirley Meier

OOP & hard to find, but worth the effort. How can you not love the Kommanzu, horse-warriors that worship Baiwun Thunderer, his hammer Ehmex, Zailo Unseen, and the rest of the gods of the Ztrateke a'Kommahn? Or a spell that turns your fingernails into razor-edged steel - permanently? Well-written stories, believable characters, exotic survivor-states, and a luck-cat named Ten-Knife-Foot, who's major occupations are eating, mating, and destroying anything that tries to keep him from what he wants. Sounds a bit like Olivia.....
Gossamer Axe
Gael Baudino

In the fourth century, two young women, lovers and bardic students, are imprisoned by an immortal elven bard for trying to learn elven music. Centuries later, one escapes with a sentient harp and vows to free her beloved, no matter what. Two hundred years later, in modern Denver, she finally finds the weapon she needs to battle for her lover's freedom: heavy metal rock music.

She forms a band, trains them for the battle to come, and blasts open the Gate to Elfland with Quiet Riot's Bang Your Head.

A brilliant novel, wonderfully written.

Lucifer's Hammer
Larry Niven
Civilization dies by comet.
Warday & Nature's End
Whitley Strieber
The end of the world through limited nuclear war (Warday) and through general ecological collapse (Nature's End). Of the two, Warday is the most pertinent to the campaign and is a great, if depressing, read.

Computer Games
Fallout 1&2, Fallout Tactics Terrific role-playing games and a decent squad-level combat game. Fallout got me interested in running a post-apocalyptic game in the first place. Grim, dark, full of adventure, noble deeds (or vile ones, depending on how you wanted to play it), black humor, and just the right dose of weirdness.
Wasteland Fallout's spiritual predecessor. One of the best CRPGs to hit the market, bar none. Snag it if you find a copy, and keep in mind the graphics are the best the mid-'80s had to offer.
Deus Ex Conspiracies, bizarre experiments, black projects - this game has it all. A truly great FPS melded seamlessly with an awesome RPG. Can't wait for the sequel....


The Mad Max trilogy
Pictures: 1

Required viewing for any post-apocalyptic campaign. The Landmaster may be the King of the Road, but nothing beats the Interceptor for overall cool!
Heavy Metal - Den & Taarna Terrific imagery, especially in Taarna. A wonderful combination of technology and magic
The Blood of Heroes A great model of one type of post-apocalyptic adventuring company, and a nice vision of a dystopian high-tech survivor state.
Damnation Alley
Pictures: 1, 2, 3 (700k!)
Features the king of all post-apocalyptic vehicles, the Landmaster. The Black Interceptor from Mad Max is a close second, but it has no weapons and isn't amphibious.
Steel Dawn Patrick Swayze as a lone wandering warrior in a desert wasteland. Good for ideas about wasteland resource conflicts and the rule of law.
The Warrior & the Sorceress OK, it's a cheese-fest and a remake of Yojimbo. But it's a cheese-fest that features David Carradine as a fallen holy warrior and some very nice fight scenes in another great wasteland resource conflict. The four-breasted dancing girl is a plus, too...
Red Dawn More Patrick Swayze. Guerilla Warfare 101 as high-school kids take on the Soviet Army in the Colorado Rockies.
The Stand Worth it for the sequence of the world falling apart into general chaos alone. Also a good dramatization of secondary kill and survivor behaviors.
Logan's Run So-so adaptation of the novels.
Escape From New York An all-time classic. Needs no introduction.
Big Trouble in Little China Guns, magic, demons, heroic battles, sassy dialog. A must for any cinematic campaign.
The 10th Kingdom The opening sequence is a gorgeous, if lighthearted, vision of the Change.
Knightriders Motorcycle jousting, honor, revenge, and the glory of a Dream.
Forbidden Planet The original Zaphod, and an object lesson in the dangers of wishes coming true. The hows, whys, and whats of the Change all come back to the Krell and how they destroyed themselves.
Six-String Samurai A sword-swinging Elvis impersonator in a post-apocalyptic Vegas.
Cherry 2000 Vegas is laid waste once again. Nice survivor settlements and high-tech enclaves. Cute love robot, too.
John Carpenter's Vampires High-tech vampire hunters tearing up the American southwest in the name of the Vatican.
The Crow A great love story, worth seeing for that alone. On the gaming side, Brandon Lee shows just how nasty someone with a protection from arrows spell on them (or a waster) can be.
Wizards An epic tale of the eternal conflict between the forces of technology and magic. Faery power versus Panzer blitz. Armies of demons and radioactive mutants. Gotta love it!
A Boy And His Dog More good survivor settlements and high-tech enclaves. Don Johnson's Vic is thoroughly unlikeable, but that's OK. His dog Blood is really the hero.
The Omega Man Charleton Heston against a world full of vampires
Unbreakable Hard to describe without giving away the ending, but a great portrait of a normal person discovering the very extraordinary. A more positive view of how some people could react to the Change.
She (the Sandahl Bergman version) Wacky post-apocalyptic cultures. Worth it for Zenon, a character who appears at the end, alone. Well, that and Sandahl's bath scene, and the overall bizarre sense of humor to the thing.
Tank Girl Killer mutant kangaroos, resource battles, great survivor settlements, and Malcolm McDowell chewing the scenery with reckless abandon.
Left Behind All the righteous people were just taken to Heaven and you are stuck on Earth as the world goes to Hell - for the next seven years, anyway...
The "Planet of the Apes" movies Who can forget the Tabernacle of the Almighty Bomb?

Genesis II
Picture: 1

Web link: http://home.att.net/~bfox/g2pe.html

The pilot for a Gene Roddenberry series that didn't make it. A cryogenics researcher named Dylan Hunt (they re-used the name in Andromeda) is awakened from cold sleep after a couple of centuries on ice. Some very cool cultures and technological toys. The PAXer dart is the inspiration for the campaign's LINDA pistol. My favorite toy, though, is the subshuttle.
Planet Earth Sequel to Genesis II, with a different lead actor. Dylan and the PAX team in the Women's Country. Pretty radical ideas for 1974 network television!


One of my main sources of inspiration has always been music. I try to start every game session with a theme song, and like all of the PCs to have a theme song of their own.

Campaign Theme Songs

Lucky - Bif Naked
Yesterday - The Beatles After the Gold Rush - Neil Young
American Pie - Don McLean Closing Time - Semisonic Transmission Ends - Chris DeBurgh
Put Your Lights On - Santana Eve of Destruction - Jesse Ventura  
Hammer to Fall - Queen The End of The World - REM  
Symphony no. 9 - Dvorak Stand or Fall - The Fixx  

Theme Songs For Specific Areas

Summon the Heroes - John Williams The New Kingdom of the Outlands
The Temple - Jesus Christ Superstar No other song captures the Overlord's Las Vegas as perfectly as The Temple: "Name your price/I've got everything/ Name your pleasure/ I will sell..."
Money - Pink Floyd The Ka Corporation
Journey to the Spirit World - Buddy Red Bow White Buffalo Calf Woman

Other songs by Leslie Fish (bless her survivalist, anarchist heart!) I consider to be inspirational for the game:

Firestorm Cities of the Sun Black Powder & Alcohol
The Day it Fell Apart The Digwell Carol Bring it Down
The Discards Rhododendron Honey  
Soundtracks for Atmosphere    
Hellraiser 1 & 2 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Conan the Barbarian
Streets of Fire Independence Day Red Dawn
Highlander Heavy Metal Desperado
Bram Stoker's Dracula Excalibur Pulp Fiction

Role-Playing Games
Aftermath! A terrific post-apocalyptic RPG. Character generation could take three hours, but it was worth it. Long OOP, snag it in an auction if you can. The Sydney University supplement alone has enough potential adventures in it to keep a game going for a few years...
The Morrow Project An Aftermath! contemporary. Much more active following. Grab anything you can find.
Gamma World One mutation from Column 'A', two mutations from Column 'B'...

Thundarr the Barbarian Enough cheese to fill a nacho plate the size of the Rose Bowl, but the magic/technology clashes and post-apocalyptic cultures are fertile ground for a good DM.

Ark II
Picture: 1

Do-gooders with a talking chimp saving the world from the forces of evil. The Ark II isn't as cool as the Landmaster, but it'll do. Extra coolness points for the jetpack.
Friday the 13th Nothing to do with the movies of the same name - an awesome series about a group of people recovering cursed antiques sold by a guy that got himself re-possessed. Nice magic/technology interaction.
X-Files & The Lone Gunman Needs no introduction.
Wild, Wild West The original series. A steampunk classic and a great source for wacky gizmos. Besides that, Megalito Loveless is a worthy example of a good, resourceful, epic villain. Study this deeply!
Dark Angel Again, needs no introduction.
The Tribe A series from New Zealand. A virus wipes out all the adults in the world and leaves the kids to fend for themselves. It's a soap opera for teenagers, but it has some great survivor cultures, a good plotline that is very character-driven, and decent acting. The only point where disbelief CANNOT be suspended? Where the Hell all these kids found an endless supply of makeup and hair mousse. Check out the official site at www.tribeworld.com.