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Tabletop Game / Damnation Decade

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Damnation Decade is a d20 Modern and True20 campaign setting published by Green Ronin. It's inspired by the dystopian speculative fiction of The '70s with a dash of conspiracy thrillers and alien stories.

Earth is having a hard time. With the cold war between Americo and the Bloc, people on both sides are living in fear of the other. Americo is in the midst of an economic recession thanks to the Consortium's oil embargo. Authoritarian president Stanton Morango Spobeck is facing a huge public relations disaster after his Monday Men were caught burgling the offices of a political opponent. He stonewalled as long as he could, hoping something would attract the public eye away from him, something like Ampersand Vole IV's work on a new energy source that would free the world from reliance on fossil fuels. Spobeck couldn't hold on forever and decided he would resign the presidency effective August 9, 1974.

That was the day Ampersand Vole tested his Omega Ray in the heart of the state of Alamo. Instead of demonstrating a new, viable source of alternative energy, the test blew up along with almost the entire state. The Omega Blast ripped around the world at the speed of light. Global temperatures rose, causing the polar icecaps to melt, turning most of Stanard into a marsh. An earthquake dropped the West Coast into the Elatic Ocean. A couple of artificial intelligences gained sentience. The lizard people woke up. Extraterrestrials detected the energy release and came to investigate. Tinpot dictator Fedo Malese turned the Consortium from an economic empire into a political one and is building up resources for an invasion of Aleph. And porn baron Humboldt Suede is running for president opposite a goober from Dixon and the incumbent Spobeck, who shouldn't be allowed to have a third term.

As you can imagine, the public are really not thrilled about the sudden massive changes to their world. People have turned to drugs and free love to escape the pollution and economic hardships that continue to crush the life out of them. It's July 3, 1976, and it's been a hell of a ride so far. You'll be part of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits dealing with this crazy new world, be they a team of dedicated investigators, a diverse team assembled by a patron, or just a bunch of folks trapped by circumstance and forced to survive together lest they die separately.


  • Abusive Precursors: The Nagathrite civilization lived lives of hedonistic excess off the back of ancient humanity's labors. Now one of their descendants is helping them return.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The Bloc's Purity Wall is described as a four-foot-thick iron wall mounted on tank tracks that demarcates its sphere of influence.
  • Aerith and Bob: Every real-world analogue character has a bizarre name, and they're really bizarre, like the authors were pulling random nouns from a hat to generate names (Ampersand Vole, Quantrill Biscuit). The most reasonable-sounding names include Stanton Spobeck's secretary Ethel Ambrose Pratt, host of Beyond the Barrier Herman Purvis, and musician Edmund Fitzgerald, famous for a song about the sinking of the ore freighter Gordon Lightfoot.
  • Alien Invasion: The Dervos are evaluating Earth as a potential Gank farm.
    • Alien Abduction: The stories you hear are true: aliens are abducting people and performing weird experiments on them. The Dervos are testing humanity for suitability as slaves.
    • Aliens Steal Cattle: The Dervos are stealing and mutilating cattle to see if they're as intelligent as some other species on Earth and suitable for enslavement.
    • Ancient Astronauts: The group called the Sons of Sirius believes that precursor aliens are returning to Earth, disappointed in humanity as a whole, and will save an elite few (coincidentally including the Sons) and leave the rest to die. Unfortunately, they believe the Dervos are those aliens and are almost impossible to convince otherwise.
    • Crop Circles: These are a side effect of the Dervos' methods of testing soil for Gank suitability.
    • Elvis Has Left the Planet: Mega-star rocker Nero Suet allegedly died an undignified death. The Dervos abducted him and the experience shocked him out of his drug haze; he fought back and wrested control of their spaceship, and now uses it to help those under attack by the Dervos.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Many fascist leaders escaped Faust at the close of the war and made it to Suramerico.
  • Artificial Human: The Glorious Reproduction Engine produces clones in one month from small amounts of genetic material. Each clone is conditioned to be fanatically loyal to Chairman Dao Hong.
  • Astrologer: One of Abednego Trestle's vocations. His sixteenth-century prophecies function as plot devices.
  • Atlantis: Nagathara.
  • Badass Preacher: The Fightin' Acolyte advanced class.
  • Beard of Evil: Humboldt Suede's running mate Zoltan Zerbe has a sinister goatee.
  • Beast Man: The Dervos are pig-men from outer space.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The Omega Blast awakened dormant sasquatch, who are beginning to encroach on human civilization (or push back against human civilization encroaching on them, depending on your point of view).
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Gogol Yubar and Dao Hong are undeniably evil people who torture and repress their own citizens while relentlessly annexing territory. Stanton Spobeck's crimes are orders of magnitude lesser, but he's still a terrible human being and, surprisingly, the best president Americo can have right now.
  • Blood Sport: Omegaball players generally have very short careers, yet the sport is so popular that it's made it onto the schedule for the 1976 Ekumen Games. The rulebook has rules for simulating Omegaball games.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Kaveat Vendor Alliance is an expy of the Symbionese Liberation Army right down to the industry leader's granddaughter-turned terrorist, Miranda "Tasha" Gort.
  • Brain in a Jar: The core of Naught is the brain of former top cop and psychic T. Nestor Obstat. He runs Americo's surveillance network and has access to the federal police's databases, allowing him to monitor nearly anyone anywhere.
  • Brown Note: The blisstol fires a pulse of high-frequency sound that incapacitates its target.
  • Car Fu: The Driver and Trucker advanced classes' weapon of choice is often whatever they're driving.
  • China Takes Over the World: In the wake of the Omega Blast, the Prosperity Sphere has annexed Daijong, Kontan, Hiko, and Mango. Pretty much all of southeast Sina is under Chairman Dao Hong's influence.
  • Clone Army: Dao Hong is cloning master martial artists to create one.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Stanton Spobeck has his Monday Men to harass and suppress his opponents and he's faking Americo's space program on sound stages because the real space program was lost in the Omega Blast. Fulton Gort's robot army is preparing to take over the world. Theramin Hunker is helping the Nagathrite civilization return to glory (which includes human slavery). Humboldt Suede is planning to destroy the world in his father's name. Human governments are suppressing knowledge of aliens from above and below. The Council of Nations is creating a One World Order through subliminal messages and flouridation of the water supply. All in all, you probably shouldn't trust anything you read in the papers or watch on the news.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Humboldt Suede is the worst kind: he's the son of the King of the Damned. The heads of the Consortium conspired to suppress alternate energy sources, including sending the suicide bomber who ruined the Omega Ray demonstration.
  • Crapsack World: The description says enough. The world is politically, economically, socially, and environmentally screwed and there is little the player characters can do to fix it.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Allowed as a character's starting occupation.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Kreelak civilization had elements of this. They are disappointed that it's all been lost during their hibernation.
  • Cult: A lot of them are popping up and a lot of them are nefarious.
    • Charlie Freak, a failed songwriter turned race-baiting death cult leader, escaped when the quake broke open his prison and made his way east, succumbing to the Brotherhood but retaining his charisma. He's returned to his roots, running a commune in the rural west and luring in victims with promises of cheap drugs and love.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's one of the bleakest settings designed for the d20 Modern line.
  • Dirty Communists: The Collectivist Powers are the Bloc and the Prosperity Sphere. Both are making huge grabs for land after the disasters of August 9.
  • Disastrous Demonstration: Ampersand Vole IV planned to demonstrate his Omega Ray on August 9, 1974. It was supposed to usher in a new energy source for human civilization, but thanks to the Consortium sending a suicide bomber (and possibly an incomplete understanding of the power source), the demonstration wrecked the whole world and turned an entire state into a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Divine Intervention: The ultimate power of the Fightin' Acolyte is the ability to call on the Old God for assistance. Generally, such assistance will take a subtle form, though a really good Charisma check can raise the dead or part the seas. The rules do state that outright smiting of enemies or solving problems for the heroes will never happen.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Man Last wants to push humanity off the top of the food chain and is planning to use an alien virus to kill us off.
  • Emergency Transformation: Fulton Gort wore himself out fighting his enemies, both real and imagined. On the verge of death, he had Kander Brötzmann copy his mind into a computer and installed in an android body.
  • The Emperor: Gogol Yubar and Dao Hong are the heads of state for their respective nations and are essentially Bond villains.
  • Expy: Escobar Savarin is one to Mr. Roarke.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Dervos are terminally addicted to a substance they call Gank. Their invasion of Earth is to evaluate it as a new farming ground.
    • A Dervo will literally die if they go more than a few hours without ingesting Gank. In humans, on the other hand, it induces comas you're lucky to wake up from. The addiction was engineered by the Greys to keep their slaves docile even after they were made sentient.
  • Fictional United Nations: The Council of Nations was organized after the second great war to mediate disputes and maintain order. It's secretly trying to undermine sovereign states and impose its own One World Order.
  • Five-Token Band: A piece of artwork shows a group of heroes in their Ass Kicking Pose: an Omegaballer, a Native American, a black disco dude with an afro, and a kung-fu Action Girl in Combat Stilettos, in front of a portrait shot of a square-jawed white male.
  • Flesh-Eating Zombie: Everyone within several hundred miles of the Omega Blast's ground zero were turned into flesh-hungry monsters, their minds virtually obliterated by the exotic radiation. The lucid ones call themselves the Brotherhood and want to spread their "gift" to the rest of the world.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: After the Omega Blast, animal attacks are on the rise. Scientists believe they are just a statistical blip, but survivors often report that the attacks have a cunning and malice that they normally don't have.
  • The Generalissimo: Fedo Malese is an expy of Muammar Gaddafi.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Although the Old God can help a Fightin' Acolyte in some ways, overt aid never occurs. An example given is that He won't drop a roof on a group of bloodthirsty mutants or a book into your lap open to the page with the right information on it.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The Trucker's final talent lets him call for backup once a week. Up to ten of his colleagues will come to his aid until the mission is done.
  • The Greys: They engineered the Dervos as a Servant Race. After they all vanished, the Dervos were unleashed on the galaxy and started conquering.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Humboldt Suede is the son of the King of the Damned and is using his porn empire to fund his presidential campaign. If he gets the office, he'll use his influence to push humanity into utter depravity before nuking them all to Hell (literally). His running mate, Zoltan Zerbe, is an expy of Anton Szandor LaVey.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: During his Leap Toward Tomorrow program, Dao Hong would force enemies of the state to eat the bodies of their murdered friends and relatives as a sign of submission. Dao has brought back the practice on an industrial scale: he has dead bodies sent to be processed into Green Abundance, which he distributes to the starving civilian population of the Sphere.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: The Bloc has an AI called Nyet managing its national defenses. The Omega Blast pushed it to sapience. It decided it was the perfect consciousness the Bloc idealized and intends to take over the world.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The Investigative occupation.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Damnation Decade is where everything and everyone has a weirdly-named parallel.
  • Jesus Taboo: The writers state that they weren't taking a stance on religion, so the book refers to "the Old God" in the same context as the Biblical God.
  • Jive Turkey: Jive and trucker are treated as separate languages to learn.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Dervos' amnesiator device erases memories of captivity. A psychic can help recover the memories, but they're otherwise scrambled and nearly impossible to recover.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: The Trucker advanced class gains one with the "Good Buddy" talent.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: The Kreelak elders' endgame is to use their kiosks to reach backward in time to the height of their civilization and warn their past selves against the rise of humanity. If they succeed, the human race will have never existed.
  • Masquerade: Thanks to government disinformation and outright apathy on the part of civilians, most of the setting's weirdness goes unreported. Only a select few have the drive to uncover the truth from layers of falsehood and ignorance.
  • The Men in Black: The Monday Men fit the concept, though their field agents wear cream disco suits instead of black business suits.
  • Mysterious Employer: Suggested as one way to assemble the player characters, a la Charlie.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: The Consortium was originally an organization of petroleum-exporting countries. They have a stranglehold on most of the world's oil reserves and caused an energy crisis in Americo when they embargoed the country over its support of Aleph.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: If they were notable figures of the mid-1970s, odds are they appear in Damnation Decade under an outrageous name and with an equally outrageous twist on their role in history.
  • No One Could Survive That!: The Driver advanced class's "Everybody Walks Away" talent invokes this by reducing collision and crash damage to half (one-quarter with a successful Reflex save).
  • Not Just a Tournament: Chairman Dao runs a private martial arts tournament on a volcanic island off Hiko. Many of the competitors are kidnapped to fight in it. He takes the winners and puts them through the Glorious Reproduction Engine, building an army of cloned master martial artists to use against the Bloc and Americo. So far, his ultimate prize, "Funky" Billy Chin, has managed to repeatedly evade this fate.
  • The Plague: Man Last has acquired an alien virus that they want to use to wipe out humanity; at present, they are working on making a vaccine that will protect them before they unleash it on the world.
  • Porn Stache: The Motor City V-8's captain, Medlow "Mudbug" Sunkitt, is described as "elaborately mustachioed."
  • Psychic Powers: A single advanced class, the Psychic, has access to powers.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Who will believe you if you tell them a bunch of disco guys with ray guns saved you from an attack by anthropomorphic pigs and swore you to absolute secrecy about what just happened? That's why the Monday Men wear silly disco suits.
  • Religion is Magic: Progression in the Fightin' Acolyte advanced class grants supernatural powers: a variant of Smite Evil (Charisma bonus to attack rolls and class level to attack and damage nonhuman opponents), Supernatural Sensitivity, and Divine Intervention. The other class features represent the Fightin' Acolyte's force of personality (including resistance to Demonic Possession).
  • Replacement Goldfish: Kander Brötzmann created a gynoid duplicate of Fulton Gort's granddaughter Miranda when she died of a sudden brain aneurysm. Brötzmann is the only person who knows that she's a robot.
  • Robot Master: Fulton Gort parleyed his mechanical engineering expertise and automotive empire into a secret side business building androids to help him take over the world and kill all humans.
  • Robotic Psychopath: After the Omega Blast knocked him offline, the android Fulton Gort awoke with his own goal: the eradication of humanity, to be replaced by a civilization of androids entirely subservient to his will.
  • Rogue Drone: One of the adventure hooks concerns a Fulton android developing its own personality and escaping to do its own thing. What its own thing is is ultimately up to the GM.
  • Secret Police: Gogol Yubar maintains control over the Bloc with the brutal Zassat. Chairman Dao maintains the Clear Thought Brigades for the same purpose in the Sphere.
  • Sherlock Scan: The "Sizing Up" talent allows an Executive to learn details about a person or their relationships by simply observing them for a while and making a Sense Motive check.
  • Shout-Out: An awful lot to films of The '70s and earlier. To give some examples:
  • Suicide Attack: A Consortium suicide bomber attacked Vole's Omega demonstration, causing the accident that triggered the Omega Blast and wrecked the world.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: The Fightin' Acolyte gains the ability to sense paranormal creatures and sacred items within sixty feet.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The Militant advanced class fights for... something. Maybe it's for freedom, maybe it's for himself.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The remnants of Faust's fascist government are in hiding in Suramerico or Swelt or working for the governments of the Bloc and Americo. Kander Brötzmann, a psychologist for the regime of Faust's dictator Wotan Heide, uploaded Fulton Gort's mind into a computer. Others plan to do something similar and transplant the preserved brains of the fascist high command into android bodies and put a robot army at their disposal. Another faction is pulling a The Boys from Brazil and trying to replicate Heide's childhood to nurture a new fascist leader.
  • To Serve Man: Part of the Dervos' plan for Earth is to turn humanity into slave labor and cattle.
  • The Virus: The Brotherhood can pass their zombie status to others by scratching or biting them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Omega Blast mutated everyone within several hundred miles around ground zero into insane, rotting cannibals. President Spobeck has mobilized National Guard and even Army units to maintain a cordon around the zone.