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Tabletop Game / The End of the World

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The End Of The World is a series of Tabletop RPGs by Fantasy Flight Games, based around the many ways that the world could end. Based on El Fin del Mundo, an RPG line originally created by Álvaro Loman and José M. Rey for Edge Studios, it was adapted for American audiences between 2014 and 2016.

A notable element of the series is that the player characters and the environment they live in are, respectively, the players and the area of the world they're currently in. NPCs can be people the PCs know, supplies are scavenged from houses stores in the local area, and the apocalypse can potentially start at the gaming table. Each book contains five Scenarios, with both an Apocalypse entry and (if the PCs survive for long enough) a Post-Apocalypse entry, which deals with the world some years after the previous apocalypse.

The four books in the series and the scenarios they contain:

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     Zombie Apocalypse 
  • Night of the Meteor: A meteor carrying strange alien radiation breaks up in the atmosphere, invisibly contaminating every living thing. Anyone and anything that dies or is already dead — human or animal — reanimates and hungers for living flesh.
    • Post-Apocalypse: a powerful Mega-Corp company called E.D.E.N. finds a cure for the reanimation, and subsequently takes over the world with the money and influence they gain in the chaos.
  • No Room in Hell: All dead humans rise for seemingly no logical reason, and getting bit by them results in zombification.
    • Post-Apocalypse: Cities and government are in ruins, and the last refuges of humanity are either small collectives of survivors or the growing cult of Walton Greggs, which offers food and safety in exchange for devotion.
  • Pandemic: A rabies-like virus spreads rapidly, causing infected people to go into a blind, homicidal rage against everyone they see.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The infected slowly dwindle in number, but the sheer damage has reduced much of the population to a scattering of small settlements and violent gangs — some of which have resorted to cannibalism.
  • It Ends With a Whisper: Voodoo priests across the globe conspire to destroy modern civilization through possession of the living and reanimation of the dead.
    • Post-Apocalypse: Modern society has collapsed, and people now either live a simple existence under the guide of the Voodoo priests or under the careful eye of the few military camps that exist.
  • Under the Skin: A slimy black parasite is discovered deep beneath the earth and begins infecting living things, taking over their minds while eating them from the inside out. The parasite soon controls the whole body, even moving dismembered limbs.
    • Post-Apocalypse: What remains of the human race survives in cramped underground shelters, while the United Nations nukes the surface in a desperate attempt to fully eradicate the parasite.

     Wrath of the Gods 
  • Gaea's Revenge: Mother Nature decides that humanity has grown too powerful and greedy, and unleashes natural disasters, animal attacks, and even rapid-growing plants to knock the human race down several pegs.
    • Post Apocalypse: All modern technology and construction is destroyed, and what's left of the human race lives a simple, more "natural" life: farming communities, scavenging ruins, or raiding each other.
  • The Return of Quetzalcoatl: Quetzalcoatl rises from a meteor strike, pyramids appear around the world, and Mayan warriors with supernatural powers arrive to defend their temples and sacrifice "worthy opponents". Beams of light come out of the temples, and millions are compelled to enter the light, though they are never seen again once they do. In spite of this, the natural disasters do level off and stop altogether as more and more people depart into the light.
    • Post-Apocalypse: After much of the population has "entered the light" and Quetzalcoatl slumbers in one of his temples, a wealthy businessman named Bergstrom claims to be a prophet of Quetzalcoatl, and uses his wealth and charisma to build a powerful cult called "Neo-Mayanism". Over time his cult becomes powerful enough to take on what's left of the world governments, and a world war ensues.
  • Ragnarök: After the sun and moon are devoured by wolves, the Earth is plunged into eternal winter night. Soon after, the Norse Gods arrive to do battle with one another, along with giants, trolls, draugr, and other monsters — all while humanity is caught in the crossfire.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The Nine Realms have united, the living and the dead live amongst each other, and magic fills the air. However, the battle is far from over — many gods have died, and monsters still threaten humanity.
  • Revelation: The End of Days cometh: blood rains, locust swarms, demon armies, and the Four Horsemen arrive to wreak havoc on the Earth. Humanity's faith is tested, and the armies of Heaven and Hell prepare for battle.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The Great Deceiver, called the Beast, appears in the guise of a human to lead humanity astray, gaining a powerful following while denouncing the Creator. From there, angels, demons, and humanity's forces take sides and fight in the final Battle of Armageddon.
  • That is not Dead...: The stars have aligned, and dread Cthulhu arises, along with other unspeakable horrors. Mad cultists come out of hiding to sacrifice people to their dark god, and the Great Old One begins his unstoppable rampage on the earth.
    • Post-Apocalypse: After an unsuccessful nuclear bombardment, Cthulhu departs to the stars. But the Star Spawn and Deep Ones remain, capturing, enslaving and torturing what's left of humanity with little provocation.

     Alien Invasion 
  • War Between Worlds: Martians invade earth with flying saucers and death rays, gleefully attacking and destroying cities for seemingly no purpose.
    • Post-Apocalypse: A peace treaty is made between Earth and the Greys, though Mars gets the better deal. To make matters worse, an ancient enemy of the Greys known as "The Reds" attack Earth, and they are far deadlier and more sadistic than the Greys.
  • The Brotherhood of Babylon: A race of lizard-like aliens known as the Anunnaki ruled humanity as gods thousands of years ago, creating half-human Reptilians before departing to the stars. Since then, the Reptilians have infiltrated Earth's governments, preparing for the next arrival of their progenitors.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The Anunnaki conquer the earth and enslave most of humanity, forcing them to mine for gold and other laborious tasks. Meanwhile, a few human rebels along with Reptilian defectors plan on overthrowing them.
  • Atlantis Rising: A race of aquatic aliens, the Atlanteans, rise up from their hidden underwater cities to attack humanity in response to increased pollution.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The Atlanteans melt the ice caps and flood much of the earth, leaving humanity clinging to what's left of dry land or living on large ships and flotillas.
  • Skitter: Several meteor strikes bring forth a race of horse-sized alien ants known as Myrmidons. They quickly overrun the populace, cutting down forests, tunneling beneath cities, and capturing humans for food in their mountain-sized mounds.
    • Post-Apocalypse: Entire nations have been destroyed or cut off by the Myrmidon invasion, and little remains of government and infrastructure. Scientists have been able to synthesize Myrmidon pheromones to control them somewhat, though it's only a temporary solution.
  • Visages: Alien spores from deep space invade earth, infesting the population and growing hive-minded duplicates in pods to kill off and replace the originals. These "Visages" work together to infiltrate society and government, toppling it from within.
    • Post-Apocalypse: Much of humanity has been replaced by Visages, who cultivate massive fungus-like growths that cover whole cities and farmland, spreading more spores. What's left of humanity either resides in carefully controlled, paranoia-filled strongholds or out on the oceans (the Visages abhor saltwater).

     Revolt of the Machines 
  • The Modular Menace: New domestic robots called Modulons become super-popular, appearing in nearly every home and business, tending to their human masters. But a new software upgrade results in them banning together in a singular overmind, turning against us.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The Modulons have taken over the world, replacing whole cities with ones of their own, more efficient designs. What's left of humanity are slave workers — disease, war, and starvation are eliminated, though freedom, privacy, and fun are as well.
  • Logical Conclusions: The US Government converts agents into highly-advanced, obedient cyborgs to help protect American interests. They quickly assume a new goal of "national security", I.E. converting people they consider "model citizens" into cyborgs (though their criteria is seemingly nonsensical) and killing anyone who stands in their way. The giant battle robots built as their "competitors" aren't helping matters much either.
    • Post-Apocalypse: After taking over much of the world's governments and nuking large swaths of the Earth, the cyborgs take whats left of humanity and either convert them into cyborgs, or hook them up to a Mind Prison where they live in dream-like simulations of an ideal 1950's America (supposedly to reform them into good citizens). Resistance groups have joined with the battle robots to combat the cyborgs, though their efforts are minimal.
  • Death from Above: A new military AI program called HELIOS goes rogue, taking control of drones and other military hardware. It launches coordinated attacks across the globe to convince humanity to accept its leadership or face total devestation.
    • Post-Apocalypse: After several nuclear attacks, the world surrenders to HELIOS. To supress humanity's self-destructive tendencies, HELIOS eliminates religion, nationalism, currency, corporate brands, and any other potentially dangerous ideology. It also tends to everyone's basic needs and punishes dissenters.
  • Heavy Metal: A comet carrying strange alien radiation shoots across the sky, causing all technology- cars, phones, toys, toasters- to gain a malevolent sentience and attempt to kill all humans by any means necessary.
    • Post-Apocalypse: All the rogue technology has left civilization in shambles, and the few remaining humans left live in isolated communities with no electronics whatsoever. Rogue machines are still a threat, but the lack of agricultural and medical infrastructure is even greater.
  • Nanopocalypse: A swarm of carbon-consuming nanobots break out of a lab, consuming all carbon-based material in their path: cars, plants, plastics, and even people.
    • Post-Apocalypse: The nanobot swarm has consumed nearly everything except the North and South Poles, where the freezing cold keeps it at bay. Nearly all life on Earth has been converted into more nanobots, and earthquakes become more common as the swarm digs deep underground for more carbon. Humanity lives — for now — in isolated settlements in the Arctic and Antarctic circles, with dwindling supplies and little hope.

Tropes the series as a whole contain:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: How most of the "Revolt of the Machines" settings kick off, a new AI going rogue for one reason or another, from an unexpected side effect of a software upgrade, to interacting with the human brain in unexpectedly malevolent ways, to just deciding humans are too big of a threat to their own existence and it can do better.
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  • Apocalypse How: Depending on what scenario you're choosing, it can range from a Class 1 (society is disrupted and changed, but still functional to some degree, even if it's under the rule of aliens or robots) to a Class 5 or 6 (most if not all life on Earth is dead or has little chance of recovery). The scenarios listed in the books tend to be listed in order from least to worst ending.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Giant monsters appear in almost all the books in one form or another:
    • Zombie Apocalypse has giant blobs of parasites in Beneath The Skin, big enough to flip over trucks and capable of burrowing underground and splitting into smaller forms.
    • Wrath of the Gods has several — Quetzalcoatl the giant flying serpent, Fire and Frost Giants, and of course Cthulhu itself, who is bigger than a mountain.
    • Alien Invasion has the giant ants in Skitter.
    • Rise of the Machines has the "Modulords" (a horde of Modulons who physically link together to form a giant humanoid robot) in The Modular Menace, who wreck buildings and fight each other for dominance, growing bigger with each victory by "absorbing" the loser's Modulons. The Gray Goop from Nanopocolypse counts too, as it eventually grows so huge it consumes almost all the earth's surface.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Both Heavy Metal and The Modular Menace involve domestic machines turning against their creators, although the Modulons are a completely fictional device (a domestic robot).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Possible in some of the post-apocalypse scenarios, especially (with the exception of Strange Aeons) in the Wrath of the Gods scenarios.
    • The Ragnarok scenario stands out most of all, because, if the PCs survive, it is all but explicitly stated that the world is better off than it was pre-apocalypse, although many people are dead and there is great devastation.
  • Color Motif: Each of the four books is tinted a specific colour.
    • Zombie Apocalypse is rendered all in shades of red, for obvious reasons.
    • Wrath Of The Gods is tinted yellow and gold, indicating the superior nature of the threat.
    • Alien Invasion is appropriately green, given that it actually features an invasion of Little Green Men.
    • Revolt Of The Machines is blue, reflecting both the cold, clinical nature of the enemy and likely the endings to the scenario (bleak even by this game's standards).
  • Crapsack World: How the world ends up in pretty much every Post-Apocalypse chapter.
  • Crisis Point Hospital: "Logical Conclusions" features hospitals being overwhelmed with casualties from the battles between cyborgs and Gladius combat robots, especially once the cyborgs escalate to waging war on humanity. By the end of this scenario, staff are pushed to the limits. As such, the "Emergency Room" is a rich possible source of encounters and events - the most worrying of which involves the cyborgs attempting to use the hospital as a potential source of new recruits.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: How "Logical Conclusions" happens. The government creates cyborg super-agents, but the cybernetics turn them into something wholly alien and extremely malicious toward anything that isn't a fellow cyborg.
  • Downer Ending: Everyone can, and probably will die. Those who manage to avoid death will have to live in what remains of the world. And sometimes the post-apocalypse is ''worse'' than the apocalypse. In nearly all the books, the final scenario is often the worst one:
    • Even in a game setting that runs on this sort of thing, the scenario "Nanopocalypse" (the final scenario in the final book, Revolt of the Machines) is crushing in the despair it conveys. In this apocalypse, nanobots have overrun the world and consumed every atom of carbon in everything on the planet's surface, organic and inorganic alike (one of the passages talks about the people aboard the International Space Station watching every trace of green and every city light on Earth disappear from orbit), leaving only dust behind. In the post-apocalyptic world, the safest place for humanity to be is Antarctica (the nanobots can't survive in extremely cold temperatures). A harsh life, but at least humanity survives, right? Not for long. It's implied that the only food supplies left on Earth are the ones left in those arctic bases, which aren't enough to feed all of the arctic refugees for very long. And there's no means of resupply from the outside, no means of growing food locally (the environment is too harsh), and no way to grow food anywhere else in the world because the very soil has been stripped of carbon (as the book puts it, "The surface is not only devoid of life, but lacks the necessary foundations for life to ever again take hold."). In this post-apocalyptic world, humankind isn't just in for a rough ride like it is in most other scenarios - it's dead and just doesn't realize it yet.
    • The final scenario of Zombie Apocalypse, "Under The Skin", is not much better. A nigh-invulnerable parasite has begun to infect people all across the world, the symptoms of which don't show until days later, allowing it to spread unchecked. The apocalypse section ends with approximately 60% of the uninfected population of the world hiding in underground bunkers while the governments of the world initiate a "scorched earth" policy via nuclear bombings. Humanity is forced to live underground in the post-apocalypse, with much of the surface world left a charred, radioactive wasteland teeming with mutant animals, and there's no guarantee that the parasite is completely eradicated. But at least there is some hope that the human race may survive, if they don't kill each other first.
    • Wrath of the Gods has Cthulhu rising from the deep and slowly marching along the continental US, destroying everything in its path. It shrugs off all damage, instantly regenerating after every attack. Only a barrage of nuclear warheads manages to vaporise Cthulhu completely, and even then it only takes slightly longer to regenerate before finally taking off into deep space, leaving a trail of destruction and a radioactive crater behind. Afterwards, the Deep Ones and Star Spawn take over, and humanity is forced to live the rest of its days being enslaved, tormented, and experimented on by these monsters. Even the cultists who helped them are not spared.
    • The final scenario in Alien Invasion offers a small shred of hope: though the Visages have replaced nearly everyone and have turned all farms and cities into giant spore-making factories, the book points out that Visages only have a lifespan of about 20 years, after which they shrivel up and crumble to dust. So as long as what little remains of humanity doesn't die off or kill each other, there's at least a small chance of reclaiming the Earth..
  • Dreamville: In the post-apocalyptic half of "Logical Conclusions," "deserving" American citizens are kept in communal pods by the cyborgs and allowed to inhabit a VR scenario taking place in a Norman Rockwell-esque vision of 1950s America.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: A unique mechanic in the "Ragnarok" setting is a PC embracing their doom, which gives them max stats and basically makes them unstoppable until the end of the current encounter...but it's a Heroic Sacrifice as they suffer some kind of epic death at the end of it.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: It's in the title.
  • The Everyman: PCs aren't heroes trying to prevent the end of the world like they would be in most any other game, they're regular people just trying to survive it.
  • Everyone Dies: Most likely how a game will end.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Visages from Alien Invasion don't replicate animals, especially dogs, as animals can sense them.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail:
    • In Zombie Apocalypse, the scenario "Under The Skin" features an ancient Puppeteer Parasite being accidentally unearthed by miners and infesting millions of people worldwide, forcing governments to hastily build underground shelters, evacuate as many uninfested people as they can, and then nuke the surface in an attempt to destroy the parasite. As the post-apocalypse segment of this scenario makes clear, life in one of the shelters is anything but pleasant, and it's possible for a shelter to fall in certain plot events: in one case, the screening process on new arrivals fails, letting in a parasite-infested scientist; in another, characters are tasked with digging a new tunnel to expand the shelter - only to accidentally uncover another dormant parasite.
    • In the epilogue of the Revolt of the Machines scenario "Nanopocalypse", the survivors of a Grey Goo situation flee to Antarctica, where the cold disables any pursuing nanites. Here, Antarctic research stations become the shelters of choice... but it soon becomes clear that there isn't enough food to go around in storage, and once the hunters run out of game, wars between other stations and even cannibalism become common. Worse still, it's clear that with the rest of the world stripped bare by the nanites, this is one case of this trope that's going to end with the human race extinct.
  • Foregone Conclusion: There's nothing that can be done to halt whatever enemy's the focus of the scenario. There's a small chance the survivors might be able to pick up the pieces and start over in the new world of the aftermath.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Literally one of the scenarios in Wrath of the Gods.
  • Genre Blindness: Subverted in Zombie Apocalypse— in most scenarios, the book notes that both players and NPCs have mostly likely seen their share of zombie movies, and know how to deal with them. It doesn't stop the zombies from taking over, of course.
  • Government Conspiracy: Implied in Under the Skin, where it is heavily suggested the U.N. not only could've developed a cure for the parasite if they'd put as much effort into it as they put into building the shelters and eradicating all life on the surface, but that they knew about the parasite's existence beforehand and even deliberately released it.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: The It Ends With A Whisper chapter has a brief note at the beginning stating that the "voodoo" magic shown in this scenario is based entirely on this trope, and not any of the real-life Afro-American religious beliefs.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Or rather, a horde of alien ants.
  • Homage: pretty much every scenario in the books is based on another piece of apocalyptic fiction, some more blatant than others:
  • Invincible Boogeymen:
    • Cthulhu of "Wrath Of The Gods." As with his original counterpart, nothing can stop him; as you're playing a lone everyman caught up in the apocalypse, you don't have access to the kind of weapons that can even mildly inconvenience the chief of the Great Old Ones, so all you can do is run like hell and avoid looking at him.
    • The nanites of "Revolt Of The Machines." Most of the time, they're too small to be seen until they start eating something - or someone - leaving you effectively helpless; when a nanoswarm gathers in large enough numbers to be seen by the naked eye, nothing in your arsenal can hurt them. All you can do is put an ocean between you and the infestation, and that won't work for long.
  • Killer Rabbit: Gaia's Revenge can have literal killer rabbits, and one of the examples of enemies featuring in the chapter is a cute little beagle puppy... chewing on a severed human arm.
  • Little Green Men: One of the scenarios in Alien Invasion has them as the antagonists.
  • Magic Meteor: Every book in the series has at least one scenario involving a meteor or comet that kicks off the plot, either carrying cosmic invaders (Return of Quetzalcoatl, Skitter/Visages) or bathing the planet in weird radiation (Night of the Meteor, Heavy Metal).
  • Mistaken for Disease:
    • In "Night Of The Comet", the first zombies to rise as a result of the freak radiation are animals, resulting in an epidemic of animal attacks that are initially blamed on rabies.
    • In "Under The Skin," five days after the initial release of the parasite, doctors are left baffled by a plague of what appears to be necrosis and cannibalism... up until they finally discover the parasite infesting one of their patients.
    • When nature turns on humanity in "Gaea's Revenge", baffled experts initially believe the animal attacks to be the result of a mutant strain of rabies... up until plants begin growing out of control and earthquakes start leveling human cities en mass.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: In "Under The Skin," the menace of the story is an ancient Puppeteer Parasite unearthed by a mining operation. It takes the form of a tarry black fungal gunk infesting any living thing it touches, gradually reducing its victims to decomposing zombies. This is bad enough, but if allowed to clump together after their host bodies break down, the parasite can form a giant Blob Monster of Kaiju proportions. The stuff is so dangerous that the governments of the world opt to move their people into underground bunkers and nuke the surface to a crisp rather than let the parasite roam free.
  • Polar Madness: In the post-apocalyptic phase of Nanopocalypse, it's discovered that the nanites can't tolerate extreme cold, forcing the survivors to flee for Antarctica... but given that the polar research bases weren't meant to accommodate more than a few people at a time, supplies quickly run short, resulting in violence, cannibalism, mounting despair, and insanity - especially once it becomes apparent that the nanites have stripped the rest of the world bare of all resources, including the ones needed for life to take hold again, meaning that the world is essentially dead and the remainders of the human race are condemned to slowly starve to death.
  • Polluted Wasteland:
    • The Earth ends up this way in Under The Skin, after the U.N. carpet-bombs the surface with nukes in a desperate attempt to finally kill off the zombie parasite. The surface is now all but uninhabitable and radioactive, though it does hint that some (mutated) life exists aboveground.
    • In the Post-Apocalypse chapter of The Modular Menace, the Modulons have taken over the world and built enormous "cubes", where they and the remainder of humanity live and work. The rest of the world outside the cubes is almost all polluted wasteland, as the Modulons see environmentalism as an inefficient waste of time.
    • Nanopocalypse ends up this way as well, to an extent. Anything that isn't carbon or carbon-based is left a brittle silicate husk that quickly crumbles, turning every bit of land between the poles into either a lifeless desert of sand or a churning sea of gray goop.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: The Mayans actually did predict the end of the world in 2012... but they got the math wrong by a few years, so when the world starts being wracked with natural disasters seemingly out of nowhere, necessitating Quetzelcoatl's return, that's what's actually happening.
  • Reptilian Conspiracy: The scenario "The Brotherhood of Babylon" in Alien Invasion has an Ancient Conspiracy, masterminded by the Anunnaki and carried out by Reptilian Half-Human Hybrids.
  • Robot War: The fourth book in the series focuses on this, though Logical Conclusions and Death From Above are more "war" themed than the others.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The main reason the armies of the world get wiped out while doing no damage in the "Ragnarok" scenario is the invaders come from a place and time where valor and skill at arms were how wars were fought. Automatic, computer-controlled weapons that remove the need for such things are mystically ordained to fail against the mythological hordes. What this boils down to is that a PC wielding an improvised weapon and with nothing to lose stands to do a lot more damage to a frost giant or troll than a laser-guided missile.
  • Self-Insert Fic: The rules officially encourage you to use yourself as a Player Character on the scenarios. Among the game's few comical moments is mentioning in some of the scenarios having the apocalypse interrupting their gaming session, or its onset going unnoticed if they're too into it.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The first book focuses on several different ways this could happen, from damned souls emerging from Hell to a rabies-like virus sweeping through humanity.