#RPGaDAY 11: Lowlife – Rise of the Lowly

There’s weird, and then there’s weird. I have several RPGs that do some variation on “all the wacky things are true!”: Over the Edge, Pandemonium!, and InSpectres. And then there are the various “let’s mash these seven genres together” games like Feng Shui, Torg, and Providence.

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Providence deserves special attention, because rather than providing different areas for all its elements, it just layers them all together: a world of winged people, where various types of wings and degrees of wingedness are the basis for a rigid caste system in a pre-modern society with lots of unexplored deadly wilderness surrounding it. And there is magic of a wizardly sort that some characters use. So far, basically standard fantasy, but with bird- and bat-people. But then we add in a significant mystical martial art system and a whole chunk of society about this—its wuxia! Oh, and there is a major thread about the oppressed wingless people fomenting revolution—it’s got punk elements (“wingpunk”?).

On top of all this, it’s a supers game—in fact, that was how it was originally sold, almost completely eliding all of the other elements except the wings. So, by default, all of your characters are supers. Not everyone in the world, of course—while magic and mysticism are widespread “normal” things, superpowers are unusual and exceptional (i.e., the usual for the supers genre).

And on top of all that, its set inside a hollow world, and the very world itself is self-destructing. And there’s nowhere to go, but the people originally came here via magical portal to escape their old world which was being devoured by monsters, so maybe they can rediscover how to open a portal to another world. In any case, its the same threat from their old world that has caught up with them. So it’s apocalyptic with a touch of Cthulhu and a dash of world-hopping.

Despite all this, Providence actually holds together pretty well. It doesn’t feel so much like a mishmash as like a very complex and layered setting. It’s certainly unique. And the superpower rules are pretty good—I’d use them for a regular supers game.

But for just plain weird, I’m going to give the runner-up status to two games that play with the notion of what it means to be a person. Khaotic is about a group sent ahead to survey/pacify a planet, except the transmat process results in all the PCs being stuck sharing a single body, so you have to work together and/or take turns controlling the body. Zero is the story of people who have always been part of a collective consciousness, but find themselves individuals one day, for no known reason. So you need to figure out what has happened, and either rejoin the collective or learn how to live as individuals.

But I think the weirdest game I have is Lowlife, Andy Hopp’s bizarre flight of fancy. It is a postapocalyptic fantasy unlike any other you have likely seen. Humanity is gone, and our dregs have inherited the earth. The new rulers of the land are the evolved sentient(-ish) descendants of our detritus: sentient twinkles, cockroaches, and industrial goo.

Floom Auricrap Works, by Andy Hopp, found at Mutha Oith Creations

Floom Auricrap Works, by Andy Hopp, found at Mutha Oith Creations

Here’s an example; go to his webpage (above) for much more Lowlife and his other awesome work.


2 comments on “#RPGaDAY 11: Lowlife – Rise of the Lowly

  1. i’d love to hear your thought on Retro Star!

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