10 Best Powered By The Apocalypse TTRPGs

A collage of Powered by the Apocalypse games with the Powered by the Apocalypse logo

The Apocalypse World tabletop roleplaying game was published in 2010. It won multiple awards, received critical acclaim, and achieved success within the TTRPG community. Its streamlined mechanical system inspired many aspiring game developers and creators to adapt it for use with other settings and stories.

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Since then, games that use Apocalypse World‘s system or systems modeled after it are referred to as Powered by the Apocalypse. These systems rely on Moves specific to each character class. Rather than using 20-sided dice like many TTRPGs, Powered by the Apocalypse games use two six-sided dice to determine the outcome of players’ actions.

10 Dungeon World Offers A Comfortable Transition

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Moving to a Powered by the Apocalypse game can be difficult for players who have spent a long time with a specific system, such as Dungeons & Dragons. Players struggling with that transition may find comfortable familiarity in Dungeon World.

Built as a Powered by the Apocalypse alternative for D&D, Dungeon Worldis set in the same genre with many similar details, such as the characters’ base stats. Gamers who aren’t used to Apocalypse-style mechanics can ease into the system through these similarities to the games they’ve grown used to.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Art from the cover of Monster of the Week, a monster with tentacles is controlled by a little girl spirit and captures a hero.

Monster of the Week draws its original inspiration from contemporary American urban fantasy stories and the trope of the same name. Despite this, however, the game is adaptable to a variety of eras and locations.

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Each character class in Monster of the Week is based on an archetype from popular monster-fighting media, such as the Chosen, the Initiate, and the Expert. They all have unique Moves specific to their archetypes and skill sets with creative, sometimes humorous titles like “I’m Here For A Reason” and “It Wasn’t As Bad As It Looked.”

8 Monsterhearts 2 Captures The Supernatural Adolescent Experience

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Monsterhearts cover several teenage werewolves and vampires

Using monsters and magic to enhance coming-of-age stories has become a common trope over the years. Monsterhearts 2 allows gamers to play out that exact idea to their own specifications. In this Powered by the Apocalypse title, the character types determine which magical entity they are, including a mundane human option.

Although these classes include classics like the Vampire, the Werewolf, and the Witch, they also have more obscure choices like the Fae, the Hollow, and the Infernal. Monsterhearts focuses players’ attention on the visceral honesty of tales like these rather than centering the numbers.

7 Masks: A New Generation Builds A World Of Young Heroes

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The cast of a superhero team in Masks, a Powered by the Apocalypse RPG

Teenage superheroes spend every day attempting to find a way to balance their heroic exploits and their mundane obligations. Masks: A New Generation puts gamers in the shoes of these youthful vigilantes as they work to keep all the disparate aspects of their lives together.

Masks comes equipped with a fully fleshed out setting, Halcyon City, but also includes tools to assist and encourage gamers in creating homebrew content. Besides the base gamebook, Masks offers several books of additional content to expand its world.

6 Thirsty Sword Lesbians Focuses On Stories Of The Heart

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Thirsty Sword Lesbians character art from the sourcebook

Thirsty Sword Lesbians takes the concept of flirtatious sword-fighting banter to its natural and delightful conclusion. This title is built for extraordinary stories about love, identity, and the adventures that come with them.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians comes with multiple pre-built scenarios in addition to world-building tools for tables to create their own settings. The character types are built around the emotional dilemma at the character’s core, bolstering Thirsty Sword Lesbians‘ focus on tales of the heart and the roles that love can play in larger-scale conflicts.

5 Urban Shadows Explores Fantasy’s Political Consequences

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Promotional artwork from the Kickstarter for the second edition of the TTRPG Urban Shadows

Even though it has experienced success in the TTRPG world since its initial publication, Urban Shadows is in the midst of a renovation. Magpie Games, the publisher of this popular Powered by the Apocalypse title, ran a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign in December 2022 for the creation of a completely reimagined second edition of Urban Shadows.

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Urban Shadowsleans into the darker, grittier elements of urban fantasy by invoking high-stakes political negotiations and dangerous deals. Every character has an agenda and may be willing to do anything to achieve it.

4 Murderous Ghosts Is Quick-Start Horror

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The promotional image that accompanies the party version of the TTRPG Murderous Ghosts

Powered by the Apocalypse games are often lauded for their ability to run on little to no prep while still creating immersive environments. Murderous Ghosts is an excellent example of that phenomenon. This atmospheric horror title can be played with as few as two people.

While many people view TTRPGs as a whole as competitions between the party and the Game Master, Murderous Ghosts is built for exactly that purpose. The player, or players, attempt to survive the Game Master’s devious imaginings and the schemes of the eponymous ghosts they control.

3 Ironsworn Works Without A Game Master

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A warrior on the front cover of Ironsworn RPG

One of the perks of the Powered by the Apocalypse system is that it can be altered to require little or no involvement from a Game Master. Ironsworn applies this concept to allow for three different methods of play.

Guided is the traditional TTRPG table with a Game Master leading and the party adding their input along the way. Co-op play removes the role of Game Master, allowing everyone at the table to engage as a player. Solo style helps gamers to craft a lone-wolf adventurer and take on the world of Ironsworn alone.

2 Night Witches Is Based On True History

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Art from the TTRPG Night Witches

Night Witches by Bully Pulpit games is based on the true story of the all-female Soviet bomber force given the same moniker. For 1,100 nights in a row, these women dropped bombs and railroad ties on their German opponents from outmoded biplanes.

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Night Witches can be a one-session game or can expand into a campaign following the Night Witches’ regiment through the course of the war. The game seeks to embody all the challenges and trials the real-life aviators faced, including sexism from their colleagues.

1 Bluebeard’s Bride Adapts A Legend

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Promotional and cover art for the TTRPG Bluebeard's Bride

Based on the haunting folktale surrounding the pirate Bluebeard, Bluebeard’s Bride follows the story of a young bride. After she is married to an influential man with a rough exterior, he forbids her from entering a locked room in his sprawling, stunning home.

Despite all the luxury her new spouse provides, the bride struggles with her curiosity to open the forbidden door. Bluebeard’s Bride leads the players along the bride’s journey through the mansion and grants them the opportunity to decide how the story ends this time around.

NEXT: 10 TTRPGs With Interesting Character Builds (That Aren’t D&D)


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