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Mermaids After the End
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Mermaids After the End

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Mermaids After the End (Shortened to MATE or M8) is a narrative-focused tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) meant to guide stories about adventurers called Hunters seeking fortune in the unknown depths of the post-apocalyptic ocean. They are part of a transhumanist setting that contains some elements of (cosmic) horror. This makes MATE unique in several ways, but especially because underwater settings are something usually avoided in classic TTRPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons.

MATE uses an innovative d12-based system that involves both dice pools and target numbers for outcome resolution. It takes cues from (what I consider) good mechanics in a variety of other TTRPGs and combines them in a way that leads to a fun, easy system to both run and play. It is best enjoyed in a group of 3 to 5 Players, and can be used for either one-shot session or persistent campaigns. All you need is a singular d12!

The signs were always there. The warnings, a plenty. Yet nothing could stop it.

Many millennia ago, in an event called The Melting, Humanity’s home, Terra, underwent a massive global warming event. Some claimed it was due to Humanity’s hubris. Others insisted that it was a natural occurrence, a result of a thirteen-million-year cycle. The truth of the matter did not matter in the end. The sea quickly swallowed the land. Humanity (or at least what survived) was forced onto an ever-shrinking shore. Wars over land and resources were commonplace. Mankind was reduced to tribalism as each grouping fought to keep what was theirs. Those that remained called it “The End of Days.”

…and yet, the true end came from an external source. In their squabbling, Humanity missed a massive comet before it was too late. All they could do was watch and lament as the iceball slammed into Terra. The impact and resulting rise in sea level confined the 10 million or so that survived to the land that used to belong to the seven highest mountain peaks. It took many centuries before the survivors realized that the only hope for Humanity was in coming together instead of squabbling over land and resources. A global initiative was formed to this end, entitled the Atargatis Project. It worked towards the goal of re-expanding Mankind’s foothold on Terra. Specifically, in reclaiming the land which now formed the ocean floor. That meant turning technology inward: in enhancing Human intellect and physiology.

At first, progress on the Atargatis Project was limited. It wasn’t until Professor Durham achieved a breakthrough in cybernetics 250 years ago that things truly began to change. It became possible to encase a Human brain within a protective case, which in turn could be fitted to any number of cyborg bodies. These bodies enabled Humanity to begin building settlements beneath the waves and harvesting what natural resources were now in reach.

This worked for over 200 years before Humanity reached the limits of their newfound continental shelves. By then, what it meant to express one’s self had changed drastically. When one need only swap bodies to don a new “self,” prejudices over things like Race, Gender, Ability, and so forth all but vanished. Not entirely, mind you, but enough that such occurrences were the exception and not the norm. What mattered was in how someone could contribute to society, no matter what that function might be.

The face of politics and social strata changed slowly, but surely. Meanwhile, Humanity continued to push its own boundaries. It became possible to store one’s consciousness in digital form, moving between bodies the same way humans of old might slip into a new pair of clothes. So long as they remained connected to Seanet, the successor to the Internet of old, anyways. Dubbed the Detachment, the advent of this technology drastically changed the “Human Condition.”

It’s been 21 years since the Detachment, also referred to as 21d. Mankind has made great strides in reclaiming their world, yet a vast portion of the ocean remains untouched by human hand. All manner of old knowledge and resources lies within the depths, just waiting to be (re)discovered. Those that find such boons often see themselves elevated socially and politically. One could end up living a simple, idealist lifestyle, if they so chose. And indeed, the allure of such is enough to send many a would-be diver into the dark recesses of the deep. 

You are one such individual, a Hunter. You’ve found a collection of comrades who are just as eager as you to “strike it rich,” as they once said. Little do you know what truly lies beneath the ocean for you…

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Cynthia C July 06, 2020 6:59 pm UTC
Will a print-on-demand version be made available at some point?
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File Last Updated:
June 11, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on June 14, 2020.