Free RPG’s Game Review: Atomic Highway

A long while ago (must be six months at least) a gentleman by the name of +Jonathan Henry lifted up a bound printed book version of an RPG called Atomic Highway.  I think it was in Giant Dragon Gamer Chat that he does regularly over in the G+ Tabletop Roleplaying Games community.  Go get in one and talk about anything you want as long as it is semi related to an RPG!

A very slick free game.
Go get it now!

Anyhow, we must have been talking about how we got into RPG’s or games we have made and the like as I used to in my teens make up RPG’s loosely based around Steve Jackson’s Car Wars board game.  So Jon lifted up this book and I became immediately intrigued.  Doubly as much so when he told me that the game was actually free at DriveThruRPG.  This was pretty exciting for a couple of reasons, the first being I had never heard of the site before and also because the game looked pretty slick.  I ducked over while we were chatting and downloaded it immediately.

I started reading the game pretty much straight away and was very impressed that a game of this quality was actually free!  It has a great Mad Max which is known in America as Road Warrior feel to it.  The game is presented brilliantly and has an awesome section on vehicle design.  The game comes very close to treating the vehicles in it close to characters themselves!  There are mutants and gangs and all manner of brilliant little touches that makes it feel very cool.

The games premise is that of the world after the apocalypse.  It is a world of enclaves, tribes, mutants and strange mutated creatures.  Veritable strongholds dot the landscape and merchanting is done in large armoured trucks across desolate highways, ripe for attack from road warriors.  It is a game that uses d6 as the only dice and the system is slick and well thought out.  Now I love myself a game of Car Wars and I can see the two games working hand in hand together.  Atomic Highway may focus on road duels and the like but the system and its examples are truly based in the RPG category.  It is about the characters.  When the characters get in their vehicles though there is no reason why you could adapt the Car Wars rules to this system (providing bonuses based on skills in game for driving the car) and have a blast as you play out a truck hijack or the like.

Works really well with this
gem of a game too!

The game is very professionally put together and displayed.  It has excellent artwork and a great look and feel to it.  The detail of the system and the examples that are given all fall in line with the overall system and the setting and when I read it I found the examples made me want to know what happened next!  The d6 system is cutely nicknamed the V6 Engine which has an eye on cinematic style gaming rather than the more realistic simulation style so you can expect huge jumps and crashes, slow motion shooting scenes and essentially anything that looks cool to come to the fore.  They describe the use of this system very vividly with many examples scattered through the book giving a very clear indication of what is expected by the rules and play style.

Character creation is fairly presented well and falls into a simple system that allows you more than just a road warrior stereotype to play.  In fact there are some great ideas of characters to play in theis game and you need not be a gas jockey at the wheel of a powerful vehicle.  You might be a bounty hunter, or a mutant killer, or a tribal warrior.  There are so many to pick from and model your character after.  There are some nice rules that cover the mutants, mutations and psychic abilities as well just to give the game a nice level of depth of play!

There are rules that cover a nice bestiary of mundane and mutated creatures that you may happen across as you are out scavenging the wilderness.  Scavenging can be a big focus in game as material you scavenge can be traded for wanted equipment or vehicle upgrades.  The rules covering the vehicles cover a wide range of vehicles and upgrades you can get for them.

The player and game master sections are really well presented.  They give excellent examples of play that will help both novice and experienced players and game masters.  There is a lot of advice given on how you could adapt the base game that they present into a system that you want to customise as a games master.  It is all spelled out really easily.  They have even included a neat little introductory adventure for you to use as well.

Overall, this is a really good game.  There is nothing I can really criticise about it!  In fact, I still can not believe that the game is free.  I would one day really love to run a campaign in a world exactly like this one and I cannot think of a better system that I would run it with.  the rules are so easily adapted to Car Wars and therefore you have any vehicle combat playing out in one of the most successful, fun, tabletop games in this genre!  Win win!  So I have no hesitation in recommending the Atomic Highway to anyone that has wanted to run a setting in a post-apocalyptic vehicle focussed game.  Even if it is not going to be vehicle focussed, this game still offers a good deal of depth for more in depth post apocalyptic games (Fallout or Rage styled games).  Not to mention that there are rumours of a Mad Max 4/Road Warrior 4 movie coming soon so this style of game will become popular soon!  Until next time, keep rolling!

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