Extinction Punk – The Eco RPG powered by the Apocalypse

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Extinction Punk – The Eco RPG powered by the Apocalypse2022-06-25T10:55:30+02:00

The free tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) set in a post extinction event Earth!

Extinction Punk is a table-top role-playing game (TTRPG), which emulates a genre of science fiction and science fantasy, that envisions how the future might look like if humanity fails to stop a man-made extinction event such as climate change, nuclear holocaust, or biological warfare. As such, it not only describes this TTRPG, but also a multitude of media such as literature, comics, movies, and video games in a similar manner to adjacent movements such as steampunk or cyberpunk.

The iconography of Extinction Punk focuses on tight-knit survivors right after the extinction event or in the (not necessarily human) civilizations which came afterwards. Popular icons in the genre orientate themselves after 21st century youth and climate protest culture and reclaimed capitalist art pieces, transported to a post-apocalyptic environment. Common story elements include mutations, mutated monsters, nature reclaiming the planet, megafauna, and remnants of advanced human technology (e.g., robots, mechs or jury-rigged weaponry) found in unusual settings.

Although Extinction Punk is concerned with the end of the human species as we know it, its narratives are usually adventurous, humorous, colorful, and optimistic. After all, once the worst has already happened, things can only get better. Its stories are often filtered through the lens of early 21st century meme and pop-culture – in equal parts earnest and cynical as well as both critical of late-stage capitalism while being unashamedly nostalgic for the cultural artefacts it produced.

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What differentiates this game from other roleplaying games?

Extinction Punk and its mechanics are largely based on Apocalypse World by D. Vincent & Meguey Baker and games like it, mainly Dungeon World and Monster of the Week (which are all excellent and you should check them out).

Like those games, Extinction Punk is a narrative-driven, streamlined tabletop role-playing game. Its main features are:

  • Fast and guided character-creation
  • Easy to understand rules thanks to the PANIC system and its corresponding 10 moves
  • Empowered game master (GM) mechanics, which allow for more cinematic play through open narration.
  • Mutation mechanics, which give players another vector for growth and self-expression.
  • Hostile world events to give the GM an easy way to improvise encounters on the way to an expedition’s goal.
  • Mechanics split into basic rules which are focused on the characters and their actions, to be used for one-shots and in the beginning of the adventure as well as advanced rules, if the players want to shift their playstyle towards resource collection and base-building.
Character Sheets

What inspired the world of Extinction Punk?

The tropes of Extinction Punk came to us by observing some pieces of popular media of the past 5-10 years. While not all of these things fit exactly into the world of Extinction Punk, a lot of them do. So much so, that we are convinced Extinction Punk the genre will establish itself (although probably under a different name) anytime soon.

Cartoons & Anime

  • Adventure Time
  • Kipo and the Wonder Beasts
  • The Last Kids on Earth
  • Thundarr the Barbarian
  • The Writing on the Wall Music Video by Iron Maiden
  • Future Boy Conan
  • Samurai Jack
  • Promised Neverland
  • Dr. Stone
  • Made in Abyss

Movies & TV

  • Love and Monsters
  • Sweet Tooth
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds
  • Annihilation
  • YOR – Hunter from the Future
  • The World’s End
  • Army of the Dead and all not so serious Zombie Movies
  • Tank Girl


  • Biomutant
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Rage 2
  • Pikmin
  • Nuclear Throne
  • Solatorobo
  • Etrian Odyssey
  • Far Cry New Dawn
  • Contra Rogue Corps
  • Splatoon
  • A Geek’s Guide: DeathWorld Earth
  • Utawarerumono
  • Subnautica
  • SOMA


  • The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
  • Silo Series by Hugh Howey
  • City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  • Shannara Serie by Terry Brooks
  • The Shattered Sea Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
  • JAM by Ben Yathzee Croshaw

Extinction Punk Examples in Timeline

Some genre-afficionados are probably reading this and thinking to themselves – “Wait: are you not just describing genre X?” Yes and no. Let us try to explain.

What Extinction Punk is: A subgenre of science fiction and science fantasy, closely related to other apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic genres. Its core features are:

  • Post-Extinction: A non-descript Extinction Event has happened and cannot be reversed. It is so far in the past; most protagonists do not even know what it was.
  • PostHumanity: While some human or human-like species survived, they will have to change into something radically new to survive.
  • PostIdeology: Old-world ideologies may be encountered, but they are not further commented on. After all – they could not stop the Extinction Event and have therefore failed.
  • Post-Despair: The protagonists of Extinction Punk do not feel a loss over the old world. They only know it from stories and do not miss it. Their concern is with the here and now.
  • Pseudo-Scientific Magic: After the fall of humanity, nature has reclaimed the planet. While ostensibly based on real science (i.e. “mutations”), the world now contains so many unresearched and fantastical things, it might as well be magical.
  • New Sincerity: Despite the new world being dangerous and built on the grave of the old, Extinction Punk’s stories are forward facing and optimistic.

What Extinction Punk is not: here are the major differences to other genres as we see them.

  • Disease / Zombie Apocalypse: Zombie apocalypse stories, even post apocalypse stories, usually centre around surviving the eponymous extinction event. The zombies or the disease are usually a stand-in for a common social anxiety of the time. As such, the stories and their protagonists are usually artefacts of the old world, trying to find a way back to how it was or at least towards a semblance of it. Extinction Punk may feature zombies, but only as a replaceable enemy. The protagonists encountering them have lived in this world all their lives. They are not trying to return to the old world, because they have never known it.
  • Dying Earth, Ecological Apocalypse: Dying Earth stories usually revolve around the exhaustion of the planet (or the sun) itself. It paints a picture of a world which has become completely sterile and unliveable for everything. Extinction Punk stories might feature completely sterile places (e.g. battlefields), but it assumes, given enough time, live will prevail.
  • Biopunk & Nanopunk: Some works of Biopunk come incredibly close to the aesthetics of Extinction Punk. After all, they are also concerned with mutations, viruses and mutants. However, Biopunk usually revolves around the misuse of biological engineering in a science fiction society context. Often this society, even though it is led by corrupt corporations, is still very much intact and the biological warfare is just a symptom of the corruption within. Extinction Punk stories may take place after a Biopunk society has successfully initiated a global Extinction Event – but it is not concerned with the event nor the society that created it.
  • Cyberpunk or Post-Cyberpunk: Cyberpunk – as its name implies – is concerned with the struggles of marginalized people in an information age dystopia. Post-Cyberpunk might forego some of these core aspects, but both are ultimately concerned with social commentary based on a still working and existing society. Extinction Punk is unconcerned with the corruptions of previous societies, as they have all failed by the time its stories take place.
  • Atompunk: On its face, Atompunk and its cold-war aesthetic has nothing to do with Extinction Punk, except an almost as liberal use of bad science. If it were not for the Fallout-series, we would not even mention it. But for what it is worth: Atompunk is at its core influenced by a cold-war mixture of fear and awe for the possibility of a nuclear war and its consequences. In Extinction Punk, nuclear wars might have been fought, but it was not the ideological differences of the cold war or the military-industrial complex which have led to an Extinction Event – it was humanities’ failure as a species to co-operate.
  • Solarpunk, Hopepunk and Lunarpunk: All of these genres match the “time period” of Extinction Punk and present a forward-looking “what-if” view of the future. However, Solarpunk & Hopepunk assume, that we will be able to overcome all environmental and societal problems, as humanity ascends into a brighter future. Lunarpunk goes in the opposite direction, and assumes, humanity will become an invasive species, destroying ecosystems across the galaxy. However, in Extinction Punk, humanity as a species does not even survive – it has to change or adapt to even have a future.

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