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The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 inspired this tabletop roleplaying game

Enter the Dark Nation.
The Handmaid's Tale TV screenshot
Image: Hulu

Dark Nation, an upcoming roleplaying game, is inspired by the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984.

A tabletop RPG in which player characters find themselves living under an oppressive state, Dark Nation takes inspirational cues from the likes of Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel The Handmaid’s Tale – which has also since been adapted into a television series – George Orwell’s surveillance state book 1984, The Man in the High Castle, a comic book series and television show about an alternative future in which the Nazi regime conquers the USA, and the UK TV series SS/GB about a Nazi occupied Britain.

In Dark Nation, players collaboratively tell the story of their characters and how they live under the controlling regime they find themselves in. The players decide how the state controls its subjects and how their characters choose to resist it. As ordinary people, the player characters find each other and form bonds in order to protect one another. As the regime closes its claws around them, the players will need to defend the group’s secrets, or otherwise risk exposing all of them to the regime.

The tabletop RPG begins with something terrible happening and the player characters being unable to ignore it. Sharing a compulsion to investigate – even at the risk of alerting the state – the characters become investigators determined to uncover the truth. Should the group succeed in discovering what they want to know, they may find themselves having to make difficult choices which could change them, permanently.

Built on the Cthulhu Dark horror RPG system, Dark Nation sees players rolling a collection of d6 dice for a variety of circumstances. Sometimes players will roll a disillusion die, which determines how far the player characters belief the state’s lies and how far they’re willing to go to uncover them. Other times, players will roll to see whether their investigator knows someone who could help them with a particular problem they’re facing, whilst the fail forward roll has the player attempting to overcome the obstacle themselves, often with minimal success.

For game masters, the core rulebook for Dark Nation features the tools they need to plan and run the RPG, such as a structure guide for writing plots – which may feature topics of oppression, discrimination or other sensitive issues that GMs will need to warn their players about – as well as safety tools for GMs to share with their players to ensure that they can communicate if they’re feeling uncomfortable, alongside three single page pre-made scenarios.

Dark Nation was created by Martin Lloyd, the creator of the fantasy roleplaying games Amazing Tales and Amazing Heroes and a writer for series such as Wrath and Glory and Age of Sigmar.

The Kickstarter campaign for Dark Nation is live until April 11th, with a pledge of €10 (£9/$11) getting backers a PDF copy of the RPG in April.

About the Author

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Alex Meehan

Staff Writer, Dicebreaker

Alex’s journey to Dicebreaker began with writing insightful video game coverage for outlets such as Kotaku, Waypoint and PC Gamer. Her unique approach to analysing pop culture and knack for witty storytelling finally secured her a forever home producing news, features and reviews with the Dicebreaker team. She’s also obsessed with playing Vampire: The Masquerade, and won’t stop talking about it.

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