If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Card-driven RPG Necrobiotic blends deckbuilding with roleplaying in a dark, dystopian future

Suit yourself.

Upcoming tabletop roleplaying game Necrobiotic looks to combine the customisability of deck construction and deckbuilding card games with the storytelling of an RPG in its macabre futuristic setting.

Set in the Italian city of Florence in the mid-to-late 21st century, Necrobiotic’s dystopian near-future follows the impact of a “great decay” that undid centuries of cultural and technological progression and led humanity to a bleak post-apocalyptic existence.

Survivors live on in small communities within makeshift strongholds, while the land between settlements has been reclaimed by nature. The world features a morbid twist on steampunk technology in the form of mechanical “constructs” created using the cadavers of those killed by the decay, which serve as autonomous machines toiling to harvest food for humanity and act in other societal and domestic roles.

Rather than dice, Necrobiotic’s gameplay system is powered by a deck of playing cards - with tarot cards also able to be used. Players construct an individual deck of cards that represents their character’s stats in various traits, reflected by each of the four suits; hearts become flesh, diamonds are steel, clubs are steam and spades represent gear.

The number and value of cards from each suit is determined by the character’s affinity in each trait, from the low ace to their corresponding stat. For example, a stat of six in flesh would give a player cards from the ace to 6 of hearts. These cards are combined with a joker and face cards - determined by the character’s class - into a single personal deck of between 22 and 24 cards.

Cover image for YouTube video

Available classes include the technologically-minded architect; a member of the militia; a studier of lost technologies (including electronic phones and computers) in the technosophist; the high-powered, armour-clad technophant; and the mechanically-gifted engineer.

Players start each session with a hand of six cards, from which they can play cards to successfully perform actions and pass tests set by the GM, aiming to match a given suit or hit a target number. When their hand is emptied, players must take a ‘breath’ to refill their hand or draw directly from their deck, without the ability to choose the card they play.

As a campaign progresses, players can augment their deck with additional cards - reflecting their growing abilities and acquisition of new skills - adding an aspect of deckbuilding during play.

Necrobiotic is an English translation of the Italian-language RPG L'Ingranaggio released last year. The game is currently live on Kickstarter, where its creators are aiming to fund the game’s core rulebook for a release in February 2022 along with additional stretch-goal supplements from roleplaying writers and designers. The campaign is live until June 11th, with a free quickstart PDF available on the Kickstarter page for those wanting to give it a go.

Dicebreaker is the home for friendly board game lovers

We welcome board gamers of all levels, so sign in and join our community!

In this article


Tabletop Game

Related topics
About the Author
Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.