Simon Stålenhag’s The Electric State will be adapted into a tabletop RPG by Free League, the Swedish publisher behind Dragonbane, Mutant: Year Zero and the Blade Runner RPG. Crowdfunding later this year, the title will translate the art book into a forlorn journey across a late ‘90s consumerist hellscape.
The Electric State is the third narrative art book in Stålenhag’s particular exploration of humanity’s relationship with technology. Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood were set in the artist’s home country of Sweden, while The Electric State switches the metaphorical lens over to an alternate version of the US where the corpses of battle mechs lie in heaps alongside colossal advertisements and the waste of a society choked by late-stage capitalism.
Nils Hintze will write The Electric State RPG, bringing his expertise adapting Tales from the Loop into one of Free League’s tentpole tabletop settings as well as work on The Walking Dead Universe RPG. He’s joined by a suite of Free League regulars - Tomas Härenstam (Blade Runner RPG, Dragonbane, ALIEN RPG), Nils Karlén (Coriolis) and Mattias Johnsson Haake (Symbaroum), while Mork Borg’s Johan Nohr will provide layout on the book.
The Electric State’s loose narrative, conveyed through illustrations that alternate between sweeping landscape and pensive, intimate moments, follow a teenage runaway and her yellow robot traveling west through the eerie societal ruins of 1990s US. Reality seems to gradually unspool as the pair continue, mirroring a degradation or rot at the centre of the American project.
Free League’s translation, in partnership with Skybound Entertainment, will use the studio’s well-known Year Zero Engine and its dice-pool of six-sided dice to tell a very similar story. Players will create their own motley crew of seekers, travellers and lost souls picking their way across a metal-strewn graveyard of military industry run rampant and commercial excess.
A film adaptation of Stålenhag’s decidedly more cynical creation will come by way of the Russo Brothers. Detached from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have signed Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown and Chris Pratt to the Netflix-produced project. The brothers’ recent creative swings haven’t exactly been winners and there’s little evidence to prove they will cleave close to The Electric State’s sombre road story-meets-dystopian meditation. Initially predicted for 2024, Netflix has yet to confirm any hard release date.
Luckily, we do know when to expect the tabletop version of The Electric State, which will launch its Kickstarter campaign on December 5th. Free League did not communicate a fulfilment date in their announcement, but previous experience would slate the physical edition somewhere in late 2024. A digital PDF of the rules will likely be available shortly after the campaign wraps up.
Simon Stålenhag’s fourth book, The Labyrinth, launched in 2020 and was perhaps unintentionally fitting for a world in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. A trio of survivors trek across the wastelands of the world in the wake of some unexplainable phenomenon that awoke ancient life and mysterious forces that predate all traces of humanity. It remains untouched by the RPG translation machine, so far.