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  • In Misspent Youth by Robert Bohl, a game where you play a group of teenage anarchists out to change the world, the world is crapsack by design. There's a whole stage of the game where each Youthful Offender empowers The Authority with one way to mess with the world and their lives.
  • Warhammer (Warhammer Fantasy Battles, WFB) is an archetypal Crapsack World - a world doomed to perish into Chaos and its minions, themselves Eldritch Abominations. The world is grim and dark, inhabited by uncaring Lizardmen, haughty and snobbish High Elves, insanely bloodlusty Dark Elves, sullen and autistic Wood Elves, nasty, brutish and violent humans who come in a variety of flavours: Bretonnians, Empire or just about any other kind of evil Human you can imagine, cannibal Halflings, grudgy, implacable and fatalistic Dwarves, boorish Goblins, bullyish Orcs, bloodthirsty and wildly breeding Skaven ratmen, two types of Undead (Tomb Kings consisting of mummies, skeletons and zombies) and Vampire Counts (your local Dracula settings), and, of course, the insane Chaos. Of course, a Crapsack World requires to be ruled by Jerkass Gods - all the deities of the Warhammer worlds reflect the half-emptiness of the world itself.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is the same, but the players are in it.
  • If Warhammer wasn't miserable enough, the Grimdark that is Warhammer 40000 has gone out of its way to be the WORST. PLACE. EVER. See its own page for the awful details. The glass is not half empty; the glass itself disembowels you and OM NOM NOMS your soul.
  • Both Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness are premised on this; they're worlds populated by various supernatural creepy crawlies who prey on humanity. The original setting even had these vastly powerful supernaturals as helpless to affect their various millennial Enforced Cold Wars, while the new has the world filled with such mystery and decentralized supernaturals that extermination or redemption is hard to imagine. Being supernatural doesn't help, either; White Wolf likes to see if it can redefine Blessed with Suck with every new installment.
    • In the New World of Darkness it's gotten so bad that one of the most powerful beings in the setting, who incidentally is mostly responsible for the world's sad state since he "fathered" the entire vampire race in the first place, has all but given up on changing the world.
    • The explanation given in Demon: The Fallen is that God deliberately broke Her own creation at the beginning of the War of Wrath, robbing it of perfection (which included the ability to perfectly regenerate). Hence, the world has deteriorated to its current state over the millenia. This is one of the reasons most Fallen hate Her so much.
  • Kult, maybe one of the darkest Role Playing Games out there. Everywhere are monsters, but most humans can't even see them (and they are the lucky ones), the Demiurge (Creator) cursed us humans (once-immortal demigods) with death and amnesia and took away most of our powers, and then there are demons too... and this isn't a world where Satan Is Good. Get too much violence or insanity in one place and you open rifts straight to Hell or, worse, Metropolis, the city that is everywhere.

  "Reality is a lie." -- "Death is only the beginning."

    • Metropolis is a great place which everybody should aspire towards, as it's the true reality beyond all others -- however, it's only great if you're a truly awakened human, essentially a god. Otherwise it's pure terror, if for no other reason than that the enemies of humanity are much more at home there than unawakened humans, and are quick to deal with any who find their way there.
    • Heaven is mostly empty and littered with suicidally depressed angels wandering around and crying blood.
  • Depending on your personality, Call of Cthulhu may be even darker than KULT: in CoC the various monsters and evil gods mostly regard humanity as a minor nuisance, if they notice us at all. Which doesn't stop them from trying to conquer and/or destroy the world, of course.
    • CoC even has Cthulhu Mythos, a statistic for how much the character knows about the way the world really works. Learning more about the Mythos automatically and permanently drives a character just a little bit more insane, every time.
    • The Delta Green setting is basically what happens when you mix the Mythos with a modern Conspiracy Kitchen Sink. It itself comes off as even bleaker than vanilla CoC.
  • In the world of F.A.T.A.L. at least 50% of the male population partake in at least one rape (and the victim is generally considered to bear the moral stigma). On top of this, most of the generic fantasy races hate one another with a passion. The bright side? Unless you're particularly masochistic, you'll never have to play it.
  • The premise of the d20 fantasy setting Midnight is essentially "What if Sauron won?" It's not pretty.
  • The Savage Worlds setting of Winterweir is set in a world where Demons routinely enter the world to eat people and steal souls, the angels are manipulative bastards who engage in mind control, the gods are aloof and amoral entities with only two that genuinely give a crap about anyone, and nearly every nation in the game is at each other's throat. This doesn't even bring up the class, racial, and religious conflicts that define the setting's politics.
  • Paranoia is a Dystopian setting. The players play Clearance RED troubleshooters whose job it is to seek out and destroy mutants and members of secret societies for Friend Computer. Every PC has a mutant power and is a member of a secret society and is therefore a traitor just like the ones they're hunting. The game provides everyone with five backup clone bodies, presumably to keep the players in the game after the inevitable terminations from time to time. The whole thing is Played for Laughs in "Classic" and "Zap" mode, though there's also a "Straight" mode that plays the whole thing for all the drama a dystopian world can offer.
  • Parody RPG HOL, aka Human Occupied Landfill, is a dystopian far future world played for all the cheap laughs it can get. Characters are (often "erroneously") deposited on the planet HOL, which serves a triple purpose as a penal colony, galactic garbage dump, and reality television program. The largest organization is the Church & Munch corporation, a combination religious organization and fast food chain. The entire game consists of trying to survive on a world where everything is trying to kill and/or eat you; and nearly everything is a lot bigger, stronger, and meaner than you are. Skills include "Making Sharp Things Go Through Soft Things That Scream and Bleed", "Whining Until You Get What You Want", "Withstand/Enjoy Hellish Agony", and "Organize Fundraiser". The expansion book, BUTTery wHOLEsomeness includes the ever-useful "Cornholed by God" chart.
  • In the Dungeons and Dragons setting Eberron, the world known by the humans has just got out from a hundred year war, the biggest and richest nation was evaporated and Eldritch Abominations (of several different types) are trying to rule everything. Did I mention the new conquered peace is really, really fragile?
    • And that's not all! An entire continent is ruled by one flavor of Eldritch Abomination. That country that got wiped is not only destroyed, but home to twisted monsters, living spells, and a Warforged terrorist army in the making. The only high-level good NPC is a twelve-year-old-girl who's nearly powerless outside of her temple.
      • Oh, and about that twelve-year-old? While she may be good, the church she heads is...not so much.
    • The entire Dungeons and Dragons universe might arguably be full of nothing but crapsack worlds when you consider: Civilization in all its viral and destructive power in tearing down the forrests, turning continents into farmland, expanding cities the way civilization has grown in real life etc, is all successfully being held back not just by evil magical eldritch forces, but also by the ferocity of nature itself.
    • All that said... in most settings/campaign there is one thing that shifts it towards the A World Half Full side of the spectrum: the player characters. Things may be dark, but at least some difference can be made... assuming the dungeon master running the campaign isn't a Killer Game Master, of course.
  • Dark Sun is a Dungeons and Dragons take on a Death World. Once a beautiful world brimming with life, centuries of genocidal war backed by power-crazed sorcerer-kings (whose particular brand of magic functioned by sucking the life out of the land and creatures around them) have reduced it to a scorched desert- not only is most of the land rocky badlands and sandy wastes, but the sea itself has been dried up and reduced to a monstrously huge canyon filled with fine silt. Only the toughest lifeforms have survived, which means that even the few herbivores (to say nothing of the plants themselves) are quite capable of killing people, and just about every living thing, from people to animals to plants to vermin, has at least one psychic power. Part of the reason Dark Sun exists, in a meta-sense, is to showcase the depths to which people will sink when the choice is between honor or survival.
  • Ravenloft was often depicted as being a Crapsack World in early 2E products. This was back when it was meant for a "Weekend In Hell" campaign in which the PCs would be brought to the Demiplane by the Mists and their main goal was to escape. Later 2E products like the Domains of Dread, and the 3E product line eased off of this and also went with the assumption that the players would be playing native heroes. So, to them the world would not seem so bad because it is all they know.
    • It was outright a World Half Full. You aren't going to stop the bigger evils unless the GM completely missed the point of Gothic Horror and the setting, but you could make some lasting contributions and changes to local events, Hope Spots did occasionally turn into chances to Earn Your Happy Ending, and...oh, wait, 4th Edition. Nevermind.
  • Exalted. Life sucks for everyone. Exalts are lucky in that they can't be killed by most of the maimings and diseases that would take down mortals, but still have their very own problems.
    • Solars: Half the world, including about half its secret masters, wants you dead. The rest doesn't trust you. You have episodes of terrible impulse control whenever under stress, thanks to a past life's role in killing and/or imprisoning many of the creators of the world. The "secret masters" that are on your side see you mainly as a powerful but manipulable dupe to show up the secret masters that aren't. At least two different packs of Eldritch Abominations would gladly see you corrupted into serving their goals. And you have a fair chance that someone with unfinished business regarding a previous life is out to get you.
    • Lunars: many of your most powerful potential allies are completely out of their minds. With around 300 members, you have to keep safe an area totalling approximately the entire surface area of planet Earth from form-hating raksha, and this area is spread around the borders of Creation. Just as many people are out to get you as are after the Solars, only they think you're a barbarian monster instead of possessed by evil spirits. And you have a mark that will clue people in to what you are if they are able to see through its rather mild enchantment. And if you want to oppose or restrain the Solars, there's one you have some profound difficulties attacking because of decisions made on your behalf 5000 years ago.
    • Dragon-Bloods: your empire is crumbling, and the Great Houses would rather bicker amongst themselves and play politics than do something about it. The only reason your society worked at all has disappeared and is in league with the personification of bastardry himself. Most of the Lunars and many of the Solars know that your Sidereal-aided betrayal ended the First Age, and have not taken this information at all well, and those that don't tend to come from areas under the heel of your empire and hate you for that anyway. And you're the bottom rung on the Power Levels ladder.
    • Sidereals: half the problems you're trying to deal with are immune to your powers, thanks to being outside Fate. The other half were caused by Sidereal politicking that went pear-shaped. The oldest and, theoretically, wisest member of your dominant faction is going to die quite soon. You have to police thousands of Jerkass Gods who don't particularly want to follow the rules. Mortal contacts find it very hard to remember you. And there really aren't enough of you to go round.
    • Abyssals: The ultimate reason for your creation was to destroy the entire world, which could be seen as a favour. If you try to protect people, you'll unleash massive blasts of necrotic power that wipe out entire villages. If you directly oppose your masters, you'll burst into flames and be slaughtered while unconscious. And everyone is afraid of you and worried about why you bleed from the forehead even through a helmet. Oh, and the guys who are after the Solars? They see you as vindication.
    • Infernals: If you piss off your patrons, you'll be possessed by one unless you reingratiate yourself with them by acting like a B-movie supervillain. You're slowly turning into a Cosmic Horror. And there are way less of you than anyone else, which means you can pretty much write off support unless what you're doing is incredibly important. And your ultimate goal is quite likely to be a deranged pipe dream hatched by a group of profoundly broken eldritch abominations who think it's possible to weasel-word your way into reality.
      • And the best/worst part? It's quite possible to punch said plans in the face, unlike Abysaals. Yes, that's right-the people who are enslaved to demons have it better than their cousins. One of the foremost plots for a remotely heroic Abyssal is to "not be an Abyssal anymore".
    • Alchemicals: your homeland and creator (who happens to be a semi-benevolent Eldritch Abomination) is dying. You can't reach your higher power levels without becoming a thirty-foot giant robot or a city. You're less powerful than anyone except the Dragon-Bloods. Most of your powers drain your central Essence reserve. You're a Hollywood Cyborg, making you rather obvious in Creation unless you invest in specific charms. And your society has taken notes from Nineteen Eighty-Four out of sheer necessity, thanks to said creator's terminal illness taking the form of The Corruption.
    • Mortals: unlike the rest, you can be permanently crippled, succumb to diseases, you don't have any fancy magic powers, everyone else sees you as cannon fodder, your life is almost certainly going to be nasty, brutish and short, and the nicest place for you to live is an authoritarian dictatorship in which your choices are 'obey all the rules or die in hideous agony'. That's assuming "good guys" are going to win. And to put a cherry on the cake, it's not like you actually have choices. Your destiny is predetermined and can be rewritten for reasons beyond your understanding (or on a whim) by celestial functionaries.
    • Raksha: Creation quite literally hates you, trying to solidify your chaos into its own order - a process that is almost invariably fatal unless you can find a wyld zone to hide in. As if that wasn't bad enough, ever since the Balorian Crusade, the raksha homeland in the Wyld has also hated you, spawning a horde of cannibalistic predator Unshaped (known as hannya) that exist only to prey on weaker raksha. And just for fun, while amongst themselves in the Bordermarches of the Wyld raksha can't really imperil each other too badly because they can just shape themselves back to life, the Creation-Born are able to create permanent consequences, which is most unfair and means they're probably cheating.
    • God: You pretty much have the choice between being just another of the myriad Jerkass Gods jockeying for power and influence in the Celestial Bureaucracy through graft, blackmail and other unsavory means while a legion of your peers are doing the same and are willing to screw you over to get ahead in the rat race, wallowing in self-pity over the shit state of things and shirking your duties to indulge in hedonistic escapism while you fade away because your neglect is slowly unravelling your sphere of influence/power source, or being one of the few who try to still accomplish your duties properly, which will see you swamped in so much work because nobody else is doing it that even a raging workaholic is going to start pining for the other two choices more and more every day. Oh, and your big bosses, those highest gods who rule the whole enchilada and have the power and authority to fix the problems? They're too busy getting high on the Magical Crack XBox to actually do anything about it
    • It also sucks being a Mountain Folk or a Dragon King. For starters, you're one of the two most powerful mortal races, which means that you're less powerful than just about anything with a supernatural pedigree that's not a Mook.
    • Almost nothing is known about the Liminals, but things probably suck for them too.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a hell of a lot: Rath, Old Phyrexia and New Phyrexia (AKA Mirrodin), Shadowmoor, Innistrad, and most of the Shards of Alara, especially Grixis in particular (with the possible exceptions of Bant and possibly Naya, if you can avoid getting squashed by the behemoths). (Although the Phyrexians are quite nice if you can overlook the whole "Yawgmoth"/"Praetors" thing.)
  • Cthulhu Tech is a shiny happy anime-esque future that suddenly gets interrupted by Cthulhu. A battlefleet of the inscrutable Mi-Go is invading. The Deep Ones are rising up from the seas. Most of Asia has been eaten by a horde of madmen and unspeakable things. Evil cultists are infiltrating the government. And those giant robots we're saving the world with? The science they're based on drives people insane, and half of them are actually made out of eldritch abominations.
  • Rifts takes place roughly 300 years after a minor nuclear exchange jump-started a chain reaction that resulted in the Earth becoming a magical nexus point for the Megaverse. Tears in time and space (the eponymous Rifts) open randomly across the globe, dropping willing and unwilling being onto various parts of the globe, from fantasy creatures to weird aliens to literal demons and worse. Atlantis has reappeared from a dimensional limbo (altering coastlines to the point that Australia is half underwater) and is inhabited by an Eldritch Abomination and its legions of slaves and servant races. Humanity has just finally clawed itself out from barbarism and is starting to reclaim portions of the world. Unfortunately, the ones who seem best able to do it are the Coalition States, who have a huge hate-on toward anyone and anything nonhuman, magical or both; and who consider literacy and reading to be dangerous.
    • It was even worse during the 300 year Dark Age that predated the beginning of the P.A. (Post Apocalypse) Calendar. [1] During the Dark Age, and especially in the beginning, Rifts opened pretty much on an hourly basis, Ley Line Storms (overflows of magic energy that cause all sorts of mystical mayhem) were more or less constant, and the fracturing of dimensional energies wreaked havoc on the weather, and caused other disasters like the eruption of the Yellowstone Park supervolcano, covering North America in ash. Russia experienced 80 years of perpetual winter, and pretty much everywhere else on Earth fared just as badly. Among the lucky ones were people who were Rifted into the future, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Tundra Rangers and two cities in Japan, who only had to deal with the aftermath of the destruction. A lot of this is covered in the sourcebook/standalone RPG Chaos Earth takes place roughly two weeks after the Coming of the Rifts.
  • GURPS has oh-so-many of these, thanks to the Infinite Worlds setting. Some of note include Gotha (a series of worlds that have a plague in common, one which turns victims into nearly mindless marauders), Lenin-2 (the environment is almost all but doomed), and Nergal (the world is in the infancy of an Ice Age, and Assyrian priests sacrifice people from all across the planet).
  • Malifaux mainly deals with a world connected to Earth in Victorian era via a kind of dimensional breach (the creation of which killed a crud load of people). Many aggressive and downright evil creatures inhabit that world, and if that is not enough, the majority of human population sent there are "convict labor"; basically crooks and criminals forced to mine for objects called Soulstones which has magical, healing, and energetic properties. These soulstones run out of power eventually, but its power is replenished if placed near a dying person. It has been implied that the person's essence (if not downright his/her soul) seem to be sucked into the soulstones. Soulstones are, ofcourse, extremely valuable. An organization established by the government, called the Guild, regulates the soulstones (read: monopolize soulstone tradings), as well as capture and execute criminals, rogue witches, and fledgling resurrectionists who have learned the dark arts of necromancy through ancient ruins in Malifaux. The "good" characters in the fluff are zealous witch-hunters, power-hungry wizards, a crimeboss-like Union leader, among others.
  • Twilight: 2000 which is set after post-nuclear holocaust Europe.
  • In the BattleTech universe, leaders come in three flavors: insane, corrupt, and evil. The Church Militant manipulates governments into bombing each other into the Stone Age to strengthen their monopoly on technology. The Proud Warrior Race Guys of the Clans, despite being obsessed with fighting and military prowess and having an average life expectancy of around 50, are less evil than the Inner Sphere governments much of the time. Everyday technology has scarcely advanced beyond the 20th century because technological research and development has been entirely focused into making new and better war machines. The international treaties against indiscriminate nuclear bombardment often weaken into optional international suggestions. "Cold wars" aren't. The known galaxy has been in a state of virtually constant war for almost a thousand years. The End of the World as We Know It has happened at least four times in the setting's history and will likely happen many more times in the future. And if anything changes for the better the premise of the universe will end, so nothing ever will.

    However, the BattleTech universe could only truly be considered a Crapsack World during 2 time periods- the Succession Wars (when the game originally started), and the Jihad (storyline set to end in during 2011). At no point did average technology levels fall below 23rd Century levels according to Word of God, and at present they're higher than they've ever been. Indiscriminate use of WMDs has been unheard of for more than 2 centuries, which was why most people were shocked when the Word Of Blake began tossing them around during the Jihad, and while incursions and the occasional full blown war still happen in the story line, most factions go out of their way to avoid attacking civilians-- when a planet is conquered, the typical effect is that there's a new flag flying in the town square and the taxes go to a different planet. Oppressive governments are actually the exception, not the rule.
  • Planescape was an old Dungeons and Dragons dimension-hopping setting which features angelic beings who sell arms to demons and devils to prolong a genocidal war, seven distinct infinite hells, seven heavens that consist of friendly fascism, an adaptation of the tests and suffering of Dante's Purgatorio, a Death World of nature where sapient animals eat each other and you, the not-really-that-nice Norse mythology (complete with rampaging giants and einherar who forget that you don't get to come back for fighting for no reason), and a couple of decent places. The central city might as well be Charles Dickens meets Uptown Sinclair recycled in Dungeon Punk. It is a mutable Crapsack World, however, and some of the bigger adventures featured an Earn Your Happy Ending or five and the chance to make it a World Half Full.
  • Crimson Skies has the place once called the United States of America now divided in separate nations inhabited by sky pirates, corrupt politicians, xenophobic Indian tribes and Knight Templar sky militias. It Gets Worse as most crapsack worlds do since World War Two is approaching and the European powers are encroaching into the Western hemisphere in search for allies. Or so thy say...
  • Earth in the Monsterpocalypse is under attack by virtually every from of giant whatever at the same time. To list them all we have:
    • The Terrasaurs, giant dinosaurs that attack cities and feed on radioactive waist.
    • The Empire of Apes, giant which have a problem with humanity forcing nature to its needs and want to pummel us back to, if not the stone age, at least something pre-Industrial Revolution. The upside to this being they don't want to completely wipe us out.
    • The Shadow Sun Syndicate and Urber Corp International, possess giant cyborg ninja Ultraman expies and robot versions of other monsters, respective, and are just as likely to level a city for their own interests as they are to protect it.
    • The Martin Menace, aliens from Mars, are desperate for resources, and actually invading out of necessity, and are attacking with giant war of worlds tripods and flying saucers.
    • The Planet Eaters and Savage Swarm, giant aliens monster and giant insects, respectively, are attacking and devouring everything they see.
    • Lords of Cthul are attacking For The Evilz and turn people into Body Horrors unless kneel and worship them, if they're lucky.
    • The Subterran Uprising, giant moles that rule and underground evil empire, their rulers aren't content with their oppression of their own kind and want to also rule the surface, and in addition to forcing all humanity in a cruel existence as their slaves also want to block out the sun because their eyes are sensitive to light.
    • The Tritons are invading for the ocean and sinking parts of the coast to expand their empire.
    • The only upside is the GAURD and Elemental Champions that are protecting humanity with their Humongous Mecha and giant elemental warriors, though they still can't kill opposing monsters without some collateral damage.
  • Polish RPG Neuroshima introduces postapocalyptic USA in which most of cities are destroyed, earth, air and water are polluted, north has been taken over by Moloch - gigantic inteligent machine that is slowly expanding and turns humans into mad cyborgs or mutants, south was taken over by Neojungle, full of monstrous beasts, there are bands of humans rampaging through the world as well as strange tornados, that are sources of strong narcotic and economics returned to pre-money times. There are four "colors" on which you can play that mostly determine which way of Dying Like Animals is dominant among people. At "Steel" most of them are obsessed with defending themselves from all threats no matter the cost. At "Rust" they are nihilistic and see life after the end as nothing but prolonged dying. At "Mercury" humans have completely lost control of the situation and hide in fear of all rampant monstroities, desperately trying to survive. Only "Chrome" is somehow optimistic, because people decided that since they're doomed anyway, they would rather spend rest of their life at endless hedonistic party than die crying.
  • In another Polish RPG, Monastyr (Monastery, sometimes called Warhammer Fantasy's Little Brother) humanity was once chosen race of their local Crystal Dragon Jesus, but got tricked by other races, that are evil by default, to pay tribute to God of Evil (local equivalent of Satan), for which their jealous god condemned them for thousands of years of being enslaved by other races and only relatively recently sent the Prophet, who set them free. Since then humanity is at endless war with primitive evil races, everything is controlled by Church and Inquisition, who may be more scientifically progressive than their real life counterparts, but also very militaristic and merciless and yet are the only thing saving people from magic, which in this world is soul-stealing demonic force.
  • Pretty much any of the settings in any of the books in All Flesh Must Be Eaten. You can't expect any sweetness and light in a gameline where a Zombie Apocalypse goes off within ten minutes after the game starts. Particularly bad: "Rebirth Into Death", where The Lifestream is starting to collapse on itself, and the players are zombies.


  1. To give an idea of the time frame, the Coming of the Rifts occurred on December 21st, 2098. The P.A. Calendar, marking the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of Humankind's rise from chaos, was established by the Coalition States in 2287. The original Core Book was set in the year 101 P.A. (2387), and the books have since then progressed to the year 109 P.A.
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