How I Play: The Morrow Project

James over at Grognardia has published in one of his “gaming retrospective” posts about The Morrow Project, which is actually one of the RPG’s I’m actually playing.

Or rather, I play a home grown RPG set in a variant of the Morrow Project universe.  Let me do a slightly better version encapsulating the game than James did.

In The Morrow Project, you play an individual from contemporary times (which for the game would be the early 1980’s) who was recruited by a wealthy man named Morrow to participate in his eponymously named project.  In the game, Morrow is considered either psychic or a time traveller (the players may find out eventually) who had knowledge of an impending nuclear war.  He had built bunkers around the United States where people could be cryogenically frozen and then restored after the war to rebuild American society.  The PC’s discover, after being awoken, that instead of it being immediately following the war, it is instead over a hundred years after.

So, armed with a small cache of weapons and vehicles, the PC’s must venture out into the feral wasteland to rebuild the American dream.  It is a game less about shooting mutant rats and more about world-building, about creating communities and systems and roleplaying out converting people to your ideals.  It is a huge “sandbox” style game as a result.

Now James go on about the system and makes reference to gun fetishism.  I guess if you actually have several pages detailing different kinds of firearms rather than have “shotgun: 12 rnds, rng 30 ft. dmg 1d12” makes you a fetishist then the game suffers from gun fetishism.  Although I’d make the counter claim that 15 pages of spells that say more than “Zap: rng 30 ft., dmg 1d8” you suffer from magic fetishism.  And let’s not even get into the difference between orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls (which could all be lumped into a 1-3 HD abhuman).  But I digress…

My group is like an RPG time capsule.  Or better yet, the sort of evolutionary equivalent of Australia, where they had a few starter factors and just let it evolve isolated from there.  The factors were The Morrow Project, Traveller, and FASA’s version of Star Trek. Yes, that’s right.  You’ve got a gaming group that has played for twenty years in total ignorance of D&D gaming mechanics.  So they play a home-brewed hybrid mostly informed by the old Star Trek RPG: percentile stats and skills (with no gaming interaction between the two), career lifepaths for skills from Traveller, etc. and only uses d10’s.  It’s worth noting that, as gun fetishists, they also imported FBI gun statistics to calculate how deadly combat really is, so you die about as frequently as an Old School D&D game.  I’ve played the same guy for almost two years, and he’s practically an weathered veteran as a result.

We only play four times a year–one of the reasons for the group’s longevity I suspect, and “EOW” which I mention frequently here is the big four-day blowout they do annually.  I’m going to miss EOW this year (couldn’t be avoided) which is a shame because the group spends part of the time playing other genres and universes using their ruleset, which I suspect satisfies their desire to spread out for the remainder of the year.

Anyways, I wanted to chime in on the benefits of the game in a way that would be too long for a comment on Grognardia, so here you go.


  1. It was great reading your writeup. 1980 or 1981 I first saw The Morrow Project as a kid. I was too poor to get a copy but I really dreamed of it. A couple of years ago I cobbled together a background very similar to it though I never ran a campaign in it.

    I admire your group’s ability to keep at it all these years.

    Great stuff!

  2. Four times a year? Ouch! Sounds like you’ve got a really dedicated group of players tho. I DO like the idea of the four-day gamefests going.
    BTW, I’m Tim McFadden, I wrote “Bullets and Bluegrass”. VERY good and valid comment about those who whine about us “gun fetishists” yet see nothing odd in having the entire spell list memorized. Personally, I see nothing wrong with either and I remind my fellow gamers it’s the Mundanes who are the threat, not us. We must present a united front against them!
    Seriously, I’ve been working on a Morrow Project novel. Would you be interested in taking a look at the current draft? I could use the commentary. I can send it to you as a Word file via email. Let me know. I can be reached at

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