Maximum Recursion Depth, or Sometimes the Only Way to Win is to Stop Playing: The Karmapunk RPG
Maximum Recursion Depth is a rules-light, OSR (old-school D&D) / Into the Odd-inspired game set in an alternate version of the modern world. It’s a world inspired loosely by Buddhist and Taoist mythology and philosophy, weird urban magical realism like Vertigo Comics, Doom Patrol, and Persona, but also The Good Place and Bojack Horseman. It’s a dark examination of the self and society, but equally full of camp and humor and absurdity.
In a world where the Monkey King overthrew Buddha, and the ineptness of his Celestial Bureaucracy has led to an increase in Rogue Poltergeists and the active participation of the Numberless Courts of Hell in the affairs of the material world, the players are Poltergeist Investigators, working to manage the affairs of the afterlife where the system has failed. They do so because they are Recursers, individuals capable of reincarnating between the material world and the Numberless Courts of Hell, empowered with Karmic abilities via their Poltergeist Forms.
Poltergeist Investigators acquire Karmic Attachments as they search for Rogue Poltergeists and infiltrate The Numberless Courts of Hell. While this Karma is what empowers their Poltergeist Forms, a Recurser who accrues too much Karma becomes an Ashura, a Karmic Devil. If one chooses to engage with the themes of this game, it is a game about navigating a dysfunctional world, of trying to better the world while recognizing one’s own dysfunctions; where in failing to do so, reincarnation after reincarnation, one will eventually reach Maximum Recursion Depth.
- Complete ruleset with 7 Player Character Poltergeist Forms and 100 Special Items
- Weird setting by yours truly
- Original art by Uve Lorenzo and Scrap Princess
- Stylistic layout and Cover Art by Roque Romero
- Editing and guest writing by Fiona Geist
- Module: A Poltergeist Investigation and Court Crawl with high randomization/replayability, and a good framework to get a feel for the setting and to write your own adventures. Built on the principles of Social Intrigue and Tabletop RPGs as Performance Art
- Promotes Non-Violent Conflict Resolution but also allows for plenty of violence and/or superheroics if that’s more your speed