Shadow of Mogg, Manic Productions, £14.99, c2021, Website
Review by Seth Stauffer
Welcome to life after “The Event”! Manic Productions has published a post-apocalyptic game called the Shadow of Mogg after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Will you and your fellow survivors hang on to the shreds of democratic civilization, or will it all fall apart?
The game is centered on surviving a devastated world in a small and highly democratic group. Anything is up for debate, and everything needs some kind of consensus. The title gives the ultimate hint of what those stories might be like. Shadow of Mogg is a “post-brexit” ttrpg. Players are tasked with trying to hold on to the remnants of their now ruined civilized society.
The game is set primarily in the London Underground and this where the players will collaborate with the game’s Speaker (gamemaster) to help the story unfold. Weighing in at 90 pages, Shadow of Mogg is easy to define as “rules-light”, and their tables to help make what is present very straightforward.
At Shadows of Mogg’s core is voting. Literally, anything can be voted upon in this game, and one of the more amusing examples in the book is “who eats first?” This is a central component of the game, and overall, the rules are fairly simple. Everything is resolved via die rolls, often d6s. The voting mechanic is a fun element of the game. However, it could quickly degenerate and require The Speaker to intervene to ensure the game functions smoothly. Additionally, the game’s designers included, and encouraged, the use of safety mechanisms (“X card” and the “Lines and Veils”) to make sure everyone at the table is comfortable and having a good time. Notably, these come before the rules and are suggestions for running the game itself.
There is a very strong DIY “zine” aesthetic throughout the text. Everything is laid out with the appearance of having been printed and cut out of something and glued onto another piece of paper. It adds a great effect to the tone the game wants to capture. Unfortunately, at times it’s a bit too much and there are places where words are obscured by gray smudges. This was likely intentional, but it doesn’t necessarily help people reading the game.
Something else that tripped me up was, “why the London Underground? Couldn’t this be anywhere in the UK?” The designers could just as easily have used a generic term such as “abandoned train tunnels”, and nothing would really have changed. What’s more, the mechanics felt loose enough to be played as something along the lines of Mad Max or Waterworld, which is a strength. It’s fairly obvious that the game is a satirical take on life after Brexit, but the rules don’t tie into the setting enough for my liking.
Altogether, this is a unique ttrpg, and a fun take on group dynamics, which are front and center in Shadow Of Mogg. While it won’t be for everyone, there’s a lot to be said for giving people a neutral forum to discuss the controversy. Shadow of Mogg does just that. It provides a venue for players to look back on things, and reflect on what unfolded and why. This could be comedic or dramatic, but that’s determined at the table. Will the group survive? Will the players continue to uphold their past society’s political ideals? Should they? Shadow of Mogg takes life after Brexit to its logical extremes and beyond in a fairly irreverent and creative manner. If you’ve got an itch for disaster scenarios, but don’t fancy pummeling your way to a brighter tomorrow, this game might be worth a look.