Dystopia Rising: Evolved - A Recap

Happy Tuesday!

As always, let’s start off with some bullet points:

  • Please download the rulebook directly HERE, for free, to make sure you get all updates as we release them.

  • Follow along with the release notes and other updates HERE.

  • Downfall 2019: Deathcon tickets are now on sale HERE


3.0 goes live in just about two months, so we wanted to take this opportunity to check in, do a little recap to see where we’ve been and then look forward to see where we’re going. It’s been a wild ride and we thank everyone whos’ been with us for all, some or just a bit of it.

So, let’s start at the beginning. Well, DRs beginning.


The tiny team that created the origin of DR finds themselves sitting on a couch, one summer afternoon. Having played larps for the better part of the prior seemingly 800 years, they conceived of a better game than they had available (as is the origin of so many larps). As non-fantasy people, they also thought it would be fun to be able to play something other than fairy creatures (or dwarves, as you fancy). From that basic idea, and a very minor hurricane at a music festival, Dystopia Rising was born.


February: Dystopia Rising sees the light of day. Run at a convention in New Jersey, with a lot of hope and twice as many cardboard boxes, we ran two modules over two nights. There were grenades, nearly broken doors and at least one pretend helicopter. To call it the Wild West of DR would be an understatement. But people had fun. So…

March: First full weekend event. It was colder than we wanted, the campground hadn’t turned the plumbing back on (much to our surprise) and we did check in on a printed out page of, effectively, Excel.

We ran through the year, until October, wrapping up the season with the first ever Deathcon. We had many friends show up during the year. Some stayed for awhile, some left, some are still playing regularly. By end of year one, we’d outgrown the campground and moved to what is now the New Jersey location. Around year two, we were approached by some players who wanted to open a DR in Texas and in Massachusetts. The game was never written to be multi-location, but we figured it out best we could.

Fast Forward

The network is now about 17 branches. First: Holy crap. How did that happen?

Anyway, we’ve adapted, shifted, patched and bailed water on many things. For a ship that was only meant to carry one crew, it did a pretty good job. But we could see the wear at the seams. So, after much debate, a few calls-off then back on and a lot of silent stares into the middle distance, we decided it was time to take the game into surgery and see if we couldn’t bring her into the modern era. What was amazing and cutting edge a decade ago… well, we bet you’re still not using the same computer as you were in 2009. Same goes for larps.

Game Runners Retreat 2017:

The idea of 3.0 was announced to the branch owners. Those present were provided with design theories on where to go with the system and structure of DR E. This included the first initial concepts, what the larger design desires were, and taking feedback from owners regarding the desired direction vs where we were now. We told them then that they should start collecting feedback for what people would want in a new version of the system.

Mid-2017 – Mid-2018:

We opened for feedback, thoughts, ideas and concerns. To allow smooth communication (we hoped), we created a format by which players sent feedback in to their branch runners, who in turn compiled, collated, commentated and then sent it on to DRLLC.

Some branches did not have content to submit while others had 30-page documents with line items and references.

The feedback was broken down into “what can we change, what should we change, and what is outside the scope”.

Testing happened at major events (Fractures, in example) while other aspects were tested in private larps and side projects (i.e.: zones of play in Utopia Descending).

Mid 2018:

The initial design draft for the core system for DR E was presented to the branch owners. Flattened numbers, reducing redundancies, redesigning the blueprints completely to provide a universal “base” that we could then build from, and other core ideas that were a part of the initial draft which was being tested outside of the core DR game.

January 2019:

Branch Owners get a link for access to the earliest beta versions of the DRE rules. January to about May was opportunity for the owners to be a part of an owner only discussion group.

May 6, 2019:

The branch runners as well as the employees who handle Experience Design and Logistics were given download access to the beta and a discussion/question/feedback group was started. The group, which as of today has 53 members in it, were given the task of finding issues, collecting and communicating feedback from their players, and to put in requests for what they would like to see addressed based on their experience and feedback received.

June 8, 2019:

The current version of the 3.0 Evolved larp book goes out to the backers of the Onyx Path Tabletop backers. It’s quickly shared, and a new round of feedback begins rolling in.

June 15, 2019:

The 3.0 Evolved larp book goes live for free download to the public. It’s clear how many people shared the Kickstarter version, as we don’t get much of an uptick. We figured that would be how it went. We were excited to share it too.

And Forward:

The 3.0 Discussion channel remains open and active, with branch runners and employees reaching out on a regular basis to ask questions or gain better understanding. All of the branches have access to this medium to give feedback. Some branches are very involved in the design and debate discussions, giving lots of feedback, and because of that feedback there have been many changes to the design documentation. There have been points where discussions between multiple branches went back and forth on ideas, proposals were put out, votes for changes were asked for, and additional player and game system support was implemented or added to the “to develop” list. Some branches, due to time or other limitations, have not been actively involved with the feedback process. Some have said that “all the things that get brought up to me get brought up by (and insert the name of very active members)”.

The new system goes live on September 12, 2019. Game runners have been receiving the updated files, processes, blueprints, how-tos and everything else over the last few months. The last round of updates goes out to them on August 1 in our monthly updates.

What Now?

We know that there will be changes in the coming months, as the system gets more and more use and scenarios nobody thought of come up. This is the main reason we won’t be putting the book out in print until Summer 2020-ish. No matter what we do, there will always be something that can be better. We’re not the team we were 10 years ago, and we hope we continue to evolve as people and a company for years to come.

As of today, July 30th, DRLLC and the development team have responded to all feedback that has been brought to us. So, if you sent something up the chain and haven’t heard back, definitely check back in with your game runners.

We’ll continue to take input for the foreseeable future. You’ve likely already seen a lot of the outcome of that, with the many adaptations that have been made since June 8th (we have a change log HERE, if you want to check it out).

Maybe someday we’ll hit the point where the system is perfect, flawless and so finely sculpted that any time someone opens the book choirs of soft harps play in the back ground.

But more likely, in six months we’ll come across something that neither writer, editor, game runner or player noticed and have to figure out why the computer thought we were typing “ducking”.

- The Dystopia Rising Network Team