Mice and Mystics Designer Breaks Down Aftermath's Gameplay, Factions, and Future

Plaid Hat Games is known for creating worlds full of colorful characters and inventive gameplay mechanics, and that trend doesn't seem to be stopping with their newest release, Aftermath. The Mice and Mystics creators are introducing fans to a new cast of quirky characters, factions, and scenarios as players navigate through a world where the humans have all vanished. Animals have taken over and sought to make a life for themselves in the aftermath, and you'll take control of several heroic rodents attempting to provide for their colony. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Aftermath designer Jerry Hawthorne all about the game, including what it has in common with other hits of his like Mystics and Tail Feathers.

"I would say that the tone is very similar and intended for a similar audience," Hawthorne said. "It’s fully co-op. There’s still the quirky charm, and there’s all the heroism and funky villains. The characters are wholesome and dedicated, and of course, they are tasked with the burden of enormous responsibility beyond their position."

"However, with Aftermath there is a somewhat haunting feeling from adventuring through the abandoned spaces of an extinct human
civilization. This gives the players a unique perspective on topics ranging from consumerism to environmental custodianship. None of
this is taught to the players, it’s just the setting that generates these thoughts and ideas."

Aftermath-Fort-Abigail
(Photo: Plaid Hat Games)

Aftermath gives players a responsibility to help their colony survive, and the challenge was finding a way to introduce that aspect into the gameplay without allowing it to drag the rest of the game or experience down.

"With Aftermath, I wanted to task the players with the additional responsibilities of providing for a struggling colony," Hawthorne said. "I didn’t want this to be a laborious aspect of the gameplay, I just wanted it to be a feature that affected the choices the characters make as they balance their own needs with those of the meek rodents they are providing for. Being able to do this without it intruding upon the gameplay or the narrative was indeed a challenge, but it’s also something I am incredibly proud of, because it truly is a very easy to understand, and a very thematic process that takes virtually no time away from gaming."

After hearing about the characters and the world that inhabit the game, you might be wondering how an actual turn works in Aftermath, and thankfully Hawthorne broke it down for us.

Aftermath-Board
(Photo: Plaid Hat Games)

"Aftermath has an action card deck that drives the game," Hawthorne said. "At the beginning of your turn, you will draw action cards until you have 5 in your hand. The color of the action cards dictate what you can do. First thing you do is place any black threat cards drawn onto the threat track. This represents a building up of danger. You also check to see if you drew the calamity card. This card usually represents the predators hunting you and becomes more threatening the longer you’ve been away from the colony."

"The rest of your cards you use to move around, fight, scavenge, solve skill tests, forage for food, communicate with strangers, etc. These cards are color-coded to the various heroic attributes you will employ: Red for strength, green for agility, yellow for instincts, blue for resistance, and white for heroism. You can save cards to use in defense or give cards to encourage your teammates and help them succeed," Hawthorne said.

"At the end of your turn, if there are 4 or more threat cards on the threat track you will have a surge, which is contextual based upon the page you’re exploring," Hawthorne said. "It might cause the passage of time, or maybe bad guys arrive for a fight, or negotiations with rivals become hostile. If there are enemies already in play, they will now take their turn, and the threat cards are used to determine each enemy’s AI."

Aftermath has several factions, each of which have their own distinct vibe and style, and you'll be interacting with all of them through the course of your campaign and in a variety of ways.

"I had the factions designed long before I got the opportunities to make these games," Hawthorne said. "I wanted to represent distinctly different thematic groups that had different motivations. The Hoodies are the escapees of a local pet shop, the good guys. They’re my favorite. I love the good guys. The Scaled Ones are the lizards faction based upon my own love for the geckos that have thrived on my courtyard and even inside my own home. The Junkers are based upon my love of all things Mad Max. They are the diesel punks of the game. The Blighted are the deranged rats from the sewers and hold the most mystery. The Nocturnes are all the nocturnal creatures that rule the night."

Aftermath-Characters
(Photo: Plaid Hat Games)

Fans will meet a host of lovable characters as they play through the story, and there's one in particular that Hawthorne can't wait for fans to meet.

"While I was writing this, I think my favorite character is Grumple," Hawthorne said. "She is big and powerful and temperamental, but also fiercely loyal, and somewhat melancholy. She’s the only guinea pig that anybody has seen since the Great Calamity took humans away. She’s lonely, and I find that vulnerability endearing. She yearns for fresh vegetables and building a garden at the colony, not only makes her happy, but it also provides a lot of sustainable food for the colony."

When it comes to actually throwing down in battle though, it's all about Whisper. "Gameplay-wise, my favorite is Whisper. I love her abilities. She is very defensive and agile," Hawthorne said.

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The future is definitely bright for Aftermath, and there are plans in the works already for future content. "We have a series of expansions planned. We are looking at a combination of plug and play character and villain packs, and additional larger expansions that would come with their own book," Hawthorne said.

You can find out more about the game right here, and make sure to pick up Aftermath when it releases later this year. You can also hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB about the game and all things Tabletop!