The following is based on a campaign setting variant idea i had and may have mentioned somewhere on YDIS at one time or another. The concept is deceptively simple. Your players play Rangers, that is to say, a band of civilised men that voluntarily forsake the comforts of civilisation in order to protect it, not the fighter-druid-treehugger interpretation of post 3rd edition DnD. They are a small band consisting at most of 4 people, maybe 3. Got that? Okay, now draw a giant hex map and fill it with a human civilisation, maybe more, you may sprinkle elves and dwarves to taste if you so desire. Excellent. Don’t forget to add borders in the form of encroaching giant forests filled with filthy humanoids that need culling, add rivers and mountains and trade routes and everything. Are your players getting acclimatised with patrolling the vast stretches of forest land and having only intermittent contact with civilisation? Excellent. You may now trigger the cataclysm that causes all humans/dwarves and elves to vanish without a trace, leaving behind nothing but empty cities, roads, and villages.
Your players are now entirely alone as they are exempt from the curse. Well, not quite. The closest thing they have to company are the murderous tribes of monsters they have been killing that are now moving back into civilised lands, to inherit the fruits of mankind’s labour. You could talk to those, but you would have to tie them up first. You could talk to the weird fucked up Faery Creatures that live beyond the edges of the map, ask them if they know what the fuck is going on. You’d have to go around the humanoid tribes though. What will your players do? Will they attempt to figure out what the fuck is going on and why they were spared? Will they try to search for other survivors? Will they attempt to murder as many humanoids as possible, stalking them until you become legend? Will they hold on to their oath to protect civilisation even if they are all that is left of it? Will you just give up and lie down in the moist earth until you die of cold, starvation or exhaustion?
This game needs a hex map and lots of bookkeeping. And you had better get yourself some decent weapon and armor degradation rules. And a fuckton of weather tables. Good weather tables. And encumberance rules. Annoying but manageable and worth it. You can find plenty of gold but it is worthless. To humanoids now bereft of unscrupulous human merchants to trade with it is used as little more then decoration or a mark of prestige. A steel sword in pristine condition is the find of the campaign. Most of your adversaries should be wild animals or humanoids. The occasional freaky faery creature or giant vermin should add some variety. And no resurrection. If you die you are out of the game. Can they find out what the fuck happened, are there still humans about, is it reversible? This is up to the GM.
-I am Legend by Richard Matheson. Just picture the humanoids as Vampires and you got it.
– While the ranger concept was probably based off of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings one of the most suitable interpretations of the ranger archetype for the purpose of this variant may be found in G.R.R Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice. The Night’s Watch, with its oaths, its isolation and its tradition of grim and solemn service is eminently suitable for the rangers in Ranger.
– Weird fucked up Faery creatures should be based off of classic Faeries and thus they should be strange, capricious and whimsical. They should never express pity, concern or understanding for the players’s plight in any but the most superficial and insincere of manners.
-The classic Twilight Zone serials “Where is everybody” and “Time enough at Last” should serve as suitable inspiration for conveying the creeping, crippling isolation.
-Watch some survival shows set in Canada or Alaska. That’s the kind of forest i am going for. Deep, dark, endless, frigid, hostile.