After The Nuclear Winter Comes The Nuclear Spring
A long-term GURPS campaign in the post-apocalyptic USA
A long-term GURPS campaign in the post-apocalyptic USA
1. Classic Roleplay-By-Post. I want players who are dedicated enough to make the gameplay smooth for all of us, that is with no significant and especially unannounced delays. I accept substitutions and hiatus (when a player stays in a settlement to achieve some long-term task while the rest of the team moves on for the duration of his absence.
2. We are using GURPS 3ed. If you don't know how to create a character, I am willing to help you and you are free to use one of my presets from various campaigns I've GMed in the past.
3. The world is quite extensive and I intend it to be a bit of a sandbox. There are several competing factions, a lot of independent settlements, caravans fighting for power and you are free to create your own settlement and/or caravan if you please.
4. It is up to you to decide how the team meets and decides to travel together, but if you cannot decide, I'll do it.
5. Combat will be fairly common outside the cities, inside them expect to be punished harshly for hurting someone in front of witnesses without any reason.
6. There is no time limit. I can run this campaign forever.
7. It is not easy. As you’ll see, the world is very harsh and just surviving may prove quite a challenge.
1. You start rather poor. Just a basic outfit - shoes, trousers, shirt, a duster etc. and a melee weapon of your choice plus $75 worth of trinkets. You have enough food and water for two more days.
2. You have 125 points to spare, you can take 30 points in disadvantages and 8 in quirks.
3. You can play as any human race and any gender, as a villager or a reformed tribal if you really want (only 90 points for them and appropriate disadvantages).
Note that these may be modified and/or expanded before the game starts, albeit not in a very significant way.
- A nuclear war broke out 50 years ago but the land has only been habitable for the past 15. Few people emerged before that point and the vast majority of them died. Most people emerged between 10-8 years ago, which is the point when bunkers were planned to approach their food limit.
- Nuclear winter came and went, and the world is becoming much warmer now, the setting is mostly desert-like.
- There are very few animals. Cats, dogs, rats, cockroaches and ants survived in the bunkers, as did some of the animals that hid inside the caves, mainly birds and bats. Slightly mutated grizzly bears from the north are a subject of legends while various bugs and roaches are commonly kept as food. Rabbits and chicken were also preserved but are very uncommon as there is little one can use to feed them. Meat is therefore a delicacy. It is rumoured that some animals may have survived in the north but that has yet to be proven. Fish are slightly more common but can’t be eaten often due to contamination. Lake water should be avoided as drinking it for just a few days in a row can easily kill a person. Only the most desperate do that and pay the price of radiation sickness.
- Natural vegetation is very scarce. Bunkers had a large supply of basic seeds so wheat, sorghum, barley, rice and potatoes are still available, though in rather small quantities. They form just a part of a poor man’s diet, they are a staple of the middle and upper classes. Many poor people subsist on just crickets.
- There are some trees, and seeds were preserved in the shelters. Many were planted by the settlers and are regarded as their private property. Dead trees are not easy to find.
- Water is rare and one typically has to work hard for it.
- Slavery exists but not in the area where players start; it exists there by another name – indentured servitude, either by contract which exchanges work for shelter, food and water for a fixed period of time or as a punishment for a crime. Contracts can be sold freely. If the servant doesn’t work, the contract owner does not need to keep him fed. If he doesn’t work properly, he can be given up to 5 lashes per day.
- Radiation doesn’t result in cool mutations, instead it makes you progressively sick and prolonged exposure is fatal. This is most likely to occur in the most irradiated areas or by drinking polluted water.
- Survivors are still mostly literate and maintain elements of pre-war culture. Most, however, would have a rather simple vocabulary and would find it rather difficult to understand complicated, long sentences. There is a difference between townspeople and tribals who typically spent years just trying to survive and have no use for difficult concepts or printed word, their language is more direct. Scholars exist and are often venerated.
- There is no coinage. Items are exchanged based on their value to the buyer/seller, with expensive items such as weapons, bullets, working microprocessors or useful survival items such as lighters being kept for their value. Precious metals are not worth that much. Clean, non-irradiated water is always in high demand.
- Scrap plays a very important role in this world's economy, especially high-value scrap in pristine condition. Scrap electronics that can be repaired or used to repair other things are also important.
- Working car parts, as well as working machine parts, especially electronics are very rare and even one such item can make someone drink freely for a month. Working cars are impossible to find, one always has to replace or repair many components to make them run again, and most of these are too rusty to begin with.
- Trading is profitable - Coppertown-Airport is one of the most famous trade routes; Coppertown and nearby villages produce some spare food and Airport usually has enough scrap and various parts to sell.
- Food costs about $2-3 per day while water costs around $8. A typical person in Coppertown can earn about $11-13 per day. Many jobs, such as a miner, require one to work effectively, daily salary will be determined for each case and there will always be an element of randomness. They allow a strong or smart person to earn more than average.
- A working pistol in good condition can cost about $500. A pre-war working pistol will cost at least $1,000. A pre-war M4A1 will cost $5,000.
- Characters start in Coppertown (northern part of ruined Shamrock, Wheeler County, Texas). Population is around 200, plus at least 80 indentured servants working for the caravans.
- Coppertown’s guards are armed with guns and the city maintains a small ammunition factory. Caravans have their own guards, even better armed and armoured.
- Sheriff is the local authority and serves as the local judge and executioner. The jury is randomly chosen but only available when the matter concerns murder, rape, blackmail or banditry (all are punishable by death). Thievery is punishable by indentured servitude for the injured party until the value of the stolen item is paid in full, plus the court fees, plus the compensation determined by the sheriff (typically twice the value of the item). Alternatively a thief may pay thrice the value of the item stolen plus court fees and be tied to a pole for two days. Most other misdemeanors are punished by having to repay the victim. Sheriff rarely actively pursues criminals outside the city limits – these have a bounty on their head placed by the injured parties or their families; if the family can’t pay, caravans sometimes pay the bounty but receive the right of retribution, meaning that the criminal will become their indentured servant if captured.
- Marty Robbins serves as the current sheriff, he is highly dependent on the caravans and rarely acts against them.
- Coppertown is a merchant hub dominated by two local companies – Wheeler Caravan and Jenkins Water Merchants, they, along with the sheriff, will be the main quest givers. The first one trades mainly in technology, scrap, and good quality metal, whereas the second one owns of the few still functioning water installations. They are roughly similar in terms of power. Wheeler Caravan is rumoured to engage in shady deals to obtain technology while the water merchants charge exorbitant price for their water deliveries to villages, essentially coercing them to give a large portion of their supplies away; some villagers choose to sell themselves into indentured servitude, but the caravans only accept those who are strong enough. Sometimes they will let two candidates fight each other to the death for a free spot. These companies have two active caravans each.
- Wheeler Caravan is controlled by a trio of hardened merchants – Bill Stafford, Ray Valli and Gene Hacker. It is named after their friend and mentor who died several years ago, James Wheeler. Stafford specializes in administration, Valli often travels with their caravans and Hacker is a technology expert who appraises what they find.
- Jenkins Water Merchants is controlled by two brothers – Terry and Peter Jenkins. They are ruthless and brutal; their company is more secretive than the other ones. They don’t typically offer many jobs, but are rumoured to hire assassins to murder deserters and leaders of stubborn settlements.
- Other companies include: Jenkins & Jenkins (food merchants, rising in power as they are willing to travel far), Towers Co (trade medicine and oddities) and the Royal Mines (they own a mine and a smeltery on the outskirts). They can only afford one caravan at a time and they often look for men brave enough to defend them, for unlike the two main companies, they don’t have more than one or two guards of their own.
- Jenkins & Jenkins was founded by the other two Jenkins brothers, who abandoned the water merchants and chose a less cutthroat business model. They often hire mercenaries to protect their caravans as they lack guards of their own.
- There is also a number of free merchants who occasionally travel together. Rarely anyone travels alone as it is too dangerous.
- Rob’s Car Joint is the only car shop around. He will pay dearly for car parts and petrol. There are, however, just six functioning cars in the city. Two main caravans have two pickups each, one belongs to the sheriff, and Rob has one for himself.
- There is a small mercenary company called the Eagle Company, with six professional, armed mercenaries. They very rarely ask for help.
- There are two main bars in the town – Moe’s Tavern and The Shady Saloon, the latter doubling as a brothel. Moe’s Tavern is more respectable but more expensive; one cannot enter it without a shirt. Gambling is fully legal and poker, liar’s dice and the shell game are among Shady Saloon’s specialties.
- There is one doctor in town, and a nurse. There was another one but he was poisoned a few months ago.
- While many of the smaller towns are based around fallout bunkers, and relatively hard to enter, Coppertown is open to everyone but suspicious about foreigners. One cannot settle without a sheriff’s permit.
- Town has a few independent craftsmen – a blacksmith and his apprentice, a potter, a miller, a woodworker, two weavers and an alchemist. They may have quests for you and sell gear.
- Typically well-fortified.
- Usually have at least one gun.
- Settlements by the route typically have around 15-20 people each, others around 12.
- Bunkers are always well-armed and apparently can decontaminate water, but rarely have enough to sell it to foreigners. Some of them are still closed and it is unclear whether anyone there survived. Many are still buried in the ruins.
- Farmers rarely rely on crops alone, they would often move around, scavenging, mining for metal, looking for places to fish, or even rob travellers. In a world where it's not easy to get clear water, one has to do everything he can to survive, and survival alone is no small achievement.
- Technology used by villages is typically primitive, with windmills being the most recognisable symbol of the countryside.
Reachable within a day:
- Goodsprings – to the east, along the Route 66, a tavern and a brothel, some farms.
- Tattington – to the west, along the Route 66, a small bar, some farms.
- Galveston – to the north, a small farm.
- Republican – to the north, beyond Galveston, former Wheeler, a farmers’ hub
- Cornwall - to the south, a cricket farm
- Laputa - to the south, a farm and a bar
- Tannenberg - to the south-west, a large farm
- Tanner's Caravan - an independent caravan and a mine to the south-east, they rely on indentured servants and are closed to the public
- Maggie's Farm - a family farm, they shoot on sight unless you're a caravan
- Bunker 98 - a small, closed bunker to the south-east, they sell water and buy food
- Bunker 314 - locked, no response
- Bunker 981 - locked, no response
- Bunker 837 - abandoned
- Bunker 838 - abandoned
Reachable within two days:
- Lopez – to the west, along the Route 66, a tavern and a farm.
- Triangle – to the east, along the Route 66, a tavern, two farms, and a small mine.
- Cleveland – to the south, an advanced farm with hydropronics and their own well. Foreigners can’t enter and those who approach too fast are shot on site.
- Palisades Town – to the north-east, a farm.
- Sedaka – to the north-east, a farm.
- Claude Ranch – to the north-east, a farm.
- Bunker 11 - abandoned
- Bunker 18 - abandoned
- Bunker 911 – abandoned
Reachable within three days (50-60 miles)
- Tumbleweed – to the north-east a small farm, good sorghum.
- Robert – to the north, beyond Republican, a farm.
- Forth Meyer – to the north, beyond Robert, a farm.
- Duchy of James – to the north-west, a farm, one cannot enter the premises or communicate with anyone but the “Duke” or his son.
- Pilkington – an old warehouse, a miners’ hub to the south.
- Amanda – a farm to the south-east.
- Frontier – a farm to the south-west.
- Undertown – a fallout shelter to the south-west, they buy food and water in exchange for scrap.
- Bunker 52 – a fallout shelter to the west, closed but sends caravans every now and then.
- Bunker 232 – a fallout shelter to the west, essentially a large brothel.
- Bunker 984 – abandoned.
- Bunker 988 – abandoned.
- Bunker 989 – abandoned.
Ruins of Amarillo
- The Airport – the largest town around, around 80 people live here. It has its own sheriff, a saloon, a blacksmith, and is a home to Rick Stone, a famous engineer. It’s mainly a scavenger hub. It has two caravans of its own, the Walker Caravan and The Lone Star Company, constantly looking for mercenaries. It used to be the largest settlement in the area but more than 200 people died fighting the Sabers.
- The Scrap – a basement converted into a pub and a brothel. One of the two places within the ruins themselves, in the suburbs.
- The Husk – a basement converted into a fighting arena, popular among scavengers. People can fight here freely in and the winner of the night wins a full meal and a gallon of water.
- Bunker 109 – a large shelter within the city, closed, no communication.
- Bunker 21 – a small shelter within the city, open to trade, sells technology, imports food.
- Bunker 51 – a medium-sized shelter within the city, open to trade, has an area for outsiders, sells scrap and water, buys food.
- Bunker 10 - abandoned
- Bunker 344 - abandoned
- Bunker 384 - abandoned
- There are around 15 bunkers buried under the city ruins.
Ruins themselves are quite dangerous as parts of them are still contaminated by the irradiated water from the city sewers, and tribals living west of the city are known to hunt scavengers.
- Sheriff Jack Grimes would do anything to keep his city safe, and is quite effective at keeping peace. Unlike his counterpart in Coppertown he is independent of caravans. His powers and laws are similar to those of Coppertown.
- The Airport maintains a strong cult of The Heroes, those who died fighting the Sabers. The list of the dead can be found on a large, stone monument in the middle of the old departure hall.
- Rick Stone, a famous engineer, lives here and pays good money for pieces of old equipment. He often hires adventurers to bring him rare items.
- Walker Caravan belongs to Herbert Walker, an old prospector born before the war. He knows the land well and often personally commands his caravan. They buy and sell pretty much everything. He maintains a no-nonsense demeanor and shows no mercy to captured tribals.
- Lone Star Company is owned by two local blacksmiths – Emile Darin and Tommy Roe. They often trade technology for food.
The Holy Order
- A minor faction two days north of Amarillo.
- They are led by Father Gibson who preaches that the apocalypse had long been prophesized by his grandfather and served to clean the world of filth. They want to replace the world of sin with the world of God. They ban excessive drinking, prostitution, tobacco, drugs and gambling in their lands. Anyone caught breaking these laws risks fifty lashes, essentially a death sentence.
- As they live on the frontier, their villages are heavily fortified with large scrap walls and sniping towers.
- Any tribal caught within their borders faces instant execution.
- They shun slavery and hang known slavers.
- They own many settlements, each led by the Vicar:
- St. Joseph – the capital, in the ruins of Dumas, Moore County, Texas. Locals have built a large cathedral out of scrap that serves as the centre of their operations. It is heavily guarded.
- St. Peter – by the Lake Meredith. A small fishing village.
- St. Anselm – a farm to the north of St. Joseph.
- St. Ezekiel – ruins of Hartley, Hartley County, a border fortress.
- St. Augustine – a scavenger hub on the outskirts of ruined Dalhart.
- St. Philip – a farm north-east of St. Ezekiel.
- St. Matthew – a farm east of St. Philip.
- St. Thomas – a farm east of St. Joseph
- St. James – a cricket farm south of St. Joseph, the first settlement reachable by someone walking north from Amarillo.
The State of Oklahoma
- Located north of the Holy Order.
- They are led by General Thomas Anderson, commander of Bunker Alpha Zeta Gamma, a military installation that serves as their capital, located on the outskirts of ruined Boise City. They have since renamed it New Washington.
- They believe they are the legitimate government of the United States of America and will issue their citizens with passports.
- They possess sophisticated weaponry and technology but lacking manpower they cannot spread. To ameliorate that, they often hire mercenaries and pay them with bullets and trinkets such as an old smartphone or a computer.
- They maintain several settlements, each with their own Military Constabulary who serves as a sheriff.
- Crimes are punished by forced labour, often indefinite. Crimes committed by soldiers are treated more seriously, sometimes resulting in death punishment.
- The local law clearly distinguishes between military personnel and civilians, with the former being second-class citizens, who cannot vote. Soldiers retain their status for life, upon retirement they are transferred to the Military Reserve.
- They are constantly fighting tribals from the north, suffering heavy losses, in difficult guerilla warfare and nighttime raids. Northern Tribes are known to be even more vicious than their Wild West brethren.
- They have about 30 soldiers and about 100 civilians, mostly farmers.
- Wheeler – a farm east of New Washington.
- Croptown – a farm east of New Washington
- Felt – a farm south-west of New Washington, in the ruins of a town of the same name
- Freedom – south of New Washington, mainly a cricket farm.
The Wild West
- Beyond Amarillo lies the Wild West, occupied mostly by cannibal tribes and bandits.
- Tribals rarely have any working weapons and appear unable to fix them or produce ammo. They prefer bows and slingshots.
- Tribals are known masters of the harsh terrain and attack travelers along the Route 66 if they don’t have guns. They often attack at night, trying to use stealth to make up for the lack of guns.
- Tribes are not fully understood, according to those who surrendered, they came from overcrowded bunkers to the west that didn't have proper agricultural support like the ones to the east, forcing them to resort to cannibalism.
- There are ruins of several settlements that once formed The New Texas Commonwealth, a few miles to the west of Amarillo. They were destroyed by the Sabers several years ago. Locals fear them immensely.
- There is a dangerous gang called The Sabers that operates to the south of Amarillo. They are one of the largest “factions”.
- Their core are families of soldiers from a military bunker to the south.
- Well-armed though short on ammo, they operate their own mercenary operations, but are primarily slavers. They rarely kill people they rob, but slavery is often worse than dying.
- They are very hostile to intruders trespassing on their territories, but maintain an outpost by the highway to the south of Amarillo, serving as a “border post” – one can buy food, water, slaves and technology here, and can purchase mercenary services, but remains at the mercy of the Sabres, as they sometimes kidnap people who stay at their territory, especially if they possess useful skills.
- The Sabres have tried to attack The Airport a while ago but were defeated by combined forces of the Airport, Coppertown and some of the bunkers.
- The Sabres own seven settlements and achieved autarky.
- The Sabres are not hiring and are known for their brutal discipline. This prompted several of their men to defect to the north. They revealed that the Sabres are fighting an even more powerful faction called The Tide, known to be another gang of slavers.
The Free Guild
- A confederacy of settlements to the south of Coppertown.
- Peaceful, but ready to fight, they often need mercenaries to fight tribes to the south, which though fierce, are not as numerous or as vicious as those from The Wild West.
- Their capital is Freetown – around 50 people live there, and it serves as their hub. They maintain their own caravan, The Free Caravan (duh). Individuals and settlements are prohibited from establishing their own but smuggling remains lucrative. One may visit Freetown but has to remain within a designated area and cannot venture further to the south without a pass, very rarely issued to foreigners.
- They produce the majority of known opium and marijuana and export them throughout the wastelands.
- The last settlement before the Great Divide. Established just a year ago by dissidents from the Free Guild and hostile to them ever since.
- They were able to steal some opium and marijuana seeds and maintain their own farm, but are known as the best bug farmers in the wastelands.
- They are anarchists and everything except murder is fully legal in their territories, but one still has the right to defend oneself – if someone breaks into your house, you are allowed to shoot him without warming. If a foreigner insults them, they have the right to beat them mercilessly.
- They offer mercenary work to anyone interested, usually involving something malicious against the Free Guild.
- Settlements allied with Libertaria, within a day’s travel to the east, south and west of it: Redmond, Luther, Moses, Thaler and Springfield. These are mainly bug farms.
- One is encouraged not to anger them, they are trigger-happy.
The Great Divide
- A Native American tribe to the east. How they survived the war and the winter is a mystery to everyone. The most popular theory involves mineshafts.
- Very secretive, they are not aggressive but one should not approach their settlements which lie around 80 miles to the east.
- They used to trade with Coppertown but they haven’t sent anyone since one of their diplomat had been shot dead by an unknown assailant.
North of Coppertown
- Fort Meyer, 60 miles to the north is the last populated settlement in that direction. Some independent farms are known to exist even further, but those are too small to be called settlements. Scavengers often venture north and there are rumours of a scavenger paradise named “Denver” but it is hard to prove or disprove them.
- To the west of Fort Meyer one may find The Holy Order and The State of Oklahoma, but to the far north there is nothing but aggressive tribals.
There are multiple small gangs operating within the civilised area. Their hideouts are obviously unknown. Some of the larger gangs include:
- Scalpels – known to scalp their victims.
- Ramblin’ Roses – vicious, they often hunt cannibals in the Wild West and are likely cannibals themselves
- The Family – a famous cannibal gang that shows no mercy to anyone, perpetually high on something.