Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playable Minimalism

I'm writing the anarchy zones setting, because it appeals to me. Future things, like arcologies, nano-tech, planned environments, power-armor - all quite fascinating.

Not so much the lack of government aspects, nor the back to nature angle. Given the medical history of my family and myself, none of use would be alive without 20th/21st century tech.

Unfortunately, all this interest has lead to rather unnecessary levels of detail. I can outline how internal nano works, for how long, and even the fact its pink - but is this really what the players need? My notes contain an outline on how the US army reacted to fuel shortages, and the revised Tables of Organization and Equipment - including powered personal armor. However, why should the TO&E matter when the military is largely non-existent, and finding a cache of equipment could derail a game?

So I'll be attempting every now and then to give a "just the facts" entry to the game. I started a discussion on the forums (Detail required for a setting) to help focus my efforts. Please let me know if presentations of this sort are helpful, or if I should continue my information overload style.

Nanotechnology Medicine
  • Two types exist SVIA and STAIN - nano vaccine and nano surgeons respectively
  • SVIA (Semi-Volitional Internal Agent) prevents infection, stops minor internal bleeding (bruises, not hemorrhaging)
    • 500 cc bags of bubblegum pink goo
    • Allows characters to generally ignore colds, parasites - though still best to not consume spoiled food or tainted water.
    • Supposed to last over a year, and then fairly gradually taper off protection, but constant use reduces it to only 6-8 months before another IV is needed.
    • Valuable trade item, and allows players to avoid taking penalties for illness (a slight skill or initiative penalty depending on the disease)
  • STAIN (Specific Treatment Active Internal Nanomachines) is for repairing major internal problems.
    • 1000 cc "dusty pink" with oil like sheen
    • Needs an outside control center to work, unlike pre-programmed vaccine
    • An IV bag or two can set and mend bones, remove tumors,  repair organs - generally act as a competent surgeon for most problems.
    • A good commodity for those with access to proper hospital facilities, or a reward from a city state agency - it will restore a PC to full health regardless of their prior condition in about six hours. 
    • However, those who don't know the difference between nano- surgeons and nano-vac can be accused of using counterfeit product, or or very disappointed to find they are not interchangeable. 

Powered Armor
  • Three main types exist in the USA, each named after a WWII general officer
    • In theory made up around a quarter of most regiments - three suits in a squad of twelve
    • Suffered heavily against PC forces as even the strongest are still below the alien "Incubus" armor in capability.  
    • Complicated repair and a lack of spares also prevents them from being too common.
    •  None make the user superhuman - the mechanics are more towards limiting fatigue and absorbing heavy loads. A PA soldier can't lift a motorcycle, but can march six hours with a 80 kilogram (172 lb) pack and still feel rested.
    • Data-links, air-conditioning, and a sensor suite also help combat effectiveness. 
  • William Donovan is a stealth unit for special forces
    • Numerous built in sensors, automatic temperature control, IR/Radar camouflage
    • Actual protection is only on par with a flack vest, and no built in weapons
    • Very rare, and generally meant for scouts and forward weapon targeting.
    • Some have the Electronic Visual Emulation and Nullification System (EVaNS) system built in - providing adaptive visual camouflage.
  • MacArthur (Mighty Mac) is an assault armor
    •  Highest level of protection, built in missile launcher on the shoulder, or cylinder fed breech loading motor (looks like a revolver firing artillery shells) on the back, often uses auto-cannons as a rifle, and an over-sized entrenching tool as a melee weapon (and engineering device as intended)
    • More piloted than worn, thus less intuitive to use than others.
    • Notably larger and heavier than other models (about 3 meters/10 feet) rather than 2m/7 feet for the other suits - making it rather less capable in certain terrain and quite conspicuous. 
    • Quite often the first target due to size and threat, thus many prefer to leave it in the rear as fire support than use in the attack. 
  • Eisenhower (Ike) is a general purpose unit
    •  Most common, looks much like riot gear, but with an opaque helmet and volumetric (accordion like) joints to allow for ease of movement despite internal overpressure (keeps out chemical/biological weapons)
    • Although no weapons are built in, its cargo capacity means its often carrying automatic grenade launchers, motors, or ATGM systems for the rest of the squad. 
Micro Factories
  • Its not likely that the PCs by themselves can run or repair an entire factory. 
  • All of the city-states desire these structures for long term production and material wealth.
    • Many jobs a player might receive revolve around these facilities
    • Escorting caravans traveling too and from a facility makes for a good introductory level session
    • Finding replacement parts or retrieving production templates are all likely jobs for players
    • Securing the area for another settlement, and sabotage are missions for those who become really embroiled in city-state warfare.
    • Finding ones lost from the grid or setting up a small colony are another focus.
  • Even broken down, there can be quite a bit of good salvage - raw materials, welding gases, computer parts, old transports

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