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.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drugs and The Zone

There are two kinds of escape - the zone, and drugs, and rarely do the two mix. There might be some drinking - that goes on everywhere, and for good reason - it can be safer than water under some conditions and a way to relax. Narcotics however, are still a constant threat.

Despite various changes in law enforcement, there is still a heavy taboo against many types of mind altering substances. While most residents of the zone respect personal freedom, hallucinations and not-quite-dead things out for blood don't mix all that well.There are some in the zone that enrich themselves through the creation of harmful chemicals, but sneaking them into a well guarded G-zone can be quite difficult.

Conversely, in many of the G-Zones where threats to life and limb are usually confined to the outside, escapism is fairly rampant. Of course, since this impairs work and can lead to off-setting behavior, numerous steps are taken to combat this scourge.

Unsurprisingly, New Birmingham has some of the strictest statutes, outlawing even tobacco, medicinal marijuana and closely monitoring alcohol consumption, though the later is still allowed. Both the citizen enforcement units and "Right Thought" attack the problem head on, while ever present moralizing presents a huge stigma. At least a few take citizens interpret mild drug use as a way to quietly rebel against the government.

Conversely, the free city of Tesla is quite forgiving of drug offenses, though it is hardly free of Taboos. While personal freedom is prized, it is a city-state dedicated to to the pursuit of rationality and high order thinking in order to pass a technological singularity. Altered states of mind may help in some sorts of research and philosophy, but are generally not in line with the enlightenment and logic enshrined by the city's founders.

Las Vegas maintains the laws much as they used to be. Jail sentences and discharges tend to be replaced with time in a penal battalion however, as manpower is seen at a premium, even if the city is over-populated. A few weeks digging ditches in the desert or running the gauntlet of Citizen and Reanimate forces to the East tends to be a very effective punishment. Still, a lot of bored soldiers and too many people causes a number of social problems people seek to escape from.

Lone Star tends to be relaxed about the drugs themselves, but severely punishes any crime or infraction committed when under the influence. Most of the remaining NEST towers have a similar policy, but these arcos are rather more porous, heavily populated, and have a higher density of reanimates outside, leading to a much greater level of despair and abuse than farther West.

Rumors abound of places where drugs are used as a social control or means to reward citizens - trading addition for service. However, these are probably just that, rumors - the side effects of most narcotics become too much of an impairment too quickly to allow this sort of system to work for more than a few months or years.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

KC's Glass is Half Full...

"To night we've got a special guest. Back from a long sabbatical, we have KC explorer and philosopher of the wastes,  KC"
   "Been a while since you've heard from me, hasn't it? Well, what can I say? There is a notable lack of two way communication, and a long distance between points, made even longer by the fact that the short cuts are usually crawling with things you want to avoid. Ahh, but the things I have seen - new civilizations forming, the evil get karmic comeuppance, I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate...
   "Really? Would that have been anywhere near the shoulder of Orion?"
   "Finally! Someone gets it! I tell you, its like they don't teach classic film appreciation  anymore? To all those listening to this, find what's left of the SPHERE and look for some movies. I mean it, I'm serious. Look - you have to enjoy yourself, and you might as well do it by preserving the worthwhile of history. Relax man, its a zombie apocalypse - not the end of the world.
   "That would be a pretty bold statement. Care to back it up?"
   "You disagree Mr. Hobbes? I would have thought that was  pounded into everyone by now. The sun isn't blowing up any faster than usual, the sky isn't afire, no dinosaur killer asteroids have been spotted, and only a couple of nuclear weapons were used. If a wolf started eating the sun and the giants rose up to kill the gods, then taking what you can and as much of it as possible might be OK.
   "Pretty confident there will be a rebuilding then."
   "Its already happened, and accelerating. You yourself have the time to maintain a radio station, city states have established themselves so well they're beginning to argue about boundaries. We've met actual aliens, answering some pretty major questions about the universe, and proving faster than light travel is possible - somehow. Humanity is going to see the stars, this is just a minor setback like the black plague, the Spanish flu, or the death of Jimmi Hendrix."
   "So we keep making pop culture references and maintain a zen attitude, and this too shall pass?"
   "Well, if you want me to be doom and gloom, I can be. But I've gotten along in the zone with a live and let live attitude fairly easily. Know your reanimate types, slow, smart, strong, ambush predator, super-soldier, and walking tank. Don't shoot if you don't have to, and keep a low profile. Remain unattached to goods and mobile, yet connected to people and prepared to stay around and help them. Always take time to enjoy life, keep your powder dry, and don't trust a bartender that makes Shirley Temples with vodka."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Merc Recruitment

"I don't have to outrun the reanimates, I just have to outrun you".

Banish this thought from your mind! Never again let it come calling! It is not my place to be the thought police, but I will stomp the throat of anyone who practices such blasphemy.

This puts you in danger, this puts allies in danger, and worse - this mars our reputation. That is unforgivable! If settlements wanted just another man with a gun - they would find a man, and give him a gun. When they turn to us, they are looking for professionals. For serious help. For those who can do what they can not.

Our reputation is what makes them willing to negotiate. Our litany of service, and every little rumor spread is what separates us from shoot on sight bandits. A tool on the black market - you can inspect it, and judge its worth. Armed men, you can't just check their teeth, kick the tires, and put a bit on your tongue to gauge the quality.

You. Out. It might have been an odd turn of phrase, but it is a deadly serious matter. Never underestimate the importance of how we act as a group. Supplies are too thin for us to have sort of uniform or standardized weapon - always a motley band, never an army.

What guns you have are those you can personally find supplies for and are comfortable shooting, the company will provide little more than food, pay, and transit. We will train you, we will heal you - but the greatest reward is the company you keep, the friends that will watch your back, and stand by your side no matter what alien or abomination is st before you.

But you will not stay together without work, and that means you personally and the corps in general must audition, and put its best face forward. Technical prowess, firepower, intelligence, ability - none of this comes to play if we don't have a willing customer. The pay is great if the customer trusts us, and non-existent if they don't.

Now, who is still up for an adventure?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For War and Profit (Part One - Origins)

The standing army is a bit of a historical aberration. There were militias, armed nobles, and guards - but service was more a type of tax or tithe than a civic duty. You got land from the king, and in turn agreed to protect it and support him against his enemies. Mercenaries were pretty common - pay for an army only when you need it, and get forces with experience rather than armed serfs. It was the rise of industry and to some extent fire arms - that lead to the need for specialist forces and large national armies.

Soldiers for hire became quite common after The Event. With the devastation of the industrial base, supporting advanced systems or large armies became quite difficult. Concurrently, a drop in population meant that that most settlements couldn't afford to have people serving all the time and not helping elsewhere. Although some form of protection against reanimates was needed, most surviving enclaves did not need to protect a huge area or force their desires on other nations which also meant that large national armies were somewhat unnecessary as well.

Around the same time trends indicated the time was ripe for mercenaries, the potential supply also sky-rocketed. Many soldiers found themselves with some equipment, but cut off from command and control. Those who chose to be raiders or simply give up the military life generally left their heavy equipment behind due to difficulty of finding resupply. Soldiers who wished to hold on to it generally needed to either find a way to link back up with the government or to make it profitable. This also was a ploy for personal security - working for a town meant stability and allies - wandering alone with heavy weapons made many consider that individual a threat.

Of course, not all soldiers for higher started as professional military. Many people with relatively limited skill sets or criminal records found that it was easier to sign on with a militia than pick up other skills. Others saw it as a path towards exploration and adventure, while still having the safety of numerous armed companions and steady work.

A number of non-military mercenary services also appeared after the event. One of the best known of these groups was the "Ambulance Chasers" - medical raiders. There were also reports of free-lance fire companies who would help inspect and reconstruct ad-hoc settlements to be safer places, college professors trying to teach (much like hiring Greek Philosophers in Rome), and assorted technicians assisting the creation of new electrical and mechanical systems. Retrieval Experts and reanimate/alien extermination squads were another common theme - though the latter often operated under a rather heavy stigma.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Not a lot of people die in the zone. Reanimates, Aliens, accident, infection, raiders, black market deals gone south, unstable explosives, building collapse, bad food - all of these things kill people on a regular basis. But, its a matter of perspective and understanding.

When infant mortality rate is only about five per one thousand, then each lost baby seems like a tragedy. When its thirty per hundred - it seems terrible and unacceptable, but you're still breeding at replacement levels and then some, and frankly - you become inured to it - these things happen, move on.

The other thing you have got to realize, is we have it easy now. At the heyday of the Event, it was chaos. Everyone has just kind of collectivism put it out of their consciousnesses because it was the epitome of anarchy Hobbes "nasty, brutish, short". The military was fighting an actual war around the world, against an enemy that could bomb anywhere and anything from orbit, the dead were rising with little local enforcement and poor coordination due to networks breaking down, some sociopaths were taking it as the end of the world and killing for canned food and bottled water...

Even the mousiest chartered accountant and quietest librarian you meet today has successfully lived through hell on earth.

Things aren't simple now - we need to replace all the infrastructure lost five years ago. We need to chose white kind of government will help us rebuild, and what ideals it should enshrine. It would be far better to say we are recolonizing the former territories of old nations, than to claim we are rebuilding the old states themselves.

We are not going to allow this dark age to last long at all. Perhaps that is the most important lesson. A few years ago, it looked like natural selection and Darwinism would reclaim its grip on humanity. Now we have some issues, but no need to accept that humans are simply prey animals in the food chain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Deal with Dr. Kurtz

Its me again, yes. You think the zone is just going to take me like some boogy man? No, Its just another place and not intelligent at all. A bit like you - trying to sneak past like that. If you had just walked up, we'd take a few canned goods as a toll, and let you be on your way. Running like that, well that seems to imply you have something worth guarding, so of course we're going to take a bit more interest.

And really - what has that got you? A bit of a beating, yes, but you go off, and you tell others we're reasonable like this, and its better all around. Yes, I'm sure you're thinking of the rumors about that settlement where every last woman and child was killed. You're not the only one.

I certainly didn't give the orders to do something like that. Not our style to liquidate potential sources of tribute. The message is sent far better by just torturing or crucifying a few, or leaving their dead hanging from a bridge. Shooting everyone is a waste of bullets when they're not fighting back. And what is the point of leaving no witnesses?

Something is amiss, yes. Its not my Tower Reversed though. All the casings on the ground were the same caliber - few to no raider groups can manage that sort of supply. There was also a half-track present, another fairly odd occurrence for a small group.

So, I will make you an offer. Why don't you look into this, and report back to one of my checkpoints? There will be compensation of course, and bounty and salvage to be had once this errant group is found and dealt with.

Odd you say? Well, perhaps I should get an investigator that has a bit more foresight then? It should be pretty obvious that people will be pretty guarded when one of my men strides into town and starts asking questions people are going to be a bit guarded. Someone who is just looking for a bit of money and forgiveness is not going to raise eyebrows like an Inquisition sent on behalf of Dr. Kurtz. 

You still haven't paid the toll mind you, so yes, I'd say forgiveness or penance is the right word. Unless you're volunteering to help set an example of the proper way to send a message in the zone. I didn't think so.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Random Thoughts from Inside

The is something in the Human psyche that just isn't comparable with the ten hour work week. If you make it possible to do in four hours what used to be done in eight - people will continue to work eight hours and double output. Can't quite say why - but all those old 1950's Popular Mechanic's articles didn't understand this either, so I'm in good company.

Now the short answer would seem to be that we don't have labor saving devices in the zone. But really, we're not ignorant savages, and we're not re-inventing the wheel. Most people at least know the definition of the word "irrigation" - its not like were in Babylon and its a newly discovered concept. Might not know the best practices to be sure, but we can try and experiment, and have come up with a pretty good system.

I wouldn't call everyone lazy, but we recall the old days and aren't quite willing to throw ourselves into per-industrial behaviors that quickly. I'm there are Amish and civil war re-enactors somewhere that are just laughing their heads off about all of this. The rest of us are creating short-cuts wherever possible. Or go the long way because we can - quite a few people here have hammocks on a pulley and crack system, to ratchet them up to the ceiling, rather than just rather than just pick them up and fold them. Hammocks are pretty popular since making new mattresses is a pretty big resource and technology sink when you think of it - all those springs contained in discrete layers...

What? Oh, yeah. Its easy to go off on tangents like that. We're not all that directed around here. Its boring really. We're so used to focusing on multiple things at once, walking and talking while eying things in the mall, picking out information on the SPHERE while mentally sorting out the dross, listening to music and driving - there isn't enough stimulation for the modern mind without radio and net access.

So we continue to work, no matter if our inventions save time. Really, its the people trapped by reanimates with nothing else to contemplate that go stir-crazy or have internal social issues. If there is work to be done and a strong wall, who cares about the things outside? If there is something valuable here, people will come right through them - they'll go through cities for loot, and that doesn't have a guaranteed pay off or armed rescuers standing-by at the gates so why bother with the things until someone shows up anyway?

You can tell I haven't been sleeping lately, huh? So many things. Where is the army in all of this? We can't have lost all the marines. There's got to be some sort of back-door system that lets them take over micro-facs and rearm, right?

Final Observation: Settlement 351a, "Crosby" is a currently functional settlement, in need of minimal type 1-B aid package for possible reintegration with federal systems. Inhabitants are still in recovery phase and open to accepting return of aid. Settlement 355 to the north has a higher independence index, but is still within standards of type 2 aid with need for standard undermine or enhanced procedures to secure loyalty. No villages currently require level three or active termination. - Mauser.