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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quiet Reanimate Seder Thoughts

"This is the bread of affliction, which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt..."

You find a lot of people going through religious festivals these days. I really can't attest if belief is making a comeback or not. Even in New Birmingham there are probably a lot of those with minimal faith that put on airs to take advantage of a good thing. But, so far as I can tell there are a lot of festivals.

Obviously, most of these rituals pre-date electricity, so its something to bring people together without using too much in the way of resources. Kind of like how Classic Rock and Classical compositions have changed places - quartets and candles are still possible, sparing the fuel for generators to run the electric guitars and light show - that is high society extravagance!

There is also the excuse to eat - never underestimate how many of our holidays center around food. If you can't splurge on your scarce supplies in the name of god, when can you? Well, obviously it should be never - but if you really did get held in that austerity, would you want to live?

Taking a less facetious tone - that may be a reason for the rise of spirituality. To have something to live for, or belief that those taken down in the hard days of the Event are in a better place, where we can see them again soon. (But not too soon, of course.) If not the afterlife, then deliverance and affliction are powerful themes when in any disaster, especially one that seems so supernatural.

While recovering the technological artifacts is where the big money is, there is a good market for preserving religious and social ones too. Some of these can be difficult - you can't just throw a torah or icon in a sack drag it around after all. You need to escort a rabbi or have a priest demonstrate proper care. Still, even if you do it for some religion you've never heard of, there is that extra warm feeling in your heart for doing it, in addition to standard fees your charging. I just know there is that satisfaction, and you don't get it from just grabbing generators and nano-vac. Its the closest I feel to relgious.

Well, its not for me to judge, but you'd be remiss without a bit of spirit in the zone.

And on that note, have a joyful passover. L'Çhaim.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bigger Picture

Can I trust you with a secret? A big one I mean, possibly a life changer, not just a locker combination. I'll chance it.

We're not doomed.

It always seems like it. The stocks of non-perishable foods have been picked clean, we don't have any major munitions factories running, the city states are gearing up for war, the aliens are copying earth vehicles, the pipelines have all corroded, no one makes the tools to fix the machines to rebuild the infrastructure to make the tools to fix the machines to re-

You know. Its been pounded into your skull with some regularity. None of this is false, but its not quite true either.

Fact is, you have already survived one of the most tumultuous uprisings and cullings since the black death, small pox, the second world war, or that volcano that reduced the human population to less than 10,000 a couple of millennial ago. If you can make it on Broadway, or through reanimates - you can make it anywhere.

Another thing for you - the chain of transmission for a lot of diseases has been broken. Hiding from the reanimates has been a quarantine enforced by an unexpected source. Nano-vac may be hard to come by these days, but the need for it has been dramatically lessened. Germs tend to go extinct when their carriers disappear.

It might take centuries to fully reverse the impact of the industrial revolution, but the air in many places is already cleaner, and the world on a whole isn't that unpleasant right now. We don't have the old over-crowding of the past few decades. Trade might be down, but we don't need it as much.

If ninety percent of humanity died, that means ten percent still lived, and ten percent of nine billion is still a big number. Enough to keep nations, religions, currencies, and art forms alive - we're not going to have one big happy family unified earth at the end of this, but humanity is going to keep chugging along for a while. Heck, so will you. Even without new sources of nano-vac, seventy or eighty is still easy, you just can't rely on tiny robots to do much of it for you.

Humans are still as adaptable as ever. We've made it over the hump. There are still challenges ahead, but extinction can wait for another day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ballistic Blues

We're running a bit low on bullets here. And I don't mean "we this camp", I mean "we the human race". You would think there are a lot of peacenik types that would appreciate that, but they were probably eaten by the reanimates, feral zoo animals, or aliens a few years ago.

Ok, I'm being melodramatic. But it is a problem we need to address. Big factories obviously aren't running, and micro-facs aren't meant for arms manufacture. The military might have built some for fabricating weapon parts or aircraft components abroad, but its not really the guns and parts that we're lacking. Kind of by nature - the whole propelling things through use of explosions - guns are well, pretty tough - you know?

If you're not an expert in the field, you might thing that nano-facs are little replicators, put in feed stock, and get anything you want. That is really not how it works.

There are several different types of micro and nano-facs (Technically, nano-facs are micro, but not always vice versa, but using the terms interchangeably is common even amongst the operators.) dedicated to different tasks - such as ones that handle cloth, and others for metal, and other for computer goods. A cloth factory could produce anything from a bikini to a three piece silk suit, but none of the pins for the tailor to custom fit them. A car oriented factory might have the means to handle nano-scale silver and platinum for catalytic converters, but they're not going to produce medicine.

Taking this a step further, there are also chemical handling factories for drugs, or material science. The aforementioned cloth factory might be able to produce bullet-proof vests, but it needs spools of high-tensile fabric made elsewhere to do so.

Yeah, yeah, I know - I lost you about three paragraphs ago/ Short version for those about to fall asleep: Most factories are too specialized or the wrong type to produce gunpowder. No nitrocellulose, no boom. Metal slugs for gauss weapons are easy enough to make, but the supra-conducting magnets that make them - that is even more difficult to forge than umm, uh...

Well, we were able to make nuclear weapons and plutonium a hundred years ago, modern rail guns only in the last twenty or so.

Don't get me wrong, micro-facs are wonderful, and retrieving parts and templates for them is some of the most valuable salvage work you can undertake. However, arms stocks have actually been fairly low priority so far compared to farming and industrial technology for running a city-state. That may change soon, and bring some city-states into conflict. You might want to be far away when that happens, I know I do.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Citizen Armies

Citizens are methodical when it comes to war. Between their tendency towards what we would call vendettas and the price of mercenaries, there is a cultural emphasis on making sure there is nothing left to carry out reprisals. Limited supplies and fear of human numbers also encourage them to take assured steps. (You'd be scared if stuck on a foreign world, even if the populace didn't have things like tanks and reanimates - right?) 

If you piss them off - you will know it. Fortunately, it takes a while to get that far.

For the most part, they aren't looking for conflict - since doing so requires such extreme measures, and most of them probably don't have the supplies to carry it out for long. At least we don't think they do.

Patrols will be seen around their borders, but they tend to announce their presence or leave signs - deterrence only works if you know its there. In some places - usually desert like ones where there are few people, it will be just citizens in flack vests with their little rocket rifles, and panzerfaust like anti-tank rockets. They don't like facing humans without their machines, however. Air patrols by helicopters, roving beetle like armored cars, or perhaps most likely - their signature demon armors are another common way to enforce territory.

Speaking of which - laser towers. Those big lotus like things that use phased array emitters to steer energy beams - not always strictly their territory. Obviously, the aliens have to be around to set them up and keep them charged. But you can't always trace a line between them and say one side is PC territory, and the other anarchy zone. Sometimes they keep the tower's closer to the settlements for protection but claim a wider area, and others they put the things way out to protect strategic points. Sometimes human settlements can be included in their territory - its nice to have traders, translators, potential slaves, or whatever other use they find for humans at times. (So far as I know, they don't find us delicious.) Also - Citizens aren't dumb and will take up active defense if you prepare to make trouble on their borders - they will not just sit patently on the other side of the line while you prepare for war.

Where was I? Right.

After patrols, the most likely sight will be wrecking crews. Citizens know about denying sanctuary and supplies to their enemy and often go about demolishing old towns to make sure they don't end up with refugees, bandits, or worse on their borders. Usually these teams will give advance warning to evacuate, or even negotiate a scheduled for moving the populace. Usually. At the appointed time, teams will move in with explosives, backed by Succubus units (the ones with missiles - incubus is just guns) to collapse anything that tries to resit or attack the sappers. After that, they tend to either sift through the rubble for any valuable materials - or just cover it with dirt to make a small hill. That is a sure way to tell the difference between a town depopulated by reanimates or hit by raiders that found a cache of missiles - the aliens are careful to not leave ruins, reanimates leave most intact, raters just leave junk.

When you do find an actual citizen military unit, it tends to be big, and some multiple of five. Can't tell you why that is the magic number, or the names of their units, but its always something like five, fifty, or two hundred fifty - though that last number is pretty much unheard of these days. Just think in terms of a normal human platoon, company, and so on. Often some portion of these numbers are mercenaries, and rarely that means human mercenaries. Two to one you're going to faced trained high level warriors rather than conscripts. A bit of selection pressure means that those who made it through the Event learned how to deal with tanks, so even a few of those aren't going to be much help, and really - who has "a few"tanks just lying around these days?

Basically - don't tick off the aliens, OK? Don't you have enough problems already?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Take this Caravan and Truck It.

Being self sufficient is a damned tall order - even the minimal impact arcologies made with the best tech 2030 had to offer couldn't do it. Villages and towns cobbled together in the wake of a disaster - good luck.

Its really hard to generalize about trade routes - so much depends on the area, the needs of the people, alien levels, and the like. If I had to make categories, hmm - lets go for four types. Protected, Directed, Casual, Smuggling.

Protected caravans carry all the high priority things with immediate value. Yes, surgical tools and spare parts are always needed - but if you stole a bunch of them, it would be hard to use them yourself or sell them to the very next person you saw. Food and munitions, on the other hand, are valuable to anyone at any time. As such, these caravans travel only rarely, on previously scouted routes, and only if they have acquired a large number of guards to keep it safe. They aren't always very good guards - if you want some travel in your life, they'll accept just about anyone really, so feel free to sign up - but there will be a lot of them.

Directed caravans are for important stuff that doesn't need such heavy escort. Might have some guards, but most of the defense is just the operators own weapons, vigilance, and deals with the local raiders. Like a protected caravan, they tend to have a set destination.

Casual caravans are your wandering traders, making a general circuit, or speculating on rumors and coded radio transmissions.

Smuggling in this context doesn't quite mean illegal stuff, it just means small scale and using a combination of mobility and wits to make it through. A group of thirty guys, eight vehicles, and ten thousand rounds of ammunition doesn't happen every week, or even every month. Sending it via different method might not make it. So if you absolutely need to deliver  bullets, get four people, and give them each a pack containing two hundred rounds. They split up and travel the back ways. Its pretty hard to notice them, and even if one or two get caught, most of the delivery gets through. Not the safest method, but usually the fastest, and at times, that means the best.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zone Cusine

No two ways about it, food in the zone is crap. However, its only marginally worse than the crap most of us were eating beforehand, so it doesn't seem like that much of a dip. That doesn't mean I don't miss flavor, however.

This is one of those rare things that can't be blamed on citizens these days. Yes, people will blame everything from their luck at cards to their lack of new Paris fashion trends and male pattern baldness on the Citizens - but this no one can pin on them.

Nano-vac worked for humans, to some extent it worked for livestock - but plants were something entirely different. So as you can imagine, food blights and crop failures brought by the altered weather of the thirties and forties wreaked havoc. More expensive travel due to the lack of oil powering the great container ships and the slow rate of replacing the merchant marine did not help. Even something as seemingly common as black pepper went up by a factor of five or ten times the old price. Cinnamon - anyone under thirty hasn't really tasted cinnamon. Not unless their parents owned fortune five-hundred companies.

We still had artificial flavors of course, but whose mother whipped up fresh "4-Hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde"with just a commercial hand mixer each morning? Natural herbs are available these days, and if you're in the right parts of the country hot peppers are always good.

We're eating a lot less textured soy and algae protein these days. Mixed blessing - artificial food was at least nutritionally balanced. Organic and free range is great - but it doesn't change the fact you need to eat the right proportions of it. Most people aren't dong that and multi-viatamins aren't readily available. So we're avoiding the dog food but not the malnutrition it was meant to stave off.

Fish has become a lot more common. Mostly because its not cute. Yes, a lot of immigrants off of farms moved into arcologies, and Edges but well there are not cattle in those places, and elsewhere you don't have people used to raising buffalo and the like. I don't know where all the cows went to, but for that I probably will blame the citizens. Not for the mercury poisoning though. Yes, we've tried to clean up the rivers, and industry has stopped, but things haven't cleaned up overnight. Or I could just be paranoid. But really - was safeguarding the fish farms the first priority of the government when the dead rose?

At least the "nothing but canned food"stage of the reanimate uprising is over.