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, September 24, 2013

Freighter Captain

I was at sea when the aliens arrived. Scary as S--. Reanimates, you can do something, hide at least, or shoot them. But all the bombs mankind has ever made don't mean a thing to the Atlantic. All the satellites go down when you're in the Northern waters? Its like war - if you've never been - no mere words quite do it justice.

You might have guessed that I wasn't one of the many that died on the waves. Sure there are aliens wandering about, but lets be reasonable here!

Reanimates don't swim too well, least not to my knowledge. If you're a few miles from shore its pretty safe. Catch is, you do need to eat. Not many places you can call a real port of call. Who operates the cranes and tugs - provided the machines haven't fallen to rust and ruin? Ports tended to attract large populations of business, factories, workers, immigrants - and wherever there were lots of people, now there are lots of reanimates. 

You can send out a jetty, or wait for people to come out to the ship themselves. Neither is a good option - one puts a small number of your people at the mercy of others far from help, and the other allows strangers on your ship. Too small boats meeting sometimes works, buts its hard to transfer much cargo of any type when you have two pitching dhingys. 

There are basically four types of captains these days. 

If you ran an old burner - coal, CNG, oil - your tanks are dry or spoiled, and few places have a few hundred tons of fuel to sell. So in that case, you're just an off-shore island, offering sanctuary or ahem, "social services" (People still got that itch you know, and we are going to have to rebuild the population some how...)

Next we have the two types of Windjammers, both of which are better off. To some extent, at least they can still move. A few brave ones still face the oceans and trade winds, taking month long journeys to keep the world connected. The balance though, just flit up and down the coasts carrying local goods and passengers. Its lucrative, but you meet a lot more people, and some of them just don't have your best interests in mind.

Finally, we have the nuclear cruisers. You can ply the sea-lanes or power an entire city off their atomic piles. A lot less risk when you can make a voyage in weeks rather than months - when whole towns can disappear in a bad winter, being gone for three months means you might never see it again. Port facilities are even harder to find, and finding enough cargo, or the right kind, to by a few hundred kilos of uranium... 

Sometimes my job seems about as bad as a paper dog chasing an asbestos cat through hell. But I'm not at war, and I'm not wondering who is the rightful government - the old law of the land, or the current holders of the territory. I know its just me, god, and the deep blue sea. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life on the Normandy Coast

Its not a bad life here, I'd dare say it might be pretty good. But it is a small life, a boring life and that - and that- and umm...hmmph.

Well, what is your measurement? Each generation tries a little better, and hopes a little greater for those that follow. From let none of our children get eaten or die horribly to own a little plot, to a big one, to be be educated, to not be hungry... there are still some beaches south of here where you see the remains of when we fought for higher ideals. We were at a time, even with all the ecological problems, when most of those were solved, at least here in Europe. Might even be able to say that with the world and Sphere at your fingertips, the struggle was against boredom and callousness.

The world has gotten both smaller and larger after The Event. You live more local, and everything else has moved farther away. For all the pride in French cuisine, sometimes tamales or a gyro sandwich just seems like a nice change of pace. Can't get those spices anymore. Five years ago we had satellites in orbit everywhere, now we have to worry about scurvy during the winter months, since vitamin C rich foods can't be imported easily.

In theory there is still trade with other towns. In theory. Two catches though. First of all, you need to have something worth trading - small villages don't have much, and cites usually don't have the resources to produce. Secondly, the way is broken up and unsafe - so you either hire free companies - which can be very expensive - or you make the run yourself, which is pretty dangerous.

We're pretty lucky actually - rich for the modern age. Fishing in the English channel, farms, sheep a lot of places are worse off. Most of us around here won't even say the capitals name, and cross ourselves if its even whispered - the stories of slaughter by the reanimates... The city of lights has survived a lot, but no true Frenchman would desecrate that grave for a long time to come.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Joy Ride

The Eekaide sang as it powered up, a strange chorus of warnings and status outputs, but humans would call it music if only their ears could hear the high-pitched tones. This particular piece of music was extra special to Shipwright G#G#BCb-8 x'k-LA Ozensosk - known to most humans as "Sing Sing". 

Most of the time, she was afraid. Afraid of other citizens who held vendettas against her family, afraid of citizens with dreams of power and conquest now that they were on a new world, and afraid of the humans that fought back. Mr. Hobbes and Senior Diego were nice enough, but they were giant humans and many of the questions they asked for their radio show couldn't be answered by one like her. In the scheme of things, Sing Sing was just a barely qualified mechanic and laborer only recently old enough to vote.

A single encounter unit wasn't much in the face of a hostile planet and centuries of blood debts either. But it was enough for her. It took a very humorless person to be unsatisfied by a machine that amplified your height six times, your strength several dozen, and allowed almost an order of magnitude more speed. Never mind the projector that could kill targets through armor and the shoulder mounted missile tubes. This was as much power and authority anyone of her status could hope for.

With a final flourish of beeps, the robot's overture ended, and it was ready to go. Sing Sing flexed her upper arms, while the lower left toggled the cameras so she could watch the suits actuators move with her limbs. There was always a delay in reaction, and seeing it for yourself was better than trusting abstract numbers on the readout. Satisfied, she toggled the throttle with the lower right arm, and stomped the steering pedals for a quick side-step. With only a moment's hesitation, the huge machine moved.

Slowly laying on the power, the suit's pace quickened. the insulated cabin reduced the footfalls to merely felt thumps - but it was still loud within. Squeaking hydraulics and the whine of the gyros that kept the machine upright despite missing two legs (at least from a quadruped citizen's point of view), chimes from a dozen different readouts and a crackling radio. It was cluttered, confined, and noisy - an little clearance for antennas mad it uncomfortable as well.

Sing Sing did't care. She was bounding across the terrain at twice her fastest running speed, and stepping over obstacles that would come up to her neck under normal circumstances. For the time being, she was free.

(In case you don't know musical notation, her name is G-sharp, G-sharp, B, C-flat as a "signature whistle"

Friday, September 6, 2013

Drawl on about City States

Gef out of here! Go! Raus! Skedaddle.

Dose hateful dings! Whaf daf man was sayin abouf New Birmingham - Lord have mercy. And de old Govment, I spit whenever I hear dat so called presiden's name.

Mind you, even the devil tells the truf if it suis his own purposes. It be true that all dem NES' folks are a bunch of tieves, don build nofing new adall - jus stell from de dead of all de old cities. And dose army troopers, dey goo de best guns and ello coppers, well skooled - you ain't hear no arguin fro me, dey good. But dey be servn evil people, and we migh no beat 'em in dis life, but de nex don look too good for dem.

'Corse what I hear is dat most de army now be deserters or criminals, given guns and an a license to loof - em and em domain you know.

Now if you wan a good lif, you do never speak of dat Desla Place, now arround her you don. If one ding for a man in powah like the presidn to be empted to sin. Bu dis is a whole cidy up an ouf de-fyien god, dinken deir computers and sy-bear-nef-iks can save 'em de way Jesus can! All sors of sinners line up a de gates, an dey be dold to serve de Desla massers and give up dere children for entry! Be glad dey so far away in de Rocky Monts.

Naw if you lookn for good people closer doo home, you gof Lone Star, alon de Dexas side of de gulf. Dey gof a nuclear powah plan an a half completed arcology, and be good friends wif da men on da naval bass and. I don dink dey in leauge wif de old govermen, but dey don ave much fuel neither, so it be hard to knwo when do go an fight. Dere be a lota aliens around der, like big shrimps wif laser guns! Aliens still gof an army, wi big demon robot and ello coppers dat look like fire breathn catfish. Pray for dem Lone Star folks - won you?

Now some say dat de aliens fight each another, or pay off humans to do it for dem. California be de nastiest bunch of dem around, while udders mig be willn to sit an jaw a while. You imagine dat - talkin to a shrimp? Nah, I jus stay here, nice an safe. Righ Dought folks might be over eager, but Sheppard's Hand is good people. So wa if he calls 'em police and nof an army? We be in a civilized town dat needs police and pastors, not troopahs and dictators. We's got Sunday picnics every week when most in the wasteland would fight each udder for a can o beans. Der be sho-shops and soda pop, dentists and mechanics all about us here, like a good little down - almost as if De Event never happened, alright.

Ah say again, dis be a good place, a righteous place, and fine in de eyes of de Lord. Some covet technology too much, or govermen powah, or try to keep ol ruins alive with bits o de dead. Here we care about people, all the childrens get school, all da wives keep dere homes. Dere be weeds in out gahden, but it bears might fine fruit, while all de udders be twisted or barren. To be po' here is better dan to be rich out der.

(My apologies to anyone who actually is in the Deep South, I'm trying to change up my writing, not mock you.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Working for the Man (Part One)

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". - (Quote Act II, Scene V). Twelfth Night, Shakespeare

I guess that is of some comfort. Most people, whether they be in a massive city-state or a tiny commune don't go out hunting reanimates and dodging citizens. There are cock-ups to be sure, but generally action only comes around if you ask for it. In turn, that means signing up for a citizen militia or similar organisation. City defense forces are as varied as the places they represent, I'll run you through a few.

Thieves and cowards with more self-preservation than respect for authority are the Bread and butter of the NEST RAT sandwich. It is strictly bring your own equipment and volunteer work, though some get "volunteered" to repay debts, if you catch my meaning. Rapid Access Technicians put resource recovery far above search and destroy and avoid direct combat when possible. Indirect combat via ambush and booby traps is a hobby for some of them, but the real defense of the arcology towers rests on the remnants of the national guard units stationed within.

New Birmingham's Citizen Militia is more of a police force than an army, and Right Though an ecclesiastical SWAT team. They all work together and have guns - but there is a big difference between breaking up a domestic disturbance and busting up a bunker. I wouldn't want to rob a bank down South - a conscript army is still an army you know - but most are chant bible verse first, shoot second. Heck, their ghouls are better trained than most of the Sheppard's Hand. You hear that right. Take everything you hate about Reanimates and most of what you dislike about being shot at, and you get the holy roller's secret weapon. Only come out for big trouble and only outside the city gates, but what defines "big" or "trouble" is kind of malleable.

If you truly want to be among the military, and the best it has to offer at that, you're looking for Crossbow - the US Government Special Forces Team. They're the ones who make sure that no one messes with old depots or missile silos while the government has its back turned. 'Course, if you're not already a navy SEAL who hiked out to Area 51 with nothing but a K-bar, chances are you won't make the grade. Rumor has it these guys have military cybernetics or other black project gear to aid them. The same has been said about Tesla's "Out Reach" force - but really, who is more likely to have that stuff - army commandos or trans-human geek nut-jobs?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ten Years Before - ICATs Intro

I'm sure you've read a cyberpunk novel before - about how the rich hoard the power and information technology while the poor live off dog food? Where there always seems to be a bold group of heavily armed thugs to fight for the highest bidder, or once in a blue moon - stand up for the little guy?

2045 avoided being like that. Barely.

The signature contracted personnel of the Pre-Event days did carry arms - but it was more because people were out to get them, than for the need to fulfill assassination contracts. ICATs were less "street samurai" and more prohibition era revenuers or Pinkerton Detectives. Independently Contracted Assessment Technician. Sounds like someone to audit taxes or inspect a home for roaches right? Heck, chances are they probably did both of those things. On a really, really, big scale.

I think the idea was more or less established by 2035 - possibly earlier. The wasn't really a single day that the world went down the tubes, more of a series of trends. Deforestation meant new tropical diseases spread faster, crop seasons got all the more unpredictable due to global warming, a disrupted gulf stream meant Europe cooled a good bit despite the desertification of other areas, some big earthquakes and small wars got people migrating... We needed to rethink and redo how people were fed, where they would live, and how to keep them healthy like never before. Comparable to the 70's green revolution, 60's's vaccination programs, 50's atomic power, and post war housing projects, all at once - at least according to some of the more vocal talking heads on the news. Not everywhere was so bad, but where it was, it tended to be terrible.

Good news - nano vaccine and super projects like the NEST arcology buildings really did help. Bad news - they were really, really expensive. With that much money being thrown around, the opportunities for graft, extortion, human trafficking, illicit knock-offs and other ills were simply staggering. No one government could truly focus on it, nor have total trust in its agents, or cut through international red tape.

ICATs were bounty hunters, inspectors, accountants, and spies. They were also incredibly well paid and compensated to lessen the incentive to work for the other side. Some of the top level ones even got a percentage of what they were helping - a decimal point, five zeros and a one - but when your looking at a national GDP scale budget, that is a pretty penny. The danger often matched the reward though. Doctors  sent into Ebola outbreak zones to make sure no one was selling fake cures or trying to weapon the disease would be an example of a safe assignment! For accountants, the death toll was staggering.

Don't get me wrong, there were other people on the fringes, and there were major projects achieved with minimal amounts of law breaking. Possibly even the majority of them. But if you wanted a life like a movie character, signing up to be a government bonded electrician for refugee camps would give you more excitement than the bomb squad.