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hancock.tom

post-apocalyptic genre book

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Guest Major Tom

Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

I started to suggest that you may have missed one, but the one I have in mind is a combination of Microbiotic Doom, Scientific Doom, and Unrestricted Warfare.

 

Specifically, what I had in mind is the plot of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. If you don't know what I'm talking about, run, don't walk, to the library and check it out.

That plot gives me so many ideas.

 

 

I've got that particular Clancy book, and yeah, I can easily see someone

using that plot for campaign ideas. I especially liked Mr. Clark's solution

as to how to deal with the slimebuckets (:eg:).

 

Executive Orders was essentially the same plot, but the bad guys

were somewhat more successful in the application of their biowarfare

operation.

 

 

Major Tom :cool:

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

You forgot ZOMBIES!!!

 

Man, I love zombies. :ugly:

 

I didn't forget the zombies -- I just didn't include them because IMHO it's more of a Horror Hero sort of thing. But yeah, if I had to choose a category, I'd go biblical -- you know, the when-hell-is-full-the-dead-shall-walk-the-earth kind of scenario.

 

Of course, it would be scary that a place like hell might have to hang out a "No Vacancy" sign...

 

Matt "Still-lookin'-for-sombody-with-all-six-episodes-of-that-wonderfully-experimental-FOX-sitcom-Whoops!" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

My last post got me thinking about something -- do all post-apocalyptic scenarios necessarily have to be somewhat depressing? Is there a setting out there, or a way to end civilization that isn't, well, dark and nasty?

 

Whoops! was Fox Network's attempt at a post-apocalypse sitcom, where nuclear war had forced six complete strangers to band together to survive -- even though they still carried the baggage of the old society, which was where most of the comedy got its inspiration. Sort of like Drawn Together with real people...

 

Matt "Still-trying-to-resurrect-the-thread" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

Now that I think about it, quite a few games have either had an apocalyptic past or are currently in the Aftermath period. To wit:

 

Twillight 2000- GDW

The Morrow Project- Timeline Ltd

Aftermath- Fantasy Games Unlimited

Gamma World- TSR

Living Steel- Leading Edge Games

Skyrealms of Jorune

Fading Suns (a slow apocalypse)- Holistic Designs

Traveller: The New Era- GDW

Darwin's World- RPG Objects

Car Wars- Steve Jackson

Freedom Fighters- Fantasy Games Unlimited

Year of the Phoenix - Fantasy Games Unlimited

Rifts- Palladium

(Early) Battletech- FASA/Fanpro

 

Currently Battlestar Galactica is in vogue which is essentially a futuristic take on a post-apocalypse setting. Recent films like the remake of War of the Worlds and Independence Day are also basically apocalypse movies (not quite post-apocalypse). The Day After Tomorrow briefly looks at a PA setting. Of course The Matrix trilogy is also a PA setting.

 

So if you think about it, PA is definitely a hot genre...no question about it. I definitely think it'd be a good idea to tap into the underlying fascination of the market and produce something to fit the bill.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

Now that I think about it, quite a few games have either had an apocalyptic past or are currently in the Aftermath period. To wit:

 

Twillight 2000- GDW

The Morrow Project- Timeline Ltd

Aftermath- Fantasy Games Unlimited

Gamma World- TSR

Living Steel- Leading Edge Games

Skyrealms of Jorune

Fading Suns (a slow apocalypse)- Holistic Designs

Traveller: The New Era- GDW

Darwin's World- RPG Objects

Car Wars- Steve Jackson

Freedom Fighters- Fantasy Games Unlimited

Year of the Phoenix - Fantasy Games Unlimited

Rifts- Palladium

(Early) Battletech- FASA/Fanpro

 

Currently Battlestar Galactica is in vogue which is essentially a futuristic take on a post-apocalypse setting. Recent films like the remake of War of the Worlds and Independence Day are also basically apocalypse movies (not quite post-apocalypse). The Day After Tomorrow briefly looks at a PA setting. Of course The Matrix trilogy is also a PA setting.

 

So if you think about it, PA is definitely a hot genre...no question about it. I definitely think it'd be a good idea to tap into the underlying fascination of the market and produce something to fit the bill.

 

A very good list! Not surprisingly, I've played quite a few of them. :) Another one to add to the list would be Invasion of the Mechanoids by Palladium, I think, where an alien invasion completely unhinges civilization. It was incorporated into Rifts, I think. Also, Rogue 417 by Tri-Tac Games, where a virus wipes out most of humanity.

 

I ran a highly successful home-bred game of post-apocalypse by having the characters off on a hunting trip and out of contact with the rest of the world in some remote location. When they finally do make it back, they start getting hints that something has gone terribly wrong in thier absence...

 

The nice part about that one is they're already "loaded for bear" so to speak, though they're just about out of consumables...

 

Matt "Keeping-my-fingers-crossed-that-Steve-will-commit-to-a-PAH-genre book" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

I've heard of Rogue 417, though I never played it myself. My favorite era of Battletech was in the 3025 era...where Battlemechs were supposed to be rare, and the people were still in a dark ages. Same thing with Car Wars in 2031 when it was basically "SJ's Mad Max" (before Computer Auto Gunners and Auto Pilots and Gauss Guns). And although many people detested Traveller: The New Era, I thought it was cool and it helped "reboot" the Imperium into something different.

 

What's cool about PA setting's is that you can rework civilization and society into something new, and yet still have it be something familiar. It also appeals as a warning to what could pass if we are not careful. The idea of global annhilation and mass extinction is a relatively new concept to humanity. Although writers like HG Wells envisioned man having wars which would reduce them back to barbarism, it wasn't until A) the completion of the Atomic Bomb and B) the scientific theory of mass extinction via impacts that people all of a sudden took seriously the idea of the destruction of civilization. So only the last 60 years or so has this concept been kicked around.

 

Fantasy is fantasy. Science fiction, though in the realm of possibility is just conjecture. Horror, if supernaturally based, are just plays on primordial fears. Supers are escapism with moral exploration. Cyberpunk, as a subgenre of science fiction, is simply "what if?" with cool toys. But post apocalypse touches a nerve I think precisely because it HAS happened in the past, and at any second of the day, could really happen.

 

It is interesting I think that in greek, apocalypse doesn't really mean destruction but "Revelation". I think fundamentally, PA stories aren't about survival or reconstruction, but a revelation of some greater truth.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

A bloke called Michael La Bossiere did a nice post-apocalypse world ready to go in .PDF form. IIRC the background had humanity (and Earth) over run by Big Tentacled Entities from beyond space and time, with the PCs as part of the last surviving humans on a Martian colony. Nice blend of SF, horror and post apocalypse.

 

!google

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

Of course, if you're into destroying civilization, exactly what has to happen for it to break down to the point where it's no longer viable?

 

This would be an essential part in world building (if that's the right word in post-apocalyptic games), especially if one was shooting for a realistic setting. This is sort of in response to everyone who says that nuclear war is automatically the end of the world.

 

My initial thought was that 95% population kill would result a permanent change in society, but perhaps there doesn't have to be a massacre of humanity of that order for it to happen.

 

One of the other end of the world scenarios I overlooked was the one presented in A Wind Named Amnesia which is a not-so-good anime where society has fallen apart because people have been made to forget how to be civilized people. They cannot use the technology around them (and generally act like 5-year-olds -- feral 5-year-olds) and don't remember how to talk, grow food, etc. For some reason, some people have been spared from this and wander the landscape looking for answers, amongst other things.

 

Another interesting post-apocalyptic film is called The Trigger Effect which details the struggle of a family during a chaotic power blackout which stretches for several days, and the madness of society when nothing seems to work anymore.

 

But again, what's the threshold level for civilization? What does it take to push it over the edge into chaos?

 

Looking at history, The Plague Years in Europe certainly were an apocalyptic event, killing off (by some estimates) half of the population, yet, civilization didn't break down. Why? Please feel free to illuminate the rest of us if you have theories or answers. :)

 

Matt "The-revolution-will-not-be-televised-because-the-power-will-be-out-by-then" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

One of the reasons the Black Death didn't plunge civilization is that civilization was still in a relatively primitive stage. As long as people still had enough manpower to give the basics of life, which as always is food, shelter and order, then pretty much everything went on. True, there were panics, but because society was primitive, there wasn't a whole lot of dependency going on.

 

By contrast, all you have to do to destroy western (and some asian) civilization is to turn off the power everywhere for just a week or two. No travel (even cars need gas stations with power to pump the gas...a painful lesson learned here in South Florida during Hurricane Wilma; we had gas, just very few gas stations with power to actually pump the gas), no communication, no medical care beyond the most basic, no medecines, no work, no business transactions....society would go caput in a heartbeat.

 

Because modern civilization is so interdependent, it would be very easy to push it over the edge. Look at what the SARS scare did a few years ago. Worldwide, a few hundred billion dollars was lost because people were scared to travel. When h5n1 (avian flu) morphs into something that humans can easily get, I'm going to hate to see how it impacts society. In 1918, the world was still relatively primitive compared to now. The Spanish influenza actually killed more people in 1/4th the time than were killed during the Black Plague. One notable scientist of the time even said that if it had lasted a few more months at the rate it was killing people, civilization would have collapsed. But we are even more susceptible to damage today. Tansatlantic flights, economies tied to international commerce, the need for foreign imports and the relative fragility and interdependence of our way of life means that if H5N1 is anything like the Spanish Influenza (and scarily, they are molecularly extremely similar) we could be in for an even rougher time than in 1918.

 

So the threshold for a society is I think very much related to how interwoven and dependent the various sections of society are. The more one section of life is dependent on another, the more quickly it will unravel.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

But, the Plagues of those times were Apocolyptic in a sense. The Feudal System broke down as Survivors were forced to marry below their station and in some cases NEW Nobilty were created.

 

Society as a whole changed and adapted. What emerged was something new built on the asches of the old. The Church lost a lot of influence and the Nobles as well.

 

Many City States emerged as major powers and there followed years of strained relations between Nations, the Church, and the rising powers of the Merchant classes.

 

Divine Right became more a guideline than a truth.

 

IMOHO

 

QM

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

Valid points, all.

 

Is it the loss of the powers that maintain and enforce a civilization the thing that causes it to collapse? Is chaos the natural order of human existence? Or is it something else? I guess in looking at why civilizations fail, we also have to look at why they work...

 

Matt "Pondering-the-possibilities" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

The short answer is that civilization works as long as what it provides (rule of law, primarily, which in turn allows all kinds of other things) is better for its citizens than the free right to beat the hell out their neighbors and take their stuff.

 

Post-apoc stuff pretty much always involves a weakening of the rule of law and a lack of something necessary to life. If there isn't enough food for everyone, and there's no way the police would arrest me for stealing it or killing for it, civilization doesn't exist (in that time and place). For that matter, you could have a post-apoc "world" on an island (Lord of the Flies?) or some other isolated area, without having world-wide civilization collapse.

 

Oh yeah, here's your long answer.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

The Black Death also forced migrations of certain people which would have consequences later. There was a religious movement (a group that flagellated themselves in penance, for they believed the plague was God's punishment for their sinful society) which threatened the Pope himself, and it was this movement that compounded the misery by attacking non-Christians where they went. Because of this, many Jews would move out of parts of Western Europe and into Eastern Europe.

 

Still though, there wasn't total collapse, but as The Question Man noted there were quite a bit of changes.

 

So then the question becomes, how much change becomes chaos? When does the system become so chaotic or so new that for all intents and purposes, the old order is gone and replaced?

 

I would suggest that a true post-apocalypse occurs when anarchy for long stretches of time (scores of years to centuries), as opposed to just a new order. One could argue by my suggestion that the Fall of the Roman Empire for Western Europe then was a post-apocalyptic period. Not until Charlemagne united the various franco-celtic-germanic tribes would there be semblance of a united order.

 

I would actually say that Order is the natural inclination of human existence. When human societies go through a chaotic period, it desires order and stability. It may take awhile to achieve that, but that is our top goal. If it were not, and human's overriding tendency was towards chaos, then I don't think civilization would have gotten as far as it did. Yes, entropy is the natural order of the universe, but humans I think instinctively want to order the system. Why? Because an ordered system is safer and more predictable.

 

Why do civilizations fail? Well, lots of reasons really. I'd say corruption is reason number one. I'd say reason number two is laziness/complacency/apathy. I can't remember if it was Hemingway or Twain who said, "The test that every civilization has faced and failed is the test of luxury". Maintaining order over chaos requires expenditure of energy. If the society gets lazy, then control can be taken away or usurped by something else.

 

While internal forces are I think the greatest cause of collapse, you can't neglect external ones either. War of course is always a biggie. If the costs are too high, it can bankrupt the civilization. The other obvious war related cause is genocide or "total war" (like Sherman's burning of the south's entire infrastructure during the Civil War). Any external event which stresses resources is a candidate (like the weather changing or disease).

 

Civilizations can help protect themselves from all of these. Internally, they can't become apathetic or lazy. They have to constantly strive to be better through education. Civilizations can protect themselves from external forces by having strong militaries and being as self-sufficient as possible (as few dependencies as possible). Civilizations which can adapt their economies and even their ideologies will have a huge benefit. Being open minded will allow new means of survival with a minimum of upheaval. An extreme example of this might be a country who is not against abortions/infanticide if they realize that girls are more important to repopulate a society than boys (if boys live, then they become an extra mouth to feed, and yet don't really do much to help repopulate society).

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A second look at your question.

 

When you fist mentioned this I gave you an answer of the top of my head. Now after doing some reading and research my answer relfects that of Captain Obvious.

 

Civilization is a natural impulse for humanity. Simply an expansion of the Family/Clan/Tribe drive.

 

Here in my glossary.

 

Civilization -- Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization

 

Apocalyptic & Post Apocalyptic -- Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_science_fiction

 

Anaarchism -- Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism

 

 

 

Cheers

 

QM

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

The short answer is that civilization works as long as what it provides (rule of law, primarily, which in turn allows all kinds of other things) is better for its citizens than the free right to beat the hell out their neighbors and take their stuff.

 

Post-apoc stuff pretty much always involves a weakening of the rule of law and a lack of something necessary to life. If there isn't enough food for everyone, and there's no way the police would arrest me for stealing it or killing for it, civilization doesn't exist (in that time and place). For that matter, you could have a post-apoc "world" on an island (Lord of the Flies?) or some other isolated area, without having world-wide civilization collapse.

 

Oh yeah, here's your long answer.

 

Ummm...if it's all the same to you, I think I can live with the short answer, actually, but thanks for posting the link! I'm sure Steve will find it fascinating reading when he commits to publishing a PAH genre book. :)

 

Matt "Not-missing-the-college-level-reading-assignments-at-all" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

You could even define the StarTrek universe as a 'Post-Apocalyptic' universe if you use the term broadly enough. Stephen Cockren built the Warp drive prototype in a missle silo in a survialist camp if I recall correctly after the Eugenic Wars that kill may people and left some parts of the world in the stoneage. In the StarTrek time line it was only the intervention of the Vulcans that earth was able to focus on rebuilding (Making the Vulcans puppet masters of sorts...)

 

In fact most far future SciFi could be called 'Post Apocalyptic' because war damage is what drives the race off the planet in the first place...

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

By that definition, Kazei 5 is post-apocolytpic, since it is after the 2nd US Civil War and what basically amounts to World War III.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

You could even define the StarTrek universe as a 'Post-Apocalyptic' universe if you use the term broadly enough. Stephen Cockren built the Warp drive prototype in a missle silo in a survialist camp if I recall correctly after the Eugenic Wars that kill may people and left some parts of the world in the stoneage. In the StarTrek time line it was only the intervention of the Vulcans that earth was able to focus on rebuilding (Making the Vulcans puppet masters of sorts...)

 

In fact most far future SciFi could be called 'Post Apocalyptic' because war damage is what drives the race off the planet in the first place...

 

I'd like to stick to the more traditional definition of post-apocalypse and not include future societies, because -- technically -- nearly all modern society could be considered post-apocalyptic because the old systems are gone. Wikipedia makes this point with Star Trek as well. Heck, currently Iraq could qualify as a post-apocalyptic society in technical terms, but that isn't what the genre is about.

 

We're talking about the loss of societal order and what people do when they are completely free to make choices based on their needs for survival, though the discussion has moved on along to a general discussion of why societies survive and why they fail.

 

Matt "Not-the-thread-police" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

Actually I was responding to this post of your's sir:

 

My last post got me thinking about something -- do all post-apocalyptic scenarios necessarily have to be somewhat depressing? Is there a setting out there, or a way to end civilization that isn't, well, dark and nasty?

 

Whoops! was Fox Network's attempt at a post-apocalypse sitcom, where nuclear war had forced six complete strangers to band together to survive -- even though they still carried the baggage of the old society, which was where most of the comedy got its inspiration. Sort of like Drawn Together with real people...

 

Matt "Still-trying-to-resurrect-the-thread" Frisbee

 

In short no, but also no one who created such a world history would call it post-apocalyptic. What would you call a world if the heros were in a near utopia that , if you did not like, you could leave, but was the result of the BIG WAR THAT NEARLY ENDED ALL. (besides not being very intresting)... I think Space Opera is about it.

 

Now a world where all the mean people killed each other off and most of the nice people too. Leaving nice people to restart the world and get it right does not sound too interesting to game in. (unless it is played for laughs, that might be intresting).

Now the Strotium Dogs of the cursed earth in 2000AD would be considered Post-Apocolyptic and deadly too.

 

EDIT:

After rereading this. I realize it may come accross a sarcastic. I did not mean to be sarcastic at all. My apoligizes if I hurt any feelings.

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

No harm, no foul, LoresLost. :) I was the one who asked for input, after all.

 

Regarding heroes in dull utopias, however, for a truly post-apocalyptic feel, the heroes would be motivated to try to make things even better for humanity, and for other peoples beyond their borders so there is never a chance of losing the grand golden age, much like Gandalf and Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

 

Also, there was a post-apocalyptic era in Star Trek as presented in the Last Unicorn Games edition of ST:TNG RPG of earth's future history, which makes the last half of the 21st Century look very unpleasant. A closer examination seems to show similar events happening in the past of other worlds' civilizations, such as Andoria and Vulcan.

 

Still, even though these are post-apocalyptic worlds, they are not suitable for PAH. The genre is about dealing with the breakdown and surviving the aftermath (if possible). The genre appeals to me because players essentially are free to set their own rules of behavior, and it allows me as a GM to flex my spontaneous creativity to accomodate their actions.

 

Matt "Still-sending-the-positive-waves-for-this-genre-after-the-Cold-War-is-over" Frisbee

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Re: post-apocalyptic genre book

 

The more I browse this topic, the more I notice how much of a meta-genre that PA is. You can have fantasy PA (Larry Niven's "What Good Is A Glass Dagger", if memory serves), Superhero PA (several of DC's Elseworlds stories, Marvel's legendary "Days Of Future Past" storyline), historical PA (the original War of the Worlds), and so on.

 

I'd really like to see a sourcebook on this.

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