So y'all might not know this since I haven't made any posts about it thus far, but I actually love post apocalyptic science fantasy roleplaying almost as much as or just about as much as I do the kind of weird fantasy OSR play that most of my posts have been all about. Gamma World was actually the first RPG I was exposed to that I really understood as an RPG (I had read the 4e Monster Manual 2 beforehand but I just thought it was a cool monster book, not something for a game), and Gamma World was the first roleplaying game I ever ran! I've made myriad attempts at making my own post apocalyptic roleplaying game or setting throughout the years, but pretty much none of them ever saw the light of day, and barely any made contact with play. So I'm gonna try and fix that! I'm going to run some games using classic Gamma World (probably the second edition), in an original setting centered on my homeland: the great state of Ohio. To get started on this, below are some setting notes derived from a conversation I had about this idea.
It is the 32nd year of the reign of Balthazar the Young (not so young these days), scion of the line of Methuselah the Great, ancestral King of the Amish.
|Northeast Meriga 500 Years Since Apocalypse|
The Empire of the Amish is a looming hegemon over what remains of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York state. Ruled by a long line of anabaptist kings, it is an edifice of military power built on a foundation of pacifism, a land of contradictions. The Amish form a ruling minority, separated by language (they speak a future descendant of Pennsylvania Dutch, the rest of the population speak a future descendant of English), religion (the Amish have de facto asserted themselves as a select group within a kind of American politics-Christianity fusion), and mutation (genetic mutations, even slight ones, are not uncommon, but the Amish seem to be consistently genetically unchanged). The Amish do not fight, instead hiring beastman mercenaries from Michigan and conscripting their subjects into wars with the heretic snake-handlers of West Virginia or the pagan merchant lords of the Great Lakes.
Ohio is a bare hinterland of Amish country. While a band in the north is settled with Amish lords and ladies, the southern fringe of Balthazar's state is permeable, its largest settlement being the shantytown of Syoto in the ruins of what was once Columbus. Just beyond that border is the wide floodplain known as the Emerald Expanse, the area that was once the Miami River Valley and the city of Dayton. During the great conflagration that engulfed the world long ago, Dayton was a target of nuclear armaments for its proximity to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, destroying not only the military base but also the dam that kept the city safe from flooding. Add onto that the extreme weather from global warming and nuclear armageddon, and you get a city completely flooded, downtown Dayton turned into a swamp pockmarked with what remains of its buildings. Surrounding the great marsh that forms the center of the Emerald Expanse are dozens of petty tyrannies, little fiefdoms ruled by monstrous mutant dictators, prophets, warlords, and sorcerers in what remains of the suburbs that surrounded Dayton.
|Dayton has a lot of really cool art deco style buildings, sure the apocalypse happened in the future but I would want to maintain that unique aesthetic.|
In the minds of just about everyone, whether mutant from Injunboli, Amish prince-scholar, or conspiracy theorist mud-scavenger, the greatest mystery is what is hiding beneath the terrible sky-base that seems to have been the reason the Emerald Expanse was targeted. Most people believe the collapse to have been the Ancients committing nuclear suicide, and many wonder at what might have been at the sky-base that the Ancients wanted to keep hidden. Delving into its depths is the dream of every mud-scavenger and steel cultist.
The steel cult is a political-religious movement that has emerged in what was once the steel/rust belt, a cult born out of labor unions, Larouchites, the remnants of the American socialist movement, and post-apocalyptic cargo cults that emerged at the edges of robo-factories that use automation to incessantly churn out resources. While its true heartland is in the holy city of Great Chikago, Birthplace of Steel, the two most significant representatives of this cult near Ohio are the High Bazaari of the Union State of Klevan and the Grand Fordist of the People's Republic of Motown. These two, and the followers of the steel cult more generally, have a fascination with the Emerald Expanse, and always have coin for any who can bring forth glorious Machine, the blessed product of Labor. Of course, Amish and Amerikan bishops will remind you that the steel cult is the worst sin, just the latest way that Jay-Eff-Kay and his foul masters Papa and Castro have their claws dug into the world. Even still, Amish kings make pilgrimage to holy Chikago even as it is ruled by heretics.
|I honestly really do love the monster art from the WotC Gamma World 7e|
Another reason to pass through the Emerald Expanse is to make your way to Gateway, a merchant republic on the Ohio river and the first stop on the way to the Mississipi Kingdoms of the south, the true heartland of east Meriga. Amish country is a backwater compared to the elegance and decadence of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. Though, even those places have their wastelands, beyond the shoreline.
So there we have three reasons to go to the Emerald Expanse: travel to Gateway for trade, scavenge for glorious Machines for the steel cult, or investigate the esoteric mysteries beneath the long-destroyed sky-base. Well, you could easily have lots of other reasons to explore and adventure, I just like having built in common motivations for settings. Also uh the Emerald Expanse is probably bigger than on the map, I just cobbled that together for a visualization.
Uhhhh other ideas for this:
In the conversation I had there was a parallel campaign idea where you would play as beastmen (mutant animal) mercenaries traveling from Michigan, buying up guns in Motown, crossing the Great Black Swamp (and contending with mutants from Toledo to Lima), getting in Amish country, and being carted on down to West Virginia to fight against the heretic snake-handler kings and whatever other petty tyrants hold sway over the valleys of Appalachia.
Extensive exaggerated Amazon fulfillment center inhabited by cannibalistic morlocks cowed by robotic task masters.
Peasant commune shining city on a hill style, inhabited by exile mutants building a better life for themselves, on top of the hill that was once Oakwood, while beneath the city-commune there is a vault of cryogenically frozen Ancient elites.
Opossum people curled up on trees, keeping watch with one eye open.
A mad sorcerer-queen of the fetid floodplain holding sway over fearful beaver-man serfs with reprogrammed gardening robots.
A free-for-all fight over the title of Mayor of Day Town when an Ancient polling location (a sacred temple to their glorious rulers) is uncovered.
Pale white squirrels swarming on vine-choked trees, acting as if by one mind. Albino rodents with thief-like cunning.