The Last Road

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Almost 80 years ago, the world died.

In the wasteland, survival is all that matters.

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The Dead World

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Around eight decades ago, the world died. Very few who are alive today were around then, which leads to some disagreement over the exact year, and it wasn't a single event but a rapid collapse. Some say 79 years ago, some say 76, but most common consensus is that it happened 78 years ago. In a short amount of time the seas boiled, the Earth was scorched, and nearly everything that lived, died.

Many people are sick, deformed, or both. Tumors and 'the sickness' send most to an early grave. The more they live out in the wastes, the more contaminated they get. Only those with good shelter and clean water and food resemble anything close to normal, and the air still takes its toll over time even then.

Nuclear war? Climate change? Asteroid? Most people don't even know what those things are anymore. All they know is the dead world, their world, and that survival is all there is.

The Wasteland

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Very little grows in the wild anymore, and what does is twisted and sick. Water is the most precious commodity for those who are not lucky enough to have access to one of the few sources left - the powder lakes are all dry, the riverbeds too, and rain, when there is rain, is toxic. Great storms come and go, scouring the dry, cracked Earth with dust or turning everything to poisoned mud. Cities from before are nowhere to be found, now only legends swallowed by the dirt.

Life out in the wastes is brutal and often short. Surviving day to day is the biggest goal most poor souls have. They learn what weeds will make you the least sick, what mutated critters can be caught and eaten, and what poisoned water sources are least likely to kill you. They scrounge together clothing, weapons, even a vehicle if they're lucky. Those who are strong enough take what others have. The circle of life is broken. Now it's eat or be eaten.

The wasteland is vast - no one has mapped the entire thing, and as empty as much of it is, how could one tell if they're getting anywhere? The few little towns from before that have been found have been picked clean long ago. There are few landmarks to be seen. For all anyone knows, it just sprawls out forever.

There are man-made points of interest built after the world died. Small camps of nomads, gang outposts, and even a few settlements. Civilization is trying to rebuild in the ashes, but like everything else, it's often twisted and sick.

Small enclaves of raiders, war tribes and nomads are scattered all throughout, but there are a few major settlements of note detailed below.

The Sanctuary

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Standing like three rock skyscrapers in the middle of the wastes, The Sanctuary is lone fortress of humanity amidst the decay. Housing an aquifer of pure, clean water, the central rock spire has massive spigots that, when opened up, can flood the valley below like a waterfall. All three rock towers are capped by that strangest of things - lush greenery, and catwalks between them allow those who live there to go from spire to spire. Huge iron flats on thick chains raise and lower people, vehicles and goods to and from the valley below. There is no other way in, making it an impenetrable stronghold against all aggressors.

The most wretched of wasteland dwellers come here and live in a shanty town below, hoping each day that this is the day they let a bit of water flow. Those with children offer them to the Sanctuary in the hopes they might get a better existence within. These offerings are why the Sanctuary lets the water rain down now and again. The water is the lure, the children are the goal.

Those children arguably do get a far better life inside. In the nearly lifeless wastes, the Sanctuary is almost a utopia.It ha more clean, fresh water than they'll ever need, actual clean-grown food, and shelter from attack. But all is not perfect within those stone structures.

Gastown and the Bullet Farm

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Based out of an old oil refinery that's been brought back to life and a neighboring factory, Gastown and the Bullet Farm are technically two different sovereign locations, but often work together. They are what their names imply - a town built in the smoke-belching bowels of a refinery and an old aluminum factory re-purposed to produce ammunition. Without the built-in protection of the Sanctuary, it's in their best interest to share resources and defend each other. Life there is better than in the wastes, but not by a lot. The air is thick with smoke, the work is hard, and everything is perpetually stained in soot.

Bartertown

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Way out in the West is a remote place called Bartertown, nestled up against a mountain range too harsh to explore or pass. Bartertown is the only place to be powered with full electricity NOT derived from oil.

It's powered by pig shit.

It's also the only reliable source of meat. They refuse to sell live pigs because that's their niche and key to survival, but they'll sell pork to any and all. It's a chaotic, free-wheeling place where nearly anything can be bought or sold, and home to the gladiator pit known as Thunderdome.

The Last Road

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Running to the East of the Sanctuary, past Gastown and the Bullet Farm, is a long road that no one has ever found the end of and returned to tell the tale. Denizens of the wastes call it the Last Road, and there are hundreds of myths and stories about it.

Some say it eventually leads to the old cities, but they're too far away to reach. Others say the cities are already there, all around you, buried in the dirt. Some say you'll drive off the edge of the world if you go far enough. Some say those who made it to the end found the ocean and a green paradise.

No one knows for sure.

Sanctuary City

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The Sanctuary existed back before the world died, but just as an aquifer in a farm-laden area near a refinery out in the sticks. That initial compound, built into the central rock tower, has been greatly expanded in the almost eight decades since. Now all three rock structures are inhabited via a mix of natural caverns and human engineering, and all access from the ground has been filled in. With its catwalks between the three, and it's abundant supply of clean water and food it's entirely possible to live within it without ever setting foot on the valley floor below.

In its role as the default capital of the wasteland, it's had a number of rulers and leadership over the decades. The current political system and cultural structure has been in place for going on five decades now and has proven to be the most stable by far. It's administered by a council of three called the Triumvirate, and its denizens are divided among five castes, each with various responsibilities and luxuries. All get basic water and food privileges, which is enough to drink and eat only, and additional privileges and luxuries are awarded for service and performance.

The Triumvirate

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There are always three leaders in the Sanctuary, and when one dies, is deposed or steps down, another is selected by the caste they represent. One is always a woman, one always a man, and the third can be either gender.

The Mother of War is, as her title suggests, always female. Men waged war in the world before, and their recklessness destroyed it. Now war is administered by a woman. The current War Mother is the eighth to hold the title, and has been in power for nine years. She is seen as a distant and aloof but judicious warlord of supreme cunning, and was an Imperator before ascending as most have been. Her caste is the Children of War.

The Green Man can be and has been a Green Woman in the past, for their position is not based on any innate gender qualities (real or perceived), but on knowledge and skill. They are the one who oversees food production, engages in scientific research and experimentation, and seeks better ways to live for all of humanity. The current Green Man is only the third, and has been in the position for over twenty years. Interestingly, his mother before him and her father before her were the previous two. While not a hereditary title, it has so far turned out that way. He is a gruff but highly intelligent giant of a man known for eloquence and blunt honesty. His caste is the Savvy.

Father Fortune is always male. He knows what people want and need, what they desire, and he sees that they have it. He is a politician, a charmer, a merchant and priest all rolled into one. The current Father Fortune is the sixth, and has held the position for fourteen years. He is a soothing, charismatic man that has nerves of steel and remarkable intuition. His caste is the Fortunate.

The Castes

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While there five castes (technically six if one counts the Wretched who live on the ground below), only three are tied to one of the Triumvirate. The other two are independent for very different reasons. Detailed coverage of the castes can be found in the Factions section.

The Children of War are always chosen from 'contaminated' children offered up to the Sanctuary - children with defects, illnesses, or sickness (what we call cancer). These are the offspring of those who have survived in the wastes and been warped by it over generations. The War Mother welcomes all of those no on else wants with open arms and instills in them a tenacity and fervor born of their frailty - a sense of selfless sacrifice and fearlessness in the face of danger. What do those with a half-life have to fear of death? They're dead already. Dying in battle is far more glorious than wasting away. They are not simply warriors, though, and are first raised as 'Blackthumbs', menial vehicle and weapon maintenance. Those who live through childhood either become 'Gearheads' which build and modify the vehicles and weapons, 'Centurions' who man the vehicles in battle, or 'Pilots', the most revered of all, for they drive the glorious vehicles into battle. Having a wheel (steering wheel, without which a vehicle cannot be piloted) is a great honor. In reality most War Kids are a combination of the three, but they are referred to by their primary job. The best and brightest are made 'Imperators', and they drive the war rig and other elite vehicles and lead the Children in the field.

The Savvy are chosen from both contaminated and 'clean' children, who are of healthy stock and show no signs of sickness or deformity. They are chosen not for their genes, but their minds. The brightest and most inquisitive children are taken under the Green Man's wing and taught science, agriculture and medicine. They aren't always geniuses, or even conventionally smart, as more than a few 'idiot savants' are taken in for their proficiency at a specific thing. All Savvy start as 'Greenthumbs', doing the menial labor of farming while learning science and math. As they grow and show an aptitude or interest in a field they choose a path to follow. 'Reapers' tend the hydroponic fields, engineer stronger and hardier strains of crop, and oversee food production. 'Etherites' study other sciences and try to revive old world technology, with the primary focus being food and water purification, but other fields are explored as well. 'Organic Mechanics' are those who study biology and medicine, either as healers or for body modification. The brightest in each field are made 'Professors', and they teach the others.

The Fortunate as a name is something of a double entendre. They live the most luxurious lives in the Sanctuary and rarely do manual labor. Most never even go outside. But they give up a lot of freedom for luxury, most notably free will over their bodies. It should be noted that all Fortunate are 'Donors', and in times of need are expected to give clean blood to others. All Fortunate sons and daughters are therefore clean, and those who become contaminated are shunted off to another caste. They need to be pure for the things Father Fortune asks of them. While children start as 'Meanies', doing all the drudge work of menial labor like stitching garments, preparing meals and doing laundry, they also receive an actual education in culture, history, psychology and the arts. Once old enough, they become either 'Breeders', who sire or carry children of clean stock and raise them until they are assigned a caste (only the clean are allowed to have children in the Sanctuary), 'Companions' who entertain with music, dance, sex and other things, or 'Artisans', who craft items and garments for others in the Sanctuary or for trade with other settlements. The most skilled of the Fortunate are elevated to 'Patrons', both teaching the young of the caste and advising the other castes as needed.

Scavengers are a caste in name only, with no hierarchy or leadership. They are adult wastelanders who over time bring in enough useful stuff to be offered a place in the Sanctuary. They receive basic food and water privileges and a room, but nothing more, and remain only as long as they continue to produce. It's better than living among the Wretched, but they are definitely treated as outsiders and have to earn any luxuries they get.

Monitors are the security and police of the Sanctuary, charged not only with keeping the peace but also watching for 'corruption', which is deemed as anyone sneaking resources out for their own benefit. Hoarding food or water are the big ones, though weapons and vehicle parts that conveniently disappear are in their wheelhouse as well. They do not get rations or allowances like all the other castes, but are granted whatever they ask for on a daily basis as long as it's only a single share at a time - a canteen of water, a meal, a new garment to replace a damaged one, and even luxuries like Companionship, within reason. The theory is that you cannot bribe those who already get what they need. They watch each other, too, and answer to the Triumvirate directly. Children selected for this caste are called 'Tattlers' as they are taught what to watch for and report on. As they grow up, they become either 'Keepers', who keep the peace and protect denizens from harm, 'Counters', who keep inventory of each area's assets and resources and cut down on waste and corruption, and 'Confessors', who are trained in the arts of interrogation and investigation. The best of each bunch are made 'Coppers', named for the copper badges they wear, and they have the run of the place, acting as the voices and hands of the Triumvirate and answering only to them, directly.

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