Sunday, July 15, 2018

Reflecting on Post Apocalyptic Gaming

I've long had fascination with gaming in a post apocalyptic setting,  with the original "Planet of the Apes" probably inspiring my first thoughts of toys in a post apocalypse.  Despite buying my first figures for my own post-apoc gaming in 1987, it has only been during the last year or so, that I have actually brought this to the table as a full blown gaming project.  Oh, there were a few one-off games over the years, but I just didn't have much to bring to the table until recently.

Though 'The Road Warrior" (1981) seems to have most directly defined the image of the genre, it wasn't until after The Terminator (1984), that I started to see the occasional post-apoc game at conventions.  A little later, I started to see the more sci-fi heavy dystopian games, but rarely what I would truly call games of the post apocalypse.

My experience has been that a significant portion of gamers have interest in, and/or opinion about,  post-apoc environments, stories, and gaming, disproportionate to the frequency of actually gaming the genre.  I find this to be a curious thing, given the number of gamers that enthusiastically embrace a variety of post-apoc movies and books.  It may simply be that the right form of post-apoc game did not, or has not yet, come along at the right time to bring about the "flowering" of the genre.

About ten years ago, I discovered The Post Apoc Wargames Forum, an online discussion forum dedicated to the genre.  Over the years, I've come to appreciate it as an amazing place on the internet.  The membership is exceedingly well behaved, sharing a variety of ideas and photos of some of the most amazing artistry in the hobby.

The work and ideas presented on this forum have greatly inspire me to develop my own post-apoc ideas and interests, and exposed me to a seemingly disproportionately large range of products available to the post-apocalyptic gamer. 

This last thought, about the multitude of products aimed at, or compatible with, post-apoc gaming probably fascinates me more than anything.  For a genre that has such a small presence in my decades of gaming experiences, why are there so many products in the form of games systems and miniature lines. 

I realize that some of these products target "other genres", and simply have utility in what I qualify as post apocalyptic, but in many cases, those genres are still niches that are apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic in nature, and similarly appeal to under-represented segments of the hobby, given the scope of products and the expense to make those products available.

Somebody is buying this stuff, but who is gaming it?  And where are they gaming it?  Though I can find evidence of it on the internet, first person encounters have been rare.  

Maybe most post-apoc gamers are similar to me in that they have had great intensions, but have just never been able to bring the game to the table.  In my own case, I am hoping to start going to conventions again in the near future, and intend to present some post-apoc events, and see what sort of response they get.  Maybe I can stop being my own self-perceived "problem".

In any event, I hope that if you have an interest in post-apocalypse movies and books, that you might consider the gaming possibilities, and that if you are already a post apocalyptic gamer, that you might consider sharing your exploits on the forum linked above, and otherwise within the gaming community. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Finding a New Home: Home At Last (3 of 3)*

Everybody's wounds were healing quickly, aided by both Tinker's skills, and the medical supplies from his med-kit.  After only a couple of days, the Lt suggested that they try to cover some ground, and while much slower than they had been, they still made progress, heading towards wherever they were going.

They travelled for days, canyons gave way to hills, and hills to flat-lands.  They made contact with a couple of villages, trading for some things and learning about the landscape of their new world.  They found that some areas retained many of the place names from the Before, while others were completely different, or simply didn't exist in the Before.

As they continued south, they saw the scattered remnants of the Before, littering the vast emptiness of the wastes.  Many sorts of structures and machine were seen, some of obvious utility, but many raised questions that would never be answered.

As they came into contact with people, they were warned about the Dalworth Texians, and about The Confederation, about places east, west, north and south.  It seemed that everywhere was dangerous and should be avoided.  Curiously, no one had heard of the Colorado Region Federal Defense Complex, which was fine by the Lt and his men.

As they travelled, a question began bothering the Lt.  Were they still "his" men?  By what right did he command them?  Thus far, he had gotten two of them killed, and the rest wounded.   Sergeant Cummings had been second in command, and had saved everyone's butt at one time or another, probably saved all of their lives in this last fight.  And Obradovich, forever the comedian.  The day tinker awoke and looked in the mirror to find that O'B had glued a mohawk made of paint brush bristles to Tinkers big, bald head was...  well... just a memory now.  O'B just made life better, and the Lt hadn't.

The more they travelled, the more they realized just how small their world had been in the complex.  And how little they knew about the world in which they now lived.  The things that they had fought, were known as Greenies, mostly only known as rumors.  They had to watch for other mutations, giant scorpions and other "bugs" mostly.  Then there were the "chompers". described as teeth with legs and roamed around the flatlands in little herds, eating whatever they came in contact with.  Hadn't seen any of those yet, fortunately.  Mostly, in the flatlands, there just wasn't much of anything, dust, rock, and endlessness. 

The emptiness of the flatlands, broken up by a settlement.

After a few days of nothing, they finally saw a settlement in the distance.  The team followed the old road that lead towards the settlement, hoping for a little hospitality there.  Those hopes were dashed, when they heard shots ring out in the distance.  

The Lt with the settlement in the distance.

A shot came from the tower.

The team talked it over, and it was decided that the Lt would head out alone towards the settlement, and see if contact could be made.  If the Lt was shot, it was agreed that the rest of the team was to simply leave.  Everybody agreed to it, but none would leave him, and everybody knew it.

The Lt slung his weapon, and slowly advanced towards the settlement.  After a few minutes, he stopped, at what he thought might be the limits of rifle range.  "His" men impatiently watched, hoping to offer covering fire if shooting started, thought with the exception of Spooky, the sniper, their weapons would have little hope of hitting anything at this range.

The Lt stops at a "safe" distance and waits

After a couple of minutes, two men began to approach from the entrance of the settlement, weapons in hand, the others in the settlement obviously covering their approach.  The situation was very tense, and the Lt particularly hoped that one of the settlers wouldn't panic and loose a shot, triggering an unhappy ending to the situation.

Two men from the settler begin their approach.

The Lt watched as the men approached, the men sizing up their opposites.  They stopped a short distance from each other, and the settler on the left asked, "Out for a walk today?"  The Lt replied that they were travelers looking for somewhere to stop and rest for a couple of days, mentioned their encounter with the Greenies, and offered to trade for whatever they might need.  

"Out for a walk today?"

The discussion went on for some minutes, with the man eventually inviting the Lt and his men to come into the settlement.  Everybody slung their weapons, and  though there was an uneasiness that comes with encounters between good men in the wastes, the danger had passed.

Entering the settlement

After that "cautious" initial contact, the team was well received, and much to the delight of the village, the team decided to stay for awhile, better acquainting themselves with the wastes and sharing their knowedge and resources with the locals. 


As I rolled up this scenario, I thought the Lt's team was toast.  The settlement had three times the men, and the Lt's team had no cover.  But the dice made this an encounter, not a battle, and created opportunity for a new storyline.  Not sure what the future will hold for the Lt, his team, and the settlement, but for now they will rest, continue to heal, and the adventures in the wastes will move elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Back in late 2015, I thought that I was just about ready to start my post-apoc campaign, but some minor disaster interrupted that, with the result being that it took about two more years, before I got things going.

Anyway, around that time I started writing up intoductions to my various post-apoc factions, and posted the first one on the Post Apoc Wargames Forum, an introduction to the "Greenies"  my repurposed orks as post-apoc mutants.  Now it is old news, and a bit out of order now, but should be in here somewhere on the blog, so read on about the Greenies, if you haven't done so elsewhere...

My first GW ork purchased around 1989, I think.
He never saw the table as an ork, but now serves as a 
"Greenie" in my post-apoc games.

The "Greenies"

Greenies, as they have come to be known, are a race of bipedal humanoid mutants, the result of a bio-weapon research project that was nuked during the apocalyptic event.

They were to be engineered hybrid organisms, a combination of animal and plant DNA that would produce among other things, an engineered self-sustaining, fighting machine. Elements of the design were to be rapid growth to fighting maturity, large scale organ and tissue re-generation, and self-synthesis of food stuffs for sustenance through exposure to light. The program also hoped to facilitate “osmotic” water absorption, to further minimize logistical support and survivability.

The program R&D was conducted in a hardened lab in the south western United States, which was the recipient of a large yield intercontinental surprise on that dark day. The result was that the test specimens rapidly mutated into a plague that has spread across the land, limited mostly by the need to closely follow waterways. They manifest as intelligent, resourceful killing machines with the single purpose of exterminating humans.

Though information is limited, it is known that Greenies have a two stage life-cycle, starting from seed as a rooted plant,  which develops a seed pod. The pod produces one or more seeds and a juvenile greenie that reaches maturity in a matter of weeks. Greenies are raised in “gardens” in greenie “villages”.

The villages are always located along rivers, streams or lakes, and manifest as a sort of base consisting of one or more gardens, and facilities for making weapons and training greenies in the use of the weapons. They are capable of complex engineering and production of weapons and war materials, have good tactical sense, seem to be able to communicate verbally as well as some sort of telepathic or other means undetectable to humans, and have been known to sing and laugh during attacks. 
Not much is known about their social structure or culture if such a thing even exists. It is not known if they have "families", how or if they are parented, nor how they are educated.
In battle, they have some sort of structure, as lesser warriors follow the direction of "leaders" or "alphas", which tend to be larger and presumably older specimens.  It is not known if groups operate independently, or if they are organized at a higher level.
Thus far, they have shown themselves to be fanatical and merciless in battle, leaving no survivors in human settlements that they overrun.  For now, policy is simply to kill Greenies, whenever they are contacted.  Otherwise, they will kill you.