Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Eco-Post-Apocalypse That Wasn't

Image found HERE
I was reading today about some of the dire predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970 about the world we would be living in today. Grim stuff ... but not a bad premise for a post-apocalypse game that does not involve nuclear destruction, and one that escapes many of the norms for games of that type.

A few of the key predictions that we can use:

* Civilization will end in 30 years (i.e. by 2000)

* Between 1980 and 1989, 4 billion people will starve to death, including 65 million Americans | The world population in 1990 was 5.2 billion and America's was 250 million. That would leave the U.S. with 185 million people in this alternate 1990, and the world with only 1.2 billion people. If we continued these death rates to 2000, we might be left with only 270 million people in the world, and 137 million of them in the United States! This is about as many people who lived in the U.S. in 1940.

* Pollution is so bad that people have to wear gas masks to survive. Nitrogen build-up in the atmosphere is bad enough that the world exists in perpetual twilight.

* New York and Los Angeles (and presumably other cities) become "smog disasters" by the 1980's, killing hundreds of millions of people.

* Oxygen in rivers is used up by decaying life, killing off all fresh water fish.

* Life expectancy for Americans is only 42 years (I'd have died last year!)

* Earth has run out of crude oil, copper, lead, tin, zinc, gold and silver. | No new copper, silver or gold pieces!

* 75-80 percent of all animal species are extinct.

* A new ice age has begun.

So, what are we left with.

Civilizations as we know them have ended - Western Civilization, China, India, etc - all gone. Most of planet Earth is empty of human habitation and most animal habitation, the exception being the country formerly known as the United States of America. With crude oil gone, most internal combustion engines are useless, though presumably coal is still used and so some machinery could be in use ... but ... so many other materials have run out, that I'm not sure how useful they would be. Most people are probably hunter/gatherers, while "civilized" people live with Medieval, Renaissance or maybe early Victorian technology.

Food is universally scarce, which means that cannibalism probably exists everywhere. People don't live very long. An ice age grips the earth, with glaciation pushing into the northern United States and Asia. An ice age also means increased desertification - the Sahara would expand, as would the Gobi desert, and the Great Plains are probably back to being a Great Desert. Most humans are going to live in the tropics and sub-tropics, which I guess means that those Americans who are still alive are concentrated in the Southeastern United States, where the climate is still rather cool. Fires burn almost constantly, because there's so little light and so little warmth.

The old cities are ruins, having been cleared out by deadly smog. The poisons might still lurk, but the engines that created the pollution is now silent. Pollution will take the place of radiation here for the universal mutagen, because what's the point of running post-apocalyptic fantasy if you don't have mutations?

I'm envisioning scenarios of survival on the fringes of the sub-tropics - Mad Max-style nonsense, perhaps, or maybe bands of adventurers from what small civilizations still exist (could Atlanta be the largest human city on earth, with maybe a giant population of 25,000 people?) delve into the icy, poisonous ruins in the northern hemisphere in search of ancient knowledge and machinery. Perhaps we mix both - those explorers use armed vehicles that run on whatever small amounts of fuel are left to delve into the icy north.

Hopefully there are a few gameable ideas for people here. After I get Grit & Vigor published, I want to do an expansion book for post-apocalyptic gaming. I plan to include my Mutant Truckers of the Polyester Road idea, as well as Apocalypse 1898 ... and now this one. I guess I need to get my butt in gear and finish up G&V.


  1. There wouldn't be any smog threat in old dead cities with no engines cranking out the fumes but the asbestos dust in old buildings can certainly be cranked up to a danger factor of 11. Stay away from stagnant water in cities too it would be a toxic soup of nastiness. There could be a lot of lead in the water and the soil if folks never stopped using leaded gas. There would also be disease which there may have never been vaccines created and certainly no vaccines following the last blackout.
    ..rambled a little there, post apocalypse is one of my favorite topics.

  2. Disco era notions of apocalypse! Mutant Funky Town! I'm pleased to learn that Atlanta survives. My home value is sure to go up.

    1. Buy you'll be forced to house 3 displaced per room in your house. Sure there's the food credits you would gain from this but you just can't trust the displaced can you, what crmes didn the commit on the way and the diseases...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I still want to make that Gamma World-esque game for Blood & Treasure, but I am still unsure how to approach it.

  4. Heh, back in the 1970s, my father actually thought he could make money off of that one about pollution and masks.

    I don't know how much money he lost on the idea, but our basement was full of boxes of them that he couldn't sell.


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