We’re Running An “After The End” Hexcrawl, Y’all!

by mshrm

With the end of the previous long-running (by our standards, at least) campaign, it’s time to look to the next thing. And it looks like the next big thing is… The End.

We tried the post-apocalyptic genre once before, but it didn’t work out. Too depressing, too gritty, too much The End rather than After The End. This time, we’re going to be doing more of a straight GURPS After The End campaign, so I’m hoping for less “depressing”, more “gonzo pew-pew wahoo”, if you know what I mean.

The Crunchy Bits

The elevator pitch is, “Like Fallout, but the ’80’s instead of the ’50’s”. We’re taking a lot of inspiration from Gamma World. The expectation is that the characters will start out in a (relatively) safe home base, then go exploring in a big sandbox.

  • Cause: A combination of “Bombs Away” (ATE2 p4) and “Things Fall Apart” (ATE2 pg 6). It’s hard to say which is primary and which secondary.
  • Hazards:
    • Radiation (ATE2 pg 25)
    • Chemicals and Munitions (ATE2 pg 9-11)
    • Mutants (ATE2 pg 18-21)
    • Rogue Bots (ATE2 pg 25-27)
    • Gangs (ATE2 pg 15-17)
    • Paramilitaries (ATE2 pg 23-24),
    • occasionally, Climate (acid rain, radiation storms, and the like; ATE2 pg 12-13)
  • Max TL Reached: TL 10, at least
  • How long ago: Four to six generations
  • Location/setting: Starting in “the valley” (more on this later) but aiming to expand into a hexcrawl from there
  • Campaign style and morality: Heroic realism and shades of gray

Characters

We’re using the After The End templates as written, with an additional 50 point lens. The extra lens can be any of the “Experienced” lenses, or the universal lenses from ATE1 pg 17-18, or a racial package. I’ve added quite a few mutations from different sources.

Those who don’t choose a racial package are considered to be baseline human for the setting, which includes a certain amount of detrimental mutation. Folks in the wasteland tend towards sickly and scruffy. They can pay points for beneficial mutations, either by taking the “Mutated” lens at character creation or by picking up individual mutations in play.

One of the available racial packages is Pure Strain Human. These folks look like the Ancients, they’re astonishingly healthy, they’re resistant to radiation, and they do not mutate. Robots and computers of the Ancients (“living metal”) are more inclined to accept Pure Strain Humans as real people, often seeing others as suspicious mutants, aliens, or even wild animals.

Other racial packages include different kinds of sentient plants and animals. I took a lot of templates from GURPS Furries, plus a bunch of homebrew. Mutants like this can buy beneficial mutations after character creation.

Literacy is optional.

Gear

Everything from ATE1 Chapter Four applies. We will be following the suggested limit of a max 10 points traded for money.

We’ll be using weapons and armor from GURPS Low-Tech, along with its expanded and revised hit locations. We’ll also be using selected weapons and armor from GURPS High-Tech and GURPS Ultra-Tech. Generally speaking, I’ve slimmed down the available ammunition types to a handful of calibers and added lasers.

I’m aiming for an “easy come, easy go” thing with gear. Stuff will wear out and/or break, and new stuff (well, new to you) will come along. PCs should not be afraid to abandon their gear to escape a burning building, or an oncoming radiation storm, for that matter. This is the kind of world where you sharpen a stick to mug a guy who has a knife so you can ambush a raider with a rifle so you can play sniper and take out that one big, mean mutant.

Signature Gear is available for plot protection, if you want it, but be sure it’s something you’ll want to keep even if an upgrade comes along.

PCs will want to pay special attention to spend as much as possible of their starting cash, since anything left over goes away. There’s no such thing as cash, after the end.

Survival

Large bodies of water tend to be irradiated (ATE2 pg 13). In some places, they’re even worse. Food and water will be a constant concern.

The Chewy Bits

The Before Times

The Ancients knew stuff and did things. They knew the secrets of living metal. They built legendary cities. They could heal the sick and raise the dead. Then, for unknown reasons, they destroyed the world. Opinions differ as to why. Some think there was a war. Others think the Ancients got so powerful that their sport became indistinguishable from war.

While the “why” is uncertain, the “what” is quite apparent. They broke the sky, so now the upper atmosphere is prone to electrical storms that disrupt long-distance radio communication and cause weird lights in the sky. They launched a roughly-cylindrical object like a second moon; most call it the Big Cigar, but there are many other (and cruder) names. Nobody knows what it was for. They left behind radioactive craters, fallout, and dangerous chemicals. They unleashed war machines and unimaginable weapons. In the end, they destroyed civilization and nearly destroyed intelligent life.

Area Knowledge

“The valley” is an area of flat-ish land surrounded by hills, stretching roughly 20 miles in a north-south zig-zag. The northern end extends up to 5 miles east-west, somewhat wider than the south end, which narrows to less than a mile. For the most part, the surrounding hills are densely wooded, though there is an area to the east where the forest thins down to scrub and grassland.

There is a river that parallels the valley a few miles to the east, which curves around to pass just north of the valley. It’s so radioactive, it glows at night. As far as the inhabitants are concerned, the valley starts in the north at the ruined bridge of the Ancients that crosses that river. The Ancients built a massive road of some unimaginably durable substance that begins there and heads south through the heart of the valley for nearly ten miles.

The Old Road, as the locals call it, passes the village of Newtown before finally ending just north of the village of Mt Hope, in the center of the valley just at the point it narrows. Newtown is populated more by mutant animals and plants, while Mt Hope leans more towards humans and PSHs, though neither is exclusive. The two villages get along well, and cooperate in most matters, especially valley defense.

South of Mt Hope, the valley narrows and meanders before coming to its southern boundary, a ruined city of the Ancients. According to the old legends, this city was the origin of the people of the valley. In the last days of the Before Times, they say, the world became too dangerous for people to survive. A great hero led a small band of refugees from the city into the relative safety of the valley, where they were able to grow crops to get them through the famines that followed. Those that survived settled in Mt Hope and, later, Newtown.

There are dangerous radiation fields all around the valley, in every direction.

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