Scattered across the continent are the surviving pockets of humanity, forcing a precarious existence from the hostile land.
A schematic of a Civilization Core may be drawn like a bullseye - three rings, the outer two divided as crosshairs, the whole with chickenpox. The innermost ring has three large dots. The rings indicate Tech Level; the outermost is TL 1 (this area is called the Outback). The middle ring is TL 2 (sometimes called the Frontier). The innermost ring is TL 3 (usually called the Core). The dots represent TL 4 enclaves. The big dots in the Core are cities. The crosshairs divide into quadrants by genotype: PSH, Humanoid, Mutated Animal, Mutated Plant. Beyond the Outback (and off the edge of the map) is the barely-populated Wilds.
A similar diagram may be created for political and social sophistication of the inhabitants. The Outback is dominated by small, independent or semi-independent villages ruled by chiefs or headmen. The Frontier sees actual states and governments. These may be feudal (based on personal loyalty) in organization, or polities with administrative structures can be found. The Core is dominated by city-states and sometimes actual nations.
There is nothing that says a Civilization Core has to be circular; it may follow the course of a river, be boomerang-shaped, or anything else that suits the GM's fancy and works for the area in which he has chosen to place his campaign.
Cities: There were too few survivors, and not enough time has yet elapsed, to support a lot of cities. A city will be on a coast or river, and usually near a Mech-Farm. Cities have 3,000-30,000 inhabitants of all genotypes. There are perhaps three dozen cities on the entire continent. Cities within a given Civilization Core are connected to each other by travellable routes - a road or a river. These travel routes can extend further, into the Frontier, as well. If the Restorationists run a city, it will have a paved Road or possibly a Canal extending to some trade destination, or as an ongoing construction project.
Towns: A town has 500-5,000 inhabitants. Larger towns are much like small cities; smaller towns are more like a village writ large. Usually towns are fortified (walls &c). Towns will not be found in the Outback. A town usually serves as the capital of the area around it.
Villages: A village will have 50-500 inhabitants. Villages in the Outback are smaller (population 30-300). Villagers are shy, suspicious, and usually low-tech. Some villages will be run by a Cryptic Alliance. Some villages will be populated wholly by one race of Creature (see Intelligent Encounters, below).
Hutment: These are, in effect, wandering villages. A nomadic group would build these, as opposed to building a village. A hutment that is meant to last a while will be more substantial than one that is meant to be temporary.
Hearthstead: This may be a fortified building or a castle. Note that most societies are not wealthy enough to afford a huge stone complex. In most cases they will build a single structure with reinforced walls. An alternative would be to build a tough wall with normal buildings inside. Less well-off people will use hedges, ditches, and packed dirt instead of stone. The immediate surroundings are cleared of cover. 20-50 individuals will live in each hearthstead. Their population may triple in times of danger (refugees fleeing unprotected areas), and can be up to eight times normal in extreme crisis.
Band: Usually 20-50 people but possibly up to 100, these people are hunter-gatherers or foragers. They are led by an informal headman. They are almost always nomadic.
Gang: A specialized type of band, these are bandits and ambushers who have been driven out of other societies and live in otherwise-unoccupied nooks and crannies of the Outback or the Wilds. They make their living by killing and looting those they meet. They will construct some sort of building for protection from the elements and in which to store their loot.
Clan: A cluster of bands, usually claiming common descent from some (legendary) ancestor.
few thousands of people. They unite for war. Part-time political
leaders use influence, not power. Foraging, pastoral, agriculture
are all potential economic bases. Often a number of clans will combine
their efforts and are then seen by outsiders as a tribe.
Tribal societies (and smaller) are primitive in technology (usually TL1) and organization. They are mostly found in the Outback.
many thousand or 10,000 people. This size polity requires the political
leaders to put in full time on the job. Chiefs own and distribute
surpluses and the means of production. There will be a head chief
ruling over lesser chiefs (or maybe over a council). There will be
one chief in every village. Chiefs cannot physically compel others,
but they have magical, social, and economic power to enforce their dictates.
In other words, a chief can hex you, bankrupt you, or declare that you
will be shunned, but he cannot put you in jail.
Feudal societies: are composed mostly of peasants, who are ruled by a nobility charged with protecting the peasants from danger. Nobles owe personal loyalty to a higher lord. Most of these are TL 2, and may include a dozen villages and fortified hearthsteads within 20 kilometers of each other. Unlike a chief, a lord DOES have the ability to use force to compel others to do his bidding.
A City-state may be governed in any manner imaginable - a tyrant, a democratic council, rule of the rich, a cryptic alliance, junta, &c. The largest city-state in GAMMA WORLD has 50,000 inhabitants.
Cryptic Alliances can be found at all levels of technology. Many small independent villages are members of an alliance. Most of the alliances are well-organized.
The GM must decide if he wants to have larger or smaller political organizations dominate his GAMMA WORLD. He may have a welter of local independent groups (like medieval Germany), or one all-spanning Empire, or a number of Great Powers, or some other dominant pattern.
Technology level (tech level or TL) measures the ability of a society to manufacture simple or complex tools. It is not the same thing as a sophisticated culture. In GAMMA WORLD there are six tech levels, but the higher levels have been lost and not yet re-learned or re-invented.
Tech Level 0 indicates the absence of all technology. There are few such societies; the ones that exist do so because of an overwhelming reason, such as ideology (Eco-Freaks), or anatomy (a herd of Brutorz have no hands) or the members of the society have powerful substitute mutations (some forms of Telekinesis can do the same job as hands).
Tech Level 1 is primitive. The inhabitants use stone and bone tools; most can make pottery. They cannot make their own metal tools (they can use somebody else's). but otherwise there is great room for variety. Population centers usually are small villages or hutments. In history, Neanderthals, American Indians, and the Gauls were all of this tech level; Nomads such as the Huns, Mongols, and Scythians were also.
Tech Level 2 societies can make metal tools (copper, bronze, iron). A few people can read and write. Mechanisms must be powered by a natural force (wind, water, gravity) or muscles. The society is pre-industrial and its wealth is rooted in land, crops, livestock, or serfs. The classical empires of history (Egypt, Rome, China) were of this tech level; so was Charlemagne's Europe.
Tech Level 3 is the best commonly available in a GAMMA WORLD society. This level covers the range from the Renaissance to the American Revolution. Society is still pre-industrial, but the emphasis is on craftsmen, merchants, and commerce rather than agriculture. Typically these population centers are city-states. Most of them have a TL 2 hinterland in their political or economic orbit.
Tech Level 4 societies are the industrialized enclaves of the Cryptic Alliances. The Industrial Revolution uses chemical energy (steam, internal combustion, &c) to run machines. It is represented by an unknown number of village-sized settlements. ALL of these locations are well-hidden and treated like a Top Secret. The enclaves can manufacture simple Artifacts; each enclave specializes in one or a few (2d6) closely-related items.
Tech Level 5 is represented by most of the Artifacts; it runs from modern-day to science-fiction. There are no havens of this capability left. There is NO population currently living in a TL 5 society.
Tech Level 6 was the level of Earth at the outbreak of the Final War. The most advanced Artifacts are from this era. There is NO population currently living in a TL 6 society.
Because each Tech Level 0 society is so small - their population is village-sized - they encompass only 3% of the population. Nearly 45% of the population will be found in the villages and nomad camps of TL 1 societies. At TL 2, societies are able to support towns and build large-scale fortifications. About 45% of the population lives in these societies. Despite the higher population of an individual TL 3 society, there are so few of them that they make up only about 5% of the total population. Only 1% of the population lives hidden in a TL 4 enclave.
Tombs of the Ancients
Computer-controlled, this is an excellent source of processed foods for
those who can convince the CI to give it up. 3-12 maintenance robots,
1-10 security robots, and diverse farming units will be on the premises.
These are usually the private property of a tribe, village, or city, so
there will be living guards to avoid also.
Single buildings were made of tough stuff! They are military installations, earthquake-resistant construction, or scientific research.
Ancient villages and towns are usually uninhabited and stripped of loot. Some however may have been re-occupied by somebody and new buildings built on the old foundations.
Ancient cities usually have Radiation (or something else nasty). The vast weed-grown fields and vine-draped buildings are the objects of religious worship to many. In some cases, parts may be reasonably intact and yield functioning Artifacts. Under the cities may be found a subway.
An Ancient metropolis occasionally has a small area within that is not melted into radioactive slag. Those who brave the dangers can gain a rich haul of Artifacts.
Ancient fortifications come in many construction styles. They will be depowered (dead and probably stripped), active (automatic controls), or manned (under new ownership). They may have any purpose connected with government or war. There are lots of robot defenders around. Powerful weapons, armor, and vehicles may await inside. Some of these places house important records rather than equipment. A few Experimental Labs have partially-tested devices (weapons) of great power.
Spaceports may be found surrounded by a wide belt of devastation. Like cities, they should be few and far between, as they were prime targets during the Final War.
Deathlands can be circular (or nearly so), caused by a few devastating weapons of mass destruction. Or they may be irregularly shaped, indicating a battlefield of the Final War.
There are a few surviving Ancient roads, made with duralloy. Post-War rebuilt roads often follow Ancient right-of-way (railroads or interstates). Trails follow lesser roadways. Most Ancient roads connect Deathlands.
Many PSH live in or near the ruins of the ancient cities and most are familiar, at least to some degree, with the technological functions occurring within the ruins. In most cases, PSH can
both use and understand technology up to the start of the Industrial Revolution (TL3).
Humanoids commonly understand Medieval technology (TL2).
There are some stable Mutated Animal races; other Mutated Animals are unique creatures from unstable forebears. In both cases, Mutated Animals can use and understand only common primitive technology (TL1). Mutated Plants can use and understand common primitive technology (TL1).
Half of the population is nomadic; that is, they move around from time to time and place to place. Most nomads do not own more stuff than they can carry, and highly prize what they do have. All people who do not settle in a fixed place are nomads, but not all nomads are the same.
The most extreme form of nomadism is a migratory people. They move hundreds or thousands of kilometers each year, usually with the seasons. Virushi, for example, move from the northern pine forests onto the tundra every spring, stay north of the Arctic Circle during summer, and move back south in the autumn. In this they emulate the historical Eskimo.
The second form is the classical Nomad, a herding people with some sort of cattle. They guide the animals about, as local fodder and water conditions require. They use in turn products of the beasts' bodies (milk, hides, &c) to maintain their own life. A single Nomad tribe will claim a vast area but actually inhabit only a small portion of it at any time. Historical examples include the Plains Indians and the Scythians.
The third form of nomadism in GAMMA WORLD, far and away the most common, is that which moves only a few kilometers at a time, and only a handful of times a year, building a new hutment at each stop. They seek out better fields, build new houses, and take all their stuff to the new homes when construction is complete. Many of their tools are made of perishable materials (such as wood) and are not too complex or time-consuming to make, so if they must they can abandon the old and make anew after they arrive. Non-perishable items will not be bulky, to ease transport. A historical example of this is the Yanomamo.
Half of the population is permanently settled. This includes 75% of all PSH. They do tend to accumulate stuff (which may be usable as a trade surplus). Settled people vary in technology level.
The following are taken from the lists
of Creature Encounters. Look in that section for more information.
Androids, Ark, Badder, Brutorz, Cal Then, Dabber, Eglee, Fen, Gren, Hawkoid, Hisser, Hoop, Menarl, Obb, Orlen, Podog, Sarbis, Serf, Sleeth, Virushi, Yexil
These peoples can make clans (or in some cases tribes).
Cryptic Alliance nations
If the GM decides to have cryptic alliances claiming territory, as well as the heart and minds of men (or whatever), these guidelines should indicate their ambitions and abilities. Cryptic Alliances are detailed elsewhere.
Archivists run villages and shrines
Brotherhood of Thought run villages and shrines
Created run villages and installations
Followers of the Voice are found at installations
Eco-Freaks stay in nomad camps, usually near the Wilds
Red Death travel in nomad camps
Green Millenium has villages
Healers build shrines
Iron Society has military camps, castles, and villages
Knights of Genetic Purity has military camps, castles, villages, and towns
Psychists run villages, towns, and shrines
Radioactivists have nomad camps and shrines
Bonapartists have military camps, villages, towns, and cities
Restorationists build villages, towns, and cities
Seekers have castles, villages, and towns
Zoopremists have military camps and villages
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