Map of the Sonoran Desert area
including Mead Valley
Mead Valley - (Las Vegas Area) 2471 A.D.
Campaign Materials & Information
Mead Valley Background
There are a number of oases
of civilization left after the Final War. One of these, literally
an oasis, grew up in the Nevada/Arizona border area.
Hoover Dam supplied water and
electrical power to a large part of the Desert Southwest. Therefore
it was an early target, as were the nearby military installations.
The population of the area soon fled, for without electricity their accustomed
way of living was ended; and without water, life itself was impossible.
The Ancients' towns swiftly
died, mostly from the inhospitality of the desert. The abandoned
buildings of Las Vegas were plundered and looted a few times. The
nearby lands were ignored; it was "not worth expending valuable resources"
on uninhabited real estate. They were however affected by great storm
fronts carrying radioactive fallout, poisonous debris, etc.
When the dam was destroyed,
Lake Mead poured out, doing great flood damage all the way to the sea.
This also changed the course of the lower Colorado River. The emptying
of the waters left behind a blessing, however, in the form of fertile soil
in the old lakebed. If only water could be brought to it!
People, being the intelligent,
adaptable folk that they are, presently discovered the Valley. A
trickle of individuals and family groups, deserters and natives and refugees,
came in. Their numbers were pitifully small. They began trying
to eke a living from the moist soils. Far-sighted individuals dug
irrigation canals. Soon the Valley was the only enclave of civilization
in a vast desert.
The Valley farmers managed to cope with the environmental changes that occured because of the War. They discovered how to tend the changed crops. They learned how to fend off the monstrous creatures that appeared. They also recognized their need for greater numbers and invited the new intelligent beings - mutated humans, intelligent animals, and plants - to join them.
Now it is certainly true that a man alone is more likely to be eaten by the Sep than a man with a friend to guard his back. Cooperation and socialability are survival traits, so the farmers began to coalesce into villages. This process was helped along by a single humanoid (who had the Political Genius mutation), simply remembered as 'Koonig'. Under his direction new villages were built, a town was founded, and the Grand Canal - a 45 kilometer long irrigation system along the old bed of the Mead River - was begun.
The Grand Canal was made for
agriculture, so it was a more productive environment than the wilder banks
of the Colorado. As the new land bore forth its crops, efficiencies
of scale began to take hold. The population boomed; individuals could
find time for pursuits other than seeking food; craftsmanship (and then
technology)blossomed; and a new society was born. The Valley folk
today use machinery paralleling 1600's Europe (the Thirty Years' War).
Mead Valley extends along the
Colorado River and its tributaries from Hoover Canyon to the mouth of the
Grand Canyon. There are a number of nominally independent villages
in the nearby desert and mountains. Several Ancient sites are claimed
(notably the ruins of Vegaz) but most of the inhabitants live on irrigable
Mead Valley is a unified polity. There are about 50 villages (population 30 to 500) and a town (population 3000). The army is split evenly between the valley proper and detached duty in the nearby villages.
Mead Valley History
Mead Valley was first settled
by refugees fleeing Las Vegas. Much of its peoples' early history
is lost in myth and rumor, as the inhabitants were too busy figuring out
how to survive; they did not expend valuable time and effort in writing
The first datable historical act in Mead Valley was the Great Assembly, when 'Koonig' convinced the farming villages to apply their combined efforts into a great project, under his direction. This was several generations ago.
Koonig was a Political Genius
and he used the two models available to him in creating an effective organization
for social cooperation. He formed more-or-less democratic public
political bodies for each village, and a secret society of village leaders.
This society also became known as 'Koonig'. Its members would make
the decisions for the public bodies to announce.
Koonig created the Council of Notables as an organizing body to deal with the lesser tasks that composed his great projects. The Council originally was composed of the village headmen; later it would include wealthy or persuasive beings who gained influence in local affairs. Koonig's successors ('Koonigkintern') did not have nearly the political ability that he did, so over time the Council became more important.
As your characters first approached
adulthood, an Army party explored the ruins of Vegaz and made contact with
the computer controlling the Mech-Farm. No policy could be made over
what to do with the bounty discovered therein, so by default it was stored
against future need.
The last Koonigkintern could not always get the Council to enforce their decisions. At about this same time, strong-willed Council members were actively undermining the Mead government for their own personal gain (or so they thought). Eventualy, the last Koonig council was assassinated during one of their secret meetings. Theories abound (of course), but most people believe that the assassin was a member of both the koonig society and a village council. Many of the Notables were also killed in the next few days. During the chaos that followed, a number of cryptic alliances made themselves known. Many of them attempted to conquer Mead Valley and remake it in their own image, the better to work their own purposes.
The Army of Mead took effective
action despite the death of its comanding General: staff officers posted
guards over the waterworks at the head of the Grand Canal. This critical
action ensured them control of the water that keeps Mead Valley alive.
They recalled all units on detached duty and formed a centralized reserve.
The overwhelming, coordinated force presently quelled the disturbances.
The Army also brought the cryptic alliances under control by using the
threats of thirst today and hunger tomorrow.
A new government was formed,
built around the Council of Notables and village governments. The
24 Council members, coordinated by a Governor, now lead the nation.
They have set out to fully utilize the resources available in and around
Mead Valley is well on its
way to recovery. The PSH population suffered especially greviously
(better than two thirds were casualties). The overall population
has returned to its previous level (read: baby boom). The property
damage has been repaired or replaced.
Mead claims the ruins of Vegaz.
Under the koonigs, this meant no more than a garrison to keep out other
organized bands of sentients. Now the land is being developed.
The ruins lie in a valley close to the water table, so wells are being
drilled and irrigation canals are being dug. The city marshall is
a closet Restorationist, and wants very much to catalogue the Artifacts
in the town so any practical ones may be put to use. One expedition
has been staged; more are planned.
The new government has suffered a rude awakening, and it is very conscious (some say paranoid) of the Cryptic Alliances operating hereabouts. By now, every cryptic alliance has its own village (and a complement of government spies). The government has no intention of being suprised again, nor of being taken over by any of these groups. Recently, it was necessary to send a band of freelance adventurers to investigate rumors that a rogue alliance member had discovered Ancient weapons of great power. The band did not return, but an enormous explosion was seen to the southwest. The rumors ceased shortly thereafter.
The town of Mead is noteworthy
in several ways. With about 2000 pueblo rooms in several discrete
room blocks constructed of adobe, the settlement is one of the larger to
exist in the Southwest, its resident population numbering about three thousand.
Public architecture includes earthen mounds and stone monuments.
The central mound is roughly circular platform, four meters high with a
stone facade and staircase. The town's water supply feeds
out of the Grand Canal; secondary supply is possible from the Colorado
River. The main canal feeds into a reservoir with a settling tank
from which small, stone-lined channels take water into the room blocks;
an outflowing sewer and ditch systems removes fluids from the rooms.
All of these are characteristics of a populous, well-planned and integrated
Mead town is the center of
a polity roughly 40x70 kilometers. None of the villages in the hinterland
approach its scale, indicating that Mead is at the apex of the region's
Notes on the Medians, from the Travel Journal of Aldred, Restorationist Explorer
The annual inundation (of the Colorado) reduces the area to a lake which, while it may flush rubbish and vermin downstream, also sweeps away dwellings and landmarks, and makes use of the land impossible for a week or two. But this destructive flood also deposits the heavier sands and gravels into turtle-back mounds, or levees, along the verges of the river, eventually building them up into banks that only an exceptional rise of the river could cover. Such hillocks form suitable sites for settlements; and in their lee, flooded land can be developed into basin cultivation. From these physical features, the characteristic cultivation of Mead has developed; for the natural gaps between levees can be filled by raising dykes, and the water trapped in the basins beyond can be slowly released by breaching embankments as the rivers begin to fall. Growth is rapid and lush in the well-soaked virgin soil left behind.
The organization of the land of Mead as a rich agricultural state was a gradual process and was still incomplete after Koonig. New land was won from the deserts in most years of prosperity, and brought into the system. While the wayward force of the inundation could level, irrigate, and fertilize tracts of sterile land, it could also shift cultivation by altering the former course of the river. Land could also go out of production some years through excessive flood, or drought, or fallowing, or neglect in times of political upheaval. The chief concern of good government, to this day, is to maintain agricultural prosperity.
The exploitation of the land
to sustain a farming economy is wholly dependent upon hydraulic engineering,
on the raising of dykes and embankments, the filling of storage basins,
the cutting of channels and sluices and the transporting of water.
Furthermore this work had to be done rapidly. In the near-absence
of machinery, such projects required the conscription of labor under skilled
organizers, and inevitably involved the peasantry - the primary source
for any large labor pool.
The Median thus early became inured to a disciplined way of life in which he accepts direction from a corps of specialists, hydraulic and civil engineers. Above all, such hydraulic works could not be confined to narrow sectors of the river banks, but inevitably spread ever further involving neighboring tracts, together with their inhabitants. The outcome was a political system to ensure the success and persistence of the methods of exploiting the annual flood. Since in order to do this, decisions had often to be taken at short notice and in conditions of stress, it was perhaps inevitable that the form of government would be authoritarian.
The political system in early Mead is quite obscure. Probably communities were small, self-supporting and relatively isolated around village centers. They doubtless combined in larger units under the direction of a more charismatic leader to meet a challenge from nature or from rival groups.
Land in Mead was made suitable
for cultivation as much by seasonal organized human effort on a large scale
as by natural conditions. This circumstance favors the emergence
of technocrats who direct labor, determine the right moment for raising
dams and piercing dykes, cutting canals, and re-defining boundaries.
They organize the collection and storage of harvests, and decide how much
of it is to be allocated to imposts and the next season's seed.
The development of Mead as a political entity would not be possible, however, even with a dedicated bureaucracy of competent officials, in the absence of another element - a staff of learned scribes, skilled in the arts of reading, writing, and mathematics. It is the ubiquitous scribe with his writing-palette and recording book that obtrudes himself upon the notice. Precise instructions could be issued at a distance and reports received from afar, without the errors that accrue from using a fallible human memory.
The inundations of the two rivers often sweep away old landmarks and an accurate survey had periodically to be made to re-establish former boundaries according to the written records. The science of computing time did not lag behind that of measuring space.
The immense stimulus given to cultural enterprise by the unification of the Valley is evident in all departments of human activity.
Despite the evidence of contention, Koonig's achievement was remarkable and resulted in the establishment of many of the institutions and traditions of the current state. The Koonig society inherited all the magic virtue of a primitive medicine man. Their knowledge of the life-giving waters accredited them with seminal influences, keeping drought and sterility away. They contend with Evil which manifests itself in the form of sentient predators on the cultivators of the valley, or in the wild creatures and monsters that prey upon the domestic flocks and the ripening crops. So they are represented not only as smiting the barbarians and nomads living nearby, but also as the intrepid hunter of the Sep and wild Rabbuck.
Mead Valley enjoys a virile and self-assured culture which is the most characteristic expression of the national ethos. The calm faces that gaze out from so many statues and reliefs are untroubled by doubts; and the voices that speak from their writings, the books of precepts and etiquette, and the complacent autobiographies, are unfaltering in their belief that the good life consists in being discreet, modest, honest and patient; prudent in friendship, not covetous, nor envious, nor violent, but respectful to superiors and inferiors alike; in short, keeping one's proper station and exercising moderation in all things. The members of the government are the educated elite for whom the economic and artistic enterprises of the state were created. But while forming a privileged class they are not idle. They comprise the architects, engineers, writers, theologians, administrators, the men of action and intelligence of the day.
copyright © 2000, 2001 by Brian Judt, all rights reserved