Before the Final War, the nations of North America had boasted roughly 1 billion people. Perhaps 1 person in every 1000 survived the War. So by simple calculation, there were some 1 million human survivors scattered across the continent.
This population lived in three basic types of settlements - refugee camps, strongholds, and sanctuaries. Refugee camps, as the name implies, were populated by fleeing survivors from the Ancient's great cities. Strongholds were constructed during the War so a small selected group could hope to survive the spiraling holocaust; a few actually did. Sanctuaries were places, often found by chance, that held the necessities of life, and happened to be safe from attack (usually because everything nearby had earlier been destroyed).
The surviving human population soon split into about equal parts: half were (or became) Humanoids, and half were Pure Strain Humans. This was a process rather than an event. It became known by its effects; adults' bodies changed before their eyes, and many newborn children did not "look normal". Reactions to this event varied widely, but can be generalized by settlement type: sanctuaries accepted the adults, the newborns and their parents; refugee camps usually drove them out into the wilderness; in strongholds the two groups set out to exterminate each other.
The two strains of mankind (True Men and Altered Men) quickly discovered that they were not alone upon the face of the earth. Numbers of animals, and even a few plants, had mutated into sentient beings. Many of the New Animals and Plants preferred to create their own societies in their own lands; some chose to join the men. The various human communities reacted to these new mutants much as they had reacted to the first Humanoids.
This original population (composed of approximately .25 million Mutated Plants, 1.5 million Mutated Animals, .5 million Humanoids, and .5 million Pure Strain Humans) was reduced to one-third their original numbers in the generation after the Final War, as all were forced to learn how to survive in the changed world. After some twenty years, the population bottomed out (estimate 900,000 individuals including all genotypes). The continent's population has grown slowly and steadily (average 2.5%) in the years since, and stands at some 21.7 million sentients today.
The population breaks down as follows:
Pure Strain Human: 3,500,000
Mutated Animals: 10,800,000 includes all species
Mutated Plants: 2,100,000 includes all species
(These numbers are rounded; treat them as approximations.)
The population is not distributed evenly;
for each genotype, there are places where they alone are found, and places
where no members of that race live. There are also areas on the continent
which are practically uninhabited (such as the Desert Southwest or the
radioactive Northeast). At present, the population is concentrated
around the Great Plains.
In this world, most sentients are engaged in activities which directly relate to gaining food; they are hunter-gatherers, farmers, or herders. The exceptions are local ruling classes (nobility), some traders, and the Cryptic Alliance leaderships.
Almost half of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic, traveling from place to place in a given region as local fodder and field conditions dictate. On the Great Plains, this includes a number of peoples who may be considered Nomads; tribes who guide herds of cattle, seeking the best fodder and water locations, and using 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 has a very low population density in that area.
The other half of the population (including 75% of all PSH) is settled. These settled regions tend to cluster around a population core which survived the Final War (the original refugee camps, strongholds, and sanctuaries).
In GAMMA WORLD politics, there are hundreds of wards, districts, territories, landholds, fiefdoms, provinces, islands, and other independent governments, most small in size, which have sprung up. Some of these are run by Cryptic Alliances. A Great Power might be the size of an old State. A Superpower might be as big as three States combined.
The technology level of the inhabitants is also important for understanding their society. For purposes of discussion, there are six Tech Levels. (The Tech Levels are discussed in more detail in another file.) The following information is extremely general, and adventure modules should discuss this in more detail for their specific region.
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 (the Eco-Freaks) or anatomy (a herd of Brutorz have no hands) or powerful substitute mutations. Because these societies are so small (village-sized population), only 3% of the population lives at TL 0.
Tech Level 1 is a primitive (usually tribal) society. The inhabitants use stone and bone tools; most can make pottery. None of them can make metal tools (they can use somebody else's), but otherwise there is great room for variety. Population centers usually include small stationary villages or nomad camps of 30 to 300 individuals. Neanderthals, the American Indians, and the Gauls were of this level; nomads such as the Huns, Mongols, and Scythians were also. Nearly 45% of the population will be found in TL 1 societies.
Tech Level 2
societies can make metal tools (copper, bronze, or iron). A few people
can read and write. Mechanisms must be powered by a natural force
(wind, water) or muscles. The society is pre-industrial and its wealth
is rooted in land, crops, livestock, or serfs. Population centers
are typified by small fortified hearthsteads of 20 to 50 people, villages
of 50 to 500 people, and a few small city-states (or town-states) of 1000
to 5000 people. The classical empires of history
(Egypt, Rome, China) were of this Tech Level; so was Charlemagne's Europe. About 45% of
the population lives in TL 2 societies.
Tech Level 3 is the best available for a GAMMA WORLD society. It covers the span from the Renaissance to Revolutionary America. Society is still pre-industrial, but the emphasis is on craftsmen, merchants, and commerce rather than agriculture. These population centers are typically city-states. There are perhaps three dozen of them spread across GAMMA WORLD, each with 3000 to 30,000 inhabitants. Most of them have a TL 2 hinterland (an 'Empire') in their political or economic orbit. Despite the size of each society, there are so few of them that they make up only about 5% of the population.
Tech Level 4 societies are 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 settlements, each with 50 to 500 people. ALL these locations are well-hidden and treated like a Top Secret. The enclaves can manufacture simple Artifacts; each enclave usually specializes in some one Artifact or a few (2d6) closely-related items. Only 1% of the population lives in these societies.
Tech Level 5 societies are the Information Age. Computers and electrical gadgets are its distinguishing mark. Earth entered this Tech Level during World War Two; it continues into science-fiction-like futures. There are no havens of this capability left; the Tech Level is represented by most of the Artifacts. There is NO population currently living in a TL 5 society.
Tech Level 6 societies are the Age of Wonder. Small power cells hold a vast charge; artificial intelligence robots are common. This was the Tech Level of Earth before the Final War. The most advanced Artifacts are from this era. There is NO population currently living in a TL 6 society.