Going to be running a game set in the NS universe, need to know info?

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Going to be running a game set in the NS universe, need to know info?

Love the game to death, but there's only so much of it even with mods and I actively refuse to learn ActionScript as the only way to make Javascript worse is "let Adobe get their claws into it." As a result, I'm gonna be running a game of it in a d20 total conversion called Ops and Tactics, using a mixture of items from Neo Scavenger Extended and Mighty Mini Mod, as they make modifications to the game I find appealing. That said, I've got a few questions that could use addressing for my players.

Stuff like...

Why haven't people set up large-scale bottling efforts given the price of water at $10/bottle? A few dudes with bows and a forest next to a lake would make bank. I'm assuming the DMC Guards actively break that kind of thing up, or I'll be using the Mighty Mini Mod (of Doom!) prices for water, i.e. that happened already and they crashed the water market.

Why haven't various enclaves started digging up cinnabar for making mercury fulminate primers or making Frasch Process salt wells to gather sulphur for black powder to reload ammunition and salt to cure meat? Both salt domes and cinnabar deposits exist in Michigan.

Where does the Last Chance get their materiel from, and why are there no competitors? (This'n's gonna be the subject of a mission for my players to get free food and a modest paycheck.)

I expect the answers to much of these is going to be "Flash is shit" or "DCFedor never got around to it" or "code limitations (see item 1.)" They're still things I'd like to address.

Also: if you have any ideas for tasks other than Hatter's suicide mission for Philip or "bring me 5 Bad Mutha asses" lemme hear 'em.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Cool idea! And I love background questions/discussion, as the setting is one of my favorite parts of the game :)

Ultimately, most of the answers you seek boil down to "Dan didn't think of a better way, or didn't have time to make it." That said, I'll dig into the details.

Regarding water prices, I think the "crashed" prices make sense. Or better yet, pricing should reflect demand, which is low near sources and high where it's hard to come by (modulated further by water quality). NEO Scavenger's economy sim is basically nil, unfortunately, so weird economics ensue.

Regarding black powder, this is more oversight/lack of time than a decision. Established communities should be doing things like this if they've managed to avoid pillaging or natural disaster long enough.

Regarding Last Chance, the lack of competition is down to lack of time. Like most things in the game, in reality there would be more variety, but NEO Scavenger only has one or two representative examples. There are likely more "diners" or at least food carts in the sprawl, each with their own character.

As for the source of the food, let's just say it's creative culinary arts using nearby resources. I.e. "think smaller, and more legs." Things like seagull, pigeon, rat, raccoon, grubs, and bugs for meat, and easy to grow plants like lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, etc.

Some mission ideas I never got around to doing:

Broker and establish a supply route from DMC to ATN. Private hover transport caravans operate from DMC to other enclaves, and the ATN has goods for trade/sale.

Prospecting and surveying for mining outfits interested in higher-risk operations.

Recovering a downed hover transport/cargo (particularly in the Great Black Swamp, which is a natural land barrier to DMC trading partners further south). E.g. Fort Wayne?

Hope this helps!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

It does, thank you!

Alright, so-what other fruits and vegetables are available in the NS universe, especially after the Agrasanto fuckup that resulted in the Black Swamp? I figure SOME underground heirlooms probably exist-underground if nothing else, ala Paolo Bacigalupi's Calorie Companies universe.

Do the big diesels visible in the DMC Gates painting/the cars audible in the DMC/the car being danced around in the Concrete Forest still run on fossil fuels, or are they running on biodiesel/hydrogen/nitromethane?

How healthy is Europe? I'd assume 'reasonably' given that Blinkies are imported.

Why hasn't the DMC gone to the trouble of stomping out the Bad Muthas, and are the Bad Muthas really supported/propped up/'sponsored' by the Wendigo like Mighty Mini Mod implies?

How brutality-prone are DMC City Guards? I assume their "STOP RESISTING" approach to Looters is largely based on AI stupidity.

How big is your average Enclave, and what are their primary sources of income?

How big are Alvin's Butchers? Comparable to the Bad Muthas, or just a small enclave with a big name?

How big an Enclave is Zom Zom's, relatively speaking?

Are Melonheads mutants, or just very sickly humans, or is it vague on purpose? I actually have a pet theory that they're defective clones from an exhibition at the Fairgrounds, but.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Re: fruits and veggies, I still think most are available. As you say, there were a lot of home gardens and organic “rebels” resisting the push for corporate-controlled homogenization.

Re: vehicle fuel, pretty much anything that can be sourced locally is going to be viable near the DMC. So biodiesel, fuel cells, hydrogen, and methane are all on the table. Nitromethane too, though I know little about that supply chain.

Re: Europe, I haven’t gotten that far yet :) In my mind, Europe is struggling just as much as North America, and perhaps more. Between the ethnic and national tensions, limited resources, and rich cultural mythology, I suspect Europe is a hot-bed for NEO Scavenger’s world-changing events.

Re: Bad Muthas, the DMC SkyCorps police force is not a public service. it’s a privatized paramilitary police force, paid for by the DMC government. I expect they’ve adapted to charging just enough money to keep DMC always under their thumb, and have no incentive to police the wild frontier. If the Bad Muthas ever moved on the DMC, the SkyCorps would have a reason to “police” the hell out of them, to prove their value to the public. But status quo is to take DMC funding and make themselves indispensable.

As for the wendigo pulling the strings of the Bad Muthas, that’s certainly plausible :)

The so-called “stop resisting” DMC guards are indeed mostly fuelled by stupid AI. But then again, the SkyCorps private security force probably attracts its share of power-hungry, bully types.

Enclave sizes vary quite a bit, depending on where you draw the line between enclave and town/city. In many ways, the DMC is just a “mega enclave.” But the ATN is a good-sized one, and Zom Zom’s is a smaller one.

And as both the ATN and ZZ show, income sources vary quite a bit.

Alvin’s Butchers were supposed to be comparable to the Muthas in size.

Re: melon heads, some folks think they’re escaped mental patients who’ve gone feral, others think they’re mutants or aliens, and still others think they’re children who were experimented on by a mad doctor. Or maybe they’re just a genetic line plagued by hydrocephaly? The beauty of NEO Scavenger is that these are all true, since that’s what people believe :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

How is money usually handled? Is it all cash and change, do people have credit cards/credsticks, is there some way of associating your money with your genetic profile? Kinda wondering given how Mr. Kindred can apparently carry around ten thousand dollars plus his 40kg of gear.

What other forms of cybernetic prosthesis are available? Up to and including 'cyberzombie'?

Is there a minimum wage in the DMC? NEO Scavenger's price schemes are weird-you can buy a pair of pants, or enough quick food for a day; two days will get you a backpack or a water tester, and four will get you a laptop. Of course, I expect prices for personal electronics et al are higher in the DMC, or there's higher-end laptops, phones and otherwise that Mr. Kindred never gets access to.

I take it the paucity of items in the Junk Market is just a gameplay thing? I've been assuming that Philip just ignores anything that isn't immediately useful or in perfect shape-walking past piles of furniture, lawn furniture, stereos, car parts, potted plants, children's toys and landscaping equipment to find the stuff he can use.
Furthermore, how is sale and trade handled at the Junk Market? Do you just find a broker and make an offer, do you set up your own booth, and how standardized are prices outside 'game mechanics'?

How important is the Hatter, is he the sole face of the DMC's criminal underworld, and what other tasks might he offer you? Also, is he MEANT to look like Benedict Cumberbatch? :B

To address an earlier answer-what exactly does the ATN have to OFFER the DMC? Bear roots? Furs? Or is it pretext to stage an invasion?

How common is slavery that Alvin's Butchers can make a living off it, and what is the going price for a healthy adult? Where is it accepted, aside from Zom Zom's, and do slavers consider Melonheads worth anything? (Presumably muzzled so you don't end up with packs, though I could easily see the Bad Muthas capturing at least one Melonhead alive before letting it yell for help for a few hours, then killing the resulting swarm if they're ever low on barbecue.)

How much organization are Dogmen capable of, and do they ever run in packs?

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Sorry for the delay. Been a busy week since we got back!

Currency is a huge problem I had hoped to spend time developing, but in the end, had to just go with omnipresent "dollars." As you point out, currency can be both bulky and heavy, and I wanted that to be a drawback. Plus, would it be paper? Polymer? Plastic? Coin?

And then, places like the DMC would likely go the way of Canada and other advanced countries, where cash is phasing out in favor of chip-based currency. Or even smartphones as terminals into a cloud-based network of accounts.

And then there are places like the ATN and Zom Zom's, which probably either have currencies of their own, or barter. Ditto for random strangers on the street.

In the end, I wanted currency to be a messy, annoying thing :)

Cyber prostheses are pretty wide-open, and in some places, I expect most of the human body to be replaceable with tech. With eye-brain interfacing solved, kinesthetics is pretty trivial. So whole bodies could be replaced if there were a will.

It's more of a question of who wants it, and why. You can bet there are philosophical and ethical debates over the extents of the tech, their use in commerce and industry (and military), and regulations. But there's probably at least someone out there who is a walking machine with a human brain.

There probably is a minimum wage in the DMC, and it is probably flouted by certain employers, whether criminally (think Kowloon, or mafia) or bureaucratically (e.g. Wal-Mart's anti-union propaganda and creative part-timing to avoid pay/benefits).

Pricing is just a best guess, so that's why it seems weird. Also, pricing doesn't account for local scarcity, due to the simplicity of the game's economy. (I.e. non-economy)

You're right about the selection of items at the junk market being abstract. I'd love to have shown all possible items in the game and let players sort through the junk. And I even got a bunch of "junk" into the game. But there's just so much junk!

As for commerce in the Junk Market, the average visitor just does the flea market browse/haggle/buy. If you had a lot more to sell, you'd probably have to setup a table/booth in a free spot, and I haven't thought as far out as whether space would be regulated or not. Probably the stacked shipping containers would be since they're prime real estate, and whomever put them there would want to profit, but vendors clustered around the stacks would be unregulated.

Hatter is actually meant to look like Romaine Brooks, and there's an unrevealed reason for that :)

Hatter's role is not unique in the DMC area, or even the sprawl. He's successful enough that he has power, but there are others like him within and without the walls. He's merely a representative sample.

As for tasks he'd handle, just about anything a "Mr. Johnson" from Shadowrun might.

The ATN's value to the DMC would likely be similar to current-day reservations:

a - consumers
b - raw resources
c - tourism
d - gray market (though diminished due to the sprawl)
e - hospitality (e.g. health care and food for the poor)

Plus reconnaissance on an area beyond DMC's patrols. The DMC's value to the ATN would be:

a - recruits
b - manufactured goods
c - tourism
d - gray market (sprawl)
e - mindshare (spreading the ATN philosophy in hopes of reaching the Eighth Fire and avoiding annihilation)

Slavery is as common as bullying in any place where authority is scarce, or where it is not forbidden. Some enclaves forbid it (ATN), others see it as a viable tool (e.g. punishment/prison labor, or even commerce). Zom Zom's is a special case of "using the whole buffalo" when it comes to slaves, while other enclaves might be a bit more humane.

Slave value varies widely depending on the demand and type of slave. I remember reading that a hitman charged $5k per standard job years ago, but other than that, I have no idea what to charge :)

Melonheads are probably not terribly desireable due to their sickly appearance and general superstition.

As for dogmen, they tend to be solitary. They'll establish pack hierarchies if forced into the same regions, but prefer their own space.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

This conversation was oddly good (I found myself reading the whole thing, and while I like reading, this isn't the kind of thing that would usually spark my interest). Anyhow, I always thought money transactions would happen in a kind of Idiocracy (great movie) style wrist bar code tattoo.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

Good to know! I'm not gonna yell at you for having a life-that'd be beyond presumptuous. Trust me, I'm just glad I can have this kind of conversation at all. The fact that I can talk to YOU, PERSONALLY instead of Anonymous Community Interaction Drone #420 is one of the things that makes me love NS.

Are/were there any NPCs you wanted to implement and never got around to? Trying to come up with ideas for dramatis personae and miscellaneous flavor.

How common is Exile as punishment for actual CITIZENS, as opposed to Visitors? For that matter, how many Sprawlers are born and die without ever approaching or achieving Citizenship? The Standard Character Backgrounds I'm using are Tribal, Ronin, Enclaver, Sprawler, Loner and Exile.

How hard is it to survive as an independent out in the wastes? Either Literally By Yourself or with a small family?

In what context does the Laser Rifle exist in-game, and are DMC Snipers still a thing?

How do DMC Guards summon Drones?

On what basis are DMC Guards hired and trained, and if they're on contracts, how do said contracts work?

Are there any standard biomods for DMC Guards?

Are DMC Guards equivalent to SWAT already, or are there further-more-hardcore SWAT-equivalents Philip never pisses the city off enough to encounter?

How hard is it to resell a set of cybereyes/other prosthetics?

On an earlier note, what are the usual punishments per crime in the DMC, and how easy is it for someone with an excess of cash AND connections to dodge justice or throw Punishment on someone they don't like?

How often is the stuff you're looting when Scavenging the belongings of some unfortunate as opposed to the miscellaneous detritus of the Old World? It certainly seems much more the former than the latter, but then, engine limitations.

Is there Magic (or psionics) in a form players could use, or is it all cryptids and the-power-of-belief? (I prefer the latter, but one of my players is addicted to shitty fantasy novels.)

How polluted is Lake Michigan?

To be clear-'belief' is a collective thing, yes? Is it impossible to delude yourself into superpowers, is what I'm asking.

Does the cell network still exist in any appreciable form outside the DMC? If not, would the DMC support or decry any Enclaves that build and maintain cell towers?

From where do the Blue Frogs recruit, and how many other similar cults exist?

What does Dogman taste like? :B

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Super interesting discussion here. Pleasure to read it :D

Though, I must say I find some of the Dan's... economical optimism, which is presented both in the game's systems simplifications and what he says in such topics, as somewhat problematic. The economy of the game, as well as of the in-lore DMC and wasteland is totally... unbelievable. The $$$ currency and how the trade works in game is simpler to grasp, but really hard to write a post-apo story into :D


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Tbh I assume the 'Dollars' are backed either by what remnant of the US government exists, or by Detroit itself. You can use USD/Detroit Dollars for services unavailable literally anywhere else (the Haggerty Health Clinic most notably) and of course they're more convenient than lugging around your pile of tradegoods everywhere-hence why currency exists in the first place. I expect it's as much convenience as not for people in-universe.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Within the City, the currency makes perfect sense. Outside however, it makes none.

There are no other cities, as we know from the guards who explicitly state that the closest place that can even be called that is Fort... whatever, on the other side of the Swamp (a.k.a. not reachable for any private people). As such, there are no private traders moving between them. From what we know in the lore, there are no trading partners for the DMC (which is supposed to house millions of people) inside the Michigan - groups like the ATN, no more than couple hundreds strong, with warriors armed with bows and scavenged guns, are totally insignificant, as are other even smaller enclaves. All the others we know of - Butchers, Muthas, Martha's luddites and the Froggers are in fact openly hostile, and as such, completely uninterested in the commerce and the currency.

The outsiders living in the Sprawl have the access to the City and its facilities greatly reduced - again, the Guards mention that the legal way to obtain the Visitors Pass can take half a year or more. And that assuming it is granted at all. So it is safe to say, most of the Sprawlers don't have the access even to Haggerty Clinic. They are simply living in the tents around the wall, probably due to the increased security, and doing their own thing.

Can't say I can see how a steady currency could even exist, knowing that in real life, even in the most stable economies, people switch from currency to bartering for necessary goods as soon as any sort of long-term crisis hits.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

It is kind of trope by now common in many other thematically similar games - while still somewhat unbelievable, its propagation and how helpful it is "mechanically" helps it not disturb my suspension of disbelief as much as it could.

Whoa, looks like I have some catching up to do!

Re: NPCs I never got around to adding, I'm pretty sure I had some. Things like a Kowloon-like enclave within the DMC (which probably has members), organ/blood brokers, Nain Rouge agents operating from the Diner, a psychiatrist employed by Merga to convince Philip (and others) they were hallucinating, etc.

Exile has a lower threshold as punishment for visitors than citizens. Think of it like violating a travel visa in a foreign country vs. citizens in that country. The one difference is that exile acts as a convenient "almost death penalty" for citizens, while modern countries wouldn't revoke citizenship nor extradite a citizen.

Most sprawlers probably never get in. The bureaucracy is so lengthy, tedious, complicated, and costly to streamline that it acts as a convenient filter for the DMC. Only the super smart/rich/skilled/sponsored get in.

Gonna have to stop here. Time to help with dinner :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

What is law like inside the DMC?

Is it legal for private citizens to own firearms, and with what restrictions? Bows?

Do you need any form of license to own a Nanorobotic Medkit?

Are there self-crafting nanobots, even if unavailable to 99% of people?

If you survive Exile as a Citizen, how likely are you to be able to get back in, and how likely is finding a job again?

What businesses other than the Junk Market operate in the DMC Sprawl? Are there mechanics, tailors, anything like that? How does the average Sprawler make their daily bread?

To address Kaaven's question-I expect it's a question of utility. It's a lot easier to carry around a few hundred dollars than it is to carry a couple hundred dollars in tradegoods, even if you can't get into the DMC to spend it. The fact that people agree it has value is why it has value, and why shantytowns still use money instead of barter.

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Okay, going to try to sneak a few more answers in my free time.

Re: survival as an independent is pretty much modeled by the game. Can be done, but a lot of time is spent surviving and not much else without help (where "help" includes communities and their services). Try playing the game without ever visiting the DMC, sprawl, ATN, or anyone else, and that's probably a close model for it.

A family's survival chances would probably depend on the members and how self-sufficient they were. More teamwork and skill breadth would improve odds, but more deadweight and consumption reduces them. Also, more people means more surface area for problems/danger.

The laser rifle was meant to be a high-tech weapon in use by certain military or paramilitary organizations. It was partly introduced to signal to players that "yes, we are in the future." However, I later decided to swap it out for a rail/gauss gun as a compromise between practicality and sci-fi. Weaponized lasers are already a thing today, though, so nothing prevents us from having more in NS.

As for DMC snipers, probably not to the degree that we originally saw them. Having spotters on the wall makes sense, though, and some would definitely benefit from long-range weapons. But given the ranges and the wall's height, it might be more like desk/drone operators controlling the optics and crosshairs. Traditional snipers probably exist for theaters away from the walls (e.g. covering breach of a skyscraper in the inner city).

DMC guards summon drones via smartphones paired with a hands-free mic. It's partly a hack to make them work with existing in-game items, as their range wouldn't extend much beyond the DMC area without more powerful transmitters.

The DMC SkyCorps is a private paramilitary security force. I haven't figured out how recruiting works for them, but it probably looks similar to Blackwater Agency.

I haven't really thought about standard biomods for DMC Skycorps, though that might make sense on a per-role-basis. E.g. built-in radio, optical AR enhancements, tracking devices, biometrics, etc.

Re: SWAT, there are probably more advanced units in the Skycorps. After all, this is a world with nanotech, compact fusion, exoskeletons, cybernetics, and (although inaccessible to Earth), commercial intrasystem space travel. Skybike riders are already pretty advanced, being a sort of mobile weapons and command platform combined with high-speed and high-range interceptor roles.

Reselling prosthetics is probably not hard to do if they're in good shape. Like any other sensitive item (e.g. guns), there may be hoops to jump through to do it legally (or papertrails to eliminate if not).

I haven't specifically researched DMC punishments, but the current US legal model dialed slightly in the oppressive direction is probably a good approximation. The DMC is a police state (inasmuch as it can be while contracting a privatized security force), surrounded on all sides by hostile territory.

That said, the DMC government is a remnant of the US and Detroit governments that preceded it. Many of the roots will be shared, and the people will still have some expectation of due process and freedom. But the leaning it slightly in favor of security over freedom right now.

As for money and connections trumping law, certainly! Public perception will be even more important in the DMC than current-day USA, given the nature of the NS universe :)

The bulk of scavenged items were meant to be Old World. Non-perishables (e.g. hyperpreservatives) overlooked by scavengers over the years (either due to being well-hidden or by virtue of supply outstripping demand/manpower). But it is an abstract system, so the engine colors that a bit. Recent inhabitants will certainly add their own layer of stuff.

Re: magic and psionics, I prefer to look to the X-Files for guidance when getting into the "spooky." Can it be explained rationally by onlookers? No? Not even by hallucination, exhaustion, poor lighting, or swamp gas? Then no, not going to happen.

The tricky part is when one is deeply secluded from rational-types, and significant numbers of locals believe voodoo/witchcraft/praying/wicca are real. Weird things are going to happen in such places by virtue of "the rule" in NS, and rational visitors are likely to question their own sanity/beliefs in the face of so much weirdness.

I haven't figured out Lake Michigan yet. That region is going to have a lot going on, though. Chicago and Milwaukee are both going to be big before the collapse, so they'll have an impact (and that'll continue even if they're just ruins feeding run-off into the lake).

But at the same time, this is Native Land. Capital N and L. The lakes have a role in Native folklore that predates America by centuries, and the whole area is steeped in spirits. Not just "wooo ghost" spirits. I'm talking "that island is a spirit" spirits.

I'm toying with the idea that Windsor and DMC have a sort of partnership across the water, but ground travel is not possible between them. Creatures beyond reckoning swim the waters of Erie and Michigan, or maybe dominate the water in some areas. Whole islands may be forbidden to mankind. Ancient copper mines may actually have connections to Europe/Africa, as the rumors suggest. (This is part of the reason Philip's amulet is copper.)

The Lakes are a big deal :)

Your quote is an important point in the game's mythology:

To be clear-'belief' is a collective thing, yes? Is it impossible to delude yourself into superpowers, is what I'm asking.

One of the neat tricks of the NS "world is what people believe" rule is that you can't will anything to happen. If you want something to become true, you implicitly believe that it is not. So learning the secrets of the universe paradoxically makes you powerless within it. You're stuck with what everyone around you believes.

Unless you change their minds, that is...

Or you forget...

The cell network infrastructure will still be intact in places, and ruined in others. None is still running, however, unless someone propped it up over time. The DMC would definitely support revitalizing the cell network, with an eye toward piggybacking on it (i.e. projecting power, surveillance, communications).

Blue Frogs recruit through wandering "Preachers," and the occasional crazy who shows up at their door. Mostly the former, though, and often brainwashing/torture is part of the sales pitch.

As for what dogman tastes like, I'll have to look for a NYT article on that :)

Regarding currency, if I said somewhere that currency is standardized and stable across the world (or even region), that was an error on my part. The DMC has a currency and banking system that is probably digital, leveraging the same technology that is used for identification and surveillance of citizens (e.g. implants). Groups within the DMC may trade in other ways (barter, local currencies), but a DMC "dollar" is a DMC "dollar" anywhere within the walls.

Outside the walls, the DMC "dollar" ($) still has value to anyone with access to the DMC. E.g. Philip's visitor pass is an ID with an account status, and if he is given $, he can use it later when visiting. Even if they have no access, they might barter with someone who does for something from within the DMC.

This assumes there is either DMC network coverage for the transaction, or otherwise, some secure ad-hoc way of transferring funds. I haven't thought of any reasons prohibiting a bearer device with $, but that's a possibility, too.

Large-scale trade with the DMC is limited, true, but I envisioned there being private caravans from the DMC to a few choice locales. The "downed hover truck" encounters are meant to hint at this. One cannot drive to Fort Wayne through the GBS, but hover convoys occasionally brave the trip for profits (in $ or FW's currency). Windsor is another likely destination.

Scavenging and encounters in the wilds of MI weren't meant to deal in $, but that was a limitation of the engine. Realistically, it's barter, or maybe a local scrip. Or just plain IOU.

I like the idea of making currency burdensome, though, so there may be ways to collect it if I can make it problematic. Probably by requiring multiple proprietary devices for larger communities, plus commodity/representative currency for some communities, and trade for the rest.

Back to DMC laws, I think firearms and weapons would be allowed because Detroit citizens wouldn't have it any other way :) Omniscient surveillance would also make their use and trafficking partially controlled.

Regarding nanorobots, an NRMK would probably not require a license to own. But I imagine procuring one would be a different story. This might make for an interesting adventure idea, as there are probably nefarious ways to hack an NRMK for evil, and it might be one of the major controversies in DMC politics.

Ditto for self-crafting nanobots, though I can't see anyone admitting to making or having them in the first place. Too controversial to announce. Outside the DMC, there are probably some species out there like this. Might even be on the loose, but stuck without material to propagate further (e.g. on an "island" of their replication fuel).

Returning to the DMC after exile is probably like being an ex-felon. Technically, you can "exist" in the city, but "living" is another question.

Anything and everything are up for grabs in the sprawl. It is literally a refugee camp outside the DMC. The only laws enforced are those that keep the sprawl from erupting into something that endangers the DMC. As long as one is operating out of plain sight (note: not just visual spectrum), it's probably possible to find any item/service.

Whew! Caught-up!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

I'm gonna second how great this thread is, and how much fun it is to read it! Thanks Pwnlord for starting it, thanks Dan for taking the time to answer. :)


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My pleasure! This is one of the parts of being a game developer that I like most: world-building, high-level design, and spitballing. The hard/tedious part is pretty literally everything else :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

In the crowds of the Sprawl what does a given Looter represent? Out in the wilds it's much more plausible for them to be the only person around, but in the Sprawl is it just kind of Philip noticing "oh hey, this guy seems more purposeful than usual?"

I'd also like to get into questions about population and the kind of person you'd run into in the wilderness. I also kinda like to ask about the weirdnesses of the spawning system-namely that there certainly seem to be a LOT more people appearing at all once you have Telescopic Vision, though that's more a gameplay question than a worldbuilding one.

How common are enclaves, and what's the dividing point between 'sedentary gang' and 'enclave?' Presence of a form of income? Improvements to their hovel/ruin? Total number of people?

How common are trade caravans, and how many are "donkey/large dog with cart" versus "gang of Enclavers with uparmored RV chassis flatbed who'd rather sell you something than fight you" versus "DMC hovertruck with Skycorps backup"?

How expensive are hovertrucks?

How common/available are offroad vehicles that run off methane/propane? Off hydrogen? Off wood gasification? Off coal gas? (There's LOTS of coal in Michigan.)

Is there any oil left at all?

What's the division between a Ronin and a Looter? Level of skill? Or just whether they're willing to be paid?

How are Urban Hexes still lit? Related to that, is cheap fusion power a thing, or is microfission just that much more efficient (see: Bob's Hot Brick)

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

The looter is meant to represent the type of person trying to survive via nomadic scavenging. No allegiance, no support network. Like the main character of "The Postman." Philip is also essentially a looter with a backstory. And the conversations you can have with looters is meant to represent the range of personalities they encompass.

When you run into a looter in the sprawl, different things can happen, from avoidance to assault, and that's meant to be representative of the semi-lawlessness of the sprawl.

People in the wilderness might be from the sprawl, but in many cases, live out there. Either alone, or as part of an enclave. Some enclaves are big enough to warrant a name (e.g. Blue Frogs, ATN), others are nameless communities that either persisted through the collapse, or congregated after.

The telescopic spawning question might be due to an oversight in the spawning system. Basically, new creatures get spawned just beyond the player's line of sight, as populating the whole map ahead of time was too resource-heavy for most CPUs. Instead, this keeps the local area fairly lively, and also allows for some of the more tenacious/lucky creatures to persist when returning to the area.

The distinction between enclave vs. gang is probably just semantics. Enclave just means a group of people in NEO Scavenger, and primarily those that stay put. For an enclave to last any appreciable time, it has to be either formidable or secluded enough to withstand encroachment, raids, and nature, so they're sort of self-selecting.

Trade caravans are common enough to be interesting :) Looters are probably the lowest end of the spectrum. People like Philip are a common sight around trading posts.

Larger enterprises exist around correspondingly larger opportunities. The DMC has the hover truck convoys because entrepreneurs can get together a truck that minimizes route risk, and they can turn a profit worth that risk at the destinations they've chosen.

By the way, the Skycorps doesn't need to backup a convoy for it to be successful. And unless it's something critical to DMC interests (i.e. covered under their contract), or the convoy paid well enough for off-hours protection, Skycorps probably wouldn't bother.

As for the price of a hovertruck, who knows? :) Hover vehicles are meant to be uncommon, but not rare in the DMC. The DMC map deliberately keeps a balance of ground lights vs. flying lights to show the relative rarity of said vehicles. I'd pit the hover vehicle as something akin to private aircraft of today. The rich and business owners can have them without too much trouble, but your average citizen won't.

Vehicles that run on different fuel types will be out there, but will skew towards more common fuels, common tech (either from before the collapse, or present manufacturing if near centers like DMC), and ease of maintenance. So if there's lots of coal in MI, for example, that doesn't mean lots of coal gas vehicles necessarily. But if converting salvaged vehicles to coal gas was easy, it would bump up their prevalence.

I haven't done my homework on future energy, but I suspect places like the DMC will favor electric engines due to the cheap and abundant energy there. Methane recapture might be big, too, but there'd be little reason to base infrastructure on it with cheaper energy at their disposal.

Skycorps sky bikes might have a hybrid system, though, to support longer field deployment away from the city. And places like Zom Zom's, ATN, and other enclaves might favor combustion engines that run on methane, biodiesel, etc.

Is there any oil left? Sure, anything not yet mined will be there. Again, no homework, but I didn't expect the Earth to be mined dry prior to the collapse. Any refined gas, however, has probably gone stale or near to it by now.

Re: Ronin vs. Looter, probably the only difference is what they call themselves :) More seriously, Cameron used a lot of colorful language in his random encounters, so when he said "Ronin," my take was that it wasn't a faction or official designation. Rather, it was a colorful way of saying "veteran mercenary."

Urban hexes were originally lit for aesthetic reasons, so my explanation is a bit of retconning. But I expect many still-standing structures are going to have campers and enclaves claiming them, and that means fires, candles, lanterns, flashlights, and other means of living after dark.

Is cheap fusion a thing? I think so. The new space game sort of relies on there being a step forward in energy production for intrasystem travel, and my expectation is some sort of fusion comparable to Lockheed's compact fusion efforts. The availability of this will be limited on Earth due to the collapse of infrastructure and dwindling expertise outside of certain regions, but it's still here and there. (E.g. Shiawassee is that giant round building in DMC's map)

I'm not sure if it is compact enough to be, say, in a Skycorps sky bike, but I was leaving that option open as long as possible. It is almost certainly small enough for space frigates, though, or else my new game is in trouble :)

Bob's hot brick was meant to be a radioisotope thermoelectric generator. So not fission as much as a chunk of radioactive stuff that generates heat which thermocouples can turn into electricity. (Also see The Martian, where one features pretty prominently.)

Also, Bob's "house" was meant to be built into part of an old medical facility's reactor, which was based on a thorium reactor. I figured some facilities might have more workable versions of these as alternatives before fusion was readily available.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

I was figuring on a weight of two tons for your average microfusion reactor-small enough to fit in the average city tile, but big enough to dissuade my players from pulling it out. So that fits nicely!

Coal gas was apparently run in limited quantities in Australia and Japan! Coal-direct chemical looping is a thing, but probably wasn't refined much before things went to hell.

I'll make oil rare, expensive, and valuable-such that you run your monstrosity with both a wood/coal gasifier and a tank of 85 octane for when you really need to put the hammer down-or you're raiding people like the Bad Muthas do. A dirtbike is much more understandable on a short term, high risk high reward venture.

Ronin are a pretty obvious reference to Shadowrun's Street Samurai, imo. But that's about what I figured.

I'm going to put down RTGs as a possible vehicle power source, after I discuss the power output and density with some friends.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Coincidentally, coal gas may be more relevant in this setting. I've been thinking about how certain materials are sourced in the solar system without access to earth, and one of the big ones is plastic. Since plastic comes from fossil fuels here on earth, another method is needed to produce it in space.

Some readers have suggested the Fischer-Tropsch process as a way to get hydrocarbons from asteroids and other celestial bodies. So it's possible this tech is in wide use in the Solar System.

While this tech probably got more attention after the collapse (meaning it's further advanced for the spacefarers than earth dwellers), there was probably a lot of pre-collapse study on it as a way of reducing space-based manufacturing and transport.

The Ronin/Street Samurai link was one I hadn't though of. Quit possible, though!

And if I recall correctly, the RTG doesn't have the type of power output needed to run a vehicle. Supplement, maybe. And as a recharger. But the power output is pretty low.

On the other hand, the longevity is unsurpassed. And it's pretty low maintenance (apart from correct shielding and heat handling). So they made ideal low-power sources for things like satellites and remote installations.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

While I don't see myself sending my players to space, I'd kinda like to know-how much traffic is there between Earth and the rest of the solar system, and what's the biggest 'hub' in space? Newspapers mention the Jovian moon colonies and a strike at the L4 Supercluster, but nothing about, say, Mars.

Also, self-replicating nanomachines are definitely a thing-there's a newspaper article to that point.

Would an RTG be enough to run, say, a single room's (small) appliances on? Toaster oven, lamp, laptop, microwave, minifridge, that sort of thing.

What does the Internet of Detroit look like?

How much demand is there for the information of the past? Could you, say, have the government of Detroit send a group of Ronin off to revive a datacenter-or at least retrieve a pile of hard drives?

What resources does the DMC lack, and what do they trade to other megacities?

What does North Michigan look like?

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Is it possible to make someone weaker by spreading lies about them, with NS' belief system? It doesn't affect you, since you know about it, but who says your target does?

Likewise, do Belief boosts stop applying to you once you're aware of them, if you came by your Reputation honestly?

I've talked to the developer of the tabletop I was writing this for and he said I was modifying everything so heavily I might as well just make my own system.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

According to what we know, you indeed can make someone weaker that way, although there are limits to that. Cause, you know, his mum believes he is the best... Technically, you could even harm someone, by spreading lies about their sickness or something to that effect. Although, keep in mind that people have to give a damn in the first place, in order to actually believe something into existence.

Simply walking to a group of strangers on the market square and telling them "You know what? Steven is sick!" will not do the trick, if they neither know nor care about Steven and his well-being.

And it shouldn't really go away only because you know about it - technically the effect should become weaker, since you stop believening in it... But! There is always at least one but. If you know about the effect, you might not believe it but you do, in fact, believe that other's belief actually does work.

So for example, if you became super strong, cause people seen you perform a great (if fake) act of phisical prowess, but learned that the super-strenth comes form that quality of the universe. Now, by that point you don't believe you actually got super-strong, but will no doubt believe that their belief can in fact make you strong. Unless... You don't actually believe in all that stuff... :D


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I always assumed that for thing to "become" the belief must be quite incorporated into the fabric of society, up to the point of being considered common knowledge. Makes sense in a way that any average rumor, even quite commonspread, won't have much of an impact because it will be just considered a rumor - many people even if willing to believe won't care that much.

Now, if something would achieve mythical status - a thing that's being passed on in hushed voices around campfires by strangers who never really had to do with person or situation in question personally but just heard the tale or a legend that stimulates imagination of those hearing about it - then it may have tangible effect on the reality.

Otherwise the local area in the game would likely change quite much on daily basis fluff-wise as people would share stories, gossip and rumors at any bigger population centers, wondering and creating new stories about world around them rather than experiencing rise of mythical creatures from cultures of the past. DMC guards would be likely a walking gods among men, resistant to fear and harm, since on average their superior training and equipment made them combatants so much superior that probably they acquired rather great reputation among people living in DMC area.

I think that also ties well with traits of the main character achieved through spoilers and legendary status connected to them. Any single particular act of astounding capability and heroics won't suddenly make him a legend even when he may be spoken about by many - unless it's something already associated with and piggybacking on existing legend. But achieve a couple of such deeds and certain reputation may get you a boost. Of course, other things factor in this, like gameplay balance considerations and importance of such events as indicators of player's character actual capability without any supernatural undertones.

So I don't think that spreading lies would really have any effect unless they'd acquire memetic status known far and wide and that, given superstition, could backfire if people would start warning others along the lines of "Don't you steal from that village, it's where Typhoid Dave lives. He had a horrible disease and yet he still lives - and I've heard he can send it upon anyone who wrongs him or his neighbours!".

Well, Dan's presented vision of the humanity is a very peculiar one... It seems to assume that most of the things that half of the people believe in is almost equally counter-weighted by the belief of the other half. Like, in this world there has to be at least 50% of atheists, otherwise we would see divine intervention left and right. And there must be a rough balance of 50/50 people having hope for the better days and the pessimists, for the world to stay roughly the same shape for the last 30 years+.

There is a lot of conspiracy theorists out there though, since we know from the game's ending that most of the "evil government" stories are true. And extra-dimensional aliens DO control all of it and abduct people on occasion. Also, seems like most of the population are also hard-core believers in folk tales - hence 19th century dogmen, wendigo and 60s Enfield Horrors are all around (where are the alligators and the mothmen though?).

So, a society of non-religious but extremely supersticious haters of the government they never lived under or experienced in any way... But both tribal societies and high-tech utopias are doing well and co-exist in peace... Alex Jones would be proud :D

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In other words and a bit more seriousness, it seems that in this world any "big" belief is auto-counteracted by roughly the same ammout of non-belief and the only things that do tend to actually manifest are the kind of stuff that a small group of people tend to believe in, but the rest simplu don't give a single shit about, never sparing as much as a thought about. And once the manifestation becomes reality, it takes root and persist, by the strenth of the belief of those who ACTUALLY encoutered it.

Like the Yezinka - believed into existence by a small minority of Czech/Slovak descendants (mostly their children, probably) and so unknown that no one cared or even known about it enough to "counter-believe" it from existance.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

That's a certain explanation though I still would go with kinda memetic status as prerequisite for something's coming into existence. For example, you don't need 50% of atheists - it may be that simply those who believe don't believe fervently and it's mostly like how it often is IRL - a kind of hope there's this or that without actual belief that one will experience any divine intervention. Which leads to lack fo such intervention without need of fervent belief there's nothing divine to oppose the faith.

Yezinka in that context could be somewhat explained as mythological now creature because some children may believe in it really seriously and while many grow ups, well... outgrown the myth, it probably left some memory or other mark in subconscious depths of their psyche.

Though I do like the idea that strong belief of small group of people simply not oppossed by beliefs of any other group is also enough to manifest certain things to some degree.

Also, while it's me making stuff up - I wouldn't be opposed to the idea there may be additional factors beside belief for things coming to be (at this point not stating how it is, but looking for explanation so things make more sense). What if as per side-effect of fear, anger and other rather negative traits governing mentality of big portion of world's population negative things based or connected to those feelings have much easier time manifesting?
What if the form they manifest to befit the belief has much of an impact on strength of manifestation? That would explain how certain creatures and items seem to be much more common than abstract, intangible yet easily noticeable occult and religious events despite possibly many people believing in the latter. Maybe to bring a venomous spider in the vicinity of one's enemy into existence is far easier than manifesting venom in the same person's bloodstream?

Huh. I guess that's how rules of some magical Neo Scavenger spellcasting could be established :P

I will end this post here since like I've said, at this point it's me trying to add logic and explanation to the fluff rather than just presenting what actually is the fluff - but I suspect there are ways Dan could add certain vague rules or at least correlations between belief and manifestation without us having to assume clear-cut divison of socieal groups and so on for the whole idea to be cohesive outside of events of the game.

Are there any Enclaves built around steel mills?

What does Detroit do with its waste?

What are the views of Detroit on people growing marijuana or opium poppies? Or do they mostly not care as long as you're not exporting the stuff directly to Detroit? (I've started writing some very loose rules for enclaves, and booze and various drugs are export crops. Not to mention the utility of morphine...)

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Hey Pwnlord!

I sort of assumed that there were at least a few natural resource extraction sites that became enclaves after the collapse. So whether that be steel mills, ore mining, power generation, or even landfill/recycling facilities, any source of tradeworthy material is a good kickstarter for a growing community. (Or target for a hostile takeover.)

As for waste in Detroit, I think the DMC couldn't exist unless it is extremely frugal with resources. That means a high degree of waste processing and recycling. Most modern cities are just starting to turn a corner with this, where the fraction of waste sent to landfills decreases to almost nothing. The majority goes to either recycling facilities (papers, textiles, metals, plastics, glass, electronics, etc.) or composting (any biodegradable organic matter).

Drug would be an interesting, and debatable, topic. On one hand, quite a few modern cities have already decriminalized or even legalized marijuana. And I don't foresee that trend reversing as much as balkanizing. Some places will keep it, some will be against it. And there will be crusaders on either side.

Opioids, on the other hand, are at a crisis point right now in North America. And I could see that driving public opinion towards suppression of those drugs. To the point of task forces seeking it out and eliminating it.

The DMC, specifically, seems like it would be less concerned with marijuana use than opioids. Within the walls, you might have smoke restrictions a bit stricter than what you see now in a large, modern city (air quality in a megacity requires careful management). But the drug itself isn't dangerous enough to warrant attention, even if illegal, given the other dangers present.

But opioids would be highly regulated within the walls, as they are here and now. Prescriptions required, government-regulated use, etc. Probably no shortage of opioid dens in the Sprawl, though, and folks trying to slip it through the walls.

And the quality and dosages of street drugs are going to be all over the place, leading to death and disability due to ODing and other harmful additives.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games