old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse

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old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« on: July 20, 2011, 03:25:47 PM »
I'm looking for examples of how other MCs have handled the issue of old people that may or may not remember the pre-apocalypse times.

I sort of imagine a world where very few people that were more than young children when "it" happened are still alive. But there are bound to be not just their fuzzy memories of kindergarten, but the occasional old codger that should theoretically have some valid recollections of when things were normal.

In your worlds, do such NPCs surface much? Are they all sort of crazy? Do they tell tales that few believe, even if they are true?

And what about books and such? Do the people in your worlds know how to read still? Are there hidden caches of preserved newspapers that point to events leading up to things going all wrong? Were all the libraries burned down in your event?

Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2011, 03:49:05 PM »
One of the handy things about the Apocalypse is how everything gets isolated. It's easy, even required, for there to be scarcity. Some books, sure, but no libraries have showed up yet in any games I've been in. There was a natural history museum, but it mostly had pre-WW1 stuff, dinosaurs and archaeological artifacts, not much of actual use to ApW folk. In our current game, there's an NPC who can read, and she hoards her few books. She wants to find more, and wants to teach others to read, but there's not really time, and not much interest.

We have a few folks who are 40ish (including the reader), but no real oldsters. The best information that might have come from before-times was the recent direction of an oldster to treat the sick people in the holding to a good stiff washing; she's old enough to remember being clean, and that it helped. She's maybe 48, not super old, but she looks like a withered old granny.

I do love the idea of having elderly folk, like 60 year olds who were 10 when "it" happened, trying to deal with the loss of what was, the hand they've been dealt, and the mess between.

Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 05:50:34 PM »
I'm about to play a Hardholder named Barbeque who is around mid fifties.  The way I see it, he doesn't remember anything before "it".  But oh man does he have some memories from the bad times just afterward.  The time when there were way too many people and way not enough food.  The time when all the shit that got broke got broke.  Think about what it does to a child to grow up in that time...that's how you end up with a mean old sumbitch hardholder.

Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 09:37:09 PM »
Nice! I love the idea of someone remembering the "just after" time. I'm excited to see what kind of world my group comes up with when we get started in a couple weeks. Then I'll be able to pepper in information like you're talking about from the occasional "old" NPC.

*

DannyK

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Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 01:09:09 PM »
In the AW online game that I had to shut down, I was inspired by some of the Southern ladies I've known to have the hardhold, Gaga, have a designated eldest citizen, a daffy old lady whose grossly inaccurate memories of the Old Day were the best guess anybody had to how things were.  In practice, she functioned mostly as a social arbiter and etiquette guide -- the NPC hardholder liked to do things properly.  So, for example, when you had a formal council, you had to stage it like a dinner party, with good things to eat and people sitting boy-girl-boy-girl around the table... She had a remarkable ability to overlook all the nasty aspects of life in Gaga and act as if everything was pleasant and cheerful. She was a lot of fun.


Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2011, 02:05:30 PM »
So we played our first session, and an interesting thing came about in the fiction due to my Hardholder's age.  See Barbeque was born before the change, and his brain can comprehend a time without the psychic maelstrom.  So he is terrified of it, doesn't understand it, is sort of mistrusting of the savyhead because of it etc...

Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2011, 09:17:01 AM »
I'm actually running a game right now with a few characters who remember the pre-apocalypse (they were kids). It was actually important for one character because, in effect, he had some rudimentary farming and had been creating a sort of utopian commune where people could actually produce food (food scarcity being one of the themes of our game). The other person who can remember the pre-apocalypse is treated as a sort of sage by all the power players in the area.

I think the nice thing about having characters who remember the pre-apocalypse is that I think, ultimately post-apocalyptic stories can deal with interesting themes about death, loss, destruction, and rebirth, and having someone who has some kind of way of highlighting that, albeit in a vague way, gives you some narrative hook to tag that theme in play.

Basically, if no one knows that something was lost, something that used to be, how can you explore that theme?

Personally, as far as use in the game, I've tried to keep the two NPCs who have any kind of pre-apocalyptic knowledge off camera a fair amount and display most of their knowledge subtly. I think the danger with this is of having an old guy dropping into the fiction to monologue things like "And back then, we used to have Coca-Cola, and the Internet, a jet airliners, and movies! You kids don't know what you're missing!"

I find it's least intrusive and most effective to have the knowledge manifest not in what the characters say but what they know. That piece of trash lying around? The character can do something with it, or knows what it is. That sort of thing. One of the NPCs in my game who remembers the pre-apocalypse actually has plants and watered them. This looked real strange all around to the PCs. Water is scarce, and green stuff even more so, why waste water on some weird little green thing? That sort of thing.

Re: old people, knowledge, and the history of the apocalypse
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 12:24:58 AM »
I find it's least intrusive and most effective to have the knowledge manifest not in what the characters say but what they know. That piece of trash lying around? The character can do something with it, or knows what it is. That sort of thing. One of the NPCs in my game who remembers the pre-apocalypse actually has plants and watered them. This looked real strange all around to the PCs. Water is scarce, and green stuff even more so, why waste water on some weird little green thing? That sort of thing.

This is exactly what I was thinking when I designed my custom playbook for The Coot! His standard move "Remembering the time before" is very much like that.

http://www.mediafire.com/file/7rzq6gsk7n9qntm/AW-Playbook-Coot.pdf