How populated are you Apocalypses?

  • 8 Replies
  • 5865 Views
*

Jwok

  • 59
How populated are you Apocalypses?
« on: June 14, 2013, 12:35:59 PM »
So I've noticed that in many of my AW games I tend to lean towards a more sparse apocalypse - i.e. one holding with maybe a few others known of on the distant horizon, with everything desolate of human life in between.

I'm curious to know a couple things from ya'll:
A) How populated are your apocalypses?
B) What the scale of your regions are - Is travel between holdings measured in days? hours? weeks? Are your holdings a few buildings, a section of a city? How far reaching are the burning flats?
C) Does having a more populated region with lots of little holdings and communes seem counter to the "not enough to go around" nature of AW?
Welcome to Jwokalypse World
http://jwokalypseworld.weebly.com/

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 02:13:31 PM »
Hey Jwok!
This is something that I find answers itself during the first few sessions when we are "world creating." We've never directly talked about population per say, but as we create the immediate areas and outlying region(s) it falls into place as you figure out who's out there.
My advice is to talk with your players about it.... and if you are leaning towards a theme (like a depopulated landscape), work it out with them.

Hope that's of some help!

HankleVonCrankle

*

Scrape

  • 378
Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2013, 05:29:57 PM »
In general, the group's home tends to have around 200 people; enough for multiple interesting factions and power bases. I find that my group tries to create stable little communities. I gotta constantly remind myself that nothing is truly stable, and consciously make an effort to reinforce how fragile these communities are in play. I get the impression that the book assumes there's a whole lotta wasteland and very few real holdings, but maybe that's just my impression?

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2013, 11:25:06 AM »
I tend towards lots of little holdings in my wastelands. Usually around 30-40 people with a few big "cities" of 100-200 people that have a lot more sway in their region than the small guys and probably run security for those nearby. So it ends up taking on a real regional feel as you move along the wastes. I tend to put my holds about 30-60 minutes drive from one other which I usually translate into a half-a-day to a day's walk. This makes the Driver especially useful as they can make trips in dramatically short time compared to those on foot.

That's at least my classic desert wasteland approach. And now I want to run Apoc World again. Thanks!! :P

*

Jwok

  • 59
Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2013, 02:19:13 AM »
Ooo, I really like your idea Pheylorn. I've always been going off of an assumption more like Scrape's, but the "lots of little" holdings all a day apart sounds like it opens up a lot of play options.
Welcome to Jwokalypse World
http://jwokalypseworld.weebly.com/

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 05:49:08 PM »
The last AW game I ran was set in a post apocalyptic early 80's Manhattan. I didn't even realize that I was ripping Escape from New York in a few ways.

Our game's structure was set up amongst rival gangs that control the majority of the ruins of Old New York. The gangs generally have 10 to 18 members (a few are bigger, some are smaller) and patrol a few square blocks (most of the cityscape is horrible devasted and dangerous to travel above ground in, the majority of communities are built on the subway hubs and use them as highways, and are generally populated by 40 individuals).

When we developed the city we wanted to have a few larger hubs of humanity on the island (upwards of a thousand souls). with the npc's I ended up throwing down we had a system of three main "towns" that constantly push the gangs against one another to slowly reclaim sections of the city or find good junk to use against other aggressor holdfasts and to use as protective screens.

The leadership of the big towns really reflect the top 5% ruling the 95% of the underlings, who for the most part are indentured serfs. The big towns generally didn't have any teeth either, so the interplay between the gangs the pc's were part of really got alot of traction in the game.

The small hubs that are gang protected run 30 to 60 people, the 3 or 4 main burroughs hold anywhere from 300 to 1000 citizens. Overall if we added up the forty or fifty gangs that dot the land the population is still extremely high, but isolated from each other, usually takes a few hours to get anywhere because of the fallout, rubble, enemy gangs, and mutated giant pigeons (or random evil robot.

Anyhow, that was the last game I ran, it was a pretty cool mix of Escape from New York, Banana Fish, and The Warriors.

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 08:36:49 PM »
I'm currently studying Economics and Anthropology, and this thread got me thinking about how various real life unit of social organization map into Apocalypse World.

So, the smallest unit is the Band. Historically, bands consisted of around 30 or so related individuals, though some large bands might have up to 100. A person might belong to multiple bands (they're mother and father's respective families, as well as their spouses family), but they would typically only live with one band at a time. Most bands were nomadic hunter-gatherers, going wherever food was plentiful, and leaving when it stopped being plentiful. As a consequence of this, most bands were highly egalitarian; private property did not exist, because it was impossible for anyone to "own" anything except what they carried with them on their backs. One member of the band might serve as an informal leader, and another might serve as part-time religious specialist, but no one possessed any kind of formal authority over anyone else. Bands were often temporary, forming and breaking up as people came and went. In AW terms, a band might consists a small to medium sized gang, or maybe a small holding with no real Hardholder.  For gigs, they probably support themselves by hunting or scavenging. The leader is only the leader as long as he doesn't blow his Pack Alpha/Leadership rolls. Forager egalitarianism is modelled but the Chopper's Fucking Theives move. Whoever has the highest weird score is probably the designated "dealing with the maelstrom" guy, but there probably isn't a full time brainer or hocus. Savyheads and Angels are right out.

The next level up is the Tribe, which generally had populations in the 100-300 range and was generally rooted to one location.  The most glaring difference between the mobile band and the sedentary tribe was the rise in pseudo-private property allowed for the accumulation of wealth during an individual's lifetime; however, wealth is not inherited, and there are is no systematic inequality. Furthermore, wealthy individuals are generally expected to use their wealth for the benefit of other members of the community, and those who don't are often violently murdered.Leadership typically fell to a "big man" or village head, however, as with bands, the head had no formal authority; while a big man might succeed in imposing his will on the rest of the tribe by sheer force of personality, his ability to do so rests completely on his ability to command the loyalty of his followers; his power is entirely personal, and there is no institutional structures in place granting power to those who do not achieve it on their own. Economically, Tribes generally supported themselves via some variant of slash-and-burn horticulture (clearing a plot of land, farming it till it can't be farmed anymore, and then moving on to a different plot) or pastoral herding. In AW terms, this is were we find most of our standard Hardholds. The Hardholder wields more power than the Chopper (or anyone else who managed to acquire a gang or holding), but his hold on it is still very tenuous; he's never more than a few blown rolls away from having his power seriously challenged. Furthermore, Hardholdership is not hereditary; just because your dad was a badass motherfucker who managed to carve a holding out for himself doesn't mean that any of his people will follow you for a second unless you are equally baddas. At this level, we start to see crude farming as a gig, and possibly some minor trades. Most of the playbooks will be represented.

Next up, we have the Chiefdom, which typically formed once populations exceed the 300 mark. With Chiefdom's we start to see systematic inequality and inherited power, centred around the Chief. However, social stratification was not cleanly distinguished. Rather than a sharp divide between the haves and the have-nots, we see various degrees of having, with how much you have being directly proportional to how closely related you were to the chief. It's important to remember that unlike in states, which command the involuntary allegiance of non-relatives and are generally have a hard distinction between rulers and ruled (with the ruling families rarely if ever marrying outside of their station), everyone within a chiefdom will be at least nominally related (even if you have to go all the way back to some legendary ancestor said to be common to all members of the Chiefdom to find a relationship between people at the top and bottom of the social pyramid), so what we see instead is a vast, extended tapestry of kinship and marriage, with the Chief and his immediate family having the most power and wealth, and more distant relatives having less. In AW terms, the largest of Hardholds, the kind with bustling markets and manufactures and such might fall into this category. Such holding would typically be ruled over by hereditary hardholders.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 08:48:04 PM by TheAudientVoid »

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2013, 03:19:56 PM »
So I've noticed that in many of my AW games I tend to lean towards a more sparse apocalypse - i.e. one holding with maybe a few others known of on the distant horizon, with everything desolate of human life in between.

I'm curious to know a couple things from ya'll:
A) How populated are your apocalypses?
B) What the scale of your regions are - Is travel between holdings measured in days? hours? weeks? Are your holdings a few buildings, a section of a city? How far reaching are the burning flats?
C) Does having a more populated region with lots of little holdings and communes seem counter to the "not enough to go around" nature of AW?

My favorite setting, Fabulous Lost Vegas works like this -
A) The survival rate of The Apoclaypse and its immediate aftermath was about 1%, so that's 20,000-is people in the Vegas Valley. I initially thought 10% would be good but 200,000 is way too big to my mind.
B) There are a lot of little holdings near each other, the big Strip hotels. Most of them are just an armed gang taking over a building with serf farmers trying to grow things in empty rooms with the windows broken out. Each one has a distinct look and feel but even the bigger ones aren't much more than a Large Gang. The big Holds are The Garden, Hoover Dam and (less well-known to anyone) Area 51. The Garden (Mandalay Bay) and Hoover Dam are a few hours apart by car, a day or two on foot. Area 51 is much farther away (80+ miles of bad road) but they can reach you. Outside of that, its all sand worms, zombies and the like until you get to Lost Angels, which is 9to the people in Vegas) one giant haven for raiders.
C) The idea to me is that most of these places are barely holding on. They fight each other and raid the surrounding area constantly for materials and food. The Garden is "rich" because they have a well ordered farm and a fishery. They're also a militant neo-pagan cult that will gut you with a shark-tooth knife. The Hoover Militia has guns, lots of guns and they control the only reliable source of electricity and water. They politely hold everyone in Vegas hostage for these resources but they also secure the dam against Lost Angels.

Its a fairly civilized apocalypse, really, with a radio station a Maestro'D venue, water and electricity (but no one's made a new light bulb in 50 years). That doesn't change the fact that having enough to eat is the standard of wealth, there are 7 automobiles (and a few dozen motorcycles) that still work, the streets are mostly empty, you can get killed at the Fremont St. Market for saying something stupid, your electric and water are spotty and not well maintained unless you're with one of the big groups and even with electricity, you have to find working light bulbs. Everyone who's got something will kill you for trying to take it and everyone who doesn't will kill the ones who do if they can get it.

Re: How populated are you Apocalypses?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 08:16:08 AM »
I'm currently studying Economics and Anthropology, and this thread got me thinking about how various real life unit of social organization map into Apocalypse World.

I'd just like to say that was a fascinating read, thank you.


I'm running a game via chat at the moment, set basically in post-apocalyptic rural scandinavia/Canada kind of place.  There are 12 known settlements, each has, on average, about 200-ish people (though the majority live in farms scattered around the main settlement, except in Winter).  They are, on average, 3 days' caravan ride apart from each other (though there are a few sleds that can make the journey in one.  For a price.).  One settlement has already been lost over winter.  Factional fighting between settlements has happened and is threatening to explode into near-war.  And no child has been live-born since the apocalypse.

Actually, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oQxzMkIo7UTpk3Q8Tw8IEZeOC-6hQgQnSBqLe9UxNZU/edit is the map I gave my players at the start of the campaign, though it needs a bit of an update now.  I made the routes between them using the cluster generation rules from Diaspora.

So, about 2,000 pretty scattered people in total, and only dropping.  Things are going to be getting interesting pretty soon . . .