Category Archives: Settings

3 Generations After The End: View From The Bottom Of Greybar City

The following text was found encrypted with ROT13, hidden in a file tagged “Corrupt Image File”. It has the latest date of the 317 files in the directory, each containing a similar block of hidden and encrypted text.

It’s all coming to a head. I can feel it. It’s only a matter of time before the Keepers switch from masters to slaves, and now it’s closer than ever. I know the Free Data Movement take a look at any new file that comes online. I only hope they’re bright enough to find and read this. I used some skills from the pre-disaster days when I was a total digit head so I could hide my journal, but I kept it simple. When the Keepers didn’t haul me in for treason, I figured they missed these files. Corrupt data is pretty common and there’s no sense scrutinizing every little thing, is there?

I’m an old man who wants to set the record straight about Greybar City before I shuffle off or they take me to Cybernetics to put my brain in one of the Pax bodies.

Let’s talk about life in the big city. The Keepers run everything. They control the entertainment, the food, the medical establishment, access to the data cached from when there was an Internet that they’ve been bastardizing, and all high-tech development. The rest of us go on like sheep, serving our role as proletariat laborers. If one of us gets a great idea, we’re asked to join the Keepers. But here’s the thing: If you join them, that’ll be the last original idea you have. I don’t know what they do for the initiation ceremony or what they cut out of your brain when they attach that infernal metal box to the back of your head, but Keepers are convinced that all the answers already exist online if only they’re diligent enough to find them. Like Internet data came from the heavens to enlighten the world, but only the Keepers have the implanted interface to truly appreciate the scope of the data.

And yet they don’t bother looking at subversive messages hiding in corrupt image files.

I dodged a bullet when they asked me to join. I came up with an idea, but I convinced them it wasn’t me. They tapped a friend of mine, and when I saw him the next year he remembered me. He said he was happy, but he was completely different. He didn’t even think the same way any more. He asked me to join, and I just couldn’t. I like the way I think. So I resolved to keep my head down and do what was required in as unremarkable a way as I could manage. And that’s when I discovered the Free Data Movement.

I worked in the Food Mines for years. The Keepers maintain two sub-levels of hydroponic gardens and livestock genetics labs under the city. The vat-grown flesh experiments turn my stomach, but that’s the tasty meat that keeps the city fed and docile. I swore it off after I saw how it was made. There are more sub-levels under those two, and I saw a guy with a yellow star who looked like he owned the place coming out of an access stairway right behind one of the Pax one time. The Keepers don’t have the manpower to develop and use the lower levels, which is why they’re so keen on recruiting new citizens. They send Pax patrols down there to make sure nobody has moved in. I learned that the Free Data Movement can somehow control the Pax, so it makes an ideal base of operations for them. There are plenty of secret entrances and no other humans go down there.

The Pax are the Keepers’ hole card, an army of perfected robot soldiers who obey without question or hesitation. People say the Pax are built from people, but that’s just rumor. Every once in a while some of them seem to recognize something and act strangely, so maybe that’s not far off. The Keepers read about Nuclear Deterrence, and they’ve been using that doctrine for the past 60 years to hold the wolves at bay outside the city walls. Combat robots don’t feel pain. They’re pinpoint accurate, and their pulse lasers recharge to full given time. But usually one well-placed shot from a click away tends to end fights before they begin. Once in a while a Wizard gets uppity and takes one out before he falls, but that’s been rare. The Keepers trusted the Pax so much that they turned over all security responsibilites to the Pax. Now they can concentrate on finding the truth at the bottom of the pile of data in their heads.

The Free Data Movement hacked the Keepers’ interface a while ago. They’re listening in on everything the Keepers do. I’m not sure if they hacked the Pax or if they just worked out a deal somehow, but I’ve never seen a Pax attack a member of the Movement. According to the subversive propaganda that sometimes interrupts the entertainment shows, new data comes in at random intervals. It looks like there’s some sort of intermittent connection to other sites in other cities. The Keepers think it’s The Word Of God, so they’re overjoyed when new data comes in. The Movement is more pragmatic. They learned about computers the same way I did – hacking and experimentation. I think they’ve got the right idea, but they have no idea how to run a government. They’re specialists, not leaders or even team players. So they’re great for throwing monkey wrenches around, but I fear they’ll take over and the whole city will come crumbling down.

Not that the Keepers are too far off from total meltdown either. It’s a hard world now. The Pax keeps the raiders at bay, but the infrastructure itself is threatening to implode. Gathering genetic material from banished citizens is mostly for show now since they don’t have a working genetic scanner any more. Recycling Is Mandatory, but that only gets us so far. We still need new things to fill the holes left be raids and theft and the passage of time. The Keepers have been ranging farther and farther afield, desperately searching for more technology they can salvage to keep their machines running. I hear they’ve left the valley a couple of times, but they keep absolutely clear of the forests. All their defensive and curative gadgets and they’re afraid of goblins in the woods. Maybe their dogma makes them believe in the Tooth Fairy too.

Food production is always a tricky thing. They’ve tried to move some of the fields outside, but the Pax couldn’t stop the sheer number of raiders in an unfortified field. We lost a field’s worth of seed cord that year and more than a few good people. We’ve got enough for now, and the synthesized spices can make feces taste gourmet, but who knows how long until one of the experiments takes out a whole field. Nobody thinks about the risks involved in what we’re doing every day just to survive.

And that’s my big problem with the Keepers and the Syrinx Corporation they represent. Everybody listens sympathetically, and everybody wants a better place to call home. Some people have great ideas, but once the Keepers give you the implant you start navel-gazing and sifting through data looking for the secret of life. Data acts like a narcotic, and when it’s in your head all the time nothing else matters quite as much. The Keepers get a non-stop information buffet to keep them complacent. The Keepers in turn provide a constant stream of bread and circuses for the masses, and the people stuff their mouths too full to question their self-appointed leaders. So who’s at the top reaping the fruits of this docile society?

If the Keepers and the Free Data Movement ever decided to listen to each other, Greybar City would actually become the beacon of hope in a dark world that the brochures want you to believe. We’d be able to use the Keepers’ archived data as a starting point for innovation instead of an ending point of religious intolerance. We could reinvent the world and get humanity connected again. We could all pull together toward a better life for our children and their children. But I doubt that will ever happen. The Movement wants a say, and the Keepers only hear the data from before the cataclysm echoing in their heads. The Movement keeps grabbing for attention through thievery and vandalism, while the Keepers fight back the chaos without ever analyzing what the city really needs. Both sides butt heads because they always have. And that stupidity will get us all killed one day.

So welcome to Greybar City. It’s crappy, but it’s a far sight better that your alternatives.

Good luck out there.

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3 Generations After The End: Entry Gate Pamphlet

Welcome to Greybar City!

We hope you enjoy your visit to our fair community.

Feel free to ask a keeper if you have any questions about reconstructing a vibrant, advanced, and safe society in these modern times.

Enjoy comfort and convenience!

All aspects of daily life in Greybar City have been designed with your comfort in mind. Any injuries or diseases will be treated as soon as you arrive, and you’ll be back on your feet in no time. Don’t miss our nightly shows in the Central Aud, running the gamut from ancient-style live theatrical performance, to massive trideo shows, to stadium-style music concerts. Our chefs use the freshest ingredients to make you the best meals in the world today. Every guest room has a terminal to explore the vast wealth of information stored on our network, individual environmental controls, a private bath with hot water, and convenient waste reclamation receptacles. Use our communications grid to contact people across town without leaving the comfort of your room. Trideo conferencing is available, as is immersive private entertainment.

If you take the Oath and join our city, all of this can be yours every day. Your Personal Star Pass will be upgraded from Red to Yellow and you’ll accrue credits in our centralized system which can be cashed in for some great rewards, so leave the uncertain barter system at the gate. If you’re interested in becoming a member of Greybar City, please ask any Keeper wearing a Blinking Blue Personal Star Pass.

Please be courteous and follow our simple rules.

Our rules are simple and meant to provide the maximum comfort for all citizens and visitors.

  1. Your Personal Star Pass Must Be Worn At All Times. We cannot protect you if we don’t know your location or status. Your Star is fitted with a communicator and personal life signs scanner. If you travel more than three paces from your Star, a team will be dispatched to determine if you’re in danger and help you out of whatever situation you’re in.
  2. Recycling Is Mandatory. With a lack of raw materials, we strive to reuse and recycle everything. Please use the convenient waste reclamation receptacles scattered throughout the city, marked with a green triangle.
  3. Respect Boundaries. Your Star will warn you if you stray into a restricted area. Greybar City runs on very large machines which could hurt you if you get too close. Restricted areas exist to keep you safe.
  4. Obey All Keepers. If anyone with a Blue or White Star asks you to do something, they are speaking with the authority of the entire city behind them. Please comply with the Keeper’s request as quickly as possible for everyone’s safety and comfort.

Failure to follow these rules will result in a warning from a Keeper followed by immediate expulsion from Greybar City. Further infractions will be met with increasingly escalated responses.

Interested in moving to Greybar City?

We would love to be your new home. After taking the Oath of Citizenship and receiving your Yellow Star, you will be assigned a role in the city. New citizens are tested for aptitude and assigned to help the city in a manner appropriate to their skill set. Unskilled citizens will spend at least six months in Food Services while learning a new trade in the off hours.

We want you to be happy and healthy. We want you to be safe. We want you to unlock your full potential.

Enjoy your visit to Greybar City. We hope you come back soon.

(Produced by Greybar City Printing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Syrinx Corporation.)

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3 Generations After The End: Enemies

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

Sure, any setting will have monsters, but what about the all-too-intelligent enemies you might face?


'TCP Zombie 3' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

'TCP Zombie 3' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

Bandits cling together to get safety in numbers.

The most feared group of bandits in the Valley are those led by a mysterious, cloaked and masked man known only as Dreadnought.

Level 1
World 4E
FATE Apoc.

Strength 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 17 (+3) d8 +1 1 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 10 (+0) d6 +0 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 10 (+0) d6 +0
Speed/Pace 6 6
Initiative +3
HP/Toughness/Health 24 [12] 6 5
AC/Parry 15 5 +1 1
♣ Sword (at-will) Attack
+6 vs. AC
d6+3 +1 3
♣ Sling (at-will) Attack
R20, +8 vs. AC
+1 3
♥ Perception/Observation +5 d8 +1
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 13 Reflex 14 Will 13
FATE Aspects Fanatical Devotion to Dreadnought (1)

Dreadnought, Bandit Captain

'TCP Scary 4' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

'TCP Scary 4' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

Little is known of Dreadnought. He’s a smart bandit leader, but is generally brutal and bloodthirsty in battle.

Level 3
World 4E
FATE Apoc.

Strength 14 (+3) d8 +1 1 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 14 (+3) d8 +1 2 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+2) d8 +1 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 11 (+1) d6 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 12 (+2) d8 +1 0 Hot
Charisma/Per 15 (+3) d10 +2
Speed/Pace 7 6
Initiative +9
HP/Toughness/Health 40 [20] 6 5
AC/Parry 17 5 +1 1
♣ Chainsaw (at-will) Attack
+8 vs. AC
2d8+3 phys & 5 ongoing
d8+3 +1 3
♣ Arm Cannon (at-will)
R20, +10 vs. Reflex
3d8+5 physical
+1 3
♥ Perception/Observation +5 d8 +1
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 14 Reflex 14 Will 16
Special Ability: Strange gaze: Dreadnought has line of sight on all creatures within 20 squares of him.
FATE Aspects Strange Speed (1)

Tomas the Warlord

'TCP Dwarf 3' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

'TCP Dwarf 3' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

Tomas united the people of his kingdom, Stronghold, with the promise of safety. He’s mostly made good on that promise, but life in Stronghold is hard.

Tomas sees the world in black and white terms: wizards are unnatural and should be killed.

Level 8
World 4E
FATE Apoc.

Strength 17 (+3) d8 +0 0 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 9 (-1) d6 +1 2 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 13 (+1) d6 +0 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 16 (+3) d8 +0 0 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 10 (+0) d6 +2 1 Hot
Charisma/Per 18 (+4) d10 +0
Speed/Pace 6 5
Initiative +3
HP/Toughness/Health 95 [47] 10 9
AC/Parry 20 8 +3 4
♣ Sword (at-will)
+13 vs. AC
2d8+10 physical & prone
d8+3 +3 6
♣ Shotgun (at-will)
Ranged 5; +12 vs. Ref
3d6+8 phys.
+3 6
♣ Fear My Wrath +8 vs. Will 2d8 +3
…(encounter) All nearby enemies (5 squares) take damage:
…(damage) 2d8+5 fear 5
♥ Perception/ Observation +7 d8 +2
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 21 Reflex 19 Will 21
Encounter Power: Extra Strength: As a free action, Tomas gains 20 temporary HP and makes a free sword attack.
Savage Worlds Special Ability: Extra Strength: At any time, once per fight, Tomas immediately stops being shaken and makes a sword attack.
FATE Aspects Fearsome Presence (2)

Shedra the Sorceress

'TCP Elf 2' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

'TCP Elf 2' by Jeff Preston (CC-BY-3.0)

Shedra is rarely seen, even inside her own domain of Sanctuary. She usually sends her priestesses to collect supplies for her strange rituals.

In persona, Shedra is calm and mysterious, always seeking her own ends.

Shedra the Witch
Level 12
World 4E
FATE Apoc.

Strength 18 (+4) d10 +3 2 Weird
Dexterity/Agility 18 (+4) d10 +3 0 Hard
Constitution/Vigor 15 (+2) d8 +1 0 Cool
Intelligence/Spirit 21 (+5) d12 +4 1 Sharp
Wisdom/Smarts/Will 19 (+4) d10 +3 3 Hot
Charisma/Per 21 (+5) d12 +4
Speed/Pace 6 5
Initiative +10
HP/Toughness/Health 400 [200] 17 14
AC/Parry 26 5 +4 7
♣ Beam (at-will) Attack
R20, +17 vs. AC
2d10 electricity
d8+3 +5 8
♣ Dazzle (at-will) Attack
+15 vs. Will
1d8+7 & dazed
2d8 +4 9
♣ Organ Twist (at-will)
R20, +15 vs. Fort
3d6+7 phys.
3d8 +4 10
♥ Perception/ Observation +10 d12 +4
D&D/Gamma World Fortitude 24 Reflex 24 Will 25
Regeneration 10
FATE Aspects Dazzling Powers (2), Cruel Streak (2)
Special Ability: Once per combat turn, remove a point of damage.


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3 Generations from the End: Technology is Magic

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C Clarke

Religion meetsTechnology by RinzeWind on Flickr

In most of the cities within the post-apocalyptic world of 3 Generations After the End (3GATE), the priests rule. These are very different men of the cloth than we see in our current time. These priests do not revere an unseen god or the words of prophets translated from ancient tomes and scrolls. Instead, they worship the remnants of a once great society, pulling words from PDFs of technical manuals on computer tablets.

In most fantasy tabletop games, a priest or cleric, is very different thing from our techno priests. In D&D, clerics are warriors of their god, able to wield divine magic to smite foes. It’s a very different style, and you have some choices to make as a group if you want to include these classes as an option for your players. By default, there is no divine magic in 3GATE. The apocalypse brought back the wizards and witches of old, but not the gods.

The easiest way to deal with divine magic is to ban it outright. That means no paladins, clerics, or oracles, at least not in the mechanical sense. Instead, these characters would take classes like engineer, artificer or alchemist. When they step into battle, no godly force intervenes more than the advanced technology that only they seem to be able to master.

In this way, a priest could appear very differently depending on the tech level of the city he hails from. I imagine something like Carl from Van Helsing, wearing simple brown robes, and then pulling out clockwork rifles, and numerous wondrous items created from astounding future tech repaired into new uses. On the opposite end, a priest from The Keepers of Syrinx might dress in a perfect suit, accessing databases remotely with nano-implants, and calling laser strikes down from satellites. Either style works, and there’s no reason why they can’t exist in the same campaign.

Which brings me to the other way to run things, and the point of the opening quote: Allow divine classes, but play all their abilities as the result of technology. A searing bolt spell is really a wrist laser. Healing with a Lay on Hands ability isn’t the work of the gods but advanced ointments or bio-repairing nanobots. Even a pillar of divine fire doesn’t need to come from the heavens but from a satellite, or a tossed vial of properly mixed chemicals. The priest might understand the technology he works with, or he may only know the ritual of it all and really believe it’s the work of the gods. The gods did, after, all give the priests the holy texts to tell them how to accomplish these miracles. Like any good technology, some people seem to be naturally gifted or have a calling. Then again, sometimes no matter what you do it just won’t work until someone breathes on it the right way. Sounds like the work of gods to me.

There’s no need to make it all one way or the other. Perhaps the re-fluffed divine characters only come from the more advanced cities, or represent those that are naturally gifted in understanding technology. They may be in the same party with another priest who is just as devout, but their technology equates to only to a few special items, and play a fighter mechanically. These differences can give depth to your world, as long as they retain links to each other. It shouldn’t look like whole different worlds happened to be next to each other for the sake of the adventure. Make sure some things carry over, even if its just a few symbols, sayings, and beliefs.

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3 Generations After the End: The Forests

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

The face of the world has irrevocably changed, three generations after the end. The landscape is divided neatly between vast swathes of desolate waste and gigantic, ancient forests. Arable land that has not become completely overgrown is an incredible rarity in the world, and all of that has long since been claimed by the warlords or the sorcerer-kings. Many of the remaining cities have been built within the crumbling remains of those left from before the end, crowding along the coasts of rivers, lakes, and oceans. These are almost invariably held under sway by the ineffable whims of the Priesthood. Wherever one can gain a fleeting sense of security, one also must have to sacrifice liberty.

Magic seems to have not only returned to humankind. The forests are, perhaps, the most dangerous place in the world. Technology begins to inexplicably break down and malfunction, the further one strays from civilization, but there is nowhere worse than deep within the forests, where technology just doesn’t work at all. Even more primitive implements such as compasses can often lead one astray; the magic imbuing the place seems to disrupt natural as well as artificial magnetic fields. This may also contribute to some of the more subjective experiences, deep in the woods; spending too much time in the wilds can lead to dizziness, confusion, exhaustion, and anxiety. These effects seem to be particularly bad to those with natural magical talent of their own; not only does magic frequently misfire or go astray, but but it is more exhausting for the caster to carry through. Worse, it seems that many flora and fauna within the forests and jungles seem naturally attracted to magic, zeroing in on the errant caster, often ignoring their companions completely.

Very few animals still dwell within the forests, and those that do are monstrous. The plants themselves, it seems, have become the chief predators, preying both upon each other, and anything else that wanders too far in whether for folly or for food. Many have changed into things unrecognizable from what they may once have been, developing bulbous, tuberous, vining, sticking, and piercing structures to assist in their predations. Nearly every predatory plant can exhibit short bursts of incredible growth, draining storage organs and shrivelling pseudobulbs in order to achieve these wild grasps. Roots, stems, and even flowers are often covered in minute hairs, which sense something brushing against them, or even walking over the ground above, and stimulate the plant to strike. These hairs can also serve another purpose as well; many are packed full of potent crystallized toxins, causing skin that brushes against them to burn, scab, or even necrotize. Many pollens serve a double-duty as soporific agents, lulling the breathers into a narcotic sleep. Spines and mucilaginous glands along the leaves and stems further serve to deliver the plants’ predatory payloads to their unsuspecting victims. Once bound by rapidly-growing vines, disabled by poison or injury, or simply exhausted from fighting back cruel nature, the plants slowly grow over their victims. Adventitious roots pour out of any part of the plant and dive into the flesh, drawing out nutrients as they exude enzymes that breaks down the tissue. Even calcium is drawn out from the bones, eventually, leaving nothing as evidence after only a couple weeks.

People venturing into the forests, whether for adventure or for forage, often do not return. Rescue parties are a rare sight; usually once someone has been attacked, there is very little chance of survival. Nevertheless, the sight of a scarred, scabbed individual is not an uncommon one within the settlements nearest to the forests. Some are even permanently disfigured from their experiences in the wild. It is sheer folly to venture within the woods alone, so oftentimes a member of an adventuring group will take a misstep and be attacked by feral foliage, and for the rest of their lives bear the marks of the encounter. Yet the incredible bounty promised within the forests continues to draw the brave and the desperate; despite all of the deadliness, there is also an abundance of edible fruits, roots, and fungus. Many nomadic groups travel from forest to forest, foraging and scavenging within for items of subsistence and trade, as well as for the components of valuable medicines which they can produce. It is unreasonable, therefore, to make any sort of attempt to destroy the forests wholesale, despite the threat they present, because it is counterbalanced by their incredible fecundity of natural resources.

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3 Generations After The End: Sanctuary, the Domain of Shedra the Witch

This article is part of 3 Generations After The End, a post-apocalyptic setting suitable for any role-playing system.

They say it is Shedra’s magic that keeps the beasts out of the rolling hills and valleys of Sanctuary, and brings the rains in spring. Sanctuary is, indeed, a strange place. It is more…vibrant than most, more full of life. Life in Sanctuary is peaceful, and her people have full bellies.

The Priestesses of Shedra

Those full bellies come at a price: total obedience to the priestesses of Shedra. Her robed priestesses roam the streets on inscrutable errands. They occasionally commandeer people and supplies. No reason is given, but rarely is a reason asked. That is the price.

Priestesses are chosen from among the populace of Sanctuary. Priestesses will simply show up at a family’s house when the girl reaches about twelve years of age, and take her away. She will be gone for years. Those priestesses who appear in public are always at least sixteen years old, and display the uniformly dispassionate personality of a priestess of Shedra.

Priestesses wear long, grey cloaks that hide black leather-and-cloth armor. Every priestess has a symbol tattooed on her forehead; more complex symbols indicate higher rank within the priesthood.

The Kingdom of Sanctuary

Sanctuary is made up of about two dozen towns and villages, nearly all of them farming communities cobbled together from old-world technology. This is amazing in itself; little of new earth’s soil is capable of farming. Strange, twisted things come from this earth, but it’s edible, and there’s a lot of it.

Tower, the Capital

The only non-farming town is Tower, a massive mining complex in the mountains and Shedra’s home. This is a dark place. Though it employs hundreds of people, the only ones who ever leave are Shedra’s priestesses. Here, Shedra performs powerful magic in the dark passages of the complex she carved from the living rock of the mountain. Moans and screams can sometimes be heard from within.

Who Is Shedra?

The truth: Shedra is a necromancer. She spends most of her time creating undead, for the gray area between life and death fascinates her. She has released so much life energy from her unfortunate test subjects that it has seeped into the lands around her, giving it the strangely powerful life her subjects depend on.

Shedra will undoubtedly become a lich someday. Perhaps she already is, and uses a glamour of beauty to hide her true self.

Shedra is not particularly concerned with the rest of the world, but is smart enough to understand the danger of external threats. Tomas, in particulary, worries her, as her magic does indeed protect against monsters and beasts, but not against sentient people. Tomas could lead an army into Sanctuary, and while he undoubtedly could not kill Shedra herself, he could destroy her lands and priestesses, cutting off Shedra’s supply of experimental subjects.

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