The Arcs had started as social and technological experiments. Man made structures that were utterly self-sufficient. They grew their own food, processed their own waste, had their own water and generated their own power.

In their original form they were heralded as the future of cities. No longer did the great urban landscape need to destroy the natural one. As the experiment was tried, and refined the Arcs moved from just self-sustaining cities to completely closed off eco-systems.

In theory, it was claimed, they would survive a complete ecological collapse. The residents of the Arc could live there for generations and their grandchildren could leave, once the world had recovered.

When the global political situation started to deteriorate a handful of influential figures, led by Holly Branson, created the Arc Project. The project was funded by a conglomerate of independent leaders who wanted to ensure continuity of human knowledge and endeavour.

Five Arcs were originally planned. One each in Switzerland, Argentina, Canada, South Korea and Australia. Each of the Arcs was a to be a self-sustaining population of 50,000 to 100,000 people. Anyone on the planet could apply to join any of the Arcs, though in reality the more education, money or profile you had the more likely you were to get a coveted spot.

In the end only two Arcs ever made it to completion, and even they could not completely escape the Pandemic. Once the Winter set in the managing boards of the two Arcs made the decision to seal the doors, and let the experiment run its course.

Over the last few decades a small handful of people have left the Arcs. Usually it isn't their choice. But sometimes they run. When that happens others are sent to find them.


Nice. So two questions:

1) when would you say the pandemic and Winter happened (ie what years in this world timeline)? And theoretically what year (approx) does this make the current setting, eg end of 21st century or later?

2) where were the two arcs actually built (or rumoured to have been built)?


Could we get some details about each of the 2 Arcs, so when we write character sheets we're less likely to contradict each other?


Hi guys, I've left the location and specifics of the Arcs intentionally vague. I want you guys to shape the world as much as possible, so it's giving you what you need.

Most people are assuming that the game is taking place somewhere in North America, so that's what I'm going to go with. The Canadian Arc was build for sure, but where the other one was built has been lost.

It is also possible that Arcs were built that were not part of the Project. Privately funded, with private agendas. Please don't feel that only the things I've written are allowed. They are just a starting place, and I hope will inspire you.

Kate, the year is irrelevant. Calendars are no longer standard, and different people figure the date as different things. The Arcs might still keep track, but you'd have to ask someone from one of them. However as mentioned in the History post, the Collapse started around 100-150 years before the game. So on current thinking that would make the game time in the 22nd century.


Thanks for the prompt answer! I will go about making an Arc :smiley:


Ta. I thought that timeline was pretty much the case, but just checking what technologies/fashions we would have been up to when the collapse started, so that anything found/scavenged would fit in and not be not-have-been-invented-yet (-:

So we're definitely establishing that gaming location is (North) America and not, say, NZ? That will make some difference to my clothes & tribe background (which I will email you about shortly)...


While North America is an obvious choice because most source material we read or watch is set there I'm perfectly happy assuming the game is not set in North America, or that the world is different enough that the culture will not be North American, British, European, Asian or Erasia.

I mean a game set around the Russian states would be amazing, as would a game set in an Australian desert. Ultimately I don't think these things matter. Hopefully we can create a world that is our own.

The Prince in Waiting is a great post-apocalyptic future that is actually a feudal fantasy and really bears no correlation to the era when the apocalypse that created it occurred.


"And that was the last we saw of the Road Warrior..."


Jarratt, I see your point. Only thing I was thinking was that if someone wanted to come from somewhere that was not very close to the location setting, how would they have gotten there, assuming planes, big ships etc don't operate?

Example: if a character is from, say, NZ (and is wearing, for instance, something intrinsic like a swandri) and the game is set in North America, how would they have got there?


I don't think it matters. NZ won't be anything like NZ now. Most places should be exactly the same. Extreme weather climate so even Australia is likely to have snow and Siberia is likely to turn into a red desert in the summer. The Arcs took people from around the world so a swandri could be anywhere, and if it wasn't in an arc would it have actually survived.

As for culture well the Arcs and outside will likely have different culture, but both would have evolved over the 200+ years. Our culture now is nothing like any culture the world had at all 200 years ago for example.

Being from far away is cool. There is a lot of mystery to that. The journey is probably quite interesting. If you had to travel across the sea whether it is from NZ to Europe or NA to Australia then how did you do it. Are there are a lot of people doing it? What are the oceans like. Maybe there a frost bridge across the Atlantic during the winter.

But of course that is just one person's view. I guess what I'm saying is that I see why Sophie is being vague. She is letting us create the world in a way. So if you say you travelled here by walking over a frozen bridge that stretches from one side of the ocean to the other and that on your way you met many townies that live and fish off the ice then it exists.

I guess a better question is what can't we have? Superpowers? How can we have advanced tech? How has tech devolved? Are cellphones still off limits? Is it possible to recreate a cell network? Does anyone even remember a cell network? Do the Arcs have a communication network inside them. Once you leave an arc do you stop hearing the voices of everyone in the arc?

I mean some of these questions are ones that people from the factions will hopefully answer.


That... overstates things. Our dominant political ideology in the west for example (post-enlightenment revolutionary secular republicanism - We Are All Jacobins Now) dates from the mid C18th. Our economics dates from the same period. Our basic rationalist and materialist worldview ditto. Our primary competing ethical theories are from the same era. And then there's Christianity...

Things will have changed since the collapse. The shocks will have been significant, and there will have been a breakdown in cultural transmission, both within (if books and literacy are lost) and between (no net, or TV, or travel) groups. But if people remember the World That Was at all, then their culture will be a recognisable derivative of pre-collapse.

This isn't to say that everyone in the World That Is will be a materialist secular Jacobin. There are obvious shocks which could switch individuals or groups away from that pre-collapse norm. But we don't have to start from scratch, and we can posit the survival of e.g. extant religions, or a fairly rough democracy, or (in the Arcs) totalitarianism if we want.


Sure but our economics is flawed and the world has seen a lot of political change in that time period. Despite the fact that politics and economics may be on the same path western culture has seen dramatic change even in the last 20 years. The we we live our lives now is not the same way that people lived in the past and is not the same way people will live in the future. The economic model has a lot to do with the evolution of entertainment as culture and potentially some of the downfalls that lead to this game.

It's already been stated that there is political collapse, and it stands to reason economic collapse as well. So if those are two of the contributing factors to the world that was falling apart then 200+ years on new political and economic models would have emerged and with them a considerable culture shift.

The Arcs and the outside will be massively different to each other. How much knowledge is preserved is an important factor. Did the leaders in the Arcs want to preserve culture or play god and develop something new. How much control do the Militia have outside, how much control do the townies have?

I guess these are all things that we will find out.

It's pretty fair to assume that Christianity and other religions have survived, but in what state. With a massive world shift like the fall of an empire the dominant religion usually falters and something else takes it's place. How much faith will people actually have any more? These are all interesting themes within the game.


I'm presuming their will be extremes on every level (eg, militant religious who blame everything on God's wrath, peacenicks who abhor violence and/or wealth/trappings/possessions, conspiracy theorists (whether they think it's the governments or aliens or the girl scouts!), cannibals, survivalists, towns/communities who have gone back to religious sacrifices (of animals/humans, to a god, or nature-gods), militia who operate on religious grounds, militia who are no more than gangs of savages in uniform, Medieval Re-enactors (SM Stirling's Emberverse series, anyone?) etc etc. I would think any of the arcs could also operate under any of these philosophies, or others altogether.

I'd also wager that the arcs would have degrees of knowledge and heirarchies within themselves, so there might only be a few people or sectors within each that know everything (depending on what "everything" actually means).

Thinking about that brings me to a question; how does the game handle mental violence? I get the HP and rock-paper-scissors thing, but how would it work in regards to, say, brainwashing/mental torture or the concept that if this were a real scenario, there'd probably be a lot of people around who were a little loopy, to say the least. I'm sure people can play being a little crazy, but I'm assuming we will not be entering into the realm of militia-threatening-nasty-things-to-your-children-if-you-don't-do-this kind of thing?


Why not? How do you think they'd collect those taxes if we were unwilling to pay?


Falwed is neither here nor there. What's important is that the basic paradigm was expounded in 1776 (or earlier), and everything since is just a variation on the theme. As for politics, while governments have risen and fallen, the fundamentals haven't. Power comes from the people, not from god. Democracy, fascism and communism are just doctrinal disputes about who speaks for "the people" (the latter stolen from Charles Stross, but he's right: we're all Jacobins now).

That's not to say everything is the same. Better communications technology, mas sproduction, the internet and post-materialism have made a tremendous difference. But it is simply mistaken to pretend that modern culture is unrelated to what went before it. If you look at the history of the ideas, they go back a long, long way - and if there is any cultural transmission at all, they'll have a significant effect on what comes next.

Yup. I'm expecting the Arcs to be basically alien realms, either post-scarcity utopias or totalitarian hellholes. As for the townies, it'll vary. Some may be rough and ready democaries, some (relatively recent) monarchies, some run by the word of the top families. Some will practice slavery. I'm picturing the militias as anything from criminal gangs to effective governments collecting "taxes" in exchange for protection from the less-numerous and less-organised.

The other thing to remember is that none of that will be well-established. 150 years since the collapse is probably the 5th or 6th generation, and probably the 3rd or 4th since things stabilised. So we might have kings and things, but people will remember that it wasn't always that way, and they won't have five hundred years of absolutist ideology to protect them.


Heh, yeah I get that on a basic level. I'm expecting everyone who isn't in the militia is going to have to either pay for that, or be prepared to defend their right not to pay for it (-:

Maybe I've just been out of the larping scene for a while, but I suppose I'm just thinking of the possibilities of avoiding taking it a bit too seriously and really going to town on the mental torture/threats/sadism thing. I don't mean in a game way, I mean in a bad way (eg: a bunch of militia guys taking hold of the village women and wanting to have their way with them, etc). I know that wouldn't actually happen physically in the game, but even roleplaying psychological stuff can sometimes be a bit dodgy...

Do we just assume everyone has the common sense to not let it get too far? I'm presuming no one would actually do that, but just want to check on the rules regarding behaviour/safety in that sense.

I don't mean to bring things down, just honestly curious as to how things are kept an eye on...


While I'm not sure what to expect I agree that these are all interesting things that we could be exploring. Especially the Arcs, but the idea of the towns run as various re-implementations of previous goverments and not just communes is a good one.

Well it's at least 150 year right. It's a vague number of years since events. But I also think that things can change quite quickly when an empire/system is overthrown. What comes in to fill the vacuum. Interestingly with little to no mass communication the differences in how people choose to govern themselves will be pretty wide spread.


A lot of really great points have been raised in this post that I want to address, but this one first.

This game will be serious. It will get dark. Themes of torture, extreme violence and the rest will be explored. Some characters will be broken at the beginning of the game, and others may get that way. I will not be having scenes where extreme torture is shown to the whole group, but it is something that may happen behind scenes. Children might get threatened. People will die.

The world has collapsed. I'm not interested in exploring a lighter side of this. I'm interested at exploring the depths people will go to. As well as the heights they will achieve.

All that being said however I do want this to be fun. I will try to give fair warning to players prior to sessions if difficult subjects are likely to be covered. I'm not planning of having the militia taking over a village then rape the populace. However that may have happened elsewhere, and it is something that might be threatened. The world is full of shitty people and doing shitty things, and in this game we don't have monsters to do all the nasty stuff. Just nasty people.

I hope that this doesn't freak anyone out too much, but it's important to be explicit in this. The world that this game inhabits is dark.


Ok, that sheds a bit more light on it, and kinda what I was expecting. Can't have post-apocalyptic world without darkness, huh? :S

This won't make me shy away from being involved, but I definitely agree with the usefulness of being informed of a "PG-rating" on a session before it's likely to happen. Y'know, just to get myself mentally prepared. Some players might be used to light-and-fluffy, or at the very least, a fantasy-type game where the only evil is kinda obvious not-real-orc-with-big-stick nastiness.

Slightly on that note, will be get a bit of background on the town this will be set in, and for those of us who are relatively new to this, the ratio of crew to players, and what happens if we're killed?