Post-holocaust speculation
A few weekends ago, the Game Bandits were discussing the shape of a post-holocaust role-playing game. The very word post-holocaust conjures up visions of Mad Max and its copycats on the widescreen... but would that really be what it would be like? Would civilization fall so hard and so low that roving bands of marauders would war against those who tried to keep civilization together?

While most of us had a somewhat optimistic view that humanity would continue on somehow... the big question was how far would the situations devolve? Would all the important knowledge for keeping civilization's gears just vanish? Would someone be able to keep the generators running? What about the gasoline that's used to keep those generators running? Would there be anyone qualified to run those refineries?

I suppose a large part of the speculation must be: how did civilization fall?

And that brings me to nuclear war.

Growing up in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s instilled in me a healthy respect for the atom bomb. While recent movies like T2 & T3 and the more recent Paycheck showcase the awesome power of a nuclear payload dropped on a large urban center... few really focused on the horror that followed...

I remember movies like The Day After causing me nightmares. If you didn't die from the blast, then you had to endure the radioactive fallout. Not to mention having to deal with all the little things we take for granted... like finding clean water and food. Well, you could find the water and food easily... they'd be glowing. *Nervous laughter* But they wouldn't be clean.

Assuming you survived the nuclear bombardment, or are one of the lucky few that's immune to a biological holocaust... what do you roleplay if you set your game in the few years immediately following the crisis? Well, aside from fighting panicked and insane looters and would-be warlords...

How about the joy of avoiding epidemics of typhoid fever, cholera and dysentry?

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection characterized by diarrhea, systemic disease, and a rash -- most commonly caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. S. typhi are spread by contaminated food, drink, or water. Early symptoms are generalized and include fever, malaise and abdominal pain. As the disease progresses, the fever becomes higher (greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit), and diarrhea becomes prominent. Weakness, profound fatigue, delirium, and an acutely ill appearance develop.

A few people can become carriers of S. typhi and continue to shed the bacteria in their feces for years, spreading the disease, as in the case of "Typhoid Mary" in New York over one hundred years ago.

Cholera is an acute illness characterized by watery diarrhea. The toxin released by the bacteria causes increased secretion of water and chloride ions in the intestine, which can produce massive diarrhea. Death can result from the severe dehydration brought on by the diarrhea.

Cholera occurs in epidemics when conditions of poor sanitation, crowding, war, and famine are present. Endemic areas include India, Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, and more recently, South and Central America, and Mexico. The infection is acquired by ingesting contaminated food or water.

Where would all this contamination arise from? Aside from the nuclear radiation, the huge death toll would result in hundreds of thousands of bodies. These bodies would ideally be disposed of properly to prevent the spread of disease and contamination of food and water sources... but since the survivors would be focused primarily on finding food, shelter, and clothing... these would likely be left out to rot.

No wonder all these post-holocaust games are set when some kind of status quo and rudimentary infrastructure has been set. It gets really depressing to role-play day-to-day survival.

Thank God for civilization. And as far as I'm concerned, I don't think that beauty queens wishing for world peace is THAT funny... I used to pray for world peace every single day.
Astro City returns!
I'm quite fond of Astro City - and here's a snippet of an interview of Kurt Busiek regarding the latest installment of the series...

KB: Okay, as I noted, the next big arc is The Dark Age, which will ultimately take 12 issues to tell. It's our biggest, longest, most sprawling epic to date, following two brothers -- one an Astro City cop, one a criminal -- as they deal with personal tragedy and with life in Astro City throughout the Seventies and the Eighties. This is the story that was originally going to be Marvels II, though we've changed it around a lot -- a lot! -- as we've developed it into an Astro City tale. It's also the story that deals with how things went dark for superheroes and for the city in the Seventies. It'll finally reveal the story of how the Silver Agent died, and why he's got that memorial statue with the strange epitaph.

So that'll be a big story, but since it's all set in the past, and since many of the Astro City heroes that people have been asking to see didn't exist yet or weren't active then, we're going to be interspersing Dark Age with some standalone extra-length specials, focusing more directly on the big heroes. That way, we can do the big story everyone seems like they're itching to see and get a look at some of the more popular characters that haven't gotten the spotlight recently.

So Astro City: The Dark Age will be broken up into four three-parters, each telling one crucial story in the lives of Charles and Royal Williams, and in the history of Astro City. And we'll alternate those with what's currently planned to be five hero-focused specials. We'll do a special, then a Dark Age arc, then another special, then another Dark Age arc, and so on, wrapping up with one last special after the Dark Age’s conclusion.

Confusing as hell? Yeah, kind of. But keep in mind, this'll all take a couple of years to get through. Shaking it up will give us breaks where we can catch up on the schedule, and change the focus regularly, so Brent doesn't go for my throat after drawing Seventies hairstyles and cars for too long.