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Post-apoc setting (sort of), reason for world "reset"?

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Im doing a near future global wargame where factions are fighting for control of towns and cities on a world map.

I need cities to be reduced in population (from 10k to 1M inhabitants) with most old famous cities like London and New York abandoned and new empires replacing old nations like the UK and China. New empires will be affected by old populations and cultures but new religions may have risen. A region like Europe will at the start of the game have around 10 settlements only; armies move around on a global scale and each turn constitutes a season (3 months).

My first idea is to have the AI:s gone bananas and tried to wipe out humanity. Releasing all nukes, spreading nanoplagues, wiping out power grids etc. This would explain why much of the old infrastructure is gone (i want the player to rebuild structures in the settlements he/she conquers). Around 10-15% of the world population survives the chaos and slowly starts to gather in some few safer settlements (this is when the game starts).

Any comments on this idea? Any other idea that might be cool for the setting i need the world to be in?

Thanks!

Erik

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The machine uprising is a little... overdone in apocalypse fiction in current media. Almost as bad a zombies tbh. Not to say it couldn't work, especially with a fresh twist to the idea, but I think a different source of a societal collapse would work best. It could be because of social tension bursting, a worldwide rebellion against the Powers that Be™. The rebellion, "wins," but the victory is Pyrrhic, severe casualties on all sides, the brightest minds of the time are dead save only a few. Buildings are infrastructure damaged beyond repair, knowledge is lost. There's only so much your average electrician can fix, which would explain why most electronics aren't working. Perhaps there are only a few power sources left functioning? Conflicts rise trying to control the surrounding areas of said power sources. Technology reverts to more mechanical and manual machines.

As far as societies go, do some research on where some of the first civilizations in the world were. They tend to be areas with access to many natural resources, specifically water. Have the larger societies take root around there and the smaller ones spread out from them. When it comes to survival, the most important thing for a new settlement is access to resources and if most ways transporting and preserving old resources are defunct, you'll have to turn to nature. If you find a city or town or whatever that produces a ton of non-perishable food (like canned soups or something) have a settlement there.

Hope this helps!

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To make this story work, you need an incentive for people to have left the existing population centres and/or an incentive for them to go elsewhere.

Nuclear devastation (as you suggested) could certainly work for this, as the radiation would render old population centres uninhabitable, but are players then able to access those locations, or are they still radioactive?  Likewise, if the threat was "nano plagues", what has caused them to no longer be active?

Of course, you could also actually work that into your story and game mechanics.  Perhaps old population centres can be accessed, and might potentially contain valuable resources, but are also risky because there might still be radiation limiting the amount of time spent there or types of units that can safely enter, or because there's a risk of unleashing a nano plague, or both.

 

ToadstoolTyrant's suggestion is interesting, but there's not really any compelling reason people would leave the existing population centres: rebuilding from something is probably still better than rebuilding from nothing, and there would still be some resources available.

 

You could also look at a normal plague.  It could have evolved naturally, it could be a bioengineered weapon, or perhaps a lab specimen of something like smallpox got out.  Perhaps global warming released a virus from the tundra.  People in the less populated area had less chance of being infected and perhaps didn't have to compete as much with other survivors for limited resources.

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5 hours ago, jbadams said:

ToadstoolTyrant's suggestion is interesting, but there's not really any compelling reason people would leave the existing population centres: rebuilding from something is probably still better than rebuilding from nothing, and there would still be some resources available.

Just dropping in to respond to this! :D

In my suggestion, I suppose I was thinking in terms of a more long-term state of desolation. While rebuilding from something would be better than nothing, I don't think it would be sustainable in the long run without technological development, establishment of trade, or both. I think OP's goal is to have Earth just starting to advance again, after the population has started to recover and there are societies that are beginning to (relatively) thrive. Some areas wouldn't be habitable solely do to location; for example, Las Vegas would be reduced to a desert, especially considering in our modern age we kinda' wiped out the wildlife that used to make its home in the area. Some may be able to survive there, but it certainly wouldn't be an ideal place to start a civilization despite what infrastructure there may be left.

I think what we're both trying to say, ultimately, is that OP's game would need to have reasons as to why certain areas have larger populations than others beyond just, "It's Toronto, people used to live there so they still do," not to imply that that's where OP's writing was going, just as an example. Otherwise, things won't make sense and it may make the player question their suspension of disbelief. 

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I'd consider setting a "near future global wargame where factions are fighting for control of towns and cities on a world map" on an extraterrestrial planet. Benefits would include:

  • Random generation of maps, places, and other interesting stuff. It's not Earth, it can be an arbitrarily different planet each game for replayability.
  • Interesting artifacts, technology, lifeforms etc. with the excuse of aliens. There might also be a sci-fi angle of representing the social and cultural impact of alien stuff on near-future people.
  • Avoiding assumptions, player knowledge and emotional baggage related to real places, factions and history.

There could be many plot excuses to fight for a remote planet. For example:

  • Aliens came to invade Earth; governments and scoundrels stole their FTL ships and went looking for habitable planets; there were so few that they became disputed between enemy colonies.
  • Aliens came to invade Earth and deported everybody very, very far. War arises naturally from the degraded society of penal colony planets.
  • Aliens came to invade Earth; we rushed to their homeworld and conquered it; after victory the great coalition faded away quickly but fearsome alien weapons didn't.
  • WW3 erupts, some nation (where are Nazi mad scientists when you need them?) uses experimental stargates to colonize another planet, and following them is inevitable.

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If you are really going to do this, try mixing up how events went down. Many games try this kind of world, and many of those are dull and repetitive. But if you want to figure something out, I'd find a very compelling way to make it work. For example, recent PS 4 exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn did this BRILLIANTLY. If you haven't played it, then I highly suggest you do. Or if you don't have a PS 4, watch a no commentary playthrough. IF you have, well...you know what I mean. 

Finding a reason for such cataclysmic events to happen while not being overused or cliche is the most important thing. But if you do that, then really work to figure out unique background story for that, and a narrative that works for the post apocalyptic.

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