06 September, 2012

The Walkabout World: Part 4

To see the earlier parts of this series...
Click here for Part 1: Geotectonics
Click here for Part 2: Weather
Click here for Part 3: Vegetation

The Immediate Impact of Humanity on the Tilted World

One of the core conceits of the Walkabout setting lies with a simple set of axioms.

  1. Australian Aboriginal sacred sites tend to coincide with major sites of metallic ores, quite often the sites where Uranium is found in abundance.
  2. Australian Uranium has been exported around the world, and in fact Australia is one of the world's major exporters of the radioactive element.
  3. The radiation from Uranium Dioxide and other radioactive compounds is capable of producing mutation in living organisms.
  4. Across most of the world, humanity has abandoned the myths and religions of the past.
  5. In quantum physics, the presence of an observer collapses probability waveforms into coherent reality.
  6. There is more to the world than we are capable of observing, even with our most advanced technologies.
Walkabout is a game of spiritual belief in a world that has become unbalanced, physically and metaphysically. Something has caused the spirits of the past to return.

...there are factions within the setting who are trying to piece together the old religions to re-honour the spirits as gods...

...other factions who are trying to gather the lost technologies from before the cataclysm in order to study the spirits as extradimensional paranormal beings...

...some who believe that the spirits are aliens, who may have visited previously and may be responsible for ancient myths and legends...

...and there are those who believe the spirits may be an awakened machine consciousnesses manifesting through nanotechnology swarms, manifesting according to forms defined by a human primal subconscious and drawing on the radiation of the world to empower themselves...

These question are deliberately not answered by the game, the beliefs that people have around the spirits allow a scope to put the stories of the setting in context.

Since nuclear power and radiation is a major driving factor in the background of the setting, it makes sense that some of the changes to the world will derive from this. A global series of electromagnetic pulses will damage the computers operating the world's nuclear power plants, instantly shutting down safety protocols in the same way that we saw a tsunami cause havoc at Fukushima. Now imagine that every nuclear driven power plant collapsed in the same way, over the course of a few days...spewing nuclear ash into the sky and irradiating the surrounding landscape. We can assume that these irradiated territories would spread across the territories formerly known as the USA, many of the former countries of Europe, the lands once known as China and Japan, as swell as secretive facilities across the former Middle East and Russia.    

Map of Heavily Irradiated Zones across the Tilted World

This isn't even including the irradiated territories formed when trigger happy military types bomb their old adversaries. The US sending missiles toward Russia and the assorted countries of Asia and the Middle East who they have had past rivalries with. Russia sending its missiles toward former NATO adversaries, sometimes accidentally due to antiquated technologies and forgotten pass-keys. Organised terrorist agencies launching munitions against the dirty capitalists. Scattered third world dictators sending dirty bombs at anyone and everyone.

There are few parts of the world that haven't been tainted by radiation at some degree. Australia and Antarctica have been relatively untouched...Antarctica because no one was there, and Australia because it is mostly forgotten about in global politics (the major cities of Australia, such as Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have been struck and are subjected to the effects of radiation like most of the rest of the world).

In the onslaught of his nuclear exchange, over half of the world's population were obliterated. In the wars, rioting and chaos that followed during the dark times, the population had dropped to less than 10% of its former level (less than 1% of the former population surviving in the major cities of the world, 10% surviving in regional centres, and about 20% surviving in the third world and most remote areas of the world). As the skies cleared, the radiation sickness starting whittling away the population further. At the lowest point, the population of the world dropped to a few barely thirty or forty million people (the numbers are impossible to accurately determine).

The irradiated zones of the world are still dangerous places, due to the cancers and radiation sickness, but also due to the electromagnetic instability which makes spiritual manifestations far more common. Europe, the United States, the Middle East and parts of Asia are very dangerous places and spiritual hotspots in this setting. Australia is far more stable, but is home to spirits who were used to easily crossing between the physical plane and the spirit realms in areas where radiation was naturally high (the aboriginal sacred sites that have now been mined).

The Effects on Humanity

Paranormal manifestations provide the background malevolence for the setting. The manifestations come in many forms, some akin to traditional spirits and ghosts, others through fusion to living hosts (whether human, animal or otherwise), and some in the form of resurrection of the dead.

The first spirits may have drawn on the collective belief of the mortal populace, or perhaps they were a machine intelligence that drew on the worst conspiracies of the internet to derive their forms. Either way, the elders who survived the dark days talk of angels in the skies, demons in the streets, hordes of zombies resurrected from the fallen, and nightmares from all cultural legends.

In those areas with the highest populations, the collective belief was strongest and the numbers of fallen corpses numbered in the millions. The spirits had innumerable bodies to inhabit, transform, mutate and empower. The cities of the old world became the necropoli of the new, populated by the paranormal and haunted by the ghosts of the past.

General guide to the most populated parts of the old world and thus 
the most spiritually active parts of the walkabout world.

The lands populated to breaking point in our world become the hells of the tilted walkabout world. Antarctica looks like a paradise, but who knows what dark beings awaken there when the ice thaws.  

Deeper Ramifications

This is about the extent of knowledge for characters in the tilted world of Walkabout. Most people know little about the world beyond their immediate environment, it is a dangerous place where telecommunications are unreliable and travel more than a few miles from a fortified stronghold is more often lethal then not.

Next Post...Steampunk and the impact of the setting on technology.
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