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Old 01-16-2016, 01:37 PM   #1
Tema69
 
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Default [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

Hi!
I’ve been running a post-apocalyptic weird-war two campaign for about six months now. It’s heavily based around the PCs exploring, looting and finding valuable technological remnants, and it’s fairly sandbox. The PCs wish to keep a somewhat middle-ages feel to the campaign (so there’s plenty of hand-to-hand combat, few vehicles, and most settlements are essentially feudal mini-nationstates). I’d love some help getting the ideas flowing, especially regarding steering the PCs a bit towards interesting areas (and filling those interesting areas with interesting things).

The setting, in it’s basic elements, revolves around a WWW2 setting with advanced technology and an unbroken Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and a more limited American intervention in the European/African theatre. There’s nothing supernatural or arcane, but plenty of futuristic gadgets, space programs, cyborgs, etc - although essentially all of these technological advances are used for military purposes. Civilian life in the period would be fairly similar to real life, but with more interesting stuff to read about in the papers.
WMDs are used on a large scale from 1943 (starting with american nuclear bombings of dozens of japanese islands) to 1945 (europe is laid to waste as allied forces cross into german territory). Some of the weapons are nuclear, some are biological/chemical, and others are just real big bombs. The PCs started the campaign about twenty years later, in a small isolated settlement called Malevil in Alsace (less than 300 people). The PCs know fairly little about the cataclysmic events 20 years ago, except that they were lucky to survive. The PCs have been on one “main” adventure, in which they went to investigate a recently crashed german spaceship (that had been in orbit for over 20 years), finding hundreds of humanoid drones (who actually house a human brain, designed as expendable space crew), and a single surviving human crew member. Long story short, a bit under 400 drones have been brought to Malevil, and are being schooled and raised from scratch (although they learn and mature at an accelerated rate), and the surviving crew member is slowly recuperating from severe hibernation sickness. They also brought back some nifty tech with them (that are essentially magic items to the characters), but unfortunately also attracted the unwanted and fairly hostile attention of a settlement to the west, consisting primarily of former Allied soldiers.
Recently the PCs have established diplomatic and trade relations with a larger settlement to the south, called Rosenau, and have exchanged a dozen hostages/experts to assist the respective settlements and cement their diplomatic alliance. Malevil consists mostly of rural inhabitant, and are thus able to survive fairly well on farming, cattle, etc, whilst Rosenau consists of former Wehrmacht units and urbanised civilians - their ability to feed themselves is poor.

The PCs consist of three characters from Malevil (in their thirties) and two from Rosenau (in their fourties).
Sebastien - former history/politics-student, works as political advisor to the leadership in Malevil, as well as being in charge of expeditions, exploring, raids and on-the-spot diplomacy. The player likes interaction-based roleplay, and the thrill of exploring.
Alexandre - former amateur-boxer turned blacksmith, has been put in charge of Malevil’s protection, as well as the protection of expedition members. The player likes to break stuff/people, and cares very little for any other types of encounters.
Michel - woodsman/carpenter, a somewhat reserved character that excells at smashing things with axes. This player is down with most encounters, as long as there’s variation.
Alfred - former Pioneer in the Wehrmacht, he’s a mechanic and is the navigator on the crew’s truck. There’s a lot of synergy/overlap with Alfred’s character. This player is down with most encounters, as long as there’s variation.
Verner - former Pioneer in the Wehrmacht, he’s the driver of the crew’s truck. There’s a lot of synergy/overlap with Alfred’s character. This player absolutely loves to problemsolve both ingame and game-mechanics-wise. Somewhat of a min-maxing-munchkin at times.

The PCs are not necessarily nice people, but do what they think is best for their settlements. Some of them supported the nazi party, others fought for Nazi Germany, some are extremely suspicious of strangers, and so on. Twenty years later, however, the politics of a destroyed civilisation matters less. They do try to avoid letting harm come to innocents, although their definition of innocents varies.

The PCs have turned their attention to an area in the Alps where they expect to find some sort of space-related base (clues were found in the crashed spaceship), and are planning an expedition there.

The alpine base will be home to the german Silbervogel program. The base will have been attacked in the final days of the war by allied commandos, but not captured.
I’m planning to give this fortress-in-the-mountains a VERY fantasy/middle ages feel, without resorting to supernatural elements. The plan is:
The base is controlled by “the White Prince”, his henchmen, and dozens of “ghouls”. The Prince and his henchmen will be partial cyborgs (head, brain and vital organs are still human, the rest is a robotic chassis), giving them a knightly feel. Similar to the drones mentioned earlier, the original intent of the partial cyborg design was to create the perfect astronauts, but this proved too costly. Drones ended up being used alongside regular human crew instead.
The ghouls will be severely deteriorated drones (same as the ones they are raising in their settlement) that have gone somewhat mad, but are being controlled by the prince and his henchmen due to built-in tech.
The partial cyborgs have been slowly deteriorating over the last two decades, and have been sending out the ghouls to acquire spare parts (both mechanical components and human organs). Due to the commando attack on the base during the last days of the war, the physically large cyborgs are unable to leave without losing the ability to come back, whilst the smaller and slimmer ghouls can slip in and out.
I want the Prince to have a lich-king kinda feel, harvesting human organs, controlling an army of “undead” minions, etc. What I need is some sort of over-the-top grandiose scheme for him to be planning. I want him to be an absolute megalomaniac, but not quite insane. I’d also like for him to be a recurring villain, so I’ve set up and escape plan for him and what remains of his henchmen/minions when the PCs start winning decisively.

So, what does a megalomaniac german warrior-aristocrat turned cyborg plan for twenty years atop a mountain base surrounded by post-apocalyptic wasteland, and what happens when he’s kicked out by annoying PCs looking for loot?
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

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Originally Posted by Tema69 View Post
Rosenau consists of former Wehrmacht units and urbanised civilians - their ability to feed themselves is poor.
You seem to be implying that they lack farming skills. If so, you might want to change that. 30% of the German workforce was in agriculture in 1936 (yes, that's amazingly high, Germany was underdeveloped in some ways) so any sizable group of ex-soldiers will have some skilled farmers. Making their land poor quality should work, although it risks them deciding to conquer somewhere better.
Quote:
So, what does a megalomaniac german warrior-aristocrat turned cyborg plan for twenty years atop a mountain base surrounded by post-apocalyptic wasteland, and what happens when he’s kicked out by annoying PCs looking for loot?
His plan is to rule the world, of course! With twenty years to work on the Silbervogel technology, and develop nuclear weapons, he should be all set to launch satellites that tell the world to surrender, or else he'll unleash his unstoppable bombers and destroy them all. The PCs can be lumbered with trying to explain to the rest of the world that he's a nutter and can't do anything now, because they've kicked him out of his base, and he thus can't launch any more attacks.
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:56 PM   #3
Tema69
 
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Default Re: [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
You seem to be implying that they lack farming skills. If so, you might want to change that. 30% of the German workforce was in agriculture in 1936 (yes, that's amazingly high, Germany was underdeveloped in some ways) so any sizable group of ex-soldiers will have some skilled farmers. Making their land poor quality should work, although it risks them deciding to conquer somewhere better.
I am definitely implying that. :) I want them to become somewhat dependant on the smaller, but more skilled (at farming), settlement of Malevil, thus ensuring a mainly positive relationship, and not an immediately threatening one. In addition, both settlements have a common enemy to the west.

The German units making up the military population of Rosenau consists mainly of Security Division personnel, drafted at a young age. Sure, some of these soldiers grew up on farms, but not enough of them know enough to support the entire population properly. In addition, the farming tools that they've acquired are subpar, they don't know exactly how to maintain them, there's no arable land immediately next to the settlement, etc etc. It's not that they don't farm, it's just that they're nowhere near as good at it as Malevil. Malevil is essentially self-sufficient, whereas Rosenau relies heavily on raiding, scavenging, and so on to supplement their limited farming, and has suffered many starvation-related deaths over the last 20 years.
This boils down to Rosenau being on the decline, and Malevil being on the rise, which is a political contrast that I find interesting.


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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Rule the world, of course! With twenty years to work on the Silbervogel technology, and develop nuclear weapons, he should be all set to launch satellites that tell the world to surrender, or else he'll unleash his unstoppable bombers and destroy them all.
Tell who to surrender? The war is over, everybody lost, and as far as he knows, there is no centralised government anywhere (although southern africa, south america, parts of north america, and parts of asia have survived relatively unscathed, these areas are far away - and completely outside of the scope of the PCs ability to travel there (for now)).
While he could probably develop WMDs, what is there to gain when you have nothing to target?

Also, I'd like to keep his ambitions relevant for the local area of the campaign, and preferably in the fantasy/medieval style (so nuking nuked countries, or invading Peru isn't really what I'm looking for).

There can definitely be a "rule the world" vibe to him, but it'd be more of a "rule the wasteland" kinda goal. Maybe some sort of "forced" repopulation project, making sure only the best (Aryan) genes survive the apocalypse?
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

20 years is a good time frame for a spacecraft to make a return trip to an arbitrary point in the solar system. Mining He3 might be a good reason for such a journey. Following that line of thought he could be waiting to build a fusion power plant.

Or 20 years is a good length of time for a pseudo lebensborn program to produce results.

Going with the Fuedal theme the prince may have been part of a larger kingdom and his territory was on the border closest to the pcs. He was just engaged with politics in the other direction up til now.

Going with the low orbit, ww2 paratroopers and cyborgs you could have him making an army designed for orbital height insertion. Wings maybe? Army of winged demon analogs
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

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20 years is a good time frame for a spacecraft to make a return trip to an arbitrary point in the solar system. Mining He3 might be a good reason for such a journey. Following that line of thought he could be waiting to build a fusion power plant.
The setting already has advanced power plants, and the base would probably have some as well (although they might be running out of juice).

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Or 20 years is a good length of time for a pseudo lebensborn program to produce results.
I was thinking that something along those lines might be part of his big plan. Are you thinking "abduction of local women" over the last twenty years? Problem is, I already just gave the PCs a few hundred "babies" to take care of, and them busting into the lich-king's daycare seems a bit odd. Maybe he abducted women to the base, bred with them, and then had them moved off somewhere else to carry out the pregnancies and raise the children?
He might want the children purely to use their brains to put into more ghoul/drone chassis though (I've already hinted to the PCs that the brains inside the drones come from "undesirable unborn elements of the population", making them untermensch foetus brains). That seems a bit more evil than running a school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Going with the Fuedal theme the prince may have been part of a larger kingdom and his territory was on the border closest to the pcs. He was just engaged with politics in the other direction up til now.
There could definitely be more like him. I'll save that idea for later, when I start fleshing out more of the map further away from the PCs.

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Going with the low orbit, ww2 paratroopers and cyborgs you could have him making an army designed for orbital height insertion. Wings maybe? Army of winged demon analogs
That could be cool. The pre-apocalypse setting already has Fallschirmjägers experimenting with jump packs as an alternative to fast-roping out of helicopters. Adding wings might make them feasible for actual (unreliable) flight.
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Help needed] Post-apocalyptic world-war-two campaign

Trying to hold on to the lich-king basic concept, I figured some phylactery-analog could be cool too. So I'm thinking that he could have some sort of advanced regeneration capabilities (for his organs and head), that repair catastrophic damage, but doesn't fix any minor stuff. It could be some experiment performed upon him - it could even be the cause of his megalomania. The scientist who made it created an off-switch, as he was rightly afraid that if a test subject got out of hand, he'd be unstoppable. Destroying the device obviously also switches his regeneration off, so he has to safekeep it somewhere far away.
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