Because I’m stressed and probably should be working, I find my thoughts turning to a favorite mental landscape: my beloved Portland, OR, transformed into the Willamette Wasteland via the lens of the Fallout universe. A river of radiated sludge bisecting the shattered downtown towers on the west side from the sprawling shantytowns on the east side, under green clouds of acid rain, a gloomy, muggy nightmare.
I’d love to run an RPG set in the Fallout universe, and of course I would set it in my hometown. And because of all the election follies of America’s real-world silly season 2016, I’ve got an idea for a central storyline.
Some of the scattered tribes of Old Portland have been struggling to find some way to choose a leader. The selection process has lasted for years, perhaps decades, and has devolved into fighting, raids, and guerrilla warfare. Some of the more power tribes include:
- The Hill People: Residing in restored mansions in the West Hills live a handful of relatively wealthy and diverse families who have accumulated their stashes of food, weapons, and bottlecaps by strongarming other smaller raider groups into paying taxes or face extinction. In return, the raider tribes get access to Welfare Centers: meal halls and communal housing, open to any and all as long as they pay their taxes.
- The Berners: An idealistic group of primarily young and old men living in several camps on the east side of the river. The Berners take umbrage at the two tiered class system created by the Hill People. They find themselves outnumbered and outgunned but remain highly confident that they can locate the secret location of the Hill People Repository, break in, and redistribute the cache among all the people of the Willamette Wasteland.
- The Orangeheads: These folk protect themselves from dangerous acid rains and radstorms with a thick orange paste under their tattered Old World suits and dresses. Their goals are chaotic and random, but mostly they want to destroy all other tribes, or at least intimidate them all into fleeing the valley. They once attempted to get a group of roving Deathclaws to build a wall around the downtown area, which did not go well for them and greatly reduced their numbers.
That’s just off the top of my head. It’s all so silly. Would anyone buy in to such an off-kilter environment?