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Very Different Places RPG

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The Rapture happened in 1997, and during the Tribulation the world was too chaotic for any sustained R&D program to appear -- PCs are only now starting to be manufactured again, and the best we can do is clones of 1980-era microcomputers such as the C64 or Atari 5200; even computers from before the Rapture still look like beige boxes with CRT screens. Laptops and cell phones are for the rich; and so on. In general, pre-Rapture equipment is and looks like it's from the 1990s, while new stuff is by necessity more raw and artisanal -- a pre-Rapture tractor will have better fuel economy and run leaner, but a post-Armageddon tractor will be tougher and much easier to repair.

One notable exception is the "Eden Project" fertilizer, invented by Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig just before the entire mess started. Although powered in part by narrative causality, the stuff works reliably, and has replaced most fertilizers in use today. The Eden fertilizer is crystalline in appearance, looking like brown sugar crystals when ready to use; the exact formula is still copyrighted to Dr. Rosenzweig, although the man has refused to continue doing research. The Christian Remnant's major source of income is in fact the royalties paid by the Commonwealths to Dr. Rosenzweig, which he gives to his church as a matter of course. It is reasonably easy to produce, although it requires a variety of ingredients that may be hard to procure in a world that no longer has a global trade network. Food grown on Eden fertilizer is known to be characteristically bland, which has caused a trade boom in herbs and spices.

The prevalence of impassable areas within the world has caused telecommunication infrastructure to be rebuilt in a somewhat haphazard way; telephone calls are expensive, and mail is only worth it for things like contracts that must be delivered by couriers (cities have a postal mail service, but wasting paper is discouraged). Email is a common way to communicate, especially for nomads; even small towns are likely to have a Community Memory consisting of a small group of computers and a wireless mast that people can check their mail on. Due to the store-and-forward nature of this network and limited bandwidth through ion storms and the few surviving long distance cables, emails can take up to a day to reach their destination. CMs even exist in some yellow zones, although they tend to use older or remanufactured machines such as Commodore 64s. Email is text-only; there are encyclopedia lookup services, also text-only. Access is provided for free, or charged by time, or with a single-use fee depending on where you are.

At this time, no commonwealth has space capability, although HAMMER and PATRIOT are rebuilding their old facilities in Wallops Field and Baikonur.

GPS is an existing technology and still works reliably (to a roughly 100 meter precision, a few satellites have been knocked out; there is concern about replacing those that fail). They are routinely used in ships, and many overland trade convoys include a "smart wagon" with a GPS antenna, automatic map, and mobile community memory. Personal units exist, but have no automatic map (coordinates only) and are rare and expensive.

Firearms exist and work properly, however standardized cartridges are expensive, making bows and crossbow viable alternatives. In yellow and red zones, firearms tend to behave more erratically, and automatic firing is discouraged.

Motor vehicles exist, but petroleum extraction happens only on a very limited local scale -- the Middle East has been dried out by the Divine earthquakes. Most farm vehicles are supplemented by animals or run on woodgas. Blue zones tend to use small electric cars for private transportation; owning a pre-Rapture car is a status symbol and actually having gas to operate it at full power (rather than using a gasifier) even more so. Overland travel generally happens on the back of various animals, or by "motowagon" land trains. Vehicles that have achieved iconic status, such as the Citroen 2CV or the WV Beetle, have a considerably easier time operating in yellow zones and stretching the efficiency of available fuel, at least in the parts of the world in which they are known! Legged vehicles are not common, but make sense in a number of terrains (and are considerably easier to get to work, thanks to a little bit of narrative causality); the generic term for a bipedal or quadrupedal non-autonomous legged vehicle is "ironback", from the name of a construction frame that managed to reach series-production status.

Sea travel is recovering; new boats are made routinely, mostly for fishing, and old ships with suitable hulls are steadily being converted to sail/electric propulsion. Most seagoing vessels are armed: piracy is an uncommon but real problem. So are sea monsters.

Solar panels are manufactured in blue zone and are in fact most blue zones' primary exports, since they work reliably in green and some yellow zones. Electricity is common enough that most households can afford to operate a refrigerator; solar power is supplemented by geothermal, wind, or even pedal.

Air travel is uncommon; new airplanes are generally designed around fuel efficiency and resemble motorized gliders. One famous exception is the venerable Antonov AN-2; these "biplane buses" have been converted to wood gas operation and are now HAMMER's chief industrial export (One thing is for sure: nobody was lining up to buy their cars). Blimps exist, but are hydrogen-based and so limited in their ability to function (for example, they must stay very well away from thunderstorms).

Efforts to mate pre-Rapture science with a systematic understanding of narrative causality continue. On the small scale -- if production in series is not required -- synergy between NC and technology happens automatically; the lone local inventor has made quite the comeback.

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