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Very Different Places RPG

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Independently from remaining political divisions, Earth has been divided in zones to indicate how much the chaos following Armageddon has affected various types of terrain. The laws of physics as understood pre-Event no longer apply to the entire universe; rather, they have been replaced by narrative causality to a smaller or greater extent on much of the planet's surface. This effect is currently thought to peter off as altitude increases, but since nobody has any significant remaining space capability, this is surmised from what little data existing satellites are still giving out.

Continguous zones can be as small as a soccer field or as big as a metropolitan area; fortunately, zone boundaries are either stable or shift very slowly (on the order of a few meters per year). Local zone maps are usually available for free, at least for consultation, in most inhabited areas. Liminality areas tend to appear at the boundary between green and yellow zones. Habitable real estate that is on a border between zone types tends to be valuable for industry, as it allows making uses of the best of both worlds. The letter classification is used when color printing or color TV are not available, and predates the color classification.


Blue zones are the places in the world in which physics still works exactly the way it's supposed to, with no exceptions; most of the remaining cities are in blue zones, as is any complex manufacturing or financial operation. In particular, the ability to manufacture electronics gives blue zones a reason to persist. CATS is known to have appropriated a few small unmarked rural blue zones for research purposes. Blue zones are also where policy decisions tend to be made, for the simple reason that outsider entities become visibly sick within them and infiltration would be trivial to detect.


Green zones cover the majority of the accessible surface of the Earth; in green zones, the universe tends to make sense... most of the time... unless you're a physicist or electrical engineer. Most technology operates properly, although complex things like MRI machines or photolitography systems won't. Green zones tend to range from uninhabited deserts or tundra, to sparsely populated extensive farmlands, to European style high density rural areas; the average "safe" green zone will consist of a mostly autonomous community centered around a town. As time passes, it seems that a return to city-states with very loose central governments is going to be the natural progression of things. All green zones seem to behave in the same way; physics generally works, and your average metaphysical effect or material that have been conceived or made in yellow zones generally works. In a sense, it's the best of both worlds.


Yellow zones are the second most common type of ground after green. In yellow zones, physics begin to break down; every yellow zone is unique in this sense. Over time, different ecosystems have evolved to deal with each instance -- one yellow zone may be the harsh desertic domain of giant ants and giant termites locked in war, another an idyllic forest where fairies will race hummingbirds to your soft candy. Technology is assumed to be unreliable.

While most yellow zones are unsafe due to wildlife, human habitation is very much possible, although the definition of "human" tends to get stretched somewhat. Some communities have even reached cohabitation with sentient outsider entities. Yellow zone residents tend to stay away from blue zones (for example, those who can fly wouldn't be able to there), but there has been no speciation. While yellow zone wildlife tends to have difficulty breeding in green zones, raids for food or territory or simple exploration, or migration between two yellow zones through a green zone, are frequent. Gravitational distortions become detectable.

"Orange zone" is an unofficial but common classification for a yellow zone whose "theme" is unknown or suspected to be nonexistent; in these areas, narrative causality tends to be uniformly easier to invoke than in a green zone, but has a habit of backfiring or generating unexpected side effects. Sometimes called "gnarly ground" in the former United Kingdom.


Red zones are areas in which Newtonian physics starts to break down -- not only things can work differently, but things that would work in safer areas start to not be reliable. There is no guarantee that you're better off using dry rather than fresh wood to build a fire, or that metal will be tougher than plastic; gravitational distortions become visible. On top of this, the rules change over time, sometimes quickly.

Wildlife tends to be either small, fast-breeding and vicious, or large, with redundant metabolisms, and vicious. Inhabitation is generally considered impossible, although there are nomadic communities that "chase" a particular physical or biological phenomenon around and make their living from it.


Dark zones are considered impassable by normal means, either due to high radiation (all the radiation that hadn't manifested during the nuclear strikes during the Tribulation has come back with a vengeance at the end of it) or due to the fact that the laws of physics change too rapidly for any human or animal to traverse it safely and reemerge intact. Due to sudden changes in intra-atomic forces, over the years the two statuses have tended to merge together; ion storms generated by spontaneous fission blasts in dark zones are not uncommon, and are in fact the main reason why radio communication over long distances is limited to low-bandwidth PSK. It is estimated that most outsider entities enter our cosmos from momentary portals in dark zones, and most perish or are reabsorbed while trying to reach safer ground.

Small dark zones are known as dark holes, and exist throughout the earth, with the exception of blue zones. Exhaustive study by CATS field specialists has revealed that they expand and contract according to the sunspot cycle. Cases of major enlargement or disappearance have been reported, but are in the single digits.

Dark zones used to be classified "brown" or "black" depending on whether the impassability was caused by radiation or anisotropy, but that classification has largely been rendered obsolete.

ZoneSafePhysicsAdvanced manufacturingNarrative controlReification/daemonscriptingPrevalence
TXShort timesMaybeNoYesYes5%
XTXVery noNoNoYesProbably30%
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