Blackout RPG Intro – WIP
The excerpt below is from the beginning of the core rulebook that I’m writing, it lays out a little more background on the world in general and a bit about the groups within it. Please forgive any glaring spelling/grammar errors, this is a raw draft copied from a WIP document. Also, WordPress has butchered the formatting in some places, so please accept my apologies if it’s all over the place. I just wanted to give a bit of an overview on things to back up my post on reddit. Also at the bottom of the page you can find a very rough first draft of a character sheet that I’m working on.
I guess it’s time for me to come clean about what actually happened that day huh?”
Kim Winters eased back in the chair and kicked her feet up onto the makeshift table in front of her, glancing around the room before continuing. “I was in New York City when the Blackout happened. Living in the City you became used to threats not actually amounting to anything, so when the news reports began playing, everyone just kind of ignored it, you know.” She paused, as if thinking back to that time. “ I can’t believe that I was only 17 then, it seems like a lifetime ago. Being the kid that I was I didn’t really understand what was coming, although I’m not sure anyone did.”
The others in the room sat silently, the only other noise was slight whirring coming from the patched up old digital camera on the tripod behind them. Kim’s eyes flicked around the group of 3 before settling back on the camera. “I remember sitting in my parents apartment, my Mom was there, we watched the broadcast on the news together, my father had already been called to base a few days before the threat emerged. They said that the terrorist group was threatening every major city in the US at the same time, they were claiming to have a weapon capable of pushing us back into the dark ages, at least I think that’s how they worded it.”
A muffled explosion in the distance caused Kim to stop for a second before continuing on. “Funny thing was, no one ever really considered that the threat might come true. As the news broadcast countdown reached zero I remember my Mom telling me that everything would be okay, then it all just went kind black. The TV, lights, my phone, all at once. There wasn’t any kind of explosion, or any kind of weird electrical thing, they all just died, all at once.”
Another explosion, this time a little closer, further punctuated by the clatter of assault rifle fire. Instinctively Kim checked the magazine on the rifle thrown across her lap before looking back to the camera. “Of course, at that time we didn’t know what we know now, my Mom told me that my father would be coordinating the troops on base to help everyone. We know now that wasn’t the case at all don’t we.”
One of the three others in the room, James Anders, broke the silence that hung in the air after Kim’s final statement. “I’d heard that the military rolled into New York pretty quickly after the Blackout.” Kim simply smiled and nodded. “So you’ve been staying under the military…. Your Father’s radar for just over 4 years at this point?”
Again, Kim checked the magazine in the gun and also, this time, checked the chamber. “Well, first of all, once they rolled into the city he convinced my Mother and I to leave the apartment for our own safety. Everyone knows how quickly the looting started once the lights went out. It was like the dark brought out the demons in everyone. It was about 5 days after he got us on base that I began to hear rumors about the military involvement. History books tell that they declared Marshall Law in almost every major city within 24 hours of the Blackout, saying that they’d return control to the governing bodies once they had things in place. I guess they’re still waiting for that, or at least that’s the excuse they’re using. My Father installed himself as some sort of Governor for Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs. Said he didn’t want Jersey though, so that explains why they blew the GW.”
Suddenly the bag laid on the floor next to Tom, James’ brother, began beeping. He jumped, clearly a little startled and reached inside, pulling out a very patched up GPS navigation system. He looked at the screen, a cluster of dots were moving closer to their location. “Looks like we’ve got incoming. Scanner shows 5 or 6, it’s tough to tell given the concrete in this building.”
Kim kicked back from the table and stood up. “Ok boys, time to see what you got, looks like these guys came to take their house back.”
Tom grabbed the camera from the tripod, shut it off and stuffed it into his backpack. All of them grabbed their weapons and packs, checking what ammunition they had, no matter how limited. James picked up his rifle and checked the mag, only 3 bullets left. Tom grabbed some of the homebrew grenades from his pack and clipped them to his belt. After they all readied up, Kim turned, throwing the door to the house, firing off a couple of shots through the opening before rushing out to face their attackers head on like she had many times before over the last 4 years….
The History of The World of Blackout
Blackout is a modern day “edge of the apocalypse” story based in the continental United States of America. In late 2019 the country was in the grips of a massive depression, brought on by multiple factors, including a rapidly corrupting government, heavy taxation on simple items and a climate that only promoted “the rich getting richer”. Over the course of 2018 and 2019 there was a growing trend of minor domestic terrorism attacked across the country, anything from preventing fuel trucks reaching major cities to the sabotage of railways and other supply lines. However the world was changed drastically on one October night after it was subjected to multiple EMP pulses centered around the major population centers. Originally believed to be the actions of the same terrorist group, it later became clear that it was actually the actions of an organized military coup. The military had fully ensured that all their equipment was fully protected before the EMP’s were detonated and no more than a couple of hours post detonation, they deployed to the cities under the veil of supporting the populous after the attack.
It only took a few days before it became obvious that the military had different motives than “assist and aid” as they had originally stated. Very quickly they moved to take control of the cities and made sure to install a governor in each to maintain control. This was not difficult for them to do, due to the fact that most people were still coming to terms with life without electronics or, in some cases, any form of vehicles. The military worked quickly to checkpoint the entries into all major cities, going as far in some cases as to destroy all but one route of access in and out.
Over the course of the beginning of 2020 there begun a quiet uprising within cities, nothing was coordinated, the military made sure that communication between cities was impossible by bringing down cell phone towers and blocking access to the internet. The citizens that were stuck inside the cities took on the nickname of The Subjugated and soon that nickname would become the official name that the Military would use for their uprising.
After the dust settled and the military had taken many of the major cities the rest of the country began to fall into lawlessness. With all major TV stations now being blocked or controlled by the military and the power grids being shut down outside of the cities it meant that the countryside became more of the wildlands. Small town America quickly fell into chaos as the gas stations ran out of fuel, shops ran out of basic supplies and people began to realize that they had to survive on their own.
Mid 2020 marked the arrival of the Private Military Contractors (PMC’s) as they begun to realize that there was money to be made in the lawless Wildlands. The arrival of the PMC’s coincided with the building of a roving bandit threat throughout the Wildlands. The rebellions within the cities also began to become more violent as groups began to once again arm themselves. The Subjugated began to develop means to communicate between cities by hacking into the now restricted Internet using rudimentary equipment that they had rebuilt after the EMP’s.
On the second anniversary of the Blackout The Subjugated coordinated their boldest attack yet and successfully overthrew the Governors in San Francisco and Washington DC and drove the military out. They quickly installed a democratic leadership into these cities and they both became beacons to show that it was possible to fight back. The loss of these cities caused the military to tighten their grip on the remaining cities that they controlled, with New York officially becoming the recognized US capital after the loss of DC.
By 2021 the military had attempted to strike back at Washington and San Francisco multiple times but were never successful due to the fact that The Subjugated now had access to the military hardware that was left behind when they were driven out. This led to them beginning to discover more facts about the Blackout and the events thereafter. It seemed that just weeks after the US blackout the same event occurred in several other countries across the world. Information was scarce however as each country that had fallen had seen it’s global internet access shuttered to prevent information getting out.
During this time many of the smaller towns in the Wildlands had fallen under the control of the PMC’s and various other groups and ruled them like warlords. This led to the military having to reinforce all convoys that travelled between cities due to increasing amounts of attacks, especially on fuel convoys. Fuel and ammunition became heavily controlled and a local black market between towns built up very quickly.
On the third anniversary of the Blackout the military began their shock and awe assault on San Francisco, the siege of San Francisco, as it became known, took place for 7 days straight, by the time the siege was over there was little of the original city remaining, the loss of life was into the millions and The Subjugated that survived the assault fled the ruins, many were picked up, several killed whilst attempting to escape and a few managed to escape into the Wildlands.
This marked a major change in direction for the military as they became much more aggressive. Any Subjugated that got caught were put into labor camps in the Wildlands. They suffered a major setback to their plans for DC when The Subjugated infiltrated the base where the military were storing their equipment for the siege and detonated a device that destroyed a large majority of the heavier artillery.
2022 is where we are now, the country still sits mired in anarchy, the Warlords rule the Wildlands. Washington DC is the defacto capital of The Subjugated and the military rules the other major cities and the roads that connect them.
The Groups of Blackout
The United States in the world of Blackout is populated by thousands of small groups, but they usually fall into one of three Affiliations. During their adventures your heroes will likely want to pick an affiliation, some groups might prefer to choose a side and stick with it, whilst others might want to “play sides” and try to operate in a grey area between multiple parties. Below you will find a short description of the three major affiliations within Blackout.
The Subjugated began life as the general populous of the major cities within the U.S. It was originally a detrimental term used by the military to refer to refer to those that lived within the walls of their cities. Deprived of any luxuries that they once took for granted and, at times, denied even the most basic items needed to live, they began meeting in secret forming groups that quickly turned into an underground rebellion. At the present time The Subjugated have control of Washington DC and use the city as a bastion of hope for all others. The former second city of San Francisco is ruined, but there are rumors of a hidden base somewhere within the ruins that might still be operational. The Subjugated have become very resourceful at utilizing items that they can lay hands on to fight back. Many also lend their skills to help rebuild or fabricate new electronics systems to help in the rebellion. Using these electronics, they have been able to breach several military blocks and regain some levels of access to global networks and other items.
The military are the overlords of Blackout. They control every major city in the country other than Washington DC and San Francisco. The capital of the Military is New York City, it was widely considered to by the capital even before Washington fell, once the government was removed from office. Each city has a governor in control of it. They have maintained restricted access to global networks, preventing the outside world. They control the fuel routes throughout the U.S. and have access to the only technology completely unaffected by the Blackout. Staying on the good side of the military is a good way to ensure your survival in the world.
The Warlords, PMC’s & Small Towners
Small town America was ravaged by bandits post Blackout. Deprived of pretty much everything needed to keep them going the country sides between cities became Wildlands. As many areas weren’t directly affected by the Blackout pulses, most technology remains intact, however the military was quick to shut down the power grids outside of the cities, meaning that any towns in the Wildlands were affected just the same as the cities. The bandits turned many of the towns into settlements and installed themselves as rulers of their new kingdoms. In some cases going as far as setting up new power grids and defences. Several Private Military Contractors (PMC’s) also flocked in, using the lawless countryside to commit raids on convoys and also working as hired guns for the warlords. The PMC’s tend to stick to the smaller abandoned military installations as much as possible, hoarding what supplies the can to keep their misappropriated military hardware running for as long as possible As much as you need to stay on the good side of the military, it is impossible to navigate around America at this point without running into Bandit settlements and PMC bases.
Character sheet draft:
The image below shows draft 1 of the character sheet, this is not complete in any sense, just a basic sketched layout to let me get an idea of where things can sit without it look too busy. Final versions will obviously be much flashier and have a better layout to them.