Tag Archives: Post-Apocalyptic

Post-Apocalyptic Points of Light

As I was contemplating what to do with Enderra, I remembered the D&D 4th Edition “Points of Light” setting. Points of Light has specific, if fairly typical, D&D assumptions.

After mulling them over, I realize that not only did this describe most D&D settings (there are exceptions), it describes most settings where the “wilderness” dominates. Fallout? Points of Light in a nuclear wasteland. The American West? Points of Light in the arid regions of a world without magic.

When we think “post-apocalyptic”, we usually think of nuclear war and its aftermath. For my generation, that was the most likely scenario for the end of civilization; these days, we can add climate change to the list. Nuclear wars and other world-ending calamities have been a popular excuse for introducing magic and elves to Earth for a long time.

However, threats to all of civilization, even the world or at least life on it, have always been a staple of Fantasy fiction – and gaming. So what if the unthinkable happens, evil triumphs, and wipes out everything that we hold dear? Boom. Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy.

While some settings do feature this in some fashion – ancient civilizations that disappeared in some great catastrophe, either natural or man made, only to leave behind treasure-laden ruins – I believe few, if any, settings play this straight.

The heavy stone door, fashioned by Dwarven artisans to withstand anything and everything, trembled and shook, then slowly slide aside. Bright daylight entered the ancient vault for the first time in a century. One by one its inhabitants emerged, shielding their eyes against the sun.
“What do you know,” said the Fighter. “The wizards got it right. The stasis field worked. We’re alive!”
“The same can’t be said of the others,” the Ranger replied. The others followed his gaze. Far below them, a field of moss-covered ruins littered the floor of the valley. Trees poked through the ancient stonework, swaying gently in the summer breeze.
“That’s the Capital City, isn’t it?” the Bard asked. “By the Gods, it feels like we left only days ago!”

Obviously, the characters do not have to be “vault dwellers”, they could be regular survivors or the descendants of the same. You can lift any sort of post-nuclear fiction, theme, or location, remove the high tech aspects, and put them directly into a fantasy setting. The “points” in “points of light” are the few civilized settlements. Everything else is a vast Wasteland of magical mutants, marauding monsters, and rampaging raiders.

Shattered Grounds – Updated Concept

A long time ago I came up with what I tentatively call “Shattered Grounds”. It is post-apocalyptic fantasy setting, but unlike the trope (in which magic awakes after a nuclear war), it is an actual fantasy setting that experienced a doomsday.

The – as of yet unnamed – world was a normal fantasy world with dragons, wizards, orcs and humans. It also featured a vast underworld, similar to the Underdark from Dungeons & dragons. If anything, this underworld was much more extensive, with underground caverns hundreds of kilometers across.

One day, and without warning, large sections of the surface collapsed into that underworld. The continent-sized caverns caved in, causing huge valleys and lowlands, effectively lowering leaving continent-wide, kilometer-deep scars behind. The oceans of the world flowed into the now exposed underworld, flooding much of it; consequently, with much of the water gone, the surface world turned into a vast desert. Civilization was devastated and the world was plunged into chaos and savagery…

Shattered Grounds - Concept
Shattered Grounds – Concept

Should make for some awesome vistas…

So what’s happening in the world?

Continue reading “Shattered Grounds – Updated Concept” »

Life after People

By random chance I came across Life after People on local TV tonight – the 2h original version, not the series. While it is hardly perfect – Wikipedia lists some criticisms or omissions, and I can come up with several more – it is still an inspirational film and a good idea to watch if you’re into post-apocalyptic fiction / gaming.

Sci-Fi Teaser

Alex posted a science fiction teaser in what looks like it could be one of those Internet memes, except this one is of course for writers and would-be writers.

Since I am not a writer, not really anyway, and I don’t have any completed works to tease from, I decided to create a teaser from scratch. It is about a new setting I am working on and that I may explore in my NaNoWriMo novel instead of what I had originally intended. (It is really an extension of the same theme rather than something completely new, sometimes those ideas that pop up in my mind happen to complement each other rather than compete for attention.)


The atmosphere in the shelter was a mix of tense anticipation and quiet resignation. Some occupants stoically awaited their fate, others whimpered or cried. Luckily nobody had panicked – yet. I kept to myself, sitting on a chair staring at the heavy blast door, wondering what I would experience had I been on the other side.

The radio played music that was decades out of date. It sounded like an automatic transmission that had been designed decades ago during the height of the cold war. There had been no messages after the initial emergency broadcast. Somehow the absence of any human announcer was much spookier than news of the world’s destruction could possibly have been. At least it meant that there was still a radio station, somewhere out there, that had not yet been hit.

Max, the shelter’s owner, kept things organized. He talked to people, introduced himself to those he didn’t know – most of those in the shelter, including me. Max was an older man, at least fifty, and his graying hair and beard gave him a bit of a grandfatherly appearance. He smiled and talked in a calm voice. I don’t know how he managed to be so serene, but then again he was the one who had had the foresight to build a bomb shelter. Even a few hours ago people probably thought of him as “one of those survivalist nuts” and while I am sure he was as devastated as everybody else, a small part of him may have been gleeful that he had been right after all. A kind of Noah, except Max had not hesitated to rescue strangers.

“You doing alright,” a woman to my left asked. I turned around startled. I had been so lost in my thoughts that I had not even noticed that she had pulled up a chair and sat down. She, too, looked straight at the blast door as I had done, imitating me. I studied her for a moment. Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin. Pretty.

I looked back at the door.

“All things considered.” It sounded not quite as positive as I had hoped.

For a moment neither of us spoke.

“Listen,” she broke the silence. “I am helping Max by making a list of everybody here, so we know who’s who, what jobs they have, and any medical conditions we should know about. Would you please tell me about yourself?”

I couldn’t help but smile because of the unexpected attention. Under other circumstances…

“Sure. Name’s John Sanders. I… don’t have a job right now.” There seemed to be no reason to tell her about my recent legal troubles. It didn’t concern anybody in the shelter, and quite honestly, how could a little theft matter now?

“But what is your training? Maybe we must rely on your skills at some point.”

“I see.” I hadn’t thought her question through. There was too much on my mind. “I am a programmer. Not much help after the EMP fries every bit of electronics out there, I am afraid. Had first aid training, but that was a long, long time ago.”

I turned again, this time to find her looking at me. Yes, she was beautiful.

“I have two hands,” I shrugged. “Tell me how I can help, and I will. I can carry things, cook without poisoning us, and clean the bathroom. Whatever.”

She made some notes on her clipboard while I spoke.

“Thanks,” she said and stood up.

“Could I ask you something?”

“Yes?”

“What is your name?”

“Artemis.”

I didn’t have a chance to follow up on that. The radio stopped playing that very moment. Then the lights went out, except for the reddish emergency lighting.

Two minutes later a pattern of tiny cracks in the walls began to glow a brilliant blue.


I am not sure I am eligible to join the evil writers’ club just yet but were I a writer, that is something I’d strive for.

We get better at what we do with lots of practice so feedback is, as always, appreciated – this explicitly includes corrections on spelling and grammar, as I am not a native English speaker.