The second is a series of short previews of my forth-coming Aftermath 28mm Post Apocalypse Skirmish Rules.
One important decision for Aftermath players is whether they want to field a Band of (relatively) law-abiding and respectable types known as a Crew or else head up a vicious, desperate outlaw Gang. Crews are generally welcome in towns and trading posts and find it easier to acquire and repair hi-tech items. Gang's, on the other hand, have to rely on Black Market traders and Slavers for obtaining additional equipment and can rarely find the choicest items unless they happen to steal them from another Band. However, Gang's can sell captured enemy fighters to Slavers with no harm to their reputation. Gangs that win the roll to choose a scenario can also choose to play certain missions that place law-abiding Crew opponents at something of a disadvantage. Crews are unable to take part in Gang scenario's unless playing as the defender and vice versa (no-one would hire a Gang to protect a merchant caravan for example, but they could certainly raid it). Crews cannot play the attacker in Gang scenario's- not unless they are willing to risk being outlawed themselves.
Bounty's and Slave-Trading:
Another significant difference is that every Fighter in a Gang has a bounty on his head that can be redeemed by any Crew that captures or kills him. Gangs can't collect a Bounty on other gang members they capture, but they can still sell a captured Ganger (or anyone else for that matter) into slavery. Selling a captured figure into slavery often pays more, but Crews that partake of the Slave trade risk angering "Authority" and becoming an outlaw Gang themselves.
"Authority" is a nebulous term in the post-crash world. Rather than referring to a specific group or individual, the term encompasses many diverse, powerful organisations with sufficient political and military clout to place a bounty on a Band's head and have them declared outlaws. Once a bounty is posted, other "Authorities", even those completely un-related or even opposed to the bounty-posting authority will honour the bounty and treat the outlawed Band as a Gang. The political fallout from continuing a working relationship with a band someone else has declared outlaw is just too great.
However, if an outlaw Gang can prove it's worth to Authority (perhaps even the same group that posted the bounty in the first place) then it's possible for the Gang to have it's bounty "bought out". Essentially, this allows a Gang to attain Crew status. Yet regaining Crew status once a band has been declared outlaw is neither common nor easy.
On Man-Hatin' island, groups considered part of the "Authority" include: large trading posts, major settlements, the Slaving Guilds, major caravan cartels (not including starting caravener Bands, which are strictly small fry), large religious groups and even organised crime. Just because a group is considered an Authority, it doesn't mean that group is exactly what could be termed upright and law-abiding themselves. To qualify as Authority, a group just has to have enough clout to make sure other, similarly powerful groups, listen to it's demands. The ultimate aim for many Bands -Crew and Gang alike- is to acquire sufficient power to become Authority themselves.
Once you've settled on whether you aim to play a Crew or a Gang, it's time to pick your faction. Some factions can begin the game as a Crew or a Gang as the player wishes. Certain factions must begin the game as one or the other, although it is possible to switch between Crew and Gang status several times during the course of the campaign. The faction you choose will decide what skills, equipment and even starting territories you fighters have access to when they begin the game. The list of available factions is as follows:
Alienists: Waco's and nut-jobs, Alienists are dedicated body and soul to the worship of one or more alien life forms. That life form might be a powerful mutant animal, a genetically engineered creature created in an Alienist lab or some horrible beast summoned from the outer dark (or so the Alienists claim at any rate). Alienists may begin play as Crews if they wish, but will almost certainly be declared outlaws and become a gang within their first few games (human sacrifice isn't generally tolerated by Authority. It's a waste of resources). Available skill groups: Savagery, Fighting, Stealth, Social.
Amazons: Amazons are all female bands of warrior women. Most Amazon bands consist of escaped slaves or female settlers who have lost all their men-folk to mutation, raiders or disease. Some are little better than Raider's themselves. Amazon bands may begin as Crews if the player wishes. However, most Amazon Bands upset the Authority simply by existing. The majority of Amazon Bands begins as Gangs. Amazons have access to the Survival, Stealth, Social and Agility skill groups.
Bikers: A sub-set of Raiders who favour bikes and other vehicles, Bikers are savage Raiders bound by their love of gas fumes and the open roads. Whether mere opportunists or true wasteland savages, they share something of a tribal outlook. Biker Bands have access to the Survival, Scavenging, Mechanical and Muscle skills.
Bugs: Mutant insect colonies plague the wastelands of Man-Hatin' Island. Desert loonies often claim that the Bug's are intelligent, but as those old coots are completely nuts, no-one listens to them anyway. Almost everyone knows -and believes- that bugs either feed captured humans to their young or else turn em into other bugs through some murky, misunderstood biological process. Bugs are always considered Gangs. Available Skill Groups : Fighting, Survival, Stealth, Agility
Bots: Rogue Bots are the scourge of the Wasteland. Most Bot bands are formed around a small core of Warbots obeying their final programming to hunt down and destroy recidivists and the enemy (alas, most normal folks look like recidivists to pre-crash Bots). Most surviving warbots have assembled a Band of reprogrammed maintenance, cleaning and household Bots to wage a war that never even began. Needless to say, starting Bot bands always begin as Gangs. Available skill groups include Robotics (obviously), Fighting, Shooting and Muscle.
Carvaners: Traders, merchants or couriers (and often all three) the Caravaners are experts at traversing the wastes, bring their goods to market. The vast majority of Caravaners are careful to keep on the right side (that being the good side) of Authority and begin play as Crews. A few specialise in black market dealings and the slave trade. These begin play as Gangs. Access to the Social, Agility, Scavenging and Shooting skill groups.
Mercs: Mercs are out to make money by fighting other people's battles. Hated and despised almost as much as the Raiders they are often hired to destroy, Merc's must walk a very fine line when choosing their contracts, lest the cross the wrong person and find themselves declared outlaw. Mercs begin the game as Crews. They have access to the Stealth, Muscle, Fighting and Shooting skill groups.
Muties: Muties are the irradiated outcasts of human society, driven from their communities to prevent furthercorruption of the gene-pool. Some few Mutie gangs begin the game as Crews, mostly because they are employed by a legitimate person or community to perform the dangerous tasks the humans consider themselves too good for. The vast majority of Mutie Bands begin the game as Gangs. Many Muties dream of acquiring crew status and a semi-respectable life. Even more dream of taking their revenge on humanity by killing and eating every last human alive.Mutie Bands have access to the Fighting, Survival, Scavenging and Savagery skill groups.
Natives: When the crash came, the people that coped best with the upheaval were members of the First Nations. Many First Nation tribes recalled their people to their old tribal reservations where they prospered. Some tribes allowed entry to outsiders. Many did not. Natives may begin play as a Crew or a Gang, depending more on whether the Band belongs to a tribe allied to Authority or one that has been declared "Renegade". Natives have access to Survival, Fighting, Scavenging and Stealth skills.
Nomads: Nomads, whether they favour travel by horse, mutant animal or motor vehicle, share the middle ground between Bikers and Road Warriors, being concerned with survival rather than conflict for it's own sake. They may begin play either as Crew or Gangs. Available skill groups include: Mechanics (or Agility), Survival, Scavenging and Shooting.
Raiders: Raiders are the most hated Bands in the Wastelands. Whether dabbling in slavery or simply a band of brutal, ravaging thugs led by a crazed madman with delusions of grandeur, Raiders are bad news for everyone around them. Easily the most feared inhabitants of the Wastes, they almost invariably either begin play as a Gang or else become one very quickly when their true nature becomes apparent. Usually after just a few games. Raiders have ready access to the Muscle, Fighting, Savagery and Mechanical skill groups.
Road Warriors: Nomads with a cause. Road Warrior bands roam the wastelands hiring themselves out as mercenaries or hunting down Raiders, Bikers and Scravers who prey on those who live upon the open road. Modern day knights, their motor vehicles are their mighty steeds of war. Road Warrior gangs form a core around one or two drivers with high quality vehicles, usually supported by a dedicated mechanical team. Most Road Warrior Bands begin play as Crews, but some have paid the price for taking on corrupt Authority figures and have been declared outlaw gangs. Road Warriors have access to the Mechanical, Social, Survival and Shooting skills.
Scravers: Inhabitants of the deepest subways, sewers and most polluted barrens, Scravers are exiles and the descendants of exiles. Not quite as depraved as Raiders nor as bestial as Muties, Scravers do their best to survive on the fringes of other communities. Though indulging in occasional acts of banditry and theft, Scravers are opportunists rather than dedicated bands of Raiders. Due to their wretched state, Scravers are often regarded with pity by Wastelanders and Road Warriors -right before they blow the Scravers brains out for trying to steal their stuff. Available skills: Survival, Scavenging, Stealth, Savagery.
Slavers: Specialists in non-lethal weapons, slavers do exactly what their name suggests: capture members of other bands and sell them into slavery. Although the Slavers Guild is part of the Authority, they don't like competition, so Slaver Bands always start out as Gangs. Available Skills: Stealth, Muscle, Fighting, Social
Supremacists: Whether preaching the genocide of Muties, Natives, Nomads, Bikers or even the rest ofmankind save themselves, all Supremacist Bands have three things in common: regimentation, a charismatic despot and a deep abiding hatred for everything (and everyone) different from themselves. Access to the Social, Savagery, Fighting and Shooting skill groups.
Technocrats: Technocrats are devoted to the location and preservation of tech for the betterment of mankind. Meaning they want to locate hi-tech items and lock them away so that other people can't use it to destroy the world again. Of course, Technocrats believe that there's nothing wrong with using hi-tech equipment themselves. Solely for the purpose of protecting their hidden caches from those who would abuse them, you understand? Technocrats can begin play as Crews or Gangs, but most begin (and remains as) Crews. At least until they find themselves presented with a chance to steal some lovely tech that they couldn't possibly pass-up. Technocrats have access to the Scavenging, Tech, Mechanical and Shooting skill groups.
Vaulters or Vault-Dwellers: Not all the people walking the wastelands today are descended from the survivors of the Crash. Others, called Vaulters, have survived for generations in underground bunkers. Bunkers that are beginning to fail. Vaulters are the most tech-savvy Bands around, but they completely lack wasteland survival skills and begin play with just a single territory. They are the preferred targets of Slavers, Raiders, Scravers and just about everyone else. Even technocrats have been known to kidnap Vaulters for their technical skills. Vault Dwellers always begin play as a Crew. They have access to the Social, Tech, Robotics and Shooting skills.
Wastelanders: Wastelanders are the ordinary people of the wastes, ranchers, settlers and factory workers just trying to make a living and feed their families. They often appear as referee controlled third parties in various scenarios but Wastelanders aren't afraid to fight to keep what little they've got and can be chosen as a Band, tied together by the bond of family. Wastelanders always begin play as a Crew, though cruel Authority (or desperate times) can sometimes result in a Wastelander family being declared outlaw. Especially if the Wastelanders find something valuable on their land. Available skill groups: Shooting, Survival, Social and Mechanical.
Zealots: Zealots believe in something greater than themselves and they believe in it something hard. Whether they call themselves Apostles of the Atom, Children of the Bomb or the True Church of the Risen Christ, they all have one thing in common: they're all bad shit insane. Most zealots begin play as Crews but it's only a matter of time before their wild beliefs force them into conflict with Authority. Available skill groups: Social, Savagery, Tech, Shooting
Zoners: Even on Man-Hatin' Island, there remain a few walled, gated communities called Pee-Zee's or "policed zones". PZ's are invariably inhabited by influential people with enough Caps to buy the loyalty and firepower of those less fortunate than themselves. A Zoner band represents the "Law Enforcement" and Security Personel of a P.Z's. By their very nature, Zoner Bands always begin play as Crews, though many are as brutal or corrupt as the Raiders they hunt. They have access to Social, Fighting, Shooting and Savagery skills.