Phoenix Project - The Next Generation
The Forbidden Lands are a roving region of true wasteland running from northern Wyoming to northern New Mexico, skirting the barren foot of the Big Rocks to the glowing dune seas of the Burning Lands. What was once a major meeting place of highways connecting the American east and west suffered badly from the nuclear exchange (legendary places such as No Rad are in this region), but the roads remain and thus life continues to eke out an awful existence within.
The people who live here comprise a variety of mutants, both peaceful and savage. In the north, towards the Deserts of Nowhere, the broad open roadways of the south vanish and turn into dry dusty deserts where mere footfalls can kick up clouds of choking dust visible for a mile or more. Sandstorms sweep this region, striking down into the southern reaches of the Forbidden Lands at times with the whipping fury of mountain winds coming in from the Big Rocks. Savages dwell here, often in nomadic villages but sometimes in the ruins of old towns, or hollowing out caves from underground water ducts crisscrossing the Forbidden Lands. Some are simple and primitive and yet peaceful; others are savages of the truest sense – cannibals and trophy-takers.
The middle and southern reaches of the Forbidden Lands, however, are home to an irregular collection of struggling and dying communities of all shapes and sizes. Many comprise entire populations of refugees and survivors from other long-dead communities, having wandered the region for generations from home to home. Others are the descendants of survivors who found a place after the Fall and clung stubbornly, violently to their own little place despite years of raider attacks and visits by disease-carrying outsiders and merchants. Xenophobes are commonplace here; hospitality is almost non-existent.
Walled towns and small defensible villages appear every ten to thirty miles here, but their isolation and bitterness against one another – and the raiders that infest the wasteland – have made this an ugly, cold, and heartless region. Though individual communities often have their own laws and customs to protect their own, outsiders are as good as dead in almost every corner of the Forbidden Lands.
Some few trade settlements do exist in the Forbidden Lands, but these are invariably temporary things set up by visitors from the Far Desert (the Cartel are the only real group to explore trade here), and offer only limited goods. Others are spontaneous creations, where gangs and refugees come together and make “tent cities” where anything can be had – old broken vehicles, parts, scavenged goods, and perhaps locally-grown herbs and medicines. Refugee fathers often travel great distances to sell their daughters at such desert bazaars, while others come just to watch the brutal gladiatorial fights pitted for the entertainment of the crowds (usually part of a scheme to perpetuate the settlement; bored visitors will soon leave, drying up the town completely in a matter of days).
Travel here is unsafe and unsure. Raiders roam in large bands, declaring one part of the region or another their own and brutally murdering those who do not pay tolls or pay proper respect. Those that give wayfarers even a chance are rare; most bands, such as the infamous “Ravagers”, simply take what they want when they find it, and leave no survivors. Even the various “civilized” communes every now and then partake of piracy and raiding, and lone or weak-looking travelers are fair game to one and all. Refuge is a great privilege.
The Forbidden Lands are home to various groups, not all of which cling to civilization as one might expect. Ghouls are known in the region of Ember, while Sandmen are near-legendary as “boogiemen” who live under the very sands of the desert in forgotten water conduits and pipeline crisscrossing the Forbidden Lands like secret passages. Entire communities have been known to disappear in a single night’s time due to the mining of Sand Men beneath their walls, emerging in savage packs to carry off women and children to their underground warrens. Other creatures, such as Snoffle Hogs and Othydonts, also roam the Forbidden Lands in loose groups, but the large numbers seen elsewhere (such as the Deserts of Nowhere) are uncommon at best in the Forbidden Lands.
It is not uncommon for lone travelers striking off the known paths and highways to literally “fall through” the sand and into here-to-fore-unknown abysses of darkness and ruin. Old towns and rural water reservoirs dotting the Forbidden Lands have long been buried, and now and again someone will literally stumble upon them by dropping in. Most of these surprising places are empty, haunting reminders of what once was a desolate place even in the time of the Ancients; others have since become home to strange creatures angry at outside intrusion…