The Post Apocalypse Game

So I was going to do an article about one of the earlier bits of information you learn about in Geist Wars that explains the story involving Cedar City takes place in the future. Namely after an apocalypse caused by the Geist Wars. But seeing as how I explained all that in these first few sentences it kinda expanded into a full article so here we go!

So first off, there is pretty much nobody who doesn’t know what a post apocalypse series is so let’s just gloss over it from the onset. Post apocalypse is, as the name implies, a story that takes place after an apocalypse of some kind. They come in many wholesome flavors. From the ruined earth ruled by Zombies in Walking Dead, to the nuclear wastelands and deserts of Mad Max, over the flooded world of…well…Water World, past the robot overlords of Terminator, next door to the frozen planet of Snowpiercer, and around to corner from…every Cosmic Horror thing ever forever and always. There is an apocalypse for every fan of the world ending on glorious and often horrific fashion. For better or worse there are tons of them. But while we could say that makes them overdone and over saturated, and to an extent that may be true, but that’d be like saying there are too many Super Hero comics. There’s tons of them so at least one is bound to tickle your fancy and all could in theory bring in their own interesting spins.

The threats can usually be the same across the board (zombies, robots, eldritch abominations, or roving bands of angry leather bikers straight out of Fist of the North Star for example) but one of the strengths of the post apocalypse genre is that it focuses on the characters. Namely how they interact and survive in the ever changing world. Usually involving things like loss of humanity from having to become a colder and more unforgiving person, not falling to despair or going insane, and a journey to find a permanent and safer home. A good example of this would be the Walking Dead that follows Rick and his gang (and occasionally other characters not part of the group but relevant to the plot) and how they interact and survive. Will they find a permanent home? Are they able to trust the supposed safe haven? Is there a cure? Who’s the real father of baby Judith and does it even matter? It’s usually a more intimate take on writing in that the plot kinda takes second place to the everyday lives of these characters survival. There’s a lot of mystery to what caused their predicament and you just go with what the characters know. Unfortunately that is also a weak point. It’s good to watch the character develop but the mystery in question is often never actually answered and you can sometimes see the way the plot line bends. Group finds place, group questions if its safe, group makes place safe, group lives there awhile, somebody fucks up, people die, place is overrun, group flees, and repeat process while sometimes adding secondary group that seems good but is actually villains. It by no means makes the things that do this especially bad but it does make them repetitive.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the After the End stories that have a more direct cause like robot take over or alien invasion. These it tries to mix in the character focused traits of the post apocalypse genre but also gives you a central threat that leads the plot. The characters are almost always guaranteed to be some type of rebels fighting against the overlords for their own survival or even the survival of the entire species. While these try to focus on both the plot is usually the more important thing. Sure we care about John Connor in Terminator but we really care more about if he can stop the time travel plans of Skynet. As you can guess, these tend to be more sci-fi focused and less supernatural, viral, or overt disaster. Unlike ones like zombie apocalypse or some supernatural or cosmic horror thing, the heroes tend to know exactly what’s going on (note there are some zombie apocalypses like the Resident Evil films where they know the cause of the zombies and try to deal with them as a central threat like the robots/alien overlords). The Robots went all genocidal maniacs or the Aliens happen to be huge monsters cackling manically in their throne while twirling their evil space mustaches. Overall these plots tend to be more warlike and less outright survival though they’ll sometimes reference it or show it to a much lesser extent of the other side of the spectrum where the zombies roam. These stories can have a legitimate ending but since I’m unfun and have to bring up the flaws in things I’ll just toss out that how they end it can be where the problem comes in. Namely when you apply logic to some situations. Why is a deadly robot killer like the Terminator able to just be destroyed by a press? How would they have stopped the T-2000 if the original T-800 never went good? Cheat questions because these get answered but are problematic. The T-800 are explained to be shoddily made by Skynet standards so they can be mass produced. This would explain their physical weakness at times and how easy they are to be hacked. Skynet spared no expense and made sure to cut corners like Hammond did just for the result they wanted. But this is information given outside of the films so for first time viewers it might be noticeable holes. But even if they did it can start to lean into plot convenience with how they sort out some issues.

In the middle of the mysterious unknown causes and character centric viral post apocalypses and the known invaders/overlords of the superior technology lays the natural, nuclear, dystopian, and implied. In the post apocalypse stories where the end of the world is caused by environmental or nuclear causes it goes back to the focus on characters and survival. But at the same time the threat is also focused on a human level. The “villains” are often times also survivors who happen to be crazy, enforce their own laws, embraced the new world order, or just happens to be on the opposite side of the fence as the heroes. Take Mad Max for example. The story almost always starts with Max just surviving, some crazy dude starts to cause trouble, he’s thrown into a plot where he has to deal with the mad gang ruler. At least that’s the broad stroke of it. Visually these things usually are wasteland, desert, or your elemental fallout of choice environments. Unlike the last two where many know what the world was like before the end, in this there will sometimes be only a few characters who are kinda treated like sages. The elders who knew the world that once was. The things that are modern and normal for us will often be treated like how we treat the ancient Egyptians. Mysterious relics of the past we may or may never have any idea how to understand. Theses can mix in the survival focus and plot focus to good measure because here, the humans are the monsters so the plot and their story of survival will often intersect.

Dystopian and implied are two rather interesting ones. Dystopia is the opposite of utopia and has the world rebuilt and under the rule of a not so benevolent government. In this the world has ended at some point before the story and you’re focusing on the new civilization that’s been built after the whole Mad Max period ended. Judge Dredd takes place in Mega-City One and you can guess the condition outside the city walls. Or not, the movie shows you it’s a barren wasteland with cannibal cyborgs. The comic books show that mutants also live out there as well. In this it’s not so much about survival but often a plot involving how do the main characters deal with the oppressive government. Implied can be a really interesting twist like when used in Adventure Time. In that we just see the whimsical and colorful locations like the Candy Kingdom, Ice Kingdom, and Fire Kingdom with little hints of the old world. Then BAM, Mushroom War aka Nuclear War that ended the world and gets shown off at multiple points in the story. In this it’s kinda like a dystopian story in that the plot takes place after the world has long since ended but the old world ending isn’t really a huge plot point and can almost entirely be glossed over. It becomes a fun fact to whatever plots and stories the writers want to show.

Swinging all the way back to the beginning of the article, this is where we get back to how there are tons of stories that do the genres and where Geist Wars falls in the rainbow of post apocalypses and the fun fact portion of this little essay. Originally, Geist Wars didn’t have any post apocalypse elements. For those who didn’t read that fun fact post, Geist Wars was originally going to be a mmo story and only one timeline actually involved an apocalypse style scenario (you’ll get to see this timeline later). But as I wrote Geist Wars and expanded on each of the major events and timelines, it just naturally fit that Cedar City was in a type of dystopia. But it’s not really an overwhelming dystopia and the whole ruined earth parts are implied and referenced but I wanted to not actually show it. Hell, it’s even in Australia so you must wonder is the desert part of the war or is it just from being in Australia?

With all the different ways to do a story that takes place after the end only one truth remains. It will almost always be depressing and lots of things will die without warning because no hope is allowed. Unless there’s time travel…then you just get to enjoy time travel shenanigans and who doesn’t love those?


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