Wasteland: A Landmark of RPG Innovations

Prologue

Excerpt from a tattered, burnt journal found in the wasteland:

Geez, what a battle. Finally we had a chance to rest. With Ugly John's hideout cleared and his carcass in the corner, we chose watch and set up a fire. Yes, we're lighting a fire indoors. It's okay--the extinguishers don't work. Only a fool would camp outside anyway; it attracts the attention of the mutated scum and vermin that's born of nuclear disasters and world wars. Attracting attention is the last thing we want to do, considering all the booty we got from Ugly John's safe.

I can tell what you're thinking... you think we're bandits, right? Vigilantes? Punks? We're not. We're the best chance this radiated world has left to restore order. We're Desert Rangers, formed by what was left of the armed forces after the war, and trust me when I tell you the armed forces don't have much of a budget left after fighting World War Three.

I checked the clip in my AK again. 12 rounds left... crap. The fight with Ugly John had taken way too long to finish, and with only two clips left, I couldn't afford to be wasteful. Should've used a grenade to take out those lackys first... or plastic explosives, maybe. Anything with enough of a blast radius. Firing controlled bursts into a group of people hit more than one person sometimes, but it wasn't guaranteed. "Single shots only," Chunk had said. "You'll need your ammo to save you when you least expect it."

Yeah, well, Chunk has decent aim, unlike the rest of us. I get lucky with a lot of shots, which is why they call me Lucky. But I don't feel so lucky when we can't help people. Like the Mayor's wife, who Ugly John booby-trapped with a stick of TNT to use as a bargaining chip to get out of Quartz alive. It didn't work; nobody negotiates with the Desert Rangers. We never negotiate--we don't need to. Our guns do the negotiating.

Tell that to the Mayor's wife, who got ripped into a scarlet side of meat when Kylie tried to defuse the bomb. Stupid Kylie... I always thought she'd get herself killed, and this time she almost did. She's unconcious, but she'll recover, thanks to the Kevlar vest we found a few miles back. Still, she's useless until she wakes up.

The Mayor of Quartz wants to join us now. "Without my wife, I've got nothing to live for," he sobbed earlier, "so I might as well die trying to rid the world of people like him." We're letting him tag along for now because we feel bad for him. Actually, I lied; we're letting him tag along because he can carry extra ammo and explosives when our packs get full. And if his skills don't improve quickly, we'll have to let him go. Hey, it's a harsh world. We've got harsh management skills.

Chunk is in the corner reading a book he found earlier. I don't know why he holds onto those things... they're mostly useless in the wasteland. But then again, Chunk was cut from a different cloth than the rest of us. When we met him, we didn't know whether to run or fight; he doesn't exactly have what you'd call "charisma". One of the few radiated births that survived, Chunk had mutated into a hulking, distorted figure long before he left the womb. But for what he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in strength and intelligence. He's the only one in the party, for example, that has cyborg tech and electronics repair knowledge and can beat somebody into ground round with only his fists and his pugilism. The brawling skills come from years in the wasteland, but I have no idea how he learned the electronic skills--certainly not from any book I've seen him read.

The rest of the party is sleeping, trying to restore what little constitution they have. Vlad is our Russian artillery weapons expert; he can punch a hole in almost anything if you give him a LAW and a shoulder-mounted launcher. Man, he's built! He barely gives when the rocket kicks back. Then there's Kylie, who has lots of spirit and initiative, but never looks before she leaps. She's pretty good with an Uzi, but her best asset is her speed and agility. She's always the first to move in a fight, and she rarely gets hit. Only problem is, she relies on that to save her during one of her boneheaded maneuvers. I swear, one of these days she's going to get herself killed... Doc was a field medic in WW3. He's pretty good at patching people up, but he doesn't have very many fighting skills other than army standard issue pistols and knifes. We usually stand in front of him during a fight. I don't like being a human shield, but we need to keep him alive so that he can keep us alive.

We're heading to New Las Vegas tomorrow. My luck has helped me build up quite a gambling skill, so we're hoping that I can turn our $2,000 into $20,000 for more weapons. No pressure, eh? We've also heard rumors about metal machines that patrol the streets, firing high-powered ammo at anything that moves. I don't believe it for a bit--most rumors are started by bums and hobos with nothing better to do. Chunk still listens to them intently, but I don't see why. You can't trust anyone addicted to snake squeezins.

Snake squeezins... man, that stuff'll kill you.

Continued: Introduction

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