Here are the primary factions and peoples involved in and around fair Bravado, where we set our scene…
The Railroad Commission
Built on the ruins the settlement that came before it, Bravado, - a name kept only out of habit, looks wholly different now. What started as a work camp owned by the Railroad Commission - has swelled in recent months to the size of a small town. Survivors of the Second Stampede can tell you that after the town burned, and after the ground rose up to meet them, and after fires undying finally flagged and failed - what was left was open ground and raw earth and the pale and perfect edifice of an ancient structure holding the promise of exploration and discovery. Survivors come, seeking safety and work under the protection of the Commission, which is happy to profit off the desperate - either through the grueling labor of maintaining the railways - or the dangerous and often lethal exploration of the caverns below the town. A practice referred to as “delving” and the purpose of which is to find artifacts, rare metals and information to be shipped back down the line to Essex.
To the north The Conglomerate has risen, a collection of ancient Digitarian dynasties who have reasserted power in the wake of the Uprising. Old money and older infrastructure keep these blooded technocrats in their seats. Behind their mirrored shades and imposing glass doors they machinate and mingle, their influence growing and keenly focused on Bravado. They have lately shifted their field research facilities to the town of Waking, the better to be on hand for obtaining any advantageous technology to emerge from the Railroad Commission’s burgeoning dig sites. To leverage their access, they masterminded “The Ox” for the Railroad Commission. An iron horse larger than ten caravans mounted on steel rails, it is the gestalt amalgamation of a dozen derelict trains, construction vehicles and the engine of a single downed jet plane, The Ox rockets across the blastlands at breakneck, ludicrous speed between the cities of Essex and the untamed badlands around the new town now christened Bravado. Those who alight from it for the first time are called “Dusters”, for the thin film of light dust clinging to their clothing.
The Tribes Disparate
The Great Burn destroyed more than lives, it struck deep into the heart of a culture. Thousands of displaced peoples starved, died, were reborn and remade in the image of pain and fire. Hundreds of small tribes roam the Lonestar, each possessing its own small, hastily pieced together culture and traditions. Largely itinerant the Tribes Disparate possess varying goals and systems of belief. Some are raider bands, some upstanding whitehats - most occupy a moral gray space reserved for those who are simply trying to survive in the wastes. The Antler Tribe stirs and flexes, the tribes under their rule compete for prestige and favor.
The Grave Council
Beyond the blastlands, the scorched and black earth that was once the oil fields, the ground still burns. Past the brimstone wastes lies the Dead Marches and therein the homeland of the Imixin peoples - sequestered behind a wall of fire that creeps steadily towards them with each passing year. The Necropolis has grown in isolation. Full Dead, Retrogrades, Remnants and more recently, Unstable and Semper Morts, brave the fires to find a utopia for the decayed, the uncanny or the sickly. The Grave Council, a summation of strains focused on the advancement of their peoples, accepts all newcomers - but is quickly running out of room. Takheeta Firstborn, the Unborn Mystagog, leads a cabinet of war leaders, politicians and merchants who serve as advisors but hardly equals. They crave a homeland, a place uncramped and ringed in promise rather than fire. The Grave Council has an interest in Bravado - in the geography of the place and the resources it represents. The GC is contracted with the Railroad Commission to maintain the various morgues through which it cycles its workers.
Whether they travel by foot, ship, or rubber, the Junkerpunks are the most pervasive merchant faction in the greater Lone Star area post-Stampede. What started as a Saltwise mercantile armada has expanded inland, with itinerant Rover bands, Diesel Jock clans, and even a handful of Red Star communes now operating under their logistical umbrella. Junkerpunks are bound together by the shared purpose of creating a self-sufficient, prosperous civilization atop the flotsam of the past. While they do trade with the Bravado work camps, they are functionally in competition with the Railroad Commission for control of commercial trade in the Lone Star. The docks on the shores of Bravado Lake, where they make their landing after traveling up the labyrinthine waterways from the Clutch, are somewhat cheekily named the Punkerport.
Our Good Home for the Peregrine and Penalized:
Prudence Penitentiary aka Killhouse Prison
Wasteland justice has a new veneer, plastered over the same old violence and brutality. The Railroad Commission trucks in artifacts and individuals in equal parts, and they have no patience for those who disturb their profits. Those who society judges ‘dangerous’ largely end up under the care of Warden Tabitha St. Mercy, matron of “Our Good Home for the Peregrine and Penalized: Prudence Penitentiary” more commonly known as “Killhouse Prison”. With the Prison nearby, society’s castaways are melted down and cast into new and useful shapes. The prison has its own economy of sweat and blood, and if rumors leak out of strange experiments and horrendous gang wars, then law-abiding citizens are reassured the Warden has things well in hand. After all, prison is not meant to be a nice place, and criminals must pay the price for their crimes, right?
The Lovelace Family | Quiet Folk Community
Rebuilding a community starts from the ground up… literally. Corrupted soil comprises the once-fertile agricultural fields ringing the deep irradiated water-filled crater once called Bravo. Here, outside the bustle of the dig camps, roam mutated creatures grazing far from their broken enclosures - and hardworking simple folk who are determined to see it all flourish with abundance once more. It’s hard to say whether the Lovelace family and their multitudinous kin moved into the area shortly after the Hiway War… or if they’d been here all along. Either way, they make for quiet, conscientious neighbors, happy to show up with a fresh baked pie at a new homestead, help with local construction projects, or share in a bit of friendly chit-chat.
Lonestar Widows and Children’s Fund
Good communities take care of each other. Under the weight of grief and tragedy, the Widows are a quiet but formidable force bringing mercy to those who need it most. Individuals who seek to ‘take the black veil’ transform their own pain and suffering into opportunities for serving a greater purpose and anyone who seeks sanctuary with the Widows is given it… on their own terms. Look for the quiet ones, the helpers. Donations are always welcome.
Hermits of Helios | Prophets of Aphelion
The Hermits of Helios are transfixed with the adaptation of the self to understand and survive the evolution of earthly and natural adversity. They look toward the Sun in its Deadly and Life-giving Radiance, acknowledging this dichotomy as allegorical. A reminder that humanity has endured through calamity, analogous to Night, and evolved to not simply survive, but thrive in it's new Day.
The Prophets of Aphelion are a splinter and balance to the Hermits. While they respect the importance and divinity of evolution as it occurs under the oppressive gaze of the sun, they are keenly aware and specifically preoccupied with adaptation to adversity posed by societal and institutional circumstances. To this end, their oblations and rituals revolve around the introduction of adverse stimuli so as to provide humanity the opportunity to grow stronger reactively.
Law Dogs | Hell Hounds
There is no law in the Workcamps - a privatized entity uses privatized enforcement. These bounty hunters serve no single master but hold distinct contracts to the Railroad Commission, Killhouse Prison, and occasionally the Grave Council - paid by the head to enforce their Standards of Practice. The weight of their jurisdiction lies in their ability to enforce. Law Dogs that are authorized to use lethal force are referred to as Hell Hounds.