America’s all very well if you like freeways, giant ants, deserts and gun-wielding crazy people by the dozen but sometimes you might be after something a little more low key or you might simply wish to escape the balkanised Rock n’ Roll hell that is the disunited states. If you don’t want to stray too far from your home culture you might brave the glowing mists and mut0-sharks of the Atlantic and head for jolly Old Blighty.
Post Apocalyptic UK
Britain has a bit of a history of post-apocalyptic stories and they tend to be darker, more low-key and understated than the US post-apocalyptic ‘lore’. That’s not to say that it’s any less strange in its own way what with triffids, mind controlling aliens, plagues, kids taking over and a hundred other odd things. It just tends to be more about creeping doom and the breakdown of civilisation, the decline of social order, rather than – necessarily – big explosion and hotrods.
Keep calm and carry on, blitz spirit, stiff upper lip, surreal, strange, odd, tea and crumpets, deference, stubborn civilisation, mad dogs and Englishmen.
Britain in ’45: Psychobilly Retropocalypse
Britain was heavily targeted by the revenge weapons of Nazi Germany and the atomic bombers of the Soviet Union. As such blighty took a bit of a battering and was cut off from its Empire, now lost, about which little is known. Fortunately(?) it was the more populated and urban areas that were most heavily targeted and so the population was decreased enough that the loss of imports did not make things any more miserable than they were already. Since the bombs fell Britain has been divided and has struggled to maintain some sort of order and civilisation between the different factions who, relatively unwilling to fight each other, have settled into a stalemate.
Where America was ravaged, Britain has been made ‘odd’. Lapses in reality, strange portals, strange life, mutants, oddness. The country has become strange and unpredictable, directions, gravity, colour, light, nothing properly obeys the ‘known’ laws of physics and the Radar Shielded areas are the only ones that remain safe.
England took the heaviest hits in the war with the majority of its cities having been blown to kingdom come. The cities are now shattered hulks, filled with mutant rats, cats, dogs and pigeons and the odd scavenger and survivor – most of whom were just too stubborn to leave, no matter what.
London in particular was heavily hit, over and again. Other than the buildings protected by by Radar Shield (an application of electromagnetic technology) the city is practically levelled. A glowing husk. On the surface only governmental, military and royal buildings survive unscathed, most particularly the grand offices of The Ministry. Otherwise most survivors are mutated ‘trogs’. Gangs of albino Teddy Boys and other ne’er-do-wells, occupying the sewers and the underground.
The countryside is relatively untouched, though it suffered the worst of the fallout. This has been both a blessing and a curse as strange mutated animals and plants are found everywhere and you can’t really be sure what (or who) you’re eating or what effect it will have on you. Despite all that the English still consider themselves the rulers of Britain – and the Empire (whatever has happened to it) and stubbornly refuse to admit that their country has been gutted, employing caches of military and Ministry technology to hold the line against their detractors.
Wales was spared any direct hits but a huge cloud of fallout settled over it as it drifted away from ravaged England. Wales is now a glowing, hilly country, suffering under a near constant rain of glowing radioactive particles, different rain showers in different colours. This contaminated water pools in rivers and lakes and distorts reality in strange ways as well as mutating the wildlife. Most especially the sheep who have turned out to be quite sensitive to mutagenics. Rapid evolution over not that many lambing seasons has pulled the sheep up by their bootstraps turning them giant… and dangerous. Being a Shepard is not the easy job it once was.
Scotland, like Wales, was largely untouched, mostly because there isn’t much worth blowing up in Scotland once you’re done with Glasgow. Nominally independent Scotland is a hotbed of Republic support, overrun with clannish gangs of cannibals who, while relatively polite about it, are almost impossible to understand. Scotland’s cities – bar Glasgow – remain relatively intact though the strange fallout that afflicts Wales has also afflicted Scotland, leading to a strange profusion of dimensional distortions and oddities across the Highlands.
Northern Ireland was barely hit but the Irish – what is left of them – took the opportunity to grab hold of Northern Ireland and Britain was glad to be shot of the whole mess and to deal with its own problems. Northern Ireland is now reunited with Southern Ireland and it’s their problem – something that it is proving to be as those who don’t want to be part of Ireland are now in the underdog position.
The Ministry is what remains of the British civil service and controls what remains of the police force and other civic services as well as the machinery of government – even if it doesn’t have that much to preside over any more. Elected governments are only over the surface rulers of Britain, the true rulers have always been found in Whitehall, persisting despite the vagueries of the electoral system.
The Ministry has reorganised after the war, Departments A-Z, each taking responsibility for a strange variety of things that seem to fall, at least loosely, under that letter. The Ministry is presided over by an experimental computer running out of Bletchley Park. TARQUIN – nobody seems to know what the acronym stands for since Turing’s death. This is an artificial intelligence and it has a ‘plan’, even though it doesn’t seem to make much sense The Ministry has decided to follow its computed orders as efficiently and briskly as possible.
The Republic is made up of those elements who have rejected the pre-war government and the monarchy and struck out for independence. Most of The Republic is to be found in Scotland and Wales but they have made some inroads into the North of England before the opposing sides have ground to a halt.
The Crown is those parts of the pre-war government – outside The Ministry – that survive, along with the survivors from the Royal Family. More loyal than sensible they are determined to keep England united and to explore to find out what happened to The Commonwealth and the Empire. More aggressive than The Republic, The Crown is determined and has a great deal of hardware – for now – though it concentrates too much on living on what’s left of the old, rather than trying to make the new.