I was thinking about the post-apocalyptic and post-disaster stories that I’ve read, seen, or even heard about over my lifetime. One thing has struck me as odd. In most of these scenarios, the majority of humanity are self-centered, destructive, untrustworthy, blatantly cruel bastards. It’s like the only ‘good’ humans are those that are put in the protagonist roles, but you don’t always know why they’ve retained a loyalty to their fellow man. For example, I’ve been told that the most dangerous thing in ‘The Walking Dead’ is another human and not the walkers. Really? That’s just a rule? Why is it that these stories rarely have a community working together or groups doing what they can to selflessly help others?
I can only think of one story that I’ve read where that happened and even that had ‘bad humans’ along the way:
Now I do agree that you will have users, killers, and evil people running around in such a lawless world. Yet, it always feels like that’s the majority in these places. So I tried to make things a little different for the Shattered States. I already mentioned the Guardians, but they were for animals instead of humans. They led me to think up a few groups that put humanity first and have created systems to help people.
These are robed men and women who are dedicated to preserving the knowledge of the country. They rescue books that are returned to one of there heavily guarded repositories and schools. A librarian has also been trained since birth to have a detailed memory, write clear shorthand, and other skills that allow them to gather new stories. Most people know that they carry nothing worth stealing and are good in a fight if provoked. Though they have a vow to never kill intentionally, but accidents happen. Gangs that have territories near repositories have been known to send members who are young and smart to become Librarians. This is because it’s always useful to have a contact with access to knowledge.
This isn’t really a group, but many doctors and nurses across the country have maintained hospitals. Since the Shattered States works off trade, they get supplies in return for tending to sick and injured. There isn’t a real training situation here, but orphans and those who simply want to help are always taken on to help. Like the Librarians and other benevolent groups, most people know not to cause trouble here. If you have a broken leg or the flu then you don’t want your doctor to be someone you beat up the week before. Not that these people will let you die, but they might not do anything to relieve your fear. That and they might only have enough anesthesia for half a dose.
I believe they get mentioned in Crossing Bedlam, but they rarely come into physical play. When the country went down, teams of Engineers took over the dams, power plants, and other infrastructure pieces. Some did it for influence over the surrounding area, but most did it to keep various systems going. Specifically, keeping things powered. They have even developed various batteries, which they trade for food, clothing, and other supplies that they can’t make themselves. They have also been known to recruit people, usually children, who show a talent for engineering or even an interest. Unlike the doctors and librarians, Engineers are not always kind and friendly. There is no bedside manner or social skills needed for their trade, so some are rather gruff and blunt with strangers.
Even outside of these three groups, you can find individuals who are dedicated to helping people for a small price. Mechanics and guides are prized as well as anyone who knows how to cook. Guess there are those who work the oldest profession too.