For how long would pre-war stuff last?

Discussion in 'Fallout PnP (Pen and Paper)' started by Quartz, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. Quartz

    Quartz First time out of the vault

    Aug 6, 2019
    Hello, new here so correct me if I'm doing something wrong.

    I'm running a PnP campaign set on the fallout world, on 2253. Since my campaign is really open ended and the players have total freedom, economics play a big role. I figured out the prices for labour, transportation fuel and life costs and then the rest more or less can be deduced from here.
    Of course, pre-war objects play a very importanr role on the economy, but after two centuries most of these objects will be damaged or destroyed.
    So, my question is, what objects will have suffered and to what extent?

    For example, I'm asuming most plastic or rubber objects will be near useless. This includes washers, making almost anything that requires airtight seals need to be heavily restored to work. Wheels will barely hold pressure and be too hard and weak to work well. Lubricants will also be spoiled, and corrosion will have found its way into most metallic objects. Natural rubber is necessary to make new washers and wheels, so it becomes a very valuable import that must travel huge distances. To repair compressors or motors will require to carefully disasemble and clean it's entire inner surface, with some pieces requiring precission machining (something hard and expensive to achieve) to work properly. Thus, while the comercial value of a abandoned pre-war car might be naught, a working one will have it's price determined for the cost of it's restoration, including a lot of human labour.

    Thinking about all this yields interesting conclusions, and while it might be weird to say this about something set on the Fallout universe, with such an open game a certain level of realism is necessary to get consistency.

    So, what about weapons with polymer body? or wooden? or guns in general by that matter? would a couple centuries of corrosion destroy most unatended pre war weapons?

    What about housing? would most buildings be heavily damaged by centuries of neglect? (assuming the war didn't directly damage them)

    What about civil infraestructure? would parts of the grid be usable if a group of people puts the effort to restore a central, or would it be too damaged? Would transformers, towers and wires resist?
    And what about water pipes?

    What about agriculture? could we expect the land to still be apt for it after all this? maybe it will even be better after all? And would the heavily specialiced plants we use to feed the planet dissapear or become wild without humans? Would stored seeds be of any use?

    Would clothing be usable? I'm assuming most pre war clothing was destroyed or became incredibly uncomfortable, specially footwear, making good quality boots really valuable.

    Since by this time I assume most valuable pre-war stuff has been damaged or people already have enough of it, in my campaign I'm showing scavenging to be an old dying craft, where it's hard to earn a good living.

    What do you think?
  2. NukaCola42

    NukaCola42 First time out of the vault

    Aug 1, 2019

    I agree totally with you save for the bit about guns. If they were carefully cared for (and seeing as how the typical wastelander's life often depends on his weaponry, I assume they would clean it occasionally) guns, even old ones, can last very long. If you wish for proof, just go to youtube and look at the channel "Forgotten Weapons" and check some of the really old guns he covered, often dating back to the US civil war or earlier and see how well preserved many of those are, even though the production methods used (or the steel and wood used) were not to modern standards.

    I imagine that the most important question to ask is not: how long does stuff survive in the harsh, unforgiving wasteland? But rather: Where was the stuff stored? If it was in some kind of hermetically sealed bunker/Vault most things should actually still be fine.

    The other thing you should consider is: is there a relatively peaceful environment where you are? I assume (and did so for my own PNP) that there is new production, even factories, but mostly only in places like the NCR, where there is no Raider problem. Having to constantly fight other survivors would force a settlement to have most of their settlers involved in defense, thereby depleting the work force available.

    On the other hand, if you had a peaceful environment and a need to build infrastructure (like, oh, say: connecting the Angel's Boneyard in the south to your capital in the north) and you had a dedicated army patrolling the area (and maybe a large supply of captured raiders and other convicts) you could quickly (re)build roads and bridges. Concrete is relatively easy to make. In fact, many things we produce in factories in huge numbers, can be easily built by skilled craftsmen, and even quickly. But: it would be a one off, unique example of that thing.

    Last but not least: the world of Fallout has a drastically reduced population, compared to the world of Fallout before the Great War. So if 90% of a certain item went toes up and are totally useless now ... well, 90% of the human race (at least) went the same way and we're only slowly building up our population again. If things are well cared for, I guess there is still plenty, even without new production.
  3. NukaCola42

    NukaCola42 First time out of the vault

    Aug 1, 2019
    Add on: We see some huge farms in Fallout 2 (the Ghost farm for example). I assume that mutated corn and salad survived well and feed people quite well. Also, there are Brahmin ranches in F2 (and mentioned in NV), so that means that there is meat available, that has not been hunted. I don't think anyone but the really richest people will get fat, but there should be enough to eat in most settlements. (Unless there is a drought and your tribe really needs a GECK).
  4. Quartz

    Quartz First time out of the vault

    Aug 6, 2019
    Yeah, I'm taking into acount the stuff that has been kept by the survivors since the war, so there's plenty of guns for example. And yes, Forgotten Weapons has proven an invaluable resource to obtain inspiration and shake things up a bit in the guns department.

    Craftsmen are common on any semi peaceful zone and take on important roles, making nice clothing for well-off citizens, fixing cars (the campaign started around Wyoming, so I interpreted that in this zone vehicles and transportation would be very important, with many travelers and traders crossing the midwest and great distances between everything, and a lot of motorized bandits.) or forging and welding tools and structures, for example. However, what this craftsmen can do is limited by the stability and economy of the zone.
    A good machine shop allows to create new weapons and complex machines and pieces, but it requires specialized machinery and personnel. Same goes for industry in general.

    I assumed that some plants survived well and are able to be cultivated widely, however others are not, maybe becouse they were lost or becouse they were mutated/selected to become hard to cultivate. An interesting scenario that this leads to is some seeds or plants having a huge value (since someone had to travel really far or select them for generations to get them), so some people will go to any length imaginable to protect their hard earned monopoly and burn anything that could potentially house their stolen genetic patrimony.
    One of my players accepted a contract to investigate a vine theft and burn whoever's field it was taken to and salt the earth for good meassure, and taking the thief to justice. But in the end he couldn't bring himself to burn the fields of the peaceful comunity that bought the plants from the thief, even knowing that he would get in trouble with powerful people if word got out that they were cultivating this vines.

    Mostly what I wanted to know is ho age would affect different materials, and I understand that this will depend on exposure to the sun, humidity and temperature changes.

    Another thing that I would like to know if could resist the passing of time is electric insulation, specially from the coils in transformers and motors. If this could not be expected to survive then so much more stuff would need heavy restoration than I imagined. Pretty much any electrical or electronical machine would require full disasembly and cleaning, plus creating a fresh insulating material to apply to all the coils that will need to be manually winded back.
    And what about electrolytical capacitors?
    Also, would hydraulic hoses be of any use?
    What about pressurized cylinders, should we expect to find usable refrigerants or fuel at high pressure after all this?
    Would teflon hold up better than rubber?
  5. NukaCola42

    NukaCola42 First time out of the vault

    Aug 1, 2019
    As for the electrical stuff, I imagine most of the net would be down after 200 years of neglect ... even without the Great War. Just consider how many brown outs and total blackouts there are just because a large storm dropped a tree onto the wrong place. Even if you assume most of what is used was stored and cared for extremely well (in a Vault for example), the electrical "net" would be very decentralized. With every settlement that can afford one having their own generator (or every house having their own windmill or water wheel or whatever).

    I imagine the insulating materials would last a very long time. Especially if it's been protected from the elements a lot, which would apply to every wire that used to be in a house or under ground and that has since been either scrapped for raw material for new construction or simply dug out.

    As for the presurrized cylinders: some would survive I guess. A few, at least. There is a light bulb that has been burning for over 100 years with only two interruptions in California. Likewise, I would expect some fridges being able to work still after 200 years, if they had been properly rebuilt.

    Look at how many old, US manufactured cars are still running in Cuba, more than a half century after the embargo: Improvisation and "what doesn't fit will be worked on till it fits" would be the orders of the day for craftsmen in the Fallout universe.
  6. Quartz

    Quartz First time out of the vault

    Aug 6, 2019
    I've worked on industrial refrigeration, mostly fixing old stuff and other people's fuck-ups. I would expect a fridge to succesfully protect me at ground 0 before than to hold working pressure for a couple lifetimes. That said, I see we reach similar conclusions. When a cylinder is found, I assign it a pretty low chance of holding a % of pressure depending on where it's been and make a roll.

    However It'd be cool to be able to base this all in material science or experience rather than pure intuition.

    Thanks for your attention, btw.
  7. NukaCola42

    NukaCola42 First time out of the vault

    Aug 1, 2019
    You're welcome to my attention. As for the material science, even if you found a study checking this, it wouldn't necessarily apply, since the world of Fallout has different factors going on. Also, the first appliances really mass produced and distributed on a large scale, were really over engineered and held for really long times afterwards. I remind you of the Fallout 1 intro and it's boast on the Chryslus Highwayman: No electronics.

    While this is hardly proof of anything, I wouldn't be surprised if that fact (and the fact that the TV playing this commercial is still working), are kind of hints into the direction that in the world of Fallout, we never got to the point where all appliances have a lifetime of ten or twenty years max built into them.

    As for my attention, I asked myself a lot of the same questions when I wrote my own Fallout PnP. It's nice to see I'm not the only one thinking in this direction :D
  8. Quartz

    Quartz First time out of the vault

    Aug 6, 2019
    Yes, one must not forget the RETROfuturistic nature of this world, pre-war americans weren't very concerned with eficiency or cutting corners, things were done to last.
    In fact some electronics had internal stand alone micro fusion cells capable of powering them for centuries. On their time, an excesive flex product of an economy boosted by the marvels of fusion, but proven actually useful on the post apocalypsis.
  9. NukaCola42

    NukaCola42 First time out of the vault

    Aug 1, 2019
    Indeed. Hence my assumption (both here and in my own PNP system) that many things and even many factories (since the production tools would be built to the same standards) should be able to survive. If not perfectly, at least partly (roof collapsed on the building, for example ... but some masonry work and cleaning and removing rust and most of the tooling is working again, if one can power it, at least).

    Same for information: you don't have to be a doctor trained by the Shi or by Vault-City. Just look at all the medical books each doctor has in their office. Just stumbling across a small town doctor's office in which just a tenth of the books are not burned down would be a treasure trove of information.