Bitter Season originally ran from 2008 - 2009. One of the three moderators decided to revisit the concept. Most of the content you're reading now was co-written by Ley S. who sadly does not have an InsaneJournal account any more.
WHAT'S LIFE LIKE NOW?
In England, London is all that remains. Scarcely habitable, sustainable only with the overwhelming use of technology and inorganically-produced resources. Those luckier souls, those families capable of maintaining their wealth even in the face of the war or those the World Government has deemed worthy, maintain much more comfortable abodes in the city centers. These are protected by a massive wall from the swirling sandstorms and strange beasts that roam everything beyond.
If you are so lucky as to live in the city, the World Government will protect you. There are cameras and sensors all throughout each city; rarely a place is found without one, and in such a case, there's more men in black suits than you can count on both hands. They will monitor all your activity and assure you are not involved in any unlawful activities, but so long as you are a good person and behave you can live your life as you will. Those who act questionably disappear. Some disappear anyway.
But inequality runs rampant even now. If you live outside of the Clean Zones -- the most cherished parts of the city -- you're either a Slummer or a Wallclinger. You may leave, and easily, but once you leave the city walls you are no longer under the protection of the World Government and thus are on your own. Some small villages may be scattered throughout the land, but they are inhabited by vicious Raiders and the even more savage mutated humans and animals. Very rare is it to come across a friendly face beyond the cities. Good luck.
WHERE DOES THE FOOD COME FROM?
Hey, the World Government put a lot of thought into this. Almost all farming is done within the Working and Lower class districts, where there's more room to put down soil and such. Some food is brought in through trades with other cities beyond the wall, but in order to remain self-sustaining, most of it comes directly from London. Of course, all of it goes through the World Government and the Upper classes before it eventually finds its way back to the people who did the actual work. But, you know, it's totally a fair trade.
WHAT'S TRAVELING LIKE?
Within Europe, a railway system has been installed to each of the remaining inhabitable cities. Still prone to attacks from villains and mutates, it is nevertheless a fairly safe means to travel and the government endorses its use. Traveling by plane or ship is all but entirely banned in the world. In order to travel across seas, one must first procure government clearance -- something not granted on a mere whim.
BEYOND THE WALL.
Something reflective of civilization is maintained independently just beyond the city walls. Technology is sold from the cities outward, though the more desperate will perform raids regularly on those in the city, as well as fellow outsiders. Without regular maintenance, buildings are crumbling and many are dilapidated. At least they don't have to pay rent.
Those living on the wall are often called Wallclingers. Beyond them, there are many travelers who move from city to city. Vagabonds who manage to keep themselves within the World Government's good graces enough to do so. There is also a population of the more questionable, thieves and scoundrels who attack fellow wanderers -- you'd call them Degenerates or Raiders. The World Government refuses to give them such lofty titles; instead, they are simply Undesirables.
And then, of course, there are the Mutants. Humans and animals alike, deformed and poisoned by the nuclear arms released so many years ago. Maddened by their mutations, they often further mutilate their bodies in an attempt to endure their insanity. Some bear enhanced physical attributes, but all are dangerous.
Perhaps some aspect of karma, much of those countries most involved in the conflicts of the war have become literal wastelands. They are absolutely uninhabitable, even by the Mutants, and are little more than scorched ash and sludge even now, a hundred years after the War. Radiation poisoning remains a danger of entering these areas, which are clearly marked by the government.
Countries considered total wastelands are the United States and North Korea, with South Korea by extension. Eastern Asia is gone, as is southern and western Canada.
Many tropical areas have been chosen as protected zones, as they contain what little remains of plant life. This includes all of Central America and Africa. Attempts to reach these areas are strictly forbidden, as well as impossible, though have been made. Rumors swirl that these areas have survived the nuclear war and are the remaining traces of the utopia we once knew. The native peoples of these lands that managed to survive have been safely transported to the inhabitable cities...or so we're told.
LAWS OF THE LAND
With every Utopian society comes a number of laws that the denizens are expected to abide by. The following laws have been created by the World Government for the protection of its people. Anyone who is caught disobeying any of these laws will be punished accordingly.
SCIENTIFICALLY SPEAKING, THIS IS HIGHLY UNREALISTIC.
We know. But we also know we're not actually Harry Potter or Captain America. As roleplayers, we'd like to ask that you suspend disbelief long enough to play in our little toybox.
YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT ABILITIES?
Don't get too excited. There's no genuine Harry Potter-level sorcery 'round these here parts. The easiest way to explain would be to reference the character V from the V for Vendetta film and comics. But we should probably stop being such lazy mods and explain in a bit of detail, huh?
As an effect of their exposure to radiation, people's DNAs have been moderately altered over the last hundred years, granting them some abnormal abilities. Seeing as it's their actual DNA being altered, your character may very likely pass some abilities onto their children. Although many people may not be nearly as strong as full-out X-Men-esque powers, your character will have some of their more prominent attributes enhanced. Say, for example, your character is very intuitive. This trait will be enhanced to some mild form of psychic abilities, such as clairvoyance or have quick glimpses of the past. Or maybe they're really angry people and things just set on fire around them. Basically, anything that's been in a Stephen King book is A-OK here.
For some special individuals (read: wealthy, important people), the World Government offers what they call 'Boosts' to people's pre-existing abilities. These are just essentially a nicer, more watered down version of the brutal experiments they perform on less fortunate denizens of the city. Most of the Upper class may be divided with regards to the Boosts; it's often viewed as a form of plastic surgery, glamorous to some and desperate to others.
However, your character may be taken by the World Government to be experimented on, but if you choose to have them survive experimentation and be returned to society with their shiny, newly enhanced heightened abilities, they will have been wiped of their memory. Anyone who's been experimented on may exhibit stronger-than-normal abilities, but the price for having a character like that is high: the WG literally owns them as a result. That said, all unusual abilities that toe the line between Spider-Man and Scarlet Witch will be judged on a case-by-case basis. If you have any ideas, don't hesitate to let the mods know.
That said, note that your character does not HAVE to have any special abilities at all. This is entirely optional!
BUT WHY CAN'T MY CHARACTER DO [INSERT MAGIC POWER HERE]?
They might be able to! Remember, we're totally willing to hear out any special abilities you have in mind. Some of them, though, may be out of the question; being able to control the weather or being an air bender might break the game a little. They would be able to restore the world back into its original state, thus leaving us plotless.
To put it simply, some powers would just be too troublesome. While they are very shiny and pretty and fun, we want to see how your characters get on without having something as convenient as 'time manipulation' in their skillset. We do, however, strongly encourage abilities of the paranormal sort. Everything else we'll be willing to hear out.
SO THE POPULATION SUCKS. WHERE DID EVERYONE COME FROM?
Because the War decreased population worldwide dramatically, religious and political leaders alike discouraged -- and eventually made illegal -- the practise of birth controls and abortions. Unsurprisingly, there was a baby boom that carried on throughout the years, and many families are made up of more than five children per household to this day.
I WANT MY CHARACTER TO BE EXPERIMENTED ON. WHAT'S THE MEMORY WIPE LIKE?
The World Government's scientific research department is the most advanced in the world, but that goes without saying. As such, they have a very dedicated team of doctors who have developed a new type of amnesiac drug. This drug is injected into the subject, and with the use of special technology, those doctors may remove specific memories.
There are setbacks to this procedure, however. A subject may eventually regain their memory if given the right triggers, or they may forget how to do even the most basic of things such as walking or speaking their native language. They could once again become as helpless as infants, but the desired effect is that they simply forget about the experiments done on them in the labs.
CAN MY CHARACTER WIELD A WEAPON EVEN THOUGH IT'S ILLEGAL?
As long as it makes sense for them to do so, yes. While the WG has its eyes on nearly everything in the city, there's still presumably enough people around to where it'd be difficult to micromanage literally every little thing in their lives. So long as your kid's not waving a gun around yelling "fuck the WG!" then you should be A-OK.
CAN MY CHARACTER BE A TWIN/TRIPLET/ETC?
We have established that multiple births are rare in this day and age due to the fact that those who survived the War suffered from radiation damage and made it difficult for women to become pregnant. While the use of fertility drugs and banning of abortions have been implemented, it is likely that a woman may become pregnant with more than one child, but not all of them may come to term and they more often than not die shortly after birth. Hence, rare.
Rare doesn't mean non-existent, of course. We're perfectly willing to accept characters who have twins or are a twin or what have you, but just remember we may implement limits on this in the future.
WHAT KIND OF CAREERS ARE THERE?
A variety, actually. Raiders and thieves, World Government scientists, Black Suits, and even celebrities are allowed. You must contact a mod for a World Government scientist, Black Suit or celebrity, however, so as to prevent having more than we actually need. We will then tell you how it works in this world, but don't worry. It's very simple.
Of course, you are free to have a perfectly normal character -- such as a store clerk or janitor within the city-limits. Some illegal jobs - such as prostitution, smuggling, et cetera should be handled with a reasonable degree of discretion.
And don't forget that even Wallclingers and slummers have jobs, too! Food stands, clothing shops, working at the docks, working in a seedy bar - you name it! There's really very few things we'll be limiting in terms of employment, so don't hesitate to ask if you're not sure.
THE WORLD GOVERNMENT IS EVIL, RIGHT?
Are they? That is entirely up to you. After all, the World Government has brought cities back from the dead, assisted in reviving humanity, and gave its people some semblance of civilisation. They've also taken people from their homes for experimentation, demanded total submission from the masses, banned everything they do not approve of, and used their Black Suits to silence those who would oppose them.
So you can choose for yourself whether or not your character opposes or supports the World Government.
WHO'S THE CURRENT LEADER?
As far as anyone is aware, the current leader is President Edmund Barnett. He is the one making speeches, passing laws, all that jazz -- but in reality, he's only a puppet, a face to give the people. To avoid assassination plots and coup d'etat, the true political leader is unknown. A number of lower political officials can be seen, but they lack any true power. The police, or "Black Suits," are officials clad only in black who are responsible for policing the general population, and are often the only connection citizens have to the government -- which, for the sake of simplicity, is known only as the World Government, or the WG.
THERE'S A CURFEW OH SHIT WHAT
The official reason for this is that it helps the government control the rate of criminal activity. Given that many crimes occur after dark, the curfew allows the Black Suits to "catch the caper" before they can, well, cape. Anyone found outside of their residence after 11:00 PM and before 5:00 AM is automatically a suspected criminal.
However, most people, especially young teenagers, are released with a single warning. Should they repeatedly break curfew, they will be taken to a holding facility so that the government officials may investigate their reasons for being out. And if there are any crimes being committed, minor or otherwise, it's highly unlikely that law-breaker will ever be heard from again.
CENSORSHIP IS [redacted] AND [redacted]!
Simply put, the World Government discourages people to openly express any negative thoughts or feelings about the WG. While they do monitor everyone's words with sensors and video, they are surprisingly lax about what they will turn a blind eye to. Your character is allowed to express doubt about the stability of the world, the World Government, or the officials that watch over their every move. They can say almost anything they want, but the second there's talk of uprisings, conspiracies, or assassination attempts -- well, you can figure out what'll happen.
As said before, there are sensors and Black Suits keeping close watch on people in the city. Should someone attempt to steal something, they will be quickly dealt with. Most crimes are unheard of within the city, but not entirely uncommon.
Normally, when someone is taken by the World Government for criminal activities, they are put through a behavioural modification program, which enables the government to instill the "proper" way of thinking. If the criminals in question had children, they are put through the same program, but later given to a foster family instead of their own. Should the criminals refuse to cooperate, they will be given to the WG's scientists for experimentation. Most do not live through these procedures.