11 Post-Apocalyptic Adventure Seeds
1. The Sand Nomad
An unusually bright young sand nomad has stumbled upon a lost airplane graveyard and has begun to cannibalize bits and pieces of lost aircraft in an attempt to create his own rudimentary design. Realizing that aluminum is valuable in the post-apocalypse world, he occasionally comes into town to trade the scrap for supplies and the occasional tool or part.
Whether he hires the characters to help him, they’re sent to follow and track him (make it difficult—he knows how to lose people in the sand), or they simply stumble upon his treasure trove in the wastes, they will soon discover that the entire place is boobytrapped in sneaky ways that make assaults (especially running-screaming ones) extremely difficult to do without losing more men than the scrap is worth. Does he hire the characters as bodyguards? Does someone else send them in to check things out? It’s all up to you.
2. The Bug-out Spot
In the course of a mission, the players stumble across someone’s bug-out spot. It could be empty, locked, long abandoned, or it could be still in active use. How big it is, how well stocked or well defended is entirely up to you.
3. The Ranchers
In the deep parts of the wastes, the players run across a ranch that has fallen into neglect, with a few bony livestock starving slowly to death in the dry and rotting garden. Inside, but too busy to stray from his work for long, a man and his two pre-teen children will come out and enthusiastically greet them, dressed from head to toe in exotically handcrafted helmets, vests, and pants made from wires, aluminum foil, and hubcaps.
Inside, they’re working feverishly on a starship, and they’re all too willing to talk about the beings of starlight who have descended to the wastes of Earth to spread a message of peace. Whether or not the aliens are real is up to you, (as is their real message/purpose if they are) but the ranchers are perfectly willing to let them stay the night if they want to find out for themselves.
4. Nomadic Caravans
In some cases, traveling in a nomadic caravan of cannibalized vehicles is the safest way to survive the apocalypse. It gives you strength in numbers, as well as the option to run away from anything you can’t run over. During the course of their travels, you can make caravans a regular encounter, send them on missions to track down specific groups of motorized nomads, or even send heavily armed caravans after them, bent on obtaining rewards or retribution.
5. The Seductress
During the course of a visit to a settlement during trade negotiations with a caravan, a beautiful young woman seduces one of the men in the player’s group and even goes so far as to stow away on their vehicle or follow them. She seems convinced that she is in love with the guy, and will keep him busy satisfying his fantasies as she does anything she can to gain the trust of the entire group—anything. In the end, when it’s least expected and the opportunity presents itself, she’ll split with everything they own, leaving nothing of value that she can’t carry behind.
6. The Desert Stalkers
Somewhere during their wanderings, the players stumble across a stretch of ground controlled by a group of desert stalkers who only reveal themselves in an ambush. They could be members of a survivalist cell, a group of mercenaries actively hunting the players, or even a bizarre cult looking for converts or sacrifices. Either way, the players have two choices: surrender, or fight to the death and escape.
7. The City on a Hill
John Aquinas is a man with a dream. Building on a foundation of the ruins of a previous civilization’s metropolis, he has inspired his congregation to band together to create a new civilization—the city on a hill, heaven on earth—but is it really as enlightened as it seems? Is there a real hope here, or is there some hidden flaw in this city of light that ultimately makes is more terrible and twisted than the apocalyptic land it sprung from? There are a thousand different ways you can introduce this one—a starting place, a goal, a target, or even a random encounter.
8. The Facility
There are a thousand strange things and places hidden from the public eye that have been abandoned and forgotten in the world today, and even more that would be left unattended in the event of a world-shattering apocalypse. Putting a bioweapons lab, a nuclear reactor, or some other underground facility full of dangers and treasures sealed behind the vault doors of a high-technology facility in the path of the players can lead to some interesting encounters, problems, or world-changing events.
9. The Diseased Village
The players enter a village wracked by an illness, but they’re so desperate to trade with outsiders that they take great pains to hide it... until one of the players becomes infected. Suddenly, the true extent of the disease’s spread is revealed, and the only solution is to go out and hunt down the source—or the cure. If you’re strapped for ideas, it could be radiation sickness from fragments of a nuke recovered by the villagers, an exotic disease brought in from the vault of a cracked bio lab in the deep desert, or even a resurgence of something simple like scurvy (or vicious, like the plague).
10. What Is That?
The players come across something truly bizarre and out of place in the middle of the wastes. It could be a rich and healthy patch of crop plants heavy with fruit or vegetables in an area that is totally inhospitable to life, a crater full of oddly metallic debris and fused glass, or a valley of blue crystal that seems alive, almost as if the interior of each crystal were liquid. Why it’s here, in this particular middle of nowhere, and what its presence means is entirely up to you.
11. The Stranger
A young man pushes his way into the bar where the players just happen to be, trying to gather together a group of people to go with him to a place he claims he’s found a way to that is still untouched by the apocalypse. He’s young, idealistic, and so green that it hurts, and since it’s painfully obvious, no one seems willing to believe him.
He may even approach the players, get in their faces, and try to convince them. If they accept, this can be a great opener to a new campaign, a great way to introduce new characters (other people in the same bar who join), and a great reason to stick shadier people into the storyline who watch and follow the group from a distance.