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Buried Submarine Encounter


Game Master
GM Question: setting is a realistic post apocalypse and the PCs find a small black tower isilated in the flat sands. On top is the hatch to a burrried submarine; what 3 things are found inside?

1. Something interesting that adds flavor to the setting or situation?
2. Something useful that helps them survive longer or gives them potential advantage in the wasteland?
3. What obsticle or danger must be overcome?

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The obvious one: A live nuclear warhead, damaged enough that it's unsafe to try and remove it.

Someone who knows and understands what that means is currently making their way to the camp of a local warlord, who will quickly try and turn that to their advantage, somehow, rather than just pulling up stakes and moving out of range.

Said warlord's thugs arrive while the party is still inside the submarine and won't believe they aren't intentionally barricading themselves in with the warhead.
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Modern sub sails aren't small.

What's inside might be canned food, clothing, basic medical gear, tools, spare parts. A few firearms, maybe. Unexpended ord could provide anything from high explosives to nukes*, depending on the sub class and its history. This assumes the hull wasn't breached; if breached, pretty minimal salvage.

* = Nukes are unlikely to be a realistic option, as a scuttled ship would have disabled them, and the activation criteria would be unavailable in most cases. Best not to include the option, because a single boomer's payload would make California a sterile desert.

The most common danger would be radiation from reactor fuel, or toxic fumes from batteries &fuel tanks (latter only if not a nuke, which would mean non-USN), assuming a lengthy time abandoned or substantial battle damage.


Lots of #10 cans. When I did a tour of a sub a while back, I found it interesting that they layered the floor of the entire sub with #10 cans of food, and walked on those until they used them, because space was so limited.



Settlement built around the submarine connected to the reactor. Due to the aging of the reactor the players could be hired to salvage the needed parts for the repairs from a secretly held location of other derelict nuclear-powered vessels. Once completed the elders could pay the players their reward or double-cross them to keep the other locations secret. Each location could have unique hazards to overcome. Example Mirelurks or another human NPC's group.

Fallout 4 Far Harbor DLC the players must stop a cult from repairing the launch controls of a run aground submarine of a former enemy nation state before the apocalypse. If repaired the cult will launch SLBM's at all who deny the great Division.

Deathlands/Outlanders Book series the players find the hidden location of a cobbled together Matter Transfer Pad built by the surviving crew to reach a random bunker redoubt of the pre-apocalyptic Continuity of Government programs. Randomly transported the players can find themselves in another random location where they could find untouched caches of equipment, gear, food, weapons, and mecha. Some locations could even have training simulators or have been where alien wreckage and remains were stored.


Note that your submarine could be located at a military naval-port alongside other vessels and the above ground surface infrastructure buildings. Another in could be stuck within a drydock or the Panama Suez Canal channel.


Hazards List
Electrical from aged faulty wiring to deliberate electrocution traps.
Security Laser Grid Example Resident Evil Movie
Spilled fuel oil that could catch fire catching any within on fire.
Leaking spilled nuclear waste material dealing radiation damage.
Leaking gas mains pipes that could ignite into fireballs filling the area.
Rigged weapons and explosive ordnance that when triggered go off towards the players. Example Heavy Machine Gun at the end of a corridor connected to a door tripwire mechanism. when the players open the door, the HMG begins firing at the door continuously until empty of ammunition. Example Grenade Bouquets, Land Mines, jury rigged torpedo.
Feral Guard Dogs
Automated Sentry Guns
Security Robots of various types


Something interesting: Maps of what was once the local ocean floor and is now land, showing how major natural landmarks have changed.

Something useful: The submarine itself serves as a great underground bunker in the face of an incoming toxic storm. A passing group of travellers can be saved from serious harm by helping them to shelter there.

Something hazardous: To provide complete shelter the sub's hatch must be sealed, but this group will soon expend all the available oxygen. Survival depends upon jury-rigging a generator to the sub's air circulation system and keeping it running until the storm has passed.





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