Post-apocalyptic Floodlands

Yora

Legend
I was recently thinking of Apocalypse World and pondering a possible one-shot game or mini-campaign. I've also been having Fallout and Kenshi on my mind again, and that had me thinking about how post-apocalyptic wasteland settings seem to be something like 75% burning deserts and 25% frozen wastelands. Which are indeed very cool settings, but those have been done before many times. That's setting you'd go to for nostalgia, but probably not so much for exploring new contexts and situations.
Being from North-Central Europe, I've had been briefly pondering some years ago a world in which some massive disaster melted all the ice in Antarctica in a matter of months and flooding all the coastal lowlands around the world. Where most of the global population is living. What could such a world look like? What kinds of things and situations could you encounter there?

The main effect to me is that the majority of major cities around the world would be just gone. We're looking at some 100m sea level rise, so in most places anything but the upper floors of skyscrapers would be flooded unless there are steep hills nearby. Most of the global population would be without homes, most of the global industry would be wiped out, significant portions of the global food production, and with all the major port facilities around the world now being on the bottom of the sea there wouldn't be any more shipping at meaningful scales. Not only do we have a massive famine, not to speak of the housing issues, but even the land areas still above water would be able to support much lower populations than before without access to trade with the sunken coastal areas. So I would say no governments above the local level and no heavy industry, which means the typical post-apocalyptic scavenger world again.

Climate-wise, the loss of Antarctic ice means a significant reduction in the reflection of sunlight away from the Earth, and at the same time a lot more surface water that can absorb sunlight and heat up to evaporate. More air moisture and more energy in the atmosphere generally means more storms. Which I think is cool. I wouldn't mind me frequent cyclones of unprecedented size that dump massive amount of rain which make rivers rapidly increase in size several times.
With a 100 meter sea level rise, much of the submerged areas would be conpletely underwater, except for skyscrapers and other tall buildings located on hills. Which probably won't be doing so well standing in saltwater, but they could be explored for a few more decades, I assume. I'm not hugely into the engineering of buildings, but I believe most large buildings are constructed in a way that makes them stable under their local ground condition. And I would expect that most areas on the new coastlines would see a huge rise in groundwater levels and amount of water in the soil. So I expect those cities to start crumbling pretty soon as well.

With the sea level rise happening very rapidly and also fairly recent, I believe that lots of hills with peaks above 100m would continue to exists as islands. Over 1000s of years I would expect them to get worn down by waves, but for the time being there could be many places that have extensive offshore archipelagos. These islands and the new mainland coastlines would be quite likely places for half-sunken cities, towns, and factories, which could be great for scavenging tools, weapons, and other equipment. And in a world with a water and storms theme, that would be a great excuse to have lots of boats as vehicles instead of trucks.

This is the kind of stuff that pops into my mind at the top of my head. What else could be done with such a premise? I'm open both to normal survival stuff and pseudo-natural physics and mutants stuff.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, I think you are buying the lede here.

All the ice melting in a matter of months? The amount of energy required to do that is astronomical. You'd need a vast contrivance to get all the surface ice melting that fast without other effects worldwide that would likely scour most life off the surface of the planet, and out of most of the oceans as well.
 


MGibster

Legend
All the ice melting in a matter of months? The amount of energy required to do that is astronomical. You'd need a vast contrivance to get all the surface ice melting that fast without other effects worldwide that would likely scour most life off the surface of the planet, and out of most of the oceans as well.
Among the alternative history crowd, there's a running joke that they blame alien space bats for any changes to history a work of fiction makes that is just outright preposterous. An alternative history where the Germans invade and conquer the United States during WWII would be an alien space bat situation whereas an alternative history where the Germans managed to sue for peace in 1942 might be plausible. Now alien space bats don't necessarily make for a bad story, Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, featuring time traveling South Africans brinking AK-47s to the Confederacy, fits the bill, but it's an entertaining story nontheless.

The documentary Water World narrated by Kevin Costner is a good resource for melting ice cap apocalypses.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Among the alternative history crowd, there's a running joke that they blame alien space bats for any Now alien space bats don't necessarily make for a bad story, Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, featuring time traveling South Africans brinking AK-47s to the Confederacy, fits the bill, but it's an entertaining story nontheless.

I've read it. By extension, Mary Gentle's novel Grunts in which a bunch of orcs in a typical fantasy world come across modern military hardware is magical alien space bats...
 

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