You see movement in the distance, an animal form approaching. As it draws closer, you realize it is a dog. Occasionally, it stops to sniff, and when it is close enough to see you, its ears perk up, it lets out a happy bark, and it ambles toward you. A rotting ghoul head dangles from the dog’s ratty collar, which is threaded threaded through the ghoul’s truncated esophagus and out its ruined nasal cavity. Its translucent white eyes stare out from a hairless head of brown and green flesh. Upon closer examination, you see a yellowed scrap of parchment sticking halfway out of the open mouth. Dried fluid has crusted the paper over, but you wipe it off to make out one word scrawled: COME. The dog barks again, takes a few steps in the other direction, and looks back to see if you’re following.
- What is the dog’s name, and why has his master abandoned him?
- The deceased ghoul wasn’t mindless, so why was he killed?
- The dog’s path leads to risk with the promise of reward. What does a wanderer of the wastes hope to find?
Wandering the wastes, you happen upon an enormous mound of garbage. Nuka-Cola bottles, rotting food, empty bags of chips, half-eaten cans of food, rusted out machine parts towering over you and stretching out a mile in all directions. Rats and radroaches skitter about, some nibbling and foodstuffs and some seeking darkened crannies as shelter from the midday heat. The trash heap slopes upward a few hundred feet, and its peak is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Aquamarine with a dingy white canopy, it was the glory of pre-war America, and even a missing door and scuffed paint cannot diminish it.
Then it arrives. A radroach in form, but hulking. Its legs are like steel pipes supporting a carapace thick and wide as three men laid alongside one another. It crawls lazily atop the Chevy, its antennae waving. After a moment, the radroach’s antennae still and it shuffles clumsily so it is facing your general direction.
“Welcome to my abode,” it booms.
- The Roach King desires something valuable that one of you possesses. What is it?
- Someone present has encountered the Roach King before. Who is it? What were the circumstances?
- The Roach King fears no human weapon, so why is he preparing for war?
The argument takes place in front of a blown-out Walmart. Two gangs, each a dozen strong. The Powder Gangers in their prison uniforms, and the Raiders in their leather-spiked paraphernalia. Each side about two dozen strong. The two leaders are shouting over one another while their men finger their assortment of pistols, rifles, and shotguns. The lead Raider gestures toward the woman in a tattered dress standing at his side.
“She’s worth more than that.” He points to a cooler of water bottles at the lead Powder Ganger’s foot. The lead Raider scowls and shakes his head.
- The woman. What is her name, and how has she ended up in these dire circumstances?
- Between the Raiders and the Powder Gangers, you have your hands full. There’s another approaching threat, however, one bigger than both of ’em combined. What is it?
- You have about ten seconds before the negotiations turn violent.
The old man is withered by sun and radiation, like he can barely stand. His head droops as he limps on with a cane. It doesn’t look like he much worries about trouble on the road, though. His companions will protect him. They tower over him, a dozen feet tall, striding purposefully on leather cord leashes. Why do they submit to him? The question falters because the answer doesn’t matter: the old man travels with a trio of deathstalkers, and they obey him. One looks at you and snarls, but it maintains its distance.
- Why do the deathstalkers submit to this man?
- No one survives the wastes without killing. Who did this man last kill and why?
- The man walks alone, with neither friend nor family to keep him company, but he walks with a purpose. To where does he go?
The pitiable creature lies before the entrance of the Vault. His legs atrophied, he lies on his stomach, inching himself forward with his arms. The flesh on his arms sloughs off as he drags himself forth, leaving a trail of green-brown skin that disappears into the darkness of the Vault. The thing–the man–pushes himself upright, but the fat tumors erupting like Brussel sprouts along his spinal column impede him. An empty eye socket oozes something white while the other eye, yellowed and mad, searches your faces.
“They made us immune!” he rasps. “The radiation…they changed us. But it went bad. Help them, the ones inside…”
With that, he collapses and breathes his last.
- The therapy that confers radiation immunity has side effects. Which of them make the remaining Vault-dwellers so dangerous?
- Within the Vault lies something precious. What rumors are circulating about it?