The Dark, the Weird and the Sublime

The Dark

The dark hates the players; you play the dark. You will probably forget that a candle has a ten foot radius but you will never stop waiting for the candle to go out.
Patrick Stuart

From time to time something unexpected happens in our life or our environment. It’s not something extraordinary but mundane, but very easy to miss. And because it’s so easy to overlook, the first time you experience it, it’s amazing.

I once visited a cave.

Huasca de Ocampo, in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico, is a tourist town (or Pueblo Mágico, as they call them around here). Its main attraction is its huge ecological park. There are recreational activities, a large lake in the middle of the forest, virgin springs and a trout farm where you can catch your own food. Ah, yes! And also a cave that you can visit.

The Cueva del Duende (Leprechaun’s Cave) is only a minor attraction. For a very modest fee, the attendant lends you a battery-powered lamp and lets you enter the cave all alone (it’s a small cave, more like a tunnel; it’s really not a dangerous place). The rules are very simple and straightforward: “Do not turn off the lamp at any time”.

I, of course, could not pass up the opportunity presented to me. When the entrance to the cave had disappeared behind me, that is, when daylight no longer reached the cave’s interior, I turned off the lamp and… Holy shit!

Reality Testing

But, you know, I wasn’t in any real danger. The worst that could happen was that the lamp would not light again and I would have to wait five or ten minutes until the next visitor passed by. What happened was that, after thirty seconds, the reverential terror I felt at experiencing the utter darkness gave way to another, more mundane, and more familiar feeling: boredom. I lit the lamp, which worked perfectly, and continued on until I reached the exit. Then I went to catch a trout, failed and had to buy a previously dead one.

Although ephemeral, the experience of complete darkness has served me well for two things, mainly: writing fiction and running dungeon adventures. Having known darkness, it’s easier to describe the oppressive atmosphere of a dungeon.

Two years later, reading Veins of the Earth, I relived that moment. Reading this book was an artificial (which is to say: artistic: aesthetic) way of reliving the reverential terror of that experience without having to return to the embarrassing reality of boredom and disinterest, the goofiness of existing and having a body, the awareness that I had to hurry so as not to make a fool of myself, so as not to be “the idiot who turned off the lamp”.

The Sublime

The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature is astonishment.
Edmund Burke

In aesthetic theory, and in contrast to the merely beautiful, the Sublime is the quality of physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical greatness, beyond all calculation. It’s the capacity of a work or phenomenon to provoke both a feeling of awe and terror, an irrational ecstasy.

The ideas of the Sublime originate in the Greek Pseudo-Longinus, approximately during the first century of the common era, and were rediscovered in the Middle Ages and then again during Romanticism, and it’s from here that they reach us, we of the future.

For Romanticism, the Sublime is the combination of awe and terror provoked by an encounter with the natural world. In his Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Edmund Burke describes the Sublime as astonishment: “Astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.”

The Sublime is an encounter with the vastness of the world, and that this encounter strips us of all our thoughts, leaving us in pure emotion. It is the feeling that comes from contemplating a violent storm or the landscape from a high mountain. It is not the simple fear, which is caused by the threat of death, but an existential and reverential terror that occurs when we become aware of our insignificance and the immeasurable vastness of the world.

To experience the Sublime, you must eliminate all the pleasures and comforts of the world and make yourself as vulnerable as possible. Or as Burke said, “Vacuity, darkness, solitude, and silence.” For example, the most absolute darkness inside a cave.

Summoning of the Muse

Not only nature is capable of evoking the feeling of the Sublime, art can do it too.
Dead Can Dance’s Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun (which I am listening to as I write this) is, for me, the perfect example of the Sublime.

I don’t know the concept behind the album, and I don’t want to know it so as not to ruin my own interpretation and experience.

Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun is the equivalent, abbreviated and sonorous, of the Mysteries of Eleusis. It’s an initiation rite practiced by the followers of the religion of Demeter and Persephone.

The initiatory rite was a representation of Demeter’s journey recounted in the Homeric hymn dedicated to the goddess. It included a pilgrimage, a fast, the consumption of an intoxicating drink and the entrance to an enclosure, where the mysteries were revealed. One of the modern theories points out that the mystery was the communion with Demeter herself, a theory of which I am a supporter (I am an atheist, so it’s logical that the appearance of the goddess is merely symbolic).

Dead Can Dance’s album, of short duration (less than forty minutes) reminds me of this rite. The first tracks are sung in English, by Brendan Perry. They serve as an initial guide, they lead us little by little from the normal world to a more mysterious one, out of this world.

The second half, sung by Lisa Gerrard, in her own invented language (glossolalia, apparently), places us squarely in the world of the mythical/symbolic. Even the music has changed, becoming reverential and mysterious, akin to blood-curdling ritual chants.

The penultimate theme is an invocation. We are calling the goddesses.

The last theme is the proper manifestation of the goddesses, or Persephone specifically. The theme, “Persephone (The Gathering Of Flowers)” refers, undoubtedly, to the return of spring and the blooming of flowers.

But it is not a happy or luminous song. It’s dark, mysterious. Even sad and apocalyptic, with instrumentation unlike anything else, on the album or anywhere else (except, perhaps, Final Fantasy VII). In order for Persephone to come back to life, Demeter has agreed to sacrifice her own life and go to the world of the dead, if only for a season.

Those last moments of the track provoke in me that awe and terror that can only be described as the feeling of the sublime. Listening so many times to this album allowed me to understand, at least on an emotional, if not entirely rational level, the Mysteries theory.

Usefulness of the Sublime

According to Burke, the Sublime has the positive effect of making the everyday problems that overwhelm us become trivial. Compared to the black skies of a storm, the raging clouds, the violent winds capable of making the mightiest tree bend and the very ocean itself churn, compared to this, I repeat, what is a traffic jam on the way home from the office?

In an ideal society we would have encounters with the sublime on a regular basis, not just in museums or during the holiday season when traveling. The old religions had it right. The Greeks of Mycenaean times came face to face with Demeter; the sorginak celebrated feasts in the Goat’s Meadow in the company of their goddess, Mari.

After a week’s work, everyone had the opportunity to be confronted with ideas of greatness. Even the Sunday Christian mass would have the same function.

And isn’t this similar to meeting (weekly, biweekly, monthly) to play OSR?

The Weird

The weird is constituted by a presence — the presence of that which does not belong. In some cases of the weird (…) the weird is marked by an exorbitant presence, a teeming which exceeds our capacity to represent it.
Mark Fisher

Into the Weird

In the introduction to The Weird: A compendium or strange and dark stories, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer define the Weird as “the pursuit of some indefinable and perhaps maddeningly unreachable understanding of the world beyond the mundane”. And they complement their definition with Lovecraft’s words: a “certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread”, a “malign and particular suspension or defeat of… fixed laws of Nature”.

Doesn’t this remind us of what was said about the Sublime? But there is a difference. The reverential terror we experience during a storm or in the total darkness of a cave doesn’t seem to us to be malign, nor to be against the laws of nature.

The Weird is the sombre counterpart of the Sublime. This abolition of the natural laws of the universe is astonishing and terrifying, but also incomprehensible. “Reverie or epiphany, yes, but dark reverie or epiphany” (Ann and Jess VanderMeer). After seeing an exhibition of Max Klinger’s etchings in Munich Kubin wrote:

“I was suddenly inundated with visions of pictures in black and white – it is impossible to describe what a thousand-fold treasure my imagination poured out before me. Quickly I left the theater, for the music and the mass of lights now disturbed me, and I wandered aimlessly in the dark streets, overcome and literally ravished by a dark power that conjured up before my mind strange creatures, houses, landscapes, grotesque and frightful situations.” (Emphasis is mine)

It’d be easy to suppose that Kubin expresses the same epiphany that occurs when we are confronted with the Sublime, and in a certain way it is, with the exception that instead of elevating the spirit (in its materialistic sense, as a state of mind; the spirit in the metaphysical sense does not exist), instead of a lesson of humble insignificance, this encounter with the Sublime caused in our author a feeling of disturbance, and this feeling was caused, precisely, by the impossibility of understanding it.
Modern philosophy is born with Descartes, when he asks himself, in reference to knowledge and reason, if it would be possible that he is being deceived by a demon of perversity. Modern philosophy is born from the encounter of philosophy as it had been known until then with the horror of incomprehension.

The Sublime makes us remember or become aware of our finitude. If this awareness is tinged with the horror of the incomprehensible, the Sublime is overshadowed. This somber Sublime is precisely the feeling or the quality of the Weird.

Weirdos

So far this century, the Weird has become quite popular, not only in literature, but also in movies, role-playing games and even philosophy. Authors such as Mark Fisher, Eugene Thacker, Ben Woodard and Graham Harman have systematized the Lovecraftian “philosophy”. Although it’s far from becoming the quintessential new philosophy, its presence and influence on modern culture cannot be denied.

Eugene Thacker is known as the philosopher of horror. When he speaks of horror, he’s not referring to the narrative itself, but to a mood or an atmosphere. This echoes Lovecraft’s definition. The goal of this philosophy of horror is to think about the limits of our ability to know things in the world and our place in it; that is, about the incomprehensible.

Like the Sublime, this kind of horror, which we must call the Weird, places us face to face with the incommensurability of the universe, reminding us of our insignificance; unlike the Sublime, it forces us to think about our place within the universe, but it also makes us aware of our inability to comprehend the non-human world.

The role of food in adventure

These are the rules on the use of food in my campaign world:

  • A ration is equivalent to a more or less correct portion of water and food.
  • An adventurer should take at least one ration per day.
  • Eating three rations in a day gives a +1 bonus the next day on 4 rolls of the referee’s choice.
  • After spending at least two days in a city or town, and enjoying the food, drink and fun that the place has to offer (i.e. after spending a good amount of money), the next time the character goes on an adventure, she will receive a +2 bonus to any roll she chooses, as well as +1 on 4 rolls of the referee’s choice. This benefit remains active as long as the character takes three rations per day. If one day she fails to take her rations, the next day the benefit will disappear.
  • After 3 days* without consuming at least one ration, each day in the morning the character must make a saving throw vs. death. If she fails this roll, the character will be so weak (-2 to all rolls) that she will die of starvation during the night, unless she consumes a ration. If she survives (she succeeded in the roll or ate something), she’ll have a -1 penalty on all rolls of the referee’s choice. This drawback will remain active until she consumes 3 rations in a single day. (*Jonathan Becker has made a good point showing 3 days is way too short a time. He’s right, so these 3 days can actually be any number you think fits your campaign, and some races can keep going without food for longer periods than humans.)

Oh, and when food runs out and PCs start dropping like flies, there are options.

Notes

In reality, this is intended to incentivise spending money, so that characters don’t accumulate such a large amount they could dominate the world.

I honestly haven’t experienced that (starvation), it’s mainly a random number, although I think if it was, say, 6 days (instead of 3 days as written), then it would be irrelevant, as most characters will at least eat some junk before that.

Lost spell book? Get your formulas back!

“Young wizard, I see you have lost your spell book. Yes, a real pity. No doubt you know how you can recover all your spells*. Yes, of course you do. But you need to get that spell back immediately, you say?

Well, all right, I’ll tell you: there is a way. It won’t cost you anything… just your soul. Ha ha, of course I’m joking. To recover your spells, all you have to do is think of the spells you want back and sacrifice something of enormous value.”

Roll 1d6

  1. Your right eye (-1 to -3 on vision-based rolls)
  2. Your left hand (-1 to -3 on rolls requiring the use of both hands or specifically the left hand)
  3. Your tongue (1-in-6 chance of miscast all your spells)
  4. Your memories of youth (-1 to one random ability)
  5. Your good fortune (-1 to all your saving throws)
  6. A loyal or beloved friend or companion
  7. Your identity (no one outside your party remembers you)
  8. Your autonomy (an Outer Being will impose an obligation on you that you must fulfil within a certain time frame; if you fail, you will lose these spells permanently)

After the sacrifice, you recover 1d4 spell levels. For example, if you roll a 4, you can recover four level 1 spells, or two level 2 spells, or one level 4 spell, or any other combination.

This sacrifice is for emergencies only, and doesn’t work for higher level spells.

*1,000 gp and one work week for each level of spell to be recovered.

On the nature of goblins

The life of the peasantry is hard. The taxes are high, the work is exhausting, the rewards are minimal, sometimes non-existent.

The promise of a happy life in “the other world” in exchange for working the land is almost never enough. You have come to wonder why God sends this torment to your children, and you come to doubt His infinite goodness.

When no angel of death comes to strike you down with his bolt of justice in punishment for your doubts, you wonder if there really is a god. And if there isn’t? Are you going to devote your life to serving a man who told you there is a god? Are you just going to take his word for it?

But hunger rages. You, your wife and your fourteen children need something to eat. The work doesn’t provide enough. You must do something.

The idea that there’s no god has settled in your brain, and guilt for thinking so has given way to cynicism. Your children no longer seem like a blessing from heaven, but simply a deception to perpetuate the comfortable life of the few, at the expense of the suffering of the many.

But you’re no fool. That morning you took your two youngest children, went into the forest with them, carried them as far as your courage would carry you and slipped away quietly, stealthily. In a final show of kindness, you allowed them to keep their boots.

You knew your sons were too young to find their way back. But without a god to punish your act of evil, could it really be considered an act of evil? Parents abandoning their children and leaving them to fend for themselves is the rule in the wilderness. What separates you from the animals, now that god is dead?

Eventually you forgot. Or you managed to convince yourself that you had forgotten. Things had improved a bit. Two less mouths in the family meant one more portion on your plate.

And above all, neither god nor the devil had come to claim your soul.

This certainty invaded the minds of others. No one would admit it, but everyone knew that the others had done the same as you: abandoned the youngest in the forest.

The village itself looked different. Maybe having all the children God wanted to bless you with hadn’t been such a great idea. Your neighbours and fellow villagers looked healthier,

This well-being lasted for some time, but it could not last forever. The guard’s shouts woke you up. “The goblins are coming!”

The goblins? No doubt the guard got drunk again during his patrol, it wouldn’t be the first time. But something had to be going on, judging by the commotion in the streets. You peeked out the door. The fire had soon spread. Your house would be consumed in no time. There was no time to do anything for your wife and children.

Then you saw them. Little figures were running around, their mocking, evil laughter overpowering you. A stone in the head put you to sleep. It saved your life.

You awoke with difficulty. You were the only survivor. You watched them walk away. Without daring to sit up, you saw something that made your blood run cold. Two of the strange creatures were wearing your children’s boots.

Goblins are feral kids

Why go on adventures? | How to buy into the OSR game loop

The most common game loop in OSR is the sandbox, which consists of a large area that the characters can explore as they please, with virtually no restrictions. None of these areas are mandatory, nor do they all have to be explored in any specific order.

But so much freedom can be paralysing, because in the absence of an intrinsic reason to accept the game loop, players must come up with a justification, or simply “just because it’s fun”, which is not bad, honestly, but it can put some people off.

In general, this is not a problem. Players know what they’re getting into when you invite them into an OSR sandbox, but if they don’t, how can you convince players to accept this loop without making it seem arbitrary or meaningless?

Without a raison d’être, why would a character be interested in exploring a sandbox? It’s simple:

  • You’re a peasant, a serf, a chancer, maybe a leper.
  • You hate your life, you hate your lord, you hate your spouse and children, and you don’t wanna die in these conditions.
  • You take a hatchet, your boots, your last coins, some bread and cheese, and go into the old mine (any point of the sandbox, actually). You know you might die, but who knows? Maybe you’re lucky and find something valuable you can sell for more than what you make harvesting potatoes.

In other words, you’re too lazy for a proper job, so you’d rather take your chances cajoling wizards.

 

‘Seriously, just give me a gold coin. Guaranteed!’

Some monsters for Into the Odd

Nothing defines a world better than the creatures that inhabit it. One thing that makes Into the Odd different is the openness of its world, in which the most ridiculous or solemn oddities and eccentricities you can imagine can fit at the same time.

These are some of the inhabitants of my own version of Bastion, Deep Country and The Underground.

Angler Toad: STR: 16, DEX, 10, WIL, 6, 15hp

d6 Bite, Swallow

  • Huge, black, warty and hungry. Hidden in the undergrowth or mud.
  • If its bite causes maximum damage, DEX save vs Swallow. If you are swallowed, STR save or you’ll be digested in an hour (but if your friends kill the toad, they can take you out alive).
  • The tip of its tongue is hard and resembles a gold coin, with which it attracts victims.

Dragon Spider: STR 18, DEX 12, WIL 6, 15hp

Pale Chitin Armour 2, 2d8 Bristling Multi-Jaws and d6 Thrashing Limbs Blast

  • Ceaselessly seek juicy cattle to drag back to their web-lair.
  • Sprays a sticky web-acid (d6 Blast, anyone taking STR Damage is webbed until cut free from the outside), once per day.
  • Cowers in fear from even the smallest bird.

Fatberg: STR 18, DEX -, WIL -, 20hp

d10 Acid Shot, d20 Dissolve

  • Huge putrid masses clogging the drainage channels, formed by the city’s waste, a mixture of fats, oils, grease and all kinds of rubbish.
  • Weapons deal only 1hp damage; when attacking with melee weapons, DEX save or be absorbed (Dissolve, d20 damage). Each round make a DEX save until escape or dissolve.
  • Acid dissolves it in seconds. Fire deals d20 damage. A torch causes d10 but DEX save or the be absorbed.

Ghost Librarian: STR 11, DEX 10, WIL 10, 18hp

d4 WIL cold damage

  • Invisible; only a floating book and eyes of green fire can be seen. Hates enemies of books.
  • If the book is open, the librarian is reading and the PCs win initiative. If it’s closed, he wins the initiative.
  • He will stop attacking if offered apologies. At 0hp it will disappear and the book will fall, but it will return with its full hp in 24 hours. Its STR doesn’t suffer damage.

Grabinski: STR 13, DEX 9, WIL 10, 7hp

d6 Strangle

  • Siamese skeleton, one skull, four arms, two torsos, four legs.
  • It wants to choke you by strangulation.
  • DEX save vs d6 STR strangle damage.

Ice Devil: STR 15, DEX 17, WIL 2, 11hp

Carapace Armour 1, d10 Ice Fork (Freezed Solid on Critical)

  • Seeking a single target, to be frozen and taken back to Ice Hell.
  • If killed, summons d6 Ice Devils to avenge them (these cannot Summon any more).
  • Imprint: Anyone that survived being Frozen by the Devil’s fork (kill the devil before it takes you to hell) now has ice-blue eyes, and can recover lost STR by bathing in freezing water.

Mišti: STR 16, DEX 10, WIL 10, 12hp

d6 STR gas damage

  • Human form over 10 metres tall, made of glowing mist.
  • Seeks souls (life essence) to live. If the victim dies, her body dries up like a mummy and the Mišti gains 1 WIL.
  • If its HP reaches 0, the rest is deducted from its WIL (no Critical Damage). At 0 WIL, it dissolves.

Mollusc-Man: STR 10, DEX 8, WIL 8, 3hp

Shell Armour 2, d4 Water Blast

  • 50% oyster, 100% appetizing. WIL save or you’ll eat it when you kill it.
  • Imprint: If you eat it, you become a hermaphrodite. At will you can look appetizing to anyone who misses a WIL save.
  • 1-in-100 chance one of its eyes is a pearl (150s).

Moonie: STR 11, DEX 11, WIL 14, 7hp

d6 Sword or d8 Cosmic Ray Gun

  • They’re moon-headed, they’re from space and they’re up to no good.
  • They can’t leave witnesses.
  • Cosmic Ray: STR save or d8 STR damage. At STR 0, victim is reduced to dust.

Old One: STR 16, DEX 6, WIL 10, 16hp

d10 Slam and Will save vs Cosmic Despair

  • It doesn’t care about you, it doesn’t even know you’re there. But you are in its way and it’ll crush you like an ant.
  • Its existence is so abysmal that the very idea of such a being existing is beyond your mind, it’ll cause you a small cerebral infarction of cosmic despair. WILL save or acquire Mark of the Machine.
  • Mark of the Machine: Never feel joy, sadness, or boredom. Perform a routine task tirelessly, perfectly, and inhumanly fast. People can tell you’re dead inside right away.

Wolf-Man: STR 15, DEX 16, WIL 10, 11hp

d8 Bite

  • 1-in-6, appears in human form.
  • It’s more afraid of you than you are of it, but pretends otherwise.
  • It wants you to leave, but will kill you if necessary.

What happens when you leave a negadungeon

Negadungeons are cursed places. You don’t enter a negadungeon chasing promises of wealth and fame (at least not usually). You enter a negadungeon chasing obsessions.

Smart adventurers (or players) avoid negadungeons like the plague. Sometimes they enter a dungeon and as soon as they notice something’s off, they leave.

Leaving the Negadungeon Unfinished

“Unfinished” is an ambiguous, arbitrary term, and must be interpreted by the referee according to her own campaign and style. An “unfinished negadungeon” is generally one that is left:

  • before at least half of it has been explored,
  • without finding/destroying/solving the main item/monster/mystery

Save vs Curse

When adventurers escape from a negadungeon, each must make a saving throw vs. magic. Those who fail are cursed.

Effects

Roll a d6 to find out the effect of the curse on your character (and any accompanying NPCs). The curse will activate during sleep (the next time the victim sleeps).

  1. Every morning you wake up with blood on your hands. You did something during the night but you don’t remember it. But maybe someone saw you do it.
  2. Every night you dream of the negadungeon, your sleep is restless and there is a 1-in-6 chance that the next morning you will not be able to prepare spells. If your class doesn’t allow you to cast spells, lucky you!
  3. You have seen it in your dreams. Something important to you (a child, a spouse, a family heirloom, your lucky pants) is deep in the negadungeon. You don’t know if it’s really there, but what is certain is that it’s not where it should be (at home, among your possessions, etc.)
  4. You find them everywhere. Instinctively you recognise them. They are the original inhabitants of negadungeon. They are spectral apparitions, a pair of disembodied eyes watching you from a distance, a voice calling for “help”. Every morning you must make a saving throw vs. magic or you will automatically lose initiative in all your encounters for the day (in group initiative, you are considered a separate group).
  5. You have been marked by the dark sign. This sign, visible as a scar or tattoo on your face, is like a lantern that attracts moths, but in your case it attracts chaos. Each night you must sleep in an area bright enough to prevent you from resting (the next day, all your rolls are made at a -1d4 penalty); otherwise, 1d4 undead will appear at any time during the night, automatically winning the surprise roll.
  6. Animals hate you. You can’t ride horses, stray cats and dogs might attack you, crows want to steal your eyes, animal-based food makes you sick.
  7. Animals talk to you, you can understand them. They have nothing important to tell you but they’re annoying. You may need to make a saving throw vs. magic to avoid responding to them with irritation, especially in front of others, who probably think: “Hang the witch!”
  8. In stressful situations (combat and many actions requiring dice rolls), you must make a saving throw vs. magic or you’ll begin to bleed from your genitals for 1d4 turns, suffering one point of damage each turn.

Identical results are rolled again. Each time a result has been rolled, the referee must create new options.

Get Rid of the Curse

The only way to remove the curse is to fulfill the obligation that the curse has placed on you. This obligation can be something as “simple” as returning to the negadungeon and completing it (explore more than 50%, solve the mystery, eliminate the monster, obtain the treasure, perform a purification ritual at the dungeon’s heart, retrieving the relic, rescuing the spouse, sacrificing an animal… the options are endless!), or something as elaborate as completing a multi-step ritual over several days or weeks, which would lead to one or several more adventures.

Beyond the Black Diamond Gates – weird magick spell

Ah, the dreaming, the last frontier, the door to the impossible. But sadly, dreams are not real, therefore they leave you with a bittersweet feeling in the morning, they show you what you could but can’t achieve. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

It is rumored that certain oneiromancers have managed to go through the Black Diamond Gates that allow dream objects to be brought into the material world in which most of us live.

This spell allows a Magic-User to instantly get any one item that she could normally carry with her (a weapon, some clothes, food, nothing fancy) just by reaching out, as though the item was in front of her.

The rules for weird magic can be found in either Vaginas Are Magic! or Eldritch Cock, both supplements are free (but you need a DTR account or they will be invisible).

10 Elements for a Realistic Postapocalypse

1. Humans work together

There are a lot of assholes in the world, but there are more normal people, which means that when a disaster or accident happens, more people try to help and collaborate than try to take advantage of the situation. We see this in hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, car accidents and any other catastrophe. In a post-apocalyptic world, people would band together and collaborate; bandits and profiteers would be few, and established groups would not conflict with other groups, they would seek to collaborate as well.

2. Fights are lethal

Professional fighters are trained to punch people in the face with their fists, yet they often get injured and require specialized treatment and time to recover. You’re not a professional fighter and don’t have a team of doctors to treat you, you need to avoid getting hit as much as possible; without your hands, you’d die.

3. Feral dogs

Have you thought about what happened to Max and Bella? They most likely joined up with other dogs, forming a pack to scavenge for food from the wreckage. Over time, the dogs have reverted to a previous state, no longer man’s best friend, now they want to eat man. This has happened after events such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Before bandits and mutants, these packs would be an immediate danger to survivors.

4. Diseases and infections

Medicines last only a few months on the shelf before they spoil and lose their effects. The collapse of civilization means that there’s almost no one to produce new drugs, and any untreated injury could lead to death. Even during the first few months, when the drugs are still in good condition, who would know what substance and in what quantity you need to soothe those bruises that just won’t go away?

5. Rabies

Rabies would be one of the most common diseases and one of the most constant and lethal dangers. Not only dogs transmit rabies, other animals that can transmit it to humans very easily are cats, cows, ferrets, goats and horses, as well as wild animals: bats, beavers, coyotes, foxes, monkeys, raccoons, skunks or groundhogs. Although it is not common, poultry can also be infected, but since they do not present symptoms, transmission from bird to human can be very easy.

6. Malnutrition

Without an organized society, who produces food? Are you going to resort to hunting, fishing and gathering? Are you going to start a small vegetable garden? Do you know how to do it? Even if you manage to grow some potatoes and lettuce, will you be able to get enough iron? Vitamin B? Calcium? Chances are you’ll be weak and sleepy most of the time, that is if you haven’t gotten scurvy or leukemia. Engaging in a fist fight is not a realistic option.

7. Automobiles

Gasoline dissolves in a matter of days. After three months, and without a petrochemical industry to produce more, in three months the reserves will be depleted. Electric cars are not a more advantageous option either, without hydroelectric plants, who will produce the energy to power them? Solar cars might be a better option, but when damaged, will you be able to repair it, or even get the materials to try.

8. Cities would be flooded

In the absence of infrastructure and institutions in charge of urban maintenance, wastewater would no longer be pumped or directed to the sea and drainage systems would collapse. In addition, cities are not very porous to rainwater, as there are few areas of land compared to concrete or paved areas, so water would accumulate more quickly, covering some parts of the city.

9. Fires

Fires are common but usually do not become a big problem because there is always someone capable of controlling them. But even with government and infrastructure in place it is not uncommon for a fire to get out of control, without a competent authority, forests and cities would be reduced in a few years. Forests can grow back, but not cities.

10. Nuclear meltdown

More than 30 countries have nuclear power plants, and the number of these plants is more than 400. It is enough for just one nuclear plant to fail to produce an explosion so large that it would raise a cloud of radioactive dust that would cover the entire Earth. This would prevent sunlight from entering and consequently all plants would die. There would be lethal radiation all over the world, and only people living in underground shelters, where they could protect themselves from the excess radiation, would survive.