Glow in the Dark Hard Zones for Apocalypse World: Burned Over

Glow in the Dark’s my Forged in the Dark love letter to the post-apocalypse: Fallout, Gamma World, and Mad Max. Apocalypse World: Burned Over is the PbtA giant, remastered with hindsight and for a broader audience.

Here’s the Wasteland from Glow in the Dark reframed as Hard Zones for AW: Burned Over.

Welcome to the Wasteland

The Last War saw unspeakable weapons unleashed on a global scale. The rapid deployment of so many exotic doomsday weapons had unexpected consequences. The Glow is what now remains of mankind’s folly, a incandescent, chaotic mist that sinks, spreads, and blows erratically through the wasteland.

The Barrens

Carnivorous flora wars with new breeds of mutant fauna across a Glow-touched, alien landscape. Evolution runs amok through the remnants of what passed for wilderness in the World That Was. Only the desperate or insane seek shelter here.

Dead Horse: A feral village built atop an ancient silo. Deadly secrets lie beneath. Pale, eyeless predators take those who delve too deep.

Monsterland: The corpse of a zoo, crisscrossed with hidden passages and teeming with Glow-touched beast-riders.

The Ape Empire: A once-fertile valley now overrun by deadly flora, ruled by uplifted primates.

The Pricks: Dagger-length thorns turn the old roads into shaded, twisting deathtraps. Barely passable by vehicle and watched by hungry bandits.

The High Tables: Mesa-size mushrooms grow out of thick, billowing Glow-fog that conceals twisted mutant things. People farm the fungal flesh, never descending into the deadly miasma below.

Hellbranch: A mile-wide swath of marching carnivorous forest mulches everything in its path. Nomads scavenge the carrion and wreckage in its wake.

Gardenside: Vines and creepers reach skyward out of a ruptured mall. Its caretakers jealously hoard luxe things in its dripping caverns.

Walker’s Landing: A soaring ark dug a great furrow into the earth here as it died. Its metal carcass resists the groping green, providing shelter and defense for the survivors’ insular descendants.

The Boneyard

Carcasses of skyscrapers still reach uselessly for the silent heavens. Hulks and wrecks choke the streets. Parks grown wild strangle the city centers with hardy vines and mutant flora or lay dead and dessicated, dust blowing across killing fields stalked by ancient machines following corrupted programming.

The Boneyard in Glow in the Dark maps very closely to the default Fallen City Hard Zone. The wrecked post-apocalyptic city is a classic for a reason!

Metro: A small scavenger community living out of an armored subway.

The Reception: The World That Was worshipped its black screens. Those that follow suit congregate at this skeletal rooftop temple festooned with antennas and dishes.

Hightower: A high-rise rebuilt and given over to progress, grift, and decadence. Spotlights and neon lure in weary travelers.

The Playground: A collective of mutant plants trade drugs and food out of this Glow-ridden, mutated city park.

The Stink: Stagnant toxic sludge still seeps and puddles in the cracked sewers. There is safety here if you know where to look, but those that dwell here do not suffer trespassers lightly.

Fivestar: Sputtering, twitching, and lethal machines maintain this meticulously clean restaurant and courtyard.

The Bell House: A church in the heart of the city, its thick stone walls still weathering the worst of the wasteland. A stronghold for would-be feudal lords.

The Crumble: The toppled skyscrapers here have been reduced to a quarry’s worth of shattered concrete and twisted metal. Nothing taller than a small child remains. Nothing grows here.

The Boxes

The picked-over skeleton of suburbia stretches far and wide. Rows of crumbling homes offer little shelter. Ramshackle big box fortress-malls built by the first tribes lie in ruin, built, burned, and rebuilt over and over again. Dormant booby traps and resting machines wait for careless newcomers. Nests of mutants make new homes in old houses.

Prism City: An underground mall built at the terminus from the old metro lines. Abandoned even before the Last War, it’s found new life as a popular trading post for caravans.

Boomtown: Rows of decayed townhomes house clans of clever scavengers. Shrines built around unexploded pre-war ordnance dot the dusty, booby-trapped roads.

The Quiet: A shack-ringed crater exposing a pre-war fallout shelter, cracked by unimaginable forces. The Glow that pours out at sunset seeks out sources of noise.

The Realer State: An idyllic suburban circle, a holographic illusion projected by machines conducting some ancient experiment. The denizens’ willingness to kill to defend it is real enough.

The Keep: A fortified shopping complex stands tall on a desolate hill caked with crumbling asphalt and rusting wrecks.

Home Of The Bulldogs: A high-school-turned-fortress, home to a fanatical sports cult. They test their might and sacrifice the weak in deadly bloodsport.

Main Street: Barricaded roads, overturned cars, and collapsed walls churn the downtown area into a labyrinth of overgrown yards, boltholes, and chokepoints.

Newhome: A new development, razed by the Last War. Farmers scrape and sweat, coaxing stunted fruit from diseased soil. At nightfall they shelter inside a few too-large, too-close-together houses.

The Dunes

Shifting sand blows over hard-packed earth or crumbling blacktop. Half-buried edifices and bleached signposts jut from the desert like bones.

Sunnydale: A cult living out of a half-buried shopping strip, modelling their beliefs on fantastic tales found within an archive of ancient tapes and discs.

Church of the Atomic Prophet: A Glow-worshipping cult that nests inside a still-functioning missile silo. They seek the ancient codes that will awaken their god.

Sacred Heart: A hospital looms from the sand, haunted by stalking figures in protective encounter suits.

Downtown: An everdark sunken village, a funhouse reflection of the World That Was. Strange customs and stranger food. Sometimes the strangers are the food.

The Mirage: Named for the weatherbeaten sign jutting from the dunes, this oasis provides fresh water, food, and shade – for a price.

The Ark: A cruise ship, too large to sleep quietly under the blowing sands. Noone knows how it got there.

The Last Cavalry: An armored column of raiders extorts their way through the wasteland.

Nowhere: Glow-storms turned the sand to glass here and the relentless sun burns whatever is left. Great nomadic caravan-towns leave glittering tracks across the expanse.

The Maze

Faultlines yawn hungrily, ready to swallow unwary travelers or spew forth mutant creatures. Canyons and switchbacks hide the wreckage of everything from strip malls to submarines. Trails and roads through the Maze are rare and highly coveted.

Piso Mojado: A cliff face pocked with cavern-homes and strange warrens. The denizens have access to clean water from a source deep within the buried ruins.

Noah: A government office park turned cratered moonscape, guarded by suborned robotic servants answering to an implacable fragment of NOAA’s AI mainframe.

Red Rock: A compound built inside the shell of an enormous mutant sea creature overlooking a quarry with potable water. Brutal raiders ride flying beasts into battle.

The Ghost Trees: Corpses in hazmat suits swing from dead trees at the center of this twisted forest. The Glow pours from their cracked faceplates, writhing with malevolence.

The Reef: Bone-dry coral and twisting, alien rock formations slow travel here. Hunters, human and otherwise, stalk the crevasses.

The Slab: An aircraft carrier, discarded on the sun-baked sea floor. Now a feral city grows from its remains like rot on a log.

The Masts: Spires of rock and wreckage with a commanding view of the surrounding canyons, connected by swaying bridges and rigging.

Devil’s Ditch: More has been lost to this abyss than will ever be discovered. Delvers return with forgotten treasures and unbelievable stories about what lurks in its depths.

The Roads

Cracked asphalt lures convoys into danger with the promise of speed. Roadside rubble and burned-out buildings hide traps or salvage. Giant gray obelisks, the ruins of overpasses, overlook the rolling hills and dead towns.

The Steak n’ Stake: This well-armed roadside fortress-ranch trades in food animals. Corpses and severed heads are prominently displayed on eponymous stakes around the perimeter.

Big Red: A self-driving cargo hauler from Before drives its route to this day, maintained by a handful of zealots who worship the truck as a god.

Blacksand: A walled refinery fronted by a squalid shantytown market. Its rulers dole out the go-juice to the loyal and fatten themselves on tribute.

The Wall: Gearheads and speed freaks raid nearby holdings for parts, dragging their victims and spoils back to their nigh-impenetrable dam. A handful of pools still linger in the reservoir.

Jam City: An ocean of rotting wrecks, home to countless little holdings squabbling over territory measured in car lengths.

Cloverly: Many paths lead to this compound wrapped in circling overpasses and off-ramps. The denizens welcome trade but are quick to turn on those who linger.

The Ziggurat: A towering pyramid of shipping containers, dragged into place by long-dead machines. The inhabitants guard their vaults well.

The Last Highway: The winds sweep it clean. The asphalt is cracked but holds. Don’t look back – they’ll chase you. Don’t slow down – they’ll catch you.

All artwork by Matt Plog

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