Reckless Cowboys
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Synopsis

The world has been devastated by the impact of an interstellar body. The surface is uninhabitable. The remnants of mankind have retreated to underground refuges, nations devolving into city states. These cities are dependent on a continuous supply of thorium to power their systems. A citizen’s status and reward are directly linked to their contribution to the energy reserves.

A permanent state of war exists between the remaining city states as they battle over increasingly scarce thorium reserves.

Mining operations are directed by an AI, in the form of a Mobile Operating Base (MOB), its sole objective, to mine thorium. Each game starts as a level playing field. Soldiers choose their loadout from a catalog of standard equipment. Soldiers receive an energy reward for completing tasks assigned by the MOB, which can be used to acquire better equipment.

The game is won if the MOB mines enough thorium to fill its hold, the enemy’s energy reserve is reduced to zero, or the enemy MOB is destroyed.

491I/Ugroza Collides with Earth

Gameplay

Winter Harvest features squad-based combat with two opposing teams of up to 32 soldiers, divided into 4 person squads. Each soldier chooses their own loadout from a catalogue of standard equipment.

Each team is equipped with a Mobile Operating Base (MOB), an AI controlled platform that directs offensive and defensive operations in support of thorium mining.

Mobile Operating Base

The MOB has a limited energy reserve. Every time a soldier or vehicle is spawned, repaired, or rearmed, energy is consumed. The MOB can refine a small quantity of thorium to replenish the energy reserve, but doing so will reduce the quantity of thorium in its cargo hold.

If you fill your MOB’s thorium hold, reduce the enemy’s energy reserve to zero, or destroy the enemy MOB, the game is won.

The game begins with soldiers aboard the MOB and other vehicles. The MOB assigns tasks to each squad, such as:

The squad’s effectiveness index (EI) is determined, on a game by game basis, by the completion of assigned tasks. Likewise, ignoring assigned tasks, or failing to complete them, will have a detrimental effect on the squad’s EI.

High priority tasks may result in the squad being awarded specialized equipment. These tasks are assigned to squads with the highest EI. Specialized equipment is lost when the soldier dies.

Backstory

In 2057 an interstellar body passed between Earth and Proxima Centauri. The dimming of the distant star was detected by a small observatory in Kamchatka.

Within months astronomers determined the cause; a massive ball of rock and iron, 40 kilometers in diameter, travelling at 60000 km/h. The object, named 491I/Ugroza, would impact Earth in 2093.

While plans were laid to destroy or deflect 491I/Ugroza, governments around the world created massive, self contained, subterranean cities, equipped with the necessary facilities to ensure that life would go on. When 491I/Ugroza began its inevitable approach, the boundary doors of these refuge cities were closed, the whole of mankind hoping the combined might of the world’s nuclear arsenals would destroy the looming monster.

On October 13, 2093, at 09:13 GMT, the world went dark.

When the fragments of 491I/Ugroza struck, California Refuge City 5 (CRC5) suffered significant damage—the pressure wave generated by the pacific ocean impact compromised the western boundary doors. Flooding from the resulting tsunami killed thousands in the western habitat, but the inner bulkhead doors held; CRC5 survived.

For two years the residents of CRC5 remained underground, receiving no communications from other refuge cities. They at least had survived 491I/Ugroza. As the skies cleared, they sent teams to investigate their new reality. They had expected to find a cold desolate landscape, but not a planet that could no longer sustain human life. The once abundant oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere now an untenable 6%.

CRC5 would no longer be a temporary refuge, but a permanent home for the remnants of mankind. The refuge cities had been designed to maintain their population for a maximum of five years. The thorium reactors would run out of fuel, and without their energy, the oxygenators and hydroponic farms would shutdown, snuffing out the last flicker of humanity.

All efforts were focused on replenishing the thorium stockpiles. At first the efforts were clumsy—small teams of citizens venturing to the surface in environmental suits, gathering surface material for thorium extraction. The yields were pitiful. In time CRC5 developed an automated mining vehicle, the Dredger. Able to travel limited distances under its own power, the Dredger could mine and extract thorium in sufficient quantities to keep the reactors running.

Thorium reserves within the range of the Dredgers were soon exhausted. While scientists tackled the long term problem of mining increasingly distant reserves of thorium, an interim measure was put in place: the Carryall, a multirole aircraft capable of delivering a Dredger to a thorium-rich area and recovering it when its hold was full. By the time the available thorium within range of the Carryall became scarce, the Mobile Operating Base (MOB) was ready for deployment.

The MOB was a massive machine, floating on an electromagnetic field of its own making and able to refine a limited amount of thorium to feed its own reactors; its range was unlimited.

With a fleet of Carryalls and Dredgers, the MOB would venture out for months at a time, returning with enough thorium to not only keep CRC5’s reactors running but also begin construction of a fleet of MOBs. The power crisis would be abated, and CRC5 could turn its attention to addressing the inhospitable surface conditions.

As its sistership neared completion, the original MOB set out on a routine harvest. It did not return. Using a fleet of Carryalls as refuelling vessels, patrols set out from CRC5 to investigate; what they found was a smoldering wreck, stripped of technology, the hold empty, and the hull scarred by the unmistakable signs of weapons fire. They were not alone.