THE OPEN ROAD: NOMADIC GROUPS
It’s harder to hit a moving target.
That’s the philosophy that leads groups of survivors and outcasts to the open roads, the crumbling highways that criss-cross the wastelands. It’s a dangerous and hard life, but it guarantees that you’ll never be tied down, never have to deal with any long-term problems that you don’t want to handle. It’s freedom, pure and simple.
And it has a price.
Travelling the roads means finding food where you can, finding water where you can, and bringing everything you own with you. It means only throwing away something after all hope of repair is gone, and learning not to be choosy. It means that you may only have medical care if you have a doctor in your group… If you don’t, then healing and cures are only available where you find them. It means always having to watch your back, living in constant danger, and sometimes dying through no fault of your own.
It’s not a life for everyone.
The ones that choose it have their reasons. Some are criminals, seeking an easy life by stealing the work of others. Others hate being told what to do, and seek escape by staying on the road far away from the controlling grasp of corporations and local warlords. Others find a profit in trade, setting up routes and growing rich from the proceeds. Other groups have other reasons to travel… Corporate long-range military patrols and good Samaritans known as white hats travel the roads, looking for bandits or threats to put down. The Meek, a pacifist religious group that shuns all electronic and combustion technology, sends missionary caravans out to help groups in need, and teach the old ways to struggling settlements.
If you were raised in a nomadic group, then you got used to hardship and loss at an early age. Even the most opulent wagons in a trade caravan saw misfortune and hard times.
The question with most nomadic groups is this; What holds them together?
Every nomadic bunch out there needs something that all members can hold in common. Without it, it’s not a nomadic group, just a caravan.
With bandits, it’s simple. Every member of the group helps each other prey on the weak. With biker gangs, it’s often a simple love of motorcycles and a willingness to back your adopted brothers and sisters. Long-range detached military patrols have the corporation or a settlement in common, and the Meek and others like them have religion.
The average nomadic group has a fair amount of tolerance for different races and magical stuff. It’s hard to keep a good hatred of a type of person going, when you might run into a large group of that type at your next stop. Still, tolerance isn’t always acceptance. An all-human biker gang might not hassle orcs or elves, but they might not trust them, and definitely won’t let them join the gang.
The technology level of nomadic groups depends on the group, and what they’ve salvaged lately. Most everything they have of a technological nature was scavenged, traded, or stolen. Most have vehicles of some sort, although some groups get by with horses or oxen, and wagons.
Moreso than even the settlements, nomadic groups are unique. And as members die, and new ones join, they change and grow, or die out. Be careful when approaching nomadic groups on the road, you never know what you’re going to get.