“What a god forsaken shit hole…”
Formerly southern California, Sokal is not a nation or country so much as a region of territory recognized as one of the few places where Wasters can flourish. Sokal extends as far Northeast as the Mojave, with the northernmost border being the Bako Commonwealth and The Valley of the Dead. The eastern boundary is less defined but usually stretches over the Great Eastern River until it hits the domain of the Rust Horde, where few Wasters dare to tread. Tijuana marks the south before people enter the Mexican No-Man’s land. The western boundary is of course the Pacific but some people now just call it the end of the world. The presence of larger cities before the Fall means that there is still a lot of salvage and food all over Sokal. This attracts scavengers but discourages larger groups such as bandits who have difficulty finding enough food to support their numbers. Many small communities have sprung up all over Sokal as a result, from survivalist nomads, to idol cults and cannibals, to regular folks just trying to scrape by.
“I know you think it’s a good idea to go there…. That’s exactly what the last guy thought and I haven’t seen him return either.
One of the most fabled and feared ruins in Sokal. Bako was once a thriving city, some of that beauty even remains. Now though, it is a haunted waste of leaning buildings and buried secrets. Home to some of the richest companies and most expensive homes in the world before. Bako was hit hardest when the world ended. High tech industry collapsed in on itself as the massive infrastructure needed to maintain it failed.
What’s left of Bako is a haunted maze of office parks, strip malls, and coffee shops. Even with these normally lucrative scavenging sites in plain view, few go to Bako. Occasionally a brave Keeper can be found delving into the many hidden bunkers or old skyscrapers that dot the landscape. But they do so with uncharacteristic fear and a lack of thoroughness. Tales speak of strange creatures roaming the streets that once held cars worth more than most houses. Whatever these creatures are, those who have gone to Bako and survived will not speak of them.
“Something about that place isn’t right. And I don’t even know where to begin with the people who live there.”
Hidden in the northeastern corner of Sokal is one of the last remaining forests in the known world. The enormous old tree from which Big Trees gets its name have survived thousands of years and were one of the few plants not affected by the increase in background radiation. They still stand today, their giant, eery figures loom over the valley that they have claimed as their own.
Big Trees hold a special significance to the Tribal peoples that inhabit Sokal and beyond. To them the trees own the valley and no one tribe can inhabit it. As such it is seen as a neutral meeting ground for all tribes to come to if the need to trade, ask for advice and settle disputes peacefully. It is also the location where most of Sokal’s most powerful Shamans undergo their acceptance ceremonies due to the unique spiritual properties the area has.
Big Trees is also known as one of the most spiritually active locations in all of Sokal. The barriers between the real world and the Astral are very thin here, so much so that even those who cannot normally see Spirits have claimed to witness them here. The Spirits that inhabit Big Trees are also some of the most powerful in the known world. Those who venture into Big Trees are wise to do so with the help of a Shaman to avoid pissing off a powerful spirit.
“It’s a nice enough place. Nice view, warm, friendly people. They have this great place to get food too. Just… you know. It’s loaded with radiation and you’ll get cancer within a week.”
After the Fall, most parts of what would eventually become known as Sokal quickly succumbed to urban decay and natural disaster. With no one left to rebuild there aren’t to many building left standing after two hundred or so years. One spot remained though. The small town of Vista had been located on an active fault line. What seemed like a bad idea though turned out to be the town’s salvation as the reinforced buildings have withstood the test of time and the elements very well. It’s rather unfortunate then that it was downwind from a nuclear power plant that went into meltdown a few years after the Fall.
Vista eventually became known as Glow Vista. Going there is almost a guaranteed death sentence for anyone without some form protection from the rampant radiation. But it is a desirable location nonetheless thanks to the nearly intact buildings and remains of the infrastructure.
Glow Vista is not, however, entirely depopulated. It has become a haven for Vaukderir. Their natural resistance to radiation makes them ideal inhabitants for the remaining buildings. It isn’t well known outside of Glow Vista if there is any sort of organization to the grow Vaukderir community. A grisly practice has been created around the city though. In order to feed its inhabitants many bandits have found numerous ways of preserving corpses and selling them to the Vaukderir in exchange for some of Glow Vista’s vast hordes of usable salvage. This “Meat Trade” has proven extremely lucrative and has caused many bandits to turn to killing when they otherwise wouldn’t waste a bullet.
“It’d be fine if it wasn’t for the giant Mut-Ants.”
Mut-Ants are the scourge of Sokal and beyond. Everyone hates them and has a story about being woken up at night with one of these terrible creatures clamped onto their most favorite appendage. As bad as the typical Mut-Ant is the ones in Fres-Hell-No are even worse. Something about this ruined town caused the Mut-Ants to grow to enormous sizes. Closer to the size of a horse these Mut-Ants are terrifying creatures. No less aggressive than their smaller cousins. They’ve been know to wipe out and devour entire caravans that foolishly strayed too close to this ruin. Getting your ankle bit at night doesn’t seem so bad now does it?
“That road only goes one place, and it’s got an express lane…”
The Old Interstate Five, which runs directly through the center of Sokal is a place rightly feared by most Wasters. While it aided transportation in the days before the Fall, it now provides easy passage for bandits, raiders, cannibal bands, and worse. It is a place best avoided unless someone has a great deal of firepower and backup. Only one group manages to traverse Hell’s Highway regularly. The fabled Wheelmen who jealously keep the secrets to cars and engines.
“The worst part, eventually you have to leave.”
Nestled in a small secluded valley northwest of Lost Angels, Ojai Grahla is home to the Followers of M, a Theurgy cult dedicated to pleasurable experiences and good will. Ojai Grahla reflects their beliefs and is set up in ways that or visually appealing. Ojai Grahla is a small community, but a thriving one thanks to its many visitors. Anyone who stays is expected to pay in a certain fashion for their time spent there, and many chose to do so by helping with construction or with cultivating food. Ojai Grahla’s numerous buildings are then decorated by the cult’s artists with bright colors and fabrics.
Ojai Grahla has little use for private residences, though. All building and possessions are considered communal. What building there are are used for breweries, drugs manufacturing, dance halls, musical and artistic pursuits and brothels.
A verifiable paradise by the standards of the Wastes, Ojai Grahla is spoken of in the same sentences that mention New Gomorrah. But, while New Gomorrah is basically considered a myth, many have visited Ojai Grahla, seen the sites and tasted the food and left. While they speak highly of their time there, there is always a twinge of regret in their tone when they mention. Truly the worst part of Ojai Grahla is that you can’t stay forever.
“There’s no escape.”
What was the greater Los Angeles metro area and much of its surroundings is now mostly an open warzone. It possessed a huge population before the Fall but was a center of repeated conflict, both foreign war and domestic rioting, that destroyed most of the city’s infrastructure leaving a nightmarish landscape of rubble, destroyed buildings and collapsed superhighways.
Far from unpopulated, Lost Angels is in constant turmoil thanks to numerous small warbands that do battle with each other frequently. Even with the relatively plentiful resources Lost Angels offers, it is entirely common to get stabbed and left in the street for a can of beans. Lost Angels is known and feared across Sokal for the Warlords and the Warbands that they form. The attrition rate of these Warbands is mercifully high, which prevents them from forming large, battle hardened armies similar to Raider groups and boiling out of Lost Angels bent on plunder. At least for now. Few dedicated Wasters go to Lost Angels for salvage unless they’re suicidally brave, desperate or have some sort of connection with the Warbands.
“Look, I don’t know what’s down there, I don’t want to know and the Havassians sure as fuck don’t want me to know either. So we’re all in agreement to just stay the fuck out of that place.”
One of the very few places in Sokal that can be considered civilized. Lake Havasu is the purported home of the long lost Project Posterity bunker that opened a few decades ago and released what would come to be known as the Havassians into the wastes. Now known simply as Posterity, the bunker’s distillation plant is one of the very few reliable sources of freshwater in the region. The plant and the lake that feed it are jealously guarded by the Havassians and trespassing is explicitly forbidden. The bunker, while an almost functional society in and of itself, is not entirely self sufficient despite the Havassians best efforts. Some Havassians leave Posterity to try and find needed materials, others leave for their own reasons. Posterity itself however has a sinister reputation and most wasters seek to avoid it unless they’re particularly desperate for water and think they have something to offer.
“No, of course I’ve never been there, I mean no one who goes come back. I mean why would you? They have whole buildings made of steak I’ve heard! And they got all the men or women you could want! But, could a place like that even exist? I sure hope so because I’ve been stockpiling.”
The shining city in the middle of one of the most unforgiving deserts in the world, the vertical columns of light draw all sorts of pilgrims seeking comfort, wealth and pleasure. Last Vegas is spoken of with near mythical reverence throughout the Wastes. Built on the remains of a somehow mostly spared paradise city. The journey is extremely perilous as one must pass up Hells Highway and takea specific exit, though no one seems to know which. Those with knowledge of strange things say the exit makes itself known to those who are worthy. Other speak of mysterious guide who appear for those seeking passage to test them. No one really know for sure what it takes to get to Last Vegas. Many horde supplies and food their entire lives to save for a pilgrimage. Most fail though and their bones pave the lost roads. No one who has made it to Last Vegas seems to return however, but why would they when the roads are paved in gold, the buildings are made of food, and the fresh water and wine flow freely.
“No gods, no masters. Only man and machine.”
The Regulus was at one point a large ship that was scuttled off the coast of Lost Angels during the Fall. A few decades ago it was settled by a group of anarchist engineers and scientists calling themselves the Machine Heads. They found their ideal home in the Regulus which had been outfitted as a floating factory to support large navies and humanitarian relief efforts. Over the years they have managed to expand their home by finding the occasional floating container and cabling it to the Regulus. Families on Regulus work for the right to occupy shipping containers, the more skilled they are the better their accommodations. Since then their movement has grown to include anyone tired of the self proclaimed leaders and warlords in the Wastes. While theoretically anyone is welcome only those with skills like engineering are better off than they would be elsewhere. Being unskilled usually means a job like a galley slave or janitorial detail. This is because skill is freedom to the Machine Heads, they buy their independence with their skills in engineering and arms manufacturing. If you have decent gun, working water purifier or maybe even a functional motor, chance are it passed through the hands of a Machine Head at some point. No one person truly leads the Machine Heads but their views are well known to outsiders. They do not do business with Theurgists at all and will not work for anyone representing a group, work is on a strictly individual basis. The Machine Heads will occasionally send out scavenging parties to gather raw materials and barter for work.
“Scum likes to stick to itself.”
Sitting in a deep valley far East of Lost Angels sits one of the most notorious gatherings in all of Sokal. VictoryVille sprung up around a small settlement that needed to accept trade, any trade, to scrape by. They turned to the only people others wouldn’t do deals with, Bandits, slavers, cannibals, mutants and all other sorts. Bandits of all types were suddenly allowed into the small settlement to trade, drink, gamble, get some action and move on. Not everyone who lived in VictoryVille approved of the deal. But it ended up being so lucrative that they were soon forced out by the success of their less reputable neighbors. Soon slavers, Vaukderir and even mutants followed, and VictoryVille was born.
Today VictoryVille is exists as a testament to how mutual need can somehow hold a community together. For all intents and purposes VictoryVille is one of the most violent, lawless places in the Wastes. But it avoids tearing itself apart at the seams because of the tacit agreement of all undesirables who go there not to screw it up too badly. It’s the only place they can find even a little respite and get the materials they can’t easily find just by raiding, so losing VictoryVille to all out anarchy would spell the end for them.
That’s not to say VictoryVille is safe at all though. Just walking down the open street in VictoryVille is inviting a fight. It’s a town populated by people who live on fear and intimidation.