Collected and Edited by Owen Roberts, Ann Chen, Shoshana Kessock and Jon Wasserman
Dystopia Rising is a live action roleplay game that consists of a world of zombies, raiders, and the day to day desperate battle for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. The town of Second Hayven is hotly contested territory, represented by a ten-acre camp grounds in Sparta, New Jersey. In June of 2011, the town was was a frontier territory occupied by every kind of post-apoc survivor you could imagine. From freed slaves seeking a safe home to pure-blooded elite families and , the settlers of Second Hayven were a camp of nearly two hundred and fifty.
But the year before, the town had previously been known as New Berlin and was owned by the descendents of neo-Nazi’s known as the Fifth Reich. The citizens of New Berlin were driven from the town and it was rechristened as Hayven after the town the settlers had previously lost. That June, the Nazi’s returned to take their town back by force. This is the story of that battle, told from the perspective the characters who fought it.
Part One - It’s Part of Living
Caleb March (a freed Iron Slave farmer, played by Josh Harrison): It was springtime, nice and warm. They had told us that the Reich was coming. But nobody quite knew what they were going to try.
Brett McCarren (a weapons repairman of Hayven, played by Allison Heeney): It was my first war, actually, my first real battle. I had trained to use a weapon for this. I was scared. I knew i was going to die. And I had made my peace with that.
Xavier “Medic” Cross (a wandering holy man and medic, played by Gabriel Llopiz): I was assigned as a doctor, a medic, to one of the groups. The groups was assigned to go forward and attack sniper towers from the rear to allow another group to move forward and storm the main hub of New Berlin.
Shea Laguardia (a medic and religious leader, played by Kate Beamen-Martinez): I play a character who is very rough and tumble, follows the three Fs: Fighting, Feeding and Fornication. I stole that from a book.
Dusty Lightfoot (a caravan driver, hustler and medic, played by Andrea Vasilescu): Yeah. Yeah I was livin’ in Hayven back then. Didn’t quite realize I was yet. I’d just, uh, been in town for two months at that point. Was lookin’ to find a new trade route. My luck had kinda gone dry. Uh, so, needed to kinda, rebuild. Ya know. Lightfoot Caravans wasn’t always what it is these days. But it was a good town to start fresh.
Melody Rapture (the sixteen-year-old daughter of Jack Rapture, played by Abigail Corfman): I don’t like talking about this. It hurts. I figure it makes a great deal of sense why it hurts, but its not normal for me, I don’t hurt often.
Dusty: But, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to war, you know.. How much you know or how much you care. Or, where you really stand in the matter. You get out the way or, it runs you over. So... Usually I get out the fuckin’ way. But uh, I didn’t have anywhere to go. So, there it was.
Brett: I sat in the dark with those who first welcomed me into town, the Krattikoffs, waiting for the first attack to take place.
Zurok Krattikoff (a communist Red Star fighter, played by Aaron Olsen): I am a Red Star, Zurok Krattikoff, of the Hayven Krattikoff commune. I am just a soldier, so I left the battle plans to people with more experience. As I recall, we set up three main groups to intercept the attackers, set up a choke point between the town entrance and the radio tower, with a final line of defense remaining behind at the end to protect the power supply beneath it. I chose to remain behind in the final line. In a town full of people who think they are heroes, there are not so many who willingly stay behind. Through some combination of fear and humility, I decided to let them be heroes while I held the homefront.
Caleb: We folk on the ground didn’t really have any idea what was going on. But they whup us all into a big ole’ frenzy. They got us started so’s everyone knows the Nazis are coming and they were gonna come across the field with the radio tower. It was our job to make sure they didn’t come and hit the Tap and rout Hayven proper. Specially on account of that’s where the reactor is. They technically know how it works, so they figured if they got to the reactor then the whole town …
Melody: My father was Jack Rapture. He was a doctor. I only knew him when I was older. And the night the Nazis came … Well i guess i’m getting … Well I’m not good at telling stories. Not good at telling stories at all.
Shea: Our route was to walk the path between the Double Tap and the radio tower. Before everything started, all the platoons had gone off to their respective areas to get prepped. So King’s Court starts praying and preaching, head preacher Two Tone Stratocaster getting us ramped up, getting us to go get ready to fight for our lives, defend our town.
Melody: We all was told that the Nazis was gonna come … And I usually run when that happens, on account of I don’t much care about other folks. But the problem was that I love my daddy and my daddy weren’t gonna run, so I had to stay.
Shea: Two Tone, he’s preaching and I was standing on the other side of the room. I start banging my foot on the ground, gradually picking up more volume and strength. It echoed across the room and moved like a wave until we were really feeling that beat and ready to go smash some faces. And we were gonna win cause we were the Court. And we’re screaming and yelling our songs at each other and someone comes over and screams, “Oh dear god stop, we thought you’re the Nazis! Go get ready!”
Part 2 - We Failed—but at Least We Died Together
The battle began with Nazis invading from the main road and quickly taking over many areas of the town. The plans laid out by the townspeople proved ineffective against an unexpectedly strong Nazi force. What might have been a triumphant battle instead turned into a terrifying fight that had the potential to wipe out every character in town.
Zurok: The silence hung for the longest time, for longer than it should have.
Caleb: I know eventually they come, there was a big ole’ flash of light and a big ole’ sound and maybe a bomb went off or they done lobbed a mortar or something into the line.
Dusty: I remember my first sight of the Nazis. <Sigh>, <sigh>. I damn near pissed myself. I think... I still get nightmares about it to this day. They came in artillery flashin’. And I couldn’t see a goddamn thing. The flashes just kept going off. And it was blinding—it was disorienting. That’s a thing people don’t fuckin tell ya about, ya know? And... as much as we were prepared, they fuckin’ broke our lines. They mowed down our heavy hitters.
Xavier: We marched forward and a large explosion rang through the air. Someone had stepped on a landmine and blew off one of his legs as well as the people around him. Everyone within five feet of the blast was hit with shrapnel, legs and arms were blown off. It was terrifying. This is how we got a sense of the danger that lay ahead. As we marched forward the snipers were alerted to our direction. Now we had a small problem. We had to attend to the wounded while dodging sniper fire.
Shea: They decimated us in seconds. We all dropped because a lot of us were new. We just dropped. There we are, I’m lying on the ground, next to people I know. I get dragged off and fixed. Then starts my night of fixing somebody, getting fixed, getting dropped. I got dropped five times that night. Total of eight.
Jack: Me and the Rev realize two things very quickly, first of all, the fight is going badly, the Nazis are really laying into our friends. The other thing we realize... the Nazis are all between us and our friends.
Brett: All I could do was scream. I didn’t want to die. I really didn’t.
Xavier: To this day, the scariest thing washed over me. I noticed from my right side, the lasers from the snipers in the trees. I lay perfectly still. I thought I was going to be shot, I thought I was going to die. The lasers washed over me and that was when the realization sunk in, that I was near invisible. I started crawling when the lasers started coming back. I thought I could be seen for sure. But they just moved over me and kept going on.
Zurok: It was a massacre.
Xavier: They had a howitzer and it was aimed right towards us. We had the numbers but they had the firepower. And it would later really show that we were not prepared for this at all. The howitzer launched bullet after bullet after bullet into our ranks and it just slaughtered all of us. It cut through people, it pierced through bodies and hit other people behind. I ducked down and barely managed to survive. A bullet went through my hat and well, that stayed there. Many of my friends were shot, two of my closest friends were shot, though not in lethal areas, they were wounded.
Dusty: When I saw them burst through those doors... I … thought it was all over. I thought every single one of us was gonna be comin’ out of that morgue. Or, heh, or not...Ya know? I thought we were done.
Xavier: From this point forward, it becomes blurry on my end. An explosion rang through the building almost killing everyone inside.
Brett: Jack Rapture, and his young one, Melody Sampson, were helping me out. He had a smile on his face. He always did. And he had so much hope for the future. He had just welcomed a pair of twins into the world. Their mother was resting as much as she could. Which means she was probably shooting Nazis, knowing her.
Shea: I have my arm stretched out, and i feel this leather hand, this glove, slide into mine—and there’s a skill called ‘jolt’ that is basically paddles to the chest, and you get revived some—and I feel this hand and i’m like ‘what the fuck’ and he squeezes my hands and i hear this very quiet jolt. And then eventually the entirety of the mass of the dead, apparently the jolt went through the bodies and we all got up and ran, and they couldn’t take care of forty people on the ground when there’s twenty of them, so we just ran, and I was one of the first people to get out.
Dusty: Like I said, it’s all kind of a blur. There were people all around me that needed to be treated too. And, I heard Elizabeth. She was, she was, a good friend of mine. I heard her callin’ for me. For me specifically... I know if I got to her, I could run her out. I know that. I can carry someone twice my size easy. I know I don’t look like much. But... But I was too scared. And that’s the truth of it. I was too fuckin’ afraid. I was too fuckin’ afraid to go back there at all.
Zurok: Facing foes who could slay me with one strike, I took a deep breath and threw away any care for my own life, ready to join my brothers in the graveyard.
Dusty: I remember, they, they, they burst in through the back, and I remember I was running out the front. And, uh. I was on the porch and I heard someone call my name. I don’t even remember who the fuck it was, and I turned back, to go through the front door, to go in and grab ‘em. ‘Cause, like fuck you’re gonna leave someone who calls your name, you know? I’m a coward, but, I got a fuckin’ heart.
...And he just fuckinnn’ slaughtered me. One fuckin’ hit. And I just... He fuckin’ cut me stern to bow. And uh, I just I fell. I fell right up the stairs. I was certain I was gonna die. And, then, the youngest Krattikoff... Never fuckin’ spoke a word to him in my goddamn life, uh, before that. And still barely speak now. He just... Came around the corner. And... He does psionic stuff, and I … don’t claim to know what the fuck he did. But whatever the fuck he did ... he healed me. And started fighting ‘em. And I fuckin’ ran. I fuckin’ ran! He told me to—I fuckin’ ran.
Caleb: He come up, put his hammer against my neck, and then he picked me up and drugged me and he put me down next to Lifter who I barely knew at the time. There’s a weird thing about Lifter cause he doesn’t really feel feelings the way folk do. So he was just lying there with this weird blank expression on his face. And I knew he wanted to be afraid, he even said that he was feeling fear, which he ain’t normally done. We were both dying, we were both bleeding to death right on the field there.
Melody: I saw an Iron carrying my daddy, and he called me. And I could’ve gotten him out of there. I can pull people out of tight spots, thats a thing I’m good at. I should’ve taken him from her. But I didn’t on account of I was scared.
Zurok: The choke points quickly became chaos. They were too strong. As bodies poured out the back door, I found my brother Sergei and the two of us held our ground as long as we could. Once the ground to our back was open we stepped back, each parried blow offering another second of time for others to escape. Finally the hold narrowed and Sergei stepped behind, leaving me alone face to face with the leading offender. Furiously blocking, my right hand blade slipped from hand and fell to the floor. The Nazi instantly capitalized and struck through. The pain was too great, I could not remain standing. As I fell back a strong hand grabbed the back of my vest and dragged me. The Nazi blades pierced my body several more times. Through the pain I was happy to shield another who could still run. The stranger carried me through the back door. But once we were outside, the Fifth Reich swarmed and slew my savior. Sergei and I lay there, bleeding out onto the ground just behind the inn. We failed, but at least we would die together.
Part Three - Doctor Down
When the battle finished, the townspeople had barely regained control of Hayven at the cost of nineteen of their allies. Character who had died in battle went to the morgue for instructions while other characters regrouped for the next day. By Sunday, it was all over, but there was a lot of action to catch up on and trauma to reflect on. Of the nineteen who died in character that night, eighteen would return to game the next month, traumatized but alive. For one Jack Rapture, however, it was the end of the game.
Brett: We would hear tell later that he had laid dying in the branches, that he did not cry out for his own life, or the lives of those he would leave behind, Bessie, the twins, and Melody. This would be his last battle in life, and I had been part of the reason it happened. Sometimes I still blame myself for that, to this day.
Shea: So the battle’s ended, we’ve clearly lost, but I don’t know why we’re not leaving, and I’m sitting on the back steps of the double tap, kind of like in shock, like “Oh dear god, now what do we do, its not safe here, why are we still here?” Basically questioning everything.
Dusty: War’s ugly. There’s no sense to it. Liz died because of me. Caleb did too. Who knows who else I could’ve maybe saved if I wasn’t... if I didn’t run. But I lived. You know? Sometimes that’s what matters.
Caleb: To this day I don’t know whether we won or lost that one. We still got the town but, since that day, something’s been different. And I think anybody who knew Dr. Jack would tell you the same. Think that’s all I have to say about that.