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Page history last edited by Michael 2 years, 1 month ago

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the normal form of the Berdu flag;

actual flags carried by military units will often have slogans embroidered or painted on them, such as

¡Muerte a la ciencia!

¡Destruye las máquinas!

¡La tecnología es perversión!


     A militantly anti-technology nation in Southern California. They are leading the "Purge" against Astra in 2140.

     The inhabitants call themselves Berderos.






    The cities of San Bernardino (pop. 118,057) and Riverside (pop. 170,876); along with several dozen smaller cities in the wide valley east of the Santa Ana Mountains made up the "Inland Empire". The two counties with the same names had a total population of 1.5 million persons.

     There were substantial orchards (especially oranges) and dairies in the area.

     Several years of drought had left the Santa Ana, San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains very dry up to 1989.

     Seven nuclear weapons impacted the "Inland Empire" on November 18th, 1989; winds were from the northeast:


  • Rancho Cucamonga:  the Etiwanda Steel Producers plant (aka TAMCO, the last full-production steel mill in California, with a capacity of 500,000 tons per year -- it was mostly making rebar from scrap steel) and a nearby electrical power station were destroyed by an SS-N-20 airburst of 100 kilotons at 1,250 meters altitude.

  • Ontario:  the Ontario International Airport was struck by a warhead from an SS-N-23 missile, as a 100 kiloton surface blast.

  • Colton:  a cement plant just south of San Bernardino was destroyed by an airburst attack from an SS-N-20 warhead (100 kilotons).

  • San Bernardino:   Norton Air Force Base was hit by a surface blast from an SS-N-20 warhead (100 kilotons).

  • Riverside:  a single warhead from an SS-18 detonated over this city (about 600 kilotons)

  • near Riverside:  March Air Force Base had the longest runways in California, and was an alternate SAC headquarters. A 600 kiloton warhead from an SS-18 missile struck the runway; another 600 kiloton warhead, from an SS-17 missile, detonated 300 meters above the center of the base.


     100,000 persons died more or less immediately in the attacks; 300,000 were injured by direct radiation, blast and fires. Most of the communities between Upland and Perris were severely damaged.




     The fallout from the surface attacks mostly affected communities closer to the coast, from Anaheim to San Clemente. Due to wind speed and direction, Chino was spared from the worst of the fallout (much of it went over the city, to the coast).

     Fifteen thousand square kilometers of land south of Santa Barbara and the Mojave Desert and west of the Salton Sea were destroyed in the fires lit by the nuclear blasts -- 60% of the land area. Debris from damaged buildings fed huge firestorms which burned for weeks after the nuclear attacks.

     Fallout, the wildfires, and the lack of medical care, food and water led to another half-million deaths by the end of the 1989. More dangerous than the fallout from the atomic attacks within the Inland Empire were the clouds laden with atomic debris from the nuclear generating plants at San Onofre.

     Many of the remaining 600,000 persons in the valley, along with hundreds of thousands of persons from the Los Angeles area, fled to the east towards Arizona. By the end of the summer of 1990, only a few thousand sick, desperate or insane persons were living in the ruins of San Bernardino. Massive earthquakes in 1994 and 2020 -- widely believed to have been triggered by the Atomic War -- devastated much of the remaining infrastructure.

     For many years the former prison near Chino had the largest population within the Inland Empire.

     Beginning in the mid-21st Century, settlers from Mexico filtered north, as the radiation levels decreased. The ruins of the Inland Empire held many valuable resources in the post-War era, especially copper wire and other scrap metal. They settled at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, just to the north of the Shandin Hills.


What Outsiders Know

     The Berderos are considered fanatics by their neighbors -- or insane, by the residents of Yellow Base, Astra or any community which appreciates and uses technology and science. Their zeal in destroying any machine that isn't powered by gente, fuego, viento, agua o animales ("man, fire, wind, water, or animals") is embedded in their strange version of the Catholic church.  Their hatred for the sin of technology has recently led them to start a crusade -- La Purga ("the Purge") -- against the towns of Astra and Yellow Base.


The Reality


     In the early 21st Century the founders of Berdu, having witnessed the horrors of the Atomic War, declared that mankind should never have had such power -- and must never have it again.

     As a side effect of dismantling old machinery, they accumulate a lot of wire, scrap metal, etc. which they mostly sell to traders from Amega S'hana and La Nueva República de México. Over the last year or two the Berderos have stopped selling wire (in lengths more than a foot or so), due to a complicated religious issue.

     They've been engaged in a low-level campaign of sabotage, harassment and obstruction against the Rationalist community at Lake Arrowhead for many years; but when the available mercenaries (from the Cartel or the Foundation, who've both been hired by the Rationalists in the past) left the area, Berdu saw their chance to destroy the most sinful people in Southern California.

     Their allies in the Purge include various tribals, the pirates of the Bay Council, the Lahabrans, and (most importantly) Southshore. Mercenaries from Chino ae also taking part in the Purge, but purely for (ahem) mercenary reasons.



     About 19,000 persons live in Berdu, of which 45% are female.


population by age



under 5


5 - 9


10 - 14


15 - 19


20 - 59


60 +



Territory and Locations



     This community is centered on what was the Arrowhead Farms district of San Bernardino county, and encompasses most of the cities from Rancho Cucamonga to Yucaipa. The community has about 44,000 hectares of land under cultivation (about half of which is fallow); pasture and grazing land brings the farm area to about 100,000 hectares total. It's about 60 kilometers long east-west, and about 20 kilometers north-south.

     Berdu is made up of dozens of towns, none larger than 1,000 persons.




Government, National and Local


     Berdu is a representative democracy. Each town has a concejo ("council"); each of these councils sends a representative to the Consejo de la Communidad. In turn, the Consejo de la Communidad selects from among its members a Primer Consejero ("First Councillor"), the main administrator for the region (there is also a Segundo Consejero).

     Slavery is not tolerated, and all adult citizens (age 20 or more) are allowed to vote. Persons who emigrate away cannot return to become citizens again. Adherence to the local Roman Catholic church is compulsory, although it's not strongly enforced except against the Rationalists.

     For the last two years, sales of useful lengths of wire, and other "precursor" technical materials, have been banned. Since February of 2140 price controls have been enacted by the government, along with the establishment of purchasing commissions with compulsory powers -- all to support the Purge.


Military Affairs


     The Berdu Guardia is the community's military organization. By 2140 it numbers 2,894 persons in field units (probably 3,000 including training units and other stuff behind the lines), a surprising 50% of the male population between ages 16 and 50. This is causing quite a strain on the community's finances and labor force. Another 900 persons are involved in military operations, as teamsters, camp followers, sutlers, grooms, messengers, military police, training staff, etc., along with various volunteers, enrollees, and other informal personnel.

     Uniforms are various shades of grey or tan; the regular units are better dressed and equipped.

     About 800 riding and draft animals (horses and mules) are in military service, plus hundreds more being raised and trained.

     Most units are designated either permanente (regulars) or activo (militia called up for La Purga). The commander of the military has the rank of capitan primero; the various battalions are commanded by capitans segundo. The other officer rank is teniente


  • Batallón de Infanteria Permanente -- 480 well-trained infantry in six 80-man compañías, five of arqueros (archers) and one of fusileros (riflemen). Officers and NCOs will have revolvers.

  • Batallónes de Infanteria Activo -- each of the three militia infantry battalions (1°, 2°, and ) has 640 piqueros (pikemen), divided into eight compañías of 80 men. They are armed with long spears, swords, and (for officers and NCOs) single-shot pistols.

  • Escuadrón de Caballeria Permanente -- 50 well-trained horsemen with lever-action rifles and swords, plus a few simple grenade launchers. Officers and NCOs have revolvers.

  • Regimiento de Caballería Activo -- 250 men total, in five escuadróns of 50 lanceros each, with lances, swords, bows, sabers and some pistols.

  • Compañía de los Zapadores -- 34 combat engineers, plus three carros de guerra (war wagons, each with 12 men). 70 men total, plus 28 draft animals.

  • Batería de Artillería -- two 76.2mm rifles, four smoothbore 93mm guns, six smoothbore 84mm, served by 100 artilleros (gunners). A dozen ammunition wagons (2 men each) accompany the artillery into the field; gun teams and the ammunition wagons have about 130 draft animals.


Justice, Social Control, Punishment


     Crimes and punishments are based somewhat on the pre-Atomic War laws of Mexico. There are no lawyers, judges or prosecutors; the town councils decide on guilt and punishments. Appeals can be made to the Consejo de la Communidad.

     Punishments are typically fines, confiscation of goods, or community labor. Corporal and capital punishment (by hanging) are reserved for serious crimes. Incarceration is only used for pre-trial detention.


Political Factions, Dissent


     Not every citizen is convinced of the righteousness of the Purge; there are even those who feel that technology might be useful (or at least not evil).

     A more numerous group, known as los vendedores, is upset at the recent ban on most sales of wire and other "technical precursor" items, and on recently-enacted price controls, mandatory sales of farm produce, etc..


Famous/Infamous Persons


  • Mitchell BraniginPrimer Consejero since 2128, age 51. Had a deep hatred for Astra.

  • Mavis Bell:  age 61; a strong advocate for the destruction of Astra. The only child of a family of well-do-do salvagers.

  • Capitan Primero Nikolai Bieczowska:  age 44, senior officer of the Guardia.


Relationships with Other Groups


     As of 2140, they have good (or at least cooperative) relations with all other members of the Purge movement. In fact, Southshore has been providing food and funds which have allowed the Berderos to muster half of their adult males into their army.

     The Rationalists, at Yellow Base and Lake Arrowhead, along with the community of Astra, are the targets of the Purge.




Ethnic Groups, Immigration and Emigration


     The Berderos are blended from "general" southern California pre-War types, with a lot of Mexican immigration during the 21st Century. By the 22nd Century, there are very few emigrants, mostly unmarried young men moving to Chino; there are hardly any immigrants.


Social Divisions and Castes

     Married people have most authority. Having multiple children also adds to a married couple's social standing.


Religion, Beliefs and Superstition


     The notable belief in Berdu is a hatred of all forms of Ancient technology. They are selective in their description of "Ancient" technology; but certainly any form of machinery not operated by fire, wind, water, or muscle is wicked. They do use muzzle-loading muskets and cannons, along with some lever-action cartridge rifles (with some twisting of their definitions). Their schools, churches and leaders all preach against las maquinas del diablo -- "the devil-machines".

     About 90% of the inhabitants are Catholics (of the local variety), after a couple of generations of Catholic instruction in the schools. A generation ago the priests and monks came from Maria; now they are all locally-appointed, and the level of useful education, and cohesion with "proper" Catholic teachings, is low (although literacy is reasonably high).

     Important holidays:


  • 6 January:     Dia de los Reyes, when children receive gifts. Crown-shaped breads and cookies, etc. are served.  

  • 2 February:   Dia de la Candelaria, the end of the Christmas season; candle-lit processions through the streets to the churches are followed by a big community festival.

  • March or April:  Semana Santa ("holy week") begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter.

    • 2140:  Easter Sunday is 3 April

    • 2141:  Easter Sunday is 26 March

    • 2142:  Easter Sunday is 15 April

  • 20 July:  feast of Santa Margarita, patron of fertility and childbirth

  • 1-2 November:  Dia de los Muertos, a festival commemorating departed family and friends.  

  • 18 November:  Día de la Guerra Atómica, a major event whipping up anti-technology enthusiasm. 

  • 12 December:  feast of La Virgen de Guadalupe.

  • 24 December:  La Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), with a large family meal at midnight.


     Any sort of business or negotiations will be preceded by at least a quarter-hour of polite discussion of non-business topics. Rushing into important discussion is seen as impolite or uncultured.


Morality and Values


     Families are the most important permanent social group.

     Homosexuality is more accepted in Berdu than in other communities in Southern California, although same-sex marriage is unknown.

     In a family or household, men are traditionally the breadwinners, working in the fields or shops; women are home-makers, raising children and supporting the men (making meals, laundry, etc.).

     Machismo is an important masculine value. All important decisions are ultimately the responsibility of the men of the house -- the oldest ancestral male has the ultimate authority. Men greet other men with a handshake -- those who know each other well might give a traditional hug.

     Women don't generally shake hands; they kiss each other on the right cheek.

     Respect for the older generation(s) is expected.

     Children will usually have a god parent ("padrino") and a patron saint (most names are from the list of saints). Female children have a quinceañera on their fifteen birthday, to symbolize and celebrate their transition to womanhood.


Progress and Failure


     Increasing and protecting the wealth -- land, goods, reputation, power -- of your family are the most important.

     Men who aren't able to marry are pitied; many become mercenaries (at Chino, or with the Cartel), or emigrate to work in other communities, with the cliched statement, "He's gone off to make his fortune." Others travel to Maria and enter holy orders, or do other work for the Catholic Church.


Family, Age, Sexuality and Gender


     Households consist of multiple generations.

     There are well over a thousand unmarried adult men -- 55% of the adults are male. Each year the late-teenage males are competing for brides with all of the unmarried men. A dowry (la dote) is common -- funds or more often other gifts ("Look at the magnificent farm I'll give you") which remain the bride's personal property.

     "Family is everything," it's the most important social institution. Weddings are a quite grand event, with the godparents having a central role. Saint Margaret of Antioch (Santa Margarita) is the patron of fertility and progeny. There are all sorts of wedding customs involving candles, items of clothing, orange blossoms in the bride's hair, horses and carts, particular music, etc..

     Married women, and most widows, cover their hair, and usually have it braided or otherwise "tied up". An adult woman with her hair undone (long and loose) is a sign that she's willing to accept marriage proposals. Women may marry at (of course) age 15, males can marry

     Perhaps due to the low (female) birthrate, bastardy is not an issue -- all of a wife's children are legal heirs to the couple (even if born before wedlock, or from another marriage), unless a (rare) legal proceeding is instituted and won by the husband. This can (rarely) result in children having multiple living legal parents.

     A woman having a child but not having a husband is seen as foolish, but not particularly sinful (except perhaps by very pious old ladies). Pregnancy among unmarried girls (below age 19 or so) is usually grounds for a charge of seduction (estupro) against the man involved.   

     The age of consent for sexual activity is effectively 14, with various restrictions up to age 16. Marriage without parental consent is illegal before age 18; with parental consent, it's allowed at age 15.

     Divorce is rare, scandalous and quite contentious.


Education and Language


     A dialect of Unislang is spoken here (with a lot of Español Mexicano words); as the years pass, the Spanish language is more common. Literacy stands at about 70%, and almost always in Ancient Spanish.

     There are schools for children ages 6 to 14; they are free and mandatory, operated by the local branch of the Catholic Church, with a lot of oversight by the Consejo de la Communidad. There's a lot of propaganda in the curriculum.


The highest Education a character gets from the local schools is 8.


Environment and Agriculture


     Horses, goats, donkeys, and sheep are the usual livestock; there are some farmers raising poultry (primarily ducks). Crops in the valley are not certain, and are sometimes contaminated by radiation or Ancient chemical contamination.




     Every few years Berdu needs to import food.

     Dairy products are not in favor, despite all the milk-producing animals -- radioactive contamination has decreased, but there are strong memories of the problems faced by previous generations.

     Beans, corn (maize) and chili peppers are staples; corn takes the place of wheat in many products. Other foods include tomatoes, avocados, mangoes, and squashes.


Art and Entertainment, Music, Literature, Recreation


     The popular form of music is called música norteño; it's played on instruments like bajo sexto, accordions, drums and the double bass. It's got a fair amount of influence German polkas, and from 20th Century rock and popular (American) music.

     Trios known as cochis play polkas, corridos (a ballad form which usually has a narrative and a moral -- romantic, political, educational, etc.), and música norteño. A larger group would probably be called a conjunto.


The best-known (to the players) corrido is La Cucaracha.


     Rodeos and the charreada are popular sports, all involving "ranch" skills such as riding and roping.


Fashion and Appearance

     Men wear rough "sack" coats and loose trousers, with sandals and straw hats; women wear dresses but otherwise the same footwear and hats as men. Married women keep their hair covered.

     In the military, the cavalry, artillery and other mounted soldiers wear boots. The infantry wear black (or at least dark-colored) cross-belts.


Urban and Rural Areas, Architecture


     All pre-Atomic War buildings are reduced to rubble and foundations, and a few heavy concrete walls. The current style of construction is adobe single-story "Mission" architecture, with roofs either flat or peaked with red tiles.


Equipment and Resources



     They are rated as Non-Industrial, Non-Agricultural. The gross national product is about $85,000 per year. In 2140, about 40% of the GNP goes toward military expenditures.


Science, Medicine and Technology

     Their Technology level is F -- circa 1770 AD in the British colonies in America.


Weapons and Military Equipment


      The Guardia has not quite been able to standardize all of their firearms, but the majority of their infantry carry 18.5mm smoothbore muskets (these were originally designed to use 12 gauge shotgun barrels). Some troops (usually cavalry, but also expert shots and some officers) carry lever-action .44 caliber Styx rifles.

     The 93mm cannons (equivalent to the old M1841 6-pounder) and 84mm cannons (equivalent to the Napoleonic era French 4-pounder) are smoothbore muzzle-loaders, with bronze barrels. Each of these requires an eight-man crew when firing.

     The 76.2mm rifles are equivalent to the 3" Ordnance Rifle; the crew is ten men. Their effective and maximum ranges are about four times greater than for the smoothbore guns.

     Most ammunition for the artillery is either solid shot, or canister. A small supply of explosive shells is available for the 76.2mm rifles.




     By couriers, on foot or horseback. There are no newspapers; the only printed items are Bibles and religious-themed schoolbooks, filled with propaganda by the government.



     Horses, mules and horse-drawn wagons. The military uses flags, trumpets and bugles, flares, mirrors, and other simple systems.








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