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Dread Wastes: About Lethe

Discussion in 'Dread Wastes Lore' started by The Pantheon, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. The Pantheon

    The Pantheon Administrator




    1. Overview
    2. Layout
      • Fighting Pit
    3. Lifestyle & Culture
      • Control Tags
      • Economy
    4. Government & Laws
      • Notable Laws
      • Crime & Punishment


    Lethe is often considered the criminal capital of Pandora, in no small part due to the sheer number of criminals, bandits and wrongdoers that reside in the Dread Wastes. In truth, it is actually the largest and most organized pocket of civilization to be found in the Wastes with water converters, factories that process scrap, and a militia that keeps everyone in line. It is also one of the only places where wanderers come far and wide to barter, trade and more, boasting the widest and most varied selection of resources to be found in the Wastes.

    But remember, the motto of the Wastes is “survival of the fittest”, so bear that in mind while hanging out in Lethe. It is currently ruled with an iron fist by a robust, scarred man known as the Undertaker, whose word is law due to the sheer manpower of his Militia and how far his influence extends, though it remains restricted to Lethe. Still, it is not unheard of for anyone who gets on the Undertaker’s bad side to mysteriously disappear, only to reappear as an unwilling participant in his Fighting Pit.

    Perhaps, if someone were to gather enough followers, they could overthrow the Undertaker. But as things stand now, it doesn’t seem like that will happen anytime soon.


    Although not quite a city in the traditional sense of the word, full of mismatched buildings in various states of repair, Lethe is large and easy to get lost in. Its dirt-packed streets are wide but disorganized, twisting and turning to better accommodate the surrounding buildings rather than its pedestrians. Personal homes can be found side-by-side shops, warehouses, and the like. Its architecture is a blend of concrete and cement buildings in excellent condition, or buildings on the verge of collapse patched together with scrap metal. Some buildings are even made out of stone or brick, or mismatched pieces of wood, or hardened clay, or just about anything you can put your mind to.

    Unlike other city hubs, Lethe has no actual districts to speak of, so its citizens use cardinal directions, landmarks and street names to orient themselves, however temporary or permanent they may be. There are a few locations that stand out that are under constant guard by the Militia, however. Such as the Complex of factories, electric generators and water converters in the Eastern District, the Bazaar in the Northern District, the Fighting Pit in the Southern District, and the Undertaker’s Compound in the center of the city, where the Portal Platform leading to the Portal Hub in Pandopolis can be found. Watchtowers surround the entirety of Lethe, and there is also a Radio Tower at the easternmost outskirts that serves as the main form of communication in the Wastes.

    Fighting Pit

    In the Southern District, on the fringes of the city, lies a sizeable arena-like pit carved out of the surrounding bedrock. This place is officially known as the Fighting Pit, but it is more commonly referred to as the Pit. Most civilians steer clear of it because those who are taken there are rarely seen or heard from again, though there are some who enjoy watching the fights and betting on who will win.

    Typically, Tagged civilians who break a law are sent here and forced to fight for their lives against other opponents, monsters, and more. People willingly signing up to fight is all but unheard of, but it does happen occasionally. Though not common knowledge to those who steer clear of the Pit — and even to those trapped in it — the arena and cells are lined with Prometheus Dust. Fighters are also forcibly injected with Prometheus Dust to inhibit their unnatural powers and abilities, as an additional precaution against any escape attempts.

    Rumor has it that if the Undertaker is present to watch a fight — and the more impressively you fight — the more chances you have of being granted a boon upon your victory, such as asking to be released from the Pit. Some whisper that you could even ask for your Control Tag to be removed, though no one has ever put this theory to the test.

    Lifestyle & Culture

    In the Dread Wastes, “survival of the fittest” isn’t just a saying, it’s a way of life. While most people who roam the Wastes are ruffians, thugs and bandits who have nowhere else to go, there are plenty who are just loners, nomads or wanderers trying to eke out a living. Not everyone you encounter in the Wastes is out to get you — in fact, adversity often brings people together — but it’s best to err on the side of caution.

    Lethe, in particular, is one of the only places in the Wastes that is thriving. Wanderers come from far and wide to barter, trade and more, as well as to live out a life free of strife... for a price. While living in Lethe means you typically have easier access to more resources than you would anywhere else in the Wastes — clean water and electricity, among others — this is only achieved when you offer something in return for them. Lethe’s economy is built on barter and trade, the commodification of all resources leading either to an imbalanced lifestyle or a lifestyle free from struggle and strife, depending on who you ask. While it is true that the Militia’s constant presence and sheer numbers deter civilians from crime and violence, they can take offense at even the smallest slights. Still, Lethe is unquestionably one of the safest places in the Wastes to live in, so most people prefer keeping their heads down to risking their lives out in the wilderness.

    The Undertaker himself is another constant presence in the lives of Lethe’s civilians. He roams the streets with the Militia on random days, keeping an eye out for troublemakers, and rumor has it that he is the fastest draw with a sidearm ever known. If he is not seen wandering the Bazaar or overseeing progress at the Complex, he can be found at the Fighting Pit assessing combatants or watching fights. He also spends days on end in the Compound, no one quite knowing what he gets up to when not seeing representatives of other settlements.

    Control Tags

    Naturally, there is something of a stigma surrounding Tagged civilians in Lethe, and to an extent in other places in the Dread Wastes. Everyone knows that whoever is Tagged is either a hardened criminal banished to the Wastes by some other region, or someone who committed a crime and was arrested and Tagged as punishment.

    While Tagged civilians aren’t necessarily shunned, being Tagged sets you apart. It is not unusual for the terms “Tagged” or “Taggers” to be thrown around as insults, or to be refused resources, services or shelter because of being Tagged. Tagged civilians aren’t allowed to barter and trade in the Bazaar, though they can barter for water, food and shelter in other places in Lethe.

    Control Tags are impossible to tamper with, reverse-engineer, or remove. Each Tagged individual has a file at the Processing Center that automatically details the time, place and duration of a Tag’s activation — from being in close proximity to the pillars, or by Militia members zapping them with their controllers, or trying to tamper or remove a Tag — which is used to keep an eye out for Tagged civilians arriving at or departing from Lethe.

    Militia members are posted at every entrance to the city and scan Tagged civilians as they come and go. If the Tag flashes green, the civilian is allowed passage. If it flashes yellow, they are held for questioning. If it flashes red, they are arrested on the spot.

    There is no way for a Control Tag to be removed, though rumor has it that it’s possible if you earn the Undertaker’s favor in some fashion.


    Lethe — and by extension, the rest of the Dread Wastes — does not follow a standard economic system. There is no official exchange medium for goods, such as some form of currency. Instead, people just trying make a living turn to barter and trade. Although unequal exchanges are typically frowned upon — in contrast to the rest of the Wastes, which is another reason people prefer to live in Lethe — the truth of the matter is that there is very little you can do or prove when someone stronger is determined to claim something you own and the Militia is nowhere in sight.

    Government & Laws

    As chaotic and lawless as Lethe appears on the surface, it is ruled with an iron fist by a robust, scarred man known as the Undertaker and his Inner Circle. His word is law due to the sheer manpower of his Militia and how far his influence extends, though it remains restricted to Lethe and the immediate surrounding area. Due to the Militia’s strong presence, Lethe is one of the safest places in the Dread Wastes to live in, but its inhabitants live in constant fear of getting on the Undertaker’s — and the Circle’s and Militia’s — bad side.

    The Circle makes up Lethe’s government, however informal a government it is. They deal with the organization and distribution of supplies, act as the Undertaker’s representatives when civilians raise concerns, and generally try to maintain order. Having been handpicked by the Undertaker and other members of his Circle, Circle members tend to be rough around the edges but know how to make difficult decisions to ensure Lethe’s survival. Only the most serious of matters are taken to the Undertaker, the Circle handling the rest with whatever means they deem fit. The Undertaker’s most trusted Circle members are his Left and Right Hands.

    The Militia is in charge of maintaining peace and order in Lethe and the immediate surrounding area, and venturing out into the Dread Wastes to gather supplies. Despite their mismatched uniforms, their weapons are the latest in technology to be found in the Wastes and they can be found practically everywhere in Lethe. But despite being a constant presence, and carrying out their tasks with alarming efficiency, they are feared more than they are liked.

    While the Undertaker’s influence is currently a steady presence, if someone were to gather enough followers, they could potentially overthrow him. From the leadership style to the way resources are handled, everything is determined by whoever has control of Lethe, so the current justice system is subject to changing by whoever holds power.

    Contrary to the popular belief that reigns in other regions, there are laws in Lethe. They are few but to the point, most of them having been devised by the Undertaker himself except for the law regarding how criminals exiled to the Wastes from other regions are dealt with. It is the only law that is never subject to change, no matter who holds power in Lethe.

    Notable Laws

    • Criminals brought to Lethe from another Region are immediately sent to the Processing Center and Tagged.
    • Anyone who commits a crime and is arrested is sent to the Processing Center and Tagged.
    • Anyone who is Tagged and commits a crime is arrested and sent to the Pit.
    • Anyone who is Tagged and attempts to escape the Wastes through the Portal is arrested and sent to the Pit.
    • Anyone who is Tagged and attempts to escape the Wastes by passing through the borders into another region is arrested upon their arrival at Lethe and sent to the Pit.

    Crime & Punishment

    Crimes that are considered violations of basic rights — such as theft, assault, murder, etc. — are prohibited. Any who are caught in the act by the Militia are arrested or subdued immediately. Crimes that don’t happen in the Militia’s presence are encouraged to be reported, although there are no investigators, detectives and the like to look into such cases. Instead, all involved parties are arrested and taken to the Compound, so that the Undertaker’s representatives can determine the veracity of the reports. Later, they decide whether the civilians in question are to be punished or pardoned.

    Punishment is exceptionally severe in Lethe. The first time an individual — be they an inhabitant or just a passer-by — commits a crime, they are immediately taken to the Processing Center and fit with a Control Tag. This is considered their first and last official warning. If someone who is Tagged commits a crime, or tries to leave the Wastes in any way, they are immediately arrested when on Lethean soil and taken to the Pit, where they will have to fight for their lives just to survive.

    Militia members are provided with controllers, so that they can activate Control Tags at the press of a button. These controllers send painful electric currents through a Tagged individual’s body, temporarily paralyzing them. Militia members use these controllers so they can arrested Tagged civilians more easily, but it is not unheard of for some Militia members to activate Tags for their own entertainment.

    The truth is, several members of the Circle and Militia are corrupt, easily accepting bribes and using their positions to hurt and punish civilians. However, if the Undertaker catches wind of a corrupt Circle or Militia member, they are either personally executed by his hand or immediately arrested, Tagged, and sent to the Pit, completely bypassing the first and last official warning that regular civilians are afforded. The Undertaker does not tolerate corruption in his ranks under any circumstances.

    #1 The Pantheon, Sep 13, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2018
    Gerold Hirschberg likes this.