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Dread Wastes: About the Region

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

  1. The Pantheon

    The Pantheon Administrator


    The Dread Wastes


    1. Overview
      • Banishment & Exile
      • Economy
      • Regional Balance
    2. Magic & Technology
      • Magic
      • Technology
    3. Travel
      • Inter-Region Travel
    4. Lethe


    The Dread Wastes are vast, encompassing the northeast of Pandora’s continent. A large mountain range sprawls to the north, bleak and foreboding. Inland, there is sparse and relatively stunted plant growth and temperatures are high during the day. Vast forests, wetlands, and marshes take up most of the south. The Wastes are considered a no-man’s-land despite its varied landscape, but only because people can wander for days on end without seeing another living soul.

    Most people who roam the Wastes are ruffians, thugs and bandits who have nowhere else to go, but you might also stumble on the occasional loner, nomad, or wanderer too. Not everyone you encounter in the Wastes is out to get you, but it’s best to err on the side of caution. People traveling alone are few and far between, considering the dangers to be found, but there are several pockets of civilization to be found such as campsites, caravans, outposts, villages, and even some small towns. There are even some rumors of a paradise to the south, a community where you don’t have to fear for your life and you can live free, though few are brave enough to set off on the long journey to discover it for themselves.

    As distrustful of each other as the inhabitants of the Wastes are, and as wise as it is to trust in no one but yourself, it is also safer to band together. In fact, despite the number of communities that have congregated around water holes, oases, and the like — where the way of life is either following someone else’s lead, sharing everything to your name with your fellow survivalists, or avoiding the roaming gangs and bandits — Lethe is a thriving pocket of civilization in the center of no-man’s-land where you can live out a life free of strife... for a price.

    Underestimating the dangers of the Wastes is a mistake that can cost you your life. Though the wildlife seems few and far between at first, there are rumors of large beasts roaming around with unnatural growths and iridescent eyes, of shambling undead eager to feast on living flesh, of enormous burrowing worms with row upon row of sharp teeth that erupt from the ground beneath your feet, and any other manner of horror your mind can conjure. There are areas in the Wastes no sane person will venture into, rife with such creatures.

    Then again, who said those who live in the Wastes are sane?

    Banishment & Exile

    Criminals who commit serious crimes in other regions — such as murder, torture, terrorism, etc. — may be sent to the Dread Wastes to serve out their sentence instead of being imprisoned in their respective regions. When this happens, the criminals are accompanied by guards and taken to Lethe via the Portal Hub in Pandopolis. Upon arrival, they are taken directly to processing and fit with Control Tags — small disk-like devices placed on the back of their necks that shock them if they disobey Lethe’s Militia, try to remove or tamper with the Tags, or make any attempts to escape the Wastes — before they are released into the city and left to their own devices.

    What separates the Wastes from other regions — besides its survival-of-the-fittest way of life — is how exiles are kept separate from the rest of Pandora. While most people can use their abilities in the Wastes as normal and come and go as they please, Tagged civilians — typically those who have been exiled, but people can also get Tagged for committing crimes, or other reasons — cannot escape the Wastes without first getting their Tags removed.

    This is because the Wastes’ borders are framed by metal pillars that stretch into the sky as far as the eye can see. Upon approaching the borders, Tagged individuals — who come within 10 meters of the pillars — are bombarded by high-frequency sound waves, painful to anyone in spite of their abilities or biology. Control Tags are also activated to zap individuals with electric currents. The longer someone stays within range of the pillars, the more painful the waves and currents become. Prolonged exposure can cause paralysis, unconsciousness, brain hemorrhaging, and eventual death.

    These Control Tags also restrict an individual’s teleportation abilities, no matter where in the Wastes they are, electrocuting and temporarily paralyzing them if they attempt to use them in any way. Control Tags are impossible to tamper with, reverse-engineer, or remove unless you earn the Undertaker’s favor in some fashion.


    There is no standard economic system to be found in the Dread Wastes, such as some form of currency in exchange for goods. Instead, civilians who are just trying make a living usually turn to barter and trade. This can range anywhere from equivalent exchanges — such as trading animals for food or water, or trading old equipment for usable scrap metal — to unequal and often ludicrous exchanges — such as trading one-of-a-kind magic artifacts for weapons on the verge of falling apart — that border on the criminal.

    Remember, everything is considered a commodity in the Wastes, even people.

    Regional Balance

    Just like every other region, the Dread Wastes have a particular theme. Post-apocalyptic as they are, they’re the perfect example of a survival-of-the-fittest and every-man-for-himself kind of aesthetic. In order to maintain the regional balance, Pandora has the tendency to “correct” whatever drives the region too far from its original theme. For example, the region’s technology and magic levels can never reach the levels found in, say, the Cosmic Wilderness or the Crystal Vales.

    Individual characters and their personal equipment or skills are rarely impacted by the balance, but there are a few things that are:
    • There are no cellular signals, satellite signals, nor other wireless networks available. The only form of communication available is through radio waves. Although cell phones and/or laptops brought into the Wastes will work for so long as they are charged, they will be unable to connect to any networks.

    • Mass production is always out of reach. While Lethe has a couple of factories that melt down scrap metal, none of these factories are fully automated. Recently-constructed assembly lines will break down after a few hours, so these factories must be manned by workers instead to prevent them from needing constant repairs. This doesn’t stop people from trying to push the limits of automating the process and achieving mass production by attempting to stay on top of repairs, but their efforts are ultimately fruitless.

    • People can build whatever they want out of scrap metal and whatever other resources they find — even shabby robots and mecha that obey simple commands — but anything too sophisticated — such as artificial intelligences and rocket technology — will always be elusive. Any such technology imported from other regions for trade purposes will inevitably break down.

    • People can make use of their magic abilities without restriction (except for teleportation abilities for whoever is Tagged), but magic on its own is rare, volatile and dangerous.

    Magic & Technology


    While not common, there are places of magic power to be found in the Dread Wastes and people who know how to wield it. You might stumble on old ruins thrumming with mystic energies, or get lost in labyrinthine tunnels deep underground. You might even find an old hedge witch camping out on the edge of the Twilight Marshes, or chance upon a meditating sorcerer on one of the tallest peaks in the Blackridge Mountains.

    Whatever the case, any magic found in the Wastes isn’t easily harnessed and comes with a price. Keeping hold of whatever you claim so others don’t steal it out from under your nose is easier said than done.


    All kinds of technology can be found in the Dread Wastes, but none of it is uniform or widespread. Most technology is personalized, ranging from whatever someone has on their person when they venture there, to whatever they can build themselves out of scrap metal and the like, or to whatever they can steal.

    Lethe is the only community in the Wastes that boasts electricity, thanks to its electric generators, heavily guarded by the Undertaker’s Militia. In addition, the only real method of communication in the Wastes is via radio waves. This is made possible by a radio tower on the outskirts of Lethe, which is also heavily guarded.

    However, any town, outpost and the like within range of the radio tower can broadcast supply requests, bounty hunting adverts, wild animal attacks, weather warnings, and whatever else they deem important. So long as they have appropriate equipment, communication is not restricted. In fact, anyone can use the radio waves to communicate, its range easily surpassing hundreds of miles in all directions, provided they stay off the main frequencies.


    Travel in the Dread Wastes varies greatly depending on whatever resources you have at your disposal. Very few travel by foot, as those who do are considered suicidal fools by the rest. Some prefer to travel by horse, camel, reptile, or any other animal you can think of that can be ridden and support your weight. Most prefer to use motor vehicles, such as bikes or off-road vehicles, but often have to resort to bartering for or stealing fuel to keep them running. Whatever your choice of transportation, it is your only source of transportation. There are no other means of travel between towns or outposts, though you can barter or buy animals or vehicles in some places for exorbitant prices.

    There are several dirt-packed paths and half-finished roads that lead nowhere scattered throughout the Wastes, but Anarchy Road is by far the largest. It stretches horizontally across the Wastes, starting somewhere in the Blackridge Mountains and ending somewhere in the Twilight Marshes. It is considered the most direct route to travel through the Wastes, but due to the numerous gangs roaming around it is not always the safest.

    Inter-Region Travel

    The Dread Wastes border Centria to the west and the Crystal Vales to the south, and its only access to the ocean is southwest, near the borders of Pandopolis itself. Untagged civilians can travel between regions freely, although those who leave the Wastes may be met and questioned by border patrols put in place by other regions.

    By far the swiftest option for travel between regions is through the public portal found in Lethe. The Portal Platform is controlled by the Undertaker and guarded by his Militia, and passage is strictly limited to those who are Untagged. Anyone who passes through will be immediately taken to the the Portal Hub in Pandopolis, where they may then head out into the greater city or take a portal to the central city of another region.

    Pillars similar to those bordering the Wastes can be found here too, though they are only 10 meters tall and their range is limited to 5 meters instead. Tagged civilians who approach the portal will be assaulted by sound waves and electric charges, temporarily immobilizing them. Those who are caught are arrested on the spot and taken to the Undertaker, who will determine their fate.


    Lethe is often thought of as 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. Although not quite a city in the traditional sense of the word, full of mismatched buildings in various states of repair, it is nevertheless a sizeable community. As one of the only pockets of civilization in the Wastes with water converters and factories that process scrap, many wanderers come far and wide to barter, trade and more.

    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. His word is law due to the sheer manpower of his Militia, and you’d better follow his law to the letter if you want to survive. After all, the motto of the Wastes is “survival of the fittest”, so bear that in mind while hanging out in Lethe. 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 something that will happen anytime soon.

    Jen and Gerold Hirschberg like this.