Morrow Project Gazetteer: Poplar Bluff, Missouri

An Encounter with Townspeople. Or are they “Badges”, “Slavers” or even a “University”?

The City of Poplar Bluff –  “The Gateway To The Ozarks” – is one of the many trading communities that have appeared along the  Interstates and rivers that  lead to and from ‘civilized’ areas such as the New Confederacy, and the KFS. It provides a market and a way-station for river traders and Gypsy Truckers. The City has survived – and even prospered – because it ‘enjoys’ a number of advantages.  It has a strategic location:  the city is at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 60 and U.S. Highway 67.   The surrounding area is commonly called the “Three Rivers” . The three rivers (Current River, Black River, and St. Francis River)  are about 60 kilometres apart and Poplar Bluff is  near the the center (located on the Black River).

Poplar Bluff has 3 Other assets that may impact any Morrow Project operations in the Three Rivers area

1.  Three Rivers Community College provides training and education to the brighter/luckier/wealthier members of the community. As well as general education and some professional courses, it has a well-respected paramedic course. Each year, the top paramedic student is accepted for further training in the KFS.

Three Rivers College also trains craftsmen, mechanics/technicians and gunsmiths.

The City is extremely proud of the college and most of the local elite are alumni.  They meet for monthly reunions and contribute a tithe to college finances – all of which gives the College staff an immense amount of influence on local politics

2. Troop E of the Missouri Highway Patrol has been headquartered just outside Poplar Bluff since the 1930’s – and now recruits exclusively from the City. All new recruits must be graduates of the Community College’s “Criminal Justice” course (which includes training in weapons use, law, and the operation of motor vehicles and small boats).

The Patrol attempts to enforce laws for the protection of travellers and to ensure that Highways are safe and the 3 rivers kept navigable. Unfortunately, this laudable activity involves some questionable interpretation of legalities and – if arbitrary fines cannot be paid – involuntary work on repair gangs.  Even more regrettably, it’s common for these “repair gangs” to find themselves allocated to other work. Some of the more troublesome (or attractive) workers have been “leased” to the Kentucky Free State or the New  Confederacy.  Few of these convicts ever return

Incidentally, it’s difficult to say which is the best customer. The NC only wants to “lease” Black convicts, which limits the opportunities for trade but they do provide trade goods that the KFS won’t.

3. Poplar Bluff Municipal Airport.  The KFS has negotiated rights to use the Airport as a Weather Station and an emergency landing zone for its aircraft (a P47 visits at least once each year). The KFS pays rent in 2 ways: a little refined fuel and regular weather forecasts (both important to a farming community).

A KFS watchtower has been constructed at the Airport and is home to a small garrison of specialists

Personal Effects Satchel – Example List

This is based a list of Personal Effects that I chose for a character in a Yahoo-hosted play-by-forum game  (a ‘Late-Date’ Morrow Project).  This PC was an Economics Specialist with a Peace Corps background.

IMHO, the PES is a useful roleplaying tool.  Selecting “15 things that would keep you sane” is a good way to develop the character

  • small photo album – family, friends, places
  • book (paperback): `The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ – Author: Martin Luther King, Jr., Clayborne Carson (Editor)
  • religious item: small gold crucifix on neck chain
  • Bible(small paperback) (King James version)
  • booklet: `20 poems from Rudyard Kipling’
  • book (hardback): `The Second Raymond Chandler Omnibus’
  • graduation ring
  • packs of condoms (10)
  • book (hardback) “Hoyle’s Rules of Games”
  • four packs of cards (miniature, plastic-coated playing cards. Cards measure 2.5″ x 1 3/4″. Weight: 1.5 oz.)
  • white dress shirt & silk tie
  • Rayban sunglasses (4 pairs)
  • Portable DVD players (2)
  • DVD collection: Casablanca, Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, Men in Black, MIIB, Shrek, Fantasia, The Big Lebowski, The Maltese Falcon, My Neighbor Totoro
  • Diary/filofax/journal

Personal Effects Satchel

Many Project Directors allow their players to have a few personal effects.  The amount may vary from “a shoebox” to “a footlocker” .  I recommend something like a “Personal Effects Satchel”.  (This is mentioned in the blog entry on Mental Health Training).  This is intended to hold the PC’s most valued “stuff”.

Please note that the PES  is not supposed to be a way of getting extra weapons, trade goods or anything that should already be included among the Character’s specialist tools.  This is an assistance to roleplaying.  “Name at least 15 things that would help keep you sane after TEOTWAWKI”

The Personal Effects Satchel (or PES) is a messenger bag with an additional solar charging module.

The PES has padded pockets for small electronics such PDA, or an entertainment device as well as a large cavity for a laptop computer. It features an extra large cavity for storing folders, paperwork, and books. Side pockets and accessory pockets feature a see-through cover and orange accents for easy access to your personal items. The front of the satchel features organizer pockets for pens, and extra pockets for additional electronics.

The front flap features a light-weight, flexible, integrated solar charging module which can be utilized by using a common 12V automotive charging adapter – allowing the ‘trickle charge’ of most personal electronics (note: this obviously works best in a ‘Late Date” Project, but could also work with items such as Sony Walkmans).

Product Specifications
Fabric: 1680 Denier Nylon
Size: 46cm x 33cm x 12.7cm  (18in x 13in x 5in)
Weight: 1.36 kg (3.0 lbs)
Capacity: 19 litres (1170 cubic inches)


IMHO, one of the big problems that the Morrow Project should anticipate is damage to the mental health of its personnel (specifically problems like Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and PTSD). Granted, MP personnel should anticipate dealing with a horrible situation but – this is TEOTWAWKI – anyone so lacking in empathy that they’ll be unaffected by the catastrophe is unlikely to have been recruited in the first place.
Therefore, I propose that MP training includes the following advice:

1. Assess yourself


Your training is intended to prepare you to assess the problems faced by Survivor Communities; apply the same approach to your own situation.  What’s causing you the most stress? What would you like/need to change? If unchanged, what is likely to be the problem(s) that will make you unable to function in the Reconstruction?

2. Start looking at self-care solutions


Again, use your training. You should be able to create MANY solutions for helping Survivor Communities and the type of thinking needed for self-help is similar. Brainstorm with colleagues; find a variety of possible ‘coping strategies’ that you (and other team members) might be able to use. If you’re not able to talk to colleagues, you should seek out MP counselling (psychosocial technicians, or chaplains).

3. Make time for relaxation


You’re given a “Personal Effects Satchel (PES)” for a reason.   Select and use the contents wisely. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day doing something other than your MP duties. Watch your favourite movie, read, listen to ‘your’ music, perhaps even do some Yoga.   Use whatever works to allow you a transition from MP duties to relative calm

4. Delegate


Even though you’re likely to be the only expert in your ‘specialty’, other members of your team should be able to provide some help in your specialist field. YOU MUST ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT. Self-reliance is good, but no-one can do everything and a refusal to delegate can easily lead to burn-out

5. Keep fit


Physical and mental health are linked. It may be a truism but  “a healthy mind in a healthy body” is something to aim for. Make time for exercise and ensure that you’re eating properly (your team’s Medical Specialist should be able to advise you on nutrition)

The Moonlight Market

A scenario seed following the old “Hook , Line, Sinker” format

Hook: The party arrives at the town which hosts the Moonlight Market .  At first, the inhabitants are a little surprised by the Project uniforms: the MP symbol was used as a motif in some of the jewelery that they obtained in  last month’s Market.   They’d never seen the MP symbols before but several items (rings and pendants) feature it.  If the players examine the jewelery, it appears to make use of a MARS/MP ‘Challenge coin’.  There are at least 20 of these coins

Line: On the night of every new moon,  the Moonlight Market takes place withina dilapidated pre-Death superstore.  During the previous month, the locals stock the shelves with small  items that they hope will attract the ‘ Cousins’.  Jars of jam and honey are the only foodstuffs traded but items like wooden carvings are sometimes well-received and so are items made from good quality metal or leather.

It’s a slightly eerie form of trade; no-one has ever seen the “Cousins” (although everyone suspects that they come from the nearby ruined City).  All that is known is that the “Cousins” prefer to be unseen.  Many speculate on the reason for this – but nobody has any evidence.

It’s a simple arrangement.  On the night of the Moonlight Market, the doors are locked and the townspeople stay off the streets.  Obviously, some of the braver  and more curious have tried to see the Cousins but all attempts to spy on the Market have failed and no-one wants to upset the status quo.  At dawn, the town gathers to unlock the doors – and see what has been taken and what has been left in exchange.

The visitors usually leave ‘like for like’.  Honey and Jams are replaced with foodstuffs like dried mushrooms (which are sometimes mildly hallucinogenic), perfumes and a wine that smells of flowers.  Carvings are replaced with other artworks  – apparently made from plastic or bone.  Finished items of leather and metal can produce a trade  in  some form of artwork or jewelery: anything from a leather wrist strap to gold rings and  silver pendants.

Sinker:  It should be obvious that the Cousins have recently found a platoon of MARS personnel.  Whether this team is still frozen is up to you.  The team will probably want to place the Market under surveillance (which breaks a local taboo)

The identity of the Cousins can vary depending on the Realism level of your campaign.  If you have a “Cinematic” campaign, they could be anything from Maggots to Monks to  Children of the Night).

For PDs that run  a “moderate” realism level, I would suggest that the the Cousins should be run like the Sidhe rather than Vampires .  They are fully human.  However, they are aware that they  carry a disease which boosts psionic ability while it damages the immune system (It’s a trade-off; more psionic power equals more chance of AIDS)

For High realism, the Cousins are rather sad descendants of survivors.  Generations ago, the Moonlight Market evolved as a way for the City to deal with the farmers’ fear of bioweapons.