Suppose 1000 people were forced underground into a relatively well set up bunker style community. Assuming they have no official leadership or organization to begin with, they must rapidly learn their new surroundings, adopt some form of government, and organize to survive. They are all survivors of excessive violence, poverty, and illness and have developed the ability to adapt as a result.

The group is not prepared and may be lacking some skill sets needed for comforts. They are provided with the basics. They have enough nonperishable meals to last until they can get hydroponic gardens setup (which they are equipped for). They have a geothermal energy source and a water source. They are equipped for very basic waste management and recycling, as well as a ventillation system. There are resources to teach them the basics in cases where the appropriate skills are lacking (I’m still building characters). The people who put them here have given them just enough for basic survival. They are on their own beyond that.

Bearing in mind that disturbed circadian rhythms and a lack of sunlight are fairly difficult for adaptation, how many of the thousand (approximately) are unlike to “make it” in that first generation?

  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Feb 5 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ Circadian rhythms can be modulated with artificial lighting just fine. What would make you think that the survival rate would be any different from up-top? Long-term, the lack of immune-stimulation could become an issue if not catered for, I take it that there are scientists who would take care of such things - or are we talking a bunch of people without science education or any specialist skills? $\endgroup$ Feb 5 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ The group is forced underground when other tactics fail to silence them. They are not prepared, so they may be lacking some skill sets needed to ensure comfortable survival. Without proper lighting or the right people to set it up, I imagine not everyone will easily adapt. It also feels like somewhat of a hopeless situation (to me). They have been through a lot of abuse already. At what point would they crack? It feels like this might be it for some of them. But maybe I’m missing a different perspective! $\endgroup$
    – Willough
    Feb 5 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ Are they in a natural cave system or is it more like a pre-built underground prison bunker? $\endgroup$
    – Lemming
    Feb 5 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Lemming it was a partially built bunker system (think 1960’s style) that was in the process of being refurbished. So while it is set up enough for basic living, there are no comforts. $\endgroup$
    – Willough
    Feb 5 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


The central problem, and one which might give 100% casualties within weeks, is to organize housekeeping and maintenance. In much of the world, water comes out of a tap, electricity comes from a wall socket, food comes from the supermarket, and you get fresh air by opening the window. Or rather, well-organized people keep the critical infrastructure running.

We haven't had a fully realistic trial run of a Cold-War-Era nuclear bunker with a random population. People who participated knew they'd come out again, to their surface jobs. And the plans for these bunkers assumed trained operators in addition to the civilians. Even so the bunkers were designed to last for weeks, not years or decades.

What you highlight as "adaptability" in your backgrounds might just as well limit cooperation, breed suspicion, etc. Just a few violent misfits might derail any attempt of happy-go-lucky anarchy and force the imposition of something like martial law. Except that there is no source of legitimacy to fall back to, and it might be gangs fighting for turf. What if one gang holds the power plant and the other holds the pantry? During a dispute, power gets cut, and all the frozen food spoils. Only tin cans and dry staples remain ...

And they almost have to start underground farming to last multiple generations. Quite possible hard work, if they don't have miniature combine harvesters running over miniature fields. Who prevents the eating of the seed corn? Who organizes the planting and harvesting? Are those who manage the well and water filtration exempt from this work?

The lack of sunlight might well contribute to this, as people get stressed, irritable, and less able to find a consensus. But it will be a minor contribution.


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