I'm building an RPG game set in a post nuclear apocalypse. The twist is it's been almost a hundred years since the war, and the world has rebuilt but unevenly. The way I imagined it, technology recovered piecemeal. Vast swaths of people use "dieselpunk" looking tech that is basically hacked and rigged up scrap they've scavenged, running off of a mixture of coal, bootleg looking batteries, diesel and biofuel. But a small group has managed to regain technology and live in a sort of Fallout meets Cyberpunk city, powered by grids of solar and hydro power, and perhaps even a nuclear powerplant they managed to reboot (not sure about the plausibility of finding uranium or maintaining/repairing such a powerplant)

The contrast and struggle between the small group of people who managed to rebuilt technology to a cyberpunk state, and the vast majority that live in a decrepit dieselpunk state is one of the key points of my game. I'm wondering how plausible would it be for such a cyberpunk city (albiet a small one of approx 20,000 ppl) to exist after the apocalypse even after 100 years. To clarify the question, assuming our little city of "cyberpunks" has a vast trade network with allied tribes, and has enough energy and know-how to process the raw material when it does come in through guarded caravans, what key supplies would they need to build such a city 100 years after the apocalypse?

Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Nov 25, 2022 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ This one's a bit more complicated. Worldbuilding exists independent of any and all stories. We even have a reason to close questions for that: Too Story-Based. In other words, it will take as long as you wish, you simply need to write the elements needed to rationalize it into the story. Worse, "cyberpunk" and "dieselpunk" aren't terms that have a historical context, so there's no way to transform into either other than for you to write the story. But the help center states that we're here to help you build a world, not tell a story. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 25, 2022 at 5:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that people are looking for reasons to suspend their disbelief. The entire Fallout game series is totally unbelievable - but awfully fun to play. All zombie stories are unbelievable - but fun to read or watch. Heck, who doesn't love the Mad Max movie franchise? From that perspective, everything you've described is plausible. Knowing that we can't help you write the back story, but can help you set up the technologies and rules of the world, what can we do to help? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 25, 2022 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ BTW: I feel bad that we haven't yet found a question that fits within our rules. I like the groove of your RPG. I'm hoping we can help you realize it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 25, 2022 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, how about something like "what is the minimum industrial footprint to produce microchips?" Cyberpunk needs cyber. Centuries-old, EMP-ed relics won't work. So they need a chip fab, which needs clean rooms, which needs stable power, which ... $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Nov 25, 2022 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


First a disclaimer

This Stack has been trending towards physics lite for some years now. It's a disappointment. It's true that we need to embrace the basic objectivity expected by Stack Exchange, but it's frustrating how many people think that if something can't be done with today's science, it's somehow magically unbelievable.

Talk about boring.

Gratefully, there are people like yourself who are looking to create engaging fiction that allows me to suspend my disbelief.

Next, what is a "community wiki?"

Answers can be set to be "community wikis." The respondent (in this case, me) loses the ability to earn reputation. But the answer benefits because everyone is able to add to the answer to make it comprehensive! I did this with the Worldbuilding Resources answer.

The goal is that people can add to what I'm about to propose. While I could take the next two or three days to create a fairly comprehensive technology/supply tree for "modern electronics." I don't have that much time to give. That's OK! Because there's a lot of people on this Stack with similar background and skills to my own. They'll understand a piece of the puzzle and change this Wiki to reflect that. It might take a week, but the results will be beneficial not only to you and your RPG, but to others who are looking for (a) a simplified dependency tree for modern technology and (b) insight into the process of building such a tree. That's a win-win-win if I ever heard one!

The Rules!

There must be rules for wikis or people are as likely to unintentionally vandalize the wiki as improve it. Here are the rules for this wiki:

  1. The goal is a simplified dependency tree, not a high-detail "this is everything you need" tree. If we allow too much detail, we need to allow for child care, government taxation, insurance, and a host of other things that are true in Real Life but not useful from the perspective of building a world or a game. Suspension of disbelief is as much about creating a balance between a minimalist framework and necessary detail.

  2. While I have no inherent objection to people moving things around (e.g., between levels) or changing the proposed dependencies, I ask that people really think through any changes they make to what others have injected before them. This is less about "you idiots don't know what your talking about!" than it is, "oh, if you think about it from a minimalist perspective, that shortcut/simplification makes sense." It's more important to add things than to modify things. But, if you sincerely believe climate change will worsen if you don't modify something that came before, OK. Just take the time to think it through.

  3. Finally, please don't guess. If you don't have personal experience in a particular dependency, don't assume that your opinion will outclass what was likely an entry based on personal experience and training. Remember, nobody who participates in a Community Wiki will get reputation. This is about working together to build something bigger than would usually be seen by a single answer on the Stack.

  4. All of the dependencies in the proposed tree are dependent on historical technologies. These are technologies that are no longer relevant or even used. An example might be "steam engines." I'm not sure we could have achieved Electricity without the presence of steam engines or steam technology. But outside of electrical generation, you don't see it today (that I can think of) in the entire "modern electronics" tree. I don't believe historical technologies are "necessary detail," but that is just my opinion.

  5. One last thing: The initial tree I proposed reflects the dependency for modern electronics. There are dependencies listed as level 2 or 3 that people might think should have been level 4 or 5. An example is Magnetism. I assigned it level 2 because the control of magnetism for the purposes of modern electronics is very precise compared to, e.g., a compass. The assignment reflects the importance to modern electronics, not it's historical importance. Remember rule #4. The discovery of magnetism may have led to modern electronics, but its discovery on or before 600 B.C. means absolutely squat to modern integrated circuit design. Including historical dependencies means including all the intervening innovations and IMO that's too detailed for the purposes of this wiki.

Thank you!

Simplified Dependency Tree for Integrated Circuit Manufacturing in 2022

Level 1

  • Pneumatics: The ability to move gases around and to manipulate pressure. Depends on Machining and Pumps.

  • Optics: The ability to manipulate photons including generation, focus, and termination. Depends on Machining, Silicon, Abrasives, and Thermology.

  • Electron Microscopy: The ability to move electrons around and use them both for abrasive purposes (to etch, drill, cut, etc.) and for doping purposes (to ionize). Depends on Mechanical Engineering, Magnetism, Chemistry, and *Optics."

  • Robotics: The ability to move materials around with strength and precision without direct human interaction. Depends on Machining, Automation, and Magnetism.

  • Automation: The use of either mechanics or electronics to automate a process with repeatability and precision. Depends on Mechanical Engineering, Electricity, Mathematics, Logic, and Software.

  • Software: The use of a structured language to develop instructions for automation (whether using plug arrays, punch cards, magnetics of any kind, or a keyboard). Depends on Mathematics and Logic.

Level 2

  • Mechanical engineering: The ability to design and manufacture machines. Depends on Hydraulics, Electricity, Materials Science, Tools, Mathematics, and Logic.

  • Magnetism: The generation and control of magnetism to manipulate electrons, gasses, or solids. Depends on Chemistry, and Electricity.

  • Electricity: The generation and control of electrons in solids. Depends on Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Metallurgy. It is usually divided into two subfields:

    • Electrotechnics: The generation and use of electric power.

    • Electronics: Generating and processing electric signals.

  • Silicon: The study of silicon as a semiconductor. Depends on Materials Science.

  • Transportation: The ability to move large quantities of resources, machinery, and goods. Depends on Machines and Chemistry.

Level 3

  • Materials Science: The understanding and practical application of gasses, fluids, and solids. Depends on Chemistry, Metallurgy, Pneumatics, and Hydraulics.

  • Chemistry: The understanding of how materials interact. Depends on Metallurgy, Hydraulics and Thermodynamics.

Level 4

  • Tools: The manufacture of tools. From a basic hammer to precision measuring devices. Depends on Metallurgy, Thermodynamics, Mathematics and Logic.

  • Pumps: The ability to move gasses and liquids around. Depends on Metallurgy, Woodworking, Mathematics and Logic.

  • Machining: The ability to cut, shape, grind and polish solids. Depends on Woodworking, Metallurgy, Mathematics and Logic.

Level 5

  • Woodworking: The ability to manipulate wood. Depends on Forestry, Mathematics and Logic.

  • Metallurgy: The ability to manipulate and alloy metal. Depends on Mining, Mathematics and Logic.

  • Thermodynamics: The ability to create and manipulate heat. Depends on Wodworking, Mathematics and Logic.

Level 6

  • Mining: The ability to obtain raw materials from natural deposits. Efficiency depends on Hydraulics, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and Logic.

  • Forestry: The ability to obtain wood from the Earth. Efficiency depends on Agriculture and Logic.

  • Agriculture: The ability to grow plants and animals to produce raw materials. Efficiency depends on Hydraulics, Mathematics and Logic.

Level 7

  • Hydraulics: The ability to manipulate water. Depends on Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Logic.

Level 8

  • Scientific method: The ability to study and understand the relationships between phenomena and their causes.

  • Mathematics: The ability to determine and calculate solutions to problems.

  • Logic: The ability to think through a problem and to organize structure.

You'll notice that I ignored anything having to do with money. When you simplify things, money is nothing more than a medium of exchange that allows people to obtain food, recreation, housing, etc. It must exist in a detailed dependency tree because without the concept of "money" (in any form), the ability to organize people to get long-term complicated things done grinds to a halt. However, I don't think things like that are needed when we're talking about what's needed to resurrect modern electronics post-apocalypse. Especially when how many resources and how much knowledge is available post-apocalypse is 100% in the OP's control.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have replaced some words which were used with very unusual meanings. (For example, machining is what one does with a lathe, not the design and construction of machinery.) And I have isolated the scientific method, mathematics and logic as Level 8, because they are of a fundamentally different nature than the rest. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 27, 2022 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ That's exactly what we're looking for, @AlexP. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 28, 2022 at 1:30

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