Queen's Ranch is a small homestead controlled by Mathias Queen and his three children. It lies nearly a week's journey south of the Great Barrier Wall - what was once known as the Mogollon Rim - near the western edge of the Valley of the Coyote. Before The Great Death, the city of Phoenix and it's suburbs sprawled across what was then called the Valley of the Sun, an oasis amidst a great desert. Today, the desert remains, but little of the population center that once dominated the valley is evident.
Population: 146 Humans, 34 Near-Humans, 16 Others
Breach Activity: The sprawling ruins in the Valley of the Coyote, 25 miles west of Oasis, were the site of a major Gate Center. The Hot Zone is very active and overrun by a territorial Breach creature with a pack mentality.
Assets: The high buttes offer great visibility of incoming threats and the lake offers both fresh water and food for the community.
Liabilities: The city lacks any organized group capable of maintaining the dam and it's only a matter of time before it fails, taking the town's lifeblood with it.
Intelligence: The Hot Zone and Breach creatures has prevented any significant exploration of the complex of ruins, offering explorers a good chance of uncovering artifacts, if they can survive the creatures and the desert climate.
Apart from it all, content in their isolation and self-reliance, Queen's Ranch and it's immediate vicinity, particularly the town of Oasis, is vigorously protected from outsiders. The residents are fiercely loyal to Mathias. Though he manipulates the residents and virtually holds the community hostage, many are too grateful for the protection to realize it. Those that aren't lack the numbers to take on the family and their supporters.
Mathias cares little for politics and conflict, preferring to live his life in peace. He realizes the manipulation of the townspeople is akin to playing with fire, but needs them as much as they need him. So long as none of the residents cause any trouble and do their part, they are welcome in Oasis. Visitors are allowed, but encouraged to move along quickly.
The Queen homestead is perched several hundred feet above the shores of what was once Apache Lake. Thanks to the high ground of the bluff, the Queen family avoided catastrophe when the dam at Roosevelt Lake burst. The failing dam had been weakened from decades of neglect and failed completely nearly 50 years after The Great Death, sending a torrent of water rushing down the narrow canyons toward The Valley of the Sun.
Water overflowed and pressed against the Apache Lake dam, but it held, the excess water flowing over the dam. The narrow canyons focused the force of the rushing water as it scoured the limestone and granite walls. Further downstream, that torrent pressed against and ultimately destroyed two other dams already weakened by earthquakes and disrepair.
Now known as Oasis Lake, the Queen homestead is perched atop the mesas above and is home to a small herd of cattle and Mathias' immediate family. The only access is a narrow road (really more of a trail) on the west end leading down toward the dam and lake shore below. In the decades after the flood, a small town grew and prospered on the south shore of Oasis Lake. Now numbering nearly 200 souls, each owes their life and their livelihood to the Queen family, who serve not only as ranchers, but as protectors against the hostile forces and creatures, both natural and unnatural, that have appeared since The Great Death.
A small team of mechanics maintain the dam as best they can, but small quakes and a lack of proper tools is beginning to take its toll. The mechanics, mentored by two brothers who stumbled into town, dehydrated and half dead from the sweltering desert heat and wounds they received in a marauder attack on their caravan, estimate the dam will hold only another decade barring a proper repair crew.
Mathias Queen: Mathias is an aging man in his sixties that has watched over his family, harshly repulsing any incursion into his domain. Queen's Ranch has been overseen by his family in the years following The Great Death. His great-grandfather, Bernard, built the first house and corral atop the mesa looking down at the lake.
Through the subsequent generations, the Queen family tightened their hold on anyone who came to Oasis for protection. Their control over the most abundant food supply and water source for hundreds of miles gives them a great deal of leverage and Mathias knows it. The Queen family trades food and protection for services and finished goods, but weights the scale to their advantage.
Thomas Queen: Tom was always protective of his family and it hit him especially hard when his mother was killed. It was in the early days of Queen's Ranch, before even the village sprouted up, and Mathias had left a few days earlier to round up some of the herd that had wandered off. Tom was only about eight and was fetching some well water when a man, scarred, haggard, and quick as a jackrabbit, grabbed him.
Tom was beaten and tortured alongside his mother for two days before they slit her throat and left him sobbing in a pool of blood. Laughing as they left the young boy behind, they swore to return when his sister was older. In that moment, Tom swore no harm would come to his family again. He trained every day he was able, eventually mastering weapons and offensive tactics. As the ranch was discovered by other, less human creatures than the ones who took his mother's life, Tom defended his family against all comers, eventually extending that protection to the town of Oasis.
Sylvia Queen: Sylvia is Mathias' only daughter. She was too young to remember when the marauders murdered her mother, knowing only that it happened and she was forced to care for younger brother, Jason, from the time he was an infant. She knows her older brother only as the family protector, though there are times when she wishes he wasn't so watchful.
Early on, it was evident that Sylvia had a gift for always knowing just what Baby Jason needed. As she grew up, this gift became more powerful and she was soon able to stand with her brother to defend their family. Though Tom and Jason both find it unsettling that she can incite fear and panic with a mere look as easily as demand calm and soothe boiling rage, she has proven her worth each time the family was forced to protect their home and those who had come to depend on them.
As an adolescent, Sylvia nearly drowned in the lake under mysterious circumstances. Ever since, she has an irrational fear of water and will not go near the lake under any circumstances.
Jason Queen: Jason is still young, barely out of his teens, and resents being left out of many of the important decisions. He had a knack for procuring things that others cannot. He does his best to provide the people of Oasis whatever they need, no questions asked. Though Mathias had his concerns, he is too wrapped up in his own schemes and running the ranch to do anything.
Recently, Jason was approached by a stranger who had come to Oasis with a proposition: join him and gain access to anything he or the town needs. To prove his sincerity, the stranger produced an item he claimed to have found buried in the ruins of civilization. Promising to return in six months time, he has asked Jason to be his eyes and ears in and around Oasis. If he decides to ally himself with the stranger, Jason was promised access to technology and supply pipelines which could provide the resources Oasis needs to become a regional power.
Awestruck by the technology the stranger produced, Jason dreams of the wealth and power he could accumulate and use to prove his worth to his older siblings.
Adrian & Armando Guerrero: The two master mechanics, Adrian and Armando, are recent additions to Queen's Ranch, arriving only a few months ago. Their family was slaughtered during an attack by bandits on their Rover caravan as it traveled north through the Sonoran desert. The bandits, not all humans, killed everyone without mercy or remorse. Adrian and Armando both received grievous wounds, narrowly escaping death themselves by hiding in a nearby gulch until the bandits completed their grim mission.
The Guerrero brothers crawled through the desert summer for nearly a week before finding Oasis. Kept under close watch by Mathias and his kin, they were nursed back to health by the town's only doctor. After a month of healing, both brothers were anxious to find a way to repay their debt. Proving their mechanical aptitude, they began working to make minor repairs to the dam.
While Armando has been more than happy to work in exchange for shelter and food, Adrian is beginning to feel used and enslaved. He has vocalized this to his brother, but believes his words are falling on deaf ears.
- Adrian approaches a group of newcomers (the player characters) in Oasis, begging them to help he and his brother escape. Unfortunately, Armando is unaware of this plan.
- Jason is certain the stranger found the technology nearby. When a new group arrives in Oasis, he hires them to search the nearby ruins to the west, promising to pay them handsomely for any artifacts they recover. Trouble is, the ruins were overrun by an especially territorial pack of creatures that don't take kindly to trespassers.
- While the players are staying in Oasis another earthquake hits, further weakening the dam. Without their assistance or expertise, the town's lifeblood will disappear. Can the players help fix the dam or are they willing to help relocate the city?
- A badly wounded minotaur stumbles into town begging and pleading for help. Hot on his trail, a group of armed Resistance members. They demand the Minotaur be handed over or they'll be back to take him by force.
- One of The Holy has come into town, preaching and trying to convert some of the Oasis townspeople.