The Apocalypse Breaks All

I have a suggestion for an addition to the game, which I would implement myself, if my computers skill was above a 2. It involves erosion, fire, explosions, and snow.

As the Cataclysm raged on around the world, the average house repairman was a little too busy trying not to die horrifically to take calls. Likewise, utility workers quickly deserted their posts to find their families in the face of the growing disaster. In order to continue to secure dwindling reserves of power, water, and natural gas, people did some DIY, some better than others, to siphon those vital resources from the grid. Most of them would die anyways, but their handiwork–or inadvertent booby traps–remain today.

In the early days of the apocalypse, civilization is a sparking, malfunctioning, nightmarish perversion of what we know. Burst water pipes run into the streets to be electrified by severed power lines carrying thousands of volts. Those same power lines lead to massive explosions as unmaintained gas lines rupture and ignite. Flaming debris is catapulted for hundreds of yards, igniting anything flammable on which it lands. No one is alive to extinguish it.

Soon, whole regions of a city are completely ablaze.

The initial zombie populations of these parts of town are mostly killed off as they hurl themselves into the ongoing conflagration, but massive amounts of Blob-infected flesh together is dangerous, even when it’s cooked. In exchange for buildings being almost lootless, these creatures yield rare samples and other higher-level mutant goodies.

As time goes on and what’s left of the grid finally breaks down, the danger shifts to the architecture. Like it or not, our buildings were made with frequent repair in mind, and no one’s left to do that anymore. Over a period of months or years, most walls built pre-Cataclysm (with the exception of the walls used in nuclear bunkers and such, for obvious reasons) can shift to an unstable variant if the player doesn’t take the time to maintain them, which can be triggered to collapse via gunfire, explosions, or even particularly loud sounds. A mininuke blast might take out a house, but if it’s been a long time since the Cataclysm, the shockwave may well bring down the whole block.

Even snow can be deadly under the right circumstances. Most New Englanders know that a particularly violent snowstorm can be a cause for alarm, as it can trap people in their homes or even bring their homes down on top of them. As pre-Cataclysm buildings go unmaintained, they become less structurally sound and more liable to such a collapse, meaning that as the time goes on, heavy snowstorms have a low, but ever-increasing chance to pile up on roofs and strain them to the point of collapse. The player would only have a few seconds’ notice, a low, loud creaking noise that sometimes, but not always, is loud enough to jolt them from sleep.

Alright, that’s it. Danke for listening. Zompenguin out.

The water will drain from the water towers in days or weeks, and the pipes of any particular house may be on the other side of a break. The power went quickly, as grounded and shorted lines are disconnected, and the power plants have stopped anyway (as has gas distribution).
Unmaintained buildings deteriorate over decades when lived in, and years when not, not in days.

To be honest, I’m following Project Zomboid rules here. Unattended, the power remains on for a few weeks, as automated systems in powerplants slowly burn away the last of their fuel. Nuclear plants are designed to run optimally for as long as safely possible, so that could extend it for as long as the cooling water pump still functions, as nuclear fuel rods can last for years. I’m not denying that widespread power outages would be a thing, but patches of land would still be bright and clear for a decent while, and anyone who’s been in a flash flood can tell you that it’s a bad idea to stand in water that’s full of loose power lines, failsafes or not, and I wouldn’t take the chance even if I thought they were cut off. With power, the pumps to water towers remain functional for around the same time, so water lasts a little longer. Until the power goes out, the gas pumps still function, leaking gas from ruptured lines until the reserves run out or the power does. Heck, we might not even need the gas. All those rotting bodies in indoor spaces, animate or not, are bound to give off enough gases for a blast.

I never said buildings would degrade in days. On a scale of months or years, zombies pounding at structures, giant worms digging tunnels underneath, distant explosions and collapses, and other apocalyptic wear-and-tear effectively shakes apart the foundation of a structure, meaning that all it takes is one jolt and something slips loose and falls, and that something is probably load-bearing. Even the best-maintained houses can break down under the weight of a lot of snow, so imagine nuclear winter.

Haha, I just thought of a graboid chewing its way into an underground industrial power line. The water in its body boils in an instant, and it explodes like a salted slug, only with the force of an artillery shell.

Poor graboid.

I know nothing about Zombiod as such (it’s a shooter, isn’t it?).
Regardless, the CDDA lore has massive thingies appearing and causing havoc during the cataclysm itself, although that’s not actually visible in the game, so power lines on poles are probably all broken in at least one point.
As far as I understand, nuclear power plants should shut down automatically if unattended or if the power lines go, which they ought to do.

Zomboid is basically 3D CDDA minus the Lovecraft. Survival mechanics, noise, all of that.

Nuclear power plants can’t tell when they’re unattended, only when something goes off of the list of parameters they’re supposed to maintain. They slowly adjust how they work to keep power generation optimal, and they’re very good at this. Normally, they need outside power to function, but as outside power goes away, the sensors detect it and kick on a set of diesel generators in the basement, providing enough power to start up the reactor as well. By this point, it’s effectively self-maintaining, because if a natural disaster hits and the workers have to evacuate, it’s still very important that the lights stay on in other areas that have been hit so people can know what’s happening and call for help.

I’m pretty sure that nuclear plants are supposed to go out only if there’s nowhere they can send power, and stop sending power down cut lines. Considering that underground power lines are likely still working, they’re definitely still on, and I wouldn’t doubt that someone under Blob psychosis would be stupid enough to disable the latter failsafe. And besides, if the power lines weren’t broken, they wouldn’t be a problem, as the power would just go where it normally goes and do nothing except short stuff out. Even without water to carry the current, high-voltage can still propagate through the ground, making it dangerous to even approach them, and water only makes it worse. Touching the wire can be instantly fatal, and doing something like driving a vehicle over it would flash-cook anything inside.

Short circuits are going to result in circuits being being broken, and I doubt someone suffering from blob psychosis is coherent enough to try to override controls when there’s so much to rage against.

There’s definitely a reason for why there are signs about not approaching fallen cables along rail lines, but I don’t see how driving a car over a fallen line would cook anyone, as the power would have an easier path through the ground than through the tires and then the (Faraday cage) chassis (not that I’d try). A hanging line touching the roof may be a different matter, but you’d still have the cage and a lot of resistance from the rubber tires, limiting how much heating it can do (and the circuit would be cut out reasonably quickly).

People climbing around or train cars and those stealing copper cables is a different category, though. It’s not that unusual for reports of such people getting fried (sometimes surviving, sometimes not).

Oh, facepalm, I was remembering something else. The guy I heard about drove a tractor into the power line and the wires fell on him.

Power lines shorting stuff out would indeed break the circuit, but, once again, the circuit being broken is the problem. A short could start an electrical fire, which no one is alive to put out, once again starting a massive blaze.

Speaking of trains, it should be dangerous to take the metro on foot in the early game if you don’t know what you’re doing, as you can zap yourself with the third rail.