Occult Moon is becoming notable for its "Toys For the Sandbox" series of system-neutral RPG settings. They've produced a lot of sandboxes for the fantasy and sci fi genres, and now they've turned an Armageddon Eye toward the end of the world with their "Post-Apocalyptic Toys" series. By way of full disclosure, I received a comp copy of Post-Apocalypse Toys 2, but I purchased 1 and 3 on my own.
The first one in the series is The Last Refuge. This supplement details a small compound run by Gramp Fellows where wasteland wanderers can rest, recoup, and find refuge. The farm, trading post, bar, and hotel offer a much-needed oasis in the blasted lands, but not all is as peaceful as it seems. Six adventure hooks, six NPCs, and two tables of random rumors and encounters round out the package. I found this setting to be a bit "toothless" for the post-apocalyptic genre, but that's its purpose in the grand scheme of things. It could make for a good "homebase" for your PCs or as a respite between adventures.
The next in the series takes a darker turn with The Slave Wagon. The Black Sparrow plies her trade in the wastes, which is cheap human labor. She's not picky who she captures for her cargo, nor is she particular whom she sells to (the cannibal cults pay well for her "products"). There are also six adventure hooks, four NPCs, and tables for encounters, rumors, and salvage. This setting is very interesting, albeit disturbing. The Black Sparrow is a cruel, evil woman who could turn out to be a very vicious enemy if the PCs cross her. Lots of potential with this sandbox -- if the PCs can handle some of the more darker elements found within.
The final apocalyptic sandbox is The Junkyard, and I found the setting the most creative and interesting of the three thus far released. In a place called "The Graveyard of the Machine Gods," the remnants of mankind began to collect and covet the Ancient Holy Tech Relics left behind. The first of the "Machine Tribes" developed, and the Junkyard became a cathedral for the Tech-Priests and their machine-worshiping ways. Wastelanders covet the technological treasures rumored to be in their grasp, but raiding The Junkyard is incredibly dangerous as the zealots who reside there guard their secrets with religious fervor. Six adventure hooks, four NPCs, and tables for salvage, encounters, and rumors complete the package. It's like a high-tech Vatican City. (And wait until you meet the Carjax and the Moto-motos!)
Each Post-Apocalyptic Toy sandbox runs between 9 and 11 pages. I really like the "found notebook" design of the series, although the handwriting font used within -- although appropriate for the "feel" of the book -- is very hard to causally read through. The Junkyard is particularly hard to read due to this font choice, and I hope it's rethought for future releases. But the concept of a series of pre-populated apocalyptic settings is very appealing, and any of these could be the launchpad for a new campaign, of a quick stop between adventures.
Let's See How Much Fun This Could Be - I was sitting down reading old Gary Gygax question and answer threads last night when I noticed this great question and answer combination over at Dragonsf...