Pickertown

In the depths of the Dune Sea, on the fringes of the Olegay Melt, a haphazard community of scavengers has developed in the ruins of a relic city from the Before Time. Called Pickertown by its inhabitants, it sprang into violent life less than a generation ago when the first pickers started scratching through the ruins and unearthed some valuable finds. Unlike sites closer to settled regions, the desperate beings scratching through the unstable ruins of Pickertown aren't methodically exploiting the ancient ruins for raw materials - it's simply too hard to transport low-value items like that to market. They're looking for "the big score", the valuable leftovers from the Ancients who used to live there before Kingdom Come.

Evidence of the Ancients lies in layers beneath the town, and deep shafts and hillside scrapes alike have yielded treasures of the Ancients' world. Pickers lay claim to a patch and work it furiously, alert to encroachment by other workers and wary of someone stealing their finds. Sometimes 'collectives' of pickers spring up, but no group seems to last for long. Fear and greed are the competing forces that create and destroy most collectives - fear of claim-raiders drives pickers together and greed for larger shares of the spoils drives them apart, usually violently. And for those who can't stomach committing violence, it's available for hire, rent or sale.

The main industry of Pickertown is scavenging in the ruins, but the other main industry is getting rich off of pickers. No food reliably grows near the town, and the Melt is chancy hunting territory, so all edibles are imported by merchants eager to make a profit. Likewise drink, clothing, entertainment and the other essentials of life - they're all available for a fee. There are probably rich picking grounds untouched beyond the town limits, but they lie further into the Melt, where the radiation levels climb dangerously. There are always merchants offering patent remedies to ward off radiation or change plague, or offering maps to "cool" zones in the Melt, and there's always a market for their wares - but few repeat customers.

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