This article originally appeared (I think) in an issue of TSS, but I present it now for posterity on the blog...
Needless to say these plots should work with any post-apoc game, be it Mutant Epoch, Mutant Future, Atomic Highway or Gamma World!
10 Weird Plot Ideas for your Post-Apocalypse Adventures
1 While traveling through wasted ruins, characters stumble across a colony of sentient rats which have descended from genetic experiments before the holocaust.
2 The players see a distant shooting star that grows ominously large, and crashes somewhere nearby. On investigating, they find a starship, out of which emerges a cosmonaut who claims to have been part of an experiment to test a ship that could travel close to the speed of light. The cosmonaut’s ship left Earth orbit in 1970.
3 The entrance to a hidden vault is found, in which a fabulously wealthy billionaire from Old Earth, surrounded by very human-like android servants has whiled away the years, kept unnaturally young by telomerase resequencing treatments. Recently, he discovered that his autodocs are failing, and he needs to find the tools and materials necessary to repair his anti-aging system.
4 One of the players discovers what appears to be an impressive ebony sword trapped in a lava flow. After pulling it out, the local survivor villagers proclaim him a new warlord. Unfortunately, the sword was lodged in the chest plate of a powerful pre-cataclysmic warbot, which, weapon now removed, begins to heal up with nano-repair bots before shattering its rocky tomb. Oh, and it wants its sword back.
5 A nearby volcano (which may be a smouldering crater from the end times) is radiating a lethal cloud of spores, which infect local humans and animals with a silicone-based lifeform that drives them in to madness and frenzy. The spores are wafting from a lava tube inside the crater, where the deadly plants are blooming, having grown up and out after being exposed from the depths of the earth.
6 A war satellite is still functioning, zapping targets at random on the planet below with a powerful particle beam weapon. It is possible to be stopped, but this involves finding an ancient comm. Station, breaking in past the still-functioning robot security units, and shutting it off.
7 A squad of immortal super-soldiers wander the wastelands, carrying out a need for war which was genetically encoded as a biological imperative. They wander in to the peaceful lands of a survivor community, and attempt to forge an army out of the weary folk, or destroy them if they wont cooperate.
8 An alien vessel arrives in orbit and sends a contingent of scientists down to the surface of the apocalyptic world to investigate. It turns out they are from Earth, and that the wasteworld is really a colony that succumbed to civil war decades ago!
9 While traveling the across the wasteland, the players stumble across a humongous relic from the old war, a tripod-like tank left over from the Martian invasion of Earth.
10 Locals are terrorized by what appear to be immense ravaging dinosaurs straight out of the cretaceous and beyond. They ask the adventurers to stop this menace. The trail leads to a ruined laboratory where particle physicists once worked on creating wormholes. It turns out that the AI which runs the facility is still quite active, and finished their work, creating a wormhole in time which lead back in to the distant past. It’s trying to perfect a way to send people through, to test the laws of causality.