A Brief History
The War and Day-Zero
In the recent past humanity waged a terrible war that scarred the face of the world and culminated in the cataclysmic devastation of Day-Zero, in which nuclear weapons were deployed at close range in a desperate gambit. The destruction was so tremendous that much of mankind’s progress was wiped away in an instant—information, technology, knowledge, and culture all erased in a cloud of nuclear fire and the immense EMP shockwave released. In the 70-or-so years that have passed since, several generations have been born unto this devastated world. Few remember what the circumstances or purpose of the war was and know only that they are damned to live in its terrible aftermath.
A Snapshot of Humanity
Clustered into struggling outposts and colonies, humanity does its best to endure and survive. In the brief history since Day-0, a microcosm and retread of human history emerged in the known space of the survivors, for better and worse. Factions were formed, and humans helped each other or preyed upon one another. Knowledge was lost on the utilization of human technology and even of their history. Modicums of previous society were established, including commerce, education, and agriculture.
Life in the Wastes
The denizens of the wastes live uncertain lives in a world of intense scarcity. Day to day, dozens of brave souls venture into the wastes out of necessity or enterprise to try to recover salvage. Some hopefuls hope to find a cache of supplies while others simply wish for a few days worth of food and water. Many choose to band together in outposts and communities in a shell of society whereas others strike out on their own, taking their survival into their own hands.
Some common roles of adventurers in the wastes are:
Mercenary – A common calling in a dangerous world, there is always a need for protection or extermination. Mercenaries tackle many odd jobs from security to all-out warfare, depending on the pay of course.
Scavenger – Many are the men and women who brave the wastes to recover salvage, sustenance, and goods, and many are those who never return.
Prospector – These explorers roam the wastes looking for the next big find. In the forgotten world historical prospectors might have searched for lodes of gold and diamonds, but in these parched wastes the most valuable commodities are fresh water and arable land. More concerned with discovery than recovery, they are driven to uncover the secrets of the land.
Missionary – Religion has endured alongside humanity in these trying times. Some take it upon themselves to spread the word of worship by way of travel and good deeds. Some would call them righteous, others naive.
Scientist – So much knowledge has been lost in the calamity of Day-Zero, including that of our surroundings. Scientists strive to recover the knowledge that was lost, and the mysteries of the waste are manifold.
Bounty Hunter – There is no law in the wastes, it is a ruthless and amoral place. Sometimes, the denizens of the wastes must take justice into their own hands. The steely-eyed bounty hunters step forward to bring judgment to the predators of the waste when no one else will…for a price.
Raider – The more unsavory individuals will sometimes turn to attacking human settlements to sustain themselves. These feared warbands roam the wastes and are a constant and imminent threat to survivors and to each other.
Hazards of the Wastes
The dangers of the wastes are manifold. The environment itself is a deadly opponent and measures must be taken to prevent dehydration and heat stroke from the arid, blistering desert. Frequently, blustering sandstorms roll through the wastes, picking up depleted uranium particles and become clouds of swirling death. Once every year or so, rain will fall but it is no cleansing downpour; muddied by the pollutants and lingering fallout in the air, the “Black Rain” is a harbinger of poison and corruption that is prepared for and avoided by all.
Apart from the harshness of the world itself, there are the Mutants. These creatures have been the scourge of wasteland life for as far as anyone can remember. Little is known about them except that they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they are voracious and aggressive without fail.
Finally and most tragically, humanity itself is to be feared. Roaming gangs of Raiders stalk the plains, waiting for their next opportunity to murder and plunder. In the lawless expanse of the wastes, crimes and horrors are inflicted upon men by their fellow men, often without consequence or retribution. This hard existence cultivates a shrewdness and distrust in the haggard survivors, who trust little else but their gunarm and their aim.