|Map of the Wastelands|
Near the end of the 22nd century, the world changed. Cities died in atomic fire, triggered by fools and arrogant tyrants. Corporations became more powerful than nations, and greedily divided the world up among them. Much of the remaining human race now lives in corporate enclaves, massive walled cities that are sanitized and sterile. Wars are fought between corporations now, and nations are a thing of the past. And magic has returned. Abnormal children are being born to perfectly normal human couples. Many of these children are not human… They are elves, dwarves, orcs, and stranger things. And some are born with the ability to tap into the world’s long forgotten magic.
Panic, riots, and hate crimes were the result of these first incidents. Humanity does not accept change well. The tantrums ceased when the dragons woke up, and tried to reclaim the world. Many magicians and metahumans bought acceptance from the corps by using their talents in the Dragon war. Finally, a peace was reached. The dragons could do business with the corporations, as it turned out. And business is good. Now the world is cursed with enormous cities, which belch out pollution and profit in equal measure. Magicians and Adepts have learned to harness magic. While it can never be SAFE, it is now more predictable. Dragons no longer trust in hoards of gold, finding more profit and treasure in stock, and influence. The only truth now is the Almighty Allin. Welcome to the 23rd century, consumer...
Now with the last of the Great Corporate Wars over, and the dragons quiet, many Corps are looking to reclaim territory. But good, safe territory is scarce, and held by one corporation or another. So that leaves only the worst of places, left to reclaim. Where technology is limited by old scars of war and disasters, and magic is limited by those same scars.
The nuclear fire invented by man burned brightest here, and here the hideous wars of the new century were fought, until the land was blighted and ruined. The land here had names, once. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania… Now they just fall under one epithet: "The Wasteland." The corporations are trying to claim the wastes, and they need people to do this. Perhaps you are an immigrant from a poor enclave, trying to better your lot. Perhaps you are trying to gain fame on the media networks, and earn sponsorships. Perhaps you are a convict, given the opportunity to serve your sentence cleaning up the wastes. Perhaps you are a local resident, trying to get untainted food, rare medicines, and reliable bullets from the corporation in exchange for work. Or perhaps you are here to make your fortune.
There is money here, and opportunity. Such things as lost technology, hidden magic, secrets long forgotten, contaminated resources, and business opportunities can all be found in this blasted land. The Wasteland is neutral, and many come here just for that. Old enemies sip drinks and pop anti-radiation drugs side by side at times... Other times, it is a good place to kill a hated foe, and dump him where no one will ever find the corpse. And strange creatures wander through the night, seeking flesh to eat, or worse things... Welcome to the Wasteland. Try not to die too quickly.
Despite the odds, some people DO live out here; refugees from the neighboring enclaves, Corpwar deserters and war criminals, nomads, and others who have no place else to go. Their bodies learn to live with the radiation... The ones that don't adapt tend to die. There are many small settlements, dotted across the land. Huddled together for mutual defense and survival, they eke out a living as best they can.
Communication between settlements is rare... Travel is dangerous, and settlements can disappear overnight from one calamity or the other. In many places, governments try to rule multiple settlements. These rise and fall with the wind, and their money is worth the material used in its fabrication. Most civilization is pretty lowtech. Houses are wood or stone, people plow the land with horses and cattle (Or slaves, sometimes,) and vehicles are rare. The constant, low-level radiation in the area limits the electronics that can be brought into the Wasteland, and pollutes the radio waves. Advanced electronics of any sort are rare... They break quickly. The few devices that are built to last are well-shielded and in high demand.
For much of the Waste, the currency is barter. Some fairly lawless settlements use bullets as currency. Others accept Allin dollars in some physical form... They might know a guy who knows a guy who can trade them with an enclave. Be careful. There are settlements out there that keep dark secrets, and there are those who view visitors as new trading stock, or good sources of meat. Guns are one thing that the Wasteland has no shortage of, or knives, or other weapons. If nothing else, the Free Traders see to that.