War. War never changes.
War has always been about resources. Land, food, wealth, energy: behind every conflict in history is the struggle for limited resources. The ideologies, nationalities, religions and moralities that are offered forth as justifications for war have ever been red herrings; in the end, it is not ideas but resources that drive war.
Not even the end of the world could change the drive for resources. The 21st century ended in a cascade nuclear flash; the only survivors were those who found refuge in great underground Vaults. But the vaults were more than simple refuge – they were hideous social experiments, set up to explore the true horrors of nuclear devastation. For some, those in vaults whose doors were designed not to seal, the vaults would become their tombs. The dead were the lucky ones.
Those that survived the slow seepage of nuclear poison came through it changed. Their skin rotted away, while the muscle and organs beneath mutated in a bath of radioactive fallout. Their cells changed, feeding off the toxic material, prolonging their life and suffering and tying them inexorably to the new reality of a post-nuclear landscape. They had become ghouls: immortal, sterile, unchanging relics of the cataclysmic past.
Among the first to set foot in the wasteland were the ghouls of Los Alamos, birthplace of the device that brought its very destruction. Picking through the ruins of the once-great laboratories, these ghouls began to rebuild. Unaffected by the radiation that blanketed the land, the researchers of the labs resumed their previous lives of scientific discovery, exploring the new realities of their apocalyptic landscape.
The next two centuries saw many changes in the state of New Mexico as life slowly returned to the wastes. The ghoul society thrived in the irradiated Northwest, as more and more ghoulish survivors found their way to what was proving to be a safe haven and utopia for their kind. As the super mutants, remnants of the army of the Master, a great evil that once plagued California, spread eastward in the wake of their defeat, many came to stay with the ghouls, finding refuge and acceptance among their fellow outcasts.
Meanwhile, in the centre of the state, the vaults performed their functions properly and non-irradiated survivors emerged and also began to rebuild their lives. Sandia City was formed around the survivors of Vault 66, who allied with the tribes and gangs that had formed in the wasteland to carve out a thriving fiefdom founded on trade and cooperation – as well as prejudice and slavery.
Other powers moved in to the state as well. The Brotherhood of Steel, descendants of the Old US military, pursued the Master’s army to the state but settled down to guard the ruins of the Trinity site, where nuclear fire first kissed the land. To their east, the vaults of Roswell and Cannon Air Force base united in a strange techno-cult called Hubology, exalting the virtues of space flight and believing fervently in the intervention of extra-terrestrial life.
Inevitably, the factions of New Mexico begin to clash. A grand alliance of tribes called the Legion, formed in the image of a mythical ancient Rome, encroaches from the West, driven by their defeat in Nevada by the New California Republic. The vault-dwellers of Sandia City have begun to clash with Hubologists over the remnants of Route 66 and the trade that runs along it. The Brotherhood, seeing themselves as the one true guardians of technology, frequently clash with both the technophobic Legion and the technophilic Hubologists.
And the ghouls, trapped between the aggressive Legion and the intolerant vault-dwellers, find their lives and land increasingly threatened by a war about to break; the need for resources is greater than ever before. Because war? War never changes.