Scorched Earth is a post apocalyptic setting in the year 2420. Most of our history is presently lost. A third world war in 2033, called the “Snow War”, gave us the first of the vaults while a nanotech virus around 2050 further decimated the population. If anyone know’s how we recovered, they’re keeping very silent now; however, recover we did. In 2200 war broke out again, and quickly escalated…. This time around we were more prepared, there were the vaults from 2030 plus new and improved ones from the mid 2190’s for people to escape into: private, corporate and even government subsidized (those were the worst, but it was better than being a glowing hole in the ground). Beginning in 2200 people started escaping into their vaults and in 2220 the final blow came. Those who got there in time slammed the doors shut on their vaults and watched the readings on their computers as the sky burned and plant life across the planet ignited.
The atmospheric burn was quick, over in just 15 minutes. The surface of the planet, however, burned for another 1 to 3 years, depending on the records used to define the end of the cataclysm. In 2280 the first of the vault failures began and people were forced onto the surface once again. They faced a world drastically changed from their expectations. Radiation storms swept across the surface of the planet, forcing people to stay close to their vaults for the little protection they still afforded against such dangers. Plant life outside the oceans, lakes and rivers was destroyed and there were new violent dangers in the form of mutated insects and animals.
Not all the changes were bad, though. The blood of mutated creatures crystallizes when exposed to the air and the resulting Blood Crystal has been an unimaginable boon to humanity, providing them with a tool useful in a number of unique ways, but primarily as a cure for radiation sickness and poisoning when prepared correctly. Because of its multitude of uses, it has even become the new currency, commonly referred to simply as Crystal.
Furthermore, whether from constant low levels of radiation or from the consumption of mutated animal flesh, a small percentage of the population has itself begun to exhibit a variety of mutations. Some people have developed wings, scales and/or claws but not all mutations are so drastic; many are more unobtrusive, such as infravision, heightened senses and Bird Weight (a condition of extreme and inexplicably reduced weight without muscle loss, resulting in the person being able to walk atop semi-solid surfaces such as mud, quicksand and snow without sinking into them). Finally, whether from radiation, mutation or simply the removal of distractions allowing for the expansion of human potential, another small percentage of the population has begun to demonstrate psionic development.
Despite these radical changes to their environment, humanity perseveres, building and civilizing with the resources and skills available to them, even if those resources are the debris of their grandfathers’ civilizations. Except for limited amounts of “high” technology, most of what remains repairable or intact comes from the mid to late 20th century, including the weapons. There are almost no national governments, each community essentially being a city-state unto itself. There are plenty of factions with their own goals and ideals though and they aren’t all kind and endearing. Life is harsh, but it’s 2420 and things are about to get interesting!