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|The following is based on Fallout: Warfare and some details might contradict canon.|
It's the past. It's the future. It's a little of both.
The Fallout world is not quite our own. Somewhere along the way, it diverged. It's still recognizably our world, but with some changes. One of which was World War III, which lasted a very brief amount of time, but was unbelievably destructive. More energy was released in the early moments of that war than all previous conflicts combined.
Also released was a mutated form of FEV - the Forced Evolutionary Virus. A combination of the FEV and the radiation in the air, earth and water caused all sorts of havoc among the survivors. Mutant creatures, mutant humans, plague, death and despair—it was a really bad time.
Not everyone struggled in the wastelands... A few, a lucky few, survived deep in the underground Vaults, built previous to the war at great expense to the taxpayer (and great profit to Vault-Tec!) This, however, is not their story.
Many years after the devastation of WWIII, humanity (and the mutant scum that appeared) slowly began to crawl back out of the gutter of life. Of course, not everyone was particularly pleased about this. Many factions developed, and these factions moved into conflict with each other. This is a little closer to our current story.
Wars in the Fallout world are no longer fought with ICBMs, large armies, directed particle beam weapons, navies, air forces and other implements of civilized warfare. It has been reduced to men (and women) armed with whatever is available, perhaps a knife or an ancient rifle, and fought with small numbers. Bands of combatants, little better than gangs in the worse cases, fight for territory, salvage and, of course, for blood.
The Brotherhood of Steel is one of the few factions devoted to making the world safer for everyone (even if everyone doesn't want it safer). The Mutant hordes, remnants of the huge super mutant army of the Master and the Unity, struggle to find peace amongst the very people they were designed to replace. Raiders, and their technological savant brothers called Reavers, fight over the scraps of civilization. The strange Beastlords roam the wastes, enslaving the will of mutant critters. And a new menace, one that truly puts the Steel into the Brotherhood, has been recently discovered. Is this robotic plague the bane of humanity or a key to the reconstruction of a better time?
Across the battered remnants of America, and around the world, factions fight over the scraps of their ancestor's folly. Survival is a constant way of life for those that still care.
The War is long over, but the battle continues...
Brotherhood of SteelEdit
The Brotherhood of Steel (BOS) is a techno-religious organization, with roots in the US military and government sponsored scientific community from before the war. The BoS is mostly composed of the descendents of those military officers, soldiers and scientists, but it is starting to admit more outsiders to its rank as it grows. The BoS is divided into different ranks. Initiates are trainees who are expected to perform well enough in the training process to be promoted to Squires. After proving themselves, Squires are promoted to Knights. After many years of service and experience, the best Knights are promoted to Paladins - the pinnacle of the Brotherhood military.
It is also possible to serve the Brotherhood as a Scribe. Scribes are responsible for copying the ancient technologies, maintaining the current technology and even experimenting with new weapons and other useful devices. Scribes rarely leave the safety of the BoS bunkers, but they are sometimes called into the field to examine a piece of technology or perform a task beyond the skills of the Brotherhood soldiers.
- Citizen - These are the common people that the Brotherhood uses, erm, protects. Citizens do not typically travel armed and do not have any particular weapon skills to speak of anyways.
- Squire - The least experienced and trained of the Brotherhood active military. Initiates are not, typically, allowed on the battlefield and instead are used where their skills are best served: KP duty. Squires are equipped with leather armor.
- Knights are the mainstay of the BoS scouting forces, when scouting needs to be accomplished in force. Knights are equipped with metal armor. Knights are sometimes dressed in Environmental Armor. This protects them against radiation, chemical and biowarfare agents. Of course, it also helps with the brahmin smell.
- The ultimate Brotherhood warrior is the Paladin. They wear the fearsome power armor, but they have the experience and skills to be finely honed blades of battle. Paladins carry the largest and most powerful of weapons. The power armor augments their Strength.
- Scribes are the technicians, engineers and doctors of the Brotherhood. They store, analyze and maintain the databases of knowledge that drive the BoS technologies. Scribes have had the basic Initiate combat training, but have withdrawn from the world of violence to meditate on their Repair and Science skills.
- The Elders of the Brotherhood guide the brothers towards enlightenment. They also protect the Brotherhood from the social ills that destroyed the old world. An Elder is usually drawn from the warrior ranks when they achieve that rare honor: living past combat age.
The FEV combined with the radiation, more than the radiation itself, caused multiple mutational strains within the human species. The two most prevalent strains are ghouls and super mutants. The Master, a FEV mutated genius, was able to adapt the FEV virus to create the super mutants, while the ghouls are more of a "natural" mutation.
Both ghouls and super mutants have fallen on hard times (well, that's not technically true, actually ghouls are better off than they were 10 years ago, but they are still pretty brahmin slime to most people). They will occasionally work with each other to promote the Mutant Platform.
- Ghouls are what results from natural FEV contamination, or when FEV2 is used on contaminated humans. Ghouls are social pariahs. That has not stopped them from forming their own communities. They tend to be more introverted than others, and more in tune with machinery.
- Super mutants are stronger, more resistant to pain, radiation, disease, and just about better at everything than humans—except, most of their brains turn to little jelly after the FEV2 dips and then there is that sterility issue. Oh, well, if you're going to be masters of the wastelands, there has to be some downside.
- Armored super mutants - these guys aren't just super mutants in armor—these are the cream of the super mutant armies. They get the best toys, the most armor and generally can pick up (literally) any woman they want.
Raiders & ReaversEdit
The wastelands of Fallout are an unhappy place. Some people try to improve their happiness by lowering the happiness of other people around them. Others are there because they have a Cause. Both raiders and Reavers roam the ruins, challenging those that would threaten them.
Rarely do you see raiders and Reavers in exactly the same tribe or gang. It's not completely out of the ordinary, however. Both lead similar lifestyles. Both have been known to make arrangements. Still, of all the factions in Fallout, you can very easily see raider versus Reaver battles (or even raider versus raider, more often than you would think - it's sort of a self-balancing raider population control).
- Raiders are gangers. They exist in a pretty much feudal system, where the strong control the weak. The strong do not have to protect the weak, however. That's one of the big differences between the raiders and the Brotherhood.
- Reavers, even more so than raiders, search for salvage. They have placed their trust in the almighty sword (well, technically an SMG) for so long that it is part of their heritage. They are actually very technically sophisticated for being a bunch of heathens (in the eyes of the BoS).
Other mutations are more subtle. It is said that some mutants have the ability to reach within the minds of the easily impressionable (animals, politicians and marketing personnel) to control their very thoughts. This has not been proven by the Brotherhood Scribes, but the activities of those known as the Beastlords certainly lends some credence to these tales. Probably the most fearsome thing about the Beastlords is their control over the beasts. Secondly, they are fond of poison, which can cause problems for even the most stalwart of bands.
A typical Beastlord wears armor made from animals. They don't shower very often, either.
Very little is known about the Robots. They do seem to be a new type, perhaps of new construction. They are organized by function, and that implies a higher authority controlling them or at least rationing the types of robots available in any one theatre of conflict.