In the years following the Great War, the United States, and presumably everywhere else in the world, has devolved into a post-apocalyptic wasteland commonly dubbed "The Wasteland". The war and subsequent nuclear fallout have severely depopulated the country, leaving large expanses of abandoned property decaying from neglect. In addition, virtually all food and water is irradiated to some degree, and radiation exposure has caused mutation in nearly all forms of life.
With a large portion of the country's infrastructure in ruins, basic necessities are scarce. Barter is the common method of exchange, with the dollar no longer recognized as worthwhile tender. Instead, various soft drink bottle caps have become the accepted common currency. Most cities and towns are empty, having been looted and deserted in favor of smaller, makeshift communities scattered around the Wasteland.
Amidst the scattered remnants of humanity, several major factions have emerged. One is the Brotherhood of Steel, a group dedicated to the collection and preservation of pre-war knowledge and technology. However, despite their good intentions, the Brotherhood is reluctant to share what they know or have with others, and as a result, have started on a decline; they are lacking in numbers and often-times fragmented, with different chapters essentially becoming independent of the main faction. The second is the Enclave, the remnants of the pre-war government. They have access to the best technology available before the war, although they often use their own, self-designed technology instead of pre-war weapons. This is most notable in their power-armor -- which is far different and superior to the best pre-war armor available, the T-51b -- and usage of plasma weaponry which would have been in the prototype stage pre-war. They were a totalitarian regime that sought to wipe out all mutation in the Wasteland (which, given the pervasive radiation, is every living thing on the surface). The third is the Raiders, a loose coalition of thieves and murderers that pillage towns for supplies and mercilessly slaughter anyone that gets in their way. Fourth, a country called the New California Republic, which is the biggest faction in post apocalyptic America. They have the biggest military in the wasteland and have the largest population. The NCR also has the capability of producing new weapons and armor. Finally, there are the Super Mutants, former humans that have been mutated by the Forced Evolutionary Virus into towering sterile mutants with incredible strength and, typically, diminished intelligence.
Due to its importance in the US Economy and financial infrastructure, the city of Charlotte was a target during the Great War. Although not considered high enough to warrant high yield nukes, the region still was hit with several low yield nukes. Unfortunately, several of the bombs targeted a nuclear power plant not far outside the city. The bombs cause catastrophic damage to the reactors, which lead to a nuclear meltdown. The subsequent fallout from the meltdown killed tens of thousands of civilians caught in the radius of the reactors, as well as turning a good swath of the region into a wasteland. Charlotte itself suffered some numerous strikes from low yield nukes that turned a majority of the downtown district into rubble, or twisted remains of once majestic s skyscrapers.
The resulting fallout clouds from both the reactor meltdown and the nuking of the city drifted around following the weather patterns of the time, killing thousands with radiation sickness, and leaving a desolate wasteland in its wake. The lucky ones were those that died quick or had a spot in one the regions few vaults.
Over the course of the next two centuries, the radiation levels dissipated enough to allow meager life to return the region as it did elsewhere in the world. At first it was the animal life a post apocalyptic world, but that was quickly followed by humanity, either descendants of those that survived, refugees from other regions, or just bands of scavengers. Even groups of humans who’s very DNA was changed by the Great War appeared in the area. Groups of ghouls, unfortunate humans whose bodies refuse to die, both feral and civilized moved into the region. Super Mutants from the New England area roved in bands terrifying all. Eventually even some of the human factions of the time had presence. The Brotherhood of Steel maintained a small outpost, as well as the Enclave.
The Black Company and Fallout