I’ve started putting together a campaign setting for FOWW whilst I wait for circumstances to permit actually being able to start my collection, and I’d like some feedback from the community. There’s still a lot of details that are missing, so any suggestions would be most welcome!
Before the Great War, the government of the United States tasked all the country’s great universities with research projects geared towards providing an edge against the red menace, and New Haven’s Yale was no exception. Though not the renowned center for technological achievement that M.I.T was, the Ivy League member nevertheless contributed to many innovations in the fields of medicine, bio-engineering and artificial intelligence. On October 23, 2077, the city of New Haven was targeted by no less than three nuclear warheads due almost solely to the presence of the prestigious university, however, none struck it directly. Instead, the city became surrounded by atomic fire, filling the region with massive burst of gamma radiation and turning much of the surrounding area into a radioactive, ghoul-infested wasteland.
The relatively intact infrastructure of the city would become a boon to a significant population of survivors in the decades after the bombs fell - between Vaults 73 and 119, and several well-stocked hardened bunkers beneath the university itself, many of the citizens of New Haven were protected against the storm of nuclear fire.
By 2283, much like the rest of the country, New Haven was a battlefield. The Societies, pseudo-religious raider gangs built around half-remembered and butchered scraps of lore from the old world university organisations, vie for control of territory within the heart of the city. In the suburbs, settlements cling to existence in the relatively safe zone between the constantly-shifting territories of the Societies and the feral-infested radioactive hellscape outside the city limits. From the north, bands of Super Mutants roam further and further afield from the Commonwealth, chasing loot and slaves in ever increasing numbers.
Yet still, other factions turn their gaze towards the untapped scientific treasures that may yet lie beneath the ruins of the city - both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Institute have sent reconnaissance missions in force into the area, even while the tattered remnants of an old foe, the Enclave, lick their wounds in a hidden bunker and plot to take the trove of technological riches for themselves.
And beneath the escalating conflict on the surface, deep within the collapsed system of tunnels and underground laboratories under Yale, something stirs. The scavvers that pick their way through the city whisper fearfully about the screams of electronic ghosts echoing through the dark, and few dare to discover what guards the secrets of the Old World…
Alright, that’s a bit of fluff to set the scene, so let’s have a look at the different factions and how they all fit in:
Now this, I think, is the most fun and flavourful thing I’ve come up with. The idea behind them is that Vault-tec took inspiration from the secret societies of Yale, and set up one of the local Vaults to split the population into half a dozen or so pyramid-scheme cults of mystery, with the “secrets” of things like system passwords, access to weapons stores and better living quarters etc all tied up in how high one gets within the secret society. Of course, this went about as well as one might expect, and when the doors opened, the descendants of the original survivors had formed into the Societies. These days, they are part quasi-religious cultists, part limelight-hogging lovers of spectacle and intrigue, and part old-fashioned drug-crazed violent psychopaths.
Brotherhood of Steel -
I’ve purposefully set the campaign world in 2283, mere months after Elder Maxson has taken control of the Brotherhood, and during his efforts to re-integrate the Outcasts back into the fold. Over the last few years, the BoS has been busy solidifying their holdings in and around the Capital Wasteland in the wake of their war with the Enclave, and have recently been sending out recon teams to major population centers up and down the coast. Having found that New Haven - and the university that once stood there - was far more intact than once thought, Maxson sends a contingent to secure the site. Though the lure of pre-war scientific knowledge is a potent lure indeed, Maxson’s reasons for such a swift deployment is rather pragmatic - a small and successful campaign is just what he needs to secure his place as Elder in the hearts of those who doubt the leadership of such a young man.
The Institute -
In much the same way as the BoS, the Directorate has decided the time is right to send forces into the ruins of New Haven, to secure the research believed to be buried beneath the university.
The Enclave -
In what is probably my most egregious case of hand-waving in the setting, the Enclave was already in the process of scouting out the ruins of Yale when Raven Rock was destroyed. A small, hidden bunker in the region became a safehouse for some of the scattered remnants of the Enclave that were able to escape the Brotherhood’s purge, and the survivors have kept careful watch over the region. Once it becomes clear that others are chasing their prize, they have little choice but to go on the offensive once more.
There’s really not a whole lot to say here, except to perhaps handwave Minutemen as simply being local settlement militia. Several decently-sized settlements exist within what was once the suburbs of New Haven, and though caravans always require a hefty escort when travelling between them, the trade routes remain open most of the time.
Super Mutants -
The Super Mutants of New Haven are those who have traveled from the Commonwealth in search of fresh hunting grounds, and have been drawn to the sizable population and rising violence of the region.
Special mention needs to be made here, despite it not really being a faction. In one of the underground labs where AI research was being conducted, a mainframe system became partially self-aware just in time for the world to end. This naturally drove it insane, and in the years since it has slowly spread its influence throughout the tunnels, infecting robots with scrapcode viruses and turning them into murderous extensions of its will.