Spectrum Shock: The Big Picture

A great cataclysm has stolen mankind's control over the earth. Years of struggling to survive in a world beset by monsters have left Washington DC and Boston as the superpowers of the American Northeast. Many claim to know what happened during the cataclysm, but the stories of those who claim to know vary wildly so the truth may be something altogether different. All that is agreed upon is that the age of man's domination of the earth is long gone and other civilizations, some similar to those detailed in pre-cataclysm fiction, have risen to challenge mankind for control of the planet. Seemingly endless tracts of untamed wilderness exist between beacons of relative safety and civilization. Washington DC and Boston are the largest beacons of human influence but are polar opposites in their methods of ensuring the safety of their citizens.

The citizens of Washington DC insist that the cataclysm was merely a setback for mankind and that the monsters now inhabiting their lands should be either destroyed or driven back to wherever they came from. They believe in the purity of humanity and fight to keep the race pure, embracing psionics and advanced technology. While this might seem a lofty stance, critics of DC accuse its population of racism toward other intelligent life forms and an intolerance even for humans with disabilities or incurable diseases (seeing them as impure).

The citizens of Boston believe that in order to survive, humanity must adapt to its new neighbors. Thus, they still fight against the monsters that cannot be reasoned with but readily accept non-hostile intelligent life forms as equals. They fight for the survival of mankind at any cost, dabbling in all sources of power with equal interest, including magic, psionics, and the technology of humans and nonhumans. Critics of Boston accuse the city of becoming too tolerant by allowing nonhuman cultures and evil magic to gain too much influence.

The two cities have fought many battles over the years, but neither side has the resources to defeat the other without leaving itself vulnerable to the monsters in the wilderness. At present, they maintain a state of cold war with each side worried that the other will strike at any time and continually seeking the upper hand just in case.

Other bastions of humanity may exist, but explorers have gone as far south as Georgia, as far west as the Mississippi River, and as far north as the Hudson Bay without encountering more than tiny settlements of humans, and even these small settlements often owe allegiance to one superpower or the other and would not otherwise survive. A few exceptions exist, but none have the power to challenge Boston or DC.

For the daring, there are settlements of nonhumans dotting the landscape. Elves, goblins, ghouls, mutated humans, dragons, and a multitude of other races are all known to have settlements in the region. However, because of the aggression and racism of DC, many of these settlements are not particularly trusting of humans and approaching one could yield anything from a warm greeting to a shot from a sniper rifle depending on the attitude of the inhabitants.
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