Rangers and other Wastelanders
In the early 70's, an astronomer located a cluster of meteors that would cross Earth’s path in the summer of '98. The government kept this secret to prevent panic and to gain advantage over the Soviets. Meteor defense became the top US priority.
It took 15 years to build Citadel Starstation, an orbital nuclear anti-meteor missile platform. Tensions grew as the Soviets charged that it was merely a military launching platform, alarming a number of nonaligned nations. Two weeks before it would be fully operational, Citadel transmitted a distress signal. Undetected, a cloud of small meteorites preceded the main cluster. Though no great threat to Earth, they obliterated most satellites just after the message was sent, leaving the great powers blind. In a panic, each launched 90% of their nuclear arsenals. The destruction was tremendous, but not complete. Pockets of civilization remained, some even oblivious to the military exchange.
The antithesis of the clean, futuristic society that came before, Wasteland is a world in decay. Once glimmering cities of glass and steel lie in ruin. Rusted hulls of cars litter the urban environment as a reminder of the former world, and survivors have banded together into small frontier communities. Much as the Wild West long ago, the world is in an age of rugged individualism where everyone is expected to look after himself and his own. Some towns have the benefit of a pre-cataclysm power source such as a small wind turbine or solar dish. In this technological dark age, such devices and those few who understand them are coveted and influential.
On that day of destruction a company of Army Engineers were in the southwestern deserts building bridges over dry riverbeds. They worked deep in the inhospitable desert valleys. Located directly south of them was a new federal prison that housed condemned inmates and light industrial manufacturing facilities. Shortly after the cataclysm began, these Engineers took over the prison and expelled the prisoners into the desert. As weeks passed, they invited the nearby survivalist communities to join them to help build a new society. Because of each group’s suspicions towards one another, times were difficult at first, but as time nurtured trust, this settlement - which came to be known as Ranger Center - grew to be one of the strongest outposts, even repelling the rancorous criminals who repeatedly attacked in attempts to reclaim what was once “rightfully” theirs.
The citizens of Ranger Center, after first believing that they were the only ones who survived the nuclear cataclysm, soon realized that communities beyond the desert's grip had also survived. Because they had such success in constructing a new community, they felt compelled to help other survivors rebuild and live in peace. Toward this end, the Desert Rangers, in the great tradition of the Texas and Arizona Rangers a century before, were born.