The world has undergone holocaust. Somewhere between two hundred and fifty and three hundred years ago, huge swathes of humanity were wiped out. The world has reverted to a simpler society. In America something very close to the feudal system is the norm, though not universal.
In the apocalypse that left the world in this state, the earth was shaken in more ways than one. Old things awoke and energies that had been viewed as superstition have come back to light.
One of the energies that flared to wakefulness in a new and more powerful way is the grid of leylines around the earth. With that reawakening, it was rediscovered that there are people (and non-human beings) that can use the leylines for a variety of different things that seem like magic. Those that can touch the leylines with no outside assistance are called natural Taps.
Some of the things a Tap might be able to do:
Those that are not natural Taps can still tap the leylines, but they have to use devices. Leyline energy can be stored in crystalline structures, but only exceptionally fine ones are very good. One thing that is particularly coveted is rutilated quartz. With the inclusions of rutile, it makes an exceptionally good ley-energy conductor and battery.
Tapping devices are relatively rare and quite expensive. The technology that allowed them to be manufactured was only discovered in the last forty years or so when a brilliant and quite mad engineer working for the local head honcho of Oak Ridge was able to use intuition and backward engineering to mimic his own abilities as a natural Tap. Since then, the knowledge of how to do it has spread somewhat, but there are still only a small number of people that are any good at it. A bad Tapping device could cause rather a lot of problems for its user, up to and including death from what amounts to a bio-electric EMP blast.
Other types of technology do still exist. In places where electricity can be created through natural means, such as wind energy or hydroelectric, it is still used -- but only sparingly. Those places are strong trading centers, thanks to their limited ability to create more technologically advanced devices. Mass-production is almost unknown.
Clockwork is very prevalent in machinery. Clockmakers and engineers that can keep some of the old machinery running are amongst the most highly-regarded people in any society. Another source of technology are the ones that scavenge the ruins of the larger cities for what they can refurbish or trade.
Guns still exist, but since there are very few people left who understand the workings of them, they are rarely used. Gunpowder is also a very rare commodity, making ammunition hard to get hold of.
Cross-bows, bows, knives, swords, spears and polearms are more common. Cross-bows can be quite expensive, but they are the preferred method of homestead and territory protection. Those that keep guns for such things are more likely to load them with rock salt or simply gravel to avoid using precious ammunition if the threat isn't dire.
Along with the great dying-off and the reawakening of the leylines, beings that had been dismissed as myth have come back to light. Earth spirits of all sorts from sidhe to kobolds to wendigo thrive in the new, less-populated world. Vampires and shapechangers are also fairly well-known.
Religion is varied. There are some fairly cosmopolitan towns, but there are settlements that are very much fundamentalist.
In the last few decades, rail travel has started to be built back up. With the lack of large manufacturing plants, it has been the work of years to put a few rail lines back into service, and most of those go no more than a few hundred miles, using existing routes for the base. Most long-distance shipping is done via pack-train or river. There is very little cross-continental trade in the remains of North America.
Clothing in North America is mostly what can be found indigenously: wool, cotton, leather and some linen. Practicality is prized for everyday clothing for the vast majority of the remaining humans. However, people still love a party and those at the top of the heap like to wear luxurious things. Silk is perhaps the rarest of fabrics, since intercontinental travel is dangerous and time-consuming.
Books are precious and tend to be passed down. There are some printing presses, but the most important and sought-after books are hand-copied. Religious books, medical texts, engineers' notes and the grimoires of natural Taps who use their powers in specific ways are particularly sought-after.
Mining operations are small-time again. Wildcat operators are the norm and they sometimes band together into coalitions to market their wares.
Some of the trade routes are a little different. New Orleans didn't survive the collapse of the intercontinental support for infrastructure and the parts that aren't completely under water have reverted to swampland. The big southern port on the Mississippi is now Baton Rouge. San Francisco is still a port for the rare shipments from Asia.
Most people start functioning as adults around the age of 14-15. Apprenticeships are a fairly common way of passing down trade skills. Most towns and settlements do have schools, though they aren't as complex or complete as twenty-first century schools. Universities exist as well, but they are structured differently. They are less gen-ed and more specialized.
Last modified: 2011-Apr-30 22:02:53
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