October 23, 2077
The Great War begins and ends within 2 hours, exterminating most life on the planet
The middle of the 21st Century brought about a mad scramble for resources, specifically petroleum. With panic setting in, the major superpowers, especially the United States (which had recently annexed Canada), China, the European Commonwealth, and the Soviet Union, launched all their nuclear capabilities at each other, hoping to be the last one standing.
In the United States, bombs struck the west coast first and progressed eastward, giving those in Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Massachusetts a short warning to evacuate to bomb shelters called Vaults. Those not fortunate enough to have a place within the Vaults were killed by the blast or irradiated, giving them a withered appearance but an impressively long lifespan. Some of the irradiated lost their minds and became creatures of instinct, attacking any who disturbed them. A small pocket of humanity was able to survive the initial blast and the radiation, however, and began to create settlements in the ruins of the old world.