The Black Years followed the conflict of the Shadow Years. It is a time of chaos, and Darwinism run amok.
Wildlife that was not killed by fallout, was mutated by it, and the wilderness is teeming with creatures that would be totally alien to any other era before this. All the technological developments of Shadow Years was lost, and man was thrown back into savagery. Survival is the highest priority in life, and the best means for survival is gain power. Power is best archived through powerful mutations or the effective use of high-tech artifacts. The draw for power and rumors of treasure lead men to brave the dangers of ancient facilities, where they can find the tools of the Ancients. To a man of the Black Years, the Ancients where like gods, and their artifacts are like magic.
Communities are primitive and xenophobic. Leadership is more about fear and might, then about respect or good leadership. Those with power, can take control. Another element of control are groups of like-minded people called Cryptic Alliances. They range from secretive societies, to imposing armies. Like the special interest groups of the Shadow Years, the Cryptic Alliances share a common ideology, and do whatever it takes (within the scopes of their believes) to achieve their goals.