Whenever I design an adventure or new device for Mutant Future, I keep returning to one thought in the back of my head: Where did all this high-tech come from? I try not to dwell on it too much, as the remote past of The Ancients has fallen into the stuff of mythology and legend. At what point in mankind's history the apocalypse occurred is left deliberately undefined in the rulebook to keep such questions from bogging down the game. What WAS is not as important as what IS.
But still, most settings for RPGs in the post-cataclysmic world take place just slightly in our future. There may have been hovercars, but there are still road and highway ruins to be found. Why? Futuristic lasers and pulse rifles are discovered alongside modern firearms. Why were both apparently in use during the Final Wars? Discovered medical technology can instantaneously heal the sick and wounded, but the Ancients apparently had the buildings, towns, clothing, and general everyday trappings of our modern society. So how to explain 24th century devices in a 21st century world?
Giving this some thought, I came up with some background ideas on how the Mutant Lord can reconcile these two seemingly conflicting facets:
* The time of the Final Wars is our near future - say 200-300 years in the future. The basic features of everyday society in 2200-2300 AD would still be very similar to our everyday society of 2000, although the tech level will have advanced considerably. Picture this: A time traveller from 1810 who visits us "today" would still recognize the cities and streets. He'd be able to speak our language. He'd probably be able to function normally with the exception of the items we use everyday. Computers, television, heart transplants, the Space Shuttle. These would be the things of science fiction to him, but to us they're commonplace. So 2300 (or thereabouts) would be similar. Everyday living would be the same, but the tech level would be that of The Ancients.
* Who's to say that the hubris of the Ancients destroyed the world? As creatures like the Brain Lashers (MF rulebook, pg. 63) show us, we may be one day invaded by aliens capable of plane shifting. Or perhaps it could be a good old fashioned otherworldly invasion. These highly advanced beings arrived to enslave mankind. They're the ones who initially brought these high tech devices and weapons, for use in their conquest. As mankind fought back, they secured and developed these items on their own. The apocalypse could have been mankind's last strike against these invaders, or perhaps the invaders just figured they may as well destroy the uppity humans. Either way, the weapons and devices remain; the world is cast in ruins; and the history of this invasion is lost to the ages.