The great offshore oil rigs that once stood proud over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico had long been shadows of themselves by the time of the Great War. Most of the scrap metal and drilling equipment that could be moved off of the oil rigs cheap enough to make a profit on the re-sell was already gone, as were all of the workers. The wells had run dry and left no purpose for the once great platforms that now stood over the churning waters of the Gulf. Most were nothing more than a few metal platforms and concrete legs, with others still having bits and pieces of old machinery and buildings left on them.

Once the atomic bombs and missiles were dropped upon the American South, some chose to flee to the oil rigs out of fear for their safety. The post-war world was a terrifying one filled with radiation, raiders and other dangers. Some saw the oil rigs as a way to create a new, democratic society away from the dangers and fears of the mainland. Piling into stolen yachts, motorboats and improvised rafts; they made their way to the dilapidated oil rigs in an attempt to make the new life in the post-war world that they envisioned.

Several generations later, the dream had died. Inbreeding, cannibalism, and more became rampant within the small oil rig communities due to low population and low food supply. The residents of the oil rigs took the name of "Roughnecks" after the nickname for pre-war oil rig workers, becoming small and insular tribes. Many tribes adopted facial tattoos and full body tattoos, identifying them as a member of one particular tribe or another. Resources on the man-made structure, aside from scrap metal and small amounts of fish that they managed to catch, were scare. As a result many Roughneck tribes chose to become pirates and raiders in order to gather resources for their community that, if they didn't raid small settlements, then they would never be able to get.

Building improvised boats ranging from small sailboats to large galleys, depending on the amount of resources available to the tribe, warriors ranging from a dozen to two dozen would board the ship to go on a week to two week long voyage raiding small villages along the coastline of the Gulf Coast. After the raids, they would return with their stolen goods which normally are food, weapons, medicine and other essentials rather than the typical loot taken by raiders. The object of the raids are to take as much things as they can for the good of the community rather than for any sort of material value.

Many settlements cannot muster the resources to chase after the Roughnecks after they raid a village, leaving an aura of invincibility. They tend to attack quickly, with numbers, and they retreat quickly to the open seas after raiding their target. Some coastal settlements manage to muster up enough of a solid defense in order to drive the Roughnecks back into the sea, but, most are caught by surprise and therefore overwhelmed. As individuals, Roughnecks are not the greatest of combatants. Using weapons made of scrap metal, they rely more on numbers than actual skill.

Many wastelanders, aside from those who live on the Gulf Coast, have never heard or seen of Roughnecks but along the coast their name carries an intense stigma and fear. Little is known about the Roughnecks, as many don't even know where they come from.