Dating back to Pre-War times, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey were home to rural, families that were considered the dregs of society at the time. Besides for simply being poor and living underprivileged lives, many of these families contained members that just seemed “off”. In the early 20th century, Dr. Henry Goddard spent time studying the families of the area, observing their daily lives and researching their ancestries and origins. The result of his case study were published in a book, The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness. In it, Goddard determined that decades of interbreeding among Pine Barrens groups that carried “feeble-minded genes” produced a group of people that were genetically inferior.
Already insular and self-sufficient, the Great War cut the people of the Pine Barrens off from the rest of society, such as it was in the lead-up and aftermath of the conflict. Isolated for generations and exposed to the ambient radiation and fallout, the people of the Pine Barrens further mingled among each other, devolving into savage, sub-human creatures.
From a distance, pineys resemble normal humans, but upon closer inspection, they look very different. Most are taller and broader than humans, with sinewy bodies raw with strength. Most possess limbs that aren’t fully in proportion with each other, and the rest of the body. They wear tattered clothing, preserving their modesty but not affording any other real benefit.
Pineys are omnivores, though they primarily eat meat. Small game, small reptiles, birds, insects, fish and deer are their primary food source. Based on the fact that rudimentary piney tools are made of human bones, they likely eat human flesh as well- though whether or not this is considered cannibalism is up to debate. Blueberry patches and cranberry bogs are plentiful in the Pine Barrens, and pineys make use of these resources as well.
Most pineys are much less intelligent than humans, but they still possess a modicum of intelligence. They are capable of creating and using simple tools, and have shown the ability to use more complex items, such as guns. While they speak their own language- a guttural tongue that sounds more like grunts to the human ear than anything else- pineys have been known to speak English, albeit simple phrases only.