posted by Crasical Original SA post

Shadowrun. Hooooeeee fuck. Shadowrun.

This is going to be one of THOSE reviews.

I’m going to commit the only gaming sin worse than boring other nerds by rambling about your totally sweet player characters, and ramble about myself, and my history with the game. To start I’m going to be talking about one specific edition, the 4th edition (20th anniversary ed) of Shadowrun (at least for now), which is kind of the odd-man-out of the game line.

Relevant fact the first: I’m 27 years old. I was born in late 1989.
Relevant fact the second: I started playing shadowrun about 3 years ago (2014, for those of you who are math challenged).
This is odd for me writing this, because checking out the release dates, Shadowrun 5e was totally around when I first started exploring the game, but I remember it being released afterward, when I was already entrenched playing the fourth edition of the game. Trick of memory, I suppose, or maybe I preferred playing the game with a wealth of books and active groups playing rather than the (then) untested and untried new version. Or it might be that one of the huge factors for me deciding to actually join a group and try playing the game was 4chan’s /tg/ ‘Twodee’s Shadowrun Storytime’, which had used fourth edition.
Regardless, I went with Fourth Ed for my first forays into the game.

Anyway, per relevant fact #1, through no fault of my own, I pretty much missed the 80s. Shadowrun editions 1-3 where extremely eighties. 4th edition wasn’t just my hopping on point for the series, it’s also where the game shook off a lot of the grunge-rock motifs that (depending on your inclinations) might be a critical part of the game experience. I personally don’t have the taste for them. 4e dropped some of the cheesy runner slang (Frag, Slot, Drek being mostly replaced with actual cursing, ‘chummer’ becoming the japanese ‘Omae’) and a lot of the clunky old technology, replacing it with a tech level that is more believably 20-minutes-into-the-future. 2nd edition shadowrun has some of the best lorebooks, and the 2e cyberware book has a section I’m probably going to quote heavily from when it comes time to talk about cyberware because the fluff is just so good, but it also has ‘ware that:
A) puts a digital clock in your vision. That is all it does. It even appears when you close your eyes and makes it hard to sleep. Just buy a watch!
B) Is a fax machine implanted into your head. For sending and receiving faxes. Yes.

Fourth Edition got rid of that, gave a huge emphasis on a wireless world, smartphone-like mini-computers (commlinks) along with pervasive Augmented Reality rising up to become an alternative to the ‘jack in and go floppy/limp’ Virtual Reality. Space travel was touched on as occurring in the setting periphery as well as nanotech manufacturing and new, experimental nanotech augmentation. It paints a world that I find as scarily plausible to things we will have fifty or sixty years down the line. There are certain folks (likely on this very forum, indeed) who think that the world update from 3e to 4e made the world ‘Not Shadowrun’, or ‘Not Cyberpunk’, and instead ‘Transhuman garbage’. Considering that the game’s fifth edition is a ‘Throwback Edition’ in a lot of ways (Think of how 5e DnD is in a lot of ways a throwback to 3e), apparently at least some of the developers agreed with them. I don’t agree. When I talk about how much I love Shadowrun, a lot of that is SPECIFICALLY fourth edition SR, and I want to make that really clear before I start.

Shadowrun is a weird, clunky, crunchy, rules heavy game. It is, by a lot of standards, a bad game. It’s a game I personally have been running as a DM for about two years, and while I wouldn’t ever use the rules system for anything else, I also don’t think I would ever run Shadowrun using another rules system. It is also a large game. The ‘core’ books, by my consideration, tally out at 987 pages of content. For right now I’m going to just give the best lore overview I can of the setting before I start getting into all the mechanical clank and clunk of the corebook.

I hope by the time I’m done, you might understand a little bit of what people see in the game.


posted by Crasical Original SA post

So, Shadowrun in-universe history. There’s a lot, so I’m just going to get right into it. We’re starting off with the legal shenanigans that let mere corporations become Megacorps, so today’s update might be a touch dry.

Shadowrun is an alt-history, branching off ours around the late 80s early 90s. However, the big split happens in in 1999, with what becomes known as the Seretech Decision. On January 8th, the Teamster’s union in New Yorkrejected the final offer given to them by the government and go on strike. Everything shuts down. Most importantly? No fresh food coming into the city.

Now, the supermarkets are still stocked, and the government does it’s best to get things moving again, but tensions start to mount as the strike drags on and out. Three months later, violence has broken out, food riots. The city’s in panic, and somehow, in the confusion, the mob surrounds a truck belonging to Seretech Medical Research. The truck’s hauling hazardous biomaterial, which the armed guards on the truck announce, but the mob doesn’t believe them, or back down. Thinking that the truck must be carrying food, they attack. A running battle leads back to the Seretech research facility, and the security force there opens fire on the crowd. Twenty Seretech security agents die, and two hundred civilians.
Immediately, Seretech is being slammed with criminal negligence charges, lawsuits, on the city, state, and federal level. It goes all the way to the supreme court, where Seretech defends themselves by claiming that if they hadn’t protected the truck, the situation would have been incalculably worse, a plague compounding a starvation-induced riot. The supreme court agrees, upholding the corp’s right to maintain an armed force for protection of its personnel and property.

In effect, corporations now have the right to maintain a private army.

Meanwhile, across the nation in California, the Shiawase Corporation had a problem. They’d built an aluminum production facility, but the operation costs for it had skyrocketed, the electrical bill soaring over five hundred percent in just six months. Seeking a solution, Shiawase approached the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC) for permission to build a small nuclear reactor on their land, enough to power the aluminum plant. Their proposal was immediately denied, nuclear power was a touchy subject, and unless the power plant was providing energy for the community, or being used in research, they didn’t want something so hazardous being constructed. Shiawase fires back that the NRC is overreaching: Their plant fulfills all the safety requirements, provides power enough for their factory, and not only did the NRC’s decision affect the electrical market, but the aluminum market, too. Things get elevated to the supreme court (again) in the year 2000.

Shiawase Corporate Iconography

The NRC were very confident in their ability to win the case: A 1942 decision (Wickard v. Filburn) had established that the government had the right to regulate activities that would have an impact on trade. Shiawase, shockingly, crushed the NRC, Wickard v. Filburn had been primarily about preventing overproduction, and in this case, electricity and aluminum both were failing to meet demand. Shiawase was allowed to build their nuclear plant, what’s more, the regulations that the NRC had imposed on them where put under review. One demand stood out: Local police forces had to be permanently involved in plant security, a rider that had snuck in in an attempt to undermine the Seretech Decision that had been made a year earlier. Disgruntled, the Supreme Court struck down the ruling, and reaffirmed the Seretech Decision: Corporations had the right to employ their own security teams to protect their holdings.

The plant was completed late the same year, amidst a storm of controversy due to the supreme court decision: anti-nuclear activist protests were very common. Terrafirst!, an ecoterrorist organization, sent in a paramilitary strike team armed with a large amount of high explosives and military-grade weapons and armor, with the goal of staging a detonation that would breach the reactor and contaminate the area with nuclear material. The strike team managed to penetrate the containment zone before being found and fatally neutralized by Shiawase security teams. Terrafirst! claimed later that they had been set up, the whole attack staged by Shiawase, but any proof they could offer was destroyed in a bomb blast at their California headquarters

Shiawase and the NRC headed back to court, the NRC claiming that the attack proved criminal negligence, Shiawase claiming that not only could their security team have defended against an attacking force five times the size of the Terrafirst! ecoterrorists, but it was NRC regulations that had forced them to build the power plant outside the main aluminum factory compound in the first place, as well as a host of other minor security holes opened up by the regulations.

The Shiawase lawyers made a grand stand before the courts: The laws, they claimed, were preventing the adequate level of security for a nuclear plant. They cited precedent that when a regulation or a law resulted in a threat to security, health, morals or the welfare of the people, the government should no longer retain such permission. Shiawase demanded one of two things: Either that all nuclear reactors in the united states be shut down, as they were not being properly protected, or that they give their owners complete freedom to fulfill the security requirements. This was the first time the notion of corporate extraterritoriality would be introduced: The idea that law would be enforced differently on corporate soil.

The courts found in favor of Shiawase. In addition to nuclear power plants, chemicals, waste processing, armaments and services related to national security, water and food supplies, and hospitals were included in the ruling, all falling under the banner of security, health, morals and welfare. The government no longer had any say in the running of those industries, as long as the product remained the same, working hours, security procedures and measures, and use of equipment or process were now free of any sort of regulations. Corporate sovereignty on their own land was assured.

More Corps, Growing Corruption, First Nations

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 3: (More Corps, Growing Corruption, First Nations)
Also entitled ‘Woo, if you thought that the formation of megacorporate control was dumb then I hate to think what you’ll make of this’.

More Corporate Incidents
During the events between the Seretech and Shiawase decisions, Austria was undergoing a severe economic crisis. In response to this, the Parliament was abolished, and the Stahlmänner, a special council composed of highly-rated corporate figures, was put in place. This will be important later. (However far-fetched you find this, at the risk of getting both topical and political, America in the real world DID just elect a corporate figure as president because of his campaign platform on the economy.)
In the wake of everybody following America’s decision/the growing megacorporations badgering other governments to make similar rulings to make Corporate Extraterritoriality a thing, France was one of the few that stood up and refused, citing an alarming growth of corporate power. They hoped to be a beacon and draw other nations into trying to limit this new spread of power. Instead they were made an example of: The growing megacorporations sanctioned the shit out of France. Points for trying, I guess. A month later, during the G8 summit in Italy, corporate security forces opened fire on a mob of Anti-Corporate protesters. News media (owned largely by the mega-corporations) reported it as the security forces acting in ‘defense against an act of terrorism’. Protestors are forced to abandon their traditional tactics in search of new techniques.

Can confirm, not adorable dogs. Sorry, Kureig

America gets corrupt as hell
Corruption runs from the top to the bottom in the American government: Martin Hunt (the 43rd American president who was elected in 2000) is found to be have been paying large, under-the-counter sums to Mexican president Miguel Ávila to allow American corporations to build on Mexican land and to tap their natural resources. He also dissolves the municipal government of Washington, D.C. and takes direct control of the district. The scandals oust him when he comes up for re-election in 2004, and Phillip Bester takes the presidency. Bester promptly cuts all funding for the public broadcasting, allowing their equipment and resources to be cannibalized by corporate interests, and for the corporations to tighten their control of the media. Three years later in ‘07, the supreme court declines to review the decision by President Hunt to disband the District of Columbia’s municipal government. Bester’s approval ratings start to dip because of this.

On 2008, Jesse Garrety is elected the 4th president of the United States.

First Nations and the Lone Eagle incident
So, scrolling back a bit: back in 1999, during the Seretech decision, one event that I didn’t bother to cover was that the Canadian Government had pulled a bit of eminent domain on some Dene First Nations land to be turned over for exploitation of its natural resources. Three years later, the swelling masses of emboldened new corporations look back on this and think ‘What a great idea’. The US government is promptly lobbied, bullied, and bribed to seize millions of acres of land from Native American reservations which is then auctioned off for corporate expansion.

In response to this blatant, flagrant corruption and theft, the Sovereign American Indian Movement forms in Denver, April 5th, 2002. They fight the corporations and government until 2009, when United Oil Industries receives the rights to one quarter of the remaining natural parks and one tenth of the few remaining reservations in the US.
Words will no longer suffice for the SAIM. They assemble a strike team, infiltrate, and capture a missile silo at the U.S. Air Force’s Shiloh Launch Facility in northwest Montana. They issue their ultimatum: give us back our land or we launch the Lone Eagle ICBMS.

Probably not the SAIM’s actual rallying cry

The government pretends to initiate talks, but it’s a smokescreen. Ten days later, Delta Team antiterrorist squadrons burst into the silo and kill or capture every SAIM operative on the ground, but not before the Native Americans can make good on their threat and fire a nuclear ICBM at Russia. Ten thousand sphincters tighten in anticipation of nuclear armageddon, and President Garrety makes furious calls to his Russian counterpart in an attempt to prevent all out war. Thankfully, the missile vanishes mysteriously over the Arctic circle, never arriving in Russia. This remains a mystery unsolved even in present day.

The backlash to the Lone Eagle incident is severe. It’s used as anti-SAIM and anti-Native American propaganda, and the tensions rise to the point where the Supreme Court pass the Re-Education and Relocation Act. Any Native with even the remotest connection to SAIM gets hauled off to detention centers. In Canada, the Nepean act, a sister legislation, is passed, which legitimizes internment camps for the Native Inuits. Nunavut, the Inuit territory in northern Canada is dismantled and sold off. By 2010, the US federal government has seized all Native American lands.

Something much worse remains on the horizon, however.

Bonus Update: Miroyama
The Miroyama Incident
On 2006, after a years-long court battle, Miroyama Electric loses a battle with Texas Instruments Corporation (TIC). Miroyama’s assets are all to be seized, TIC will be revitalized, and Miroyama Electric is doomed. Miroyama’s executive circle decides to spare themselves the shame of this loss in the, uh, traditional Japanese way. They leave notes behind for their families, but also a public note to the company detailing how the patent violation that allowed the lawsuit is the result of their failure to protect the company, how they all felt they were part of something larger, greater, better than themselves and failed not only the stockholders, the workers, but the company itself. They need to make a grand gesture so that the shame falls on them, not the corporation, or anyone else. The note grimly ends that ‘The cleaning staff have been instructed on how to deal with the aftermath of what we are about to do’.
The entire corporate upper circle of Miroyama commits suicide by disemboweling, traditional Japanese Seppuku.
The world just sort of quietly accepts this, neither surprised nor condemning of these men’s acts. The Japanese sense of honor, work ethic, and the importance of The Corporation are all firmly entrenched in the culture of the world at this point.

BONUS FUN FACT that happened but I don’t have anywhere else to put:
On August 12, 2005: a 5.8 earthquake flattens Manhattan, killing more than two hundred thousand people. Sorry about that, but if you lived there then your shadowrun-universe counterpart is probably dead.

Pestilence and Death

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 4 (Pestilence and Death)

Before we continue with the goings-on in America, I want to hit up some stuff that the rest of the world has been going through in the last decade, starting with a major ecological event.
In March-May of 2001, a wave of serious contamination hits Europe. All of the eastern provinces (Länder) of Germany have to be evacuated due to groundwater contamination from leaking landfills, and the Baltic and North seas turn into a toxic soup. Hundreds of thousands have to be relocated as the land turns poisonous while the government scrambles to try and address the crisis. A year later, the Bündnis 2000 party is brought to power in the German federal elections on their ecological platform but it’s too little too late. On November 19th, 2003 the worst flash flood in recorded history strikes the North Sea coast of Germany. People die in the thousands, drowned in chemical sludge or poisoned by the toxic waters all around them. To prevent catastrophic meltdown, German nuclear plants are ordered to be shut down, limiting electrical power and worsening the situation. Ultimately, even this safeguard is futile, the Biblis Nuclear plant coming perilously close to meltdown and releasing radioactive gas into the air. 400 miles away in Kent England, the Dungeness nuclear reactor suffers a partial meltdown of its own, releasing a wave of fallout that kills six thousand people in the New Romney and Camber Sands area.

This guy is basically a summary of this entire section of the review.

Germany manages to totter on for four more years, before eventually collapsing under the strain of the series of disasters. With the lack of a functioning government, social instability increases and leads to violence in the streets. It remains functionally headless until on March 4th, 2009, at 3:58 in the morning, the Cattenom nuclear plant in France suffers a total failure of both primary and secondary cooling systems. The core has reached meltdown in fifteen hours, with core breach at in a half hour, and the explosion of the power plant block 2 a mere five minutes later. More than 30,000 die instantly, with the total death toll reaching 135,728 over the next 35 years. The French disaster site becomes known as Saar-Lorraine-Luxembourg Special Administrative Zone, or ‘SOX’. With the chaos of of the disaster spreading in ripples throughout Europe, and Germany functionally leaderless, the nation is in dire need of any sort of centralized government. The Bundeswehr, Germany’s military, declares all parliaments and governments dissolved, to be replaced by a military council headed by General Horst Stockter. Their primary resistance in Bavaria is crushed less than a week later.

While Germany is consolidating under a military junta, England is struck by another tragedy. The Sizewell B nuclear reactor in Suffolk suffers a critical meltdown. 7,800 die in the first month, with 80,000 dead of various cancers over the next 30 years. The same year, a nuclear plant in Dounreay Scotland suffers a meltdown of it’s own, creating an enormous radioactive wasteland that leaves the northern part of the country mostly uninhabitable


A shadowrun character living anywhere in Europe.

On the other side of Eurasia, in 2010, a new virus is discovered in india. Known locally as Kali’s Harvest and as Virally-Induced Toxic Allergy Syndrome (VITAS) to everyone else, it induces severe allergic reactions in the victim that eventually cause fatal asphyxiation. The disease spreads across the globe, claiming 450 million lives, including that of Pope John Paul III. The plague, compounded with the nuclear disaster a few years before, finally breaks the back of France’s economy and ends their resistance to corporate culture. Just to piss on them while they’re down, the Auvergne volcano also erupts, probably handily convincing every Frenchman that the world is ending. Speaking of, Quebec secedes from Canada, forming their own independent nation.
One year later, a massive hurricane-strength storm pushed the still-toxic waters of the North Sea inland, breaking levees and dams and flooding Germany again. This time, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark and Norway are all effected, with thousands dead and millions displaced, half a million eventually dead from the toxic storm.

Next time, we cover WAR, the other horseman. (Famine couldn’t make it)

War (But not WAR!)

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 5 (War (But not WAR!))
Apologies for covering the timeline in such a disjointed fashion, but I’m trying to loop things into thematic groups so that it’s easier to get a big view of the state the world was in before the Big Event late 2011-2012.

So, in a beautiful segue between the toxic pollutants and nuclear meltdowns of last update and the military conflict of this one, we have the Ten Minute War. On September 10th, 2004, political tensions in the Middle East hit a boiling point, and Libya attacked Israel. Israel responded to the exchange by launching their missiles, leading to a ten minute exchange of fire. However while Libya’s weapons where chemical in nature, the Israeli missiles are armed with nuclear warheads. Libya is gone in a puff of nuclear smoke, ceasing to exist as a state in less time than your lunch break. Millions are killed or displaced by the exchange.

I regret using the ‘I swear to god I’ll kill us all’ flag earlier now, it would have been more appropriate here

To the north, in Europe, Belarus mobilizes its armies and invades, seizing territory in both Poland and the Ukraine. When Russia steps in to ‘stabilize’ the region, it sparks fears of Russian Expansionism. These minor sparks of war seem inconsequential now aside from continuing a long Polish history of suffering, but bear important fruit thirty years down the line. At the time a much meatier, more pressing conflict was going on in Asia.

On September, 2005, the President of the Republic of Korea was assassinated. General Kyung Han Yoon, the head of their military, takes power and publicly accuses the Democratic People’s Public of sponsoring the assassin. Tensions rise, and when Japan steps in to support Yoon’s actions, it’s all the backing he needs to launch the Second Korean War.
A year into the campaign, North Korea makes a terrible, history-shaping mistake. They opened fire with their nuclear arsenal, targeting not just South Korea, but Japan, as well. By fortune or fate, the warheads fail to detonate, and Japan, who’s support of South Korea had mostly been economic and political, was pushed on a wave of outrage into entering the war proper.


This presented certain problems. Japan was still bound by the old WWII treaties that prevented it from fielding a military, something that they’d been chafing under as North Korea had become increasingly aggressive. Now, with their fears completely justified by the attack, something had to be done. Nationalist elements pushed hard on the idea of the glory days of Japan, back when they had been a tiny island of big dreams, when they had sought to be an empire, before they had had their backs broken in the second World War. In the end, Japan remakes their nation as the Japanese Imperial State, reinstating the sovereignty of the Emperor and claiming that this new identity freed them from their old political bonds so they can field an army and take part in the war with North Korea. With the influx of Japanese troops, the Republic of Korea crushed the opposing forces and reunited the peninsula in under a year with Japan installing several military bases to ‘guard’ the old nuclear sites in the Republic’s new territory.
Most of the business and economic concerns are quickly gobbled up by growing Japanese megacorps or South Korean interests, but a few of the newly-privatized North Korean assets merge together to form the a large corporate body of their own, Kwonsham Industries.

Speaking of putting your flag on things, I wanted to add the flags of new nations as they pop into existence in the timeline, but it seems like Japan didn’t update their flag at all.

Bonus Update: Technology
So, we now have the big three pieces on the board: The increasing power of megacorps, ecological disasters and plague culling the population and war breaking out with Japan refounding itself as the Japanese Imperial State (JIS). Before we move on to the next big chapter in Shadowrun History, I want to include another bonus update. Because you can’t have Cyberpunk without the Cyber, the past 10 years of fictional history have had some impressive technological advances.

The earliest of these comes in 2001, when P4MO, a synthetic blood substitute, is approved for medical use. Being able to manufacture a Type-O substitute is huge, as just the US needs 36,000 units of blood every single day. A year later electronics advance with new optical chips being put into production that are more efficient and not affected by magnetic fields.
A new suborbital plane is announced by BAE systems and the Japanese Aerospace Corporation. The Ghost is capable of crossing the Atlantic in 26 minutes and the world shrinks a little bit more. Boeing scrambles to compete with their High Speed Civil Transport which completes its first test flight a year later.
Biotech continues to run rampant, with the pollutant in Europe resulting in a breed of bioluminescent fish used to test for contaminated water that soon become popular aquarium pets. Soon the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization announces the healthy birth of a Tasmanian Tiger that has been cloned from frozen DNA samples.

Up above, the Wheelchair (The Harris 3M Space Station, formerly the Russian Mir) is struck by a meteorite and suffers catastrophic decompression. The astronauts onboard are mourned and NASA’s Freedom remains the only manned space station in orbit above earth. This empty orbit is quickly occupied by the Japanese Imperial State’s newest venture: solar collection satellites. Beaming energy to earth via microwave, they could cheaply and easily provide power to isolated regions, allowing them a virtual economic takeover of Third World nations as well as jump-starting their own economy. This is the key to Imperial Japan re-emerging as a real economic and military power in their own right.

The Awakening Proper

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 6 (The Awakening Proper)

Aaaand here we go. The Big Event. The Awakening. The thing where Shadowrun really has it’s big split off from other Cyberpunk universes: Magic.

It begins not that far into the new year, January 11th, when some children are born...different. Changed or deformed, depending on how you ask, elongated or stubby. Struggling (and failing) to find any common link between this wave of new, strange births, the phenomenon is declared ‘UGE’, Unexplained Genetic Expression. In the first months of the event, things are actually relatively subdued. The civilized world had been making a great fifty-year long push for greater equality and inclusion of all sorts of people, and many parents assumed their UGE children would be accepted as part of that general social climate. Newsweek posted an article three months after the first births were the discourse over whether to label the children as ‘Dwarves’ and ‘Elves’ can best be characterized as a polite disagreement over whether labeling the children as different will be the first step in treating them different, or if it’s better to accept the new children as different, and stand up and be proud of that, while being on watch for potential persecution. Sadly, things are not so optimistic in the rest of the world. For the next three years, across the world, UGE children disappear, are given up for adoption, or are sadly just abandoned.

As the years wear on, strange phenomenon keep coming harder and faster. Unnatural, howling magical storms tore through the Australian Outback, Volcanic eruptions in Indonesia cause the government there, struggling under the strain of VITAS outbreaks, to collapse. The basalt columns that make up the Giant’s Causeway on the shores of northern Ireland erupt from the earth, taller and more solid than they have ever been. Stone circles and standing stones rise from the earth all over the united kingdom. In Salem, Massachusetts, the annual Samhain ritual is interrupted when a party of spectral beings, the fabled Wild Hunt, erupt from the mist and charge around and through the celebrants. In Nepal, explorers make positive, peaceful contact with a tribe of Yeti.

And then, Dragons.

(Muffled Dragonforce playing outside the window)

The great dragon, Ryumyo, appears over Mt. Fuji, on December 24th, 2011. His awakening is witnessed by hundreds of passengers on a train. Dragons are a Big Deal in Shadowrun: enormous, intelligent, and with incredible wealth and resources in their hoards. Ryumyo is a Great Dragon, which makes him an even bigger deal than any other old wyrm. Metahumanity doesn’t know it yet, but they’ve just lost their position at the top of the food chain.

In the UK, standing stones and stone circles erupt, charting the growing ley-lines and the areas where magical power swells and pools. In Ireland, the western forests start to grow rapidly, the ancient slighe roads repairing themselves while peat bogs and cairns emerge from the ground. In Caerlon, Wales, another great dragon, Celedry, is sighted, a western-style drake rather than a serpentine asian dragon, this time.

Across the world, with heavy rains pounding outside, one Daniel ‘Howling Coyote’ Coleman stands up. He’s been imprisoned in the Abilene detainment camp in the wake of the Re-Education and Relocation Act, but that’s not going to be the case for much longer. While his particular tribal affiliation is unknown, he’s the first, or at least, the most well-known Shaman. Daniel leads his people out of the detainment center, just standing up and walking out. The guards are powerless to stop him, a glowing field of energy stopping bullets and guards. Every prisoner at the detainment camp leaves with him, and they disappear into a storm without a trace.

As the new year begins, more dragons make their appearances, and more of the landscape is changed. Hualpa emerges in the Yucatan, an enormous feathered serpent. The power of the mana lines purify the Ganges, Indus, and Jamuna rivers in India. Tibet politely but firmly asserts their independence from China, aided by the Maya Cloud, an enshrouding cloud of mist circling the country that is nigh-impossible to traverse.

This is Hualpa, and he’s a bird dragon. Birdragon.

And then the Pope says 450 words that cause probably more harm over the next sixty years than anything else written in that duration. During the traditional New Year’s Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul the IV denounced metahumans as abominations in the eyes of God.

The Pope posted:

As disciples of God, we have a sacred duty to love all of his creations, and to act as stewards for all he has created. One of the great lessons of life, however, is that not all that we encounter in this world comes from God. True, he is the ultimate Creator, but many of his works have been twisted and perverted. There are few things in life that are more difficult than when something that is precious and sacred in God’s sight is corrupted.This is what we see happening in the world today. One of the greatest joys we have in life is the birth of a child and the extension of a family. In recent days, however, we have seen many births that cause worry and fear, where the works of god have become something far different than what they were supposed to be. They have become an abomination.
That is a strong word. It is true that these creatures that people have started calling elves and dwarfs are still very young, and some have said that we cannot make full judgements about them until they are fully grown. When one sees a rotten fruit, however, one does not need to wait for the fruit to grow even larger to be convinced of it’s essentially corrupt nature. So it is with these creatures.
These words will not be easy for many parents to hear. Parents have an instinct to love their children, and this instinct is a vital part of God’s plan for us. Yet many parents have recoiled from the creatures they have given birth to, and it is not difficult to understand this reaction, for they are not just children. They are monsters. They are a different sort of being, and thus must be treated according to a different set of standards.
A central tenet of Christ’s doctrine is an appreciation of all life. We cherish life, even when we recognize it’s occasionally corrupt nature. This means we cannot kill any of these creatures, no matter how much we may abhor what they represent. What we can do is contain them.
The best that can be done for these creatures is to provide a place for them to go, so that the world may be preserved from their corrupting touch and so that they may have a chance to live in relative peace without bringing upon them the conflict and violence that inevitably follow corruption. It is our duty as a church to provide such places so that the creatures may have a place to be and so that their parents may be able to find rest and peace after the tumult and disruption of these unfortunate births.

This causes, as you’d expect, immediate mayhem and schisms in the church. The Czech Catholics rise up against the Vatican and the French Catholic Church protests form a rift that never fully heals.

So, the world is essentially in chaos. All the destruction and disaster, the toxic floods, the volcanic eruptions, the giant magical storms, VITAS, the birth of elves and dwarves, leave a good chunk of the populace waiting for the religious apocalypse that seemed to be coming. No-one understood what was happening. The world needs a good old fashioned dose of exposition, and on January 27th, 2012, they got it. Dunkelzahn, the first Great Dragon to make contact with metahumanity, lands in Cherry Creek Lake in Denver, and…sits there, patiently. The media frenzies, people panic, and the military tried to seal the area. In the end, Dunkelzahn chose one lucky reporter, Holly Brighton, to come forward and receive an exclusive interview: twelve hours, sixteen minutes of Q&A with the ancient dragon. Summarizing all the questions, you came away with this: Magic was back. The world was built on a cycle, with magic ebbing and flowing, and 3113 BC to 2011 had been the Fifth World, an era without magic. With 2011, magic was coming back to the world, ancient creatures were awakening, and dwarves and elves were starting to be born again.

Metahumanity had their big answer, though not everyone took it well. It was scary, exhilarating, and disappointing: Scientists were split on how to deal with these physics and logic defying powers and creatures, and some chose not to believe at all. Some people were gifted, Magicians, and had the power to incinerate people with a thought. Scary for people around the magician, scary for the magicians who didn’t want the power, and exhilarating for those who did. Plenty of mystics, magicians, and the like ended up disappointed as they failed to receive the gift, their lack of ‘real’ magical talent revealing them to the world as frauds.

In the wake of this, people looked back to the vatican, and John Paul IV issued a Papal bill reaffirming his position against metahumans, and now, the Awakened, the magically sensitive: Metahumans and all magic is “Unholy and Ungodly by their very nature.”. Cardinal Edouard Duchamp of the French Catholic Church disagrees publicly.

FRANCE posted:

[...]We affirm that any child born from a mother’s womb deserves respect and love. We affirm that the goodness and worthiness of any individual is determined by their actions and their heart, not their appearance or their genes. We also affirm that God provides us many tools with which to do his work, and if we can further the cause of good through the use of the magic now appearing in the world, then it is our sacred responsibility to do so.

Good job on France for consistently decrying the crazier things that happen in the setting. I hadn’t ever really noticed that this was a recurring thing before.

A few more things of note happen. A few more great dragons awaken; Lung, the great dragon of China, awakens on Mt. Emei. The rising levels of magic result in the evacuation of Jerusalem’s old city due to dramatic spiritual manifestations. Lofwyr, another powerful Great Dragon, appears, and uniquely talks his way past the military forces sent to secure the area. This stands in stark contrast to another German dragon who awakens in the same time: Feuerschwinge. Awakening in 2012 near the Harz mountains, she promptly went mad and began incinerating the countryside, thousand killed over her rampage. It took the entire German military four months to stop her, and when she finally falls, it’s into the SOX, the irradiated zone bordering Germany and France. The body is never recovered, but Feuerschwinge is considered Metahumanity’s first successful kill of a Great Dragon. The scale of the destruction she wrought, as well as what was required to bring her down, should help hammer in the scale that Great Dragons operate at.

Next time, we can look at more corporate maneuvering. Won’t that be fun.

Aftermath of the Awakening

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 7 (Aftermath of the Awakening)
While the blatantly supernatural effects of the Awakening may be tapering off (no more spontaneous forests or standing circles for now), the world still struggles to recover in the years following. At the end of the last supplement we talked about two German dragons, Feuerschwinge and Lofwyr, and the former’s death at the hands of the German military. We’ll pick up this segment with the other half of that story.
Lofwyr, after convincing the military cordon that he was not a threat, reclaimed his draconic horde, and made his way to the German centers of business. There, he started converting gold coins to deutschmarks and investing them as seed currency for a new corporate player. Just as years ago the Miroyama incident made it clear that there was a new ‘normal’ culture around work, around the corporation as this grand and immortal entity, this made new facets of the changing world clear: people were absolutely willing to work for and with a giant fire-breathing reptile the size of an aeroplane, as long as he paid well. Lofwyr started insinuating himself into the boardrooms of Germany, despite the fact that his true form wouldn’t fit in any one of them.

Imagine going past the portraits of the board of directors at your company and this is one of them.

Across the world, the new Japanese Imperial State makes their own moves for corporate power. The Diet passes the Yamato Act, which deregulates Japanese corporations, restricts foreign business interests from operating in the company, and tweaks their monetary system, creating the ‘Nuyen’ as the new official state currency. Japanese megacorporations prospered in their newfound power, the nuyen spreading across the world. But in 2011, the world saw its first shoving match between Corps.

The rapid expansion of these business giants had finally lead to crowding enough that violent confrontation burst forth. Keruba International (an extraterritorial power with Slovenian roots as a consortium of military manufacturers that branched out into heavy industry, telecommunications, and computers) had begun an armed conflict with BMW (the German automotive and motorcycle manufacturer, since grown to megacorporate stature). In response to this corporate warfare, the seven largest corporations came together, tentatively ceding some small measure of the authority they’d won in the second Shiawase decision to create a sort of Corporate United Nations, the Inter-Corporate Council. The founding members where BMW, Ares Industries, Shiawase, Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, ORO, Keruba, and JRJ International, most of which are very important names that will shape the future of the Sixth World, though not all of them are recognizable in their current state.

BMW, historically owned by the Quandt family, had had the company wrested from them in 2010 by a man named Michel Beloit. The squabbling between BMW and Keruba had been an ongoing distraction. When hostilities increased to the point that Keruba hired a mercenary team to invade a private wedding in Munich and assassinate several members of the family, Beloit took the opportunity to seize power, and rapidly diversified and expanded the company. Mergers were made with Fatima Petrochemicals, Saeder Munitions, and the German industrial conglomerate Thyssen-Krupp. With Subsidiaries running subsidiaries, BMW was now a conglomerate of over 600 businesses, with reach all across europe and well into Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, an enormous business powerhouse that let them claim extraterritorial status and a seat on the Inter-Corporate Council.

Ares Industries, based out of Detroit, is an all-American corporation and brainchild of
Nicholas Aurelius, a board member of General Motors and outright owner of countless other smaller companies. In the wake of the second Shiawase decision, the lure of extraterritoriality was enough for him to consolidate his assets into one megacorporation, (which he named Ares Industries) absorbing General Motors and taking his place as CEO and Chairman of the Board. Ares would continue a meteoric rise for the next ten years, including acquiring NASA when a struggling American government sold the space program off to the highest bidder.

Shiawase (シアワセ) means ‘Happiness’. You know these guys if you’ve been reading along, they got the two Shiawase decisions passed, which lead to Extraterritoriality even being a thing. They’re a Japanese zaibatsu, or business conglomeration, based out of Osaka. The entire Corp is controlled by the Shiawase clan, with every employee being ‘extended family’. They’re vast, diversified into a hundred thousand different areas of business, and Emori Shiawase, their current CEO, has been leading the company since 1989. Emori is getting old, and is practically worshipped for leading the company into it’s current golden age and for creating the megacorporation as a ‘thing’ in universe. It hasn’t happened yet, but upon his death in 2019, he’s named the Patron Spirit of the Shiawase Corporation, his ancestor spirit believed to be guiding the family and corporation to prosperity. Considering the Shinto magicians that the Corp hires, this may be more literal than initially assumed.

JRJ International, Keruba International: Spoilers: These guys do not survive to become long term corporate players. They’re variously crushed and absorbed by the other corporations for their legacy seats on the Corporate Council. This is fine, because I’m more than happy to devote their page-count to Mitsuhama and ORO, which are much more tangled, interesting stories of rags-to-riches, criminals-to-businessmen.

Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, headed out of Kyoto, was born out of the economic recession of the 90s that created the Seretech and later Shiawase decision. A man named Taiga Mitsuhama, aged 55, saw business after business collapse around him. Owning a construction company himself, Taiga had a simple solution to the troubling economic times: united we stand, divided we fall. Taiga approached business after business proposing partnership and conglomeration, but he was turned down again and again. Some organizations had such faith in their CEOs and Presidents that they declined him out of hand, some were unwilling to risk tying their fates to an outsider, and some simply do not have the capital left to invest with banking regulations tightening and the nigh-impossibility of getting a loan. With no legitimate business left to turn to, Taiga turns to illegitimate business: the Yakuza. Taiga had the guts to call together the four Oyabun (bosses) of the most powerful, profitable Gumi (criminal organizations) in Japan: Samba Oi, Shin Yuruyasu, Saigusa Oguramaro, and Uehara Akae. He presented his plan, and the four Yakuza bosses agreed. Money was funneled through Mitsuhama to launder it, and the influx of legal and illegal tender was enough to allow Mitsuhama to grow, buying up those businesses that had spurned him against their wishes. The Corp was already a powerhouse in the fields of computer technology, robotics, and heavy industry, a hugely powerful business conglomerate even before the year of the Shiawase Decision. With extraterritoriality a possibility, Taiga and his son and vice-president, Toshiro, made a bid to increase their power further: Designing and building state of the art R&D labs, they offered the best and brightest in the world the fanciest toys and an unlimited research budget to come work for them. Soon, Mitsuhama was a research powerhouse, and with the Awakening happening soon after, they repeated the same plan: unlimited budget and support for Mages and Shamans who came to work for them. Mitsuhama soared ahead in the fields of magic, technology, industry, computers and entertainment.

Pictured, a Legitimate Businessmen.

ORO. ORO will require going back a bit. Mexico, pre-Awakening, was in a seriously deteriorating state. The government was struggling to contain the growing power of the drug cartels with the corruptible governors facing scandal for bribery and incorruptible governors assassinated. Behind everyone’s backs, three of the main cartels, the Medellín, David, and Masaya cartels had been working together as a united front against the authorities. And they worked well together, so well that the three heads, Juan Ortega, Julio Ramos, and Diego Oriz, chose to buy out a resource development in Villahermosa and rename it ORO, as a double joke: It stood for both ‘Gold’ and ‘Ortega-Ramos-Oriz’. ORO proceeded to grow by legal and illegal means but on March 4th, 2008 ORO revealed it had discovered Molybdenum deposits off the coast of Panama. With their influence they’d bought up all the required infrastructure to exploit the find months beforehand and now had a near monopoly on the tens-of-billions of dollar find. With their increased wealth came increased clout, buying politicians or installing their own and creating a strong base of computer technology before nudging the Central American countries they operated in to withdraw from international copyright treaties. Again, ORO was in a position to make immediate use of the new development, becoming the heads of the emerging techno piracy industry.
When VITAS struck, it broke the back of the struggling Mexican government. With the government in shambles, ORO was seen as a savior and the most prominent face of the humanitarian aid. ORO was the one that rebuilt Mexico and expanded into Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, and Honduras. They installed a new, democratic government, with a wireless computer-based voting system. They are heavily involved in the 2015 election, where Francisco Pavón of the Aztlan party rose to power on his push toward the floundering nation’s shared heritage, a cultural identity separate from the centuries of turmoil and chaos that had rocked the country. Mexico was reborn as the nation of Aztlan, and ORO, not long after, moved to Tenochtitlán (formerly Mexico City), and rebranded themselves as Aztechnology

The Aztlan flag, in ‘original recipe’ and ‘Whoops salsa accident’ versions. The latter is apparently ‘canonical’, as it’s presented as the Aztlan flag in the Sixth World Almanac, but I suspect that’s probably a mistake on the editor’s part.

And so, seven corporations, two Japanese, one Balkan, one German, one American, one Central American and one unknown (there is a weird deficiency of info on JRJ before 2038 in the timeline, I swear), come together to form a ruling corporate body, mediating between Keruba International and BMW, and between Keruba and ORO not long after. A corporate United Nations is formed to keep the power between this collection of criminals and businessmen, a council stronger than most nations.

Native American Nations

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 8 (Native American Nations)

So, the year is 2014. You may recall that in december of 2011, during the opening days for the Awakening, Daniel “Howling Coyote” Coleman was one of the first Shamans to come into existence, completely baffled the US government with his magic, broke out of a re-education camp, and disappeared. He’s been on ‘Most Wanted’ lists since that point, and now, in June, he’s finally poised to make his reappearance. Daniel has been gathering forces behind him, and on June 10th, he makes his ultimatum:

Daniel “Howling Coyote” Coleman posted:

There are no more treaties to be signed. There are no more agreements to be made. We will not put another bit of faith in an entirely faithless people. This is our land, and the land of our fathers; the occupiers who have never been welcome here now must leave. There are no terms. There is no timeline. You must leave immediately, and those who do not will feel the consequences. We will offer little rhetoric beyond this point. We have no need to explain ourselves or to justify our actions. We have no desire to convince anyone of the rightness of our cause or the power behind our demands. The land is ours. It is not yours. You—all of you, whether you invaded from Europe or Asia or Africa—are trespassers, and from this point on you will finally be treated as such. There will be no more warnings, for none were necessary to begin with. Your false empire no longer has a foundation. The land and its people have returned to their proper place. You may question our strength, but you can only do so if you overlook our ally, the greatest ally we could ever hope to have. That ally is the land itself. We are its children, and it longs for us, and us alone, to walk its surface after the centuries of abuse it has endured from invaders. It, like us, is ready to do more than just suffer under the long burden of oppression. It is ready to play an active role in its liberation. You will see what it can do to reclaim its freedom.

Incumbent president Jesse Garrety and his vice president William Jarman pay no heed to the threat, other than to vow to recapture Howling Coyote. The US has a policy of non-negotiation with terrorists, of course. A little more than one month passes, but on July 12th, the Redondo Peak in New Mexico suddenly and violently erupts. The town of Los Alamos and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are gone in seconds, buried in burning volcanic ash. Daniel and his followers take credit for the eruption, presumably with a raised eyebrow and a “What did you THINK we meant when we said that the earth itself was going to rise up against you?”

Naturally, federal troops are sent to apprehend the terrorists, but sudden storms (including tornados) delay their arrival, preventing them from arriving until Daniel has already slipped through their net and evaded capture. For the next few years, Daniel and his followers wage continue to strike out against the US, even temporarily seizing the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

In-universe scholars, years after the fact, debate his actions: Some note that the revolutionary action following a public demand, backed by a statement of grievance and a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the oppressors, mirror the American war of independance, making Daniel Howling Coyote in some ways the spiritual heir of George Washington. Others decry his actions, pointing out that the eruption of Redondo Peak was an act of terror that targeted a civilian population, in an effort to intimidate the nation into submitting to their demands.

The Face of Revolution

On October 15th, 2016, US President Jesse Garrety is assassinated. His killer, William Springer, escapes justice, and William Jarman takes over as president for the remaining half-month until the november elections, which he handily wins. President Jarman immediately launches into action as soon as his position is legitimized, striking out hard against the native american population. Executive Order 17-321 is put into place, ordering the removal of all Native Americans from the US by any means necessary, effective immediately. Opponents protest that this legitimizes the extermination of the Native American tribes, but the act is put into place regardless.

President Jarman posted:

America does not seek conflict. America does not initiate conflict. When conflict is brought to America, however, we are certain to end it in a way that ensures that freedom prevails and that the American people are kept safe. We are at war. It is not a war that we chose, and it is not a war that we declared. Most insidiously, it is a war declared by people who are already within our borders and are intent on our extermination. They have declared as much, and they have rejoiced in the death of our people. We cannot wait for further action from them. Wars are not won by those who only react. The road ahead of us is difficult, and the fact that we must travel it fills us with regret and pain. The people we must now fight are people we once considered our countrymen. They are our co-workers, our friends, and even our spouses. If we had our choice, those relationships, that fellowship, would continue. The reason I must speak to you tonight, though, is that we do not have a choice in the matter. The action I am taking is the only choice we have before us. I have ordered the removal of all Native Americans from United States soil. They are to be treated as enemy combatants. If they do not voluntarily leave the country, they will be arrested as prisoners of war. If they resist this arrest, then we will use the force that is applied to enemy armies.

One month after Order 17-321 is put into place, innocent blood is spilled. An army ranger battalion, operating under false intelligence, opens fire on an enemy position. Rather than insurgents, however, this is a tribe of Kiowa refugees, who are wiped out almost to a man, effectively driving the tribe to extinction. Later investigation points at Cheyenne nationalists as the source of the bad intelligence, who had used the order to settle a long-standing tribal dispute in a grimly final fashion. Regardless of the inciting factors, however, a tribe of innocents had been massacred by US soldiers. Daniel Howling Coyote could stand by idly no longer.

Had enough of your shit.

August 17th, 2017. 10:32 AM.
Daniel Howling Coyote and his followers, powerful shamans, pool their collective magical power. Using summoned spirit proxies, a powerful confluence of ley-lines, their own tremendous magical skill and willpower, the collective performs one of the most dangerous and influential magic rituals of the Sixth World: The Great Ghost Dance. Mount Hood, Mount Ranier, Mout St. Helens, and Mount Adams erupt simultaneously. Chaotic, magically-charged storms rage in the wake of the eruptions, seeming to deliberately target military bases and any forces deployed to track down the Shamans and end their ritual.
At this point, we need to remember that magic had only existed a scant few years. People turned to scientists at this point, asking for an explanation, which they couldn’t give. It wasn’t known how magic worked, or if it was an application of consistent natural laws, or if it could bend and distort physics. No-one knew what it was really capable of, and if this was something that could be repeated. I imagine it was like the use of the atomic bomb: Something terrifying, a weapon beyond our comprehension. And in the face of that power, President Jarman chose surrender.

April 25th, 2018: The united states of America, Canada, Aztlan, and the newly formed Native American Nations ratify the Treaty of Denver, which cedes control of most of the western US to the NAN. California and Seattle remain American territories to function as pacific sea-ports, and Hawaii chooses to declare independance, urged by native leader King Kamehameha IV, knowing that the diminished US has no power to prevent them from leaving. Daniel Howling Coyote becomes the new head of the Sovereign Tribal Council, and the ceded land is divided up between various nation-states: the Salish-Shidhe Council, the Sioux Nation, the Pueblo Corporate Council, the Ute Nation, the Algonkian-Manitou Council, the Athabaskan Council, the Trans-Polar Aleut Nation, and the Tsimshian Nation. Many declare this to be the death of America.

Shadowrun is not entirely unknown in Japan. Enough to get a few Replays, and a Manga. Some ‘NAN’ characters are shown above.

Bonus Update (Religion)
On September 13, 2013, John Paul IV dies in his sleep.
A moderate Brazilian Cardinal, who takes the name John XXV, is set to replace him. However, the damage is already done. The schisms that John Paul IV caused with his proclamations that Magic and metahumans are unholy and ungodly cannot be healed or forgotten. Irish Catholic bishops split from the Catholic Church and instead go to form the Church of Ireland. Following their lead, the German Catholic church also splits from the Vatican. The church is falling apart, with Czech, Irish, French, and German dissidents.

I like to think that these factions all have their own antipope and there are five popes running around Europe at this point.

Society and Technology

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 9 (Society and Technology)

Last time, we ended with a mini-update about the state of the Catholic church, who are still hurting a little for adopting a radical anti-metahuman, anti-magic stance post-Awakening, even if they’ve since softened their stance and gone with a more moderate position since then.

Meanwhile, in Iran, the Shia Islamic population has NOT softened their stance and gone with a more moderate position since the Awakening. If anything they’ve escalated, shifting from mandatory deportation of all metahumans to execution of any dwarf or elf found in the country’s borders, even going so far as to execute any mother found to be carrying an ‘unholy’ child in utero. The metahuman population has mostly fled to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. Many notable figures (Including President Jarman and the greatly-diminished United States) have decried the atrocities and demanded immediate cessation. In response, a noted Ayatollah made a public proclamation to the faithful that it was their duty to drive out and purge the new unholy taint on the world that the metahuman races represented, laying the blame for their existence on Western Technology.

The new Jihad that had been called lasted only a week before being brought to a dramatic end. Eight years ago, during the Awakening, sightings had been made of an enormous sirrush, a Middle-Eastern form of dragon. It had apparently been content to keep to its hidden lair in Mount Arat and unlike Dunkelzahn or Lofwyr had not made any contact with humans. The proclamation of Jihad changed that. The sirrush made its way from Kurdistan to Iran, hunting the Ayatollah that had made the proclamation, tracking him to his compound in Tehran and making a proclamation of his own: He was Aden, and proclaimed “if you would choose war, then see what you would war against!”

*Not at all muffled Dragonforce playing at incredible volume*

It is unconfirmed if the Ayatollah or his family was present at the compound at the time, but in the draconic rampage that followed the Iranian air force was unable to duplicate Germany’s success against Feurschwing and now no-one can ever go back to Tehran.
In the aftermath, the American public (perhaps with Aden’s rampage showing precisely how much damage unleashed magical forces could really do fresh in mind) decided to re-elect President Jarman for another term. The Iranian capital is moved to Esfahan, and Seattle swells with the hundreds displaced by the creation of the NAN who cannot prove any native ancestry, eventually swelling and merging with nearby counties to form a sprawling urban megaplex. The world spins on.

Libya, which had basically ceased to exist as a state in the 10 Minute War, finally had UN peacekeepers pull out. The withered wasteland was deemed a lost cause with the flow of refugees fleeing the radiated desert having dropped to a trickle. Seeing their chance, Egypt quietly annexed the territory seeing no-one really opposing them. Cuba falls as well; Fidel Castro steps down due to failing health and the government essentially dissolves. VITAS had struck the caribbean especially hard with the once-beautiful tourist destinations having as high as 1 in 3 citizens contracting the deadly disease. They had essentially been a puppet state for some time. In truth the megacorporations had happily moved in and sold medicine in exchange for mineral, undersea, and land rights. Castro’s sickness was enough to let them shed the pretense and step in as the new de-facto government. The South African government also dissolves due to the simple strain of fighting VITAS and other natural disasters, Belgium splitting in half when Wallonia leaves the nation via referendum, sparked by the tensions of the constant influx of refugees fleeing VITAS afflicted areas. Wallonia remains independent for several years before eventually joining France due to economic pressures, while Flanders goes to join the Netherlands, forming the United Netherlands.

In the East, China is continuing to fragment. Having Tibet magically-enforce their succession was only the first step: like in 2013, the Xinjiang province secedes from what they see as a weakened China, naming itself Uighurstan. Two years later Hong Kong secedes as well, declaring itself an independent city. The British government exerts its influence the protect Hong Kong from retribution, but finds their prize stolen from under them when the Megacorporations in the city (including Wuxing, an ostensibly chinese megacorporation) buy up a majority of the assets and lean on their powers of extraterritoriality to declare Hong Kong a Free Enterprise Zone. What this makes Hong Kong is a city under corporate control, independant from any nation. China desperately grasps at any straw it can to maintain its powerbase, but when an Earthquake hits the Taihei mountains in 2017 it destroys China’s nuclear stockpile. Suddenly every general in the nation realizes that the central government is vulnerable to a conventional uprising. Twenty five years earlier the Chairman at the time, Deng Xiaoping, had instituted economic reform that allowed the various provinces to manage their own funds and enact their own trade deals, a rebuke to the failed Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. With the sword of Damocles that a nuclear strike represented suddenly gone, it was every province for themselves. China balkanized instantly, splitting from their Communist masters into many pieces: Manchuria, Xinjiang, Guangxi, the Canton Confederation are all created in this action. Beijing became the Republic of China, and experienced an internal coup that threw the Communists out of power in favor of the New Progress Party formed of businessmen and rising apparatchiks kept outside the Communist Party leadership by the old guard. The transition was not a smooth one however and for years afterward the NPP would struggle with the remaining CP elements.

Across the globe, you may recall that the German government had fallen and that for the past six years the country had been being controlled by a military junta. The Bundeswehr, lead by General Horst Stockter, had seized control from an impotent and failing state in desperate bid to survive the toxic storms, VITAS plagues, and general chaos surrounding the Awakening. Germany had survived NATO collapsing following the Americans pulling its military out of europe, and the EU being put into suspension due to budgetary issues. And in what might be called a miracle, with relatively normalcy having been restored, General Stockter and his men stepped down from power, having put elections into place. Germany is a democracy once more but Berlin is not. Berlin has become an exclusion zone where anarchy rules. The Bundeswehr choose containment over crushing the insurrection, the Festimano movement, who broadcast a lengthy manifesto in return:

The Festimano posted:

Berlin is ours now and not yours now so get over it.
It’s ours now but we don’t speak for it. Because no one speaks for it. No one should speak for it. We speak for ourselves, others speak for themselves, and if you don’t speak for yourself, then what the fuck is wrong with you?
We could make a long list of the things we’re not doing—we’re not explaining ourselves, we’re not making a constitution, we’re not sitting down and writing a coherent thesis on the nature of anarchy and a defense of its principles. Other people can do that if they want. We’re not going to.
There’s other things we’re not going to do, and one of them is not spend a whole lot of time talking about what we’re not going to do, because haven’t we all had enough of people who think they have authority trying to limit what other people do? We have far better things to do with our time than try to assert authority over other people. We have walls to paint. We have plants to grow. We have ruins to tear down and concrete to break up and ground to till so there can be a little more life in this city. We have music to play and dances to dance and stories to tell, and we’re sorry if that doesn’t match with the expectations of the profit-obsessed world out there, but we’ll make you a deal—you keep your money, we’ll keep the things that matter.
We’d invite people to come by and join us, but we don’t want anyone else. We’ve seen what you’ve done to the rest of the world and we’re not anxious to have you here. So stay in your cities, despoil them all you want, invent excuses to treat people like cattle and herd them around and enjoy it. We’ll live our lives here and we’ll do just fine without you.
It will not be perfect, and we are not naïve enough to think it will be. Things will go wrong, people will screw up. But we all made mistakes when we moved away from our parents, and we knew we’d make them, but we moved anyway because that was the only way for us to become ourselves. That’s what Berlin is now. It is itself, and we will be ourselves.
We understand that maybe there are a few people out there who want to come here because they want to be like us. That’s fine, but why travel? Make your own Berlin wherever you are. No one has power over you but you. All you have to do to make your own Berlin is to live like that’s true, because it is.
You don’t have to organize an opposition party, you don’t have to vote the bums out of office, and you don’t have to get your guns together and prepare for a revolution. All you have to do is realize that they don’t have the authority they’ve always pretended to have, they are not the bosses of you, and you don’t have to deal with them for a second more. Do your thing regardless of their thing. Like the petulant bullies they are, they will go away if you ignore them long enough. But you won’t be free then. Because you are already free. So act like it.

Berlin is, for now, left in the hands of the anarchists as an exclusion zone.

Scientific progress continues to run rampant. In 2017, the Harris-3M corporation launches the first privately-funded human-habitable space station: Halo. Two years later, Ares unveils Apollo station, another corporate space station grown from the fruits of their buy-out of NASA. Dr. Hosato Hikita, a scientist working for ESP Systems, Inc. in Chicago tests the first generation of Artificial Sensory Induction System Technology (ASIST), otherwise known as simsense. Using this, it’s possible to record and play-back sensory data: the smell of roses, the touch of sun on skin, the sensation of orgasm, even purely emotive senses. It’s real virtual reality, something that indulges all the senses at once to transport you to a place that may never have been. Transys Neuronet follows that up with their own technological advancement: Leonora Bartoli, a virtuoso violinist who had lost her left hand in an accident involving a bullet train, had voluntarily subjected herself to a seventeen hour surgery that was the collaborative effort of five doctors, two of which were pioneers in the field of cybernetic engineering. The prosthetic was one of the first working examples of a direct neural interface: the nervous system of the arm melded with delicate and intricate technology to allow the wearer to seamlessly control the cybernetic as if it was their own limb. Even with this, it was still expected to take eight to ten hours of rehab and training to manipulate the arm, and four to six months before she was able to play the violin again. But the benefits were undeniable: Within a year, Leonara had regained all functionality and manual dexterity in that hand.

Ain’t Cybernetics grand?


posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 10 (Goblinization)

The year is 2021. Suddenly, Trolls.
Without any warning, magical or otherwise, ten percent of the world's population suddenly, violently mutates. This can affect everyone: male, female, adults, children, even babies in utero. They swell, becoming more heavily muscled, larger. They grow large, prominent tusks, and pointed ears. Some become enormous, eight, nine feet tall, with horns and scabby dermal deposits of bone protruding from their flesh like natural armor. The process, called Goblinization, is excruciatingly painful and some of the transformed population lashes out wildly in their throes.

Naturally, everyone flips their shit. Dwarf and Elf babies are cute, while Orks and Trolls are monstrous and terrifying. Something needs to be done. The UK, Independant Quebec, and the Czech Republic are the first to offer official proclamations on the matter. Quebec extends full rights and re-affirm citizenship for all Goblinized in its borders… All Francophones, anyway. Quebec doesn’t care if you’re three meters tall and can bench-press motorcycles as long as you speak French like God intended, dammit. Everyone else can fuck off. The Czech Republic, assuming this is a mutation or outbreak, extends government assistance to the Goblinized. Later that week, in the Dominican Republic, President Joaquim Delmonte, wearing a nice suit that’s been freshly tailored to accommodate the foot in height and fifty pounds of muscle he’s gained, steps out, announcing that yes, he is now an Ork, and that his country will be accepting any and all goblinized immigrants, without prejudice. And The UK….well.

Back in 2007, William and Harry, the two Princes of the royal Windsor family of the United Kingdom, died in an airplane crash. This meant that Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, is crowned King Charles III two years later. Three years after that, he would abdicate in favor of his only surviving son, George. The day of Goblinization, the Royal Family sheepishly announced that George VII had died, and no, they would not be showing anyone the body, shove off. To this day it’s a common belief that either one of his attendants mistook him for a monster and killed him, or that he was more coldly murdered because Britain would not have Troll for a king. Either way, WHOOPS REGICIDE. Things go downhill from there.

In Switzerland, officials declare that Goblinization is a disease of unknown origin and that for the safety of the populace all affected must be quarantined. The new German Government seems to concur; public outcry with from the populace leads to the creation of the Mutant Rights Congress being founded in Cologne, which threatens civil unrest in response to the treatment of these metahumans. In Japan, the Imperial State annexed Lagu-Lagu, a volcanic spit of land in the Philippines, and renamed it Yomi Island, beginning to deport ALL metahumans to it, deciding they’re not having any of this ork and troll nonsense and that the elves and dwarves could go along with them. Japan had only one shape, and that was human. Yomi Island started out pretty bad and got worse from there with scarce food and water and little enough medicine that cholera and scarlet fever were rampant. Anyone born with pointy ears, tusks, or horns in Japan was sentenced to a life of poverty and squalor. In America, taking a hint from the other nations, Seattle’s Governor Lindstrom orders the Metroplex Guard to round up the Goblinized and to place them in the internment camps that the city had used to hold the Native American population only a few years before.

It takes a while for the pendulum to start to swing the other way. Months later, public sympathy for the infected takes root. More groups like the Mutant Right’s Congress spring up and an article written in Time Magazine by a man named ‘McBean’ speaks about the effects that Goblinization had had on his childhood friend, Matt. This creates an increased groundswell of support that portrays the Orks and Trolls as tragic victims rather than monsters. It’s not much but at least it’s a start and enough impetus that Texas Governer Melissa Santiago-Ortega throws her support into strong-arming the welfare board into providing more funding to the metahuman detention centers, forcing them to pay to ensure that each inmate is being provided adequate shelter, food, and sanitary facilities.

The year rolls around to 2022, and Switzerland passes a new law, expanding their previous judgement on Orks and Trolls: Now ALL metahumans were to be stripped of civil rights and Citizenship, per the Metahuman Segregation Law (MSL). Several Swiss-French cantons strongly oppose the MSL, and choose to secede from Switzerland, forming the Confederation Suisse Francophone. Race riots rage all around the world and in Los Angeles they choose to emulate the ‘Success’ of Berlin by just building a wall around the worst part and leaving it to burn itself out. The walled ghetto is renamed ‘Elf Infierno’ by its residents. The riots continue with a new target: a VITAS epidemic causes another riot when suspicions of a vaccine being hoarded escalate into a massive firestorm that levels the neighborhood of Watts. But in Germany continued violence is enough to force the German government to relocate from Berlin to Hannover, fleeing the city and leaving its walled-off anarchist population behind to contend with the racists on their own.

The pro-human, anti-metahuman sentiment reaches the point that Dunkelzahn’s chosen Interpreter (Dragons cannot speak human language in their natural forms and Dragonspeech, the psionic/magical form of direct-to-mind speech they use, is disorienting, so often they will use an interpreter to speak on their behalf) is targeted for assassination. The interpreter, John Timmons, is killed but as the assassin chose to attack during a public speaking event, Dunkelzahn immediately vaporizes the man in retaliation. A few months later, the world is shocked when a twenty-three year old dwarf woman, Elena Mondino, arrives at a police station claiming that she had just escaped from an underground laboratory hidden under Johns Hopkins Institute of Health. Upon investigation Elena’s claims prove to be true, with a hidden high-tech laboratory secreted away in the sub-basements beneath the building, where inhumane, brutal experiments were being performed on metahumans in an effort to expand scientific knowledge. Disappointingly, the scientists mostly escape justice: though the Institute has government funding pulled, it persists as an independent, for-profit organization.

It’s not really until a year later, in 2023, that public opinion of Goblinization as a disease starts to ebb. Orks and Trolls are still feared and hated, but science is increasingly proven that they are another manifestation of UGE, not a plague. This is reinforced when another surge of VITAS washes over the land, killing another 10% of the world’s population, Orks and Trolls included. Seeing as how they die like the rest of us, the US Supreme Court rules to grant equal rights of Metahumans of all stripes. In a reactionary move, the Humanis Political Club (Policlub) is formed the same year, based on the tenants of community, tradition, and racism. In another move towards the same Portugal experiences a manifestation of the Virgin Mary during a visit by Pope John XXV (who despite being a moderate, has upheld his predecessors declarations on the nature of magic and metahumans). This event reinforces those declarations, creating a deepening rift in the Catholic Church, with the Portuguese Catholics now strongly supporting the old and current pope’s mindset. Ultimately, while not imprisoned any longer, the fate of metahumans in this new world is still extremely shaky.

Despite Goblinization happening, and being a pretty huge driving force for many years, other things happened during this spread of time that should be addressed. On the corporate side of things, with the increased adoption of old Aztec symbolism and culture by Aztlan in an effort to reclaim their glory days as an empire, ORO corporation decides to rename itself Aztechnology, a massive rebranding campaign flaunting their new, highly cultural self. They even begin construction of a themed corporate building in Seattle, an enormous aztec-style stepped pyramid made of vat-grown quartz blocks with interior illuminators, going from an enormous stone edifice during the day to a glowing monument of light at night. Meanwhile the Inter-Corporate Council buds off a new entity, the Internetwork Transmission Control Council (ITCC), to replace the FCC as a self regulating oversight body for the management of the communications industry, including the internet. In another spiel of rebranding, the ICC also transfers to the Freedom space habitat, naming themselves the Corporate Court, and granting itself authority over all Extraterritorial Corporations, expanding on their previous meditative power to being a boardroom where all mega corporations can negotiate and keep the peace.

Back on Earth, Cuba, Jamaica, Grenada, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands all join together, having been ravaged by VITAS, their governments individually weak enough to have had corporations move in and install themselves as the de-facto powers. With Guadalupe Martinez finally taking up the reins from the deceased Castro in Cuba, they form a League for mutual protection, a larger voice on the world stage and for their ability to bring in educated doctors from the United States (mostly graduates from John Hopkins) to curb the spread of VITAS. In time, Puerto Rico and even South Florida would break off and join the Caribbean League, bringing with them more natural resources and the Miami Metroplex to the table. On the other side of the world Australia and New Zealand similarly choose to partner for mutual benefit, creating the Australia and New Zealand Allied Confederation, or ANZAC. This is, in reality, mostly a defensive pact against an increasingly scary and militarized Japan.

While after the Great Ghost Dance, no-one could really dispute the power of Magic, it was still in the infancy stages of codifications. In 2013, Minneapolis, The Magic Hat had opened: the first private organization for practicing Magicians, a club for those with real magical powers. Three years later, Charles University in Prague establishes the first Hermetic Studies course for studying magic and how it works. When the University of Prague begins offering Arcane Studies in 2022, they are able to boast a special instructor: Professor Schwartzkopf, a Great Dragon and humongous nerd who prefers hoarding knowledge to gold. He takes up residence at the university to pursue his study of a Unified Magical Theory to unite the studied, analytical Hermetic form of magic with the rapturous, instinctive Shamanic Form to prove they are the same. Schwartzkopf prefers his natural form whenever possible, as do many dragons, but eschews the use of a translator, broadcasting his instruction directly into the minds of the students who gather for his lectures. It is also around this time that the term ‘Awakened’, which I have been using throughout this history to refer to the magically inclined, is first coined. As Schwartzkopf pursues his theory, several German mages form the Faustus Society where they campaign for the scientific recognition of analyzed, hermetic magic. They want to find ways to measure, analyze, and approach magic scientifically, to make it a less mysterious force, and to find out what it can and cannot do.

If anyone’s still reading this, Tune in Next Time, as the President gets a third term, The Pope Does a Thing, Seattle gets rid of its police force and Britain gives theirs guns!

Lone Star

posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 11 (Lone Star)
The year is 2024.
You’ve one of the lucky few: A tech journalist. You’ve still had to wait in line all day, your feet are sore, you badly need a shower, and you’ve been crammed like sardines into a line with crummy wifi, but you’re going to get to try it now, the new diversion of the fabulously wealthy: Simsense.
It’s a laborious process, involving being strapped into the demonstration kiosk, an electrode-web being placed on your head, but when the technician overseeing the demo flips the switch, you get to see what all the fuss is about : Simsense. ASIST technology has finally become available for the masses for now (merely the very rich can afford it), but you’re one of the few that’s going to be given a demo so that you can write about it: How with a flip of the switch you’re in someone else’s body, feeling their excitement, the taste of the chewing gum in their mouth, the rain-slick concrete under their fingers, the cold of the high altitude rooftops as they run, the burning of their muscles as they free-run through the streets of New York. It’s incredible, and addicting, a wonderful escape from the world outside.

Outside, the christian world is debating Pope John XXV’s encyclical, the Imago Dei: Metahumans have souls and are capable of Salvation. Magical abilities are not inherently evil, it is how the user wields them that determines that. Spirits are manifestations of nature and the world around them and are not inherently good or evil, but a grey area. Only time will tell if this is enough to heal the growing rifts in the crumbling Catholic Church, but for now, it seems to be soothing the consciences of Catholic magicians, at least, and will lead to them eventually being more and more comfortable blending elements of their faith into their spellcasting. Outside, the prolonged succession dispute after England’s possible regicide has finally come to a close. George Edward Richard Windsor-Hanover becomes King George VIII of england. And outside, William Jarman has been announced victor, having implemented legislation during his second term to create the 29th Amendment, allowing a president more than two terms if they so wish. The experimental electronic voting system used this election is coming under fire, many of his opponents calling fraud, but the cries are echoing over a sea of apathy. America is tired. After the Treaty of Denver, Goblinization, and a seemingly endless series of riots, a new president would just invite more upheaval, and the voters are interested in having some normalcy. Those who have to stand face-to-face with the unrest are less placated, however; in Seattle, the police department is battered from keeping the peace between the increasingly violent anti-metahuman and pro-metahuman demonstrations, pickets, and riots, and being increasingly slandered for failing to fulfill their duties as peacekeepers, go on strike. This lasts only one day, with the Metroplex Governor Lindstrom angrily declaring such a strike unlawful, demanding it end. When they refuse, he fires the entire police force, even those who did not participate in the strike. With the police force disbanded a PMC security force, Lone Star, is brought in to take over their duties. While the critics comparing them to Blackwater are thick on the ground, it isn’t enough of an outcry to overturn the decision, and Lone Star privatizes law enforcement in the Seattle sprawl. A Metahuman Bill of Rights that guarantees voting privileges, equality in housing, medical care, education, and fair employment for all metahumans is created. This is only AFTER the debate over the issue reaches such a pitch that Senator Franklin Moss, incensed, challenged his opponent Senator Victor Sanchez—a known sharpshooter—to an old-fashioned pistol duel. The following morning, Senator Moss’s death was widely televised and later sold on several video formats for public consumption. It becomes harder and harder to have any faith in the political system.

England is struggling as well. A decade ago, the IRA’s repeated acts of terrorism (killing 44 soldiers of the British Parachute regiment in Coalisland, 31 soldiers of the Regiment in Ulster, and an entire military SAS base in belfast with 23 casualties, over the course of a single year), and their brazen attack on Aldershot, the home of the British Army. With the Awakening and a campaign of magically-enhanced attacks the government of the United Kingdom and Eire sign the Act of Dissolution and the Treaty of Galway, establishing the Free Republic of Ireland. Now they’re signing the Constitution Act and the political system is re-organized: The Reigning Monarch, with the consensus of parliament, rules the country. The monarch can veto laws, declare war, issue royal pardons, and if they so wish, dissolve Parliament. The Parliament itself is the House of Nobles, and below that, the House of Commons, which the current ruling political party holds by having a majority vote. Below that, as a new creation, is the Office of the Lord Protector, head of the civil service and subject to the approval of parliament. In effect, though, the office has broad discretionary powers relating to internal bureaucracy and national security, as well as administration. Edward Arthur Charles Gordon-Windsor, 37th Duke of Cheltenham and Bath, Lord Marchment, who takes the seat, is soon the most powerful man in Britain, and his ‘Triple-O’ Oversight Office Operatives are in effect a secret police force. With Lord Marchment at the head, Britain begins routinely arming their police officers with firearms, and begin enforcing the law much more strictly.

Magic continues to grow, terrifying and inscrutable. Brittany in France has largely disappeared into a magical, all-consuming mist that interferes with magic, attracts vicious predators, and induces feelings of fear and disorientation in metahumans. Thousands have disappeared, including the population of many small towns and villages. In America, Francis Daniels, a fourth-dan Black Belt in kai-aikido and PHD in engineering, demonstrates a newfound ‘form’ of magic: rather than channeling magic into spells, it is distributed through his body, empowering him and enhancing his physical capabilities. The University of California (LA) creating an undergraduate program for occult studies, followed quickly by Texas A&M (Agriculture and Medicine, now AM&M, Agriculture, Medicine, and Magic) and MITT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Thaumaturgy), does little to curb fears that the unawakened populace has about the vast and unexplained powers that Magicians have.

Voter fraud and corruption, Metahuman monsters getting treated like real people, dystopian fascist england, senators murdering one another in broad daylight, a privatized police force, terrifying magic, and on top of that, the African Rhino is declared extinct in the wild, the only remaining specimens being held in captivity. Even the good old American pastime of football isn’t what it used to be, with cyber-modified players allowed to compete, though the rules restrict it to only those with medical-reconstruction implants. Still, it’s enough that New York Jets’ quarterback, Tim Washington, throws a Super Bowl-winning 99 yard touchdown pass with his reconstructed right cyber-arm. With even football being meaningless in this terrible future, isn’t it tempting to withdraw into Simsense? To go back to another era, to live out your life in VR? Technology is the only thing that has been going right these past few years, so the temptation to use ASIST as an escapist fantasy is strong.

Next update, technology goes terribly wrong.


posted by Crasical Original SA post

Update 12 (Crash)

The year is 2027. It is The Future.

Ares Macrotechnology is constructing Space Station Daedalus at Lagrange Point L4. In LA, the first cold-Fusion reactor is running under the watchful eye of the Los Angeles Power and Water Company, the pure water created as a byproduct of the saltwater used in the process being used to alleviate water shortages in the riot-wracked city. Following the winning pass in the Superbowl, the NFL and most professional boxing leagues have chosen to blanket allow cybernetic implantation in the contenders. Scientists led by Dr. Etienne Dumas in the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris have developed a standardized test that can be performed to measure magical capabilities in humans and metahumans. Sure, LA has also just been hit by an enormous earthquake that locals call ‘The Big One’, Los Angeles International Airport has been completely destroyed, Berlin continues to be wracked by riots, and Great Britain has chosen to withdraw from the New European Economic Community, prompting a mild crisis, but life goes on.

January 20th, 2029. Andrew Macalister, President Elect, is being sworn in to replace Jarman. He undergoes briefings, and one of them (which will soon become important) is being made aware of Project Echo Mirage. Echo Mirage was a group of electronic warfare experts, hackers, and cyber-commandos all brought together under the US Government to make use of prototype cyberterminals developed by Sony Cybersystems, Fuchi Industrial Electronics, and RCA-Unisys. The cyberterminals combined ASIST and DNI technologies, allowing the Echo Mirage candidates to enter simulated virtual worlds acting as visual metaphors for secure systems and control their avatars at the speed of thought. Echo Mirage is a collaborative effort between the CIA, FBI, and NSA, and is going to revolutionize the field of hacking, electronic espionage, and digital warfare.

The Crash Virus came out of nowhere. It struck worldwide, apparently at random. It was of unknown origin, and unprecedented power, crashing systems, wiping software, and even burning out the hardware of the systems it killed. No one is safe, and as the systems go down, they take governments, corporations, and very nearly the world economy with it. An incalculable amount of data is destroyed as the Crash Virus runs rampant. Echo Mirage is deployed in defense of US based systems but even working at the speed of thought the virus adapts faster than it can be destroyed or quarantined. Team One fails and they pay for it with their lives: The Crash Virus is fully able to scramble hardware, and with their nervous systems hooked up to the cyberterminals they’re just another piece of equipment to break, lethal biofeedback boiling their brains. Team 1’s failure means that the US national air control network is brought down, bringing planes out of the sky and causing the deaths of thousands of passengers and crew. Experimental mutagens are released from laboratories, power grids are brought down, car crashes, loss of life support on space stations far above the earth...

By presidential order, men and women from across the nation, hackers, corporate agents, industry and academia, are gathered together. They’ve been drafted into a reformed Echo Mirage, and the brutal boot camp that follows cuts the number down to a mere thirty-two.


I can’t say what it was like for the others. I only know what it was like for me. I remember the first time I went up against it, head to head. I had more power at my fingertips than I thought possible, double the power of business executives with high-end machines. It was like cruising the Autobahn in a tuned up Ferrari—and running straight into a ten-meter-thick brick wall. I had a number of themes I could plug in, my favorite VR interpretations of combat, and I ran through them all in a blink because none of them made sense to me. In the samurai motif, I was facing bandits with twenty limbs who used ten of them to walk and ten of them to slash swords rapidly through the air. The maritime theme made me a slow-moving sloop assaulted by jet fighters streaming in from every direction. In the safari theme there were creatures I had never seen before, with the speed of a cheetah, strength of a lion, and endurance of an antelope. Somehow I survived that first encounter. Others didn’t. I’m not sure how I got up the nerve to go in again, but the whole world was facing horrors back then. If they could wake up each day and keep moving, then the least I could do was to keep going after the worm, until I was sure it never would bother them again.

In the first encounter, Echo Mirage Team Two loses four members, dying in an insane maze of electronic data. Their combat data is analyzed, used to form shield programs that block the lethal biofeedback. In quiet horror, Echo Mirage’s handlers realize that regular encryption means nothing to Cyberterminal users, and funding is quickly re-routed into new defenses that can protect systems from these new breed of hackers in the off-chance that they can succeed in terminating the virus. The Terminals shrink, going from room sized to desktop sized, proto-cyberdecks. Echo Mirage skirmishes with the virus, gathering more and more data, adapting to it as it adapts to them, and learning to copy it’s techniques. Eventually, they withdraw from a skirmish, jacking out of VR and watching as the virus breaks down and terminates. They’ve learned to kill it and in a campaign that will take two years will slowly purge the virus from global computer systems.

The damage has still been done, however. Across the world, thousands are dead. Spain erupts into chaos, with the Crash triggering poverty-stricken citizens in Asturia to riot and plunder the rich enclaves of the region, forcing wealthy residents to flee. The state of Euskal Herria uses the resulting unrest as an opportunity to secede, while Galicia uses the threat of succession to extract liberal concessions from the government. In France, the old nobility play up the crash as being part of a government cover-up for corruption and incompetence. Across the country, Frenchmen do what Frenchmen do best and riot, rising up and ending the Fifth Republic in a military coup (to the delight of the French nobles seeking a return to political power). The European Union is finally dissolved, powerless to do anything for its constituent states in the face of the crash.


I’m standing at the window, and it’s raining over the industrial area wherever we are. I’ll be diving in again tomorrow. I don’t mind saying I’m scared. Nobody will talk about my friends. Nobody will say what happens to their bodies now. Nor will they let us see their bodies. I just know… this isn’t the future I wanted.