|“||Watch your back. Shoot straight. Conserve ammo. And never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon.||„|
|~ Street proverb|
It's the 2060s and the world has changed - some say Awakened.
A long lull in the mystical energies of the universe has subsided, and magic has returned to the world. Elves, dwarfs, orks and trolls have thrown off their human guises and assumed their true forms. Many experts claim that Earth has gone through several such incarnations of waxing and waning magic. These different eras are called “worlds.” The Sixth World, the newest age of magic, has just begun. Creatures in the wild have changed as well, transforming into beasts of myth and legend. The many traditions of magic have come back to life, and shamans and mages have carved out a place for themselves in the new world. Many aspects of the Awakening remain mysteries, but society fights on to assimilate the ways of magic into a world dominated by technology.
The decades that followed the Awakening were years of panic and turmoil, as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse seemed to race across the Earth. Cultures that had never lost touch with their mystical pasts began to use magic against the great nations that had long oppressed them. The vast global telecommunications network collapsed under an assault by a mysterious computer virus. Dragons soared into the skies. Epidemics and famine ravaged the world’s population. Clashes between newly Awakened races and the rest of humanity became common. All central authority crumbled, and the world began to spiral into the abyss.
Politics and society
But man and his kin are hardy creatures. Out of the devastation and chaos, a fragile new social order slowly emerged. Advanced simulated sensory technology (simsense) helped eradicate the last vestiges of the computer virus and replaced the old telecommunications network with the new virtual-reality world of the Matrix. Amerindians, elves, orks and dwarfs formed new nations. While environmental degradation and pollution have made many areas uninhabitable, eco-groups wage war on polluters, and Awakened powers use incredible magics to heal the Earth. Central governments have balkanized into smaller nations and city-states, as fear of the world’s changes drives wedges between peoples of different backgrounds. Vast metropolitan sprawls known as metroplexes cover the landscape; these urban jungles have swallowed whole regions. Police departments unable to contain crime waves and civil unrest have been privatized or their work contracted out to corporations.
Megacorporations, a law unto themselves, have become the new superpowers. The entire planet speaks their language. The Nuyen has become the global monetary standard. The megacorps play a deadly game, paying pawns in the shadows to help them get an edge on the competition—legally or otherwise. Meanwhile, executives and wage slaves hole up in their corporate enclaves, safe behind layers of security and indoctrination. Outside the walls of these arcologies and gated communities, whole stretches of the sprawls have become ungovernable. Gangs rule the streets; the forgotten masses suffer, lacking even a System Identification Number (SIN) to give them any rights. These outcasts, dissidents and rebels live off the dregs of society, squatting in long-abandoned buildings, surviving through crime and predatory instincts. Many band together, some for survival and some to wield their own twisted forms of power.
Science and technology
Just as the second half of the 20th century saw enormous technological advances, so has the 21st century continued to make technological leaps beyond what was thought possible. The greatest advances of this century have been made in the computer sciences and metahuman-computer interconnectivity. These advances are best represented by the Matrix, a globe-spanning virtual society of users and computer systems.
The difficulty of metahuman survival in the harsh 21st century has led to the development of new forms of technology that make it possible for metahumanity to perform the many complex jobs required in this modern age. This new technology is collectively called cybertechnology.
Metahumanity has turned its collective eyes back toward space; the number of space habitats orbiting the Earth is proof of the great advances in the space sciences.
Leaps continue to be made in more mundane fields as well, such as transportation and entertainment. Hover- craft technology has become affordable and commonplace, while live and recorded entertainments have become a 3-D experience called trideo and simsense.
Technology, too, has changed people. No longer satisfied with being merely flesh, many have turned to the artificial enhancements of cyberware to make themselves more than human. Some acquire implants that allow them to interface directly with machines, like deckers who run the Matrix with a cyberdeck and programs or riggers who jack into vehicles or security systems and become one with them. Others seek to push the limits of their physical capabilities, testing themselves on the streets against other technologically enhanced warriors. The human of 2063 is stronger, smarter and faster than his predecessors.