Anarchy is Dead
A Brief History of the Sixth World
The world as we know it today is called The Fifth World. What came before is described in The Fourth World (and covered by a separate game, Earthdawn). What came after—the Shadowrun game—is chronicled below.
The infamous Shiawase Decision in the United States Supreme Court gives multinational corporations the same rights and privileges as sovereign governments. The era of national governments as the chief drivers of global events comes to an end.
Realizing they had only been half-heartedly exploiting Native Americans for the past century or so, the U.S. government puts their whole heart back into the job and lets corporations run roughshod over the resources found in Native American reservations during the so-called Resource Rush. This leads to unrest and resistance with serious consequences.
Virally Induced Toxic Allergy Syndrome (VITAS) appears in New Delhi, India. Eventually it kills a quarter of the world’s population.
The Awakening, or at least the beginning of it. Dragons appear, people develop talents and abilities that can only be described as magic, babies are born in ways that exactly resemble elves and dwarfs of legend, and the world reveals itself to generally be much weirder than anyone ever suspected.
After the Great Ghost Dance of the previous year, in which Native American shamans spurred natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions across the globe, the United States and Canada agree to the Treaty of Denver, in which large portions of both nations are given to aboriginal populations to become the various states that make up the Native American Nations of the Western Hemisphere.
In a process known as Goblinization, some adults spontaneously mutate into creatures that become known as orks and trolls (a wider range of forms emerge as time passes). People react with fear and loathing, which, after more than half a century, has generally eased to fear and extreme distaste—though some people prefer to stick with loathing. Dwarfs, elves, trolls, orks, and the like are collectively labeled “metahumanity,” though sometimes the label is broadened to include all forms of human-like life, including humans themselves, which irks the troll-haters to no end.
The Matrix, the interconnected wonder of the computer world, crashes, and crashes hard. The virus that caused the Crash takes years to eradicate, and the whole dynamic sets the stage for cyberwarfare in the years to come.
After losing a lot of territory to the Native American Nations, the remnants of the United States and Canada merge to form the United Canadian and American States (UCAS). In subsequent years, the Free State of California, the Confederation of American States, and the Caribbean League claim parts of what used to be the United States. This mirrors political fracturing and re-alignment occurring around the world.
The fear and loathing against elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls (particularly the latter two groups) comes to a head in the Night of Rage, a worldwide series of riots targeting metahumans and their families. The pain and scars inflicted that night still linger, nearly forty years later.
After a cult known as the Universal Brotherhood introduces the vile creepies known as bug spirits to the world, Chicago became the most infested city on the planet. When containment didn’t seem to be solving the problem, the Ares Corporation set off a nuke in the city, an event known as the Cermak Blast. The combined infestation of bugs, removal of anything resembling law and order, and destruction levied by the nuke made central Chicago the blasted wonderland it is today.
The citizens of the UCAS collectively throw their hands in the air, say “What the hell?”, and elect a dragon named Dunkelzahn as president. Dunkelzahn serves for just under ten and a half hours before being blown to kingdom come. A huge astral rift hovers at the scene of the assassination for years.
Halley’s comet passes by and shakes up the world. It initiates the Sudden Unexplained Recessive Genetic Expression (SURGE) event, bringing changelings to the world as some people take on animal characteristics. A new dragon named Ghostwalker emerges from the rift left by Dunkelzahn’s assassination and decides to take up residence as the tyrant of Denver. For good measure, increased storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep the entire population of the world on their toes.
The combination of a massive corporate IPO, the machinations of a crazed artificial intelligence, and an assault by a terrorist group known as Winternight bring about the Second Matrix Crash, or Crash 2.0. A new Matrix emerges in its wake, bringing wireless accessibility to all. Also emerging: technomancers, who can access the Matrix with nothing more than their mind. This causes many to freak out.
After campaigning for years about the lack of security in the wireless Matrix, activist and philanthropist Danielle de la Mar convinces the corporations of the world to revamp Matrix protocols to be stricter, less open, and more subject to corporate control. Because that was something they really needed to be talked into doing.