Shadowrun: The 8th World
The year is Stardate 17387. You are in transport on the Humans prison ship Elion. It is a human vessel bound for the border prison planets. You are innocent you protest but your orc and troll guards laugh. “Sure you are…” An alarm sounds. The guards take one look at each other and pause. No doubt having a DNI conversation via their implanted commlinks. They lock and load and run out leaving you and your fellow prisoners to your own devices.
The 8th world is far in Shadowrun’s future.
Metahumanity stands on the cusp of a new age, with accelerated technological growth converging toward a singularity point, promising an undreamt-of future. Despite the ecopocalypse and social upheavals on Earth, Metahumanity has conquered the solar system and partially terraformed Mars. After the rise in mana forgotten magics have been rediscovered and metahuman races have reappeared. Advancements in biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science have transformed our lives. Everyone is wirelessly networked with the world around them, Biotechnology allows people to genefix, enhance, and clone their bodies, while others pursue body modifications to adapt to new environments or make themselves into something no longer quite human. People’s minds and memories can be digitized, uploaded, transferred over long distances, and downloaded into new bodies (biological or synthetic). Death has been defeated—for those who can afford it.
From within, disaster struck. Transhumanity reaped the rewards of its arrogance when conflict spiked between the battered nations of Earth, already weakened by decades of climate catastrophes and the Second Dragon War. Rampant netwars soon exploded into physical conflicts with spiraling body counts. In the midst of these aggressions, a group of military AIs known as Machine Entities or just ME’s quietly achieved full sentience and autonomy, and rapidly began exponentially incrementing their own intellectual growth. The AI intelligences spawned by this hard-takeoff singularity quickly turned against transhumanity, enveloping the system in unprecedented levels of violence, disaster, and warfare. What began as a whirlwind of conflict between political factions, revolutionaries, and hypercorps soon escalated into a struggle between man and machine. The Man Machine War had begun.
In just a few years, transhumanity was nearly wiped out with nuclear strikes, biowarfare plagues, destructive nanoswarms, infowar attacks, mass uploads, and other unexplained singularity events, ripping the superpowers of old to pieces. Our planetary home—Earth—was transformed into a toxic and strange hellhole, while many major habitats were left frozen sarcophagi in the vacuum of space. Just as quickly as they came, the Machine Entities disappeared, taking millions of uploaded minds with them, leaving behind a network of wormhole gateways. Known as Pandora Gates, these poorly-understood devices allow instantaneous teleportation to distant star systems—often one-way and/or fatal. Though only a handful of Pandora Gates are known to exist—each highly contested—the foolish, brave, curious, and desperate are already risking certain death to enter and explore what lies beyond. the alternatives to these gates are slower than light travel and ExtraPlanar travel. the former being too slow to be effective and the latter carrying the danger of attracting Horrors. Every ship carries a Seer who peers into the metaplanes looking for Hororrs and Space Pirates.
In constant fear of being corrupted by nanites man looked away from cyberware towards bioware. Horizon with technology it acquired from NeoNet‘s study of technomancers before the fall developed the uplink the bioware replacement for the commlink,cyberdeck, and/or RCC. Slowly man is adopting older technologies especially on the Rim where access to cutting edge bioware is less and used cyberware is cheap. In certain sectors having cyberware is illegal. Use of AI in the core planets is especially illegal as they are blamed for the Man Machine War. The HyperCorps do use intelligent software but limits on the expansion of it’s intelligence are written into the code. These programs are called Agents.
In the aftermath of the Fall, transhumanity lives on, divided into a patchwork of hypercorp combines, survivalist stations, transhuman faction species, and city-state habitats. Under the oppressive police states of immortal inner-system oligarchies, advanced technologies remain highly restricted, and refugees are held in indentured servitude suffering from easily cured maladies. In the outer system, rebel transhuman scientists and techno-anarchists struggle to maintain a new society—from each according to their imagination and to each according to their need. And on the fringes and in the niches lurk networked tribes of political extremists, religious fanatics, criminal entrepeneurs, and bizarre posthumans, among other, stranger, and more alien things …
Though most claim the Fall was carefully orchestrated by the out-of-control Machine Entities, others whisper that the driving powers behind the wars—both AI and transhuman—were infected by a mutating virus with multiple infection vectors—biological, information, nano—dubbed the Exsurgent virus. Whatever its source, this virus has been known to sometimes transform its victims into something unexplainable … something monstrous and reality-altering. Whatever the truth, the remnants of the ME’s and this virus were left to the desolated ruins or driven to the edges of the system, where they remain hidden away in dark corners, quietly waiting to infect the minds of the scavengers and explorers who find them …
The Core Planets are ruled by the Corporate Council from the Zurich Master Ship. On the Rim or the border planets Humans, Elves, and Dwarves have formed their own colonies while the rest of metahumanity are second class citizens. There are some small communities of Trolls, Orcs, etc on the border worlds.Space Pirates are the least of your worries with nanite ships full of Machine Entities looking to infest metahumans with their AI personalities, living Invae mother ships filled with their brethren wander the Rim looking to implant metahumans with their brood, and the worst threat the poorly understood Horrors.