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A primer on the World of Future Darkness

Greetings, gents, ladies and other gentlebeings, I am Ghurlax the Mighty. Please let me introduce myself and correct a few misconceptions that this lesser being, Mr. Sahlstrøm, might have given you…

As you can probably tell, I am a demon. Among other things, I am famous for being the one that put Elisabeth on her throne as Queen of Hell, but let’s not waste time on my countless achievements…

Let us get a few things straight. Mr. Sahlstrøm didn’t ask me to help with anything. He didn’t have any choice in the matter. If this portal to the World of Future Darkness is to work as intended and corrupt your oh-so-innocent souls, it needs some proper infernal management. Outsourcing everything to a mere human simply will not do. I’ll admit that Mr. Sahlstrøm does a half decent job in dragging you close to our claws, but frankly, he hasn’t got the stomach to truly corrupt you. I, on the other hand, do – and I am more than happy to oblige.

The World of Future Darkness isn’t the world you live in. True, it was rather similar to this world up to a point, but at a certain time in history, an event happened that made the timelines diverge. No, there’s no point in asking me for lottery numbers – the timelines were never completely identical.

Now, I guess you’re asking yourselves what the Hell is a timeline, and how do they diverge? Well, Sahlstrøm was supposed to give you an introduction to how these things work, but of course never got around to it. The clever ones among you have already looked up “Multiverse” on that fancy Wikipedia of yours, I’m sure, but since experience tells me quite a few of those at the back are simply too lazy to read it, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version, as it were.

Basically, the Multiverse theory tells us that there is an infinite number of alternate, parallel universes out there. Some are more similar to each other than others, and new ones are being created all the time. When something really, really big happens, there is a divergence. This is where one timeline splits up into two or more separate timelines. The Big Event that made this timeline split away from the one you are in happened on January 20th, 2017.

No, it wasn’t Trump, even though he was a pretty good omen. It was the birth of the Chosen One – the second coming of Christ or the birth of the Anti-Christ, all depending on your point of view -Elisabeth. That didn’t happen in your world.

Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe her parents never met, or some other such accident of fate? It doesn’t matter. What? You want to know how the World of Future Darkness can be in 2038 already if the split just happened? I say, you’re quite the expert on temporal anomalies, aren’t you? Stop nit-picking.

Now, where were we? Yes, the matter at hand: Elisabeth. I used to work for her, as you know – not to brag, she is a nice girl. Honestly! It’s not like I’m worried she’s keeping tabs on me or anything. What, scary? Elisabeth? I am not scared of her. No, not a chance, no siree.

Anyhow: Elisabeth was born, wheels started spinning, plans went into motion, and the world went straight down the drain. Not really her fault, but she was indeed the root cause of it. The situation was that some, if not all, of the movers and shakers of that world, were aware that she was about to be born. Some had even known for centuries and schemed accordingly. To make a long and, from my point of view, quite amusing story short, civilization as you know it collapsed pretty quickly. Turns out your snug little world is more of a house of cards than you might think. I’ve taken the liberty to set up a timeline for you below, so you can roughly see what happened when. I won’t go into that right now – look at it as homework. Instead, I’d rather give you a brief description of what things look like, Anno 2038, in the World of Future Darkness.

North-America is basically a radioactive wasteland after the US nuked themselves to smithereens and dragged Canada into the mess. Some places, far out in the wilderness, are still inhabitable, but those places are few and far between. Middle and South America are slightly better off, at least they didn’t get nuked. The governments and economies down there never were all that stable, so when the US collapsed, so did they. Drug barons, guerrillas and the like took over the show. For a time, anyway…

There were things hiding in the jungles far from the eyes of mankind. Old things. Angry, vengeful things who saw a chance of giving humanity what they deserved. Some say it was the shapeshifters, some say it was something far worse. Doesn’t really matter – the end result was the same. Cities were wiped out, one after the other, and now the whole place is just one big wilderness filled with jungle, mountains, and deserts. Even the hippies that were joyous about the vengeance from Mommy Nature are gone… Eaten? Sacrificed to ancient horrors? Or just hiding in terrified silence? Nobody knows. And nobody cares…

Oceania is the only region that still somewhat resembles the world you are used to. True, most of the Polynesian islands are now below the sea due to the rise in sea levels. But besides the occasional hungry Chinese dragon swooping by for a snack, things haven’t changed that much in Australia and New Zealand. They have closed their borders and sink any ships coming too close. They simply realized that if they maintained any kind of open door policy, they’d be swamped by not only millions but billions of refugees from all the other messed up places around the world.

Which brings us to a seriously messed up place – Asia. Your world is mostly free of what you would describe as «magical» beings. Once upon a time, there were dragons, unicorns, and fae in your world, but bit by bit they were forced away. It all began when the ancient Greeks started trusting logic more than magic, which you can thank a guy called Thales for in the 6th century BC.

The clever among you have undoubtedly looked it up on the google, as you say. The short version, however, for the back row, is that magic and magical creatures need someone to believe in them in order to exist. Your world started to become poisonous to dragons and other magical creatures as people stopped believing in them, so they left for friendlier realms. This didn’t happen overnight, of course. Over many centuries, the belief in logic spread outwards from the Mediterranean, and by the 19th century, there were only small isolated pockets of places around the globe where magical creatures could survive. Places like the Black Forest and the Carpathians in Europe, unexplored parts of central Africa and South America, and the Himalayas. Everywhere else, the firm belief in logic and science erected firm barriers that have been keeping magical beings out ever since.

With the recent loss of faith in science, your world could be up for some interesting surprises in the years to come – but that is the least of your problems, to be honest. Anyway, in the World of Future Darkness, these barriers were much less firm, and there were groups and individuals who found ways to pierce them. One of those groups were the puppet masters that had run China for thousands of years. So, when full-scale naval war erupted between China and the US, and the Chinese navy was on the bottom of the ocean after being wiped out by the superior US navy. Instead of deploying their nuclear weapons, as some people feared they would do, they unleashed their secret super weapon: dragons. The dragons ate the US Pacific Fleet for lunch, and while that did bring the US-Chinese war to a ceasefire, the Chinese problems were just beginning. Of all the silly mistakes that were made in those years, thinking that humans can control dragons was the dumbest. The second thing the dragons did – the first being annihilating the US navy – was to tear down the barriers protecting the world from magic. After all, it is rather difficult not to believe in dragons when you see them live on television. Then they turned against their former human masters. Onis, Bakemons, Nagas and all other kinds of weird and wonderful Asian magical creatures broke through and started spreading havoc. There were the occasional large scale battles between magic and modern military forces. The battle of Tokyo, where the remains of the US navy had retreated, was the grandest, but even that didn’t go very well, and for the most part, humanity was simply overwhelmed. Those who didn’t submit were slaughtered or eaten. Oddly enough, the dragons held back from attacking Russia – possibly because even dragons have trouble with nuclear weapons – and going west, eating their way through India, they ran into a spot of bother when they met the hordes of ancient Djinns that had been slumbering beneath the sands for millennia in Arab and Persian lands. But China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia was their new playground – and play they did.

Speaking of Russia; that’s another place that’s held together fairly well. It seems like they had foreknowledge about the troubles on the horizon, as they were chillingly well prepared.  You humans have this weird habit of believing that things used to be better before, and most cultures have a belief in some hallowed «Golden Age» when things were much better. And when things go belly up you tend to regress to emulating said Golden Age. In Russia, this manifested with Putin being proclaimed Tsar and abandoning all pretenses of democracy. Dissidents were rounded up and executed, and the public went along without too much protest. Freedom of speech and minority rights didn’t seem all that important as long as people could continue their day-to-day lives in a way resembling what they were used to. Marauding dragons and the ambitious Caliphate were turned away by well-aimed nuclear strikes, and the Russians were safe in their fairly enlightened military dictatorship. Unsurprisingly, they ran into the same problems as Australia and New Zealand, with hordes of refugees begging for protection, and came to the same conclusion. There was no way they could help them.

I mentioned the Caliphate, didn’t I? Well, the unstable governments in the Islamic world collapsed even quicker than the governments of Latin-America, and maniacs like ISIS and Al-Qaeda were already present, eager to grab power. After a few years of vicious infighting, they had decided who was top dog, and a truly insane Caliphate was established. They tried to expand in all possible directions. European and Russian nukes stopped their northward expansions and the military units they sent southwards simply disappeared in the central African jungles.

On the far side of those jungles, the same thing happened as in South America: creatures long forgotten came out of the verdant deep and wiped humanity off the map, without the slightest hint of prejudice.

That leaves Europe. Once the shining beacon of civilization and humanity, it shines a lot more dimly now, but still hangs together, somewhat. The EU, already in shambles, tore apart like a piñata, and Europe was balkanised into a mosaic of tiny independent states, all held firmly under the thumb of a very oppressive Catholic church.

With vampires and werewolves running loose at night and the Caliphate waving their scimitars from across the Mediterranean, it was easy for the Church to play on people’s fear. With generous support from the Russians, who wanted to make sure they didn’t have to face a great migration from the west, the Vatican managed to get the people to flock beneath their protective wings.

The Church actively supported a return to traditional values, and Europe turned into a strange combination of a medieval view of the world and modern technology. England went the furthest, renaming itself Albion and putting a charlatan dubbed Arthur II on the throne, but the other countries on the continent weren’t far behind.

Scandinavia was the region that regressed the least, though even there it was a return to traditional values under the guidance of an inquisitorial church. Local wars broke out between the miniature states – and in some cases, are still raging – but most of the high-tech nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have been used up. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of stuff they had stockpiled in secret and suddenly unleashed! Quite impressive, even by our standards. Large tracts of land were turned into wastes, with fortified cities poking out of the rubble here and there.

In the years that have passed since the worst of the fighting ended, wilderness has quickly reclaimed land that was farmed or full of suburbs just a generation ago. But compared to Asia or North America it’s not so bad.

So, that’s a basic rundown of the what the World of Future Darkness looks like when the series starts. There are, of course, local differences that we will explore in due time. But enough of that background tedium, this blog is supposed to be all about corrupting your innocent souls, so enough of my ramblings.

It is time for you to blow me away with your clever questions and comments. What do you want to know more about? Would you like more details about the world, more info about the main characters, or perhaps a handy primer on how to sacrifice virgins? You name it, and I, your trusty and not so very humble local demon, Ghurlax, shall provide!

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