Bills to Pay
The year is 2082, and the world has had a chance to recover, just a little, from the shock of the Awakening.
What once was Canada and the American Midwest has returned largely to wilderness. After magic came back to the world, the Ghost Dance was suddenly a spigot tapped into over two centuries of frustrated rage. The inheritors of all that territory, and the hundred fifty million deaths that bought it, live in scattered groups. They may be outnumbered by the outside population, but it’s said that somewhere, the original dance circle dances still, bones and blood and drums. No one’s that excited about the timber and mineral prospects.
On the West coast, the Republic of California saw the riots, the panic and starvation, and she decided to be different. She opened her arms, her wealthiest lived in tents to feed and house the hopeless, and somehow she found space for the refugees from the North. When the legions of Wendigo, werewolves and angry ghosts made it to her borders, she stood and fought. She fought with magic she didn’t understand, with gangsters covering wounded policemen, and with the desperation that comes from having nowhere to run. She survived by coming together and making sacrifices for the sake of the refugees that flocked to her for safety, and accepting in turn the help they could provide.
Twenty years later, she was forced to close to her borders. She had reached the limit of her resources, so she stopped making demands on them. Millions of would-be immigrants pressed their noses against the glass to look at the lucky few that had made it inside and decided they wanted a piece anyway. The governors of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming, grown into petty barons, armed the hordes and mounted an invasion. The Wastes, as those states are now known, were left unfit for even the undead, whose bodies disintegrate to dust in a matter of hours.
To the East, the United States survived as well. It found the strength it needed to live in structure. It is ruled now by a Theocracy, culturally and magically powerful. The eucharist no longer calls for symbolic transubstantiation, and self-inflicted stigmata are the signatures to bargains bought in pain. The military and police are consolidated under the warrior caste, the USMC. Raised from birth, not every Marine lives to adulthood, but the ones that do are dedicated mind, body, and soul to the defense of their homeland.
The rest of the world has fared better or worse. Brazil is freewheeling and callously rich, while its smaller neighbors tend towards being jealous and poor. Africa remains a patchwork, where the Congo and Liberia are as nightmarish as Cote D’Ivoire, Eritrea, and Tanzania are prosperous. Ireland is its own mistress once more, having become an Elven nation, and much of Scandinavia is now Dwarven. The Pacific rim is riotously prosperous, and cross-oceanic trade between Australia, Japan, China, California, and the numerous island nations, has made a lot of money.
A lot of that money, in turn, settled in Seattle. Washington State is now just Washington, and is owned largely by the corps. Seattle is the world’s largest city, home to just under 40 million, or possibly over; it’s hard to take an accurate census of the slums. For decades, Seattle was policed by the corps, the unofficial militia, or not at all. That time has come to an end – the Council of Fifteen has purchased a contract from South-American security giant Paramount in secret. Paramount has had years to build up its manpower, and now they’ve started to move in and implement their multi-phase plan to introduce Seattle to a police presence once more. Fortunes are changing in Seattle, and that means both winners and losers. It’s especially risky for Shadowrunners, but then you know what they say: high risk for high reward.