General Timeline 2015-2065

This is a rough timeline of the events that led up to the current year of 2065. This is kept very general because I’m hoping that the history of this world will become more defined through play. However, some basic developments need to be specified to give our players some foundation to start from. This will also ground the reader, as the characters are not going to be giving history lessons to bring you up to speed on what is already common knowledge for them.

2015: Things were as they were in our world. Smartphones put the internet into the pockets of many. Molecular biology was rapidly transforming our understanding of nature and of ourselves. San Francisco was in the height of digital gold rush. American society was watching the Donald Trump presidential run with equal parts horror and glee.

2020s: Experiments in human genetic engineering become more widespread. The nations of the world work to limit it based on their own social mores. The United States continues severe restrictions, though it does codify allowances for cases of chronic disability and terminal condition. Society begins to seriously debate what should even be considered a ‘chronic disability’.

2030s: Cybernetics, synthetic augmentations to the body which interface with the human brain and nervous system, are invented and developed. Initially, a cocktail of drugs is required to prevent implant rejection. Postnatal genetic therapy, already an active area of research, is further driven by companies who want to get in on the cybernetic rejection treatment market and around the patented drugs. ‘Cybernetic rejection’ is ruled to be a ‘chronic disability’ by the American Supreme Court, thus allowing such research in the United States.

2040s: General postnatal genetic therapy becomes a reality. It is now possible to target specific areas of the human body to change in specific ways and see full expression in a matter of weeks.

April 7, 2047: A spectacular supernatural display takes place in the skies above San Francisco and is captured on thousands of recording devices which then upload everything to the internet. Feats which could only be described as ‘magic’ are seen by billions of people across the world. After this day, reports and videos of other bizarre phenomena become increasingly common. Some people begin to develop the ability to use magic.

2050s: Postnatal genetic therapy, now simply ‘genetic therapy’, joins cybernetics as a mature, common treatment. Many nations’ laws from the 2020s, including those of the United States, do not apply as they were found specific to prenatal therapy. Faced with an ever-growing market for an increasing gamut of genetic therapies, the United States forgoes regulation of specific therapies and instead bans all recipients of genetic modifications from procreation, due to the inability of current technology to prevent modifications from being passed on to one’s offspring. This is enforced by requiring all genetic modifications, save a specific class of medical treatments, to include a permanent sterilization component. This law, dubbed the Human Genome Preservation Act, is met with immediate controversy and questions of constitutionality. Meanwhile, societies across the globe are coming to terms with the idea that magic is a readily observable phenomenon. Science races to understand this new realm of physics which had thus far somehow eluded all rational observations of the universe. More and more magic-capable people appear as the decade progresses. Such people now refer to themselves as ‘Mystics’ within the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

2060s: A new culture war has reached the boiling point in the United States and much of the world. Largely older generations feel that the very definition of humanity is slipping away every day and people are changing themselves in uncontrolled and unregulated ways. On the other end of the spectrum, many younger people believe that one should be in control of their own body and genome. In the middle is a wide variety of opinions on regulation. The debate is given further fuel when the Supreme Court upholds the Human Genome Preservation Act in a 5-4 decision based on the interstate commerce clause and that the state does have an interest in securing the right of all to a ‘clean slate’ genome. The phrase becomes incendiary in the debate, with ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ now taken as either a point of pride or a slur.

2065: The Present. Debate on the regulation and rights of cybernetic and genetic augmentation recipients continues. There is also a growing population of young adult Mystics who came into magic powers during adolescence that now find themselves looking for guidance, community, and a place in the world. With magic still poorly understood by science, there is increasing pressure for Mystics in the various countries to be registered by their governments.

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Introduction

One of the defining traits of humanity is our relationship with tools. Be it a knife, a bow, a pen, a book, or a computer, humans have possessed an ability unparalleled by any other species on the planet to invent and use a wide array of tools. After minimal use, they become extensions of ourselves, expanding our capabilities beyond our five senses and four limbs. With the advent of the silicon age, some began to speculate that it was only a matter of time before the line that divided human and machine would become blurred, if not completely nonexistent. This hypothetical event, referred to by futurists as The Singularity, was the anticipated day in which the definition of what it meant to be human would be forever changed. Ironically, the futurists of the early 21st century were far too limited in their imaginations of how humanity would transform over the next 50 years.

While humanity had experimented with replacing lost limbs and organs with artificial ones for decades, the real merging of human and machine began in the 2030s with the advent of prosthetics and cybernetic enhancements capable of interfacing directly with the brain. However, the body would not be so easily tamed and a cocktail of drugs were required to prevent rejection of these synthetic additions. This last act of rebellion by the flesh drove unprecedented progress in the areas of genetic therapy and, by the early 2040s, humanity was augmenting itself at the nucleotide as well as silicon level. The body would be made not just to accept the synthetic, but to sprout fur, see in the dark, and even breathe underwater. The Singularity had arrived, but the homo sapien identity crisis it brought with it was only just beginning.

On April 7th, 2047, fantastic supernatural events took place in the skies above San Francisco. Flying figures which could throw bolts of lightning, fiery explosions with no obvious fuel source, and at least one honest-to-goodness dragon were seen by everyone in the city. They were also captured on thousands of recording devices and instantly shared across the entire internet. From that day forward, undeniable reports and videos of the bizarre phenomenon that came to be known, for lack of a better word, as ‘magic became increasingly common. Soon, people were coming forward who could perform modest demonstrations of magic. Humanity was undergoing yet another change, but this one defied all explanation. Further complicating matters, ancient items of power and decaying scraps of parchment with bits of arcane knowledge began to surface and caused many to wonder how such old things could be related to such a new development. Rumors began to swirl in the new magical communities of so-called ‘Mystics’ that somewhere in the world was a hidden and ancient enclave of magic-capable people sitting atop a storehouse of magical knowledge and power.

The year is now 2065. Humanity, forever looking for its place in the universe and the nature of its existence, is no closer to answering that question. In an age when a person may pass someone with listening to music with cat ears, another using their chrome skin for performance art, and a third conjuring fire out of their hand to light an artisanal cigarette, constructing one single definition of ‘human’ has only become more difficult. Every day seems to bring with it some new amazing complication. Governments have passed desperate laws seeking to gain control the situation, including acts limiting the reproduction of the genetically modified, corporations continue to develop new and amazing ways for humanity to change and augment itself, and the powers that be are continually scrambling to maintain their advantages in a game where the rules appear to be changing every day.

And meanwhile, people everywhere are trying to define in their own minds what it really means to be human, when perhaps that definition is only fated to change and expand until it collapses under its own existential weight.