"The revolution will be televised. The revolution will euthanized.
Your volition will be neutralized."
Doctor Nothing, Wazzup With Dat? (2036)
Neon Twilight is a strange and sinister world set in the near-future of
2038, when biotechnology has run amok, city-states have re-emerged within
vast confederations, the state has become very strong, and ethnic clans span the world.
It's an ugly cyberpunk dystopia peppered with doses of hi-tek lo-life amidst the
junkyards of the elites.
Out of a blighted landscape scarred by racial infighting and radical
political agendas emerged a new world of bureaucratic nightmare and parasitic
biotechnology. The frightening prospect of global corporate domination was
replaced by an even more terrifying prospect of global disintegration. The
forces which had bound the world ever-more-closer together were suddenly
shattered by Pacific war and network chaos. It took nearly fifteen years of
Reconstruction to restore the world to a semblance of normality again, but
alas the days of biological security and economic prosperity have been
irrevocably snatched away. Now it is time for a new breed of agents and
revolutionaries to preserve or transform the social order and find a purpose
for humanity's suffering.
Neon Twilight attempts to present an alternative to the typical cyberpunk
world of cliched megacorps and massive guns. In this world Western
corporations have restructured, outsourced and transformed into design houses
instead of becoming neo-feudal statelets. Old-style physical manufacturing
has been relegated to the Middle Power countries such as Persia, Zhongguo,
Nigeria and Morocco. Industrial conglomerates which 'make everything' have
become inefficient and antiquated, and are only found in backward 'industrialized'
economies such as North China or Persia.
Today's governments have retained their grip on most of what their citizens
wish to be administered, despite dire warnings of the collapse of the
nation-state in the late TwenCen. Military power still resides with the
state, and covert use of this power in the form of paramilitary militias
and clans has become a favourite pastime of controlling regimes. In a paradoxical
fashion, societies have become both more and less regulated; governments
are stronger in security and biological matters, but weaker in social
legislation and commerce.
Aside from global commerce and the loose economic associations of
like-minded regions known as Confederations, the major players on the
international stage are the Clans. These internationally-recognized
sovereign entities vary from loose associations such as
La Francophonie to sophisticated and ruthless 'inter-nations' such as the
Huaren and the Neo-Victorians. The clans exert tremendous influence on
governments and corporations, and constantly promote their unique cultures
Without the moderating influence of the dozens of international organizations
such as Protocol and the Security Franchise, these clans would have already
precipitated several world wars in their blind hatred of each other.
While the clans battle for cultural supremacy, the vast Webworks expands to
include more people and more dreams. Channeling the vast majority of the
world's entertainment, commerce, communications and sports, the Webworks
provides a veritable cornucopia of events and stimulation to keep the
masses occupied. This is the way that an elderly elite in the Advanced
nations maintained by a vast medical-industrial complex
manages to retain control over a world filled with billions of young
Third-Worlders. Without even realizing what had happened, the people of
the new millennium created a system that mirrored perfectly the
surveillance society of George Orwell's 1984, in which you are always part
of the Network, and the Network always knows what you're doing. The secrecy
and extraordinary powers granted to the security Apparatus in the United
States have created a society of strictly-enforced moral behaviour promoted
through fear of runaway technology and a promise of joining the ruling
Although biotechnology has provided a boon to humanity in the form of
gerontological life-extending treatments and genetic therapies, it has
also unleashed the terrible powers of biological warfare. The Pacific
War saw the first use of chemical and biological weapons whose devastating
impact on not only society but on the ecosphere were unprecedented.
Several crop bioplagues and genegineered parasites
were released across the world which later mutated and triggered the
ecological maelstrom that was later called the New Mutation.
The New Mutation caused untold havoc in the world's ecosystems, destroying
countless species while bolstering others to the point of over-capacity.
In a misguided effort to stem the destruction, hundreds of government and
corporate laboratories released their own constructed organisms to battle
against the invaders. The confusion and combat amongst species lead to
super-evolutionary strains of bacteria, viruses, worms, and eventually
insects all of which became immune to conventional pesticides and
controls within weeks. Faced with a crisis which appeared to be multiplying
by the second, world leaders met in Osaka to work out a temporary solution
to a problem that exceeded even the previous threat of nuclear war. As a
million people became infected and died each week, the Protocol organization
managed to institute the Osaka Biosafety Protocols, a series of draconian
decontamination and isolation procedures which pretty much violated every
civil right known to man, but which quickly began to stem the slaughter in
at least the Advanced countries. The Osaka Standards have survived the test
of time and continue to supply the wealthier parts of the world with a
modicum of protection against health hazards of all kinds. Despite this,
the majority of the world's inhabitants now have to live with the constant
threat of parasitic infection and unexplained new diseases.
In the wake of the global chaos resulting from the biological disaster,
and the ineffectiveness of most governments in controlling civil unrest,
the world major corporations and paramilitary social groups (later clans)
formed a pact to provide local law and order to besieged communities from
Nagoya to Atlanta. Later known as the Security Franchise, this pact
federated the world's major security forces into an effective profit-driven
enterprise in governance. Today the Security Franchise has branch compounds
in hundreds of thousands of communities around the world, and fiercely
enforces its contracts to defend its residents.
The final collapse of the United Nations was imminent since the formation
of the restrictive trading blocs at the turn of the century. Faced with
regional trade blocs far exceeding its power to coerce or convince, the
U.N. was eventually dismembered at the start of the Pacific War in a
political fiasco that surprised no-one. What emerged during the War and
later Reconstruction was an international organization far superior in
negotiating global conflicts and settling disputes. Protocol quickly grew
from a legal/accountancy/ consulting firm to a global arbiter and negotiator
of unprecedented skill. Credited with having convinced the Chinese not to
deploy their nuclear arsenal in the dying days of that conflict, Protocol
was later instrumental in brokering the cease-fire and rebuilding the
world's international framework following the war, the New Mutation, and
the Network collapse.
Despite repeated attempts by the world's former superpowers to re-establish
control, the world is fracturing into hundreds of tiny city-states and
tribal groupings. Although the majority such as Texas, Norcal,
Okinawa, Utter-Pradesh and Euskadi choose mere autonomy in a loose
federation, there are some states which have opted for complete separation.
Free Quebec, Padania, Sakha, Orangeria, and many others have formed
completely new republics to represent their unique interests. Like
500 channels on a cable network, the world is a finely-segmented consumer
The European Union still seeks to speak for its member countries and
cultures (which now number more than 40), but its voice is weak even when
its economies prosper because of internal troubles. Amazonia has given a
single voice to the previously-ignored Hispanic culture of the Americas,
while Persia attempts to unite its faction-ridden Islamic brethren. The
Russian Holy Crusade in Central Asia continues in the face of constant
massacres on both sides, and Azanian repression in Southern Africa
continues while Protocol negotiation is refused.
Within the confusing world of Neon Twilight each society must fight to
preserve its culture, and the network nature of the world helps to ensure
diversity even as it promotes excessive surveillance and a diminution of
the rights of man. It will be radical new movements, paranoid strategies
and vicious psychosocial sabotage not guns or cybernetics which
will win the Culture Wars.
The world of Neon Twilight is fractured, confusing and sometimes horrible,
but it's all there is between us and the void of space. Is the world
trapped in a gloomy twilight between the wonders of new science and the horrors
of new weaponry, or can the players find some glimmer of hope in this