"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 and philosophies.

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 technocratic elites.

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 culture.

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 poisoned landscape?