Nyarlathotech
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Backstory

It is 2118.

The last century has been interesting. The United Nations has leveled up into the New Earth Government. Mankind has achieved space flight and established colonies across the inner system. Revolutions in medicine have increased lifespans, cured many diseases and resulted in a healthier, smarter populace. Nanofabrication is starting to come to the fore and most people live in a transitional economy where food, clothing and shelter is essentially free. And researchers from here to Jupiter are pushing the boundaries of science even further.

Oh yeah, and magic is real. That really helps.

If you're looking for someone to blame, you need to head back to the 2020s, when Miskatonic University postgrad Teresa Ashcroft stumbled across the right tomes in their restricted archives. She rediscovered the long-lost mystical arts and began to fuse them with the scientific; though her work drove her mad, it didn't stop other scientists expanding the field she pioneered and developing the Dimensional Engine, a nigh-infinite power source.

By 2035, magic and D-Engine had changed everything. By 2050, advances in sublight space travel had humanity putting colonies and space stations from Venus to Titan and everywhere in between. These colonies are expanding still, and today they are cities (and even countries) in their own right which challenge the Earth on system-wide policy in the formative Sol Council.

In the 2050s, just when people were getting used to all that, the Yith showed up. Refugees of some galaxy-spanning empire in the throes of some catastrophe - we're not even sure they know all the details - these aliens came in humanoid bodies of their creation to trade advances in arcanotechnology for a place to start anew. We accepted.

And then came the 60s, when humanity came face-to-face with its own dark side. Cults had been eating away at civilisation for years, and war finally erupted as the Xanthic Storm, servants of the Unnameable, gathered enough followers and equipment to assault the Asian countries. The war was won, but not in the way people were hoping; it suddenly ended when the Migou came in one of their capital ships and began raining death across the land.

Humanity was swift to react, banding together under the New Earth Government and launching a counterattack - but the Migou weren't here for us, they were here for the Xanthic Storm. Once the threat of the Old Ones was eradicated and the last of the Storm retreated to Tibet and disappeared, the reclusive insects from Pluto pulled back and started talking. We struck the historic Charon Treaty, in which we agreed to leave their neck of the system alone in exchange for limited trade and exchange of information. We still don't trust those guys, but it beats getting lasered from orbit.

These days, things are tense. There's been a lot of saber-rattling with the Migou lately, and we seem to be sliding closer to war. Mars has started to throw its weight around in the Sol Council, and the Martian Federation doesn't exactly see eye-to-eye with the NEG either. We're still scrambling to put down the cults taking root across the system before they summon something that can't be contained, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

And that's just the popular threats. Behind the scenes, dark creatures are waking up from million-year slumbers. New and more dangerous magics are being discovered. New factions are springing up, and nobody knows what their deal is. The Mi-go could be screwing humanity and nobody would know. There could be threats we don't even know about, lurking beyond the sky or beneath the waves.

On the bright side, that's not your problem.

You live in the Chicago-Milwaukee Metroplex in the north-eastern United States. Together you run an occult detective agency - busting up cults, finding occult tomes and dealing with nice old ladies who think you can scry on their missing cat. Sometimes the Office of Occult Intelligence or even the Eldritch Society comes knocking at your door. It's good work for good money.

If you're lucky, it'll stay that way.

Setting Info

The NEG

Colonies

Technology

Arcologies: Arcologies are a new kind of city, a single self-contained hyperstructure containing residential, commercial and agricultural facilities. They are designed to reduce humanity's impact on the environment, and are incredibly secure compared to most cities. Construction started in the late 60s; today, arcologies exist in Atlanta, Cairo, Dallas, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New Tokyo, Philadelphia, Seattle, Sydney,Toronto, Vancouver and more. Many old cities, such as the Chicago-Milwaukee and New York-Jersey metroplexes, cling to the old traditions, but that is likely to change.

Computing and Internet: Cheap, fast wireless internet is everywhere these days, and with micro-chips embedded in almost everything and broadcasting information it's an almost essential part of everyday life. Everyone is assumed to have a personal data pad - a flexible, stretchable device which serves as a computer terminal, PDA, locator, holo-projector and camera-phone - and know how to use computers and surf the Net without any skills needed. With the help of arcanotechnology, nodes are being seeded throughout the system to allow fast interplanetary communication, though so far it is restricted to the major colonies (such as Mars) and relatively slow. These days computing research is focused on arcanotechnology, communications and AI.

Mecha: Mecha have been made possible thanks to advances in science and arcanotechnology. Powered armour suits are more common outside the military - they are often used in heavy labor work, and the police force has their own mecha division. Powered armour theft (known as "mechajacking") is a serious crime.

Medicine: Health care is free. Modern medicine has progressed to the point where many formerly terminal illnesses are solved with over-the-counter medicines, and the human lifespan has been extended to incredible lengths. Arcanotherapy can purify the body of anything science can't fix, but not everyone trusts it and anyone who isn't rich faces long waiting periods. With heavy research into nanomedicine funded by the NEG, improved healing pods are cropping up and science is slowly bridging the gap.

Nanotechnology: Nanomanufacturing techniques are prolific enough to have transformed the economy, but they are heavily regulated by the NEG. Personal nanofabricators provide people with basic clothing and food, though you still need to buy the good stuff. Large-scale manufacturing makes heavy use of nanotechnology, and it is a vital part of the Martian colonisation effort. Magic has rendered it obsolete in some of the fields it was expanding into, but research continues.

Migou

The Migou (or maybe Mi-Go) are a spacefaring race, probably extra-galactic in origin. They have been described as winged sea-spiders, flying fungus crabs or just "bugs"," and communicate by shifting the colours of their spongiform heads, which makes communication with humanity difficult at best. They have a colony on Pluto and are thought to have been regularly visiting Earth for a long time now, possibly for resource extraction. Their grasp of technology and magic is very advanced, and their knowledge of surgery and biochemistry is centuries ahead of ours.

Mi-Go finally revealed themselves around 2064. Several capital ships, previously cloaked from humanity in distant reaches of the system, descended unto Earth and decimated the Xanthic Storm with laser fire. Several NEG bases were hit as collateral damage, and thinking the Mi-Go were here for humanity - with no aliens coming forward to set things straight - the Soul Council went to war against the Mi-Go too. This two-week skirmish set outer system expansion back several years until the Mi-Go finally finished off the Storm and contacted the NEG, revealing that they were after the servants of the Unnameable only. The war was ended with the signing of the Charon Treaty.

These days, the state of affairs has settled into a nice cold war. On the surface both races appear to be trying to establish relations, but behind the scenes there's a lot of spying and saber-rattling as each race tries to work out what the other's deal is. Though the Mi-Go seem wary of more war, it seems like they're hiding something.

Akathar

The aliens known as Yithians can travel across huge stretches of the universe by projecting their minds into the bodies of other creatures. At some point in the distant past, they engineered a new race from human stock and concealed the dormant bodies in a hidden city in the Australian deserts in case of emergencies. In the 50s, a group of Yith fleeing some unknown catastrophe in a distant galaxy (nicknamed the Thetans) reactivated these bodies and sought a new home in the NEG. Humanity still knows little of the Thetans; they speak little of the circumstances that forced them here and appear to have lost a lot of Yithian knowledge, possibly even their projection abilities. The technology they trade is always slightly in advance of humanity's, though, and they are experts on dimensional theory; some suspect the truth of their arrival is more complicated than "fled a distant galaxy".

After a while, the Thetans started having children. The Akathar are basically humans with grey skin tones, pure black eyes and greyscale hair; closer to human than alien, they do their best to fit in the NEG while forging their own cultural identity. Though Akathar are accepted on most colonies and in the major cities and metroplexes, many humans fear them and find their "dead eyes" unsettling. They have an affinity for psychic power.

Gamewise, Akathar simply need to mention their race in their High Concept and they're fine. They usually know a few useful magical facts, but many Humans still fear them.

Intelligence Groups

A lot of different groups are involved in the intelligence community. A brief list:

  • Eldritch Society: A mysterious society of mages, scholars and extraordinary gentlemen that has only recently gone public in America. Though they have offered to help the NEG fight occult crime, few people trust them - they are an incredibly secret group and seem suspiciously like a cult. So far the OOI is cautiously working with them while trying to find out as much as it can as people debate whether to shut the Society down.
    • What most people don't know is that the Eldritch Society is a worldwide society based around Tagers, warriors who bond with alien symbiotes and turn into monsters. They are fighting a secret war with an actual cult - the Children of Chaos, followers of Nyarlathotep who hide their cells within corporations and have their own monstrous warriors known as Dhohanoids. They recently forced the Eldritch Society to go public, and the Society is scrambling to hide their assets while trying to make friends with the NEG's intelligence groups. Progress is slow and difficult, and the ES is sure the Children of Chaos have OOI moles trying to turn the group against them.
  • Federal Security Bureau: The government agency charged with policing crimes of a federal nature. The FSB deals with organised crime, violent crimes, incident response and cult-busting. Though they deal with the more mundane crimes, that doesn't mean the FSB don't know about magic; they employ plenty of mages, and keep all kinds of strange contacts in the occult community.
  • Global Intelligence Agency: The NEG's external intelligence branch, the GIA tries to gather, analyze and disseminate as much information as it can about the NEG's perceived enemies - the Migou, the Green Fury, Disciples, etc. There are whispers that the GIA also targets potential enemies like the Eldritch Society and the Thetans, and to be honest they probably are.
  • Office of Occult Intelligence: The OOI's objective is to protect the NEG's citizens from the occult. They investigate magical crimes, shut down cults and hunt monsters, and get incredibly broad powers to do so - people would probably be worried if they knew the full extent. They keep track of all registered sorcerers and para-psychics and are the sort of agency that can, and does, disappear people. They do their job well, though, and even the hardest cults fear them.This is partly due to an impressive and aggressive recruiting policy, which offers law enforcement officials, professionals and any halfway sane mage who can count to ten incredibly generous benefits for their service.

Cults

Cults have been a serious problem ever since the Mythos went public. Some people just can't handle it, some people are suckered in by promises of power, and some people are just assholes. The biggest cults hassling the NEG right now include:

  • Disciples of the Cold Ones: Comprised chiefly of anarchists and scientists who couldn't handle what they studied, the Disciples revere a group of entities they believe exist beyond the end of the universe. They infiltrate and raid scientific institutions across the system and twist the NEG's science and arcanotechnology to their own ends, and many black market goods in the Arcane Underground are of their design. Each city has its own cell, headed by a Paradigm that oversees local operations and communicates with the others. The Disciples have also spread to Mars, and are thought to have a sublight fleet or a space station hidden somewhere in the system.
  • Green Fury: An ecoterrorist fertility cult which worships Shub-Niggurath. They have decided that humanity doesn't deserve the planet it lives on and have amassed an army to reclaim it for their "mother goddess", with industrial centers as their prime targets. With less human members than the NEG's army, they rely on guerrilla attacks, jacked mecha, and summoned help - a surprise raid with a powered armour squad and a couple of Dark Young can be surprisingly effective. They also seem to have a better grasp of magic than the NEG, enabling them to evade detection. They are a particular problem in South America and Africa, and leave colonies alone. For some reason the Migou have yet to try and orbital laser them, not that the NEG would appreciate the help.
  • Xanthic Storm: Worshippers of the Unnameable drawn to him through dreams, the Xanthic Storm were a massive cult with no known goals besides widespread chaos. After amassing an army they attacked Asia, devastating parts of China, and India before the NEG moved to halt the tide; the war was suddenly halted when Migou capital ships descended on the Storm and destroyed it with lasers from a safe distance. The few survivors disappeared somewhere in Tibet, and the Storm was never seen again.
  • Xīng Shén Tong: A Chinese cult structured as a crime syndicate, the Xīng Shén Tong effectively control huge swathes of the Arcane Underground in Canada. They have recently begun making inroads into other Undergrounds, particularly Europe and the normally Disciple-dominated America. Though the NEG has halted many of its operations, they have been unable to gather many details about the leadership (though they are suspected to be a circle of mages based out of Shanghai). The important thing everyone knows is that they appear to be searching for something.

Chicago-Milwaukee Metroplex

City creation in progress: Here