Broken States: a Cyberpunk Future
I am doing the RPG Writer’s Workshop again this month. This is an attempt to break my writer’s block, among other things. This time around I decided to write an adventure for a system other than D&D for a change. This time I am working on a cyberpunk genre adventure for Modern AGE by Green Ronin. It is a system I wish I had more time to play.
As part of this adventure, I decided I needed at least a rough background. I am not writing this for an existing world, so I figured I should have some world information to put in the adventure. Just enough to have a starting point. I will also write up what the tech level is, as well, but I am trying to not overwhelm myself.
So here is the future history I produced.
North America 2062 Broken States
Many things led to the balkanization of North America. The United States reached a point with a series of terrible decisions by its Supreme Court that lead to a nation divided.
One state might have laws banning abortion or oppressing minorities and the next state would refuse to recognize those laws. This led to severing connections to the oppressive state. This happened repeatedly with many states having their economies collapse due to no longer allowing interstate travel. A series of assassinations, riots, and attempted uprisings lead to the US being torn to pieces as a nation. The only stabilizing factor was multinational corporations which allowed people to have some sort of stability.
For now, the only real federal government enclaves are the Northeast, Alaska, and overseas colonies or bases. Ironically, Puerto Rico has finally been recognized as a state, and serves as the new headquarters of the US Navy and Space Force.
It wasn’t just the United States which was affected. Mexico broke up into 3 semi-independent states. A constant war has waged there for 2 decades. Quebec seceded from Canada. This was largely a bloodless affair, but it did lead to several small-scale conflicts that threatened to turn into a more.
Factory towns in North American states were largely free of the violent conflicts and could often cut out exceptions in more repressive states for employees on their property. This caused many people in marginalized communities to sign up for employment contracts and housing with large corporations. This in turn increased the company’s control over their lives.
With no power in a strong central government, corporations continued their exploitation of the natural world. Increased production of fossil fuels continued, with state governments receiving incentives to allow it to continue. Unions were finally destroyed in this new America with corporations being able to coordinate their efforts across borders in ways the unions no longer could. 2045, the last union, the Communications Workers of America, was finally dissolved. There are labor groups still operating and organizing but doing so in secret.
Coastal communities around the world have had to move inland due to the rising sea levels. Droughts in several western states have caused many towns to simply become uninhabitable. Dam failures in the 2030’s caused floods which all but destroyed communities all along the Tennessee river.
Massive numbers of nomadic communities have begun wandering the country due to rising housing costs through the 20’s and 30’s. They became a permanent part of North American culture. They even provide a useful function as they are often contracted to move freight, carry refuges, and serve as muscle in local conflicts in places like Texas and Arkansas which usually have small scale wars going on constantly.
The large cities have become larger and more separated. The corporations have enclaves to maintain comfortable living for their executives and stockholders. A larger portion of the population in these cities exist in service to these corporations, usually in corporate owned housing. The advantage of living in the city is getting access to resources. Corp controlled grocery stores are well stocked, even if rural America has difficulty getting any food. The power and internet in the cities tend to be relatively cheap. Healthcare is only available to corporate employees. Operating outside approved networks is largely illegal in most cities.
Also in most cities, over 15% of the population is homeless. They live in abandoned buildings, tunnels and forgotten spaces. A second separate infrastructure was cobbled together by an odd collection of homeless communities. Socialists, anarchists, and criminals all coexist next to each other. They often lack basic necessities, medicine and healthy food. There are territorial conflicts for the limited spaces and resources as well.
Freelancers are often hired by the corps to do dirty work. Life is cheap in the cities.
The Rest of the World
After Vladimir Putin died, Russia collapsed into a far more aggressive infighting. The end result of a complicated set of conflicts was Russia is now 12 separate countries and there was brief war with Nato in 2042. Moscow, Brussels, Krakow, St. Petersburg, Paris and most of Lithuania were hit with nuclear attacks. Some of those cities have recovered. Some cities have not.
England’s economy collapsed in the 2030’s due to losing Scotland and Northern Ireland. It rejoined the EU in a diminished capacity in 38. The United Kingdom exists in name only. African nations dealt with the climate crisis and the continuing exploitation of their resources by outsiders in a manner they have in the past. This time with the Chinese being an added factor. Chinese military now occupies several eastern coastal cities and the island of Madagascar.
A limited nuclear exchange also occurred in the Middle East in 2042 between Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. This resulted in another breakup of states. The area is chaotic, but some nations have come out stronger. Turkey returned to a secular democracy. Beirut has become one of the most important cities in the world with strong tech and manufacturing centers along with largely radiation free ports to ship from.
Much of Indonesia and surrounding nations are feeling the effects of climate change with most of their population being relocated in the past few decades. India and Pakistan briefly had a hot war, but in 2050, began the process of forming a unified government. One of the major factors in that drive was after repelling an invasion by China.
China continues to be a totalitarian state though an increasingly unstable one. In the past few Decades, former corporate heads have ended up as directing members of the communist party. Internal struggles for power in the largest nation in the world has led to at least three invasions of other nations and the complete annexation of Taiwan. The future of the nation seems in flux.
Korea reunified after the collapse of the northern government in the 2030’s. Unfortunately, the reunification also devastated the Korean economy. Now much of the country is controlled by foreign owned companies who stepped in. Japan continues to be a world player but one with diminishing numbers. There has been something of culture change as the country finally embraced immigration after decades of experiencing the effects of an aging populous.
Australia has also endured though its population has declined as well. The effects of climate change have made water harder and harder to get. Many young people have looked to other shores for opportunities.
South America has become increasingly violent as several wars are ongoing in in Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, and Venezuela. These are largely proxy wars between multinationals. The Amazon Forest is largely gone.
There is a new community being built on Antarctica by a corporation as a resort for executives. Armstrong base is a corporate owned facility on the moon which is just beginning to be a permanent viable off world colony. There was one manned mission to Mars. Everyone died and it was seen as not viable for future missions.
This is the first time I have published anything to my Patreon and blog in a long time. That makes me happy. Writing has been challenging during the plague years and if this project does nothing else, at least it got me back to putting words to page.