Someone on the ShadowRN mailing list suggested a Shadowrun/Exalted crossover. This got my mind reeling, trying to tie the histories of the two games together (three actually, since Earthdawn is a "prequel" to Shadowrun). I sent the results of my mianderings to the list, but thought some Exalted people might find them entertaining.
As the events of the Locust Crusade unfold and the various gods and exalts enact their grand plans, the fate of the Age of Sorrows is sealed not by the divine, but by a lone mortal (let's call him Ri). A sophisticated savant, Ri hated the divine. All the problems in the world, he saw them either causing or doing nothing to stop. Early in his career, Ri found a book that took decades to translate, detailing the events of the Primordial War and the Games of Divinity that came after it. This increased his distain for the gods even more. Once the Empress disappeared, Thorns was conquered and Gem fell to the Locust Crusade, Ri realized that humanity was doomed and vowed to make humanity safe from the gods once and for all. This would have proved as hollow as any other mortal vow in the Age of Sorrows but for one thing: Ri tracks down and claims the Eye of Autochthon.
Unlike those before him, Ri is serving humanity, not himself, and restrains his use of the Eye while a plan forms. Meanwhile, Creation is disintegrating as the Locust Crusade begins in earnest. The sidereals plan to release the Kukla (a few of the sidereals support this plan only because they have foreseen what Ri plans, and consider the Kukla the only way to stop him). Ri sneaks the Eye into Thorns and takes over a high level manse. Using the Eye, he destroys the manse, unleashing chaotic energy, then he summons the Calibration Gate to Yu-Shan. Standing in this confluence of Creation, Underworld, Heaven and the Wyld, Ri activates the full power of the Eye, he gathers everything around him he can reach, and compresses it together. The elemental poles, the just released Kukla, the Realm, all the people, huge chunks of the Wyld, millions of souls from the underworld, even lesser spirits from heaven, all are compressed into a dimensionless pinpoint of potential.
Though Creation has been completely obliterated, the underworld erects defenses and heaven finally acts. In the next instant, as unfathomable energies coruscate towards Ri, several things happen at once:
- Ri, realizing he's about to die, releases the particle he has created, unleashing its energy in an unguided explosion of reality. It makes a really Big Bang.
- Autochthon, through the Eye, realizes what Ri plans, and also realizes that his plan will fail without some sort of guiding force to stabilize it. Through the Eye, he reaches into Yu-Shan and grabs Gaia and channels as much of her into the particle as he can. Part of her understands and goes willingly, part of her does not, but goes just the same.
- Divine energy utterly destroys Ri, after which all the gates from heaven to creation are closed and reinforced.
The particle expands rapidly, first as a plasma of quarks and gluons, but soon after as more recognizable forms of matter. From the center, heaven, the wyld and the underworld are pushed away by the expanding reality (let's call it the "universe"), their defenses keeping them separated from it. While Creation was a small island of stability in a sea of chaos, the universe absolutely dwarfs all that surrounds it. It begins to evolve.
For a long time, few in heaven lament the loss of Creation, and turn back to their games. In the underworld, the loss of so many souls shifts the balance of power and the fact that Creation found a type of oblivion while they did not drives many mad; an endless war erupts. The Yozis, meanwhile, strain against their cages. Some escape, and heaven finds purpose for the next billion years tracking them down again.
As Ri intended, the new universe evolves without guidance from gods, but according to set rules (let's call these "physics"). Yes, he had to destroy everyone to make it happen, but he created a place were mortal things could rule themselves, once the rules of the place gave rise to mortal things. There were, however, two flaws in his plan. The first flaw in the plan is that some passages between the universe and outside still existed. It would take a long time for them to be uncovered. The second flaw was the presence of Gaia, or what was left of her. In the instant of the explosion, her presence gave much needed stability to the plan, creating rules that would eventually yield life, creating asymmetry when needed (leading to, for example, more matter than antimatter). As the universe expanded, so did Gaia's consciousness, spreading ever thinner. Though the pull was inevitable, she fought against this a bit, trying to pull herself together.
The largest Gaian concentration found itself where a large spiral of stars was coalescing. Finding a disk of matter trying to form a star in one of the outer arms, Gaia desperately tried to hold on to some semblance of herself, imprinting on this disk. While not enough of her remained to fully guide the outcome, she exerted an unconscious influence on the disk, generating loose approximations of the gods she knew so well. The Unconquered Sun at the center. The maidens in orbit, and herself at a comfortable distance between them, her lover the moon in orbit above.
Billions of years later, Autochthon found an opening into the universe and explored. He was fascinated that it had grown so vast and complex completely on its own, with no gods or even pattern spiders to guide it. He withdrew to let the experiment run unhindered, guarding the entrance and seeking out other entrances in the hopes on concealing them all.
Meanwhie life progressed in the universe and more unconscious remnants of Gaia had been asserting themselves. Amid the life that now teemed on the surface of her special world, something like the elemental dragons began to coalesce. They had no knowledge of who or what they were, but they did have consciousness. Much of the life at the time had bodies that tried to fit into the ideal spiritual shape of the dragon, but were unable to think about much other than feeding and mating. The handful or dragons, surrounded by a sea of dumb lizards, learned as much as they could about the world. Some fought and discovered they could die.
Then, a big rock fell from the sky, covering the world in darkness. While the dragons initially survived, most of their food supply did not, with dinosaurs dying by the millions. Hard times require hard measures, and many dragons died. Those that survived became fascinated with some smart little rodents that survived the asteroid, and appeared to thrive based on being more clever than their food. Countless generations of dragons watched these creatures evolve into several races that, while not as intelligent as themselves, could at least give names to things and, eventually, read and write.
By this time, the dragons had discovered magic. As they learned to manipulate it, they also discovered that the ambient level of magic around them was rising. They had no way of knowing this was because the remnants of the Age of Sorrows had found them.
In the intervening time, the gods had eventually missed having mortals to play with, and begged Autochthon to created a new Creation. He refused, so they took it upon themselves to make their own. It started well, but didn't last. The wyld and the underworld mixed with the new physical realm and it quickly warped into a nightmare world, filled with hideous creatures tainted by the wyld to feed on emotion or by the underworld to feed on death.
As the gods pondered what to do with this failure, the Maiden of Secrets became suddenly obsessed with uncovering what happened to Gaia those billions of years ago. In looking for the answer, she uncovered her own passage into the universe and tracked down the remnants of Gaia's consciousness, discovering Earth. Fascinated by the societies she found there, she exalted several members of the race she thought had the most potential, called elves. Finding themselves to be immortal, these exalted elves quickly took over most aspects of their society, and started to learn a lot about magic and the dragons. For their own part the dragons came to believe that the increasing level of magic (actually caused by the presence of the Maiden) had happened before, when they first formed (which it had, with the presence of Autochthon in the universe). They took to calling the time before them the First World, the time they evolved the Second World, the time after the asteroid as the Third World and this new period of rising magic as the Fourth World.
Meanwhile, though, the more powerful of the mutant creatures of the god's failed creation became aware enough to sense the Maiden's path into the universe, sort of a metaphysical trail. Fearing the gods may unmake them, a handful of these entities decided that, with the Maiden isolated in the universe, they might be able to capture her and negotiate with the gods. They spent a long number of years figuring how to follow the trail, all the while becoming more paranoid of imminent destruction by the gods that never came. Eventually, they found a way through.
When initial scouts reported the nature of the universe, all plans for capturing the Maiden were forgotten, and a full invasion of the place was launched. The denizens of the Fourth World defended themselves as best they could, but in the end, all that really mattered was the Maiden's realization that her presence allowed them to come in the first place. She immediately returned to heaven. The horrors kept the passage open for as long as they could, but with no gods there to sustain the magic, they were forced to withdraw.
Eventually, though the earth saw a new dawn, the Fourth World fell. The magic that had sustained it receded with the Maiden's departure, though her servants remained to guard the substantial aftermath. Civilization disintegrated and eventually began anew in Mesopotamia.
Some of these new civilizations began to worship the objects they saw in the sky: the sun, the moon, the planets. As they made prayers and sacrifices to them, the essence generated by this act reached the gods they represented. The Unconquered Sun and the others did not know what to make of this at first, as they could not figure out where this essence was coming from. They consulted the Maiden of Secrets, but she provided no council on the matter. Eventually, it was Luna who figured it out, and she discovered a passage into the universe, finding earth. Some felt her approach, not knowing what it was. Others, the sidereals left behind, thought their maiden was returning. Some longed to wear their original forms again, and encouraged a few elven genes to express themselves in the unborn.
Meanwhile, as Luna approaches Earth, a visionary ghost in the underworld distracts many from aeons of war with a prophesy that new souls will soon come to the underworld, the first since creation collapsed. She names a minor mountain as the source of these souls. One of the few remaining deathnights is sent to the mountain to check it out. She finds a tunnel leading to a strange rip in reality. It is much like the void, but contains stars. As the entropy of the universe increases, it grows closer to the underworld and no where closer than here. She is ordered to go through, but is never seen again. This brings the two realms even closer, however, and when VITAS claims billions of lives on Earth, it is enough to breach the barrier as billions of souls, more than the underworld has ever seen, pour into the underworld, erupting from the mountain like a volcano. Far more numerous than the dead of the Great Contagion, this mass migration begins to assert itself.
Then, on December 24, 2011, Luna stood on the face of her namesake at watched the earth below. The dragons awoke at her presence, as did much of the world.
Impressed at the world, but distressed at how much technology was destroying nature, Luna exalted both animal and human to gain nature back. Some of these exaltations (usually those of animals) don't work as well as others, resulting in a shapeshifter with no ability to channel essence. Others work extremely well, particularly a man from a region known as the Amazon who takes the form of a jaguar. He eventually makes contact with the sidereals, who have by now started two different elven societies, and at least one dragon. This cabal pulls strings behind the scenes.
Luna sends a message to the Unconquered Sun, who soon visits. The resulting spike in magic causes many in the world to goblinize. It also causes a panic in a sidereal named Harlequin, who forsees the invasion this new magical spike will cause. Though, for reasons he doesn't fully understand, he cannot convince the other sidereals to help him, he manages to stem the invasion with mortal and dragon help.
The Unconquered Sun sees a world in great need of heroes. He begins making some. Meanwhile, the surviving (and new) deathlords send agents of their own into creation. Immediately impressed with the potential of nuclear weapons, one of them founds a cult called Winternight, intent on destroying the world. Another eventually consumed the near dead body of Ibn Elsa, leader of the Islamic Unity Movement, taking his place.
All of this horrified Autochthon, who saw the presence of the the celestial incarna in what he now thought of as his experiment as, well, anathema. Now knowing that his presence in the universe would interfere with its workings, he sent to alchemical agents in to investigate. They returned reporting two developments. One was that humans had figured out how to wed machine to flesh. The second was the existence of computers and the Matrix, even rumors of artificial life. In this last news, Autochthon saw his chance to throw out the intruding celestials. He projected the smallest part of his consciousness, a kind of deep resonance, into the Matrix to search for souls that might become his soldiers. He found that only the young, slightly damaged humans, responded to his call, but gathered his otaku flock just the same. He also sent agents into the Renraku Arcology to inject some of his essence into the expert system that ran the place, causing to to become self-aware. The birth of Deus gained a bit more attention than Autochthon would have liked, but he left Deus to his own devices, confident that enough of his own essence remained to get the job done.
GREAT JOB!!! I actually ran a game many years ago starting in earth dawn and leading up to (through severl generations of characters spanning millenia) Shadowrun. But I had never thought of including Exalted. The different sects, Gods, and super-powers really mesh well together. Again great job! ~ Insanewizard
Wow. As hokey as it is, and as bad as I thought it would be, this really impressed me. It has enough mix to make things very interesting. What are the heroes the Sun is making though? Is Essence Channeling = Magic? Maybe include a reason that magic causes burn when channeled? - Jaelra