August 2009
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Fall From Grace - Introduction

How the Old World came to an end remains a matter of some debate. As I said previously, this is the 183rd year after the end of the Dark Years. The world, as you know it, ended long before that date.  Nobody is really sure how long the dark period lasted, or how long it took to get to that point.   I don't even think 183 years ago was all that special, other than the fact that for the first time people had more than enough food to get them through the winter and they held a huge celebration once they noticed that things were slowly getting better.  Winters were getting shorter, growing seasons were longer, hunting was better and people finally had a chance to think about something more than surviving one more day. Depending on who you talk to or what god (or group of gods) you believe in, the way the world ended varies.  It all breaks down into 5 rough schools of thought.  They are called, in no particular order, the Rapture, Ragnarok, the Big War, Toxic Earth, and Moonstrike.  I'm going to give a brief description of each now and I'll go into more detail about them one by one later.  I will say up front that I'm not a particularly religious type.  That's not to say I don't believe in the gods, but I don't subscribe to any of the religions.  The reasons why we got here are less important to me than what we do moving forward.  All of the 5 share one thing, they actual events are shrouded in religion and it can be difficult to tell the truth from the belief. The Rapture: This is pretty straightforward.  The idea here is that one of the old gods came down and judged mankind.  Those that were worthy were saved, those that were unworthy were damned, and those that were neither got to try and survive the long dark. This is most popular among the Catholics and some of the other pre-Dark religions that have managed to survive. Ragnarok: Evidently the gods of ancient Earth decided to have a war and everyone was invited.  It's a good yarn about Loki, Thor, Odin, Heimdall, a serpent that wraps itself around the Earth, giants and a three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell.  They say that Loki had a legion of demons that came down from the heavens where they lived in Asgard and started attacking the humans of earth.  The demons wielded strange energies and fought in ways that humans could not defend against.  This one has lasting power as it explains some of the odder creatures of the forest, and, of course, the demons. The Big War: This is the most believable story about the end.  Back then it wasn't about tribes and clans, but nation-states that ruled large chunks of the world and always hungered for more.  As with any finite resource, when there isn't enough to go around, then troubles arise.  Nobody really knows what caused the final battle, but the old world nations went at it using everything they had or could dream up.  They say the tech hunting Demons are a by-product of this war.  Creations designed by humans to seek out their enemies even after the creators were dead.  Now, even though the war is long over, they continue to follow their creator's orders. Toxic Earth: Supposedly humans on old Earth weren't big on living with nature and saw it as a resource for exploitation and control, rather than management and preservation.  Eventually the system became destabilized and Mother Nature struck back.  It is hotly debated whether this reaction was a natural process, or a supernatural one. If you have ever seen a toxic wasteland, you know how easy it is to believe in this one.  The thing here is that the Earth seems to be able to survive just fine, given time.  It's us poor humans who have the difficulty surviving. Moonstrike: They say that once upon a time the Earth had two moons and one fell from the sky as a fiery ball.  The resulting collision destroyed much of the world and what was left wasn't too pleasant.  This story frequently gets combined with the Rapture.  That way an angry god gets to hurl it at the Earth as a punishment for mankind's sins.  People don't seem to like to believe in random events.  It's easier to believe that some agency was at work for some hidden purpose than random chance decided today was the day you would die. I will come back and explain these in more detail when I have time.  Each has its strengths and pitfalls and the exact nature of each changes depending on the local interpretations of the stories and how strong religion has taken root in a group.  At Homestead, for instance, the religions are represented, but few people are strong believers, and even then, only the Healers are what one might call "devout."  Other places might combine two or more of these religious groupings into a single whole, or even have their own unique set of beliefs.  People were isolated from one another for so long that groups found their own paths.  Every year brings a new discovery of a tribe, enemy or trading partner and with it comes news about the outside world.  It's a world of surprises, some more deadly than others.

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