Sci-fi / Thriller
This is not an 'action hero' campaign. These are 100-point characters (max 40 points in Disadvantages) living somewhere on Earth in 2020, doing some sort of work.
The strange global events have motivated you to take action - this could be Sense of Duty (Humanity), Obsession, or something else, it's up to you.
- You can speak English, even if it's your second or third language.
- You are Internet-proficient (Skill: Computer Operation, and optionally Research, Computer Programming, Computer Hacking)
- You can walk and talk
Setting & Background
It's summer 2020, and the world is changing. Fast.
It all started back in 2017 when the comet arrived. For two long nights at the celestial equinox, the sky was aflame in a rainbow of colors as the object's outer layers vaporized, creating a sparkling cascade of microscopic particles that rained down upon every square inch of the planet.
Authorities asserted that the particles were benign, despite being mildly radioactive. Two scientists, one in Germany and one in Australia, independently claimed the particles were a clusters of virus-RNA. Both scientists were quickly fired and broadly ridiculed.
Over the next year, remarkable changes occurred across the globe. Religious conversions skyrocketed, altering the power structures and communication patterns of communities worldwide. Regional armed conflicts largely subsided, through simple cessation of violence, if not active peace negotiations. Three adjoining countries in the Middle East entered into negotiations to redraw their mutual borders.
It was the second year after the comet that global deaths outpaced births. In the first six months of 2018, most terminal cancer patients died. During the same time, new cancer diagnoses plummeted. Likewise for dialysis, heart disease, and dementia patients.
In 2019, the power and reach of the United Nations was expanded considerably, and unanimously. Every country on Earth (except the US, Russia, Israel, and China) ceded their authority to deploy conventional military forces. As just one example of industries being nationalized worldwide, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and seven other publicly traded "space companies" were voluntarily nationalized as new departments within NASA. Billions of investor dollars evaporated in the exchange, with virtually no objections.
In the first few months of 2020, seven countries in the Middle East joined to become one. The African Union was given control of currency, infrastructure, civil affairs, and resource extraction for the whole continent. Population loss continued as the elderly, chronically ill, and disabled died at shocking rates. Suicides/month spiked 1200% worldwide as the chronically depressed chose their exits. Pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies went bankrupt or pivoted to other industries as demand for their products plummeted. So-called "nutraceutical" sales have surged, largely from the sale of vitamin-enriched meal replacements.
Living through perhaps the most radical transformation in human society in all of history has of course been profound, intense, surreal.
The phenomenon most bizarre to you, however, is how seemingly normal everyone in your orbit, and the public generally, is acting. When a nursing home facility in London with 2000 beds lost every single patient in a week, it was a page 10 news. Global population drop is a footnote in a sociological journal.
But then things got even stranger.
You were at a dinner party, or in a work meeting, or riding the subway to the office, watching TV with your family, or picking up the mail. You were engaged in a mundane activity, when suddenly, every other person visible to you froze in place, mid-motion, mid-sentence. It lasted maybe two seconds.
You may kept the experience to yourself, or you may have made a remark at the time -- and nobody else seemed to experience the Pause, or know what you're talking about. You wondered, Am I going crazy?
So you took to the internet. After days of sleuthing, you identified about a dozen other reports of the Pause. Problem was, there was no followup, no discussion, and the people posting never posted again. Just as you were about to give up, you received an invite to a private Signal chat group.
Signal, the encrypted communications app, had recently been outlawed worldwide, but a few rogue operators were still running message relay servers.
The organizer of the group is Dr. Noah Grinspoon, a molecular biologist and AI researcher in Australia. He claims that the whole of humanity (present company excluded) is under some sort of mind control. Concerned that the world government would soon crack Signal's strong encryption, he has advised that you meet in person, in Amsterdam, and examine the evidence he has collected.