Shadowrun: Dark Ages is set in 1217 AD in Dundee, in the midst of the High Middle Ages, a time of Lord, Ladies, chivalry, nobility, honor, feudalism, illiteracy, oppression, violence and rain (lots of rain).

History proceeded as recorded until the day of King Richard the Firsts coronation in 1189, when the blood-red comet that heralded the return of magic to the world was first seen in the sky. It was visible to the world for 9 days before if faded from sight. The impact of the comet was immediate, although not immediately obvious; magic and worse return to a world ill-prepared to deal with such a momentous change. The appearance of the comet was followed by a terrible period of upheaval and chaos lasting about a decade. The first manifestation of the return of magic was the goblinization of humankind throughout the world (although noone knew that the two were linked), including the newly crowned King of England (who slowly goblinized to an Orc).

In the early years after the comets appearance, those who goblinized or who revealed any hint of magical talent to the world were heavily prejudiced against in many communities across the world and terrible violence often visited upon them. Elves, or mild-affliction Orcs fared best if they could remain hidden, but many could not. Of particular note (although far from unique) were the papal decrees swiftly issued by The Pope Clement III, leader of the Catholic Church (Humanis) declaring both non-humans and mages curse from the devil, to be rooted out and slain wherever they are found. Many of the newly born meta-humans were killed and many more fled their communities into the wilds. Many of those who escaped were forced into a life of crime, and cases of banditry, particularly by Trolls and Orcs, rose sharply . The epidemic of goblinization continued and it became clear that the plague of meta-humans was not going to be stopped. Eventually the outcast meta-humans began forming fledgeling communities (usually as far from humanity as possible) and, in the end the rise of criminality and the growth of these outcast communities would lead to the beginnings of the widespread acceptance of meta-humans in society. In no small part this was driven by merchants and traders, caring only for money and their own safety, hiring meta-human warriors to protect their caravans and ships against their fellow meta-humans bandits!

When Pope Clement was died in 1191 he was succeeded Pope Celestine III who manifested magical ability during his acceptance address to the gathered masses, declaring magic a divine gift from god, sent to help us fight both the scourge of monsters and demons that had begun appearing across the world and the plague of meta-humanity. While this did little to help the plight of meta-humans, it did help make magic widely accepted throughout Europe and England.

Of course, there were plenty of communities throughout the world where old-world traditions (such as the Pagan, Wiccan, Voodoo, American Indian, Aboriginal and African Shamanistic traditions, etc) where the belief in and practice of magic was deeply ingrained in the culture and in these communities the return of magic was embraced far more rapidly than in Europe, Asia and the East. It was from these societies that the first instances of Augmentation arose, as they sought to empower their warriors with the spirits and skills of the new magical beasts and demons that began to occur throughout the world.

This period also included the Third Crusade, in which King Richard fought and died in the mistaken belief that if he could recapture the Holy City from the Muslins, God would forgive him and reverse his curse. His death left the cowardly and base King John on the throne of England.


Shadowrun: Dark Ages NickSchurch