Although often solely blamed for the deterioration of world society, the Ruin of 2613 was but the final nail in a cross erected centuries earlier. Many point to the privatization and subsequent "fire sale" of the United States government as the beginning of the end; others refer to the proliferation of corporate terrorism in the late twenty-second century. The Gaians have cried rape since the Industrial Revolution, and the New Waldensians are quick to name technology itself, and the global computer Matrix in particular, as the culprit. Physical and moral divisiveness was the order of the day prior to the Ruin; the moment of the Ruin itself graced us with a spiritual discord so profound that many of the world's eldest religions are now casualties in its wake...
The world of 2613 presents a bleak synergy of rampant technology and twisted ecology. Continued global warming has forced cities to build ever upward, while at the same time an ongoing struggle rages in the lower reaches to hold the environment at bay. Indeed, the very face of the globe has changed.
The New York Metroplex has been largely reclaimed by the Atlantic, and survives as a demented reflection of pre-Ruin Venice. Its original streets resting several meters below the water's surface, the city has become a riot of interlinking platforms and many-tiered concrete expanses. All are connected by an unintelligible network of spidery bridges and precipitous ramps.
The Vegas Expanse now sits on the western shore of the continent, overlooking both the Pacific Ocean and the Seafloor Metroplex of Los Angeles. Resting on the archipelago known as The Rim (or "Arcology Row" in the slang of the times) are the Silicon Arcologies, the major corporate zaibatsus and combines of the post-Ruin world. These islands of metal represent the single largest concentration of political and economic power in the hemisphere.
Foreign geopolitics have changed as well. The Benelux Exchange, and especially the Amsterdam Core (nicknamed the "Damnation"), continues to attract the decidedly open-minded by proclaiming its slogan - "Enlightenment through chemicals" - through an ingenious campaign of saturation advertising. The Vatican Arcology has relinquished much of its former moral high ground, and has instead begun to concentrate on the development of new and better biosoft applications. The Zurich Metabank stills caters to the underbelly of the nouveau riche (and also serves as a flagrant sponsor of the "Greening of America" Foundation), and the Bordeaux-Barcelona Perimeter remains the haven of the new order's literati.
The benchmarks of cultural and moral acceptance continue to evolve at a frightening rate. The Jury Duty vans, wonderful innovations supported by the Due Process Project and each carrying Twelve Good Men in Black, prowl the cityscapes meting out justice "swift and sure". Club Constitution, a subsidy of the Greening of America Foundation (a reference to dollars, not trees...), has opened its doors in Federal Core. The Club is housed in the former National Archives of the now-defunct USA, and many of that institution's original attractions remain. The US Constitution, for example, rests inside a glass table in the posh Champagne Lounge. It is also rumored that a declared Pax Sanctorum exists within the Club; judging by the larger-than-normal crowd of the Fallen that can usually be found there, this seems likely.
Great polarized UV Domes (commonly termed "Eyes"), installed as protection against heightened radiation levels, dot the landscape. Most are only partially completed, casualties of political graft and fiscal armageddon. Anubis, the drug of choice for the "new generation", has begun to infiltrate even the most far-flung population centers. Hailed as "the New Emotive for a New Generation", it has ushered in a fresh age of hedonism, with junkies of all backgrounds and ages clamoring to score their next "stim".
Finally, a curiosity known as The Replication has been reported (and suspected) in many areas of the world. This phenomenon, which was first reported after the Ruin and is directly related to the mysterious Reality Drains that have appeared in various corners of the decaying Matrix, is causing some extremely esoteric legal problems. For example, it is widely rumored that Arthur Glaston, the high-profile CEO of the Excalibur Corporation, is actually Arthur Pendragon reborn (or rather, given a life his mythical self never had...). The eventual ramifications of such occurrences are a constant topic of speculation among the powerful, and several of the largest zaibatsus and advertising conglomerates are already moving swiftly to capitalize on these strange incarnations ("Hello, Abraham Lincoln here for Ocean Rim Enhancements... if Exoskin 8000 had been around in my day...).
The events and repercussions surrounding the Ruin itself (especially the second Fall) have thrown many of the world's most cherished belief systems into utter chaos, and a wholesale philosophical re-structuring process is currently in full swing. Many faiths that would have been considered heretical before the Ruin are now openly embraced by entire nations. Belief itself has entered a state of dynamic flux, and new discoveries and esoterica continue to tip the balance daily.
The Ruin has become the impetus for more than the obvious philosophical revolution; a cultural revolution is taking place as well. New attitudes toward computers and information systems are sweeping through the global community. Many distrust (with good reason) their hardware, both external (systems) and internal (cybernetic and biosoft enhancements). As a result, paper is enjoying something of a renaissance and antique books have become the rage.
Accompanying this new aversion to technology is an anachronistic Victorianism among the wealthy and the powerful. Sleek crepe frock coats and a fondness for anything hand-crafted are the order of the day, and many individuals have even begun hiring human servants once again. Who can tell where such quirks of interest will eventually lead?
A heightened awareness of the spiritual is another consequence of the Ruin, and more mortals are becoming enlightened every day. Accompanying this new awareness are numerous young belief systems, most of which have grown up over the past few decades in an attempt to explain and comprehend the tremendous changes in reality and perception caused by the Ruin. It is fast becoming a time of new philosophies, new ways of thinking, and fresh methods for approaching ancient truths and problems.
Most of all, the stances and positions of the Fallen should be viewed in this new light. A dramatic role reversal seems to be occurring, with many of the True Fallen aiding humankind and many of the Forlorn hiding from them. After all, the demons have been common visitors in the Matrix since its inception, and they have embraced experience and Free Will since their conscious (they always stress the "choice" in this...) fall from grace millennia ago.
The newly Fallen are not happy in the least with their newfound station in the universe. Only yesterday reveling in the presence of the Light, many now dwell in the dark alleyways and lower tiers of the Sprawl. Most cannot handle the strain imposed by Free Will and are caught between succumbing completely to desire and attempting to eschew both emotion and experience forever. Few have yet had the strength of will to simply accept; and accepting, to lead their fellows out into the Forsaken Earth.