A Brief History of Gilon
The Gaxx were a fearsome race which dominated the galaxy some 3000 years ago, though what became of them has been lost to history. Their only legacy now is a small forgotten prison planet called Gilon. Gilon was created by the Gaxx to hold the few war prisoners that they could not simply kill or enslave. The planet itself is an immense ring-shaped space station with natural features which mimic those of a natural planet. Due to its ring shape, certain accepted notions of planets are slightly different. The key one being directions. Magnetic north is whatever direction points away from the center, while south is towards the center. East and west move clockwise and counter clockwise around the ring respectively. Day and night are controlled by computer systems which project a realistic sun, moon and stars upon the ceiling. Those who had never seen the real thing, would never know the difference.
Originally the planet was created with a wide range of potential prisoners in mind. They were to be separated by natural barriers such as mountains and oceans with various subtle defenses put into place to take into the account the various abilities of those who would be imprisoned within. Still, it was meant to be a place where prisoners could be left unsupervised so that the Gaxx would not need to leave any precious soldiers behind to guard the prison.
The range of creatures left on the planet is amazing. Ancient dragons, powerful magical liches, elves, dwarves, and humans were captured. Just about every race imaginable was placed on the planet. While each creature found a niche to survive in, it was the humans who truly thrived and spread across the world.
The early years were harsh. Factions became towns which became cities, kingdoms and empires. Wars broke out among the prisoners though no one truly gained an upper hand. Eventually the Gaxx, for whatever reason, stopped sending prisoners. The knowledge of technology was lost, and before long even the oldest elves no longer remembered that the world they now called home was in fact a prison.
After a thousand years, several powerful liches rose to power and fought amongst each other, wielding powerful magic. Magic spread across the land and it was used to make daily lives easier. It was also used as a weapon of war. This was the time of the Great Mage wars. Great creatures were created for battle and huge civilizations were wiped out in days. Eventually the lich lords defeated each other until one last one was all that remained. His name was Ankev and he sought to put all others under his undead power. The elves of Llayath rose to oppose him and while they were unable to kill him, they were able to defeat him and seal him away for a thousand years.
The next thousand years were relatively peaceful. The different races and factions were content to stay in their own areas. Slowly however, ship building became more advanced, and the oceans which once separated the many groups were no longer an obstacle. It was not long before the various countries were trading freely with one another on massive merchant ships. This was the golden age of piracy. A good ship could now get you almost anywhere in the world and a good crew could get you all the riches you could ever steal. Still, after over 2000 years, the various races were still only a shadow of what they once were technologically. Of course, magic thrived among most races, so there was little reason to advance. Magic could take care of most of the problems of daily life after all.
There was one place that those ships could not reach however; a single landmass which was completely isolated from all others. This land mass was surrounded by treacherous waters, far too dangerous to sail through. The inhabitants, who called themselves Victorians, knew nothing of the outside world. They were also completely incapable of magic. This of course forced them to innovate. They created gunpowder and steam-powered vehicles. Life was good in their lands, but they wanted to see more. So they created airships; great steam powered boats which could float through the air as a ship through water. Some were held aloft by propeller, others by gas, but neither had the range required to reach other lands. It wasn’t until they discovered the properties of liftwood that long range airships became a reality.
The Victorians sent their massive airships to other lands and were shocked by what they found. To them, the world was filled with barbarians who worshipped evil gods that gave them terrible powers. The Victorians could never use magic as they were highly resistant to it, so they believed that all who did use such powers should be eliminated. So they began a war of conquest, destroying all centers of magic they could find.
The rest of Gilon was taken completely by surprise. The greatest advancement in weaponry among the rest of the world was a bigger sword and they simply could not stand up against firearms. While most of the world relied on magic, few wielded it effectively, relying on priests or studied mages to do all of the work for them. A few mages did stand up against the Victorians, but were simply outnumbered. It seemed as though the end of magic on Gilon was nigh.
That was until a trick of fate which changed everything. Tomb robbers who were completely unaware of the coming Victorians were plundering an ancient vault, equally unaware of what lay resting within. When they bypassed the various security measures put into place a thousand years prior, they managed to break into the final resting place of the lich lord, Ankev. Free of his bindings, Ankev wasted no time returning himself to power. In a fantastic battle, the lich lord turned back a couple of approaching Victorian warships, and secured his place in the magical capital of Moonshade. Thus began the Great Magitech War.
Moonshade became a center of rebellion against the invading Victorians. Ankev’s undead hordes marched across the land, fighting the Victorians to a standstill. The initial push was a shock to the Victorians, who had had little meaningful resistance up until that point. Ankev might have defeated them completely, but he was about as much feared by the rest of the people of Gilon as the Victorians were. The great dwarven clans allied with the Victorians, respecting their mechanical ingenuity. Elves, surprisingly, joined their ancient enemy Ankev as they saw the Victorians as a greater threat to their way of life. The other races joined both sides, or attempted to avoid the war altogether.
It was a war the likes of which Gilon had never known and it lasted for many years. In the end, neither side could truly defeat the other. An uneasy truce was made. It was not exactly peace, but it wasn’t war. It was a thousand year long cold war with each side spying on the other and fearing an attack that would never come. Still, life thrived and moved on.
The Victorians guarded their technology jealously at first, but it was only a matter of time before other races began to learn of it and create their own. The dwarves were the closest to the Victorians and so were the first to create their own steam engines and inventions. Gnomes were also pretty quick to pick up on the Victorians’ inventions. Before long all races were experimenting with Victorian technology. The Victorians were of course not happy about it, but there was little they could do but attempt to stay ahead of the other races.
Great train lines were created which stretched across continents. Trade was easier than ever. Life prospered. Airships moved goods across the waters. It seemed as though there was nothing that technology could not accomplish. Some of those who had a mastery of magic attempted to fuse magic with machinery, but such attempts ended in disaster. Magic after all used the forces of nature to create effects and machines were about as far from nature as possible. Also, since magic required specialized training to use, while anyone could use the average technological gizmo, people grew less dependent on magic. Soon, only those who wished to study magic truly bothered to use it anymore. The Victorians had managed to just about eradicate magic as they had initially planned, though completely unintentionally.
Eventually the steam engine gave way to the gas engine and electricity. Cities grew and spread out. Technology, which was once a novelty, was now an essential part of daily life. People could travel anywhere in the world, including the great underwater kingdoms of the merfolk. Commerce became the new law and corporations were the new kings. The internet only further strengthened the powers of those corporations to the point where corporate land was no longer effectively recognized as an independent country, but officially. The internet evolved into what is now called the matrix; an immersive digital world where users can wirelessly connect almost anywhere in the world and navigate through files as easily as opening a book which always opens to the exact page you want it to be on.
Corporations began to wage silent wars against each other. They would send spies and mercenaries to sabotage or steal from each other. Money was power, and the largest corporations had the greatest amount of power. They wanted to keep that power too. This constant war of sabotage and one-upmanship led to many advances in technology and eventually the space race began.
In 2970, the first spacecraft was created by Icarus Aeronautics, a megacorporation based in Dunador. It was called the Discovery. The media hype was enormous. The human crew’s faces were everywhere. They were instant celebrities. Then came the launch date.
It was a clear summer day and all systems had been checked and rechecked for the voyage. Nothing could go wrong. Everyone watched their television screens to see the first astronauts launch into space. The launch went off without a hitch. It seemed as though it would be a perfect launch. Then tragedy struck. No one had ever flown an aircraft so high before and so no one knew that they were sending the ship on a collision course with the outer hull of Gilon. The ship erupted into flames, scorching the display panel and leaving a black mark in the sky which remains to this day.
The world as people knew it had changed in an instant. The world they had called home was now known for what it was: a space station. People panicked and riots ensued. No one knew how extensively the Discovery had damaged the hull. Was there a hole? Would the air that they breathed leak out into space and slowly suffocate them all? Several companies worked on craft capable of getting close enough to the crash site to examine it and repair any serious damage. Luckily the damage was only cosmetic. Tests revealed no leaking air, though no one had the knowhow required to properly repair the display screen. Still, by that time, it was too late. Many neighborhoods had been ravaged by looters and became havens for bandits and gangs. The various governments and corporations decided to cut their losses and shore up their defenses where the looting had not been so drastic. The world became split into areas of great wealth and great poverty.
The year is now 3010. The world is relatively calm, and the corporations have resumed their silent war on each other. It is the age of the Shadowrunner, a type of mercenary that specializes in missions for those who wish to have something done quietly and, more importantly, discretely. They are expendable weapons to be used without liability to those who hire them. Such mercenaries vary in abilities. Some are cyber powered knights, who wield gun and blade with deadly efficiency. Others are powerful sorcerers, wielding ancient magic to slip past or destroy all that gets between them and their targets. Some go more sneaky methods, mastering the matrix and using their computer decks to bypass top security measures. Whatever their skill, there is a place for anyone willing to bend the law for a quick buck.