The advanced society of the twenty-first century died a painful death--and the killer's name was Yellow Mike. In January 2045, this strange viral agent made its presence known almost simultaneously in several of the world's largest cities. As doctors watched helplessly, Yellow Mike corrupted the DNA of its victims. In the early stages, subtle endocrine changes resulted in thought disorders and paranoia. In the later stages, the pain of tumors, dermatological conditions and digestive problems seemed to defy treatment by even the most advanced painkillers. Yellow Mike was not 100% fatal--but no one ever fully recovered from its effects. Rather, the fortunate few who did survive were permanently altered at the genetic level.
Within days of the first reported death, the Internet was abuzz with promises of immunizations and cures. To feed the insatiable demand for any shred of hope, dimensional transporters operated at capacity and pharmaceutical couriers from all over the world raced to deliver "miracle drugs" to communities willing to pay anything. Some of these treatments were mere placebos--but many were legitimate experimental agents, the goal of which was to modify a subject's DNA, before Yellow Mike got the chance. There was no time for testing--but there were plenty of willing test subjects, and the world's governments were powerless to control the massive flow of new drugs. Entire communities inoculated themselves with various experimental gene-altering agents. Sometimes, the effects were almost as bad as Yellow Mike. Sometimes they weren't--but few of the agents proved effective as Yellow Mike continued to spread.
Some communities and families chose another option, draining their savings to build airtight, underground shelters, some capable of sustaining life for more than a century. Still others opted for cryogenic stasis, hoping to awaken in a world where Yellow Mike was a distant memory.
For those outside the shelters and sleeper pods, fear covered the dying Earth like a thick stew. Stores, warehouses, and armories were looted and left in shambles by hordes of the desperate and the mad. Military and police forces operated on skeleton crews. Their efforts to maintain order were often valiant--but ultimately futile.
As madness spread through the highest levels of world government, long time enemies exhausted their remaining military forces on suicide assaults. At the direction of paranoid executives, almost every nation bypassed the manual safeguards of their nuclear arsenals. There weren't enough healthy people left to man the silos--and those that remained could not be trusted. On August 15, 2045, the first set of missiles launched and virtually every missile in the world launched in response. Nuclear fire gave way to nuclear winter and the world, as anyone had known it, was gone forever.
For those in the strongest shelters, when communications with the outside world went silent, life became a matter of dismal survival. For generations people lived and died in the shelters, hoping their children or grandchildren might one day watch a sunrise.
Outside, those who had survived both Yellow Mike and the Great Destruction faced yet another horror--a strange new virus commonly believed to be a mutation of Yellow Mike. Unlike its predecessor, however, this new virus did not target the living. Rather, it had the mysterious and terrifying effect of altering and reactivating the central nervous systems of the recently deceased. All around the world, corpses began rising as mindless, flesh-eating zombies, and the burnt ruins of once thriving population centers swarmed with armies of living dead. Nonetheless, in the wilderness, in caves, and in fortress-like compounds, the heartiest human survivors adapted, pressed on, and dug in for the new ice age.
But the legacy of Yellow Mike had just begun to unfold. The first generation of human children born after the Great Destruction immediately showed the effects of genetic corruption. Mutations ranged from the barely perceptible, to the nightmarish, to the incredible--with entire populations often bearing no resemblance to their parents or even to the species homo sapien. Over time, these sons and daughters of Yellow Mike ventured back into the world and made it their own. They stripped the accessible ruins and tore down even the skeletons of mighty skyscrapers for crude building materials. As the sky finally cleared and the earth began to warm, new towns and cities rose from the rubble and a new world was born.
With times so hard, the influence of the divine and the demonic became more tangible. Priests and witches found themselves able to perform miraculous feats, almost at will. At the same time, dabblers experimented with the arcane and found that the new world was rich with magic, blurring the line between the possible and impossible.
But even aside from the magic, this world was not like the old. The monsters and zombies that seemed to lurk in every shadow, the ruthless raiders that seemed to roam every highway, and the prejudice between the new species of humankind seemed to ensure each community's isolation. The relics of the old world could simultaneously make a man a god and a target. They were sought and hoarded by many--shunned and rejected by others.
It is a world of science and magic, of men and monsters, of peace and war, of unspeakable wonders and sudden, violent death. It is a world where a man can as soon become a hero as become a memory.