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PRELUDE

The year is 2132 - the Catastrophe has come and gone. The ice sheets have melted and reshaped the world, half its population erased by famine and disease, the great capitols of civilisation clinging to the coast or disappeared under the waves. The Corporate Wars have changed the balance of power. Humankind lives in a high-tech arrostopia. The wealthy elite are safely locked away in immaculate gated communities, where they enjoy all the marvels of the age, while the indigent masses eke out a cramped existence in a landscape of glittering futurist towers and 21st Century decay. The dominant cultural obsession is the pursuit of reification, attained by one’s induction into a profusion of highly advanced virtual reality games, where any human experience imaginable may be sought.

The most coveted virtual experience among wealthy youth is a fully immersive fantasy realm - A Twist of Fate. Referred to simply as the Fate, it is set in a quasi-mythical antiquity of supernatural forces, where secret societies and city states, magical orders and mystery cults engage in a struggle for power, knowledge and transformation. Players enter the game via an E.S.P. Node, (Enhanced Sensory Processing Node) which synchronizes their brainwave activity using a biomagnetic chip implanted in the hypothalamus and known as an elysian crown. Once this device is operational, waking consciousness is interrupted and the player crosses through the wishing door and into the program, a fully responsive alternate reality, in which the physical laws of our material world no longer hold sway.

This is a realm of dizzying extremes, home to beautiful and bizarre wonders, but also grave danger, as the Fate is open to anyone with access to the network. Initiates must seek the protection and tuition of more experienced players, as they develop the mental strength and agility they will need to survive this new environment. By honing the pathways of their intuition, the seat of all human potential, an able player can acquire amazing abilities - extrasensory perception, levitation, shapeshifting, teleportation, the power to alter the fabric of virtuality.

While engaged, the elysian crown accelerates the speed of a player’s brain synapses 48 times to 4,800 Hertz. This creates a temporal disjunct between real-time and virtual-time. It takes just seven and a half days of continuous play to experience an entire year in virtuality. Thus, a player with twenty years gaming experience has existed for nearly a thousand years in the Fate. They are no longer limited by the morays of conventional thought. They have evolved into any manner of fantastical being and are truly gods of this realm.