Friday, January 17, 2014

Cataclysm and Descension - The NOVA Open Narrative Story (from the Jan 15 Newsletter)

For those who don't know, the NOVA Narratiave represents our own player-driven, unique background universe built in which to host epic games of Warhammer 40K (and in the future, other game systems) with a very NOVA and Washington, DC flair to them. It is within these games that players over the past few years have battled around fully-lit replicas of DC's iconic monuments. The scope and drama expands dramatically in 2014.

For full information on the Narrative gaming opportunities available for the entire weekend, including a primary 7-game weekend-long track and an evening track that allows participation in the GT as well, read our Narrative Primer:

The following was written collaboratively by the NOVA Open Narrative Team, driven and guided by the events following the actual player activities in the 2012 and 2013 Narrative events.

Story Background
Further background for the NOVA Open Narrative Universe will be unveiled over the coming months. The emerging saga will familiarize you with the world into which you and your 40K miniatures will be warring. The story will provide the backgrounds of both Humanity and the Virtue, update you on how things went in 2013, and let you explore what the characters and factions involved have been up to since.

First Contact
In the year 2212 everything changed. After a century of escalating strife culminating in the Nuclear War of 2194, the human race stepped back from the brink. For the first time in history, the millennia-old dreams of scholars, tyrants, and preachers became a reality when the empires of Earth agreed to set aside their differences and at last form a united world government under the newly reborn banner of the United Nations. With unity came a resumption of research into advanced technologies, a renewed interest in exploration, and a profound sense of hope for the future. All of this came to a screeching halt in August 2212.

The invasion from the stars came without warning, just as humanity once again began looking out at them. Thousands of alien craft struck as if from thin air, landing amidst population centers around the world. Casualties were immense, and the slaughter was indiscriminate. Men, women, and children died in their millions before even the first hint of military reaction could be enacted.

Only through the heroic efforts of a group of military commanders defending the old city of Washington, DC was the attack stalled. Then, without warning, the invaders suddenly and inexplicably ended leaving a handful of extraterrestrial captives, some abandoned technology, and a planet reeling from the knowledge that we are not alone.

The Virtue
Humanity learned that the captive aliens called themselves the Virtue. The human interrogators were astounded to find that every last one spoke every language and dialect of the human race. They explained as if explaining gravity – they’d studied these languages for a hundred Earth years. It was standard procedure, they said, for all soldiers to spend time in transit learning the languages of the species they would encounter.

A human century before the invasion, the Virtue fleet detected radio transmissions from Earth while traversing the cosmos. Their reason for redirecting to Earth, and the reason for their attack came as a shock: in their eyes, humans were an evil in need of destruction. Signals intercepted in deep space showed a complex human society on its way to technological advancement. Virtue scholars saw a species dedicated to war and violence and willing to expend nuclear armaments on its own ecosphere. Peace and communication were never options – across the length and breadth of the known galaxy, these beings aggressively pursued a single-minded set of protocols.

The Virtue operated under a near fanatical code: seek out nascent sentient species and assess their potential benefit and threat to interstellar order. Peaceful species were to be welcomed into the Virtue collective while violent species were to be annihilated mercilessly lest they rise to threaten the balance of power. As far as the Virtue were concerned, there was no middle ground.

How could they attack the newly unified and peaceful people of planet Earth? The question was asked of each of these captives. They did not know; their role was not to make such a decision. Their species, however, could not do wrong. They explained to their interrogators – for innumerable thousands of years, their culture was driven by an all-encompassing requirement to uphold fundamental virtues and morals. So long had they practiced these, their very nature evolved to incorporate it into their instinctive genetic blueprint. Virtuous and right behavior was as unavoidable and natural to them as breathing. If they were ordered to attack humanity, then to them by rule humanity must be evil. These captives represented soldiers most deeply embroiled in combat at the time of departure. They had no answer for why their comrades would leave them.

The UN spent the next century turning almost every effort towards preparing for the inevitable return of the Virtue. Salvaged alien technology enabled heretofore unseen technological advancement on Earth. Years of interaction with the Virtue Captives enabled the training of a cadre of diplomats hopeful to secure peace with the Virtue. Secretly, the UN Military prepared a vast network of space- and Earth-based defenses and shields in case diplomacy failed.

In 2312, one hundred years to the day, the Virtue fleet returned to the solar system. The Virtue ships approached without firing a shot, buoying hopes that peace was at last at hand. They did not appear to even notice the numerous space-based defensive platforms riddling the system. Then, just as before, the Virtue launched a renewed assault the moment they reached low orbit, now bent on the total destruction of Humanity no matter the costs. But after a hundred years of preparation, the people of Earth were ready.

The ensuing battles lasted only a few days, but the losses were horrific on both sides. The Human defense fleets wreaked immediate havoc on the Virtue fleet. The aliens had never anticipated such dramatic steps could be taken in what seemed to them an incredibly short span of time. Though many millions of Virtue soldiers were successfully deployed planetside, the surviving portions of the Virtue fleet were forced to withdraw to the edges of the Solar System. On the ground, however, the Virtue outfought Humanity at every turn. The situation looked grim for Humanity, but in the final hours, the Virtue resolve faltered. They encountered their comrades who had spent the last hundred years living on Earth. Some commanders began to doubt the conviction of their mission of death, began to doubt the purported evil of Humanity; in fact, began to feel doubt for the first time in their long lives.

It was in this moment the Virtue supreme commander made a decision that would forever alter the destinies of both races. Riddled by self-doubt – an inimical and foreign emotion to a member of the Virtue - and foreseeing the rise of a vengeful Humanity made lethal by the very technology they’d gained through battle, he committed an act totally at odds with the nature of his race. He aimed the prow of his immense flagship directly at Earth, closed his eyes, and quietly ignited the vessel’s primary antimatter stardrives. The ensuing cataclysm would change the fate of Humanity forever.

When the 2 mile-long battlecruiser impacted just north of the Himalayas in the southwestern reaches of the former Chinese Empire, the subsequent explosion carried with it the force of a million nuclear detonations. The shockwave leveled most of the major population centers in East and South Asia within minutes. The expanding firestorm engulfed vast areas of Eurasia and Africa. Billions died within the day.

It grew worse. The debris, ash, and smoke ravaged Earth’s atmosphere. The whole world was plunged into twilight as clouds encircled the globe and threatened the survivors with famine, fallout, and frost.

But all was not lost.

In the hundred years of preparation since the First Virtue War, the UN quietly researched and installed a network of energy shields around many of the world’s major cities and population centers designed to withstand Armageddon. The Crash happened so quickly that many cities did not activate them in time. Yet enough did; Humanity endured. Many of Earth’s major population centers outside the immediate impact zone were spared the utter devastation dealt outside the shields.

Earth’s survivors immediately launched into action to save the future of Humanity, scrambling to set up food reserves and hydroponic cultivation, and engaging the remaining Virtue forces marooned by their commander. It has been a long, bitter struggle to survive.

It is now seven years since The Crash; humanity has finally accepted the possibility that our island home may be mortally wounded. The UN has embarked on a crash program to scour every piece of virtue technology left on Earth and throughout the Solar System for any means that will aid Humanity’s survival. To secure Humanity’s survival, the UN High Command is in need of generals and field commanders to defend Earth’s cities against the remnant Virtue forces and strike out into the Solar System in search of a new hope. Though many volunteer of a desire to save Humanity, still more are fueled only by a descent into hatred and revenge.

Having lost their commander, surviving Virtue are in complete disarray. Victory, albeit hard won, had seemed within their grasp. Defeat came hard on the heels of the creeping self-doubt that began to plague their soldiery before The Crash. Now the Earth is nearly destroyed and the Virtue forces are divided between those marooned on Earth and those in space. Some soldiers eke out survival amidst the hulks of ships destroyed by human defenses. Those starships still functioning are regrouping among the outer planets, abandoning their brethren.

These are troubled times for the now-dissolute Virtue invasion force. From the chaos following the cataclysm on Earth, a new council of fleet commanders has risen to unite the fractured Virtue forces. They face internal strife and a near-unanimous fear to send a message of failure back Home. Their ultimate goals are undecided, but with their original mission in shambles and faith in their code shaken to the core, they must forge a new direction or descend into madness.

Join the Narrative Team and returning players for the 2014 event! Registration opens Feb 1, and spots are restricted for each Faction, while spots for the full-weekend Warlords track are limited this year!

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