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by Lewis Roberts

In Imperial times, Exage was balkanized between 23 nations and had a population of over 2 billion people. While the nations had no desire to unify, there was little if any enmity. During the Rebellion, the world was the target of several Solomani strikes, which destroyed the Imperial naval base and degraded the starport to a class-C. Further fighting between Imperial and Solomani forces extensively damaged the civilian infrastructure. As Hard Times set in with its ensuing economic damage, the world slowly collapsed. Several of the nations were overthrown by military dictatorships, others simply disintegrated.

By 1130 the world's tech level had fallen to 11. The situation was a mirror of the Imperium in minature: governments retracted to a central safe area and left large amounts of territory uncontrolled. This territory soon became the haven of bandits, raiders and cast offs from society. The arrival of Virus did not do much to change things. It simply added yet another element to the mix. Several more of the nations collapsed under this new strain. Soon the bandits and raiders in the outback were joined by maruading machinery. Sometimes the newly sentient machines would join up with the bandits and other times would eliminate them, only to become a worse scourge.

Today the world has hundreds of fortified city states separated by a vast wasteland. These city states are mostly under the control of warlords. While the world has over a billion people, there is little if any economic power, since the populace is divided. No one nation has the power or economic might to build any large technological projects such as spacecraft, nuclear weapons, or large sophisticated militaries. Instead they rely on scavenged parts from their high-tech past and managed to produce enough new goods to maintain the status quo.

The wastelands are ruled by chaos. The only rules are "might makes right" and "the survival of the fittest". These are roamed by bandit gangs, who demand tolls from passer bys and tribute from small villages. Occasionally one of the gangs, will get big enough to raid one of the city states. When they get lucky they are able to sack one and another bastion of civilization falls. Even more rarely a warlord arrises in the outback and starts a campaign of conquest. King Joceln of Transania began this way.

Virus still lurks in the outback. Encounters with Virus are very rare. Only the smartest and most intelligent forms of Virus have survived until 1200. Either they have learned to live with humans, or have enbarked on very subtle, long term plans.

Anyone who travels the outback is heavily armed, and most ride in well armored and armed vehicles. Rather than purpose built military vehicles, these tend to be modified civilian vehicles. The reasons for traveling the outback vary. Mercenaries travel the outback, helping those who can afford to pay. Caravans travel from city to city, under extremly heavy guard. The city states tend to either execute criminals, or exile them to the outback. While economic for the city states, it does little to improve the outback. Though many of those exiled are political prisoners, who struggled against the oppressive regimes that control the city states. There are also refugees from fallen cities, or outcasts who never were part of a city state, who wander the wilderness. A few isolated villages and towns dot the landscape, they often pay tribute to bandit gangs. There are even those who voluntarily leave the safety of the city states, in order to try to bring order to the chaos of the outback. Others are seeking their fortune, by building something out of nothing.

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