Friday, March 10, 2023

Babylon Black: The Story So Far

Babylon is on the brink of annihilation.

Everyone can see it. No one can stop it. The New Gods know that a single misstep will spark a conflagration no one can put out. They pursue their grand designs anyway.

With every act of aggression, the tension ratchets higher. A quarrel at a bar provokes a shooting, a shooting provokes a killing, a killing provokes a high profile assault, and it only gets worse from there. There is no off-ramp to sanity. Everyone knows it, but none of them wants to stop.

How did things get to this point?

Each of the New Gods want to rule the world. None are willing to share power. They will do whatever it takes to seize power. They fear that their rivals will do the same. They believe their only recourse is to be even more ruthless and aggressive in pursuit of their goals. No one faction is powerful enough to defeat all the others. Yet their ideologies are so opposed to each other that a long-term partnership is impossible.

This is the world introduced in the first batch of Babylon tales. The Special Tasks Section was founded to curb the excesses of the New Gods, and to protect the innocent from monsters and cultists. Their real mission was to maintain the delicate balance of power between the New Gods, to keep them so focused on fighting each other that they wouldn’t be able to obliterate humanity.

The whole world is in a state of deadlock. The New Gods know that their rivals will oppose them at every step. The only way to defeat them is to gain more power. Yet any one faction that gains too much power will be destroyed by everyone else. Including the STS. Every faction settles for keeping things the way they are. Hence the state of ennui described in the term Babylon Blues: the recognition that nothing you do will change things for the better, and that the more you try, the more the system will try to destroy you.

Yuri Yamamoto tried anyway, and paid the price.

His team exposed high-level corruption within the government. Everyone already knew the system was corrupt, but his team dragged it all out into the open, and manipulated the New Gods into fighting each other all at once. The Establishment had no choice but to purge its most corrupt elements to keep the peace between everyone.

Then it went one step further and abolished the STS.

Alone and on the run, the former operators of the STS are scattered to the winds. But they were long prepared for this moment. They had cached gear and supplies against the day of reckoning.

The purges created a massive power vacuum. The New Gods and their vassals sought to fill the void. Team Black Watch returns to action, pushing back against their relentless advance. Everything comes to a head when a cosmic horror prowls the waters of Babylon, an entity with the power to consume the entire megacity. Every faction believes its rivals unleashed the monster. No one wants to claim responsibility for it. The only humans the New Gods can trust to put down the monster is Team Black Watch. And that is what Yuri Yamamoto and his team did: paint Babylon red with its blood.

His price for that service was for the New Gods to leave him and his team alone. The New Gods gave their word.

And their words are writ in wind.

No one faction can rule the world. They are too evenly matched. But now, one of them has the power to destroy cities, continents, even the entire world. It can’t win an all-out war. But it can make sure no one else can either. It is now in a position to play kingmaker, and break the deadlock that had plagued Babylon for decades.

Every faction knows this. They know that if they form an alliance with the kingmaker, their rivals will do their utmost to destroy them. But they also know that if their rivals secure that alliance first, they will definitely be destroyed. Thus, all the New Gods are now scrambling to negotiate from a position of strength, and to do that, they must gobble up as much turf and resources as possible.

Every conflict brings everyone closer to the apocalypse. They know it. They won’t stop it. They can’t. They are all running the same game theory calculations. Either they take action and incur heavy losses, or they do nothing and be destroyed. The only way to win this game is not to play—but all seven factions must back off at the same time, and stick to their word. Any defector can be destroyed by any two or three factions that choose to collaborate, and the New Gods do not trust each other enough to coordinate a simultaneous defection from Armageddon.

And thus, what appears to be a choice to the New Gods is no choice at all.

Babylon is filled with monsters and abominations and false gods. There are plenty of occasions for terror and brutality. Yet the most terrifying scenario is this:

The New Gods fear each other too much to back down.

Which brings us, at last, to Babylon Black: a catastrophe as terrible as it is avoidable.

Witness the fall of Babylon on IndieGoGo here!

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