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The Birth of The Deathsports, An Introduction to Darkwind
Korivak
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The Birth of Deathsports
An Introduction to Darkwind

By Matthew A DeBarth

I remember life before the Solar Apocolypse.

I was born in the year 2006, and my childhood was filled with the soft light of a gentle sun. I remember lying on my back in a field of grass, soaking up the afternoon warmth of summer, if you can believe that.

By the time that I was a teenager, we all knew that there was something wrong with the sun. It was brighter and hotter; an angry reddish colour. The winters were warm and wet, the summers hot beyond belief. At first, we blamed global warming, but we were fools to think that we had anything to do with it. We were blameless...and powerless.

And the sun just glared down at us from high above, while we all scurried around and hid from its terrible intensity.

When I was nineteen, the sun finally grew tired of toying with us and really started to show us his fearsome power. It was the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere, which made it was the height of summer in the southern, which meant that they took the full force of the initial onslaught head on.

Almost immediately, the entire communications network broke down. Computers failed, electronics fried, satellites fell out off the sky - but not fast enough. We watched in horror as people died horribly from radiation poisoning all across Australia, Africa and South America, every moment of it dutifully recorded and sent north for us to see in real time. We watched the trees turn brown and the grass turn black. We watched people vomiting and bleeding endlessly from the mouth, and we learned to spot the vacant far-away look of people whose minds had been destroyed by the relentless pounding radiation of the sun. We watched, intimately connected to their suffering, and yet strangely removed by both distance and season.

And then, finally, a blessed silence.

We spent the rest of the winter preparing ourselves for the what we knew was coming. We prayed and partied, we repented and rioted, we connected and clashed. We dug in and gave up.

In the south, it had been so sudden and unexpected that people hardly had time for the worst in them to come out for all to see. We, on the other hand, had months full of hopeless days to use in all the worst possible ways. It was a bad time to be alive. So bad, in fact, that many people simply chose suicide rather than wait to face the end.

And then the sun came for us too.

We didn?t die quickly. We cowered underground while the sun burned everything above us away. Plants, animals, anyone still out in the open - all dead. It was a dark, musty, crowded and miserable summer...but a reasonably safe one.

We waited, and the sun retreated south again for the winter. We emerged from the bunkers and bomb shelters and caves to find a very different world. Hardly anything was left alive on the surface, and the things that had survived looked like they would have been better off dead. It was a ruined, blighted world.

Those few of us that still had hope lost it right there, and most of them didn?t last the winter. A small group of the hopeless held out until spring, but the hint of dry heat on the wind was just too much for them.

The sun had expended most of its wrath by this point, but it still burned brighter and hotter than before. There was enough radiation to slowly wear the survivors down, to make them age faster and die younger of terrible cancers. But we lived on.

In a way, it would have been more merciful to have been killed outright. The world was a barren wasteland of endless sand, rock and empty cities. The air was always hot but rarely brought rain. The solar wind had burned so fiercely that it had carried off a noticeable percentage of Earth?s atmosphere, making it trying to breathe even at sea level. Nothing more advanced than the internal combustion engine or gunpowder worked with any degree of success, and only a few scanty crops would still grow.

The survivors that had gone to ground in that area gathered and found a place where the water wasn?t too polluted and the rain still occasionally fell, and set up a little farming village there. We called it Elmsfield, after the sickly cluster of elms that still clung to life there. Against all odds, we managed to harvest enough grain that fall to supplement the last of our stockpiled food, and we survived what little winter there still was in the world.

The other scattered bands of survivors nearby noticed that we were a little bit better of than they were, and started to show up in town and beg for food. We took in the healthiest and strongest to help with the farming effort, and a small group of us - myself included - lead the rest of them off a shirt distance to the east to start another town that we named Somerset.

Both towns survived that winter, and the next few as well. Those were years of hard work and an uncertain future, and a few ow us began to hope again. We slowly spread out, found other groups of survivors and started feeling a little bit civilized once more.

But then the crops started to grow weaker, and it took more of them to feed the ever increasing number of hungry mouths that came wandering in out of the wasteland. Soon there was only just barely enough to go around, and less with every passing day. It didn?t take long for people to abandon any ideas that they still harboured about rebuilding civilization, or for the naked desire to survive at any cost to show up in people?s eyes.

I?m not sure if any one person came up with the idea, or if it was purely thousands of years of animal instinct whispering into hungry ears, but it was decided that those that didn?t have enough money to buy food would have to fight each other for it. We lived in a land where life was cheap and plentiful stockpiles of cars and guns sat waiting in the decade-old ruins of nearby towns.

The deathsports were born.

The violent, the greedy, and the desperate found cars that still ran and guns that still fired and met in the dry river bed outside of Somerset and raced from one end to the other, blasting away the whole distance.

And we stood along the edge of the old riverbanks and watched them. And, as much as I was ashamed of it at the time, we cheered. We called out for blood and applauded enthusiastically when it was delivered.

And when enough of the racers were dead, we crowned the survivors as champions and made sure that they ate ate well that winter. That was the summer of 2035 - exactly one decade after the terrifying summer when we had all hid underground together. It only took a decade for our little civilization to descend to outright barbarism.

The following year the crop was good...but by that point the deathsports had taken on a life of their own. More people wanted to race, and more people wanted to watch. So we did it all again, bigger and bloodier than the first time, and at the end so many racers were dead that all we eat like kings all winter long. And everyone understood, even if no one would come right out and say it - the faster we killed ourselves off, the longer the lucky few would live, and the richer they would all be. And everyone thought that they would be one of the lucky ones, right up until their last desperate gasping breath.

Suddenly, we had an entire economy based on death, polished up with a thin coat of sport. We used up every working car within ten miles in our third season, and some clever people went out salvaging for more in the empty cities - and did quite well for themselves by it. After five years, we had a vast trade network, and the tools of death travelled farther than the grain of life ever had. We started the old oil wells back up and clear the radioactive dust out of old factories and started making new cars and guns and tires. We even built new and terrible weapons that were specifically hardened against the background radiation - progress, after a fashion.

By the tenth season, we were so pleased with our vast empire of vehicular murder that we started to spread out. New tracks were built, new towns started hosting leagues, and we killed more young deathracers than ever before.

And we all cheered louder than ever for our blood-stained champions.

I eventually grew too old to farm, and at the beginning of the summer that I turned forty, I took up a new line of work. When I was young, I?d been interested in history, and that interest had lived on in me even as the end of history came and went. I had a reasonably clever wit and some slight skill with words in the days before the sun struck us down, but there had been others that were better at both than I. But I did have one major advantage over the historians and writers of the past - I was still alive, and they had all given up and died long ago.

And so I ended up in my current line of work, and business is good. I am the wiseman of the wastelands, the devotee of the dead champions, the high priest of the high-speed wreck. If you live long enough and die gloriously enough, I might even tell your story long after you?re gone.

I am Markus Korivak, and I am the Voice of Deathracing.
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vet

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 2:32 am Last edited Mar 5, 2007, 6:04 pm by *sam*
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There you go, my humble attempt to put the story of Darkwind into words.

If people like this (especially Sam), I could work on some more like this one.
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vet

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 2:35 am
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Wow! :p

That's very well written, and does a really good job of fleshing out some of the detail! It also makes a decent attempt at explaining the reason that deathracing could exist in such a situation..

I'm wondering where is the best place to put it on the site? I guess the Game Info section could have a new sebmenu along with History and Geography.. called "Tales" or "Stories" something..?

What would also be really cool would be a Chronicles version of this.

thanks again, I love it :)
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marshal vet deathrce1 paintladder combat1 wv ped1 cont slay2013

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 9:06 am
*sam*
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Actually something Jim pointed out to me: it's amazing what varied talents have come together in such a small bunch of players!
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marshal vet deathrce1 paintladder combat1 wv ped1 cont slay2013

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 9:09 am
Korivak
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I'm glad that you enjoy it.

I'm curious - how much of the backstory of the game is set in stone and how much is open to a little bit of spin? I made a strong effort to stay as loyal as possible to the official history in this short, but I'd like to know how far I can run with any ideas that look promising but slightly break your own pieces of flavour text.

One of the things that I'd like to do, for example, is move the timeline forward a bit. The pacing of the story works very nicely, but the end of the short happens at the start of the twelfth deathracing season, or 2046. That's also twenty-one years after the Solar Apocalypse, which means that all the 21 and under racers looking for gangs in the tavern would be the first racers to never know the world before the end of the world - a good point to start telling the story, in the humble opinion of this modest storyteller. It's also the year that Gateway Truck Stop is founded, which is the last event listed on the official timeline before the largish thirteen year gap until the game starts.

In fact, I'd go one farther still - I'd have the first two batches of four test races be the original 2035 season, and then each of the next twi full seasons be the second and third, with the one that we are racing right now being the '38 season - the fourth season. We've only got a few people racing on a few tracks in Somersetat the moment anyway, so it still fits the official history (well, the tracks show up a few years too early, but other than that...), and makes more sense than having the 1959 league be an almost non-event despite the fact that it would actually be the big twenty-fifth anniversary of the deathsports.

That would also make the current testers the pioneering deathracers (go us!), and make the in-game spread of the leagues roughly match the future release of new tracks as we get closer to the final release.

And, best of all, like all my suggestions so far, all it involves is changing text strings and variables, rather than code. I'd have to also slightly tweak my own account of history a little bit, but it's just a proofed first draft - I didn't want to spend too long on my initial pitch for being the writer for Darkwind in case you weren't interested.
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vet

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 4:18 pm
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I wouldn't consider the backstory I wrote to be set in stone. It was a fairly rushed thing, written mostly while attending boring meetings at work ;)

.. although I did quite like the 'solar apocalypse' idea.. not as old-fashioned as nuclear war and not as 'obvious' and cliched as human-caused environmental disaster..

Yes, I also had some doubts about the big gap between the bulk of the history and the start of the deathsports (in particular, it doesn't fit with your very nice explanation of how deathsports evolved in the first place). We could easily change the leagues and current year to fix that, as you suggest.
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marshal vet deathrce1 paintladder combat1 wv ped1 cont slay2013

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 6:49 pm Last edited Dec 23, 2006, 6:50 pm by sam
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Good to know I'm not stepping on any toes in my storytelling. Since I'm not spend my time coding (which you're doing quite well!), I have more time and attention to spend on dreaming up the little details in the story that you've quickly roughed out. That, and I'm on extended holidays, and I tend to get a little desperate for projects to invest myself in when I'm not working.

The solar apocalypse idea is awesome. It reminds me vaguely of The Songs of Distant Earth, which is probably my favourite end-of-the-world story. Casting the sun as the antagonist makes for the very best kind of futility plot, because honestly, how are you going to stop the freaking sun?
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vet

Posted Dec 23, 2006, 7:24 pm
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Sorry you didn't contact me, before releasing the story Korivak...
I stated in Chronicles issue #2 (not the Newspaper edition, the regular one), the environmental breakdown happened on July in the Northern hemispher: summer time.

It is likely that such event would cause raise of see sea level and certainly earthquakes and volcanoes activity... This is mainly needed to explain "evan" is a new shaped continent and is not tied to current geography.
I came to the idea that local charted part of Evan could be named "Frem territory". "Frem" being a shortcut of "Freemen" (singular "fram": freeman).
We limit knowledge of the world to the current map, so be sure not to expand the story out of the bounds. Unkown areas are reserved for game development. ;)

There was a point in which each town would be independent (as in ancient Greece and Italy (before rise of Rome)) and should be considered as a single nation.
It may help at some point to do not get towns too much connected togeher and rather standalone.

That is. Merry Christmas to you.
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vet cont zom slay2013 marshal wv

Posted Dec 24, 2006, 6:56 am
Korivak
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Looks like all three of us need to sit down some day (after the holidays, of course) and spends some time working out a unified official storyline. I've got some interesting ideas, and I'm sure you both have some too. We need to listen to all the different ideas, figure out what works best and put it all together in one official outline that we can all work from (flavour text, comics and gameplay).

As I said before, this short is just a pitch - a little piece I put together to see if I had anything to say about this universe, if I wanted to get seriously into this project, and if Sam liked what I had to say and the way I said it enough to add me to the team. All three seem to be the case, so now I'm getting serious, and the first step in working in a collaborative universe is collaboration.

I've got an awesome idea for the origin of Evan (or at least I think it's awesome...), but it's pretty sweeping, so I didn't want to go ahead with it without pitching it to Sam and seeing what he thought first. I'll write up a brief outline over the holidays.

Also, would it be possible to add a dev forum so we have somewhere to work this kind of stuff out? The RP forum's getting a bit crowded with it...
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vet

Posted Dec 24, 2006, 4:20 pm
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read the whole thing and i liked it, the solar apocalypse ties in with something like this (Woo nerd time! :D)...What you explained would show that the sun had either a) a massive chemical (more like kinda like dumping gas into a bon fire) boost, or a crap load of solar flares<<(im betting that + other things = wow(another thing, what would have happend to the other planets? :O))
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marshal vet

Posted Dec 25, 2006, 6:32 am
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comp: take a look at the game History page (its very first sentence in fact), the solar apocalypse is explained there. The earth's magnetosphere failed temporarily, so the other planets wouldn't be affected.
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marshal vet deathrce1 paintladder combat1 wv ped1 cont slay2013

Posted Dec 25, 2006, 11:12 am Last edited Dec 25, 2006, 11:13 am by sam
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that makes sense :o, ya so in short, part of the atmosphere (or magnetosphere in this case i guess) just got screwed over and let the radiation shine! :D (also i read something a year or two ago, and it said in about 10 years, the earths magnetic poles will flip, so south will be north, and north will be south (think how it'll affect our navigation systems!))
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marshal vet

Posted Dec 27, 2006, 7:05 am
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Yeah, the magnetosphere is something that deflects the solar winds past us, I believe..
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Posted Dec 27, 2006, 11:26 am
Korivak
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That's exactly what the magnetosphere does, and it's a good thing that it does, or else we'd all die horribly from radiation poisoning.  It also makes compasses point toward Northern Canada.

The other planets would be unaffected by the failure of Earth's magnetic protection, but since Earth is the only inner planet with enough magnetic field to withstand the solar wind, the point is kind of moot - the other inner planets are slowly losing (or, in Mercury's case, have already lost) their atmospheres and are likely already ticking hot with radiation.

Here's the quick background reading I did before writing up my short:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_poisoning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphere
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vet

Posted Dec 27, 2006, 4:18 pm Last edited Dec 27, 2006, 4:19 pm by Korivak
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