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"In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagined past."
- – Alan Moore's Watchmen
After the end of the communist regimes and the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991 ended almost half a century of Cold War. The ideological, political and economical clashes between different ideologies that had had its apex during World War II had finally ended or gone underground depending who you ask.
Due to the entirety of this era being in the recent memory of our editors (as of the year 2020), how increasingly polarizing the events have become and the obvious fact that it hasn't ended yet (not to mention how discussion of what's gone on so far is all but certain to cause much shitflinging), we'll skip the overview of the events so far and jump straight into how you can use the Post-Cold War Era in your setting. What's the state of the world now? Well... that is something we will leave to future historians.
"We're living in the age of cellphone cameras. Fuckups ain't tolerated!"
- – Smiling Jack, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
The mass popularity of cellphones has made it increasingly difficult to write a plot that cuts characters off from the outside world. This has forced such plots to be moved further and further from civilization (which fights an uphill battle with ever increasing coverage), into massive disasters where cellphone coverage is disrupted and help won’t be coming anyways, or just straight up fiating in supernatural disruption of communications.
The rise of mass CCTV and cellphone cameras of increasingly high quality and the ability to post the works taken with them on social media has made it increasingly implausible to keep a Masquerade going. The original World of Darkness just ends dramaticly in 2004, the year before YouTube launched. The MCB of Monster Hunter International has all the resources of most of the worlds governments working together to censor the supernatural, but even then those in charge consider exposure an inevitability. Pretty much any conspiracy will be an open-secret, although it might still be popularly viewed as a conspiracy theory. Paradoxically, in an era of limitless access to knowledge, what knowledge the individual chooses to subscribe to has itself become factionalized.
Impact on /tg/
/tg/ is, traditionally, a very low tech hobby. Despite this, it still has managed to incorporate some of the new technologies of the era.
One big thing is the rise of e-books. Rather than have a big stack of massive heavy books, you can keep all your book on a small, handy, e-reader. One particular advantage of an electronic book is that the contents can be searched through to quickly get answers to rule questions. The low cost of electronic publishing also means many small groups can easily publish a book and sell it, but this comes at the cost of electronic storefronts being flooded with low effort, poorly written garbage. Electronics also, in theory, lower the need for wasted paper and dice. In practice however, many groups find including any electronics at the table a major distraction and disruptive of play, while many players refuse to trust electronic RNG. Acceptance of computer RNG is actually worse among players into video games due to that medium's documented history of RNG cheating via uneven RNG, poorly randomized number generation, and being easily manipulated. Another issue with electronic books is that some companies are Luddites, and refuse to release PDF versions of their books, while others are hamstrung by the IP holder's retarded prior licensing agreements made with the devil and legally can’t, or just plain old don't exist anymore and can't do a PDF re-release, but we have a solution to all those problems.
Another nifty creation has been 3D printers that can create a variety of objects desired from scratch for cheap. Currently 3d printers are only able to print small, inanimate, plastic things (unless you have a very expensive and large one that can do weak metal) and are a far cry from Replicator technology everyone panicking about "ghost guns" thinks they are. Fortunately the hobby has substantial use for small, inanimate, plastic things. Eventually there will be a reckoning for the entire minifigure gaming industry over the full implications of 3d printing, but for now the technology remains a bit too difficult and expensive for the average user to churn out a thousand point army. However if you have the means and patience to experiment, your imagination is the only limit on what you can do for figure customization.
The appeal of Post-Cold War world
Do you like stories of special force operators going on incredibly risky missions to take down terrorists, insurgents, and radicals of any ideological or religious flavor? Then this setting might be right for you, due to the prevalence of the Global War on Terror and the almost-extensive use of special forces such as the Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Spetznaz, SAS, and so on. Their chief foe is a new enemy that has largely replaced the Soviet Union in the minds of many in the West - the radical Islamic "jihadist" organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, the Taliban or ISIS and its branches (such as the West African branch, Boko Haram). Their goals range from either kicking all foreign influence out of their country to establishing a global caliphate. The current increasingly polarizing culture war can also be used as inspiration for stories regarding insurgents and radicals of any ideological flavor, albeit something where "handle with care" very much applies for risk of coming across as preachy or adding fuel to the fire.
Other potential foes can be found in the world of technology, serving as fertile ground for near future sci-fi stories. This era is (currently) as close as we can get to cyberpunk, which lends itself well to the genre. The concept of A.I. as threats or the fear of society undergoing a technological collapse can also find inspiration from here, given the Y2K problem at the turn of the millennium. Big-tech companies getting trigger-happy with censorship from the 2010's onwards also lends itself well to references and themes in cyberpunk stories.
Wargame wise, there is some appeal in recreating the various, drawn-out conflicts such as in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan (to date the longest war in American history at over 17 years if one doesn't count the Korean War, which the US never officially declared war during and has spent most of its existence cold.), pitting the well-equipped, organized, and disciplined forces of the Western powers against the zealotry, tenaciousness, and cunning of the various insurgent and terrorist groups that plague the region. Due to the rather asymmetric nature of these wars, as well as the murkiness that comes with it, it's not as popular as the more conventionally focused, more-or-less Black-And-White morality of World War 2 setting. Similarly, the COVID-19 Pandemic can also be used as inspiration for various types of stories regarding pandemics, especially if one wants to up the stakes with things such as a zombie virus.
Urban Fantasy and Superheroes are often set in the current Post-Cold War era. By making fictional, fantastical threats one avoids the question of what the hell is there left to fight. It also benefits from being a world that's largely prebuilt and known to players, allowing writers to focus exclusively on what's different.
|Historical Time Periods|
|Premodern:||Stone Age - Bronze Age - Classical Period - Dark Age - High Middle Ages - Renaissance|
|Modern:||Age of Enlightenment - Industrial Revolution - The World Wars - The Cold War - Post-Cold War|