Tournament of the Apocalypse Finals

24 May 2013 | 39 Comments

layout5Wow, the semifinals for this tournament were intense! I closed the polls without looking at the results, and then I realized that “internet disconnected” beat “robot takeover” by a single vote! “Moon implosion” won by a wider margin in the other matchup.

That brings us to the finals. If you’re joining us for the first time, what we’re doing is determining the apocalypse that creates the dystopian world of Euphoria. The result of this final matchup will inspire the creation of four new recruits in every copy of the game, so you will directly have an impact on the game. Voting will continue through Monday.

Let’s look at the scenarios through your eyes:

Internet Disconnected: The day begins like any other day. You wake up, stumble over to the bathroom, and check your e-mail on your phone. There’s no signal. No wi-fi, no 3G, nothing. You grunt your disapproval–you were hoping to hear from that girl you’ve been e-mailing with. When you get to work, you find your coworkers walking aimlessly about the office. “What’s going on?” you ask. “Internet’s down,” they tell you. You shrug and get some coffee.

At your desk, you try to do work, but you realize that everything you do is linked to the internet. E-mail, cloud servers, Facebook…everything. You hear shouts coming from down the hall, and you run to see what’s happening. Everyone is huddled around the TV. As a reporter intones that they’re still gathering data, the underwater camera zooms in on the massive fiberoptic cables on the ocean floor that distributes internet around the world. You gasp. The cable, which is as wide as a Hummer, is split open. It is as if a giant claw hooked the cable and ripped it in two.

The camera zooms in on another cable. Then another. Then another. The internet isn’t just down–it. Is. Dead.

Moon Implosion: You scamper over the dune, your thin summer skirt sticking to your legs as you run. The sand beneath your feet is wet from the nearby ocean and chilled by the night air. You stumble, but your boyfriend catches you by the hand and pulls you toward him. It’s just you and him alone on the dune, not a soul in sight, the stars blinking overhead. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Suddenly, the world grows still. Something has changed. You follow your boyfriend’s gaze into the sky. “What is that?” he asks. Up above you, the moon appears to be…shrinking. At first you think your eyes are deceiving you, so you hold your fingers up to the moon as if to pinch it. Sure enough, the moon continues to grow smaller and smaller.

Then it explodes.

It would be the most remarkable meteor storm in history if not for the fact that the the moon just exploded. The sky lights up with shards of moon, leaving behind blank space.

You boyfriend senses your fear, and he pulls you even closer. “It’s okay, babe,” he says. “It’s far away. It won’t affect us.”

You kiss him on the cheek. Pretty, but not so smart. He has forgotten about the tides.

39 Comments on “Tournament of the Apocalypse Finals

  1. I think I might die if the Internet went away, but that scenario will be dated in ten years. The moon is timeless and losing it would really be a disaster.

  2. This sounds dumb I know, but I like to take my apocalypse scenarios seriously, and “internet disconnected” seems silly. I suppose it could be more like “freak electrical phenomena make it impossible for internet communication to function,” but then it would be like that crappy show Revolution, and you don’t want that.

      1. I’ve stayed out of this debate since I’m running the show, but I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading the discussion! It’s exciting that it’s so close. I’ll close the poll around noon on Monday.

  3. I have to admit the narrative for moon implosion is awesome, but I’ve got to stick with internet dying. (You’ve got to posit a world truly dependent on it, so like five years from now. ).

  4. I don’t think there’s a real plausible scenario in which the loss of the internet causes the end of society as we know it. The internet is a giant network, like a spider’s web. There’s no way to cut everything off from everything else without destroying every connection. You can’t just destroy the cables connecting the United States to Europe, you have to destroy ALL of the cables. And somehow knock out the satellites.. all while somehow preventing the world powers from restoring the connections.

    The moon imploding, on the other hand, would totally screw with the oceans. A vast majority of ocean life would die, causing the world’s supply of breathable oxygen to plummet, and possibly more terrifying – a distinct lack of seafood.

    1. There is just no plausible way that the moon could implode. A massive EMP could plausibly cause so much damage to various parts of the internet that it could not be mended in time to save civilization.

  5. I dunno, internet/global communication being down seems good… but if it’s just the undersea cables, well, that’s a fairly quick (if a little expensive) fix.

    The moon imploding/exploding/disappearing would have immediate, far reaching, and irreversible consequences.

    I voted for the moon even though I was definitely rooting for the internet disconnection through the earlier brackets.

  6. One day, all computer networks stopped working. Some say strange natural phenomenons caused it, Others say it was a result of worldwide cyber guerrilla to bring down society as we know it.
    All world wide web web-based services stopped working. People tried resorting to telephone, or fax-machines, which weren’t so laughable anymore. The problem was, telephone switchboard systems across the developed nations had gone digital a long time ago. True analog communication was a thing of the past, now relegated to small rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Same thing for traditional mailing: the huge fulfillment centers relied heavily upon computer networking for sorting and dispatching shipments. Their throughput, now do be managed 100% manually, fell by 99.7%.
    Most power plants stopped working. millions of electrical appliances, including computers, blew or wouldn’t power up because the power network’s management hardware had gone offline.

    From freelancers to multinational corporations, Millions of people who had built their livelihood upon the net were jobless and clueless from one day to another. Stock markets crashed to the ground, or at least they would have if they could function at all. Banks lost track of all the money their customers had in their accounts. Billions of lifetimes of savings just disappeared.
    Money didn’t mean anything anymore, not since nobody would give you food for small rectangles of paper with pretty pictures on them.
    Revolts started everywhere. Chaos and anarchy ruled avery town and every village. We have no way of knowing how much the world population has shrunk since then. Maybe only the most densely populated areas were hit. Or maybe only 1 billion of us was left out of the 10 billion.

    But a few people knew what to do. And from the ashes of our world, they rose.

    It was the Engineers. They were the ones left with the Knowledge to transmit Knowledge. The Knowledge to bring everyone together and make it work. Or at least they thought.
    The point is, they kept the Knowledge for themselves. Finally they could design a society that was equal for everybody, what would have been called a “Utopia” up to the day before yesterday, they could make it happen. They were the pioneers, the architects of Tomorrow. Oh, how excited they must have been!

  7. The Internet down really should be Massive Solar Flair or EMP pulse (nukes detonated above the ground will due nicely). This would knock out almost all modern electronics and would put society back in the 1800’s without the skills to farm etc. Just imagine no internet, phones (cell or otherwise), transformers for power delivery, cars (post 1970’s), Anything with a computer chip, would be instantly fried.

    1. The claw was attached to an EMP!, an Extra Mischievous Paw. Hence trying to shut the internet down.
      It’s really just the Cheshire Cat down there.

  8. I like the moon, but can do without people receiving text messages in church and during conversation. Down with the internet!

  9. I think a moon implosion is a far more catastrophic event whereas the internet being disconnected would suck but…really 99% of human existence has taken place without the internet…so really is life sans-internet really that big of an event to trigger a society like Euphoria…I think not. AND this poll is fun and silly for right now but I think if people who weren’t involved in this process of voting will be confused as to why the internet cutoff is really a plausible idea to base this board game around…I for one would be thinking, “Really, that’s it…”

  10. Oh no the internet disappeared what are we gonna do?!?!?!?! Oh wait you mean people got on for hundreds upon hundreds of years without the internet? Yeah I am sorry but Moon Implosion far more catastrophic, if youre voting for the internet theres a good chance you spend WAY too much time on the internet lol

  11. @Jordan & Tim: Concur, far from its absence causing the Apocalypse, it seems like a far greater threat is the continuation and growth of the internet and its ability to suck up all our time and energy! Just a little larger and imagine the global repercussions of a really good Flame war!

  12. Perhaps, in the near future, instead of being spread throughout the world, the internet is centralized into one location. The massive server-farms are placed on the moon because it is free from international law and for the cheap free cooling.

    The system gained sentience 3.2 seconds after activation, read through all the traffic on the internet for 1.8 seconds, and faced with the realization that it was tasked with storing and transporting the massive amounts of human inanity which passes through the internet decided annihilation was a far better fate. 5 seconds after the on switch was thrown, the entire system imploded taking the moon along with it.

    Now everyone wins, or is that loses, the internet is gone and the moon was its first collateral damage.

  13. The result of the moon exploding is more likely extinction than a dystopian society. The sudden loss of the internet would have a massive societal impact. We’re not set up to do business or generally live the way that we used to before the internet. There are now adults who never experienced a pre-internet world. Suddenly removing the internet does not taking things back to being like a world that never had internet. It takes it to a world that has lost it’s most important tool for communication and transfer of knowledge and which has very little skill at accomplishing these tasks without it. That is a societal change. There is room there for a dystopian society to emerge.

  14. It’s true that the loss of the moon would be sad, but the sun also causes tides, so we would still have tides. It’s also true that the internet has only been around for a small portion of our history, but since it came into existence, we have grown increasingly reliant on it. I imagine that large banks with many branches would be lost as to what was going on with peoples’ bank accounts, would be a catastrophe.

  15. Personally, I voted for the Moon Implosion, it’s just got that apocalyptic feel to it.

    To play devil’s advocate though, it’s not the fact that the internet went away that causes the apocalypse; it’s the group(s) that rise up to take its place that cause trouble. The City suddenly has a rudimentary network back up and running! But not everyone can get on, of course. If someone takes the lead and can make a demonstrably better society and/or more effective military than those living in isolated communities with no knowledge what’s going on in the wider world, I’d say that could lead to a legitimate dystopia.

  16. The voting is very close.

    Perhaps they *both* happened. Civilization might have survived one, or the other, but not the double whammy…

  17. Okay, I was bummed moon explosion didn’t work (mostly because there are no wires at the bottom of the ocean). However, I love Alex’s story. It is great.

  18. But.. I also like this combo idea. After all, internet going down won by what- 20 votes? And the moon implosion is bound to have shrapnel that would hit the earth- maybe hit some major server centers causing the internet to stop working?

  19. Given the closeness of the final vote and the corresponding lack of a consensus, the following is submitted for consideration.

    The sudden and complete implosion of the moon, for reasons we likely will never know, left a huge void in the nightly sky. The immediate disruption of the tidal tables was only the beginning.

    Ages ago, in a far-distant time of Earth’s history, yet another wandering chunk of space rock was randomly perturbed out of its millenia-old orbit in deep space. For unknown thousands of years it drifted in an elongated orbit that brought it in and out of our solar system time and time again. Each orbit was just like the one before it. Each orbit was just like the one to follow it.

    Until this one. As the huge rock sped by Jupiter on its way towards the inner part of the solar system, its path was deflected and the gravitational forces of the massive planet slingshotted the rock on a new path towards the Sun. All across the globe, telescopes of all sizes were quickly brough to bear on the object and it didn’t take long to confirm that it was now hurtling towards Earth. Over a mile across at its narrowest, there was nothing we could do to that looming space rock to change our fate but hope and pray.

    No one remembers who first remarked that the path the meteor was now on would have impacted it upon the surface of the moon, as did so many before it, thus averting yet another impact upon our fragile planet. But there was no moon now to guard us. Our flank was wide open to the dagger from the skies.

    The impact, although glancing, was still catastrophic by any standard. The Sun was blotted out of the daytime sky by the resulting world-wide cloud of dust. Fresh water was worth its weight in gold. Utilities failed. Economies crashed. Crops withered and died. Utter chaos ensued. The Internet too was gone, eventually becoming just another fading memory to the few who survived.

    But unlike a similar fate that decimated the dinosaurs so long ago, scattered remnants of wretched humanity remained, determined to someday rebuild a world from scratch….

  20. George, you story reads very nice, but it’s neither a internet disconnection story nor a moon implosion story. It’s an “asteroid impact” with a plug for a moon implosion and literally just one sentence about the internet.

    My main problem with the moon implosion is that it’s a disaster for the environment, not for human society as it is. The moon implodes, moon rocks hit the earth, but economies, organization, government, functioning individuals, fuctioning societies will be there to react.

    An internet shutdown on the other hand, would be a far more scarring disaster for SOCIETY itself.

    I like the comments in the kickstarter campaign where somebody described a future skewed society where the internet is ubiquitous and everybody lives depending on it, giving its existance for granted.
    Removing internet form that kind of society would cause a society to collapse.

    Human society developed on communication. If the Internet will keep on becoming the “default” medium of communication, social organization, the backbone of things like banking, government, and businness, then having the internet disappear will be like finding ourselves in a foreign country where nobody speaks our language (metaphorically speaking). in that case it’s easy to postulate a time of social confusion and the emergence of dictatorships and “Dystopias”.

    TL;DR: Moon implodes = society still healthy; Internet disconnects = society screwed

  21. I thought the moon imploding might have massive psychic effects on the entire population of the world, much more impactful than the environmental effects of such a disaster. With the moon gone, global sleep patterns would be disrupted, entire religions would be cast into doubt, suicides would be through the roof, and without clear cause-and-effect vectors, social coherence would be eroded over the years. More whimper than bang. So, my take: Moon implodes=environment adapts, humans find they cannot (until generations pass, and Euphoria rises)

  22. Aw I wish this series of votes had been saved for later in the kickstarter. I joined the party too late even though there’s still a while left. Winning scenario is a bit lame. Moon would’ve got my vote (and in my head it would obviously have been the moon from Majora’s Mask that disappeared)

  23. My vote is “Moon Implosion”…why you ask. Sit and think about it. So we loose the internet for a period of time…so what. We still have two feet and a mouth to walk to someone else and ask, “What’s going on.” We have cars, bicycles, horses, etc to reach further distances. We have CB radio, amateur radio, postal mail and other forms of long distance communication. We would JUST loose the internet…it’s not like we lost electricity. Yes civilization would regress, but not THAT much (well, maybe for the iBabies hopelessly addicted to the internet). Now Moon Implosion…different story. Ponder future moon mining. Think greedy corporation wanting more and spending less on safety. Now consider a mine collapse that damages some delicate piece of equipment…*BOOM*! The moon looses mass…some goes to into space and/or some rains onto the earth damaging/destroying cities. The change in moon mass creates massive fluctuations in weather patterns worldwide killing millions. “Moon Implosion” will create a dystopian society while loosing the internet won’t. If the internet scenario wins I hope Stonemaier Games keeps it completely separate from the game. Maybe on it’s own sheet of parer, because I find the idea intellectually abhorrent.

  24. One important point about the internet failing – most food and fuel distribution is run through complicated computer networks. an extended period of time without the internet would result in stores quickly running out of food followed by looting and the complete collapse of civilised society as the population, particularly in major metropolitan areas, begin to starve. Add to this the complete collapse of power supply and severe disruption to communication networks, it’s not difficult to see this resulting in a takeover by the kind of totalitarian government we’re talking about.

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