From the Great Refusal and the establishment of the Free Council on, the 20th century has been an unprecedented period of active conflict in the Awakened world. The abrupt demand for recognition by a group of technology-obsessed nefandi upended a seemingly-eternal stalemate. Millennia-long plans for winning the war inch by inch were replaced with a mad, explosive dash for power and advantage.
Masters on both sides expected the initial, heady rush to soon die down and the status quo to reassert itself. This expectation was dashed as the 20th century matured. The massive cultural and political changes wrought by the Great Depression and the World Wars reverberated throughout Awakened society as well – or perhaps the influence ran the other way around. Either way, the furious pace of conflict continued, with battles fought using everything from lethal spells to political and cultural manipulation. Technological change, too, outpaced all precedent, leading mages to question their assumptions about the limits of the mundane and what, exactly, made magic different.
Only in the early 21st century did the pace of the conflict slow. A combination of exhaustion and caution inspired by the development of modern surveillance and communication technology led to a period of detente. Mages everywhere paused to reevaluate their strategy and tactics in a world where any random bystander could instantly send a picture to millions. Open conflicts still flared up, but they were localized and isolated.
Now, barely a decade later, auguries and portents warn that a revival of hostilities is nigh. Pentacle Cabal and Seer Pylon alike scramble to shore up their weak points and seize what advantage they can before the conflict starts again in earnest.