It is known that at the end of the first decade of the 21st century the Dragons woke up. It is not known whether the magic returning woke the Dragons, or the Dragons waking restored the magic. Those Dragons who associate with humans claim it was the latter, but there are skeptics. Regardless, the study of magic by humans began to flourish.
Science, though in some ways disheartened by the discovery that everything they thought they knew was wrong (again), in other ways were pushed ahead by magic’s ability to provide them with new materials. Computer technology was especially helped by the new materials.
For eleven years there was a renaissance of science, magic, and the arts. People worked along side early robots and those few Dragons that deigned to spend time among the humans to create marvels the likes of which the world had never seen. Life was good. In the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, and the European Union poverty became almost extinct. China even began to turn around the pollution caused by its earlier industrialization and, by the end, was very close to being recognized as a first-world nation.
No one’s sure exactly when it happened (but the few remaining historians agree it must have been between 2018 and 2022), but somebody managed to get nuclear warheads into Jerusalem, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Sydney simultaneously. Several organizations tried to take credit for the attack, none of whom had any sort of credible claims. Before the world could find the true culprits, Israel nuked Palestine; Palestine nuked Israel; and their allies vigorously nuked both of them. Fortunately for the survivors, after those nukes flew, all of the major powers figured out that they wouldn’t have anything left to fight over if they didn’t lay off of the radioactive weapons. Unfortunately for the survivors, the eleven year renaissance had given them some other devastating tools.
Once the dust cleared, the survivors tried to get back to life as it was, but that goal is still a long way off. The few cities that survived the various WMDs and hadn’t suffered heavy losses from ground fighting were rapidly depopulated when it became clear that the farms weren’t shipping anything out. Some country or another (or maybe all of them) had decided that they were the best equipped to operate without communication satellites and shot bombs into space. After the “war” (it’s hard to call something so short a war) debris from space rained down all over the world sporadically for years. Even after all of that, Earth’s orbit is still littered with dead hulks that would make sending up new satellites pointless.
Without global communications, the world’s largest countries divided into smaller, more feudally structured nations. Canada, The U.S., and China were some of the most severely effected countries. The various countries of the Middle-East were mostly radioactive glass, but the remaining areas actually became more cohesive than before in the wake of the disaster. Old feuds were forgiven and borders rewritten or erased. Russia shed the last of the territory it had gained as the Soviet Union, but remained otherwise whole.
Over the next century, most governments lost their ability to control their citizens in leaps and bounds. Between the emerging mutants, powerful magi, new monsters, and unguarded stashes of old weaponry, keeping the peace became almost impossible in any grand sense. Even the strongest prisons were useless in the face of the resources that even a small group of outlaws could muster. Lawlessness swept the world’s civilizations into isolated enclaves. The richer enclaves took on structures similar to the city-states of ancient Greece; the poorer ones took on structures more like a town from the Wild West. Many of the richer enclaves have radio towers with which they coordinate armed convoys for trading.
After that, things settled into a routine, of sorts. The world today is much the same as it was 56 years ago. Gangs run the wilderness between settlements, and sometimes even have settlements of their own. The Dragons are more secretive than ever. The world is in ruins and it is stagnating there.