One thing I was thinking about on my way to work was how much I enjoyed reading the story of the Star Trigger in the Classic Traveller Darrian alien module.
It was a scientific project gone horribly wrong and subsequent destabilization and flaring of their sun wiped out their high technology and crippled Darrian society for hundreds of years. Worse, the shock waves of the blast compounded the disaster, traveling at the speed of light and eventually slamming into neighboring star systems for parsecs around the homeworld. After many decades of recovery and rebuilding, research into exactly what happened eventually led to the successful creation of Star Trigger technology and the subsequent mounting of these ultimate weapons on their starships. Essentially, the Darrians have yet to rebuild to their previous technological height, however they possess a nuclear-equivalent deterrent for use in their struggles with a neighboring hostile state, the Sword Worlds.
This got me thinking about Virus and the New Era.
What if the Imperium (being the allies of the Darrians) had somehow acquired/stole Star Trigger technology before the outbreak of the Rebellion? What if the Black War phase of the Rebellion escalated not jut to nuclear and chemical weaponry, but involved multiple Star Trigger attacks on high population systems (the linchpins of the Imperium)? Given the extent of black war attacks in the shattered Imperium, imagine Star Triggers detonating in a number of high population worlds, crippling entire subsectors and causing a catastrophe far larger than the Darrians ever experienced centuries before. Additionally, given the number of deep strikes near enemy safe zones, imagine the fallout of Star Trigger strikes deep in enemy territories.
The subsequent failure of high technology in the wake of a Star Trigger war would be just as devastating to the Imperium as the impact of Virus, but would also have the added plus of not having to introduce AI into the setting, nor have to deal with the ramifications of it still existing after it served its purpose as a galactic wrecking ball.
You could still run a full New Era-style campaign in the aftermath of a "Star Trigger War", and as an added plus you could keep or destroy any faction you want from the previous game. Perhaps play a game in the remains of Strephon's holdings, or just wipe the slate clean and run a Reformation Coalition-style campaign straight out of the T:NE books.
The more I'm thinking about this, the more I'm digging it.