A roleplaying game publish
ed by Holistic Design
Fading Suns takes place in the Far Future, in a renaissance-cum-Space Opera type of universe. The essential premise is as follows:
As humanity's ability to travel through space reached the bounds of the solar system, a giant, artificial structure was found in an orbit around the sun that was larger than that of Pluto. Experimentation proved the thing to be an ancient teleportation device created by an equally ancient civilization. A manmade device, keyed the right way, could tell a specific jumpgate, as the thing was called, how to reach another. Thus, the Jumpgates were a sortof interstellar subway system, each connecting to a few others which in turn led to more, out past the ability of men to explore.
Following this discovery, Humanity exploded through the gates and settled the inhabitable worlds that always seemed to exist not to far from the gates. Massive corporations bent on their own gain grew into a Republic, which lasted for many years uniting the planets, but eventually collapsed to leave many different groups of people cut off from each other.
From this period it was every society for itself, some choosing even more liberal forms of government and some falling back onto the feudal system. Eventually, humanity came across another race of intelligent beings, the First Contact humanity would have with another specied capable of higher level thought. Due to an accident of evolution, however, the Shaprut, as they were called, looked a good deal like Earth Horses, and humanity found it hard to take these being seriously. With their technological superiority, the Shaprut were easily forced onto reservations on their own home planet.
More species were encountered and, as most of them were the technological inferiors of the rapidly developing human race, were treated little better than the Shaprut.
The thrill of Jumping through the gates was a sharp one for the pilots of the jumping crafts. The experience was actually severly addictive, and many cults grew up around this experience, referred to a Sathra due to a whispered word some heard during the ecstatic jump. This became so bad that devices were put in starships to prevent the Sathra.
Also during this period, humanity encountered the Vau, who were far superior to them technologically but, oddly enough, wanted nothing to do with humans.
Out of all of this came the Prophet Zebulon. Preaching that he had recieved a vision while jumping, he traveled among the stars with his message, and forming the seeds of the Church.
The combined fear at the existance of the Vau and the unifying force of the Church provided the impetus to form another great Republic. The First Republic would pale in comparison to this one and, at its height, the Second Republic would exceed the Vau technologically but, as with all good things, it came to an end, collapsing the Stars into a Dark Age ruled by superstition and orthodoxy.
Only now are the stars beginning to climb out of the anti-intellectual clouds of the Dark Ages. While the Church still often speaks out against technology, its voice is being heeded less and less, and people are learning more and more.
It's like Europe in Space.