The following Future History
real. It is fiction and if you think it is real you should log off, find yourself a mental asylum, and get yourself committed.
The following is actually an account of the Future History according to the Fading Suns series of books and games published by Holistic Design.
Note for Fading Suns fans:I created this overview pretty much from memory after running a game in this universe for some time so there are probably a few episodes I made up and a few smeg ups on details. I think 90% of the stuff after 5000AD is my stuff, the Thennians were ruthlessly borrowed from David Brins excellent novels. I included that bit so that you could mine it for ideas. The idea of a world being sealed off occured in the book "Palas" so I included it on a world I had already named after the goddess Palas Athene
If you have had a Fading Suns campaign running for sometime, why not add your alternative bit of 'Future History' on the end so we can all nick ideas off each other?
Prehistory- War in Heaven
Very little is known about prehistory. Archaeological excavations reveal that there were at least two spacefaring races which appear to have settled much of the galaxy during the period 40,000BC to approximately 0AD (the latest remains are dated to 100AD). These races are collectively referred to as the Ur. The elder of the two known Ur races is presumed to have built the Jumpgates and shepherded a number of races who now call themselves the Children of the Ur, as a result this elder race is often called the Architects or Progenitors. The younger race is referred to as the Marauders, the name coming from the legends of many of the extant races which describe two races of powerful beings who battled across the stars- one race protecting mortals while the other enslaved them. A prehistoric galactic conflict can not be ruled out. Many digs have uncovered ruins of staggering age with motifs resembling those found on Jumpgates. These buildings were not abandoned, they were shattered by cataclysms of unimaginable devastation. Whatever the cause of their disappearance, the Ur had vanished by AD100 leaving behind not only the Jumpgates but relics ranging from survey markers to entire cities, one of which has been uncovered in the Brazilian rainforest.
Interlude: Earth 1000BC-2100AD
First Urban Period and the First Dark Age
Whatever the humans thought of the Ur; if anything, they managed quite well without them. The Asian, American, Indian and Mediterranean City states developed into fully fledged civilisations during the period 1000BC-400BC after which Earth entered a period in which perhaps a third of its population was literate to some extent, this became known as the First Human Urban Period. Around 250AD the urbanised areas of Earth experienced economic problems caused by poor climatic conditions and the resulting population shifts of North American, Northern European and Arabic nomads into 'civilized' lands. The general result was a hardening of social structure resulting in what would now be regarded as serfdom- people served a lord and could not leave their patch of land, professions were hereditary and education reserved for the elite. After this crisis passed the urbanised areas of Earth continued more or less unchanged until the same crisis recurred in the fifth century causing the areas of urbanisation to shrink dramatically plunging large areas used to fairly stable governments into a state of semi-urbanisation now referred to as the First Human Dark Age.
This state continued until in the 15th century the Human Renaissance took off. Urbanisation once more flowered throughout Europe and spread to the rest of the planet. Technology advanced at an amazing pace and by 2000AD primitive communications had been established on a planet-wide basis, small skiffs managed to make brief trips outside the atmosphere and small automated probes were fired off into nearby space and in the late Renaissance psionics were finally recognised as having nothing to do with witchcraft. The Renaissance was however a period of chaos with the next mass slaughter always hanging around the corner. The slaughter of Mesolithic nomads in America, Africa and Australasia in the period 1500AD-1900AD, the European Religious Wars 1655AD-1763AD, the American Civil War 1861AD-1865AD, the European Civil Wars 1914AD-1945AD, Islamic Imperial War 2015AD-2020AD, the European Unification War 2017AD-2025AD and the Chinese World Liberation 2064AD-2093 are just a few of the disasters that took place in this terrible time.
The First Republic: 2100AD-2500AD
The Rise of the Zaibatsu
The dream of a single government for all humanity was finally realised in 2100AD. The First Republic was pushed into being by an alliance of Megacorporations who had found that centuries of overt warfare was hurting profits. Banding together the Megacorps threw all their weight behind a UN world government initiative. Once this system was established the Megacorporations soon ensured that the General Assembly- once a council of elected representatives, became nothing more than a flimsy front for the Megacorps who provided funding for their war weary homelands. Eventually even the illusion of democracy was removed and the Zaibatsu Council made up of the CEOs of the largest Megacorporations became the recognised rulers of the republic. Life under the Zaibatsu was a highly restricted one. An unprecidented proportion of the population lived in comparative material wealth and comfort but at the price of restricted access to information, conditional civil rights and virtually unrestricted police powers.
It was during the First Republic that humans first reached the stars. Certain visionaries within the government realised that some form of new frontier was needed to channel the aggression and energies of the repressed population as well as to supplement the dwindling resources of Earth. The megacorporations turned their eyes to the moon and the first lunar settlement was quickly established in the early part of the twenty second century. Next came Mars, after an initial disaster humanity finally established itself on the Red Planet and with a few minor alterations managed to make the planet hospitable in a mere century resulting in massive resource extraction industries. The rest of the solar system was claimed in the two centuries thereafter.
The lure of the distant stars initiated an ambitious long-term program of "Slowships": vast structures containing thousands of individuals both awake, living in sealed ecospheres and in deep-sleep. These ships were launched in huge numbers at sub-light velocities. With a System population of 17 billion, 12 billion of which were living on Earth or in Earth Orbit there was never a shortage of volunteers.
Then, in 2305AD, floating just outside the orbit of Pluto the Jumpgate was found. This was the first of alien life and technology yet encountered by humans (except for extensive urban remains on Mars successfully concealed from the public by the Zaibatsu regime). Long shut-down the gate showed no sign of activity. It's function was hotly debated by the public, politicians and the scientific community. Finally a team of the worlds finest scientific minds including no less than five nobel prize winners working long shifts managed to trigger the power that activated the gate. The space inside the hoop of the gate warped as light was bent in an inward spiral, and then opened to reveal a view of a distant star system. Humankind stood in awe as the realisation that they were not the first to reach the stars. The Zaibatsu saw the opportunity for profit. within a matter of days a probe was fired through the gate programmed to collect data on the number, size and composition of the planets in the new system. The probe was instantly destroyed. Data from the explosion was analysed and the conclusion was reached that any matter unprotected from the energies surrounding the gate would share the fate of the probe. A device now called a Jump-engine was designed to maintain matter integrity. This was fitted to the next probe which managed to pass through unscathed to report back on what lay on the other side of the gate. Its report was better than anyone had hoped for: a habitable world.
The first exploration crew was watched by billions as their ship passed through the Jumpgate, no one expected what would happen next. Each astronaut experienced a moment of profound remembering of some deep truth once known and since lost. A religion was born named after the word left on the lips of the astronauts: Sathras Boon (later renamed Sutek). The new world had no sentient life, had rich edible plantlife and was rich in mineral resources. It seemed far too good to be true. The explorers named it Sathra's Boon. Soon the exodus began as did the conflicts. Covert war exploded among the Zaibatsu as megacorporations fought each other for control of space's new riches. Most citizens were unaware of the conflicts and assassinations taking place in the corridors of power on Earth, Luna, Mars and Sathra's Boon.
The Zaibatsu found the religion of Sathraism to be an annoyance. Pilots who "found God" were harder to control and were apt to admire landscapes instead of bombing dissident settlements. In addition ship captains who converted were likely to undergo more jumps than necessary; risking their health (and therefore their expensive ships). Sathraism was banned, to little effect. Only when the republic managed to produce a force field that prevented the Sathra experience did the religion suffer a setback. Ships were built with integral buffers; any attempt to adjust or remove the buffers disabled the engines. Anyone with a non-buffered ship was hunted down and destroyed. Soon Sathraism was a distant memory.
The Diaspora (The Second Human Dark Age): 2500AD-3500AD
The Fall of the Republic
Continuous study of the Jumpgate revealed that alterations the Jump-engine fields could alter the destination reached by passing through the gate, this opened up routes to yet more stars. As the Zaibatsu continued to fight among themselves a rebel faction managed to seize the designs for the new Jump-engines and the Diaspora began. With travel to uncharted worlds open to any group who could obtain a ship, millions swarmed away from the oppression of the First Republic. These people colonised new worlds that did not recognise the rule of the Zaibatsu who were now too obsessed with their internal struggles to recognise the new colonies for the threat they represented. Some of these colonies failed almost immediately, their pleas for aid ignored by the Republic they sank into barbarism. Others suffered from lack of resources but rallied around a strong leader who managed to hold them together in a state of semi-feudalism. A few colonies found untouched riches on their worlds allowing them to form mini-mercantile empires of their own with enough resources to seize First Republic resources here and there, slowly whittling down the Zaibasu bit by bit. Eventually Earth was reduced to but one state among many, its lack of resources combined with its high population and bureaucratic government placing it in a poor position compared to the resource-rich colony worlds ruled by autocratic rulers. Earth settled into a long depression and with the loss of Earth as a centrepoint there seemed to be a loss of ingenuity, humanity still possessed technology, but it no longer experimented. Science was something that the scholars learnt by rote, no longer understanding what they did merely fulfilling the orders of their patrons.
The Coming of the Prophet
In 2723 a Priest called Zebulon on a frontier world experienced a vision of the holy flame and heard the voice of God telling him to renew his words to his children. Zebulon was then given a second vision of darkness and was warned that demons lurked in "The Darkness between the Stars" seeking to snuff out the light. Zebulon searched holy texts from all faiths and teachings from Earth, realising that only by uniting all of humankind's wisdom could he fulfil his appointed task. Zebulon called God the Pancreator and revealed that this was the One, the God, deity, or Spirit spoken of in all religions. Zebulon gathered many followers under his banner but selected eight special disciples (one of which is ignored by the 'modern' 4kAD church). The Prophet died while passing through a Jumpgate with a faulty Jump-engine, he was on his way to plead for peace with the Vau (q.v.). His church hated the Vau for years because of this although many have now realised that as the Prophet was trying to gain peace with the Vau this is a rather moronic standpoint. Forever afterwards the symbol of the Prophets Universal Church was a Jumpgate, a symbol of the Prophets death. The Universal Church was formalised after the Prophets death by one of his followers; Palamedes, who came from a family of nobles, House Alecto who ruled a frontier world. Palamedes gathered together the Prophets words into one book called the Omega Gospels and unified the faithful under a single hierarchy, turning the Church into a political force.
First Contact: The Shantor, Vau and G'nesh
The Shantor were the first intelligent life found by humankind in 2700AD, a horse-like nomadic race with a Mesolithic (TR3/PL0.5) technology. Unfortunately in 2726AD the Shantor world was found to hold precious minerals vital to Jump-engine production. Humans arrived on the planet and set about mining the minerals 'civilising' the Shantor through forced labour in the mines. The Prophet spoke out against such cruelty but died shortly after the operations began. His successor Palamedes was not interested in such a politically impotent group as the Shantor. When the Shantor attempted a rebellion in 2730AD they were easily rounded up and scattered across known space as slave labour. Stone tipped spears are no match for las-rifles.
In 2841AD humans encountered the Ur-Obun, a highly advanced humanoid race which at once arranged a mutually beneficial treaty permitting free flow of goods and information between Obun and human space. It is from the Obun that humankind first learned of the legends of the Ur races.
In 2945AD a newly discovered Jumpgate relesed humanity onto a small but lush world they named New Monaco. It was the home of the G'nesh, a quiet insectoid race that spent most of their time making elaborate plant sculptures linked bu organic webbing. They ignored the colonists at first, but when the colonists began forcing the G'nesh farmers from their gardens they became quite indignant. All they would say was "It is not allowed. please leave.". Of course the colonists scoffed, the gardeners could do nothing to hurt them.
But their Patrons could.
A massive starship appeared through the jumpgate. A ship whose like had never been seen before. Forming a great ball of raging plasma the dreadnought obliterated the orbiting colonisation fleet. Small ships detached themselves from the dreadnought's hull and sped to the surface of New Monaco, delivering a vicious cargo: Vau soldiers. The minor noble house officials who were in charge of the groundside operations desperately tried to surrender. The Vau killed everyone. Afterwards they boarded their ships and left. The G'nesh returned to their gardens and repaired their sculptures. The only thing the Vau left behind was a message in the Standard English of the time: "Leave this planet alone. It is the property of the Vau Hegemony. Do not follow the Jumproads any further."
The humans did go further, seeking retribution for their loss, what they found were world of vastly superior technology. Of the hundreds of battleships sent forth few returned to tell the tale; those that did return were "allowed" to escape. Finally the Vay accepted a human diplomat, Benjamen Verden of House Justinian. Benjamen returned from his first sojourn overwhelmed by the superiority of the Vau but thanking the Pancreator for the one peice of information he had managed to glean from his hosts: the Vau were not interested in expansion. their entire political system was based around maintaining the status-quo following the dictates of the first emperor of their current dynasty. Benjamen returned to the Vau as a permanent Ambassador and over time more was learnt. The G'nesh it seemed were a conquered race. The G'nesh had fought a long war against the Vau, upon surrender the G'nesh leader demanded that the Vau grant him 'face' in return for stopping the war. This was an important concept to the Vau who valued honour and dignity above all else. For a general to suffer such a shame as defeat the Vau had to grant the G'nesh the right to peace and tranquillity. in other words the G'nesh live in tranquil retirement protected by the Vau because one individual knew which words to say to prevent the extinction of his species.
The Ukar War and the Rise of the Universal Church
The encounter with the Vau bolstered the power of the Universal Church, especially after the high-profile death of the Prophet in a Jumpgate accident in Vau Space. Humankind trembled before a technologically advanced race. Palamedes' Church drew the scattered principalities together and bolstered their confidence. Humans could not turn back from the stars for to do so would be to fail the Pancreator. The urgings of the Priests gave humankind a unifying identity, a universal doctrine with which to move forwards. Then in 2955AD the Ur-Ukar conquered the world of Criticorum.
The Ur-Ukar were a psionically operant humanoid warrior race who had at the time colonised two planets and saw the human principalities as merely potential conquests. The human response to the fall of Criticorum was swift. The noble families of the neighbouring Principalities of Shaprut and New Istanbul formed an allied fleet to retake the planet. The Ukar, however, presented no easy target to attack. Instead they melted into the scenery, spreading out from Criticorum to wage war through sabotage, assassination and bombing of public spaces. Soon over a dozen planets had suffered at the hands of the Ukar. The Ur-Obun soon recognised the Ur-Ukar as their ancient brethren, fellow children of the Ur, and spoke out against them, joining the humans in condemnation of the Ukar tactics of random violence.
Patriarch Palamedes used the terror generated by the public bombings to preach the need for a united response to the threat. Palamedes called together a council of all the ruling houses and presented to them a choice. If the nobles would put their fleet in his hands he would reveal to them the location of the Ukar homeworld. Some nobles withdrew, eaither not believing that Palamedes had such information or not trusting the man, the rest agreed to his terms, the majority of the human principalities swore an oath of alliance against the Ukar and in return Palamedes revealed the location.
The united fleet spiralled out of the Jumpgate, destroying any ship in its path. The surprised and ill-prepared Ukar retreated and formed a phalanx around their homeworld. on the planet below panic broke out as rival clans fought each other, some desperate to appeal for clemancy from the humans, others wishing to fight until the bitter end. In response to the confused calls from the planet some ships broke off from the phalanx leaving ragged areas undefended through which the humans were able to break and the bombing of the Ukar homeworld began.
Palamedes victory ensured the safety of Human Space, or so the church preached. The fear of alien invasion was imminent everywhere, and a Church which had proven itself effective against such enemies was a beacon shining in the night.
The New Renaissance
Interaction with the Vau and Ur-Obun combined with the shock of the Ukar War seems to have shocked humanity out of it's long hibernation. In the thirty-first century humankind again started to ask questions, scientists made amazing discoveries through observing phenomena on other worlds, by talking to Ur-Obun scientists and by building on the lore handed down from the First Republic. The incredible discoveries that were made were not spread evenly throughout humanity. Scientists were sponsored by the Noble house that ruled their world, to release knowledge to other worlds would be disloyal to the House which would be simple suicide. So some Principalities prospered, subsuming less fortunate neighbours and soon many inter-stellar Kingdoms flourished. The heart of the new power was, however, trade. As science advanced and stability crystallised in the new Kingdoms interplanetary trade boomed, alliances were formed between mercantile groups; alliances which allowed free flow of information regardless of borders. These new Guilds finally gathered together and decided on a course of action to free humanity from the oppression of the nobles.
The Second Republic: 3500AD-4000AD
The Rise of the Republic
On the first day of the year 3500AD, after decades of planning, the Guilds made their move, simultaneously presenting the rulers and people of every human Kingdom with the announcement of a new democratic council for Human Space on New Istanbul. Those Kingdoms which refused to take part would be quarantined until such time as they reconsidered. Many Kingdoms did of course refuse membership, but the withdrawal by the Guilds of virtually the entire economic infrastructure brought about the fall of any such autocratic regime.
The new democratic human republic brought about a new era of freedom and free flow of information. Under this new order science and technology strode forwards. With the vast resources of the united human worlds and a unity of purpose nothing was impossible, anything could be achieved. Genetic engineering cured diseases that had plagued humanity for millions of years, terraforming opened new worlds for collonisation, the sum of human knowledge was pooled into a vast computer network called The Map that spanned Human Space. Information was sought out by AI 'agents' whose services were available to all citizens of the Second Republic. The study of psionics reached new heights Metaphysics became the premier applied science of the Second Republic, the prestigious profession to which all geniuses turned their attention. Psionics had been recognised since the twenty first century but never before had it been as well understood as it now was. The central forum for this profession was the Phavian Institute where the "Mental Sciences" of Metaphysics were widely discussed by experts who travelled from all the worlds of the Second Republic. Danger and oppression were now the myths of a bygone era to be read about by scholars and thrill-seekers, things that did not happen in the 'real' world.
The utopia carried the seeds of its own destruction. Most new technology displaced workers, and soon there was little need for work. The economy did not keep up with these changes and the welfare system, though grand was not build to uphold the sheer number of unemployed who had lost their livelihoods because of the new technology. Unemployment led to dissatisfaction with the government of the Republic and in 3978AD an unknown anarchist group managed to shutdown the Map. Anarchy exploded as the welfare system ground to a halt and citizens were denied money. Riots began on all the worlds of the Second Republic.
The nobility saw its chance. After the installation of the new republic the nobles had been reduced to a largely ceremonial role; bought off by huge payments and the right to chair planetary parliaments. Now they saw their chance. They began orchestrating deals with the overstretched central government on New Istanbul, requesting and being granted emergency powers to crush riots and collect taxes; all the time failing to hand out welfare money even after the Map was restored to full working order. This time became known as the Divestiture for as New Istanbul granted the nobles more power it lost more and more control over the bureaucratic beast the government had become. Finally, massive corruption in central government combined with the increased tax burden caused outlying worlds to secede from the Republic. These Rogue Worlds now firmly under the control of noble families, were too powerful for the weakened Republic to put down; the Republic was forced to deal with them on their own terms.
The Fading Suns
Then the stars began to fade. Only after three stars with populated planets noticeably dimmed in 3995AD did people realise that the Fading Suns phenomenon was not just a fluke. Many people had their own explanations: "It's some sort of Vau weapon.", "It's the fusion generators, they're not safe, their draining the Suns' power!", "It's a government conspiracy!" were all common cries from the beaten people of the Republic and Rouge Worlds. The Universal Church began to preach, explaining that the Prophet had spoken of this danger over a thousand years before. Humans were sinful and bad, in their pride they had overreached themselves. The message hit the right nerves. People needed reasons to hate and a target to direct it at. While the church fathers were genuinely concerned about the souls of what they saw as a largely sinful populace they could not help falling into old habits. The Church took the hate of the people and directed it at the Republic's government on New Istanbul which they blamed for leading humanity away from religion and for being a den of corruption.
The Schism Wars and the Fall of the Republic
During the Republic the Church had split into numerous factions and denominations. In a bid to recapture support the President of the Republic made a deal with the Orthodox sect. in return for the Church's open support of central government, the Republic would declare the Orthodox Church to be the official and only recognised sect of the Universal Church. This, combined with pre-millennial paranoia inevitably sparked off religious wars plunging the Republic into civil war in 3999AD as each world supported one or another faction in the conflict. As the chaos reached it's height the rulers of the ten most powerful Rouge Worlds banded together and launched a united fleet which swept through the shattered Republic, taking New Istanbul by surprise and the fleet crushed the token resistance of the Republican Guard. As the smoke cleared in the Presidential Palace the Ten Noble Houses raised their own banners. The fall of the Republic was complete.
The Interregnum (Early Third Human Dark Age): 4000AD-4550AD
The Ten Houses and The Universal Church
The triumphant Noble Houses were quick to establish that a 'new order' was in place, the most visible and lasting symbol of this policy was the renaming of New Istanbul as Byzantium Secundus. The Nobles supported (for political reasons) the erstwhile Republic‘s recognition of Orthodoxy as the official religion of Human Space and the Church's tenet that humankind was sinful and thay the Church had a rightful power over the lives of the sinful. The Church moved in to stamp it's mark on all it could. It's main tenent was that technology and psionics were evil and had led to the downfall of humanity, and so humans must not create or use it. The Noble Houses agreed, seeing a method by which their populations could be kept in line. They did of course seek an exception to the anti-tech/psi creed; they had no desire to dismantle their fleet or military equipment and many of their own number were operant psionicists. Eventually a compromise was reached in which the Nobility was said to be in a form of "..extreme penance."..."to compassionately take on sinful tasks to save the common man from such strain.". Thus the use of technology, psionics and the powers of rulership were seen as necessary evils and nobles were martyrs seeking to save humanity by sacrificing their own souls. The Church also claimed a saintly role in this, decreeing that it was the duty of the Church to guard the commoners from tech. For this purpose the Priests must be knowledgeable in the ways of technology, but if they were penitent enough their souls would remain pure on Judgement Day.
This hit hard on those with operant psionic ability. The Phavian Institute was disbanded and Psionicists became the targets of Inquisitional witchhunts. These hunts did not stop Psionics from developing, it did drive some Operants underground. Others, those who were faithful, bought the church line that their powers were sinful. Many anguished people committed suicide rather than face sin. Others fell on the mercy of the Church, begging aid and forgiveness. The Church accepted many of these repentant operants, indoctrinating them with a code of behaviour for using their powers. These became the Penitents. Other Operants ran to the Guilds, hoping that their democratic sentiment would protect them. It did. A Psychic Guild was formed under the auspices of the new Merchant League.
The Merchant League
The two way sharing of power between the Church and the Noble Houses looked set to form an invulnerable oligarchy, but then the Guilds retaliated. During the Second Republic the Guilds had faded into the background, serving merely as glorified business alliances. Now the Guilds, faced with the loss of the technology upon which the freedom of humanity (and their business) was based once again banded together to form the Merchant League. The League refused to release the designs and the expertise for the technology that they manufactured, operated and maintained and they refused to surrender the devices they owned. Without the assistance of the League starships could not run, military battle armour and weapons would fail and House and Church communications would be cut. The Houses began a reign of terror, hunting down anyone claiming to be a Guildsman. The Church began excommunicating the leaders of the League, forcing the loyal to refuse them aid. To no avail. The League had the Merchant Fleet; a navy of its own, there were worlds loyal to the League, and they had trade. After the destruction of the AI Map 'agents' as sinful technology the Church and Houses were left without the expertise and knowledge required to operate the Jumpgates to reach many areas of Human Space. Indeed many world had purposely disabled their Jumpgates and disappeared from the trade network and from history. Only the Guilds knew how to navigate the Jumproads and the Map to find alternative sources of vital materials. The Priests and Nobles were forced to give the League a cut of the action, but the League was forced to compromise. For the Church to accept the 'godliness' of the League the Psychic Guild had to be disbanded, its mermbers were split into 'franchises'- local Psychic Guilds under the auspices of one of the Interstellar Guilds. While it's members were still free to use their powers without retribution this move severely crippled the political position of psionicists in the Known Worlds.
The Barbarians at the Gates
The Interregnum was a time of uneasy tension. The Ten Noble Houses each elected a representative to the Council of Ten on Byzantium Secundus which was of course 'advised' by the Patriarch of the Universal Church and by the representatives of the Guilds. This 'advising' often broke down into small scale civil wars which were largely contained for everyone feared a return to the total chaos that had ended the Second Republic. Into this unstable and fractious order came the barbarians. During the civil wars many worlds were 'lost', fallen back to primitive levels; their major industrial and comunication centres destroyed and their fleets wiped out. Neighbouring worlds were either staggering under similar problems or had lost the jumpco-ordinates for the world in the Map Purges of the Church Inquisitors. Some worlds purposefully vanished; sealing their Jumpgates, cutting themselves off from the madness surrounding them. Those with expert technical know-how can seal a gate, that is shut down all travel going one or both ways. Once a gate is sealed however no one can tell how long it will remain so. That aspect of Ur technology remains a mystery. Some gates remained closed for a matter of days. Some have yet to reopen. Those worlds that were cut off from the rest of Human Space during the formative years of the Interregnum formed their own governments. As more and more of these worlds quietly returned to the new order they formed a coalition to obtain resources from the Known Worlds by raiding those worlds that they could sweep into and escape from before House ships could arrive.
In 4540AD the problem of these 'barbarians' was keenly felt by Vladimir Alecto the recently elected Chairman of the Council of Ten. Vladimir saw that the loose affiliation of the Known World was presently in such a state of turmoil that at no point in the five hundred years of its existance was there a time when there was less than three civil wars raging in various parts of the Known Worlds. The raids of the barbarians would soon push the Known Worlds over the brink into total dissolution. Pledging to lead the Known Worlds to victory against the barbarians Vladimir gained the support of five of the Noble Houses, the Church and the Guilds for all were threatened by the outside enemy. After three years of battle the barbarians were broken. The Jumpgates leading to their worlds were sealed to prevent further raids and the barbarian threat was no more. Vladimir was not finished, he pointed to the five Houses that had not supported the war, calling them traitors to humanity and declaring that they must be punished. The Known Worlds were behind him. The war was bloody and lasted for seven long years. In 4550AD Vladimir accepted the surrender of the rebel houses and proclaimed himself Emperor of the Known Worlds.
The Great Charter and the Death of Vladimir
Immediately upon declaring himself Emperor, Vladimir issued the Great Charter setting forth the new constitution. The Emperor was autocratic, his word was law and all must obey him or die. A select few of the elite of the Houses Church and League could vote on his successor. These Electors were issued with a sceptre (vote rod) as proof of office. A great coronation ceremony was held on Byzantium Secundus when Vladimir arrived to take the throne. As he placed the crown upon his head, fire erupted from his eyes and he fell dead on the floor, years of hard won victory gone at the hands of an unknown assassin.
The Regency (Later Third Dark Age): 4550AD-4956AD
Vladimir had no successor. A spate of unfortunate deaths and assassinations among the nobles followed the failed coronation, decimating the ranks of the Houses. The Ten were reduced to the Five composed of House Hawkwood, Decados, Hazat, Li Halan and al-Malik. The tensions between the remaining Council of Five were high. The elector could come to no agreement on who should succeed Vladimir as Emperor. The one thing that the Five did agree on was that the Known worlds needed a strong autocratic leader to prevent an all out slide into anarchy. A compromise was reached; until a human who was clearly chosen by the Pancreator to rule the Known Worlds could be found the Electors would select a Regent who would hold the powers of Emperor for ten years after which another Regent would be selected. it would be centuries before Vladimir's dream of a Human Empire would be achieved.
The Symbiot Wars
The Second Republic had had its dissenters, one of the most troublesome of the activist groups were the 'reds'; environmental saboteurs (ecoteurs) who were ethically opposed to the terraforming of planets insisting that nature should be left in it pristine untouched state. One such group of ecoteurs eked out a precarious existance on the jungle world of Chernobog, harassing the Second Republic terraforming engineers during the 3830s. There they disturbed a previously unknown race; the Xoloti who awakened from hibernation and began parasiticaly infesting the bodies of the humans in an attempt to breed. Two of those infested were Psionic Operants and when they attempted to used their abilities to heal themselves something explosive occured; the two species merged in both mind and body. The result was neither human nor Xoloti, but a new powerfully psionic race that was to become known as the Symbiots. After gathering strength and practising their newfound powers, they assaulted the human planetary capital with fury. Unable to withstand, or even comprehend, the weapondry of the attackers, the Second Republic retreated from Chernobog and sealed the Jumpgate so that no one could get into or out of the contaminated system. After this was done the event faded from the public memory; an interesting story of dangerous native fauna of no importance to the real world. Over a thousand years later the Symbiots broke the seal.
The Battle of Absolution
In the intervening years the Symbiots had perfected their Biokinesis to a level barely dreamed of even at the height of the second Republic. This was immediately apparent to their first victims on the world of Absolution in 4900AD as the Symbiot fleet of organic ships passed through the Jumpgate without warning and the Symbiot soldiers in living battle armour began to disembark. The creatures repulsed the defenders even as they died. After they had decimated the population and infrastructure of Absolution the Symbiots left. The attack was merely a foretaste of what was to come.
The Battle of Daishan
Daishan and Stigmata, other worlds on the borders of the Known Worlds became wary, mobilising their navy in a phalanx around their Jumpgates, but the Symbiots did not arrive in fleets this time, but attacked through the least expected avenue; the flora and fauna of Daishan. The plants and animals of the border world turned on the human population. The Symbiots had planned their attack years earlier, subverting entire ecosystems under the noses of the oblivious colonists. The humans found it difficult to fight off mobile forests or herds of predatory beasts working in tight knit teams. As expected the defenders resorted to wide scale firebombing, devastating the ecosphere and destroying the food supply. Even these drastic tactics failed as the plants grew back at incredible speeds, now resistant to the effects of fire. Over a number of years the humans of Daishan were forced to evacuate their world.
The Battle of Stigmata: The Return of Magic
The Regent moved quickly to defend Stigmata, a border world with Jumproads leading to half the Known Worlds. A new office was created of Stigmata Garrison Commander, a position control over Imperial resources. The Imperial Fleet was dispatched in all its might, but could do little against the guerrilla tactics of the Symbiots. Finally, for no apparent reason the tide turned in one region of Stigmata. Upon investigation it was discovered that the victories were largely due to two individuals: Friar Berthold of the then outlawed Eskatonic Order and Damiana who belonged to the Guild of Charioteers. These two were unusual in that Damiana was a powerful Psionic Operant and Friar Berthold was user of heretical clerical magic. The two were native Stigmatans and had banded together, using their talents in service of the grassroots resistance movement. The Friar's litanies and Damiana's Psionic skills succeeded where the Imperial Fleet had not. This seemed to be the key to fighting the Symbionts on close to even terms. There were a couple of problems with this solution. Firstly, Psionics were outlawed under the Regency except in tightly controlled conditions; potentially destructive powers were banned not only by law but by layers of religious rhetoric which could not simply be repealed. The second stumbling block was that magic did not exist, everyone knew that. Covert deals had to be made before magic could be accepted within the dogma of the Church. The Church had to be brought in and given credit for the affair. The magic-using religious sect, the Eskatonic Order had to be accepted into the fold of the Universal Church. Once this political shifting was complete the Church unleashed the magic using priests and rouge Psionic Operants (promised absolution for their service) onto Stigmata. They were given the the powers of Inquisitors, the power to cleanse the ungodly taint in whatever way they saw fit. It worked. Where the Fleet had failed magic and psionics succeeded.
Magic had gained a foothold on the human consciousness again, one which Church, House and League alike found hard to control. The use of magic unsanctioned by the Church was a grave sin punishable by instant execution. Despite this, individuals seeking power began to turn to forbidden texts seeking to relearn the ancient ways. Some sought to understand the universe, to better the lot of their fellow beings. Others sought power from invisible entities whose names are whispered in fear in occult circles. These latter risked risked their souls and those of their fellows in bids for power, and not the least of them were members of the Five Houses who sought immortal power over their enemies.
The Regency Crumbles
Fifty years after the end of the Symbiot Wars Darius of House Hawkwood began making grand offers in return for votes in order to become elected as the next Regent. Fearing that Darius might have a more permanent job in mind the other Houses began covert negotiations seeking to consolidate power bases in case of war. Seeing the Houses even more divided than usual the Church also began casting about, seeking support for the time when they could move to install the ancient dream of theocracy as a reality. Seeing the chaos that was brewing the Guild Council gathered and decided that a coup would have to be made in the hope of forestalling full scale civil war and of creating a new Third Republic. It was not to be. The young, popular and charismatic Alexius of House Hawkwood strode into the council chamber of Byzantium Secundus and claimed the Imperial Throne. He came prepared, hidden Hawkwood forces and mercenary fleets swept through the Jumpgate as he made his proclamation, stifling all opposition. On that very day Alexius was crowned Emperor of the Known Worlds
The Emperor Wars: 4956AD-4995AD
At first only House Hawkwood, Li Halan and al-Malik conceded. The Church and League reluctantly acknowledged the Emperor but remained aloof from the ensuing conflict. House Decados and Hazat proclaimed themselves loyal to the Regency and decades of civil war broke out. The Decados gave in sooner than anyone expected, surprising all and causing people to wonder at their motives. A war with a barbarian border world weakened the Hazat to the point that when the Decados capitulated it was forced to surrender. In 4995 all Five Houses finally recognised the now middle aged Alexius as Emperor of the Known Worlds.
The Imperium: 4995AD-Present
The Consolidation: 4995AD-5000AD
The Emperor Wars had taken a terrible toll, not only on men and resources, but also on the borders of the Known Worlds. Many worlds had broken away during the fighting, relying on the Houses to be too preoccupied with each other to bother about a few rouge worlds. Barbarian worlds had seen their chance and Alexius found himself in command of an Empire that was already at war on numerous fronts. Alexius reformed the military, simplifying its command structure, removing millennia of bureaucratic detritus and granting the Fleet greater powers to respond to developing situations. The result was drastic. For the first time since the Second Republic the Known Worlds began to expand. Barbarian invaders were crushed, their worlds subjugated. Barbarian border worlds that had thus far kept silent were 'offered' membership of the new Empire. Those that refused found the Imperial Fleet brightening the night sky.
The Pax Imperium: 5000AD-5025AD
When the Empire celebrated the dawn of the Sixth Millennium it appeared to be on the brink of a new golden age of mankind, and in many ways it was. The common man was still largely downtrodden, denied access to information or basic technologies distateful to Church or House and on many worlds forced to live in conditions little better than those of at the end of the First Millennium. On the other hand, during what was to become the Pax Imperium the Known Worlds were at last free from war. In many areas the church began to loosen it's restrictions on the use of tech, many say at the urging of Alexius who wanted his Empire to match the grandeur of the Second Republic. The expansion of the Known Worlds brought the Empire into contact with many new species many of whom became trading partners and enriched the culture of the Empire (the weaker races were 'welcomed into the service of the Imperium' and can now be found in slave markets across the Empire). The Emperor's Peace and the relaxing of many of the psi/tech laws brought with it a new era of prosperity for the League which was now able to trade throughout the Worlds, protected by the ubiquitous Imperial Fleet.
Thus ends the Fading Suns history according to the 1stEd core books. The following is how history progressed according to my RPG campaign.
In 5025AD the Church sect Sanctuary Aeon reported that Nisus (an empty swamp world) bordering its Sect Capital-World; Artemis, had been colonized by a formerly unknown lizard-like race. Initial contact revealed that they possessed high technology were pagan, worshipping a Goddess they called Infini and made flagrant use of AI technology. Further missions sent from Artemis revealed that the Lizards were part of a vast 'Thennian Empire' which these colonists had fled to escape a holy war which threatened to destroy their traditional society (Note: this war takes place in David Brins Uplift series). The Thennian culture was revealed to be one based on tradition, family and a strict code of honour. Shortly after these reports were issued a Temple Avesti cruiser entered the Artemis system. Refusing to respond to inquiries it proceeded to pass through the Jumpgate to Nisus. The cruiser landed at the Thennian Capital, the Inqusitors were assumed to be ambassadors from the Empire and were ushered into the Thennian President's interview chambers. The Inqusitors demanded three times that the President covert to the worship of the Universal Church and to acknowledge the authority of the Patriarch. The President refused. The Presidential Guards who waited outside the chamber were alerted to the disturbance by the smell of searing meat as the Inquisitors extracted punishment on the 'sinner'. The Inqusitors themselves were torn to pieces by an enraged mob.
The Thennian Wars: 5025AD-5035AD
Temple Avesti, the Patriarch and the aging Emperor all denied any knowledge of the Avesti mission, these denials were ignored as Thennian warships captured the worlds of Artemis and Holy Terra in the space of twenty four hours. The loss of Holy Terra transformed the issue from one of a border skirmish into a Holy Crusade. Volunteers stormed Fleet headquarters across the Empire as the faithful sought to punish the heathen desecrating the Holy World. Everyone assumed that the Fleet could simply crush the heathens in a single glorious battle. It was not to be. The Thennians revealed the problems caused by the tech laws. While the Empire had overwhelming numbers on their side, the Thennians had the use of hyper intelligent AIs and an AI controlled library which could provide details of every invention and scientific fact discovered throughout the Thennian history and those of other races the Thennians had contacted. The war raged on for ten years, both sides receiving hideous casualties
The Fall of Aragon and the Loss of Delphi
The War came to a head when the Thennians made a push towards Byzantium Secundus. Aragon, the Hazat Capital-World is one of the few worlds possessing a direct Jumproad to the Imperial capital, as such it could not be allowed to fall, but fall it did. All battleworthy ships from across the Empire were called in to defend Aragon when the full might of the Thennian Fleet revealed itself to the defenders. Communications from the system were immediately jammed so no one knows the details of the battle, but when Admiral Carlos Peronid of House Decados arrived with reinforcements from Cadiz, Aragon had fallen. Imperial ships littered the system making navigation almost impossible. The hulks were twisted and warped almost beyond recognition, some transformed into fantastic crystalline materials, others seemingly made of still molten metal. Communication was established with the planet and the full scale of the disaster became clear. A plague had been released onto Aragon, a very fast acting plague which caused hideously fast skin growth resulting in the eventual suffocation of the victim. Already most of the population was dead. Intelligence gathered from a captured Thennian revealed that the aim of the Thennian war was not to destroy the capital, their code of honour required that they receive an unconditional surrender from the Emperor. If they had not received such a surrender within 18 hours they would test out another weapon on the Emperors homeworld; Delphi. Broadcasting this information Peronid's fleet raced through the Jumproads to Delphi only to find to his horror the same scene as had greeted him at Aragon, only this time there was no plague; Delphi was breaking up. Somehow the superior Thennian technology had produced some form of gravity nullifier that was rapidly lowering the gravity of Delphi, already the surface was a chaos of hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, Delphi seemed to have less than three days before the gravity would actually reverse and its population of fifty million would be no more. With no time to spare Peronid ordered the evacuation of Delphi, telling his men to transport as many of the citizens as possible to the neighbouring swamp world of Palas, a Charioteer stronghold which up until this point had functioned as an executive vacation planet, famous for its gambling venues. Unfortunately the Thennians returned to check on their work. Peronid had been constantly appealing for more ships but had been informed that the Imperial Fleet was engaged protecting the capital and that he would have to deal with the situation personally. So when several Thennian battleships appeared through the Jumpgate, Peronida realised that those still on the planet were lost, he had to protect those already in ships. It is a tribute to Peronid's organisational skills that he had managed to rescue almost a million civilians before he had to abandon the attempt. The fleet formed a protective formation around those ships carrying refugees and moved through the Jumpgate to Palas. The Thennians followed. Fortunately for the refugees the League had not been as forthcoming about it's capabilities as the Empire had assumed. The Charioteers, the Muster and the Engineers had formed a combined effort to break the Church's strongest prohibition. Using captured Thennian technology and ancient plans the League had managed to protect its strongholds with planetary defence systems operated by AI technology. As the Thennian fleet launched an assault on Palas the defence system sprang into operation; calculating capabilities and likely counteractions faster than any human could be capable of achieving. The battle was long and bloody, the defence grid managed to take out the majority of the Thennian ships before it was shut down by a Thennian strike. Peronid's fleet fought on, the two forces now seemingly evenly matched. It was at this point that the Palas Jumpgate was somehow sealed and Palas was lost to the Known Worlds.
The Death of Alexius and the Peace of Ravenna
On hearing the fate of his homeworld Emperor Alexius, now 100 years old, collapsed. He was rushed to the finest medical facility on Byzantium Secundus, everyone knew he was dying, and he was leaving no heir. When the Emperor recovered consciousness he called together the Imperial Council consisting of a representative from each of the Interstellar Guilds, Houses and Sects. before them all he announced that he had little time left and so would announce his heir. His choice surprised everyone; he chose Nicias of House Hawkwood, a charismatic young noble, popular in the media but who had little or no experience in politics. Alexius died later that day. House Hazat and Decados immediately announced their support for the new Emperor. The other Houses were less forthcoming, suggesting that a vote should be made after the style of the Regency years. An unfortunate and highly selective virus promptly decimated the ranks of these houses and in 5035AD Nicias was crowned Emperor of the Known Worlds. At this point the Thennians requested peace talks, announcing that as Alexius could no longer surrender, under the Thennian honour code their campaign was pointless. Nicias met with the Thennian leadership on the world of Ravenna. Both sides wanted peace, but both sides knew that the other was a formidable opponent. The results of the talks was the Peace of Ravenna. This treaty laid out that the Thennians possessed the world of Nisus and any worlds that they wished to claim that could be reached from Nisus that had not already been claimed by the Imperium, they were to withdraw from all other worlds and specifically the world of Holy Terra. The Thennian worlds were now adjudged to be part of the Empire, though the Emperor acknowledged the freedom of the Thennians to rule themselves on their own worlds, though they were subject to the rule of the Church and Crown when outside Thennian space. Finally the Thennian and Imperial fleets were to merge so that the two races could war no more.
This last decision shocked the Five Houses, horrified at the thought of the hated enemy that had destroyed two of the most prosperous human worlds crawling around Imperial vessels. The Thennian public was also horrified at their politicians decision to sell out their fleet, in their eyes seeing themselves laid bare to attack from the treacherous humans. Nicias revealed his harsher side, executing and imprisoning any that objected to his treaty. This was a perilous time with assassination attempts and coups being uncovered almost daily. Nicias' popularity with the public was however at an all time high, he was seen as the bringer of peace and the saviour of mankind. Somehow he weathered the storm, and soon attention was diverted to the events occurring in the remains of Delphi.
The Fate of Delphi
After the destruction of Delphi a warship had been stationed in the Delphi system to guard the Jumpgate and to monitor the debris of the murdered planet. Over the course of a year the warship reported that the planet had completely broken up into fragments no bigger than ten miles across which slowly moved away from the former core. After a year the debris appeared to have stabilised in a hollow sphere of fragments. In
5037AD an excited dispatch was sent to Fleet Command; a huge explosion appeared to have occurred in the centre of what had become known as the Delphi Sphere, leaving a steady blue light. The Thennians protested ignorance, insisting that their libraries contained nothing on this phenomena. Astronomers were dispatched to take a closer look at the light. Initial observations revealed little, so a base was set up on one of the asteroids of the Delphi Sphere so that prolonged observations could take place, it was during the construction of this structure that the visions began.
At first workers began experiencing moments of deja vous, these moments became gradually worse until construction was severely hampered as engineers paused to stare at their tools, convinced they had already completed the task they were working on three or four times over, this quickly became known as Delphi Fever. More staff were brought in to replace those now experiencing severe mental breakdowns, but the new staff only displayed similar effects. Then, two months into construction of a structure supposed to be built in a week, Guildman Aias Telemon of the Supreme Order of Engineers, supervisor of the project vanished in a blinding flash. One minute he had been floating above the construction site in an EVA suit, the next he was gone. An investigation was begun immediately, but a mere twenty four hours later Guildman Telemon reappeared in exactly the same position. After being questioned it was found that Telemon had been gazing at the blue light while experiencing a bad attack of Delphi Fever, then Telemon claims to have witnessed the breakup of Delphi, the assassination of Vladimir, seen the emergence of a new noble house, seen himself as a grandparent and met the Prophet. Telemon promptly joined Sanctuary Aeon as a monk. What caused this experience was unknown but the 'Delphi Effect' was found to be repeatable; prolonged periods of gazing at the blue light caused sentient subjects to vanish, and reappear after a period of approximately a day during which they experienced visions from random, but significant portions of history...and the future. The Patriarch immediately proclaimed the Delphi Sphere to be holy ground and the visions a gift from the Pancreator. The entire weight of the Universal Church was thrown behind this proclamation, leaving Nicias little option but in 5038AD to grant Delphi to the Church, which established a monastery on the Delphi Sphere under the auspices of Sanctuary Aeon.
Now, in 5045AD, the Known Worlds are again at peace, subject to wrangling and backstabbing as ever, but ruled by a strong and comparatively liberal Emperor and at least no longer at war.