Sunday, April 28, 2019

Blog Roadmap: May 2019

April was not a bad month for the blog at all.  We've added three more patrons (a special shoutout to Shinanoki, if they don't mind), and while our views did not exceed last month's, they came close.  For a quiet month, it wasn't so bad.

Personally, the month was richly rewarding and also very difficult. I've been the sickest I've been in my life (and I'm still sick: this is the flu that never goes away), and I've been hard at work helping my wife with our new baby girl, and celebrating my son's second birthday!  April is a busy month.

I took my free time to play with a few ideas, especially the idea of a more explicit dive into a conspiratorial take on Psi-Wars.  It's always been there, but the more I look at it and the more I explore it, the more I think it's a necessary addition, or at least, a necessary clarification.  My patrons seem to agree, given how much weight the Elite Knight got in the poll.

The patreon polls for the topics of the month have a theme: Technology as Magic, so I'll touch on that in a broad post (or three) outlining Techno-magic: using ultra-tech as magic, the dangers, the pitfalls, some tips, musings on the themes and narrative options it creates and some specific examples.  The Psi-Wars request is essentially the same: the Deep Engine, the Eldothic "Techno-magic" element to the Psi-Wars setting.  I've got a lot of it worked out already for the full Patreon post I did some time ago, so it's a matter of cleaning it up and expanding a few elements.  Expect to see both of these this month.

Some men in black masks visited me in the night, and quietly pointed to GURPS Action 2, then to my Psi-Wars wiki, and nailed a note written in blood to my wall: "Campaigns begin."  I think the Secret Council's message couldn't be more clear: I need to collate the rules I've been working on for so long into a cohesive place so people can use them.  I've begun, but given the strain on my time, I don't know how much I'll get done.  We shall see. Hopefully the Secret Council will be pleased.

Our signature artist is almost finished with the Slavers portrait, and I think it's turned out quite well!  Expect to see at least a Patreon preview of the Slaver race soon, and with luck, a full blog post.

I haven't forgotten the vehicles we were working on.  The next set is the Alliance, and I currently have 4 ground vehicles and 2 starfighters.  I suspect I'll have them all done soon enough, and will begin to reveal them one by one on the blog soon.

That should be it for May.  I don't know how many of these priorities I'll manage, given that I go back to work, my son isn't going to get less rambunctious and my daughter is still quite young, so my wife will be tired and in desperate need of sleep and help, but in between moments, I'm sure I can get some things written.

See you then and again, to all of my patrons, thank you for your support.  You make this possible.

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Psi-Wars Historical Timeline V: The Eldothic Era

This is the final post of the history series: these are the earliest events of "Recorded history" in Psi-Wars.

The Primordial Era (100,000+ years BD)

The official history of the Psi-Wars Galaxy begins with the Eldoth and their first Galactic Empire, but civilization in the Galaxy did not begin with them. Something built the Hammer of Caliban and hollowed out the Labyrinthine worlds. Something built Azrael and the Adversary that the Eldoth would later fight are, themselves, ancient beyond even Eldothic description. Little is known about the Primordial Era, and it is left to GMs who wish to tackle the era to fill in the blanks. Possibilities include:
  • A civilization of the Skairos that spanned Sylvan Spiral, the Glorian Rim and the galactic core that meddled with human evolution and mostly perished in some great war against some terrible enemy (perhaps the Adversary or the Anacridian Scourge), but not before arranging to bequeath their civilization to humanity as a successor species and warning them of a coming calamity.

  • An elder cybernetic civilization that came from beyond the Galaxy and created Azrael (or was a civilization of enormous, world-sized “robots”) that once held all the galaxy in sway, or threatened to destroy it, before first being defeated by some civilization and then, later (in a much weaker state) by the Eldoth. They may have some connection with the Anacridian Scourge.

  • The Shapeshifter race has forgotten its origins or its purpose, but most evidence points to their being an artificial race created for some purpose by some impossibly ancient race. They may date from this era.

  • Communion is probably a completely natural phenomenon, but some fringe Communion theories speculate that Communion might be an artificial construct, a sacred psyshic engine similar in function to its more diabolical twin, the Deep Engine. If so, its lynchpins were created in this era, likely in the Sylvan Spiral or the Umbral Rim.

  • The Morass and its Leviathans are probably natural evolutions, but the Sylvan Spiral was not always infested with both. In the Primordial Era, the Sylvan Spiral was clear of both, and in this era, something may have made them or some events may have transpired that allowed for their rapid infestation of this galactic arm.

The Eldothic Union

~6000 BD The Eldoth Awaken (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~5150 BDC Lithian; ~-25gc U Eldothic)

The Eldoth begin to explore the space of the Arkhaian Spiral. They have very primitive forms of FLT travel, so this takes a very long time by modern standards. During this phase, they mostly set up colonies

~5500 BD The First Age of Chaos (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~4650 BDC Lithian; ~-10gc U Eldothic)

Once Eldothic colonies have been established and they begin to more regularly interact with one another thanks to slowly improving FTL travel, they find their civilizations have sufficiently diverged that they no longer have any sense of unity. The small “star states” begin to raid one another for technology and resources. They also regularly come across other aliens that they can experiment on and incorporate into their small empires. Their movements into the core and fringes begin to give them their first encounters with what their archives will later describe as “the Adversary.”

~5300 BD The Deadzone and the Corruption (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~4450 BDC Lithian; ~-2gc U Eldothic)

The first experiments with the Deep Engine go horribly awry, creating an monstrous, planetary-scale Broken Communion zone and an entity within it referred to as the “Deep Corruption.” The Eldoth are able to contain the planet as the core of the Deep Engine and contain the entity within the Deep Engine itself, locked away behind layers of security, but it still moves within the pan-galactic network, lurking behind safeguards, seeking a way to get out and express itself.
This naturally results in the total extinction of a species.

5251 BD Eldothic Universal Time (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(4384 BDC Lithian; 0gc U Eldothic)

The Deep Engine experiments conclude with the successful creation of the Deep Engine and its initiation on multiple worlds, thus networking them together. This moment is chosen as the arbitrary “cycle zero” of “universal time”

~5200 BD The First Eldothic Union (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~4300 BDC Lithian; 1gc U Eldothic)

Increasingly concerned by alien threats and united by the Deep Engine, the Eldoth set aside their differences and form a “Union,” governed by “the Convocation of Exarchs” representing each major state and faction within the Union, and administrating their own local portion of the Deep Engine. This council is physically located on their homeworld of Sepulcher.

~4700 to ~4500 BD The Great War with the Adversary (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~3800 to ~3600 BDC Lithian; 17gc to 23gc U Eldothic)

The coordination afforded by the Convocation of Exarchs allows for a deep push into the troubled Galactic Core and into the Fringe (the Anaciridian Cloud), where they definitively encounter and catalog what their archives refer to as “the Adversary.” The Adversary is associated with Azrael, locked away in the Core in the present day, and its dangerous minions located in the Anacridician Cloud on the Fringe of the Arkahaian Spiral trying to reconnect with it.

The Adversary initiates a war with the Eldothic Union, who are forced to defend themselves. This Adversary War lasts two hundred years, during which Deep Engine cores are broken, leading to more Broken Communion “Dead Gods” and more Deep Engine corruption. Entire Eldoth worlds are shattered during the war The Eldoth create their servitor race and their engines of war, such as the Titans, to defeat the Adversary, and even then, they are only able to force Azrael into a “slumber” state.

~4400 BD Eldothic Empire (The Arkhaian Spiral)
(~3500 BDC Lithian; ~25gc U Eldothic)

Once the Adversary War completes, all of Eldothic culture is rocked by the aftermath. They pick up the pieces, repair what they can, seal away Broken Communion corruption and rebuild their society. Their culture has been deeply affected by the war and their near extinction, and slowly becomes deeply militaristic and paranoid. While still called the “Union,” the culture changes enough to mark a new epoch in the government and most human and Ranathim histories of the Eldothic Union begin to refer to it as the Eldothic Empire around this point.

~4400 to 3200 BD The Eldothic Conquest (The whole Galaxy)
(~3500 to 2300 BDC Lithian; ~25 to 65gc U Eldothic)

With an overriding goal of ensuring the safety of the Galaxy from the inevitable return of “the Adversary,” the Convocation of Exarchs set about bringing the entire Galaxy to heel. This required the creation of new Dark Engine nexuses, bringing new alien populations in line, scouring the universe for Adverserial taint, and ensuring that none posed a threat to the new Eldothic order.
The conquest took time, as the Eldoth were methodical, and because their form of hyperspatial travel was far slower. Worse, they ran into serious problems when attempting to conquer the Glorian Rim and the Sylvan Spiral. In the former, they encountered the Maelstrom and, according to Deep Engine archives, a manned Hammer of Caliban which fired upon their vessels and destroyed them, forcing them to retreat. Similarly, the Morass proved too difficult for the Eldothic Empire to conquer and this forced them to retreat.

~4000 to 3500 BD Ranathim Colonization (The Umbral Rim)
(~3100 to 2600 BDC Lithian; ~40 to 55gc U Eldothic)

The Ranathim, like most early star-faring species, colonize the local regions around them using slower, more primitive forms of hyperspatial travel. These colonies begin highly independent of one another, prone to raiding one another for slaves, and developing independent cults.

~3600 to 3200 BD Keleni Colonization (The Umbral Rim)
(~2700 to 2270 BDC Lithian; ~50 to 60gc U Eldothic)

The Keleni begin their colonization of the Hydrus Constellation, bringing their temples and True Communion with them. Their colonization efforts use primitive forms of hyperspatial travel, but they also move slowly to maintain close ties to one another, creating a unified Keleni star-nation named “The Temple Worlds,” focused on their homeworld of Temjara and the dominance of the “royal” Kihita Tribe.

~3500 to 3400 BD The Blood War (The Umbral Rim)
(~2600 to 2500 BDC Lithian; ~55 to 57 gc U Eldothic)

The disparate Ranathim colonies have bloomed into full star-nations and begin to wage outright war upon one another during this era. The war begins to spiral beyond pirate raids and into full conquest and total destruction of populations, much to the horror of other Ranathim who all agree that the war should stop, but do not want to be the one to surrender to make it happen.

~3400 BD The First Tyranny (The Umbral Rim)
(~2475 BDC Lithian; ~57 gc U Eldothic)

The homeworld of the Ranathim, Ranagant, rises supreme over its colonies, and establishes the first Tyranny. The Cult of the Mystical Tyrant claims its lineage begins with this Tyranny, and claims Ozamanthim founded this first dynasty. However, this may be revisionist history, as evidence from this era suggests the first founder was “Anthara” or “Mythamar,” and the character of the Mystical Tyrant cult of this era was much closer to a typical Divine Masks cult (though the Divine Masks, as a unifying concept, did not yet exist), with the Tyrant channeling the power of a divine “Mystical Tyrant” while in an ecstatic state as a means of making policy with “divine” assistance. This ends the Blood War.

~3300 BC Keleni-Ranathim Contact (The Umbral Rim)
(~2400 BDC Lithian; ~60gc U Eldothic)

The growing influence of the first Ranathim Tyranny ran into the growing power of the Keleni temple worlds. For the first time, the practitioners of True Communion encountered practitioners of Dark Communion. In these heightened tensions, Ranathim pirate raiders fought skirmishes with Keleni temple guards, Keleni merchants swapped relics with Ranathim cultists while offering new ideas. The two sides cautiously appraised one another: the Keleni horrified but not yet willing to commit to a full military response, and the Ranathim fascinated by the beautiful and strange Keleni.
This era also saw the first contact between the Ranathim and the Trades of the core, who carried with them the stories of Eldothic horrors.

~3200 BD The Keleni Apocalypse (The Umbral Rim)
(~2270 BDC Lithian; ~65gc U Eldothic)

When the Eldothic Empire reached the Keleni Temple worlds of the Hydrus constellation, they came across a force they did not understand or know how to combat: True Communion. Or, more specifically, the holy sites of their temples. Those who followed True Commonunion had a knack for cleansing the regions of “twisted psionic energy” that the Deep Engine needed to function. This threatened the whole of the network that the Eldoth had created and, despite their obvious technological inferiority, this power gave them the ability to resist the Eldothic advance. Horrified by what they found, the Eldoth turned their attention from the rest of the Galaxy and poured their firepower down upon the Keleni worlds and overcame them. They flattened temple complexes and enslaved and moved entire populations to the Arkhaian spiral to study, so they could better understand the phenomenon. This shattered whatever nominal power the Keleni had in the Galaxy, which they would never truly regain.

This era sees the first creation of “psi-blades,” used by Keleni insurgents to channel their psionic rage against the Eldoth and strike back to defend their people, a controversial move by the generally pacifistic species.

~3100 to 3000 BD The Great Monolith War (The Galaxy)
(~2200 to 2060 BDC Lithian; ~66 to 70gc U Eldothic)

The Keleni Apocalypse woke the Ranathim Tyranny up to the true danger posed by the advancing Eldoth war machine. From nowhere, a great power descended and destroyed a rival like they were nothing. The Ranathim hardened their defenses and prepared to resist. They used spies to subvert conquered populations and convince them to rebel, and they stole secrets from the Eldoth. With stolen Eldoth secrets, they created the Gaunt, and most True Tarvathim date from this era. Their cultists and priests used Dark Communion to send Deep Engine sites spiraling out of control and unleashing and even controlling the Deep Engine.

Despite great losses, the Ranathim marshaled their new technologies, their dark powers, and the discontent of the galaxy to drive the Eldoth all the way back to their homeworld and achieve something the Adversary hadn’t been able to do: defeat the Eldoth. Nothing remained of their empire by the end of the Monolith War.

(The Eldoth may have been fighting a two front war at this point. Constantly vigilant against the return of the Adversary, it seems a second wave from beyond the Fringe of the galaxy had struck and the Eldoth had been forced to split its forces and were thus unable to prevent their own destruction at the hands of the Ranathim).

~3155 BD The First Mug Incursion (Speculative) (The Sylvan Spiral)
(~2221 BDC Lithian; ~65gc U Eldothic)

According to the Lithian calendar, this would be a moment when the Draco Cluster was “open” and the Mug could have entered the Galaxy. Some records from the first Tyranny, during the chaos of the Monolith War, report raids by pirates and the use of mercenaries that might match either the Sathran or the Mug.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Psi-Wars Historical Timeline IV: The Ranathim Tyranny

For those just joining us, these events occur before yesterday's post.

The Ranathim Tyranny

~3000 to 2500 BD The Reign First Tyranny (The Galaxy)
(~2060 to 1550 BDC Lithian; ~70 to 85gc U Eldothic)

At the end of the Monolith War, the Ranathim Tyranny found itself in control of a powerful military, including secret access to the Deep Engine, war machines crafted of synthetic flesh and raging berserkers empowered by Dark Communion and the first psi-swords. The rest of the Galaxy hailed the Ranathim as heroes, and while they hated the bizarre experiments and otherworldliness of their Eldothic overlords, much of the Galaxy had come to depend on the trade routes created by the Eldothic Empire, which the Ranathim Tyranny essentially inherited. Thus began the rule of the first Galactic Tyranny. As with the Eldothic Empire, this was limited to the Arkhaian Spiral, the Umbral Rim, and the Galactic Core.
  • The Refugee Crisis: The Ranathim allowed scattered populations to return to their homeworlds, which made them very popular with races like the Keleni, but caused friction with races that had taken up those new areas. The great movement of peoples across the galaxy created a great deal of tension.

  • Ranathim Decadence: The Ranathim perched atop a galaxy-spanning empire, and no longer had to fight a war to access spoils. Slowly, the tough leadership of the Tyranny began to soften into decadence and corruption and officials used their position to access the most succulent of slaves or to line their pockets or gain false prestige by conquering some minor alien race.

  • Proliferation of Cults: The tension of the various cults within the Tyranny never really resolved during the existential crisis of the Monolith War, and those tensions grew greater as a pan-galactic exchange of ideas led to more and more cults, all with conflicting perspectives on similar ideas.

  • Eldothic Vengeance: The Eldothic Empire may have been destroyed, bu the Eldoth themselves proved extremely difficult to kill, thanks to their regeneration sarcophagi and the hidden power of their Deep Engine. Eldothic agents began to spread poisoned secrets, foment rebellion and draw in the corrupt and decadent with promises of occult power. They then turned these agents against the Tyranny, assassinating major officials and spreading disinformation and chaos.

  • The Rise of the Inquisition: The Tyrant, frustrated by heretical cults, Eldothic saboteurs and mass population movements, began to crack down on his own Empire. Once hailed as heroes, the Ranathim now deployed the very oppression that the Eldoth had represented.

  • Revolution: The inquisition did little to slow the crack-up of the Tyranny, and revolts began to spread as isolated alien populations or trade networks sought independence from the leash of Ranathim slavery.

~2500 to 2100 BD The Broken Tyranny (The Galaxy)
(~2060 to 1650 BDC Lithian; ~85 to 98gc U Eldothic)

Eldothic Sabotage, revolts, internal dissension, palace coups and religious wars finally tore the Tyranny apart. A Rump state remained in the Umbral Rim, and it ostensibly still ruled over the entire extent of the Empire, with many warlords “ruling in its name,” but in practice, the Tyranny no longer had the military might to express its power and will. It became a largely ceremonial and religious institution while Trader Caravans, Gaunt remnants, Ranathim pirate lords, Keleni tribal kings and insurgent cults divided the empire among them. Still, the idea of the Mystical Tyrant remained a potent force.

2100-1000 BD The Second Tyranny (The Galaxy)
(1147 BDC to 1 DC Lithian; 98 to 132gc U Eldothic)

A new Mystical Tyrant dynasty arose, almost certainly under the leadership of Ozamanthim (whether this was Ozamanthim the First or Ozamanthim the Second is a point of historical contention). Under his leadership, the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant took true shape as a force of cynical imperial power. He created the Divine Masks system as a way of soothing internal tension and creating tighter bonds of empire. He used force to regain his empire, but he cemented the Tyranny with social and religious bonds that allowed everyone within the Tyranny to interact. Even so, he was never able to truly regain all of the Ranathim former holdings in the Arkhaian Spiral or in the Galactic Core closest to the Glorian and Sylvan rims.
  • The Spread of the Divine Masks: The idea of all cults unified spread like wildfire through the empire. For older cults, nothing changed, but younger cults sprang up on the nexus between cults. “Navare” healers began to spring up as ecumenical religious practices that allowed numerous lesser aliens to find a place for their own traditions and taboos. “Zathare” sorcerors began to look at the cults across the Tyranny as a source for occult truths, including the forbidden secrets of the Eldoth.

  • New Alien Powers: The interregnum had given new alien races a chance to spread and gain influence. This era sees the first mention of the Asrathi as gladiatorial slaves and pleasure slaves, and the Slavers as sport (hunted by Ranathim lords), gladiatorial slaves and, eventually, accountants and courtly advisors. This era also sees the first official contact between the Tyranny and the Mug when the Draco Cluster leaves eclipse in 2021 BDC. This results in an early war between the Tryanny and the Mug which the Tyranny won, and the Mug thereafter engaged in trade, especially for slaves and technology.

  • Eldothic Experimentation and the Awakening of the Adversary: Despite the dire warnings of Domen Khemet, the Ranathim Death-Cult who protected the Ranathim from the “Dead Gods” left over from the Eldothic depredations of the Galaxy, “Zathare” sorcerers experimented with Eldothic secrets in an effort to rekindle the wonders of the first tyranny. In so doing, they may have unlocked some of the safeguards placed over Adverserial or Corrupt powers, or may have played into the hands of a few immortal Eldothic agents. In any case, many of these expeditions end in silence, with their participants never heard from again.

1000 BD The Dark Cataclysm (The Umbral Rim)
(1 DC Lithian; 132gc U Eldothic)

Something causes the home-star of the Ranathim to go super-nova. In so doing, it creates a black-hole around which the shattered remnant of the Ranathim homeworld circles, now called “Styx.” The death of Styx triggers a cataclysm of hyperspatial storms and reshapes the hyperspatial routes of the Umbral Rim, and spreads a great nebula across the rim called the Umbral Veil, giving the arm its name.

-1000 BD to 500 BD The Splintering and the Third Tyranny (The Umbral Rim)
(1 DC to 500 DC Lithian; 132 to 148gc U Eldoth)

The Dark Cataclysm severs the Tyranny’s ability to control the full extent of its territory, and it promptly collapses practically overnight. The Mug manage to plunder numerous worlds of the Umbral Rim, forcing client races like the Slaver to isolate and protect themselves. The Traders form new trade ties in the Galactic Core, and the Ranathim Tyranny splinters into several fragments, as none can rule from the homeworld: one centers on Chronos in the Galactic Core (heavily Trader influenced), one from Rath in the Sanguine Stars (heavily Slaver influenced) and one from Sarai in the Corvus constellation (beset by the Mug (who invaded between 27 DC and 227 DC), and considered by historians to be the primary “legitimate” successor state).

None of these survive longer than 300 years before various succession crises or rising warlords force these too into collapse. The galactic core churns with instability until all vestiges of Ranathim power have faded, leaving only pirates, aliens and, especially, Traders. Ranathim power lasts a little longer in the Umbral Rim before it too splinters.

This era is concurrent with the spread of humanity, and the records of the first human slaves show up in Ranathim court records, all of Westerly stock.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Psi-Wars Historical Timeline III: The Rise of Humanity and the Alexian Dynasty

For those just joining us, this part of the historical timeline occurs before yesterday's timeline.

The Human Era

~800 BD Human Expansion: the First Wave (Westerly)
(200 DC Lithian; 139gc U Eldoth)

The earliest human world to develop hyperspace travel was “Old Westerly,” a world with four moons consumed by rising sea levels brought on by mismanagement of industrial resources. The Westerly people were the first to spread throughout the galaxy and they found it already occupied by aliens. Made desperate by their misfortunes and keenly aware of ecology thanks to the collapse of their own homeworld’s eco-system, they tended to settle on harsh worlds and integrated closely with it while forsaking (or losing, over the years) advanced technology in favor of simpler, more sustainable lives, or they refused to settle worlds at all, and formed roving space-caravans of asteroid miners and, when necessary, pirates. They valued survival and fierce independence above all else, making them tenacious colonists.

~300 BD Human Expansion: the Second Wave (Shinjurai)
(720 DC Lithian; 154 gc U Eldoth)

The next major wave of humanity came from the city-world of Denjuku. Unlike the Westerly, they came from a society that prized science and rationality and, indeed, this was they hey-day of Rationalism, and Rationalist sages like Tai-Sun Saga and Kun-Lun Kaku lived in this era, writing their great works and pushing their people to the stars. Their mastery of technology gave them immediate dominance over the worlds they settled and where the Westerly had to beg and struggle to find worlds to settle, the Shinjurai could afford to conquer and trade.

The Shinjurai wave followed the Westerly wave, often colonizing worlds humans had already carved out a niche on and setting themselves up as new masters, or cutting deals with alien powers to gain control over marginal worlds. The result was not a unified empire, but scattered pocket realms of the Shinjurai, each unique in its character, and open to trade with aliens, especially the Traders, who began to trade ideas with the Shinjurai, a fertile cross-pollination that resulted in rapid advancement in hyperspatial technology, hyperium fuel and the works of Trader Rationalist, Tillika. These star-nations centered on a single nexus systems, which acted as a hub of trade, and slowly grew to encompass numerous systems around them. 

Major settlements in his era include Xen and its Geno-Sages and Stanis and its Cybernetic Religion.

~100 BD Human Expansion: the Third Wave (Maradon)
(900 DC Lithian; 160 gc U Eldoth)

The last wave of humanity would prove the beginning of the end of this era. They came from the doomed world of Maradon, which would be torn apart by the wars of dominance that would eventually lead to the rise of Alexus Rex as its sole master. The increasing radiation levels released by its global war and the controversies created by the newly arising class of powerful psychics led to the flight of various factions, who turned to piracy or religion to sooth their wounded hearts. The Maradon people did not travel as far as the rest of humanity and would colonize the more complicated worlds of the Glorian Rim, such as Persephone, Caliban (though this is contentious, as it may have been settled by Westerly people first, and the current people may be a fusion of both bloodlines), Bellerphone and Zaine in the Galactic Core.

The Alexian Dynasty

21 BD to 1 AE The Rise of Alexus
(1009 to 1032 DC Lithian; 163 to 164 gc U Eldoth)

By the time “Alexus Rex,” the nigh-mythical founder of the “Eternal Empire” and the Alexian Dynasty, the Maradon people had already scattered to the stars, thanks to the nigh constant warfare on their homeworld caused by the upheaval of the advent of extraordinarily powerful psychics and nuclear war. Alexus Rex won that war and achieved dominion over his homeworld; he himself was one of these “new psychics” and he gathered about him other powerful psychics into an elite force that defeated the other forces on his world. He then turned his attention to the stars, where he had already gathered some allies, where he burst free of the Maelstrom and took the galaxy by storm with a force of arms and psychic insight not seen since the first Ranathim Tyranny and, thanks to improving hyperspatial technology, at an unparalleled pace of conquest .
  • The Akashic Prophecy: The first world Alexus sought to conquer was Persephone, home to the Akashic mystics and their famous prophecies. The world and its mystics readily surrendered to him and gave him his queen, the founder of House Sabine: Sissi Sabine. Akashic precognition would serve the Alexian warmachine thereafter.

  • The Caliban Duel: To escape the Glorian Rim with this massive fleet, Alexus Rex needed to tame Caliban. He famously dueled Lothar Kain to a standstill and offered the pirate vassalage: to serve Alexus in return for the spoils of Empire. Lothar Kain accepted and founded the House of Kain.

  • The Subjugation of the Shinjurai: The primary opponents of Alexus Rex were other humans, mainly the Shinjurai thanks to their Trader allies and their advanced technology. Nonetheless, the psychic mysteries of the Akashic mystics defeated the Rational technology of the Shinjurai and Xen was defeated (thanks to “Apex Prime,” the founder of House Apex), though Stanis, bolstered by the Hyperium Guild and the Tan-Shai family, held strong.

  • The Conquest of Chronos and the Coronotion at Sovereign: The defeat of a minor warlord on Chronos signaled the end of alien power in the Galactic Core and thus the symbolic rise of man as Galactic Conqueror. However, Chronos proved too far from the Glorian Rim, and too alien in culture, to rule from. Alexus chose instead an untouched garden world, dubbed it Sovereign and on its virgin soil, held a coronation ceremony where the head of the Akashic Order placed upon his brow the Galactic Crown, initiating the “Eternal Empire” of the Alexian Dynasty

1 AE to 476 AE The Early Dynasty
(1032 to 1521 DC Lithian; 164 to 178 gc U Eldoth)

The Early Dynasty retained the martial character of the rise of Alexus, continuing his wars of conquest across the Galaxy and bringing the rest of the Galactic Core and other parts of the Galaxy to heel.
  • The Trader Genocide: Shinjurai power could not be fully extinguished so long as the Traders held sway, and they had deep connections in the Arkhaian and Umbral Rim, and thus needed to be purged for Alexian power to continue. The war against the Traders proved one of the longer and more destructive wars of the Dynasty, culminating in the destruction of their homeworld.

  • The Treaty of Shaddai: Even without their Trader allies, the Shinjurai nations of the Arkhaian Spiral held firm against the advance of the Alexian Dynasty, thanks in no small part to the patronage of the Hyperium Guild and the Tan-Shai family. Eventually, the Alexian Dynasty offered Mythren Tan-Shai the same deal they had Lothar Kain: vassalage in return for autonomy. He accepted, and Stanis and the Kybernian Constellation joined the Dynasty under House Tan-Shai.

  •  The Westerly Rebellion: Once the Eternal Empire had subjugated all off their Shinjurai foes, with no major remaining enemies, they could turn their attention to domestic concerns, which meant raised taxes, stricter laws and a crackdown on those who did not fall in line with the Akashic Mysteries. The Westerly populations, long independent, found themselves under intense pressure and many lashed out. This proved tragic, and their populations were either wiped out or forced to migrate to the edges of Alexian control, especially in the direction of the wild and untamed Umbral Rim, where they began to settle along the edges of the Hydrus Constellation.

222 AE to 319 AE The Reign of Satra Temos (the Umbral Rim)
(1259 to 1359 DC Lithian; 171 to 174gc U Eldoth)

A new Tyrant arose in the Umbral Rim during the Early Alexian Dynasty, though this one was unlike any who had come before him. Rather than accept the symbolic, ceremonial rule of the Ozamanthimian Tyrants, a Ranathim under the psuedonym of “Satra Temos” wrote a diatribe about the weakness of his species, how masters had come to accept slavery. It became a racial call to arms, a demand that the Ranathim ascend to their rightful place rather than dully accepting what other races in the Umbral Rim gave them.

The work generated outrage, which Satra Temos channeled into dominion. He used his vast psychic powers to channel rebellion and revolt across the Umbral Rim, and he rose amidst the chaos. He never formally ruled anything, acting more like a master of a criminal syndicate centered on revolt, racial superiority, assassination and a cult of personality that arose around him. His reign of terror lasted a Lithian century when it abruptly ended, the shadowy Satra Temos simply vanishing from history without a trace and his dominion collapsed quickly. His legacy would carry on, however, as his disciples carried his lessons and began to build their own structures of conspiratorial power that would culminate in the Shadow Tyranny two hundred years later.

476 AE to 959 AE The Middle Dynasty (“the High Gothic period”)
(1521 to 2019 DC Lithian; 178 to 194 gc U Eldoth)

A succession crisis within the Alexian Dynasty rocks the House of Alexus and forces them to give concessions to prevent civil war. This era sees the slow down of the Alexian war machine, the shift of the Alexian Dynasty to a more ritualistic rule, one where the Emperor rarely leaves the gardens of Sovereign, and where the heads of the various Houses begin to take on a greater role. The era sees an explosion of culture and ornately beautiful armor as military arms begin to take on a more ceremonial role.
  • The Succession Crisis: the proliferation of the Alexian line led to lesser siblings being married into families or given minor titles meant that numerous families scattered across the Empire had some claim to the Alexian throne and so when an Alexian Emperor died without an heir, civil war nearly erupted until wiser heads prevailed and a successor was properly chosen from a close branch of the Dynasty.

  • The Rise of the Houses: The chaos of the succession crisis forced concessions from the Dynasty to their vassal lords. The various houses, while founded in previous eras, took on a form more familiar to the modern galaxy and had a far greater measure of autonomy as the Alexian Emperors became relegated to a more ceremonial role as a “Font of Honors” and the stamp of legitimacy upon the actions of the Houses.

  • The Reign of the Nameless Emperor: Curious records associated with the succession crisis show signs of a data purge surrounding one of the rulers of the Alexian Dynasty. He seems to have been the Emperor during the time of the succession crisis, either a short-lived usurper, a compromise candidate later rejected, or the rightful heir deposed and then his reign covered up. He seems to have laid the ground work for some of the advances and techniques used later by Lucian Alexus to solidify his power.

  • The Reign of Tanaquil Alexus: Considered the most exemplary Empress of the era, Tanaquil Alexus proved a deeply philosophical ruler whose reign laid out the rules and expectations of the Houses and the forms of etiquette expected of those who attended the Alexian court. She also penned substantial works on the Akashic Mysteries, still used to this day by the aristocracy.

  • The False Oracles and the House of Bastards: The Akashic Order’s image of perfection took a blow during the succession crisis and the rising power of the aristocratic houses made the lords less inclined to blindly follow Akashic oracles. Furthermore, as the lines of what was socially acceptable became more clearly defined, people needed to turn elsewhere for their more illicit needs, and so a trade in self-serving prophecies began to arise, with Akashic-trained Oracles offering their assistance directly to the ambition of houses, and the bastards and illicit servants of the aristocracy coming together into an informal organization known as “the House of Bastards.”

  • The Conquest of the Hydrus Constellation: As it winded down, the Alexian warmachine did still manage to conquer the gateway into the Umbral Rim, ending a long period of Keleni independence. House Elegans, who had spearheaded the conquest, were given command of the region, and they ruled with a light hand, allowing the unique practices of the local Keleni and Westerly populations to remain unchecked.

  • The Preaching of Isa the Exile: Integrated once more into a greater galactic community, some Keleni began to move about the population, preaching a unique form of Communion open to all species. The most famous of these preachers was the saintly Isa the Exile, who would be mysteriously martyred (some blame the Akashic Order or Keleni traditionalists, but a Ranathim assassin seems the most likely case). This lead to the widespread belief in True Communion throughout the Dynasty (but especially in the area bordering the Umbral Rim) and the undermining of many of the ideas and ideals of the Akashic Mysteries.

~500 AE to 1300 AE The Shadow Tyranny (the Umbral Rim)
(1546 to 2371 DC Lithian; 179 to 204 gc U Eldoth)

During this era, the Umbral Rim sees a slow, but distinct, shift in the institutions of political power. While still highly fractious and balkanized, the warlords, pirates and criminal organizations begin to fall in line behind a mysterious “Circle of Tyrants.” According to the lore of the era, these Tyrants were powerful psychic masters who followed the teachings of Satra Temos and ruled from behind puppets and catspaws, using manipulation and fear as their main levers of power. Definitely during this era, the various warlords of the Umbral Rim were able to set aside their differences long enough to make organized pushes, especially against the Temple Worlds, seizing it from the Dynasty, then losing it in the Communion Crusade, and then waging a secret war with the Templar, who eventually won and broke the Circle of Tyrants, but not before they had corrupted the promising Revalis White and dealt the Templars a serious blow, leading to their dissolution at the end of the Alexian Dynasty.

959 AE to 1359 AE The End of the Dynasty (“the Communion War”)
(2019 to 2432 DC Lithian; 194 to 206 gc U Eldoth)

Decadence and corruption dominated the end of the Alexian Dynasty, as well as a reaction to that corruption in the form of the rise of the Knights of Communion, the masters of the Temple Worlds, the Space Templars. The reign of the Mad Emperor Lucian Alexus and his war on the Templars, the Communion War, would see the end of both the Templars and the Alexian Dynasty.
  • The Loss of the Hydrus Constellation: the churning forces and mini-empires of the Umbral Rim managed to re-capture the Hydrus Constellation, enslaving many Keleni and humans alike and desecreting the Temple Worlds. The Alexian Dynasty did nothing, as the worlds proved too troublesome to hold and the Dynasty had turned inward at this point.

  • The Communion Crusade: Dissatisfied with the lack of Alexian response, True Communion adherents such as the Westerly mercenary Pagan Hue, the space knight Troy Elegans, and the True Communion preacher An-Kellun Arrenon, took it upon themselves to stage a war to reclaim the Hydrus constellation. Former space knights joined forces with Westerly mercenaries gathered arms and took the Constellation themselves.

  • The Temple Worlds restored: The Communion Crusades left the Hydrus Constellation in the hands of humans faithful to True Communion. Rather than return the Constellation to the Alexian Dynasty, they declared their independence, recreating the Keleni Temple Worlds in their own image. Where space knights had ruled the Alexian Dynasty, now the Knights of Communion ruled and guarded the Temple Worlds with their own unique brand of True Communion, which welcomed all species and all adherents regardless of station. They proved a resilient and powerful state, one which troubled the decaying Alexian Dynastry and the Akashic Order with their “subversive” rhetoric.

  • The Reign of Mad Emperor Lucian Alexus: The decadence of the aristocracy allowed for the Alexian Dynasty to begin to regather power. Secretive technological projects begun by the “Nameless Emperor” culminated in the creation of “Immortal” armor and advanced fighters both capable of sustaining their occupants indefinitely and enforcing total loyalty to the will of the Alexian Dynasty. Using these, Lucian Alexus was able to break out of the cage of ceremony and ritual long imposed on the Dynasty and directly enforce his will upon the Galaxy, upending centuries of tradition and power by bringing in new houses, like Tan-Shai
  • The Revalis Heresy: One of the most powerful and influential Templars, now called Revalis White, broke from True Communion to side with the lurking influence of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, still alive in the Umbral Rim. His unique take on both philosophies created a rift within the Templars.

  • The Communion War: Lucian Alexus declared war on the Temple Worlds, initiating the Communion War. This resulted, swiftly, in his death at the hands of Jax Elegans but culminated in the rebellion of the Houses against his rule, the dissolution of the Templars and the loss of the Temple Worlds as a distinct entity, and ended at last the Alexian Dynasty.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Psi-Wars Historical Timeline II: The Galactic Federation and the Rise of the Empire

Normally, a timeline begins sequentially, starting at "the beginning of history," and mine certainly does, but I'm going to break it up a little differently because I want to emphasize something to you, dear reader: put the most vital information in front of your players first, and bonus or reward information later, especially after some hunting.  I also want to emphasize that "starting at the beginning of time" is generally overkill, and you always have to start somewhere.  You'll be missing a little context, but that's okay, we'll pick up a little earlier back tomorrow.

If you're a little lost on the calendar notation, check out yesterday's post on calendars.

The Modern Era

 1359 AE to 1747 AE Interregnum: The War of the Houses
(2432 to 2832 DC Lithian; 206 to 218 gc U Eldoth)

The death of Lucian Alexus did not result in the immediate dissolution of the Dynasty. Instead, a long war broke out that turned into a detente as the various houses all angled, first, for their preferred successor (similar to the succession crisis a millennia earlier), then for their own ascendancy on the throne, then for their own local concerns.
  • The Reign of Shio Daijin: Lord Shio Daijin reached Sovereign first after the death of Lucian Alexus and seized it, proclaiming himself regent until a proper successor could be found, or so he claimed. The other houses and remnants of the Alexian Dynasty saw him as a usurper, and he was slain by Alexian remnant forces as a Traitor Lord and his house shamed.
  • The Hunting of the Traitor Lords: the last remnants of Lucian Alexus’s Immortals, his body guard, and aristocrats loyal to the Dynasty, such as Kusari Kain, sought out those they felt responsible for the death of Lucian Alexus or what they saw as attempts to seize control of the Dynasty, including the last of the Templars, the House Daijin, and others, until their efforts finally collapsed.

  • The War of the Houses: The last remnant of Maradon powers, absent the Alexian Dynasty, were the aristocratic houses of Maradon themselves. Powerful houses like Daijin, Tan-Shai, Sabine and Mistral vied for control, first of the Empire itself and then, eventually, over the sovereignty of their own domains. The majority of this war would turn to detente, with shifting alliances preventing any one house from dominating. As a result, regions of control slowly calcified into stable states, and the war became a formal, ritual affair focused more on negotiation, show of force and dueling rather than open warfare.

1693 AE to Present The Slaver Empire (The Umbral Rim)
(2776 DC to Present Lithian; 217gc U to Present Eldoth)

The Umbral Rim lay largely unprepared for the latest Mug incursion. Scattered warlords and pirate kings cast about for allies as the Mug War-Arks devastated their defenses and scattered their forces. The Slavers, who had long supported the remaining, skeletal framework of Tyrannic economic and political power as “servants” to various warlords that seized thrones on worlds like Sarai or Rath, offered their slave armies and their starships to defend against the Mug raids. They quietly gathered up all their various favors and used the war to position themselves well, until they had sufficient wealth and power that they pushed out the Mug, seized Rath and installed their own master there, and began to dictate the course of events in the Umbral Rim. With a combination of addiction, corruption and strategic brilliance, Slaver power waxed until it had united nearly all of the Umbral Rim and managed to steal worlds from the Hydrus cluster itself, eventually threatening even the Federation.  

This resulted in the Slaver War (see below) at 2211 AE (3310 DC) when House Elegans fought back and pushed them out of the Hydrus Cluster, though suffered greatly for their victory. This pushed the Slaver Empire back to the Corvus Constellation and the Sanguine Stars.  The rise of the Valorian Empire pushed them back even further, carving away most of the Corvus Constellation and liberating Sarai from their clutches.  Never has the Slaver Empire been weaker. However, a new leader has arisen, forging ties with the Sathran race, and corrupt elements within the Valorian Empire in a bid to spread Slaver influence once again.

1747 to 2276 AE The Galactic Federation
(2832 to 3377 DC Lithian; 218 to 235 gc U Eldoth)

The effect of the detente of the War of the Houses was such that diplomacy became a dominating feature of aristocratic life. Under the vision of Valria Sabine, a great Galactic Senate was called, first as a means to hammer out a specific concord across the divided houses and then, again at her patient and insistent urging, it slowly turned into a yearly forum for treaties and discussing the direction of the Houses. Then, finally, after the tragic death of her brother, Vance Sabine, and her inspiring rhetoric, the Houses agreed to form a federation: no house would rule over another and each would be autonomous, but they would all sacrifice some of their sovereignty to the Galactic Senate, agreeing to be bound by common economic, domestic and foreign policies. 
This era became an era of peace and prosperity not seen for millennia. The aristocratic penchant for diplomacy spread to all aspects of their reign, and they expanded the Galactic Federation through negotiation rather than conquest. This required them to actually have something to offer, and most independent worlds that joined of their own volition found themselves improved by commerce, tourism and technological exchange, and granted religious freedoms and freedom of travel and commerce that allowed them to live with a level of freedom and autonomy they had not enjoyed under millennia of empire after empire. 

Slowly but surely, it heralded a golden age… but not a perfect one. The aristocracy held special, unique rights over the rest, and they guarded their autonomy carefully, often refusing to cooperate with one another. Critically, the Federation had no centralized military power, for each house feared whomever controlled the levers of military power would use it to enforce their vision, turning the Federation into an Empire.
  • Expansion and Stability: The Galactic Federation expanded through negotiation. After the fall of the Alexian Dynasty, only parts of the Glorian Rim, the Core and parts of the Arkhaian Spiral remained under House control. As the Federation expanded, alien races such as the Sparrial, the Asrathi, Keleni enclave worlds like Covenant and even remote worlds, like the Rogue Stars and the Spindel Web, agreed to join the Galactic Federation. 
  • The Rise of Corporations: The Galactic Federation needed to remain an economic powerhouse to maintain its appeal to its member worlds, and to do that, it needed to grant more and more sovereignty to corporate entities. At Tan-Shai bidding, the Senate recognized the Hyperium Guild, the entire corporation, as an autonomous member. This opened the gate to other powerful corporations, and given standing in the senate, they could directly vote their interests. This often resulted in greater economic prosperity, but that prosperity was often unevenly divided, especially if the majority of the Galaxy would side with a corporation against the interests of a minority of worlds...

  • 2211 to 2219 AE The Slave-War and the Plague: Not every encounter with aliens went well. The Slaver clans of the Umbral Rim grew in strength over this era, and their raids resulted in the enslavement of members of the Federation. The Galactic Senate voted to allow House Elegans to go to war, and it brought numerous allies with it, and managed to push back the more primitive Slavers from their protectorate in the Hydrus Constellation, but the deep press into the Umbral Rim exposed many members of the Galactic Federation to new plagues that had long stewed in the confines of the Umbral Rim, and a plague ripped across the Federation, killing many and crippling more. While not a catastrophic loss of life, it was nonetheless influential to the era.

  • The Rise of Robots: With the death of many sapients, paired with rising corporate profits, more corporations began to turn to the talents of the Neo-Rationalists in the Arkhaian Spiral, including the Council of Terminus and its intelligences, and the innovative designs of the Primus system. Robots had already been a feature of the human-dominated galaxy, but after the Slaver-Plague, their presence became more pronounced and created economic disruptions, leaving discontented populations who felt their needs were left unmet by the increasingly isolated aristocracy and profit-driven corporations.

2237 to 2256 AE The Anacridian Scourge
(3337 to 3357 DC Lithian; 234 gc U Eldoth)

Into a galaxy struggling with internal tensions, a calamatous invasion crashed in the Arkhaian Spiral. Originating in the Anacridian System (or, at least, first encountered there), the Scourge tore through the Arkhaian Spiral, devastating entire planets with its nightmarish techno-organic warmachines. All life fed its engines and it devoured entire populations to sate its hunger; those who did not die found themselves infected and changed by a techno-organic plague. The entire Arkhaian Spiral begged for help, but paralyzed by internal struggles, each House refused to move, remembering the price House Elegans had paid for its war.

Finally, an honored naval officer of House Daijin, Leto Daijin, proposed a unified military force that served no House, but the Senate itself. Houses would contribute some amount to its fleets, but the corporations would provide industrial support too, creating ships designed specifically to handle the scourge. The gambit worked: the corporations build the new fleet while Leto led a delaying action with donated vessels, stopping the Scourge in the Kybernian Cluster and then, with the new fleet, pushing the Anacridian Scourge back out of the galaxy after 20 years of grueling war that redefined the Arkahaian Spiral.

2256 to 2269 AE The Hero of the Federation and the Reform movement
(3357 to 3370 DC Lithian; 234 to 235 gc U Eldoth)

With the war won in the Arkhaian Spiral, Grand Admiral Leto Daijin returned a hero. He magnanimously stepped down from his position, to the collective relief of the Galactic Senate, however, at the urging of his soldiers, the people of the Arkhaian Spiral and the people of the Galaxy, he turned to politics and was elected to the Senate as a powerful new Senator. There, he urged military reforms and, based on the treatment of his soldiers after the war, and his experiences during his travels across the galaxy, he proposed several additional policies, like an oversight ministry over corporations, making the Federated military a permanent fixture and creating a substantial welfare program for citizenry displaced by robotic labor. His proposed policies, his stoic charisma, and his deeds all made him an extremely potent political force to content with, and a polarizing figure in the Senate with his threats to the status quo.

2261 AE The Cybernetic Union and Unrest
(3362 DC Lithian; 234 gc U Eldoth)

With such a great loss of human life, and the corruption of robotics by the techno-organic plagues of the Scourge, the robots of the more remote parts of the Arkhaian Spiral began to ran amok until the Council of Terminus, absent human leadership, stepped in to control the situation and created the Cybernetic Union, an empire governed by a totalitarian version of cyber-rationalism that argued for the supremacy of the robotic mind. It forced cybernetic implants on its human subjects and began an aggressive expansion campaign while the rest of the Galactic Federation looked on with horror.

2269 AE The Martyrdom of Leto Daijin and the Galactic Civil War
(3370 DC Lithian; 235 gc U Eldoth)

Once again, a great horror arose in the galaxy and the Senate did nothing. Some senators even sided with the Cybernetic Union on their arguments about the place of robots and suggested coming to some sort of compromise with the Union. Leto lambasted the senate for its inaction and then, finally, resigned his position and took up command of his old fleets, and without waiting for orders, used them in the defense of worlds in the Kybernian Cluster, holding the Cybernetic Union back while the Senate decided what to do, an act widely hailed by the populace of the Federation. Fearing a popular man with a grand fleet as his back, the Senate recalled the Grand Admiral, arrested him for treason and executed him.

The Galaxy convulsed over the rash decisions, and his lieutenants in the navy reacted with rage. His protege and “adopted son” Ren Valorian gathered their fury and directed it back at the Galactic Senate. The “Senate Fleets” charted a course for Sovereign, to march on the very Senate it was meant to answer to. The Houses gathered their own personal defenses to hold off the advance, except for House Tan-Shai which saw which way the wind was blowing and threw its support in with Valorian. The protege defeated the aristocrats and seized the remnants of the Senate, executing for treason those who had bowed to the Union, dithered before the Scourge, and seen to the execution of Leto Daijin.

Then, sitting himself on the ancient, long-absent Alexian throne of Sovereign, Ren Valorian “accepted the call” to name himself Emperor, and declared a state of emergency against the traitor lords holed up in the Glorian Rim behind Caliban and the Maelstrom, and the genocidal Cybernetic Union, and the monstrous Slavers and other alien threats.
Thus began the Valorian Empire.

2276 AE to Present (2297 AE) The Valorian Empire
(3377 to 3399 DC Lithian; 235 gc U Eldoth)

The Valorian Empire has endured for an entire generation. The Emperor begins to grey, and his children, a princess and a prince born to him by the Lady Zandra Tan-Shai, have grown into adulthood. Those who reach adulthood in the Galaxy have known only the Valorian Empire their entire life. The days of the Galactic Federation seem like a dream clung to by the old and bitter, a fading reality that will never be again.

The Wars initiated by Ren Valorian simmer to a stalemate as he solidifies his power in the Galactic Core and sends his Imperial Knights and other agents to execute his machinations. Now, with his technological superiority nearly complete and his psychic mastery of the Galaxy nearing totality, he readies to break the stalemates between himself and the Alliance and the Cybernetic Union. The detente with the Alliance and the meat-grinder between the Empire and the Union cannot last forever...
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