Hello fellow Paizonians!
As has come up in another thread discussing how long it would take for a civilization to recover from being bombed into the stone age, I have an idea for a game that I'm going to run for a few of my friends.
The basic premise is a race of humans (more or less) have had a inter galactic empire, then due to internal chaos and bad practices, were dismantled by a hostile, and incredibly advanced alien race.
I have written a background story, or loose history of those events leading to the downfall of the empire. I'd like constructive feedback, please. This may take 5-10 minutes to read, so thank you in advance those that take the time.
Early exploration and expansion:
Millenia ago, the race known as Humanus ruled the cluster of galaxies known now as the Revanus Cluster through powers of the mind. Even the lowliest Humanus was able to manifest abilites to help them in their day to day work, from farming to architecture to space exploration.
They originated on a planet whose name has faded into obscurity, and over an indeterminate span of time, began to reach out to the stars from their home world. They first settled on their world's own moons, then other worlds near their own sun and their moons. As their expansion grew, so did their understanding of celestial and interstellar mechanics, allowing them to leave their sun's influence, and reach out to other suns and their influence. With their combined mental and technological mastery, they were able to spread to dozens of systems, then hundreds. They kept united as a people through the use of gates that kept them connected, one system to the next, communication was never hindered. Things learned in one region of space would be shared with the other worlds in another.
After centuries of this expansion, they ran into their first sentient species that was not Humanus, in the outer reaches of their own galaxy. These creatures at first were wary of their until then unknown neighbors, but after being assured that their only reason for being there was for knowledge, they started to share information, each what the other race had observed in their exploration, and secrets of the universe. The humans tried to train the others on the use of the mind, as they had, but were unsuccessful.
It seemed it would be a gift they alone could have. A few other species were discovered, and then their own galaxy, named Garavis, held no more secrets for them or their new allies to discover. Now they had their sights on the nearby galaxy of Baramis.
Conflict and Alteration:
The humans and their allies began their exploration of the new galaxy in earnest. From past experience they'd learned how to do so efficiently, and so split up into smaller groups of explorers to cover more area. So, the teams went out, and all was going as planned, until one of the groups failed to report back in a timely manner. Concerned, other teams went to investigate, fearing an accident or malfunctioning equipment, and instead found the wreckage and slain bodies of their comrades. At first a system failure was blamed, as the last thing they expected was the act of another hostile race. But, as evidence was gathered, it became evident that this was the case. Envoys were sent out, to find the representatives of this potential ally to clear up any misunderstandings and offer an arm of friendship. Not only were each of the Envoys rebuffed, they were killed, and sent back in derelict craft.
This possibility was one the allies and races had not considered: meeting an overtly hostile race that was uninterested in peace or the exchange of knowledge. Exploration ceased, and scouts and spies were sent to investigate this unknown enemy. The scouts that weren't discovered and killed learned this race was brutal, and savage, and had ruled their galaxy with an iron fist, using their knowledge to conquer. They also learned that they too, were looking to expand into another galaxy.
This could not be. Millennia of peaceful expansion and gathering of knowledge was at risk. They changed their focus from exploration to conflict, and began limited skirmishes against this new enemy along the edges of their space, learning war-time tactics and in what ways their technology could be shaped into weapons of war. For decades, the conflict went like this: a few groups of ships would be sent, get into limited skirmishes, and report back what worked and what didn't. The enemy, long secure in their domination, saw these skirmishes as the desperate act of a culture unprepared for war, and prepared their armadas for expansion into Garavis.
The first group of enemy warships that arrived found little to no resistance as they secured the area for the rest of the fleet. As the rest of the fleet came in through hyperspace, all seemed to go as planned.
As the fleet as a whole moved further in, the allies' new war fleets had been surrounding the space around the enemies fleet, and outnumbered them 100 to 1. They had used localized gates to allow pinpoint FTL travel for their capital ships and their fleets. One last time, the allies sent a ship asking for parlay. When the enemy ships opened fire on it, the entirety of the allied fleet folded into weapon range, and obliterated the enemy armada, in one concentrated barrage of energy. They gathered survivors, and learned as much as they could of their new enemy, as the enemy sent fleet after fleet into Garavis.
They learned their enemy was as much a child of war as they were of knowledge, and the only way to end the conflict was either the extinction of this race, or their complete and utter defeat.
The enemy did not make it easy, however. They too learned things about the allies and adapted. The battles soon were not so one-sided, and a full scale conflict arose between the two galaxies.
Over two centuries the battle raged, and finally the allies had driven the enemy back to their homeworld.
On the threat of annihilation, they surrendered, and were occupied by the allies.
With the war over, many had hoped their exploration could begin in earnest again. Indeed some exploration did happen again, but this time it was with a fleet of warships providing protection.
This conflict had shaken they very psyche of the allies, and even more so the psionic humans. They started to consider options that would have never occurred to them, hostile ones, thanks to the last two hundred years of conflict with the enemy. They, for better or worse, would now be forever changed, and would not realize till later, this was when they were truly defeated.
“Contemplation” and the revision of the Humanus psyche:
During the two century war, as the engines of exploration were turned into engines of war, some of the brightest minds of the Humanus mystics wondered if their mental prowess could not also be changed, or at the very least turned into the direction of defense. A call went out, to all of the explored worlds and regions, for mentalists to come to the home world and begin to contemplate the things to come.
A great place of thought was constructed as those from around Garavis gathered to begin their great work. “How could we use our minds in the effort to defend ourselves and defeat the enemy?” they thought. Over the first few decades, slight advances were made, developing mechanical entities that could increase a single mind's output. Some had developed a shield that could repel almost anything, simply by hardening the space around them. Others found they could use their minds to not only move much larger things than previously needed, but to also manipulate energy itself.
Some of these discoveries were incorporated into the war machine, a single contemplative being able through the use of technology, defend an entire capital ship themselves, or a small fleet of lesser vessels.
These discoveries are what ultimately turned the tides of war securely into the allies' favor, as the enemy simply could not understand how these things occurred, or how to counter them. The enemy referred to these mind warriors as 'witches' and fear began to defeat them as much as the enemy.
As the war moved on, the contemplatives continued to explore other uses and abilities of the mind.
One crucial point of discovery was when they learned they could infiltrate the minds of others, and manipulate them. Those with strong, but unfortunately weaker minds than some of their peers could be indirectly influenced. This of course was frowned upon, but some serious contemplation took place, as a means of diplomacy. Could we instead of getting into conflict after conflict, simply force them to see reason? Could this breech of their sovreign indentity of self be permitted in these circumstances, a far better option than lives lost due to war? Much discussion was had, but in the end, the elders rebuked those that followed this line of study, and declared it taboo. So, it's study went into the shadows.
But the overall argument was never fully settled. The contemplatives once joined in purpose fractured into factions, at first those who were against the perversion of their mind gifts to such ends, and those who believed it was better than the loss of war. Then as other things that were deemed questionable were discovered, other factions arose, in favor and against. When the line of study led to being able to manipulate themselves, to increase their power, resistance to the elements, and even weaponry and the vacuum of space the conclave of thought was abolished, as they believed they had gone too far.
Any further study was to cease and desist under the penalty of exile. This was not taken well, but was for the most part accepted...
Further conflict and expansion:
The Humanus-led allies took the systems in the Baramis galaxy with ordered precision, and began for the first time rule a conquered enemy. Some of the previously subject races of the enemy welcomed their new leaders and were welcomed as equals into the allies' fold. The enemy though, proved reluctant to submit fully. Rebellions and guerrilla wars erupted in various places, as these problems with the enemy began to take more and more of the allies' focus, some humans began to question the loyalty of the other non-Humanus races. Would they too, eventually mutiny? This idea was dismissed as absurd at first, but as the rebellions continued to happen, and Humanus lives were lost, this line of thought became to worm it's way through the Humanus' psyche.
The Humanus minister of the conclave of allies declared himself Emperor of the Humanus Supremus empire, and the lines of power shifted throughout the alliance. Former equals of non-Humanus genetics were demoted to lesser roles, while being promised that none of the freedoms they enjoy today would be rescinded,as long as they remained loyal. All across the galaxies, curfews and martial law was instituted in order to maintain the peace they had so long fought for. Members of the contemplative sects that were formerly shunned for invasion and manipulation of minds, were incorporated into the legions, and began to serve as secret police, at the request of the Emperor, and known by only a few others.
As martial law was enforced, there were surges of rebellions, not only in Baramis, but also in Garavis space among races that had been allies for eons. However, due to the presence of the secret police, the leaders of these riots and uprisings were soon ferreted out. The Emperor declared such dissension treason, and was punishable by death, and had those caught punished accordingly.
Over decades, local system lords were raised up and put in power by the Emperor, who then began to recruit members of the enemy as underlings, hoping to learn how they used to keep their conquered races in line. As these members proved themselves, they began to be elevated into places of power again, and treated as slightly less than equals. This angered the other races, who had both been there as part of the alliance since the beginning, and those that were previously oppressed by the enemy.
Meanwhile, in secluded sectors of the galaxy, Humanus contemplatives still gathered illegally, studying these paths that were declared taboo and gathering their own power. They watched the conflicts arise, and the Emperor seize hold of conquered space, but did not act. They were so close to unlocking all of their inner potential, they did not risk exposure. They continued to unlock the secrets of the origins of their powers, and expand them. The time would come when they who were the epitome of what it meant to be Humanus would take control, but...
They were not ready, yet...
“The Fall” of the Humanus Empire:
As the Humanus Supremus empire solidified it's grip on the two galaxies, it looked at the third and largest galaxy in the cluster, Revanus, as the next ground to conquer. Plans were drawn, logistics ironed out, and fleets and their commanders were selected for the honor of the first foray into Revanus.
As the first fleets left Baramis and Garavis staging points to Revanus, rumors of wide spread anarchy and rebellion began to spread from the inner most areas of both galaxies. Ships that were to be sent on to Revanus were redirected to these trouble areas. Investigators were sent, but returned without their fleets claiming to the Emperor that “it was nothing”, and the rumors were false. A former contemplative himself, he could tell that they had been manipulated, and sent more ships and the strongest among his secret police to find out what was happening in his Empire.
The formerly oppressed races took advantage of this chaos as the moment to uprise, but any hopes of liberation died when they heard the news of twelve contemplatives returning to the capital with all of the fleets that had been sent to squash the rebellion, and declaring the Emperor unfit. The Emporer in his hubris demanded they come and see him and challenge him directly, and they did. They each folded into the Emperor's palace and delivered their challenge. In anger, he attacked them, with his mind and weapons, neither of which seemed to have any effect on those that would depose him. With a simple wave of their hands, he was rent, and left in pieces on his own floor.
They declared themselves Humanus Deitus, inheritors of all of humanus history and space, and took over the Empire. Those that were still loyal to the Empire took up arms against the Deitus. The largest fleets in the Empires history were mobilized, and sent to the place the Deitus gathered. When they folded in, they saw the fleet of ships the Deitus had come to the capital with, in formation quite far from the planet, in fact too far to lend any aid.
Seeking to exploit this apparent error, the fleets prepared to bombard the world. Twelve lone figures arose from the planet, without suits or ships to protect them from space, and attacked the fleets themselves directly. They rent the hulls of the ships, deflected the energy cast from them, and were seemingly impervious to attack. After twenty minutes of fighting, the flag ship, all of her escorts and the entirety of their fighter compliment had been utterly destroyed. Of the major psychics that came against them, none survived intact, having been stripped of their power. The commander next in line of the remainder of the fleet surrendered, unable to believe what he had witnessed.
The Rift and The Psychic Wars:
The Deitus relocated to the capital world to rule the Empire. They began a recruitment effort to find others that had the potential to become what they had. The conclave of thought was re-opened and began training. Humanus exploration had all but ceased under the rule of the Deitus, and surprisingly, so did any thought of rebellion or dissent. People were able to do as they pleased, but always under the threat the Deitus presented.
Soon the conclave began to churn out folks with the potential to be similar in power to the twelve, and everything was proceeding as the Deitus had planned. The Humanus race was changing, moving toward their potential!
Nobody really knows what happened, whether there was a personal slight or if one of the Deitus outright attacked the other, but the Rift happened, and the conclave was destroyed in an apparent power grab by one of the twelve and their followers. The twelve split into factions, and began to fight each other in the open, among the stars and worlds of the Empire. They unleashed the full fury of their power at each other, and they learned quickly they were not unkillable. There was a slight pause in the battles as the first among them fell, but someone rose to take up his master's grievance and position, and the fighting continued. The wars raged on, with unspeakable horrors being unleashed upon worlds and systems during the conflict.
These “Psychic Wars”, as they were called, lasted only 11 years. During that time 9 of the Deitus and most of all of their followers were now dead or lobotomized, and countless worlds had been laid waste as they were used as battlefields for the psychic gods. Of all of the original Deitus, only 3 remained. After seeing the destruction they had caused, the remainders called cease fire, and met. They looked at what had become of themselves and their race, their original alliance and this supposed Empire. This was not the legacy they wanted to leave. This is not what was meant to be. In shame, all of them left.
The Empire fell into chaos, as the Deitus left and created an enormous power vacuum. Many smaller players made power grabs, some remnants of the Enemy took power, some of the original alliance races simple went to their home systems, jaded at what had become of the alliance.
In the meantime, the fleets that had been sent to Revanus galaxy had started their mission of exploration during the time the psychic wars were ravaging their home galaxies. After surveying the first few systems and finding nothing, they sent word back, and awaited further orders that never came. They decided to send a ship back home to report, and pressed on. After the Psychic Wars had ended back home, they finally encountered evidence of a starfaring race. A single mechanical probe, awaited their arrival in the next system. It queried them, asking who they were and what they wanted. The commander of the exploration fleet responed, saying they were representatives of the Humanus Supremus Empire, and would they like to accept their hand in friendship. Hold please, was the only response they received.
Then a single individual appeared on the bridge of the lead vessel. He addressed the ship and it's captain:
“You of the Humanus are known to Us. We watched you as you went out into the stars, learning. We also watched you as you conquered. We have watched as your own mental power has corrupted and laid waste to billions of sentients. Your quest into the stars ends here. We will end your influence, and rid the Universe of your corruption. The Humanus will be forgotten, the clock will be reset. Never again will you influence the Universe. This is Our judgment. Thus will the sentence be carried out.”
The individual left, and the probe exploded, destroying the entire fleet there.
The Ones swept into the Baramis and Garavis galaxies, and destroyed anything Humanus. Architecture, space stations, terraforming, all of it was destroyed or undone. The fleets remaining had not seen anything this technologically advanced, and their Deitus were not there to defend them. They could not stop them, and pleas for mercy or surrender were ignored. Trillions of Humanus were destroyed.
The other races were left in chaos, having all of their collaborative work with the Humanus destroyed, and being restored to their own home galaxies, forcefully. In less than one month, all evidence of the Humanus was erased from recorded history. Eons of work had been undone in one fell swoop.
The other races believed the Humanus were wiped from existence by a higher power for the evil they brought into the Universe...
The Ones kept some of the Humanus alive, and genetically treated them to stunt the development of their mental powers. Around only 500 of the trillions of Humanus were left, and they were deposited on an out of the way planet that could support them, with absolutely nothing to aid them...
I'm trying to anticipate any glaring holes in the story that may come up and bite me later.
I'm not looking for formatting or grammar advice, or what handful of Tropes this may or may not be using, but I understand the need to point them out. Please send those concerns to me via PM if you must.
Looking forward to the feedback!
At the height of the Psychic Wars, there were 12 Deitus:
Coran Dessitus, Flavius Marcus, Bellatus Merius, Donatus Ferrius, Leyara Melorum, Sesarah Joriat, Horatius Mendella, Gregarion Kerraton, Portus Erasmen, Rayvette Polarus, Quintus Maximus, Victus Xentuvius
Following the Psychic Wars, only 3 remained:
Quintus Maximus Rexus
Coran Dessitus Ghadrius
Leyara Mellorum Matrius
Quintus Maximus – The most powerful of the Deitus, he can bring some awesome and unbelievable power to bear against opponents. He was among the first to discover methods to weaponize his mind, and is the undisputed master of all things “kinesis”. He was first to perfect the cosmic form, and FTL flight ability of the Deitus. Not much of a strategist, he would often just let his enemies come to him, and defeat them. Over the millennia, he has shored up this deficiency in his thinking, but still prefers outright confrontation to plotting. He, like the other two surviving Deitus, is keeping an eye on the Terrans. As of late, he and Coran have fell into a bit of a disagreement about how to reveal themselves in full to their descendants. He tires of the long game Coran is playing at, fully eager to restore the remnants of their people to the stars. But, between Coran and Leyara’s assurances, he often relents to their wisdom. Recently, he has left the galaxy to go search for their racial enemy or any sign of them. He has been cautioned to observe and report only, but Quintus longs for a direct confrontation with The Ones.
Coran Dessitus – Overall weaker than the other two surviving Deitus, he makes up for this by way of his strategic mind. Most of the victories he had during the Psychic Wars were due to guile and knowing his enemy. He alone is responsible for five of the nine dead Deitus. Of course, being weaker than the other two is relative; he himself is still capable of some awesome feats of power. His studies at the Conclave were focused more on the strengthening of the mind, and how to penetrate and control the minds of others. His studies and philosophy on the matter is what originally caused the Conclave to be disbanded, but also how he convinced the others to continue to practice and study in secret. If it has a mind, AI or organic, he can manipulate it. One of his own crowning achievements is the blending of psychic power and technology. His understanding of mechanics in general was already above normal, but enhanced by his ability to communicate directly with machinery and computers makes his work even more efficient and impressive. He, along with Leyara, are the two that came up with the breeding programs to restore the psychic strength to their descendants. Quintus was to serve as the overall protector of the Terrans, while with the use of equipment developed by Coran, Leyara could re-introduce the genome for psychic ability into the Terrans. Coran was also able to determine how it was done in the first place, which other than sharing a few concerns with the others, keeps to himself. Now that the bloodlines they have put in place are nearing full expression, he has taken the role of Doran Kalliton, the CEO of Environ, which is undoubtedly the most powerful corporation on Terrus, and the most directly responsible for the great leaps and bounds in technology made by the Terrans over the last five hundred years. He believes that he has identified candidates for the final phase of his plan: create more Deitus.
Leyara Mellorum – The second strongest of the three, her abilities lay around her basic understanding of how biological systems work. She was a medical professional before she discovered her potential for expanding her mind and joining the Conclave. This has afforded her with unprecedented ability to restore herself and other from extremely grievous damage or death, and how to psychically influence other creature’s biological systems. She, with Coran’s technical expertise, have been able to slowly repair the genetic damage done to the descendants of the Humanus people. She sees all Terrans as her “children”, and whenever there is an argument amongst the three regarding their plans, she always argues from the point of the Terrans, wanting to protect them from things as much as possible, even the knowledge of their own, horrible past. She is apprehensive about Coran beginning the next phase of their plan, because she knows that it’s only a matter of time until they will reveal themselves, and she does not believe herself worthy of anyone’s adoration, even from those she has protected for the last five thousand years. In more ways than one, Leyara is a direct ancestor of the key bloodlines, having acted as mother directly to hundreds of families over the last three thousand years, further enhancing the genetic strength of these bloodlines. Quintus has no idea about this, and Coran only suspects. So, now, she waits and watches to see what will happen, and dreads their success.
I don't see anything particularly 'wrong' with your story, but it seems (you don't say exactly when/where you are going to set your game) that it is so remote from the likely settings as to be almost inconsequential.
For example, one could image that being the 'true history' of our earth, but it wouldn't really have much effect on a James Bond style story set in the 60s. More immediate history would be much more relevant.
I guess, what I'm saying is that in order to provide any useful feedback, we'd need to know more about what the game you are running is going to be about.
I would say that assuming you are going to introduce this history at some point to the PCs, one way to deal with any 'holes' is to make sure there are a lot of them. In other words, it would be unlikely that they would find any single intact and correct history, rather fragments, legend and indications. Enough to perhaps give a general shape of history, but not enough that they would think they knew everything happened and why. That way even if the history you develop has holes in it, they players won't see them, because they know that what they have been given has a lot of holes in it by its very nature.