The Stellar Front Campaign Setting:
The Shakur-icas War
The golden age of space travel has come and gone. A thousand years ago, mankind learned the secret of interstellar travel and built a civilization among the stars. Hundreds of planets were colonized. Where man could not survive, he changed himself with the science of genetics. The human race grew in power and size.
While the universe is infinite, the galaxy is not. Human space encroached on the empire of the Shakur-icas, an insectile species we could neither communicate nor reason with. The resulting war of first contact was brutal, with both parties seeking to drive the other to extinction. To survive, the humans switched to a total war footing, with the economic output of entire planets being used to build armies and armadas of starships. For years the war raged on, with both sides suffering grave losses. Finally, when things were looking grim, a human strike force pushed through the lines and razed the Shakur-icas homeworld to the bedrock. Victory had come at a cost.
Out of the planets that had survived, most were badly damaged. Few faster than light ships were left intact and the knowledge to build them was lost. With its pyrrhic victory the human empire ceased to exist as a galactic power, with many of the remaining human worlds reverting back to where they had been at the beginning of the great expansion.
In this dark age of technology, humanity began to stumble upon the discovery of the past which would change the course of its future. Many planets across the galaxy are littered with artifacts of ancient civilization, ruins of once great cities of monolithic scale and alien grandeur. Bodies of these Titans have never been recovered and it is still a mystery how this ancient civilization vanished.
Two hundred years after humanity's pyrrhic victory over the Shakur, the ruins of these cities started to change and the walls of reality began fracturing and tearing. These rifts lead to the Nexus, a vast pocket dimension that is filled with impossible geometries with tunnels changing regularly and paths that defy logic. All the worlds of the former Titan Empire are connected through these tunnels of the Nexus.
In the present era, the dark age has finally come to an end. Planets have begun to contact one another once more and have formed alliances, and civilization has begun to rebuild, which has coalesced into three new empires.
The Sol Combine
In the cradle of the human race there is the Sol Combine, an aggressive and authoritarian regime. One of the core beliefs of the Sol Combine are that genetically modified humans are an affront to 'pureblood' humans, and they are willing to use their military might to purify the species once more. Their propensity for warfare has lead to major advances in technology and they possess the most sophisticated weapons and ships in modern human civilization. To make sure the armies of the Combine are never depleted, all able-bodied citizens must serve in the military for 10 years from the age of eighteen. Beyond this, all citizens are trained as soldiers from childhood in the heart of the Combine. This massive military is served by an equally large labor force comprised primarily of prisoners and genetically modified work animals who harvest the food and minerals required to keep the war machine rolling. Sometimes these unwilling laborers are able to escape their captors and escape Combine-held space by way of resistance movements or, in rarer cases, by successfully finding and navigating the Nexus to a habitable world.
The Sol Combine is ruled by a Council of generals that have risen through the ranks by merit and by standing on the bodies of rivals. This aggressive competition for the reins of the empire is what sparks the near-constant civil wars that plague the Sol Combine. The borders of the Combine expand in waves as they conquer unaligned worlds and then consolidate their empire. They are in constant conflict with both of the other galactic powers, the United Worlds of Alterisa and the Centradi People's Republic. Though stronger and larger than both the other powers the perpetual in-fighting keeps them from provoking full on war with either, thus giving a modicum of stability in the galaxy.
Even with this turmoil, some fringe planets join the Combine voluntarily. Sometimes it's the propaganda that the Combine propagates in the region through trade and commerce. Other times it's the real threat of space pirates or neighbouring star systems. It can take years for these worlds to realize the true nature of their new benefactors. By that time, it is too late to resist.
The Centradi's Peoples Republic
Some worlds fell backwards further into technological dark ages than their neighboring systems, and many of these under-developed worlds were conquered by the more advanced or stronger worlds. One such empire grew to power in the Centradi system, ruled by a royal family with a lineage dating back to the old Earth governor of the sector. In the early period after the fall, this kingdom was favorable to the serf worlds involved, but the royal family over time became decadent and corrupt. In order to fulfill their desire for more wealth and power, they allowed massive corporations greater freedom to exploit the serf worlds. As the corporations brought back greater riches to the Royal family, the populations of these serf worlds were forced to destroy their homeworlds in search of minerals and Xeno-artifacts to decorate the vast palaces that the royal family were continually building bigger with every generation. Eventually the serf worlds revolted, de-throned the royal family, and founded a new republic of the people.
The Centradi People's Republic became a confederation of satellite worlds that are loosely connected to the central authority in the Centradi system. The CPR is ruled by a court of elders and a triumvirate of three chancellors, each from one of the previous serf worlds. The chancellors each serve three year seats, but their terms are staggered so there is an election every year. The overall political agenda and direction of the Centradi People's Republic changes rapidly as Chancellors try to distinguish themselves from their predecessors during their short time in power.
The former serf worlds are still primarily agrarian worlds with some small scale manufacturing and mining, but the majority of the CPR's industrial base resides on the capital planet. Industry on the capital world is owned and run by the state. Outside of the capital world, private enterprise still exists, but is largely relegated to niche industries. The CPR maintains a small standing army, with the understanding of the general populace that they may be called up for service as part of a larger conscript army as needed.
United Worlds of Alterisia
Nestled in the Alterisia nebula close to the hub of the Milky Way, a small research station was founded before the dark age. It was created to study a vast Titan city, one hidden under a dense cover of jungle and wildlife. When the war with the Shakur-icas broke out, they were cut off from the rest of humanity. Unable to get outside food or supplies, the hope for salvation started to run thin until the researchers and staff began to turn to the jungle for their survival. After several generations, the Station had expanded into a small city, thanks in part to establishing farms and the mines that had been tunneled to help fuel supplies locally. The citizens of this unintentional settlement called it Titanholm.
Eventually the city was contacted by Soram 52, previously a corporate mining colony, which still maintained several ore transport ships that survived the war. The two worlds began to trade and became fast allies, eventually agreeing to be sister worlds as they became more and more dependent on each other. In time, contact was made with other worlds in the nebula who joined into this trade alliance. With the exception of a few small conflicts, this interplanetary trade bloc would eventually unify due to the need for protection and an agreement upon shared values.
The resulting federation was named the United Worlds of Alterisia, from the nebula that the founding five planets were located in. The UWA is a representative democracy with each world voting for their own planetary representative in the Core government. The UWA is slowly expanding its borders as it colonizes new planets. More planets petition to join, both out of a desire to advance their own technologies, and as protection against the Sol Combine's slaughter of modified humans. Every developed world in the UWA is expected to maintain a planetary defence force for domestic defence, but the Core Government on Titanholm is charged with defending the less-developed worlds, and by providing additional military support to any planet under attack. The Federal military are known as the Star Rangers, which has members from all planets in the federation.
The UWA is home to several large corporations that run most of the the interplanetary trade routes and help drive the colonization of new planets. Of these corporations, the largest of them, Von Goyt Industries, can trace their ownership to the old Earth company that founded Soram 52. Though self serving, these companies are compliant with all laws and regulations placed upon them by the UWA.
In exchange for this compliance, they are allowed their own private security forces, most of which are used to guard the trade routes. The Trade Defence Forces, paid for by the corporate alliance in the UWA, are given the right to bring any pirates they capture to the nearest planet - any goods found aboard will be returned to their rightful owners, and ships seized are given over to the planet with the prisoners. For the capture of ships, pirates and goods, they are given significant tax breaks, which keeps everyone but the pirates happy.
Humanity had developed faster than light (FTL) ships before the Shakur-icas war that allowed them to spread around the galaxy. However during the war most of these ships were lost and the ability to build new ones was also lost. During the war nearly all capital ships were lost in combat with the Shakur-icas and of the ships that survived most were civilian ships that were not involved directly in the war and were absent from the battles. With transportation between worlds being limited and rare, and with worlds not being willing to risk what FTL capable ships they did have, most worlds became isolated during the dark ages. it has only been in the last 50 years that FTL technology has been able to be replicated with new star ship finally starting to replace the hundreds of years old fleets that were in service before them. These ships may be new but are limited in size due to the relatively weak engines that power them, resulting in the absence of any vessels larger than a destroyer, such vessels being impossible to build. This has lead to a race by the major powers of the galaxy to find and salvage the wrecked ships of the Great War to either extend the life of the capital ships still in service or to add to their Fleets. Also because of the rarity of capital ships in the galaxy, and the expensive cost of constructing new ships, ship-to-ship combat usually is a matter a ship trying to take out the weapon systems of it's opponent and then sending in boarding parties to capture the ship. Most of the UWA's capital ships were won this way during the first conflicts with the Sol Combine and are seen as a disastrous loss to the Sol Combine.
Faram's Folly Station
As the UWA expanded its need for the minerals necessary to construct and repair the rockets that ferried resources and people between its colonies, a mining boom occured in the unsettled frontier worlds. Faram Mining staked claim to one of these planets after initial survey's found the planet to be a habitable planet rich in Aryc crystals and palladium. However, after the first mining stations were constructed and the native life driven off, violent ion storms cut off communications with the planet. When the storm parted and cargo ships returned they were greeted by a lifeless station. It is unknown what happened to the first stations during the storm but the official explanation is that the ion storm disabled the protective fence that kept out the native life and the colonists were overrun due to the signs of a struggle. This loss ended up crippling the stock prices of Faram Mining and when it was discovered that the ion storms happened every few years, the company eventually filed for bankruptcy.
The planet, that started to be referred to as Faram's Folly, came under the stewardship of the UWA government after the company's bankruptcy. The planet was used for training and weapons testing for 20 years until Von Goyt Industries recently offered to purchase the mineral rights of the planet from the government. The Von Goyt Industries mining operations are based in semi-permanent facilities that pepper the planet that are either left abandoned or packed up when an ion storm is expected to return to the planet. As a result of the isolated position of the planet and the non-permanent nature of its settlements it has become a target for piracy like many of the other frontier worlds. These worlds fall under the protection of the Star Rangers but that protection is stretched thin with the constant threat of Sol Combine incursion drawing them elsewhere in the federation. The Star Rangers nonetheless maintain a small garrison on Faram's Folly, populated primarily by soldiers that have either been stationed there as punishment, by inexperienced soldiers, or by soldiers that were unlucky during assignment. Von Goyt Industries also maintains an attachment of TDF soldiers as part of the Star Ranger garrison to help protect their interests on the planet.
Faram's Folly is also rich with scientific discoveries still to be made, which has drawn interest from scientists with grants from the UWA and from corporate researchers from Von Goyt. Research being done on the planet ranges from trying to find the cause of the regular ion storms to studying the native life for new medicines. However the planet is still very dangerous so much of this research is done in an opportunistic manner when the scientists join an existing patrol or when a patrol can be organized for a given scientific mission.
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