Friday, December 31, 2010
In the early 21st century “Western Civilization" and the nations of Terra are obliterated by the Atomic Armageddon. Over thousands of years, the surviving peoples of Earth rebuild a technological civilization atop the radioactive ashes. Humankind again reaches for the stars and eventually encounters an advanced insectoid race near the star Procyon. This ancient alien race, the Pé Chói, gifts the peoples of Earth with the Three Light Drive and many other wondrous devices, and accepts the Terrans as members of interstellar society.
The human space age is now fifty thousand years old. Humanity has spread across hundreds of light years of space; stellar empires have risen, endured for millennia, and fallen. The migrations and imperial expansions have ebbed and flowed, resulting from wars, commerce, religious impetus, and other mysterious compulsions. Countless alien species have been contacted, some have become friends and trading partners, some have been enslaved or decimated, and others persist as inimical foes of man across galactic space. Thousands of worlds have been colonized; colonies have been lost in deep space and developed strange new civilizations and even pocket star empires in the Beyond, the fringes of Humanspace.
The year 62000 AD is the 6071st year of the Great Humanspace Empire and the 833rd year of the Dynasty of the Veritable Autocrator. Mankind and its alien allies have reached a state of unprecedented technological advancement. Starships cross vast distances in days by travelling between dimensions, trade routes thread space like capillaries in living tissue, computers, androids and robots are built with advanced positronic brains, molecular machines reshape matter and interplanar power is tapped to transform worlds and even stars. Still, it is not a time of tranquility and ease. Some feel that the Great Star Empire is crumbling under the weight of its bureaucratic and authoritarian excesses and its decadence; human and alien foes of the empire are emboldened and active across the Orion Spur. Others know that the greatest threats lie in the unknown regions of deep and inter-dimensional space.
Anyone familiar with the background of the various Tékumel games will recognize this as history of the great spacefaring ancients that terraformed and settled that world. There are few canonical details for this period which makes it particularly appealing as a setting for an old school space opera campaign.
Many of the alien races, both friends and enemies of man, are known, as they survived on Tékumel into the time of the Empire of the Petal Throne. Sources indicate; however, that numerous other alien species and star empires were known to man prior to the inter-dimensional disaster that isolated Tékumel within its own pocket universe. Hints of the technological level of the ancient Humanspace Empire are also present in the artifacts that remain; lightning guns, “the weapon without answer,” eyes, the spaceships on the Plain of Towers, androids, tubecars, etc. It is clear that the Ancients possessed almost unimaginable power; terraforming, FTL travel, control of inter-dimensional energies, and genetic manipulation.
The inspiration for such a science fantasy campaign setting also stems from pulp sci-fi of the first half of the 20th century, likely the same sources that originally influenced Professor Barker. I’m thinking rayguns, needle shaped spaceships, odd headgear, and alien monsters. It is also important to note that the one world empire that arose on Earth after the atomic apocalypse was dominated by groups from Meso-America, India, and the Arabian Peninsula; indicating, that a pulpy “orientalist” and exotic flavor might be appropriate.
I will be developing this setting further in subsequent posts and would like to publish a free* sourcebook of some type prior to the end of the world around 2012-2013. I’m definitely looking for ideas, contributors, and perhaps artists, as time is running out…
Of course as this is an entirely non-commercial fan project, I don’t anticipate being able to pay for any contributions.
*Tékumel and its related products and materials are copyright © 1975 and 2010 by Prof. M.A.R. Barker.
This work is not intended in any way to infringe upon that copyright or other intellectual property rights of Prof. M.A.R. Barker.
Public domain illustration above appeared uncredited in WEIRD TALES March, 1947 Vol. 39, No. 10.