Shades of Black
New to Dark Space
Dark Space is a campaign setting for use with the Rolemaster game or the Space Master game, or both. It details a setting of twenty worlds in which adventuring can take place. In these worlds, both magic and technology coexist with a new kind of technology called Softech.
I will be using just Rolemaster.
The following terms will be used throughout Dark Space:
Biocrystal -A Philethian-invented, Softech created, crystal-like substance that is grown rather than mined.
Cartel -The huge corporate conglomerate that controls most of the commerce in the Twenty Worlds. It is second in power and influence only to the Citadel, its arch-rival organization.
Church, the -See Citadel.
Citadel -Also known simply as the Church, this religious organization is the most powerful force within the Twenty Worlds. Its priests and bishops control most of the population and the govern-ments through their influence.
Dark Energy -A form of energy totally alien to conventional (light) energy. It cannot be perceived by normal means and does not affect and cannot be affected by normal (light) energy or mater. It is the only thing that will effect dark matter.
Dark Matter -A form of matter totally alien to conventional (light) matter. It cannot be affected by all forms of normal (light) matter and energy. Only dark energy will affect it.
Duriplast -A super-hard plastic.
Hardtech -The general term for any technological item (beyond the very simple tools such as fulcrums, pulleys, inclined planes, etc.) that is inorganic based. The great majority, but not all, of these items are banned by the Pirathon Doctrine. Items excluded are burners, sprayers, implants, cyberdrugs, and a few others.
IG/Immotigen -The main form of Citadel currency. While not as widely used as the tradit, it is still currently minted by the Citadel. Two immotigens equal one tradit.
Interworld -Used among the Worlds rather than “interplanetary.” It pertains to anything having to do with more than one world.
Metamorph -Any intelligent being created through Softech based upon human DNA structure, as opposed to being bom naturally. They are often given inhuman powers and abilities.
Nullspace -A parallel universe occupying the same space as our universe, otherwise known as realspace. The physical distances of nullspace are much shorter than in realspace, and nullspace is used to travel long distances in short amounts of time. Note that this is not the same as Hyperspace in Space Master.
Oldtech -See Hardtech.
Philethians -A race of immortal beings, much older than man, who have have been man’s allies since before human recorded time. They were originally the life essences of stars, but in humanoid form. Most are found on the world of Mystalls.
Pirathon -A religious off-shoot of the Citadel who initiated the Pirathon Doctrine (after acceptance by the Church) and the Pirathon Purge which devastated the Twenty Worlds.
Pirathon Doctrine -The Citadel-accepted belief that computers, robots, androids, and most other Hardtech items are unholy and should be destroyed. See Hardtech.
Purge -The Pirathon Purge. See Pirathon.
Quan -A feline humanoid race, whose homeworld is Westridon.
Liphods -An amoeba-like race from beyond the Twenty Worlds. They feed on humans.
Realspace -Sometimes referred to as just “space,” this is the void separating the worlds. It can also refer to the entire universe (as opposed to nullspace). Also called the Starsea or the Void.
Replicant -A specific form of mass-produced metamoiph, created with very little ree-will capabilities. They are used as slaves throughout the Twenty Worlds.
Starsea -See Realspace.
Synthisteel -An artiicially created alloy, much stronger than normal steel.
TR/Tradits -A unit of currency in the Twenty Worlds, at one time minted by the Cartel, but now no longer minted. It remains the primary source of currency, however. It is the equivalent of one Rolemaster silver piece and one Space Master monit or elmonit. In the Twenty Worlds, it equals two immotigen.
Twenty Worlds -The twenty worlds that were settled by humans rom Geideri. All of these worlds’ star systems are located near a large nebula known as the Dark Nebula. Also known as the Worlds.
Void -See Realspace.
Worlds, the -See the Twenty Worlds. Note that in the society presented in Dark Space, the term “world” is generally used rather than “planet,” particularly for inhabitable worlds.
The setting of Dark Space is unique in many ways. One of the major reasons for this is the technological level of the society. Put simply (or as simply as possible), the society of the Twenty Worlds was at one time a highly advanced culture similar to many science fiction societies. GM’ s can assume that it was at about the same tech level as given in the Space Master game, if they are familiar with that product. The society also used magic as commonly as most fantasy settings (like Shadow World). A great number of years ago, a religious purge wiped out most of the technology. This included computers, robots, androids, and high tech machinery (for the most part, anything that cannot be powered by man or animal alone). Examples of prohibited tech are powered vehicles, most powered weapons, gunpowder, electric lights, radios, televisions, telephones, electrical generators and other power systems, scanners, force fields etc. Some items not prohibited include wagons, muscled powered tools, non-powered melee and missile weaponry, indoor plumbing, hand powered printing presses, staplers, bicycles, ect.
Muscle powered machines were quickly developed so factories could continue to mass produce allowed items made of “high-tech” substances like cardboard, aluminum and plastic. Magic picked up some of the slack left behind by the disappearance of high technology but it wasn’t until the advent of biotechnology called softech that society could begin to function as it once had. The Society of Dark Space is just beginning to function like an interstellar high-tech community.
“In our oldest documents, our ancestors warned us to keep vigilant of the nebula. In our folly we forgot their warning. Now the darkness shall consume us.”
-The Lorist Aran Boturr of Gant ca. 9456 YI
The Loist Aran Boturr was the greatest historian of modem times throughout the Twenty Worlds. During his lifetime, he catalogued the history of the Worlds more completely than any before him. He was a staunch opponent of the Pirathon Doctrine, although it was issued long before his birth. Towards the end of his career, he was among the first to proclaim the coming threat. Before his mysterious death in 9458, he was able to claim that he had done research in every major library in all the Worlds. In his essay “The History of the Doomed,” he recounts:
“The exact beginnings of civilization are lost to us. If there were any records, they were lost in some great war or horrible catastrophe. The earliest recorded events are those in the annals of the Church, known throughout the Twenty Worlds as the Citadel. The date given these documents is that of228 YI. (”Years For Immotos", the standard measure of time in all the known worlds now. A year consists of360 24-hour days.) These records deal with little of interest to the layman, but do reveal that the organized worship ofthe omnipotent diety Immotos (also known as The Above-All) has existedfor as long as ten thousand years.
These records also serve as proof for the overwhelming belief that the original human homeworld is the planet known to us as Geideri. Only a few of the people of Sylva contradict this idea. Contact with the race of powerful magical beings called Philethians, which had descended from the fiery stars themselves, had already been made, and a good relationship had begun between their race and humans. Magical proficiency within the three realms had risen to its greatest height. The science now known to us as Oldtech or Hardtech had just begun its ascendency. Lastly, these early records tell us of strange warnings our ancientforebearers left to us. They warn us of a great evil within the nebula that had once very nearly spelled the end of all existence. These warnings where never heeded until now. But now it is, in my opinion, too late.
The Mighty Grasp
Throughout the first four thousand years of history, technology grew in sophistication and in power. Magic remained, but in overall usage was supplanted by the forces of technology. By the end of the sixth millennia, humans had spread from Geideri to many of the Worlds. This period of intense exploration, colonization and innovation is known as the Mighty Grasp, beginning as an interworld structure, called the Resad Empire, centered on Geideri. When that empire fell, the forces of the world of Palamad tried to carve their own interworld government. That, in turn, collapsed as well, but the Mighty Grasp continued onward, for even as humanity separated into different states, the impetus to colonize more planets continued.
The Wars of Devastation
It is during this period that the corporate conglomerate known as the Cartel made tself public, revealing a nearly complete monopoly on production of technological items. All public and private corporations took part in this mega-alliance. Immediately it came into conflict with the Citadel, which had been growing in power as society grew in size. The Cartel’s influence extended to all of the known planets and it was the closest thing to an interplanetary government that existed at that time. So began the Wars of Devastation.
These wars were fought for control of all of human society. Eventually, every known world was drawn into the fray. Magical and technological weapons and defenses were used to wage the horrible conflict. Mighty Hardtech starships carried destruction to the various planets. Millions died. The Cartel called it a war for independence; the Citadel named it a holy war.
When the wars had finally ended, both sides weary of battle, there was no clear winner. Through a treaty with the Church, the Cartel gained the right to exercise complete control of manufacturing and trade among the worlds, while the Citadel maintained its position as the religious center of society. Also as a result of the Wars of Devastation, the citizens of the various Worlds chose to form a council of elected officials to oversee all matters that dealt with more than one world. This council, known simply as the Senate, was based on Geideri. The councilmembers were not to have any say in matters concerning one individual world, and found themselves dealing mostly with the Cartel. The Citadel soon found that it could claim religious immunity from the jurisdiction of the Senate, and began doing so with regularity. The Senate, afraid of the power that the Church wielded, and the popularity that it possessed, did nothing.
The Early Years
In 6456, the Twenty Worlds were completely settled. While the Cartel and the Citadel continued to vie for control of society and the Senate attempted to maintain peace, each individual world had its own governing body or bodies. The world of Kish, for example, famous for its huge arenas called the Gamegrids, had been long controlled by the house of the royal family of Creskin. But during this time, this old world was torn apart by angry and oppressed subjects, calling themselves Anticreskins. After a short but bloody war, the Anticreskins took control of Kish, and maintain it even today.
On the world of Palamad, the Citadel Homeworld, a mighty republic of states joined together, rising from the ashes of an empire that had attempted to gain control of all the surrounding worlds and had eventually fallen, to form a government which eventually engulfed that entire world.
All Twenty Worlds went through years of political upheaval, like Kish and Palamad, as they were settled. A rebellious government on the world of Dresden resulted in the annihilation of its populous by order of the Citadel. A similar attack was made upon the world of Haven and its strange, god-like rulers, the Twelve.
Much to the Citadel’s embarrassment, the attack was repelled.
The Pirathon Purge
In 8231, a new faction of the Citadel formed that called itself the Pirathon. Their main divergence from the mainstream Citadel doctrine was their belief that all that is “inorganic” is unholy. Pirathon members used no metals or plastics. They firmly believed that inorganic “man machines,” such as robots, androids and computers, which were prevalent in society, were abominations. They claimed to know of an ancient technology that utilized organic living organisms that could accomplish anything that inorganic technology could.
At first, the Pirathon was denounced even by the main Citadel organization. Then, in 8305, a large computer on the world of Kish that controlled the Gamegrids there(see Kish) went berserk for an unknown reason and used the robots under its control to kill thousands of people before it was stopped. Citizens throughout the Worlds were horriied. Fear of computers spread quickly, fueled by the Pirathon priests. In a move which terrified the Cartel and astounded many others, the Citadel issued a holy edict backing Pirathon beliefs. This edict became known as the Pirathon Doctrine and spawned a holy purge that made the Wars of Devastation pale in comparison.
The Pirathon Purge was backed by the forces of the Citadel and fantastically huge numbers of citizens that were motivated by fear and perhaps by misinformation.
Virtually all computers, robots and androids were destroyed. Most technological devices, such as starships, weapons, communication devices and machines of all types were eradicated. Many of those who had skills and knowledge of how to create, repair or even use these devices were killed or imprisoned if they did not relinquish all ties to the technology. Non-machine inorganic items were not affected by the Doctrine. The Citadel was not as completely radically minded as the Pirathon.
The Purge would have surely wiped out the entire civilization of all the worlds, but in their destructive frenzy, the Pirathon and its supporters were virtually cut off from each other and from other worlds because of their insane destruction of all technology including their own. By the time the Purge had ended, the Cartel had been crippled, the Senate was disbanded and interplanetary communication and travel existed only in the hands of those who wielded magic or telepathy-the only “sciences” left.
The Citadel’s highest ranks, the Archbishop’s Council, was still able to meet through powerful spells of transport, and it was they who tied the Twenty Worlds together. In the eyes of the common citizen, each individual planet became a world unto itself, and the notion of a group of allied and connected worlds became a distant dream. Life became very simple, and in technological terms, very un sophisticated in comparison of the levels of technology that existed before. Where men had flown through the Starsea in ships of metal, now they traveled their world’s surfaces in carts and ships of wood.
The Rise of Softech
The Pirathon, however, were not false in their claim to have a form of technology dealing with organic things. They quickly turned over this information -Softech – to the Cartel. The Cartel’s technicians used their scientific talents and the Cartel’s incredible techniques of mass production to produce large numbers of Softech devices beginning only two hundred years after the Purge. The science of Softech has greatly improved since then, but has taken a long time to be accepted in widespread use.
Much of society is still within the dark ages where the Pirathon Purge had placed them. Only the very wealthy can afford the luxuries that Softech provides. Softech gives many wonderful and amazing benefits. Microrgs are microorganisms that can be injected into a host’s system to alter his body or give him various benefits. Grafts and buds attach themselves to a host’s body to replace lost limbs or to give the host additional limbs, living armor or any number of capabilities. Softech can also be used for various healing practices.
It can create a multitude ofcreatures that can help mankind in unique ways. Lastly, this science allows skill Softechnicians to even create people, and to engineer within them great powers. These individuals are known as metamorphs and are discriminated against and feared in many places on the Worlds.
Along with Softech, the manipulation of a living form of crystal called biocrystal is a major source of technology. Biocrystal can be grown into various shapes, including limb grafts, armor, weapons, structures and even starships. This biocrystal is closely associated with the alien Philethian race, but is not unique to them.
For the most part, however, both biociystal and Softech items are perhaps only slightly more common than magical items throughout society. The Cartel is doing its best to make sure that their use increases.
The Worlds Today
Today the worlds are a strange combination of magic and technology. Society in most places is fairly primitive, using iron or steel swords for weapons, stone and wood for construction and animal mounts for transportation. In other areas, it is sophisticated with interworld travel, biotechnology and huge factories. The reason for this disparity in technology and in society in general is the lack of travel and communication between worlds. Most of the worlds and the people that populate them are almost completely isolated from each other. The only exception to this are the very powerful or privileged individuals. Magic is not terribly common, but its use permeates both ends of society.
The Pirathon Doctrine is now well accepted. After so much time, people have grown accustomed to the current state of affairs. The tales of the previous days of high technology, are just that-tales.
Local governments control the various worlds or nations, but the Citadel’s influence is everywhere, with temples in every city. The Cartel is still in the process of re-establishing itself in society, building new factories and corporate cities for their employees to live in. Lorists continue to study and record all the knowledge they can find. The Senate is trying to reestablish its place in the government of the Worlds, but its power is certainly not yet what it once was.
Humans still continue to interact with their allies the Philethians and the Quan (the feline humanoids of Wesridon), while remaining wary of the very alien, amoeba-like Liophods. Strange undead pirates plague travel between the worlds, as well as disrupting nullspace movement.