The Known Galaxy is in a state of upheaval, and it is a time fraught with danger, suffering, and strife. It is a time when heroes are needed like never before, and a time when people fight to preserve the one thing many believe lost: Hope. As Earth’s Nietzschean philosopher, Hal Niemfreed, has declared, “This is the age of chaos, loss, and despair. Discordia reigns supreme”; or put simply, it is the Reign of Discordia.
A State of Discordia
Much has changed for the former citizens of the Stellar Imperium in the five years since the Fall, from the rapidly reduction in the availability of goods and services, through to a degradation of technology and communication. And yet this change, as with all disasters, effects each and every citizen different, depending on one’s power, status and situation. While most beings look to simply survive, others see the old powers wiped away and the galaxy ripe for the picking…
The Great Migration
The Stellar Imperium vanished in a burst of nuclear devastation and a cloud of viral poison, taking with it the vestiges of the greatest power the Known Galaxy had ever known. In that single blow, the universe changed for the billions of souls, each of whom had until that moment relied so heavily on the Imperium. Without the Stellar Imperium, many worlds collapsed under the weight of supporting their populations, lacking the systems of transport and technology necessary to survive independently. Others just barely endured, mainly through harsh restrictions and dramatic cutbacks in the services that had once been right to even the lowliest of the Imperium’s citizens.
Two types of worlds survived better than most, those who had fought for rebellion, and the racial homeworlds (and their closest colonies). For both, many of whom already had some degree of independence, the transitions from Imperium to self-governance was easier, with infrastructure and trade agreements already in hand. It is unsurprising then, that it was these planets that became the destination of those who have fled from the desperation and poverty inflicted upon so many of the former Imperium worlds.
This rush towards the centre of the Known Galaxy (which occurs now even five years after the fall) is known as the Great Migration. With the instability and the threat of other R’Tillek attacks, millions of former Stellar Imperium citizens have uprooted from their homes and fled to where they thought they could best survive the dark days ahead. Traditional interstellar travel networks were almost immediately overwhelmed, and all too quickly, demand outweighed supply, especially on those planets on the fringes of Known Galaxy and within the New Frontier.
Of course this influx of asylum seekers had other impacts, especially on those planets already struggling to regain any sort of balance after the loss of the Imperium. With support structures pushed to the limit, few worlds could deal with the sheer numbers of refugees looking to settle upon them. New restrictions quickly sprung up, and a mentality of native versus immigrant has become common place. This in turn led to further conflicts as the homeless look to claim what they can… what they need to survive. Few planets are without such tensions, even those which have embraced socialist and communalist ideals. Increasingly, those who can find no home turn to piracy to ensure their survival, and this has resulted in a crime wave of unseen proportions strike across the entire Known Galaxy. Before the fall the Imperium, the space lanes were well-patrolled and unharried. However, the depressed economic conditions, the lack of protection and the ability to prey upon weaker cargo ships has proven too great a temptation for many to resist and piracy has become a problem in most systems. Without capitol ships to protect the shipping lanes, transporting goods from one world to the next became a risky endeavor, driving costs up as the corporations were forced to choose between absorbing losses and hiring privately held armed escorts.
Trade and Commerce
The fall of the Stellar Imperium has thrown almost all former member worlds into an economic depression. The price of almost all goods has tripled over the past five years, while the average worker’s wage has stagnated or decreased, leading to a situation where homelessness and starvation are far more common than they once were. Other worlds have instituted socialism to ensure that all citizens are provided for at the most basic level.
Another major concern in the current economy is that many corporate-produced technologies have become difficult to obtain, and competition is virtually nonexistent. While many planets would gladly make their own forms of the products they need most desperately, they are limited by the fact that most technologies have been intentionally designed to be difficult to reverse-engineer. The corporations that are making money, with few exceptions, aggressively protect the research and development they have invested, and typically refuse to license their designs out to other companies. More often than not, this has led to a deadly serious game of corporate espionage where agents are assigned the task of stealing the secrets of others. The Sangor have a special knack for reverse-engineering many complex devices (which was how they achieved space travel in the first place). That said, it is a well-known fact that their knock-off devices are not the highest quality and are prone to failure.
In most areas, too, the technology level has regressed since the days of the Stellar Imperium. Corporations were responsible for the vast majority of the technological advances during those days, but most corporations only spanned one world or one race. The research, development, and production of many items became specialized to one race or one world. Many species now wish to produce technological items traditionally made by other species, but are finding that they lack the technical expertise to produce them. In this day and age, many unscrupulous individuals can find employment in the shadowy yet lucrative realm of corporate espionage. Indeed, these people are often paid extremely well to infiltrate other corporations, steal technical data, and then return them to their employers.
The types of items currently in high demand are life support systems for all sizes of spacecraft, navigation systems that are hard coded with all of the latest astronomical data, terraforming equipment, reverse gravity generators, top-end artificial intelligence units, immersive holographic emitters, atmospheric suits, and a great number of personal electronic devices too numerous to list. Transportation of manufactured goods is normally carried out by the corporations that produce them, though smaller companies and individual entrepreneurs often employ private freighters. Raiders usually prefer to target private freighters over corporate ships, as they are typically easier marks, with fewer defenses.
Most capitol ships now are smaller and less powerful than the ones that used to serve as the primary work-horses of the Imperium fleet. Very few worlds have the resources or the technical knowledge to build such powerful and massive ships and the surviving shipyards lack the capacity. Many believe the Imperium kept shipyards in secret locations that were not even known to the former member worlds of the Imperium. Many speculate that several abandoned ships, complete, or nearly complete, still exist, docked at various lost outposts and forgotten. Several world governments would be very interested in retrieving these ships, if they indeed exist.
The sale of illicit goods remains lucrative for those who can live with the risks. Banned substances and weapons are in greater demand than ever and most planetary governments have long lists of items that are not supposed to be sold to the general public. This line of work comes with a high degree of risk since being caught can result in imprisonment, mind wipes, or even death.
The currency used throughout the former Stellar Imperium worlds is the Standard Credit. It was called the Imperial Credit before the fall, but the name was changed to reflect the fact that the Imperium is a thing of the past. Its value is now dictated by actual market conditions. The Standard Credit is backed by the entire banking industry, which, though battered, is one of the few stabilizing forces leftover from the Imperium.
One could have been fooled into believing that the war with the R’Tillek and the destruction of the Stellar Imperium would have sated any urge for future conflict, but with the Senate and Imperium no more old feuds once more come to the fore.
A New Cold War
The former member worlds have failed to ally themselves with one another, and the vast majority have chosen to remain fiercely independent, even eschewing the notion of banding together with other worlds primarily inhabited by the same species. A number of worlds have sought to expand their influence and power by conquering their neighbors. In some cases they have been successful, but the lessons of the recent past have taught the inhabitants of most of the would-be conquered worlds that their autonomy is worth struggling for.
The frequent conflicts between Human worlds sometimes obscure the larger tensions that exist between the greatest powers. As before the dawn of the Stellar Imperium, the planets with the largest populations are typically the most powerful. This primarily includes Earth, Lamog, and Tallin.
Since the collapse of the Stellar Imperium, the governments of both Earth and Lamog have been increasingly critical of the role the other played. Lamog charges that Humans were too reluctant to bring the full force of their military against the R’Tillek and they ultimately impeded the war effort, while Earth blames the Lamog officials of being reckless with their tactics and resources during the war. Regardless of the truth, the Earth and Lamog governments once again find themselves at odds.
In response to their resurgent differences, Earth has increased production of military vessels so that they can handle any possible Lamog offensive. One of the projects Earth has committed to is the development of a new starship with the same size and raw power as the lost Imperium-Class Destroyers. Unfortunately, building such ships will require the construction of new shipyards that are capable of building such large ships, since the current ones are simply not up to the task. A new shipyard is under construction in orbit around Mars, but it will not be complete for another five years.
While the Earth government seeks to set its own house in order, the Lamog government seems more interested in reestablishing its own superiority. It is not simply content with putting defensive capabilities in place, but wants to recreate the Stellar Imperium without other species sharing power. To this end, it has essentially turned its fleet of ships loose on the known galaxy with simple instructions: protect Lamogos interests. Each captain is left to interpret this directive as he or she sees fit, sometimes substituting Lamogos interests with their own, and further reinforcing the claims that Earth has made against them.
Lamog has also been long rumored to be using a small army of infiltrators to keep an eye on Earth’s military movements, and it has already become aware of the massive new shipyards under construction around Mars. This concerns Lamog’s leaders because they presently lack the resources to build such massive military ships and there is a great deal of debate about how they should deal with this. Many support the notion of going to war with Earth so they can destroy the shipyards, while others believe that the failure of the Imperium-Class destroyers proves that such large ships are not as valuable as earlier thought. Some say the best approach is to build ten ships for every one Earth can construct or that the best way to handle the threat is to upgrade their own shipyards and build their own “super-ships”.
At this point, the Earth and Lamog governments could be said to be on a cold war footing, but no one is certain if this is simply a case of brinksmanship and rhetoric or a sincere buildup to another major conflict.
The Other Major Races
While these two powers are intent on re-establishing their centuries old conflict, the Tallinite queens call for peace, urging Earth and Lamog to work together. Their primary reasoning is that the R’Tillek are the real threat to the Known Galaxy and may well look to take advantage of this new cold war to continue their bloody onslaught against former Imperium planets. They reason that it is merely a matter of time before the R’Tillek reappear, and heaven knows what their next target might be.
But while the R’tillek threat hangs over all, the urge stake to claim on the new, open Known Galaxy is plain to see amongst all the Major races, even if they aren’t a position to act upon them.
The Tallinite planets survived the break-up of the Imperium better than most, and are in a position to push forward to colonization and expansion plans as soon as they are able. As stated, together the Queens pose a united front, calling for a peaceful return to an interstellar community such as seen under the Concord. On the other hand rumor has it that the Queens are not as unitied behind closed doors as they might seem in public, and that the Tallinite’s internal struggles for power continue unabated. In the past such civil wars have seen the death of more than one Queen and their followers ejected out into the galaxy as untouchable refugees.
Amongst the others, Sangorlai is currently in a state of total anarchy with one faction or another claiming to be the rightful rulers daily, while the Relarrans, always a materialistic and eager race, have little interest in making enemies out of their neighbors, preferring instead to profit from the sale of weapons to any warring groups.
Beyond this powers, very few of the other races have attempted to exert any pressure in the interstellar political arena, with most either too scarred by the collapse of the Imperium or not influential enough to have any impact on the more dominant worlds. Races such as the Arnoct have made a concerted effort to maintain a type of self imposed isolationism, while others, such as Creon and the San’taan, are too scattered and lack the coordination to claim their own empire.
As it is, almost every ‘out of the way’ system has seen the rise of some despot leader or petty dictator looking to claim their piece of the galaxy, or, on the more civilized planets, powerful corporations have swayed their populations to support leaders they themselves control as puppets. If any single race or people were to rebuilt the Imperium in their image, they would find themselves confronted by war after war, battle after battle to claim the Known Galaxy with bloody hands.
A Rise of New Powers
The renewed focus of the Major races on their petty games of interstellar politics has seen other entities fill the vacuum of power; either as the remnants of the organizations left in the wake of the Stellar Imperium’s demise looking to new opportunities, homeworld corporations asserting their local dominance, or where the lack of any power structures has arisen someone with growing in prominence.
Major corporations, such as the Tallinite dominated Integrated Astrodynamics and the Relarran Native Atmospheric Solutions, have been quick to take advantage of the opportunity to solidify their position in the recovering markets, and even play on the increasing paranoia of the Earth/Lamog tension to make themselves invaluable to both sides.
Free from the vice like control of the Stellar Imperium that had once all but eliminated them, various gangs and criminal associations such as the Basts Syndicate and Craine Dargen have begun to create black-markets; turning profits on the goods and services that were once cheap and plentiful. With little interest or power to stop such organizations, these crime syndicates have become a power unto themselves, influencing many worlds, and look to grow the interstellar trade of drugs and illicit goods.
Churches and Faiths
While not exactly oppressed, the ability for churches preaching the word of ‘higher powers’, had been strictly limited under the Stellar Imperium. Today, with a freedom unseen for centuries, organized religion has had somewhat of a rebirth, either as the old traditions of the various races are once more embraced, or where the disaffected masses look to something to cling onto. These religions range from the exclusive Lamog Exinorist faith, which preaches that the Lamogos are the galaxy’s chosen people, through the Tarlon, a human church originating in the slums of Earth and now claiming the frontier world of Eusui, and the Brotherhood of Eternity’s Salvation, which fanatically believes that only through force will wickedness be cleansed from the Known Galaxy. Many other fundamentalist cults exist as well, and while conventional society continues to fall apart, it is easy to see that many others will rise.
Survival Imperium Organizations
The Imperium might be gone, but many of the organizations and institutes born of that era survive today, albeit under different guises. Interstellar Intelligence (II) was once the Imperium’s eyes and ears within the Known Galaxy and powerful enough to influence the President’s decisions and topple leaders on numerous planets. While their masters no longer exist, the organization lives on, its operatives working for the highest bidders. With a strong structured hierarchy, it is only a matter of time before the II can once more manipulate the future of this new post-Imperium age. Likewise the Archaeological Expedition Corps (AEC), which was founded as a joint exploratory concern after the success of the Interstellar Concord’s Alliance Flight missions, still maintains it original purpose. Officially tasked with discovery of lost and dead words, in reality AEC was utilized as much to undertake convert investigation on worlds of Imperium interest, as it was to advance science. Its powerful and diverse power base allowed it to survive the fall as well as it has, and presently leads – with various shadowy backers – the salvage and reclamation attempts on the old Imperium Core Worlds.
With the Known Galaxy collapsing around them, most individuals have been forced to struggle on alone. Yet while corruption and desolation of what was left after the Fall continues at pace, from within numerous beneficial – if not benevolent – co-operatives have sprung up. These include organizations such as the Frontier Haulers; a loose collective of traders and merchants who work together to continue the basics of commerce in the face of ever growing pirate threats and governmental dishonesty; and the Psi-Assembly; the Relarran sponsored congregation whose goal is to offer support to psionicists on every world. There are also numerous unions and collectives that focus on supporting their members on world or another and wider groups, such as the Guardians of Light, who claim to be working for the betterment of the Known Galaxy.
Many worlds also find that they are in danger of invasion by more populous worlds. Particularly in danger are the mining colonies in the upper atmospheres of numerous gas giants. These worlds are often underarmed and have small populations with which to mount adequate defense. Most wish to remain independent as to reap the profits of their mines, while other worlds are interested in acquiring them so they can gain the cheap fuel (and other chemicals) produced by these facilities. These worlds often employ mercenary companies to keep them safe from those who would attempt to take over their operations by force, yet there are always doubts about how far these outsiders can be trusted.
Living on the Frontier
One region that has been affected more than any other by the Fall is the New Frontier. Once the interstellar equivalent of the ‘New World’, these systems, more than most, relied on the resources and power of the Imperium to survive, and without this centralized support and finance, society on the Frontier almost immediately collapsed. While vast numbers of frontier citizens fled back towards the homeworlds, many lured to the Frontier on the promise of work and a chance of a better life found themselves trapped unable to leave. For the populations of planets like Yseth this has lead to a new dark age, where life is cheap, and the possible of escape is remote.
On the Frontier, consumer goods that once were plentiful supply are now difficult to obtain and even the simplest of pieces of working technology are few and far between. Community sizes tend to be smaller in this region and rely more heavily of self-sufficiency. This gives these worlds a wild and unsettled feel, reminding some of the era when the region was first colonized. The romantic notions of life in the Frontier Systems once captured the imaginations of writers, artists, and philosophers throughout the Known Galaxy, are today are nothing more than lost dreams of the past.
The R’Tillek Threat
In the post-Imperium age few things inspires more fear than the belief the R’Tillek have not concluded their predations on the former Imperium worlds. Nobody knows if they are interested in revenge, if they wish to conquer more worlds, or they are driven by entirely other motives. Many worry that it is only a matter of time before they have conquered or destroyed all of the civilizations in the Known Galaxy. Some hope that the R’Tillek can be reasoned with; made to understand that the government responsible for the destruction of the past no longer exists. Others believe that the only way to keep their worlds safe is to resort to guerrilla tactics and undergo dangerous missions to R’Tillek space with the intent to destroy their offensive capabilities. Still others are convinced that the creation of large space navies stationed around their worlds will be enough to defend them when the inevitable attack comes. Whatever the theory, few can definitively claim to know the real solution.
What is known is that the R’tillek’s attacks were swift and calculated, and undertaken with weapons more than a match for the Imperium’s most advanced defenses. Even more surprising, perhaps is the evidence of where these biological agents were exclusively used, the plant and animal species, for the most part have survived unharmed. What this means long term for those planets is unknown, but in the meanwhile there are many secrets supposedly lying dormant on these dead worlds, and many ‘adventurers’ journey to these desolate places to see what they can salvage.
A Player’s Guide to Surviving Amongst the Stars
The following details many aspects of the life in the Known Galaxy that are taken for granted by the people who live within it, and are surmised here to introduce players and Game Masters to the core concepts of the setting. This information also should act as a guide how technology and science are managed in the age of Discordia.
Communication between worlds is accomplished using tachyon communications devices. This method involves creating a direct beam from a point in space to the intended recipient. Its limitation is that it does not broadcast in all directions in the same way radio waves do, making distress signals that span light years next to impossible. Most ships that need to make a distress call from deep space do so by using their tachyon radio to contact the nearest planet. Real-time conversations can take place across light years if the exact location of both recipients are known and locked in by the radio operators.
Communication within a local system is done via digital carrier signals. These allow for broadcasting, but the range is extremely limited. Communications can take anywhere from minutes to hours to reach anyone, depending on distance, even if they are within the same solar system. Real-time conversations are only possible at very short distances.
Up until the Fall, entertainment was broadcast in holographic form via commsat arrays around the inhabited worlds belonging to a number of species. These broadcasts still exist in some systems and are made from a number of providers who offer programming that ranges from educational to the dramatic.
The Exonet is the outgrowth of the Internet into space. Because of the distance and the length of time it takes for information to arrive, the entire contents of the Exonet are stored on one supercomputer on each planet and then it updates new information daily so that people can find information from all of the worlds in real-time. E-mail still exists and can be sent to individuals on other planets, though this goes out on a daily basis, so real-time conversations only occur if all parties of the conversation happen to reside on the same world. The Exonet is used for everything from researching information, to playing games, to making purchases, but like everything else in this Post-Imperium age is only as reliable as its local networks.
Personal Operating Devices (PODs)
While a great deal of effort has been put into the unification of communication and interfaces amongst the races making up the Stellar Imperium, fusing the way in which beings think, act and speak was always going to be a near impossible task. While the Imperium sometimes used coercion and threats to force a race to learn Galactic standard, it was soon discovered that tackling the problem from the opposite direction – finding a way to allow the various races to communication – was much more practical.
Many systems and applications have been developed over the centuries with varying levels of success. Today the most commonly accepted solution is the Personal Operating Device (or POD). Coming in a variety of sizes and shapes – from clip on boxes, through watch-like machines, and even integrated as part of Relarren environment suits – the POD is a universal translator, local band tachyon communicator, and computer interface device all wrapped into one (not to mention being a distress beacon, exonet carrier, and many other things besides). The POD is so flexible that most can be preprogrammed with skills and knowledge than can assist individuals in undertaking tasks they themselves may have training in (although no program, no matter how advanced can make up for real life experience).
In the last handful of decades, the POD has become an indispensable tool that allows all races to interact on every level without having to give up their traditional languages and local dialects.
In addition to the wreckage of the Imperium core planets, dead worlds abound. It is estimated that sixty percent of all intelligent species in the universe do not survive long enough to establish a permanent presence in space.
Every dead planet has its own story. Some civilizations died out because of the outbreak of some deadly incurable diseases, some died because of a massive asteroid impact, some destroyed themselves through nuclear annihilation, some polluted their planet to the point where they were no longer was able to support life, and some died because the technology they created turned on them and massacred their entire species before going dormant.
While the ultimate fate of these civilizations varies, the one constant is that they all leave something of value behind. In some cases it is their art, in other cases it is technology, and still in others it is elements of culture, such as a recipe, a style, or a new philosophy. Many of these dead worlds lie in unexplored backwater systems, and many scavengers have made their livings by searching for and exploring worlds that might have once sustained life and could hold valuable secrets. Sometimes they discover groups comprised of known races that have left the various settled worlds in favor of privacy or shelter, many of which are not pleased to receive visitors. Other times the worlds are uninhabited, with a wealth of undiscovered objects and technology, as well as dangers, that were left behind.
The major scientific discovery that made faster-than light travel possible was the understanding of how to manipulate tachyon particles to create quantum fields. Although no race (with the possible exception of the Gaieti) is able to artificially produce a tachyon, once they were detected it was realized just how many of these incredible sub-atomic particles existing in every part of space. Attracted via a tachyon collector, manipulating tachyon particles requires a great degree of energy, but once accomplished, scientists discovered that a tachyon field surrounding an object caused that object to behave as though a tachyon itself.
Once a tachyon field surrounds an object, it is hurled forward at speeds greatly exceeding the speed of light. Navigation is then accomplished by making subtle variations to the tachyon field. Because travel occurs so quickly, faster-than-light jumps seem instantaneous for short to mid-length voyages, while longer jumps take place at a rate of forty light-years per hour.
Despite the speed of travel, the actual amount of the galaxy that has been explored is estimated to be less than ten percent. The reason for this is that courses must be precisely laid in before a jump occurs to avoid hitting stellar objects. This requires charting out navigational courses first and as such exploration vessels must make a jump of only a few light years, and then survey all of the astronomical data ahead of them before making the next short jump. This data is then made available to other vessels so they can program safe, reliable jumps from one location to another. This might sounds easy, but the reality is that it typically takes weeks to plot something as minor as a course between two stars.
In the early days of faster-than-light travel, some daredevils attempted to cover great distances in a single jump by simply setting their computers with a distance and engaging the drives. Taking the latest astronomical data into account, they then relied on the emptiness of space in hopes of avoiding a collision with an uncharted object along the way. What they did not take into account was that much of the data from never before visited locations was derived from measurements based on starlight, which is often warped by gravitations fields such as black holes, neutron stars, and dark matter. Most were ever heard from again, although the wreckages of a few of these craft have been found pulverized by asteroids, or crashed on planetary bodies.
The invention of the FTL Drive has sped up the process of charting space through the use of microjumps. These jumps allow a craft to make several tiny faster than light jumps per second. It is a slower method of travel, but it still allows a ship to move faster-than-light while using sensors to detect objects in their path well before reaching them. Before the fall of the Imperium, new systems were opening up to travelers at an amazing rate, though even at that time most predicted that it will still take close to a thousand years to map out a reliable path from one end of the galaxy to the other, let alone all of the places in between.
Processed hydrogen is the single most useful fuel for interstellar travel and is used both for propulsion and for the fusion reactors which power all known spacecraft. Thankfully this resource is found in plentiful supply are found in the atmospheres of many gas giants.
To keep up with demand, hydrogen must be mined from these enormous planets. Accomplishing this requires enormous mining platforms that house thousands of workers. Held in place within the upper atmospheres by powerful anti-gravity fields, these platforms extract the hydrogen, methane, and other useful gases from the planet. The living and working areas of these platforms are completely enclosed, as unprotected exposure to a gas giant is fatal, and people rarely leave the confines of the mines.
Gas mining is considered the most dangerous profession in the Known Galaxy as a catastrophic failure aboard a mining platform almost certainly leads to the deaths of all aboard (nobody can forget the first mining platform accident Humans suffered on Jupiter when an early prototype platform lost power and plunged to its destruction, losing all hands). In addition to this, workers who perform maintenance outside of the platform enclosure face even higher risks, and no matter how rare accidents are, it is common for a mining platform to accidentally lose one or two workers per month.
Powers of the Mind
The evolution of mental powers is a relatively new one to most of the Major and Minor races of the Known Galaxy, and while some cultures seem more adept at developing these abilities than others – the Relarrans, for example, have had a long tradition of such abilities – all sentient beings are deemed to have some potential with such powers. Known by many different names, the term ‘psionics’ has become synonymous with those displaying such powers, and today is used almost exclusively.
It seems that, as long believed, the mind is a powerful tool able to manipulate reality in ways that are not fully understood. While generally these powers manifest in relatively minor ways – with talents such as precognition and emotional connections to others being the most common – the extent of psionic powers seems limited only to the focus and determination of the user.
Under the Stellar Imperium, the development and control of psonicially capable beings was strictly controlled, with schools and academies set up to ensure that those displaying such talents would have both a managed environment which to ‘grow’ their skills, and allow for their indoctrination into the service of the Imperium. Since the Fall, however, there is no centralized control, although organizations such as the Psi-Assembly have grown to advocate for the rights of psionicists on all planets.
Robots and Artificial Intelligence
Almost every system or application used in the Known Galaxy is managed by a computer, from the complex life support systems vital to the survival in deep space travel, through to the simplest algorithms that control the lighting in a home on Earth. Robots too are utilized, especially in places deemed too dangerous, or where the work is too precise for mortal hands. These machines are often truly intelligent, possessing neural networks that give them original thought processes and concerns. While these neural networks allow these androids the freedom of thoughts and the ability to develop as individuals, they are still guided and constrained by programming.
While it is possible for them to hack their own security systems and rewrite their programming, few androids have actually done this. For many, they consider their programming is the inner core of their being, and altering it would literally change who they are as individuals. The ones who do alter their programming typically feel that they would be unable to achieve true individuality while they are operating under the parameters set by their manufacturers. In some cases, this has led to androids who are unstable and subject to psychoses.
With the exception of the Tallinites, every spacefaring culture has their own religious views, to which they cling with varying degrees.
The major religions of Earth followed them into the stars and remain mostly unchanged from a few hundred years ago. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are still the most popular religions among Humans and have caught on to a minor extent with some of the other races. Despite the fact that Tallinites are notoriously atheist, some notable members have caused a stir with their own people by embracing Buddhism, while Islam has proven popular with some groups of Lamogos.
The primary religion of the Relarra is the worship of Shaarlaa, the Great Eye of the Deep. It is an incomprehensible being that draws strength from the tides, but it is cruel and destructive when awoke. The Relarra do their best to avoid drawing the attention of their deity, but believe that upon death they all become one within the great dream of Shaarlaa and exist as thoughts forever more. A minority of Relarra believe that all life within the universe is connected in ways that are imperceptible from the point of view of the living. They believe that the illusion of life is the expression of the universe attempting to experience itself. Upon death, their essences rejoin the fabric of the universe and they bring their experiences back with them to make the universe more complete.
The Sangor religion, much like themselves, can only be described by outsiders as … odd. Pacifism is a strong component in their racial outlook, and it is crucial to their religion as well. They believe that to fully experience life, one should surrender oneself to the will of the universe as it will direct them and inform them how to live their lives. They welcome outsiders and believe that invaders and conquerors are an expression of the will of the universe, pushing them to grow in ways they would not normally consider. They believe that to defy the will of the universe is to tarnish one’s own spirituality, so there is a complex set of guidelines that dictate under what circumstances they are allowed to take action.
The Lamogos are largely split between belief and atheism. A full half of the Lamogos believe in no higher power at all, and some of the more controlling socialist governments on Lamogos worlds sanction atheism as the only true path. Other Lamogos cultures are polytheistic, some belong to a religion called Pharlagnism which is very similar in nature to Buddhism, and some subscribe to Exinorism, which is the belief in a single creator deity that will one day favor another race if the Lamogos people do not strictly follow the laws Exin laid out for them. Exinorists tend to be elitist and fanatical, and they pose a danger to many different groups, both Lamogos and non-Lamogos.