The Twilight of the Known Worlds
The role of the noble is to be the master of all things: accomplished ruler, skilled warrior, able diplomat, gifted artist, vigorous worker and so on. The reality is often far different, but the goal is still worth striving for. All the houses, whether royal or minor, share certain characteristics, but all are very different.
– House Hawkwood – The Hawkwoods are proud that one of their own has become emperor, but all believe they are destined for greatness. It is both their privilege and their duty, and they act accordingly.
– House Decados – The family that many observers believed would win the Emperor Wars, the Decados are praised for their sophistication, wit and charm. They are feared for their malevolence, fury and treachery. To befriend a Decados is to ally with a viper.
– The Hazat – A Hazat’s pride in her soldiers is only surpassed by her pride in herself. Trained since birth to lead soldiers, she is as at home in an army sleeping bag as in a feather bed. Still, the Hazat are extremely aware of their role in society, and will never let their inferiors forget it.
– House Li Halan – Once renowned as the most decadent house, House Li Halan is now the most tied to the Church. Li Halan elders give readily to Church charities, and younger members of the house are the first to join crusades and serve in the Orders of Battle. While most nobles owe their loyalty primarily to their own house, the Li Halan owe it only to the Pancreator.
– House Al Malik – Some observers have suggested that the Al Malik grew out of a Second Republic merchant family, but now the house strives for nobility in all things. Of course, that doesn’t keep its members from accumulating some of the best collections of Second Republic artifacts to be found this side of Leagueheim.
No single institution has as much impact on day-to-day life in the Known Worlds than does the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun. Despite the Church’s many factions and sects, the average peasant sees it as a giant monolith, dedicated to saving humanity from the evil inherent in the universe. As far as they can tell, all the priests work toward the same goal, hand-in-hand, fighting evil together. Never mind the fact that they call one another heretics; the Church itself is good. The peasants’ view only changes when someone tries to replace the sect of their ancestors with a new one.
– Urth Orthodox – Orthodox priests spend their time tending to the spiritual needs of their flock and defending the faith from outer and inner evil – whether it be aliens, barbarians or the heresies of other sects.
– Brother Battle – Brother Battle monks spend years training to become the most effective agents of the Pancreator’s justice in the sinful universe. Their strict discipline and martial training make them incredibly efficient soldiers, although they rarely heed secular military commands. Despite the order’s name, women can become monks.
– Eskatonic Order – Eskatonic priests scour the universe for mystical lore to help defend the faithful from evil. Their questing has lead to many new discoveries which may better life for all – or open a Pandora’s Box of secrets best left hidden.
– Temple Avesti – The heavy robes of these fanatics are instantly recognizable – as are the smoking flameguns they bear to enact a literal punishment on the sinful. This sect long ago gained most of the chairs on the Inquisitorial Synod, much to the regret of its political enemies.
– Sanctuary Aeon – This healing order was founded by Saint Amalthea after her travels with the Prophet and has continued since then to bring grace and mercy to all. Amaltheans are deeply beloved by the peasants they selflessly aid.
The guilds may be all that remain of the giant corporations of the Second Republic, but they have carved out an important place in the Empire. While nobles may snub them and priests may call them sinners, the merchants know they provide a necessary service – one neither the houses or the sects could get along without.
– Charioteers – Some Charioteers claim that they own the space lanes, and their claim is not far off. Master pilots and master traders both, they fly from star to star with cargo, sometimes illegal, but always highly prized.
– Engineers – More than just mechanics, the Engineers recreate old tech, discover their own innovations, and merge them all into their lives and (sometimes) bodies. The Engineers do not offer their services to everyone, and even those they do help often wonder if it was worth the cost.
– Scravers – This guild got its start recovering old technology, but the uses it found for these artifacts gave it a whole new role. Now it has casino space stations, slot machines, pharmaceutical labs and more, all protected by some of the best enforcers in the business.
– Muster – The Muster is the kind of bogeyman parents use to scare children: a guild which specializes in the trade of people. While their main role is to act as agent for skilled workers like mercenaries, technicians, engineers, and occasional entertainers, they’ve also picked up a (well-deserved) reputation as slavers.
– Reeves – Often acting quietly behind the scenes, the Reeves have a reputation as the richest and most avaricious guild members. It is not a reputation they fight. They do fight anyone who tries to take their money away.
There are many sentient alien races in the Known Worlds, but less than a handful have any political power. Three races are strong or numerous enough to have a degree of freedom on their own homeworlds — within limits, of course, for each of these races’ homeworlds is owned by one of the royal houses or the League. Enclaves of their original cultures exist on their homeworlds, but most of these aliens live in a human-run universe. Any of them can hold a Commission in the League or Rank in their own noble caste. Two Others are common enough in the Spaceways to warrant PC status.
– Ur Obun – The spiritual Ur-Obun are sought out as third party diplomats and peacemakers. Unlike their aggressive brothers, the Ukari, Obun culture values learning and philosophy over all other pursuits, and Obun have a knack at answering questions which have long plagued others. An Obun may be Ordained in the Obun sect of the Church
– Ur Ukar – Cousins to the peaceful Ur-Obun, the Ukari are bitter, violent criminals — or so most Known Worlders believe. They have suffered great oppression, due in part to their war with humanity upon the two races’ first contact. The bitter Ur-Ukar fight in internecine clan wars in the subterranean caves of their homeworld. Traditionally-raised Ukari rarely even see light until age three or five. They are thus at home in dark, cramped spaces. Those who escape such blood conflicts by going off-world often hire themselves out as assassins or mercenaries. Their subterranean origins give them an edge in nocturnal activities.
– Gannock – These primate-like aliens were mistaken for mischievious animals when first encountered by humanity. However, so great is their adaptability and mechanical aptitude that in 200 years, their society progressed from Stone Tools, to being capable of designing and building Starship engines. If only they didn’t smell so bad.
– Vorox – These multi-limbed monstrosities are highly valued as shock troops or guerrilla warriors. Only “civilized” Vorox are allowed to leave their homeworld, for the “feral” kind are too unruly and dangerous. But most Known Worlders are hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two. Civilized Vorox have their poisonous claws removed to prove their commitment to civilization. Noble Vorox are allowed to keep one claw as a sign of their rank.
– Shantor – The first sentient race the Humans encountered, the Shantor were somewhat of a disappointment. Initially thought to be nothing more than unusually intelligent horses, the primitive Shantor eventually rose up against their oppressors and earned their status as ‘equals’.
Return to Main Page