Old Empire: The General Setting

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I’m using the name “The Third Imperium”–because who doesn’t love the name Third Imperium! I love the idea of layers of civilization rising and falling.

But my setting has nothing to do with GDW’s Official Traveller Universe.

Instead, we get this:


FROM THE ASHES

A thousand years ago the Long Night fell, leaving many worlds in ruins. Many worlds survived as well, but did so without the ability of space travel or communication with other worlds. 

Tales of the Old Empire remained, bolstered by ancient cities and space stations floating in the sky over head and seen at night.

But for the most part survival took precedence. Over time the artifacts of the past—those few that remained—became an unnoticed part of landscapes across a dozen worlds.

The world of Bavraa, however, though crippled by the Long Night, never stopped thinking and dreaming about the past glories of the Old Empire. The nobles houses of the Bavraa worked tirelessly to repair its fallen technology and reclaim the glories of previous generations.

Bavraa began a renaissance of the Old Empire 200 years when it began construction of its own Jump Drives.

Merchants and diplomats traveled to nearby worlds, announcing the rebirth of the Old Empire (or The Empire). In the time since it has expanded its reach, heading out across the Bavraa Subsection.

The nobles of Bavraa do not see themselves as starting a new Empire, but rather that they are building a seamless continuation of the Second Imperium. Or, as it is often called, The Old Empire.


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THE OLD EMPIRE (BAVRAA)

Bavraa culture demands loyalty to the bloodlines going back to the Old Empire. Social status along genetic lines is a given and noble houses are intertwined in both family and loyalty. (Proper mates from outside the royal families are sometimes brought into the fold to ensure healthy gene pools—often without consent.)

The Bavraa noble houses are certain that they, and all the people of Bavraa, are the true heirs of the Old Empire and rulers of the worlds around them. And currently they are the only source of any interstellar technology in the region.


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THE ARRIVAL OF THE THIRD IMPERIUM

One hundred years ago the first scouts arrived from the Third Imperium. The scouts kept their distance, stunned to find several worlds had survived the Long Night and were rebuilding their interstellar technology independant of the Third Imperium.  Fifty years later the first envoys from the Third Imperium made contact with the leaders of various worlds.

Some contacts went better than others. 

The ruling houses of Bavraa declared as one that all worlds for twenty parsecs around Bavraa were off limits to all Imperial ships and troops. Any ships or troops bearing the Imperial Sunburst within those boundaries would be seen as declarations of war.


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A NOBLE HOUSE OF THE THIRD IMPERIUM ON DAVRAS

The native T’Kenkar of Davras, which had weathered their ice world’s hostile environment with ease and helped protect millions of humans over the centuries of the Long Night, invited the Third Imperium to establish a base on their world. They did this even though Davris falls within the boundaries Barvaa declared off-limits for the Third Imperium.

Most people believe the T’Kenkar did this to slow the advance of the Bavraa noble houses in their efforts to rule the subsection. But others note that the T’Kenkar are alien and mysterious and might have reasons no one can quite understand.

Emperor Gildun of the Third Imperium accepted this offer and awarded House Djaout a charter to establish a starport and trading base on the ice world.

Conflict—both hot and cold—broke out between Bavraa and Davras immediately. Duke Djaout keeps his troops on Davras. And no ships bearing the Imperial Sunburst are allowed to ply the space lanes. Instead, House Djaout keeps a low profile, using subsidized merchants and private contractors to carry out acts of espionage, trade, piracy, and covert war.

House Djaout has kept a low profile within the cluster, sponsoring ships that sail without the Imperial Sun and keeping his troops on Davras. Bavraa cannot–yet–prevent all trade and commerce between nearby worlds and the “Thirders” (as citizens of the Imperium are called). Over the past three decades more travellers and ships have arrived in Old Empire from beyond the Dead Worlds.

They are outsiders, sometimes welcome and sometimes not.  The rules are not always clear as to where Thirders fit into the social fabric in the Old Empire–and so danger arrives without warning on occasion. All of them know it is better to hide any symbols from the Third Imperium, and ships are repainted to remove markings of Third Imperium culture.

Such travellers work as merchants and soldiers of fortune as they make their way through the stars and across the worlds Bavraa hopes to rule one day.

But this does not mean the tension between Bavraa and the Third Imperium does not get hot. A year ago a ship activated its Jump Drive while docked at the B-Class starport House Djaout had built, causing a terrible explosion that shattered the starport and killed hundreds of people. The damage knocked the starport down to a C-class rating and it is now being rebuilt. No one claimed responsibility for the attack (if it was an attack), and while most people assume it was the work of House Itzcoatl of Bavraa, Duke Djaout has declared he has no proof to determine who was responsible and is still seeking leads. The noble houses of Bavraa offered to send aid. The duke refused it.

House Djaout has been tasked with destabilizing and delaying the efforts of Bavraa to unify the worlds around it under its rule. The Third Imperium is playing a long game. A full invasion would leave their home forces depleted and their troops months away. Instead, they want to build slowly, cripple the growth of the Old Empire where they can, and keep expanding at their own pace back home.

The noble houses of Bavraa, led by House Itzcoatl, know the Third Imperium is far away. They do not want to be so overt that they draw the attention and military might of their distant neighbor. If the noble houses of Bavraa can let the conflict remain calm and low key for enough time, they believe they can build a defense that will keep the Third Imperium at bay when they finally arrive in force.

And so piracy is sanctioned by both sides. Cover operations are always underway. Each side tries to curry favor and win the friendship of worlds within the subsection.

7 thoughts on “Old Empire: The General Setting

  1. Nice setting. Good to see your world building in progress, especially also the references to inspirational material to communicate the sense of the setting and campaign to the players.

  2. It’s taken me a couple of months to notice you have this up and running. Any chance of some updates on how it is going and what the players think of CT? Any major stumbling blocks?

    • Major stumbling blocks is time! I find that I sit down to work on it and want to write out enough material for a well produced source book.

      Just last week the PCs had to escape from The Concourse, an engineering marvel form the Old Empire: It is a slab the size of Delaware, raised 800 fit into the air by massive statutes with thick hidden supports. It was a massive starport for the Old Empire and now only a fraction of it is used as a starport facility and star town.

      The rest, however, is an open landscape of ancient starships and old deserted buildings. The slab itself is hallow and contains strange machinery and people who have hidden themselves away in it. The Concourse alone could be a whole RPG supplement!

      But the big mistake I made was the classic Traveller error of having all this STUFF for them to see and explore — but not giving them a concrete GOAL out of the gate to help focus them.

      I let them determine their own motivations — which is great. One of them has decided he is searching for an old, lost Psionic Temple from the age of the Old Empire. But I let them wander around for a bit until they found some leads ot an aquatic race on Bodai with psionic powers.

      But I did not say, “Here’s the guy you have to find,” or “You have a map to this location.” So there’s been a bit of wandering. Even now, many sessions in, the path to the Temple is not clear and has fallen sort of to the background.

      I mean, they’re on the path. They have hooked up with a Third Imperium noble (the Duke on Davris) and he’s backing the retired Army General PC in an attempt to raise a force and free the Queen of the aquatic race currently held by the nobility of Bodai. It’s all good stuff! But it doesn’t have the clear line of action I really wanted.

      That’s on me. If I were to do it again I’d have them in motion with the same kind if energy and focus you normally find at a session at an RPG Convention… and then let the campagin grow from that.

      I mean that last bit literally. That’s exactly how I would approach it.

      That said, a lot of OSR games take a bit of mileage to find their focus!

      Also: the players seem to be having a good time! The travelogue stuff is going over very well, even is really delighted with the world building. We’re playing the combat straight out of the book and I’m LOVING it.

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