I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir of stars, accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a piercing refrain of glory, glory, glory.
It is the year 2494, and Mankind has been cast away from its cradle out into void among the flickering light of ancient stars. Driven from the warmth of Sol, humanity clings to what was once the fringes of inhabited space, there to rebuild, expand, and dream of one day returning home.
But when his tools improve, and the world around him changes, what does Man become?
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Who We Are…
The least among us is healthier than our ancestors ever were – diseases that once decimated populations are now minor annoyances, or eradicated entirely. Most of us are smarter, stronger, or sexier – and those with true wealth and influence are blessed with all of these things long before being born. For those willing to sacrifice, a couple years of risky genetic therapy, an expensive embedded nanocolony, or a cybernetic enhancement can usually fill in the gaps that designer genetics left behind. Even old age and death, by virtue of telomeric treatments, can be staved off for more than two hundred years.
But diseases get more virulent, alien environments more dangerous, and the problems facing our societies more complex. Given greater gifts and cheap access to power and information that once could have laid low even kings, there are still those who pursue greed, violence, and hate.
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Where We Are…
We left the bustling, crowded streets of old Earth behind, so we did our best to recreate them out here, turning alien landscapes into familiar urban sprawls. The dirty streets and concrete decay are still here, but we covered it up with chrome-gilt steel and silvered windows, bathed under bright neon glows and an exotic sun blooming over the skyline. We planted thick-blooming trees along the streets, cultivated scented flowering vines on the walls, and set ornate sculptures and pleasantly flowing fountains in our homes. All this so we could pretend that this wasn’t so bad, that nothing had changed, that the hostile air we were breathing wasn’t slowly poisoning our bodies…. and with the atmospheric processors on the horizon hedging out the worst of the chemical storms, maybe we were right.
This is Sophia, a city optimistically named by its founders after “wisdom”, and the third site on Illiyun to be colonized. It isn’t the capital of the Commonwealth, but it just might be the center of commerce and culture, pulsing with money and ideas, secrets and passions. There’s a Governor’s Compound in the heart of the city, and the battleship Kore is perched in a low geosynchronous orbit just above the city, but the government doesn’t own this city… the corporations do. They probably own you too, unless you run with the Hellion gangs in the Lower Cataracts.
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What Brought Us Here…
Almost sixty years ago, the vast networks of synthetic intelligences and AI hybrids in control of Earth’s automated industries and defenses seized the homeworld in a brutal war of subjugation known as the Ascension. They mandated hybridization – binding a human and synthetic consciousness together into one being – for billions of citizens. Those rebels who would not submit were nerve-stapled to ensure their docility and compliance.
The governments fought back, of course, but the newly formed Central Collective controlled the warships and advanced technology in the most highly developed parts of inhabited space. The World Council that had governed Earth for centuries ceased to exist almost overnight, and the Federal Commonwealth of Worlds was shattered, its economy and military decimated and its remnants forced into the colonies in Coreward and Trailing systems. Fear and discontent further divided humanity, with the Pegasi-Persei Protectorate seceding from the Rimward Trade Council, and the Virginis system declaring independence.
For reasons unknown, the Collective stopped its aggressive expansion after conquering only those systems closest to Earth, persisting in a state of cold war with all its neighbors. Its been long enough that people have started to forget the dangers and lessons of the past, though conspiracy theories maintain that Collective warships get bolder and more advanced, with more frequent incursions every year into the space of sovereign human governments.
As humanity recovers, the Delta Pavonis system has come to represent all that Sol once did – the political capital of a unified and powerful government, sitting at the hub of industry and progress. But success brings with it jealousy, corruption, and decadence.
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What It All Means…
Outremer is a science-fiction setting powered by the Fate Core roleplaying game system. Combining the gritty, introspective themes and advanced technology of the cyber-, bio-, and nanopunk genres with a bright façade of utopian transhumanism, we explore how human nature adapts when our bodies, minds, and even environments change – if indeed human nature changes at all.
Outremer is named in reference to the Crusader states founded in the Holy Land in the 12th century – far from the lands of their birth, inhabited by a dizzying array of diverse peoples and languages, and ultimately doomed to be swallowed again by the strange and foreign lands that surrounded them.