A Brief Overview Of The Fourth Imperium
The year is 1248 on the Imperial calendar, or 5769 AD by old Terran reckoning, and a New Era is dawning for the latest interstellar empire of humaniti, the Fourth Imperium.
When humans from Terra began exploring interstellar space in 2096 AD, they were surprised to find that there were worlds teaming with life, and among them, other humans from other worlds far removed from their own. There were wars, conquests and colonization efforts, as Terrans spread out from their homeworld and integrated with the humans from forty-six other worlds. Interstellar empires, large and small, came and went, collapsing over the years from their own weight. The Third Imperium, the most successful, was still no exception.
Existing for over 1100 years, the Third Imperium ruled a region of space over 200 parsecs in diameter, governing more than 11,000 star systems and a thousand alien races. A number of their neighbors, most of them non-human, were united in various interstellar polities of their own, creating effective borders which greatly limited Imperial expansion. For a long time, the Imperium was stable, huge but stable. Occasionally a war or pacification campaign broke out, both foreign and domestic, but the Imperium dealt with such conflict in due course.
Yet even such a strong government as the Third Imperium could not stand forever. Internal strife built up between the nobles of the sprawling empire, and the Second Civil War of the Imperium collapsed the largest empire in Known Space. The factions fought hard, first over succession to the Iridium Throne, and when no one candidate was accepted, then as an effort to reestablish the Imperium through conquest. The fight lasted fifteen years, and broke the Imperium into a number of fragile states. Then the ultimate weapon was unleashed, and all was lost.
The ultimate weapon took the form of a computer virus, geneered from a native silicon lifeform to take over computer systems and simply shut them down. When it was released accidentally, the Virus spread, and it mutated. Evolution kicked in much faster for the software lifeform, and several different species of Virus evolved. Many destroyed themselves and the computers they were loaded into, while others evolved, and became hunters, predators, seeking to perform genocide on all living races. They took over starships, vehicles, computers and machines. Virus spread, and left behind a wasteland that destroyed interstellar society.
Here and there, some worlds managed, though barely, to keep themselves from collapsing too far technologically. Protected by astrogational obstacles or massive defenses and the lives of many brave souls, these worlds became a light in the darkness. In the aftermath of the primary and secondary waves of the Virus attacks, some of these worlds reached out once again to contact their neighbors. Though Virus was still a devastating presence throughout Known Space, these small pockets of civilization learned to defend themselves from Virus's infections and planetary assaults. Over time, Federations, Republics, and other small interstellar unions emerged. Interstellar trade within one union of star systems merged with new markets in other interstellar unions.
One of these worlds was Usdiki, located in the Gushemege sector of the old Imperial space. As these brave people reached out, they forged the Usdiki Trade Federation. Once united, the various coalitions and worlds of the Federation grew, and trade resumed. By 1201, Charted Space was definitely on the upswing, and Recovery had begun.
As the smaller polities began reaching out, not all of those encountered were friendly. The New Ziru Sirka were one such, with aggressive expansion policies that brought them into conflict with their interstellar neighbors. The Regency and the New Ziru Sirka fought fiercely, before the Vilani pulled back their forces and struck out to conquer the Black Curtain that covered much of Core sector. The so-called Black Imperium retaliated, and Vland was nearly destroyed.
The assault of the Black Imperium on Vland led to the declaration of war against the Virus-controlled empire, and a call was sent to all human-controlled empires that diplomatic missions had reached. The War of the Grand Alliance went into the Black Imperium hopeful of success... Sadly, they did not find what they sought, for once the Grand Fleet was done, another invading force from further away raided, and drove the Grand Fleet away. The Dominate of the Lords of Thunder, an extreme militant faction of the K'kree had come to claim the prize that was the old Third Imperium capital, and found the battle waging instead.
From the ashes of the Grand Fleet rose the Grand Alliance, with the goal of taking out the threat of the Dominate. The growing sense of solidarity prompted the Usdiki Trade Federation to evolve. The Usdiki Trade Federation dissolved, replaced by the fledgling Fourth Imperium, in service to a Vacant Throne and led by an Advisory Council that later became known as the Imperial Moot.
Several efforts to destroy the Dominate were launched over the course of more than a decade, but none were successful for long. The world of Capital, deep in Core sector and seat of power for the Dominate in this part of Charted Space, changed hands repeatedly as fleets clashed, and matters back home impacted the ability to continue to wage war.
In time, it became apparent that the Dominate was preparing to move on the rest of humaniti. The Fourth Imperium issued a Call To Arms for all of humaniti to join Imperial forces in one final fight against the Dominate, and humaniti responded with ships. Fleets left from the Fourth Imperium on a mission that eventually saw the destruction of the primary Dominate forces within Humaniti's space, driving the rest back toward K'kree space to recover and plot their revenge.
In the aftermath of the terrible battles to route the K'kree, as ships returned home after their long mission, an individual worthy of the title of Emperor of the Fourth Imperium was found, and the Vacant Throne was no more. Now, this new Emperor reigns over the Fourth Imperium, with the blessings of the Imperial Moot.
It is now the year 1248. This is the Fourth Imperium. Welcome to Adventure...
Disclaimer: The above information is based on text publicly available on the Citizens of the Imperium message boards. While I am participating in the official TNE 1248: Bearers of the Flame playtest, I am not at liberty to discuss the actual contents of the book. In addition, there's every chance that the material in the playtest could change before final publication. Therefore, I'm only using information that has been made publicly available. Personally, I expect some of the above to change somewhat, but not enough to change the overall nature of the Fourth Imperium campaign I'm running.
All original material on the T20 Adventures website not designated as Open Game Content, or not otherwise protected under the copyrights of other entities, is copyright (c)2002-2004, Jason D. Kemp.
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