Welcome to the Third Imperium, the largest empire any man has ever commanded. That man is Emperor Strephon I, proclaimed emperor in 1071.
When man first went to the stars two things became apparent. Firstly, the Universe was teeming with life. Secondly, most of it was human. The Solomani Hypothesis claims that humans were removed from Terra, Sol about thirty-one thousand years ago and placed on planets throughout the galaxy. Today over forty identical human groups are known, of whom three are among the Major Races: The Solomani (men of Earth) who populate the Rimward reaches of the Imperium and beyond and were the rulers of the Second Imperium, known as the Rule Of Man; The Vilani (men of Vland) who were the first of the human starfarers and founders of the first Imperium; Lastly the Zhodani (men of Zhdant) who’s invasive psionic powers have held the Zhodani Consulate in their sway for centuries. In addition to this the hypothesis accounts for the numerous demi human or altered human races claiming that they were genetically manipulated at the time of humanity’s scattering among the stars. Among these two Major Races are known: The Vargr, a canine race of pirates, corsairs and merchants to the hub of the Imperium; and the Aslan, a lion like race of tribal spirit and martial prowess.
Without faster-than-light travel any interstellar empire is going to disintegrate and the Third Imperium is no exception. Starfaring is based on ‘jumpspace’ a poorly understood ‘alternate reality’ accessed by ships to emerge at their destination long before they would with sublight travel. A jump, the process of using jumpspace for travel, takes about a week regardless of distance travelled and the engine used. The most powerful engines in the Imperium are used by the Imperial X-Boat network who use jump-4 (able to jump 4 parsecs) to deliver the Imperium’s mail and news. Commercially available ships are capable of jump-1 or jump-2 mostly due to financial restraints.
The term ‘Major Race’ is applied to those races in space who have developed their own faster-than-light independently of other races. These races currently are: the three Humaniti races, the Altered Humaniti, the Droyne, the Hivers and the K’Kree.
The Marches are the spinward frontier of the Third Imperium, the first defence against incursions from hostile races. Along with the Deneb sector it is all but cut off from the rest of the Imperium by the Great Rift, only being attached by the narrow string of stars that make up the Corridor sector. As a frontier region it is far from settled and host to a great variety of cultures. From the tense Jewell subsector to the more decadent worlds on the Deneb border. From the shining floating cities of Regina and Glisten to the slums of worlds barely in the age of reason such as Perpernum and some who haven’t grasped metallurgy.
The Imperium is far from the only power in the region, there are numerous other pocket empires in the sector. The Federation of Arden, whilst on friendly terms with the Imperium, is the home to the infamous pirate world Tremous Dex. The Sword and Border Worlds are both shrouded in mystery and often in conflict, but no-one who has seen them in action doubts their skill on the battlefield. Not to be forgotten are the Vargr who’s disorganised raids on the hubward frontier is a constant harassment to shipping in the area. The Aslan to rimward are more reticent in their contact with Humaniti.
However the most constant threat to the Imperial frontier is the Zhodani Consulate who’s large Empire borders on the Imperium in the Jewell sector and their untrustworthy nature combined with their invasive psionic powers have led to the recent Border Wars in which they were only just kept from the Imperial borders. They have also been linked with uprisings further into Imperial territory.
There are many bodies inside the Marches that are apparent in the life of travellers. The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service (IISS) run the X-Boat lanes that keep up communications as well as administering many of the travel restrictions. This does not detract from their primary role as an exploratory group surveying systems new and old in ever increasing detail. The Imperial Navy polices the space lanes and provide a military force wherever one is needed. The Navy is headed by the Charismatic Duke Norris of Regina who led them to victory in the last of the Frontier Wars.
The Spinward Marches is a turbulent place where violence is a constant threat but where a bigger gun just makes for bigger enemies.
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