About 1000 years ago, two planets separated by billions of lightyears set out on a quest to explore space. Rapid advancements in technology and increase in population had taxed their planets well-beyond sustainability and so they sought for relief in the vast universe. Each planet had researched the heavens extensively and each had located what they believed to be “Sweet Spot Planets” which were capable of supporting life at conditions optimal for their own survival. One of the planets, Ceres came to these Sweet Spot planets in peace, seeking their help and assistance. The first two planets Ceres visited, Paleon and Afuun were at a similar level of technological advancement, and they welcomed the Ceresics with open arms, teaching them many useful things to help restore their planet’s health. In return, Ceres shared their space travel technology and the three planets formed an alliance, named the Triumphrant Alliance.

Together, the Triumphrant Alliance formed a space exploration program aiming to find and unite cultures like their own. After some research, astronomers identified two close Sweet Spot Planets. Two hundred years later, they were able to travel to each of these planets. One was a lush green planet uninhabited by sentient life and was called Phaeton Alpha. On the other planet, the humanoid inhabitants were developed only to a medieval status. Unable to communicate with the people, the Alliance named this planet Ikos.

The appearance of inter-galactic travelers frightened and confused these people, causing the outbreak of war and a subsequent famine. Thus, knowing they were responsible for the ultimate destruction of a planetary culture and wide-spread suffering, the Triumphrant Alliance developed the Ikos Doctrine, which forbade explorers from venturing to undeveloped planets and lead to the creation of technology that allowed a planet’s civilizations to be studied to determine their readiness for contact (RFC level). When determining RFC level, planets are assigned a rating of 1-5,1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest. Planets at RFC 1 or 2 are illegal to contact or visit for whatever reason, RFC 3 planets can be visited covertly for scientific reasons, RFC 4 planets can be contacted and visits can be made with great caution, RFC 5 planets are ready for full-immersion. A sixth status, RFC 0, applies to planets without intelligent life.

Over the course of 800 years, the Alliance spread throughout the galaxy and beyond, developing a peaceful culture where inter-galactic travel and trade become common. The Ikos Doctrine has been strictly observed since its creation. Their economy is strong and the Triumphrant Alliance governs and patrols space, protecting citizens from pirates and worse. All RFC 5 and many RFC 4 classified planets belong to the Alliance and operate as independent entities united under the Triumphrant Alliance. All of these planets adhere to the Alliance Constitution, but most have their own Constitutions and legal systems as well.

While the Triumphrant Alliance was forming and growing, at the other edge of the Universe, the Planet of Vervane was developing its own space travel program. Like Ceres, Vervane had come close to destroying their own planet and they needed resources and knowledge to save their race. Unlike Ceres, the Vervanian people went on the war path, plundering nearby undeveloped planets for their resources and colonizing these worlds. However, they still sought to save their homeworld. When finally they did meet a technologically advanced culture on a planet called Tifan, negotiations failed, and lead to a war.

Vervane conquered Tifan and stole their technology and enslaved their people. Many other planets were conquered in such a way until Vervane had become a fearsome force. After nearly 400 years, as they ventured to a Sweet Spot Planet, one of the furthest their researchers had identified,Vervane encountered a mysterious empire much like its own, ruled by a race of people called the Ohan Ki. The Ohan Ki were a people unlike any the Vervane had encountered: intelligent, cunning, and bird-like. Long ago, they had lost their homeworld, unable to save theirs like Vervane had finally managed. However, they had powerful ships and a knowledge of the Star Tide no other people could boast. Little did either of them realize, but a third power, the Thriv, a warrior culture of large, bipedal, feline people with fearsome weapons had observed them entering their own corner of the universe. The Thriv did not have space travel technology as advanced as either the Vervanians or the Ohan Ki, but they were impressive warriors. Realizing the benefits these empires could offer one another, they formed a coalition called the Thufir Axis.

As both the Triumphrant Alliance and the Thufir Axis grew in strength and size, spreading through the universe, they naturally met with one another. First contact occurred in 800 AE, two Alliance military vessels were exploring the uncharted Star Tide when they received a communication from an Axis military vessel in the same sector. Wary of one another, this initial meeting was tense but not hostile, as neither organization knew what the other was capable of. Diplomatic assemblies soon made clear that the Triumphrant Alliance and the Thufir Axis were too different to ever join or peacefully exchange cultural ideas.

Tensions soon rose when continued expansion put them at one another’s doorsteps. When the Thufir Axis invaded an ore-rich RFC 3 planet under Alliance protection, slaughtering its people, war was declared. The Alliance has demanded that the Axis release the conquered planets and peoples, and the Thufir Axis seeks to take over as many of the Triumphrant Alliance protected planets as it can. Over the last 200 years, the battles have raged. No end is in sight, but a tenuous cease-fire has been reached because both the Triumphrant Alliance and Thufir Axis know they are too evenly matched for a decisive victory.

Currently, tensions are high. Both the Alliance and the Thufir Axis fears the other could attack at any moment. Although an armistice was officially declare, battles occur almost daily in some parts of the Universe, especially in an extreme sector of the Alliance Star Tides known as the Scar. The Axis used a burnt earth tactic throughout this section, massacring planets, leaving them devoid of all life. The Scar is a hotbed of strife now as the Thufir Axis investigates it, attempting to find a weak-spot in Triumphrant Alliance defenses here. Alliance patrols frequently meet and engage Axis patrols in this sector. Many planets near the scar live in fear and some have become completely deserted. The Triumphrant Alliance attempts to deliver aid to the people in distress in and around the Scar, but Axis interference makes this difficult and dangerous.

Now, an open strip of Star Tide, the Sound serves as a buffer between the Alliance and the Thufir Axis. Pirates, mercenaries, and military vessels regularly travel this expanse of space. There are a few hundred planets within the Sound. Many of them are level RFC 3 and below, the minority RFC 4 or 5 planets in the Sound are mostly prison planets abandoned by the Thufir Axis, way stations for ships traveling along the fringes of the Alliance Star Tides, pirate strongholds, or rebel bases populated by refugees from the Axis or malcontents from the Alliance.

It is in the Sound that this story takes place. The Lusius, the fastest passenger ship navigating the Sound carries our party to their varied destinations. Although traveling along the Sound is dangerous because of the minefields and checkpoints put in place by both the Triumphrant Alliance and the Axis, it is quick, and few accidents have occurred in the last 50 years. The Lusius is neigh indestructible and is piloted by one of the most infamous captains in the Universe, known for always arriving on time and winning several space maritime battles against pirates.

And so our story unfolds in the summer of 3218 CE…


Star Tide Helter_Skelter