As a broad brush for circa 1980's-1990's players think of the galaxy like this:
- One Part Star Wars
- Two Parts Traveller
- One Part Alien(Aliens, etc...)/Predator (the part of predator you never seen in the movies.
- Lightly Seasoned with Babalyon 5
This place is the Gaming Mall of games. It has the racial diversity and near magic psionics of Star Wars. It has the political power plays of Traveller. It has the inescapable danger of the Aliens/Predator universe. Sprinkle in an inordinately powerful race of Ancients and that gives you a taste of the environment.
The story goes something like this: Edit
In the next hundred or so years we stop screwing around the solar system and begin thinking of ways to conquer the vast cold of space. This triggers a response from a race of long time earth watchers, powerful pacifist telepaths. They contact us and offer membership as a client race into the galactic community. As any earth realist could have told you the lure of exploration and conquest was too much for our poor primitive souls. Earthlings launched themselves from the planet like roaches from under a pile of garbage. Within a few hundred years our descendants established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. One of the more aggressive and none too smart races (a race of reptilian miscreants) decided our puny newcomer race was ripe for the picking and attacked in mass. The human response was enormous in an almost unreasonable display of force the humans banded together under one banner, kicked the hell out of the aggressors. Thus the empire and church were born in one fell swoop. The empire to defend from external threats and the church to keep us from being too enamored with alien races. That was a long time ago.
As the game opens the Emperor is young ambitious and powerful (unlike most of his recent predecessors). He was raised and trained by his father's generals and admirals to be the ultimate expression of the warlord. The current pope is a smooth talking charismatic leader intent on protecting humanity from the alien menace.
There is a powerful league of merchants who hold a cartel like monopoly on production, shipping, etc...
The last group of significant power in human space is the Galactic Crime Syndicate, a conglomeration of criminal organizations with a strangle hold on illegal activities. Don't even think about snatching a purse unless you have a license from these guys.
The common side arm is a blaster (charged particle beam), the mounted weapons and military arms tend to be fusion guns and missiles. Ships are using space/time warping technology (lotsa gravity) to propel themselves through the galaxy transit times measured in days. Medical technology is up to forced re-growth of cells.
The church is the sole official repository of human psychic talent. Humans make up about 20% of the population of human space, non-humans treated as second class citizens at best. Overall humans make up about 4% of the population of human charted space. Humans control roughly 15% of known systems.
That was then, this is now.
The Galaxy today Edit
The sampling of Alien/Aliens like invaders to the galaxy turned out to be the harbingers of a flood of "bad things". They descended upon human controlled space like a flood, humans proved to be the perfect repository for the creatures genetic material. Within a year of the initial outbreak, the human civilization was in ruin with many of the client races suffering along with their human masters. Then the tides turned, something happened to the human race, something like a virus spread throughout the remaining humans, transforming them into something other then what they were. This something proved too much for the invaders and they were both unable to use humans to re-produce and unable to physically contend with the new and improved human race.
Unfortunately, the humans no longer had the numbers necessary to re-establish their empire (think Titan AE). The Church is gone, their official stance is Humanity now only exists in the confines of the pure, unaltered humanity of the Church. The economic and military might of the human empire is a thing of the past and there is significant hostility from the alien client races to their former overlords.
The emperor is missing. Capitol (the planet housing the palace of the emperor) is deserted, all military hardware missing. The Church is gone along with all traces of psychic talent from the human psyche.
The League of Merchants is no more, all human industry is scattered suffering from the separation of resources from production and production from distribution.
The only entity surviving the cataclysm was the crime syndicate. They have prospered becoming almost legitimate in their quest to deliver goods and services to the masses.