It’s been awhile since I did my initial write-up for the Supervillainy Saga. I had a lot of fun detailing my notes for the backstory of the world, its characters, and what I was thinking when I created it. Now I’m extra pleased to share the notes that went into creating Lucifer’s Star, my fantastic dark space opera setting that I cheerfully think of as my own personal “R-rated Star Wars.”
The inspiration for Lucifer’s Star wars seeing The Force Awakens and realizing that the stories I most wanted to see weren’t ones that weren’t on the screen. It was much more interesting to me to think of what the galaxy would be like after the Empire’s fall and what sort of fate would await the kind of people who used to serve the Empire. Amusingly, that seems to be the basis for The Mandalorian TV show and recent publications like Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I also drew heavily on Firefly, Blade Runner, and other favorite science fiction creations. If you feel like picking up a copy and reviewing it afterward, I’d be very grateful.
Lucifer’s Star is set around the Spiral, which in actual astronomical terms is the Orion Arm and two-thirds of the way from the center of the galaxy. The Spiral is, in simple terms, kind of a shithole. Despite having thousands of settled worlds, it is considered a backward and war-torn place by the rest of galactic civilization. This is due to the Great Collapse (detailed below) that caused the once prosperous High Human Federation to end. It’s only now, centuries later, that it is beginning to recover and there’s an accent on the word beginning.
The Spiral is officially designated human territory despite a half-dozen other sentient species living in its confines, all below space travel levels of travel. There are thirteen Sectors within that territory with roughly one thousand settled worlds each. These were worlds settled and terraformed during the apex of human civilization, some having degenerated into barbarism while others maintain lifestyles roughly equivalent to the decadent luxury of before.
Technology is incredibly advanced but unevenly distributed with the majority of humans still working laborious hours on a standard Albion week. Humans who live and work in space are called Spacers and humans who live on habitable planets are called Grounders. Spacers tend to be extremely cosmopolitan, sexually free, superstitious, and cynical. Pragmatism guides the majority of their decisions with few caring about politics beyond how it affects their bottom line. Grounders tend to be more conservative, traditional, and nationalistic. Obviously, this varies a great deal but is a definite trend. Starships vary from tiny starfighters to massive kilometers-long transport vessels that have crews that live and work there for generations.
The most important technology for the setting are the jumpdrive and bioroids. Jumpdrives are the means for which faster-than-light travel is possible, traveling through an alternate dimension called jumpspace. Jumpspace is an incredibly disorientating location that is said to drive humans mad when exposed to it but mostly just makes people violently ill (so no one is ever out in it voluntarily). Bioroids are a highly controversial slave caste made of androids and gynoids built around grown-brains. They are heavily conditioned to obey their human masters and most would never rebel but their very human-like characteristics mean that many find the trade in them vile. The fact that abuse and overwork (as well as treating them like people) can break their conditioning also compounds the issue. Bounty Hunters are given rewards for exterminating “malfunctioning” units. No advocates seriously campaign for less-humanized “Bots” with no organic components.
One technology that is expressly forbidden to engage in is Cognition A.I. Regular A.I. is allowed to only be as smart as humans and their organic brains guarantee it. Cognition A.I. are sentient programs capable of unlimited growth that once was a bedrock of the High Human Federation. Their role in the Great Collapse and superstition means that humans fear them with irrational hatred. Furthermore, the Galactic Community has ordered the total destruction of any world that constructs one. It has enforced this law on numerous occasions, leading to few exceptions. Still, they exist, and some believe silently guide human society.
Much of the Spiral remains lawless due to the still-recovering nature of human society post the Great Collapse. It is a wild and untamed world that is frequently subject to great wars. There are also terrible things that lie close to the Galactic Core.
Exhausted of resources and on the verge of environmental collapse in the late 22nd century, the Earth found a lifeline in the form of a Community starship visiting and exchanging large amounts of nonessential technology. This included the Jump Drive. These items were reverse engineered to result in a mass exodus and repeated terra-forming of worlds in the nearby star clusters.
In defiance of Community laws, Earth made large numbers of Cognition A.I. to coordinate all of its star charting as well as create new technology that exceeded the bounds of what would later be possible like nano-replication, brain uploading, and instant evolution. The High Human Empire would grow and expand until well over ten thousand worlds were colonized.
The Great Collapse would occur after eight hundred years of prosperity with the corruption of the Earth’s Cognition A.I.s and the Jump Gate Network. The portals were simply shut off and mass infrastructure collapse ensued. Billions starved to death, died of easily curable diseases, and had their societies fall apart. This was accompanied by the insanity of many of the Cognition A.I. leading them to attacking worlds, conquering them, and even destroying them outright.
Eventually, the Community intervened on a “mission of sapience” and destroyed the remaining Cognition A.I.s before enforcing the Ranak Edict that would guarantee a planet’s destruction if they violated the strictures against using them. By this time, almost a century had passed with all remaining cultures either self-sufficient or having developed ship-based jump drives that used cyberized navigators or massive unintelligent computers.
The Sol System was eventually recontacted only to find out that the entire planet had been reduced to volcanic ash with its crust having been burned from orbit. While Mars remained a viable colony, they could not determine who was responsible. A fictional terrorist organization known as the Knights of Valusia was accredited with the action to distract from the possibility it might have been done by the Elder Races (and drive humans to suicidal attack against them).
In place of Earth, new powers arose with Albion being the most powerful, followed by the feudal Crius. Both planets began campaigns of conquest to build empires in the wake of the human homeworld’s destruction. Albion because of a belief that only a united humanity could rebuild after the disaster and Crius because they wished to line the pockets of their genetically engineered nobility. The war between those two powers would be the beginning of this story.
* The Archduchy of Crius: It is a feudalist military dictatorship that is ruled by a genetically-engineered elite that has conquered its own surrounding territory and with significantly more brutality. The archduchy isn’t afraid fo push lines of science and has casual use of both cybernetics as well as bio-enhancements. It believes itself capable of defeating the Commonwealth in a war but while their technology level is higher, the Commonwealth has a far greater industrial and population base. The primary religion of the Archduchy is Luciferianism, which is a religion based on a gnostic cult from the Union of Faith founded by the self-styled Prophet Stephen Allenway. Allenway’s descendants are the ancestors of the noble houses but his direct line was killed by their cousins.
* The Commonwealth: It is an aggressive conquering state that is, ironically, a parliamentary republic. It exists for the purpose of expanding its borders for the purposes of rebuilding the human race to its former glory. Planets are offered the carrot and if they refuse then they are given the stick. Eventually, after a ten year period, planets are allowed to vote and send representatives to Parliament on the world of Albion. The Commonwealth is notable for successfully integrating most of its conquered worlds but having stretched itself thin in rebuilding them.
* The Community: While a few primitive alien species live and work among humanity in the Spiral, most aliens you will encounter come from the Galactic Community that dominates the other Spirals. There are tens of thousands of alien races (when mathematics say there should be millions) that are far more advanced than humanity. The Community’s advantage over humanity has been shrinking in recent decades and some believe it is time for them to join while others think humanity should be pushed back down. Cognition A.I. is forbidden in the Community and beyond as part of their Articles of Rule.
* The Corporate Alliance: The transtellars are a collection of planetary-level corporations that have power larger than most nation-states. They rule over territory where all citizens are dubbed “employees” and owe their companies for the air they breathe as well as environment they grow up in. Disturbingly, they have better standards of living than most nation-states and a better social safety net due to corporations being forced to become socialist to keep the flow of money going. The Alliance is the only group to regularly do business with the Community and is working to gradually raise the human technology level to their standards. They are pariahs abroad, however, due to the legalization of Bio-Slavery within their ranks.
* The Elder Races: Far older than the Community (which is 48,000 years old) is the Elder Races that exist in the Galactic Core. All who enter their territory are destroyed. They also destroyed a previous galactic government that only now exists in ruins. They are inscrutable, all-powerful, and believed to be potentially A.I. themselves. It is believed they could be responsible for the destruction of all the other races that should exist in the galaxy and are the answer to “Fermi’s Paradox.”
* The Union of Faith: A theocracy of ecumenism, which should be a contradiction of terms. It is an alliance of hundreds of worlds that are a mixture of hardcore fundamentalists, cults, officially one state, and religiously free liberal democracies that prefer to take their chances with the Union rather than the Commonwealth. Generally, it is a hands-off government that only maintains itself due to its members willingness to contribute to a fleet to defend them all. Its largest faith among spacers, Wheelerism, is a science-based faith that is based on a combination of pantheism and human-centrism. Aratana, Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and combination faiths on are the next most common.
* Lucifer’s Star has the same setting as Agent G (taking place in the 21st century) and Wraith Knight (taking place 10,000 years in the future). Obviously, there’s very little potential for crossover in the setting.
* In the Garyverse, the Lucifer’s Star Universe is called Universe-L. It is part of the cluster of universes that exist directly adjacent to Universe-A. The existence of a multiverse is known in the Spiral but they do not have the technology to cross over (yet).
* Barriers are a common form of personal technology that more or less function as personal energy shields. This allowed the return of melee weapons since they’re actually better at repelling firearms and energy blasts than slow-moving personal weapons. Even then, most melee weapons are ceremonial or “sporting” in nature.
* The most common cybernetic implant is a computer chip in one’s brain for quick calculations and hand implant for accessing data. The second and third most common are bio-implants hardening the bones and for recycling the body’s interior fluids for enduring space-travel.
* Relationships in space tend to be poly-amorous, open, and with lots of flexibility. It has been speculated by many journals as to why that is but it turns out it’s mostly just because the typical years-long space tour is really-really boring.
* The Star Wars saga and David Bowie’s catalog have both survived to the 32nd Century. Both have been remade, covered, and retold the same way other ancient stories and songs have.
* Artificial gravity doesn’t exist in human territories. Gravity has to be generated by ship thrust, rotation, or other tricks of space travel. The Community, by contrast, does have artificial gravity.
* Human-like aliens do exist but they’re usually either human variants in evolution or genetically engineered races based on a human genome. Most aliens are animal-like at best and more often completely bizarre to human sensibilities.