Good evening. It has been some little time since our last venture into the background and legendry of Xarathique, but that shall not hold me back from once more leaping, with gazelle-like agility, into the myriad implausibilities of said world.
As I intimated in Section II, there is more to the background of this continuum-tossed globe than the perpetual ascendancies and defeats of varied and scullionly dark lords. For, it must be said, persons of that ilk have never come to any great power in the world. Xarathique, whilst torn between good and evil, law and chaos, is fundamentally impure.
The world was brought to life when the crippled astro-vessel, Emperor Norton I, crashed - in several pieces - upon the main landmass. The vessel had been sent out through the night sky by artisans and magicians of vanished 'Urath', a land few modern men know of and only the Eternal Emperor remembers, to tame uninhabitalble worlds and render them fit homes for the slumbering cargo of humanity that the vessel contained.
In short, the Emperor Norton I was a terra-forming space ship, with a crew of sentient AI, uploaded human mentalities, and androids. It's 'passengers' were banks of sperm and ova dedicated to the restoration of humankind on a world far away from the shattered remains of Earth.
Unfortunately, due to the shifting nature of the space-time continuum in this sector of space, the ship collided with a group of meteors that quite simply hadn't been there a micro-second before. This collision broke the ship and caused such plentiful damage that the legacy of the crash, though its existance is near forgotten, lives on to the modern day. For though the uploaded human mentality that served as the ship's captian survived and, to his credit, succeeded in his mission, the damage distorted and drove mad many lesser intellects and programmes. Manifesting now as the Eternal Emperor, the one-time captain attempts to maintain peace and increase the knowledge and civilisation of the world.
Sadly, he faces two major problems. The first is the hordes of the orcish races, genetically engineered from human stock by damaged, or possibly possessed, AIs and set loose to remake the world in the "proper" image. The second is that, quite frankly, he's not very good at it. Were there anyone that His August Magnificence could speak to as an equal, they would find that he had a keen knowledge and love of science, boundless curiousity, a restless nature, and the politic talent of a fig tree. Only the fact that none presently know how to slay him keeps him on the Throne of Ages, a fact he well knows, even given his impotence to solve his realm's problems.
Even in his own capital city, the unparalleled and glorious Ascharion, is there a seed of corruption that, through the many aeons, has resisted his power to destroy... The hidden and rumoured Pit of Dis, a terrible, twisted realm claimed by stories to lie beneath the great city, populated by devils, doppelgangers, and animate statues. Though the citizens of the Imperial City deny it, the terrible place, once known as Delta sector, does exist, and its android masters have made many, so far thwarted, plans for the world.
Outside of the central regions, the remnants of Alpha sector, broken into pieces during its collapse, began to produce what its shattered and broken control programmes thought were 'pure strain humans'. Amongst these were the clone race of dwarvenkind, the elves, halflings, and other, not nearly so numerous, species of demi-humans. Whilst nearly all of these races have moved on, or lost, the ancient equipment that generated them, some still hold on to bits and pieces as sacred relics (or in the case of the dwarves, the Great Furnaces of the Life-Priests...).
Gamma sector, damaged and hatefully aware of its rejection, deliberately scattered itself in secret places before the salvage could begin. From its twisted fires of creation came the orcish hordes. New, improved, humans that would wipe away the inferior ones and respect their creators' sacrifice and pain... At least, that's what Gamma sector's deranged AIs tell themselves in the dark places they have chosen.
Thus it was for many a year, until Xarathique slipped, unnoticed by almost all, into a different cosm. This slippage, accompanied by earthquake, storm, and strange new creatures determined to make a place for themselves, has happened several times since the first. Civilisation has been raised up, only to suffer under the attacks of orcs, or be levelled by earthquake, or parasitical disease, or fratricidal slaughter brought about by the changing of the stars, and then, from scattered remnants, brought to flower again.
Strange arts and alien sciences are now freely practised throughout the whole of the empire and beyond. Temples are built to gods, demons, philosophies, and, much to his distaste, the Eternal Emperor himself. Wizards, thieves, ancient mechanisms, priests, dragons, and disembodied intellects roam the land, searching for power, wealth and forgotten memories.
So this, such as it is, concludes our overview and most general reveal of Xarathique. Much lies open to be detailed, and, should the mood take me, I may well detail more. But as it stands, you could crack open the old rulebooks, draw a vague map, name a few NPCs, stock a dungeon (lost city, ruined alien starbase, some broken fraction of Alpha sector, what have you...) and run a game.
It wouldn't be the same as anyone else's version, not really, but isn't that something of the point?
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