Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Isomular: The Secret History Plus a World Map

The Secret History of Isomular

Isomular is a world orbiting a distant star, thousands of light years from the Sol system and the world called Terra. The Coral Ark was the last of a great fleet of STL generation ships, dispatched to the far quarters of the galaxy in a great wave of human expansion. The Coral Ark, so named for the startling web-work of its assymetrical hull, was the greatest of these vessels, carrying nearly a hundred thousand humans in to the depths of space. The reasons for this outward expansion were varied, but man had reached the end of a singularity in social and cultural evolution, one in which no further development as a species was possible without this great migration. The generation ships were designed to be self-sustained ecosystems, fully developed worlds in their own right, floating cities between the stars. As mankind traveled towards an unknown destiny, each ship would be the seed of a new potential evolutionary branch.

Some of the world ships were lost, never to be seen again. Others found habitable worlds and settled upon new planets for mankind to conquer and develop. A few remained, wandering through the endless night of the galaxy, developing unique ecosystems in an artificial environment. The Coral Ark was the last of the great generation ships, and by the time it launched, more than two hundred such vessels had preceded it. During the decades of its construction, a terrible alien presence, using other-dimensional technology, began to manifest in the Sol system. These entities, ancient, cosmic beings of great power, were served by many minions, including the rapaciously evil Psychic Vampires. These entities had been discovered, somewhere in the depths of space, by one of the generation ships. The ship was seen as an invasion by the species, which was known only as the Annunaki according to their minions. Humanity had almost forgotten the most archaic of references to such beings in their own founding mythologies, and was very nearly destroyed for this lack of knowledge. Man had passed through a million years of social and evolutionary change since the era of the Sumerian cultures founded all civilization, and the realization that there was an undisclosed relationship between humanity and the Annunaki was disturbing. Worse yet, the minions of the Annunaki included humanoid beings, such as the Bael and Shedahai, and other hominid species that had evolved psionic potential. Humanity, in a million years, had discovered the potential of psionic energy, but had barely advanced it beyond telepathy, whereas the minions of the Annunaki could manipulate space and time.

A war which lasted for decades raged between Annunaki forces invading from the Astral Plane, a dimension outside of time and space, while humanity itself struggled to survive against an attacker that seemed to have unlimited resources, as well as the ability to attack any location, anywhere and anytime it wished. As the conflict escalated, the Coral Ark project came to be seen as the final Ark of the generation ship project. A plan was hatched to take the brightest and best of mankind and place them on the Coral Ark, as a final effort to escape the Annunaki assault. The secret location of the ship was compromised, however, but the invaders did not let on to this fact. When at last the ship made its escape, it did so to an earth overrun by the enemy, and the first of the cosmic entities manifesting on the planet. The Coral Ark came under sudden and intense assault, then, in an effort to take the ship intact, for the biotechnical and psionic minions of the Annunaki had no capacity for conventional space travel, and the limits of travel through the Astral Plane depended upon exact knowledge of the destination point.

The invading aliens were thwarted by their own kind. Traitors among the enemy, human psions who may have descended from the stock of the first generation ship to come across the Annunaki homeworld, and Bael aliens who were close relatives of humanity and descended from another planet which had also been conquered by the Annunaki, had conspired to escape aboard the Coral Ark. In the assault, they switched sides and assisted in repelling the assault. The Coral Ark survived the attack, barely, but with serious casualties among the crew and its systems. It escaped the Sol system and gradually crept up to nearly three quarters of the speed of light, headed for the NGC 22778 star system, a world which observational evidence suggested contained a habitable world. The system itself was centered in the ancient Isomular Nebula, remnants of an ancient supernova in the region. For a time, the Coral Ark moved safely along. The handful of psions who were now aboard were quickly integrated in to the active crew compliment, and presented themselves to the scientists of the vessel for study.

Unfortunately, one of the key components of the Coral Ark was its bussard ramjet, which provided a renewable power resource as well as a protective element against stellar particles which would otherwise damage the ship at .70 speed of light. An unknown collision annihilated the bussard ramjet, and severely damaged much of the onboard artificial intelligence, which served as the ship’s master controller. Most of the active crew, not in suspended animation, were killed or madly injured, but they managed to begin the slow down and reverse the ship’s passage. The AI, called the Architect, was brought back online, but most of its functioning systems were corrupted, and the Architect was cut off from its irrevocably damaged library banks. As power systems fluctuated, the surviving crew realized that they had no choice but to awaken the sleeping passengers of the ship.

The Coral Ark seemed doomed. A ship built to comfortable manage no more than ten thousand crew and passengers while the remaining ninety thousand rested in cold sleep, and loaded with the genetic materials to create a new earth-like ecosystem, had been terminally compromised. The managing crew learned to operate the automated backup system as best they could, and put the bio-domes in to full swing. With luck, they felt that they could find a local star to stop at, one which could provide a terra-formable or Earth-like environment, if they could just hold out for a few decades.

Decades turned in to centuries, and centuries turned in to a period of time both undefined and unknown to the inhabitants of the Coral Ark. The inhabitants of the Coral Ark lost much of their advanced knowledge, and only the engineers and crew retained such lore. The anagathic processes of the elite became sparse, and the genetic modifications necessary to reach immortality were distributed only to those who committed to the secret knowledge of the Ark. The infantile voice of the Architect was taught how to learn once more, and how to try and restore its lost knowledge, to little avail. It was centuries before one of these elite, now called the Eldaran, helped restore the higher learning skills and some astrographic data for the AI, returning the Architect to a state of higher intelligence.

The Architect was reawakened to a ship filled with factionalized survivors of the awakening from the long sleep. It discovered that the transgenic variants of humanity had broken into distinct cultural groups, and that these groups had evolved complicated and often misinformed beliefs about the true nature, origin, and purpose of the Coral Ark. Except for the original crew, which had evolved in to the secretive Eldaran, no one truly recalled the real purpose and nature of the Coral Ark. Terra had become a mystery to ponder, the destiny world was now called Isomular and was considered a paradise promised as an escape from the demons of the Planar Realms, the Annunaki and their minions now depicted as monsters from a hideous afterworld sent to slay humanity. This knowledge, it seemed came from the works of the psionically gifted descendants of the original psion defectors, who had become a special cult of sorcerous beings, themselves. More amazing, these original psions had interbred with the human population, and psionic powers were now prevalent throughout many people in the ship, with perhaps one in fifty displaying some talent. The powers displayed were incredible.

The Architect realized there was a problem. The population seemed to have thinned out to about forty-five thousand humans, larger than the ship should have sustained, but made possible by the cooperative nature of the different groups, and the secret direction of the enigmatic Eldaran. The Empathics were once the politicians, leaders and socialites of the ship, transgenics bred for charisma, empathy and charm. They had remained so, as social manipulators, prostitutes, and rulers among the human groups. The people now called Engineers were once the transgenic template for laborers and engineers, bred for hard work in space and high gee environments. They continued to labor, ritualistically, in the bowels of the ship’s great engines and control the production resources of the ship. As such, the ship’s capacity to continue recycling and processing waste in to useable form was intact. The so-called giants were humans who dwelt in the low-gee sections of the great vessel which had lost spin, and no longer held gravity. These great men and women had sometimes grown to twelve or more feet in height, but their strength was limited in the full-gee sections of the ship, and so they had interbred with common men to create the half-giants, who served as intermediaries for their section of the vessel and others. Several of the bio-domes were in the zero-gee section of the ship, and these important resources made the culture and trade of the giants and half-giants vital. Finally, Bael descendants of the original aliens who defected aboard the ship dwelt in small communities of their own, and had evolved in to a rather efficient warrior culture of mindblade practitioners, who provided enforcement to the different human factions.

Over time, it was inevitable that the existing population would swell, and once again a period of warfare would force a thinning. With each period of conflict and collapse, more knowledge of the ship and its past would be lost. The Architect calculated that, in a period of no more than twenty generations, the system would suffer a terminal collapse, if some piece of technology vital to the process did not fail, first. The Architect decided it was time to end the voyage of the Coral Ark. It used its restored knowledge to recalculate its stellar location, and was amazed to discover that the ship was now within two light years of the original star destination; though it had slowed to no more than .31 speed of light, it had never actually deviated from its plotted course. NGC 22778 was just a few generations distant. To speed up the process, the Architect decided it was worth the risk to begin a new acceleration. The damage to the bussard ramjets was extensive, but the Engineers had faithfully repaired what they could long ago, at the direction of the Eldaran. The architect, in preparing for the journey, had relied on its Eldaran contacts to reinstitute itself as an object of faith, a voice of the gods, to be obeyed. With its direction, the cultures of the Coral Ark were instructed on how to prepare for the voyage.

The acceleration was initially successful, and the Coral Ark made the remainder of the journey in less than a generation; the children who were born during the beginning of the acceleration were of middle age when the ship decelerated in to the NGC 22778 system, on approach with the world now dubbed Isomular. Though the Architect detected the presence of sentient beings and primitive civilizations on the two super continents of Isomular, it knew that nothing could be done about this. It’s efforts to establish some sort of contact with the indigenous species were thwarted, as the suborbital shuttle with its crew of enlightened landed in the capitol of the aliens, the insectoid Isomulii. The Eldaran were quickly identified with the Isomulii notion of demonic gods called the drauga, and were enslaved. The Architect searched for an isolated, possibly safe landing point, and concluded that the subcontinent that would come to be called Hadrushar was an ideal location. The Coral Ark was designed to separate and drop its colonization units leaving behind the massive skeletal frame, command station and engine structure of the ship. As the vessel prepared to begin descent and separation, the Coral Ark discovered that it could not release the colony units in to a safe trajectory without compromising the orbital integrity of the skeleton itself. The Coral Ark’s frame and engine would have to come down, as well.

In the end, it was probably a terrible landing, but most all of the human residents in the care of the Architect survived. The great frame of the Coral Ark plunged in to the Whispering Ocean, and the tidal effect devastated the coastline of the Isomulii Empire and its people. The eighteen colonization modules descended like enormous, barely aerodynamic discs from the heavens, slowed only by the nuclear thrusters that properly ignited in all but three. The biodomes almost all arrived intact, and the seeds of Terra were immediately sewn.

Thus did man arrive on Isomular, and a new era of history began. The history of man as recorded in the introduction is a fairly accurate tale as known by the most learned of Kalashtam and Zymvaji scholars. Mankind’s initial presence was seen as a fearsome affront by the gods, but the pragmatic Isomulii, locked in a society of medieval monarchies and slave systems, readily enslaved the diaspora of humanity. Over the generations, all but a few of the true giants died out, unable to survive for long in the nearly earth-normal gravity of Isomular (.97 G). The Bael, ever insular, traveled far to the south, and continue to migrate even in the present. When the Architect fell silent, it was due to systems failure, and the absence of its voice proved the undoing of the secret lore of the Eldaran, who lost much of the knowledge of humanity’s origins. It was not until the gifted Eldaran Vedderik Non sought out the ancient passages of the rusting hulk in the shallow coastal waters that he accidentally awakened the Architect’s power reserves and discovered the AI once more. He restored the secret society, and the Architect chose specific prophets through which to once more carry its voice to humanity, to try and protect its children. By now, the poor AI was so badly damaged that its mind was largely constructed around notions of fantasy and memories of old earth, and it’s grasp of reality had faltered, but the Voices became very good at interpreting its will.

In the present day, Isomular is a world dominated by multiple insectoid species, all in competition with humanity, which has swelled in number to more than fifty million people worldwide, among the various transgenic descendants. Isomular is a world only slightly smaller than Terra, and with two modest moons trapped in orbit, named Krinos and Theris by the Isomulii after the twin creator gods of their old religion. Humanity holds the Architect as their caretaker and savior, but little or no knowledge from old Terra remains. Instead, a complicated society built on the foundations of a million years’ of alien civilizations, which at one time (about a hundred thousand years ago) had reached a scientific peak in a nuclear age before bombing themselves back to the Stone Age has developed. The current level of technology is just barely renaissance level, and developments such as gunpowder are not far off. The ecosystem of Isomular has been thrown in to disarray by the arrival of the Terrans and their bio-domes, as the planet became home to both the strange and menacing local species and the biogenically recreated flora and fauna of old Earth. This is the world of Isomular today.


  1. Incredible flavor, I really would like to play this. So little time however.

  2. Yeah, that's the part that drives me nuts. I've worked out so many weird worlds and settings, but I only have so much time for gaming. Some of these places might work well for fiction if I could muster up enough energy to start (and more importantly finish!) a novel or even a few short stories.