Planejammer Campaign Setting
Imperial History 101
In many respects, the Dragonstar universe is much like our own. It is a vast bubble of expanding space-time filled with matter and energy that obey the same laws of nature we’re familiar with. This matter and energy is structured, organized into superclusters, galaxies, stars, planets, continents, and a breathtaking variety of living things, both fair and foul.
When the gods created the Dragonstar universe, however, they imbued it with magic. They seeded millions of worlds under billions of stars with life crafted in their own image: humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, and countless other species. The gods gave their thinking children the gift of language and taught them to use both mundane tools and magic to their benefit.
In time, these clever children mastered both. Wizards and sorcerers crafted mighty artifacts and created powerful spells. Clerics honored their gods with divine relics and miracles. Other wise and learned men and women who lacked the ability to work magic studied nature and sought to learn its secrets. These people-philosophers, craftsmen, and inventors, at first, and later scientists and engineers-learned to harness the laws of nature with tools and machines of increasing sophistication and utility.
The march of progress, of course, did not proceed at the same pace on every world. On some planets, magic was developed to a high art while science and technology remained relatively primitive. On others, people who knew little or nothing about magic built great technical civilizations.
Whether by magic or machine-or most often by both-people inevitably gained the ability to travel between planets and neighboring star systems. These worlds began to trade with one another and exchange ideas. When these peoples first encountered each other, they were astonished at the similarities. The same races were discovered on planet after planet. Their languages were even the same-though dialects often varied considerably-as were their magic and science.
While scientists proposed feeble theories to explain the astounding sameness of life on all these worlds, a prominent religious leader stepped in to offer a more satisfying answer to the mystery. Life was the same from planet to planet because the same gods had created all of it-the universe and everything in it, from inanimate matter to wild beasts to thinking beings. While millions of deities were worshipped throughout the known galaxy, the newly established Universal Church proclaimed that all were merely different aspects of the same beings. According to this new church and its prophet, there were in fact only a dozen True Gods.
This was, at first, difficult for many of the faithful to accept. It was especially problematic because this new religion cut across even racial lines. By the tenets of the Universal Church, the Father of the elves and the Father of the dwarves-gods known by different names to most every elven and dwarven culture ever discovered-were both just racial aspects of the One Father, the Patriarch of the Twelve.
The new religion represented powerful and compelling ideas, themes of tolerance and fraternity that were a perfect match for this age of exploration, discovery, and unification. It became the dominant faith in an ever-expanding interstellar civilization, absorbing new pantheons and religions with every new world that was discovered.
Of course, conflict was inevitable. Wars were fought over politics, economics, religion, race, and countless other issues. These wars were usually fairly brief and isolated to only a handful of worlds. As the prosperity of the growing interstellar civilization grew, it was increasingly in everyone’s best interests to keep the peace.
Of all the living things the gods created, the dragons were arguably blessed with the greatest gifts: tremendous strength of both mind and body, powerful magic, and incredibly long lifespans. On most pre-contact worlds, dragons were few and avoided interaction with the civilizations of the other races. Because they were so rare and almost entirely self-sufficient, they tended not to band together in groups larger than small families.
All that changed when the dragons learned to travel between worlds. Suddenly, the dragons were not so rare after all. True, their numbers were still far fewer than those of the other major races, but still there were millions of dragons and their kin inhabiting newly discovered worlds seemingly without end. Contact between worlds also introduced new benefits of interaction and cooperation, chief among them the need for security. The dragons realized that they could no longer count on remaining hidden in their remote mountains, deserts, and swamps. They started to get involved.
Dragons were among the first to establish an interstellar political organization based on race. At a great council on the planet Scion III, the metallic dragons founded Qesemet, which means “golden kingdom” in the Draconic language. The great gold wyrm Khelorn was crowned the first king of Qesemet, having received the unanimous support of the attending delegates. The territories of Qesemet were spread across dozens of worlds, but it offered membership and security to all of dragonkind. The dragons organized into individual clans based on subspecies, but all the clans were ultimately answerable to King Khelorn.
Of course, the chromatic dragons refused to send delegates to Scion III and scoffed at the idea of serving King Khelorn. Led by the blue wyrm Lazalius, the chromatics founded a rival dominion called Asamet, the “iron kingdom.” Fearing the unified power of Qesemet, the evil clans flocked to King Lazalius and began to spread the influence of Asamet throughout known space.
Led by the great dragons, the wealth and might of Qesemet and Asamet grew quickly. The twin kingdoms-one light and one dark-soon became the dominant powers in the galaxy. As their influence grew, their relations with each other grew colder: Their worldviews, values, and beliefs were diametrically opposed and could never be reconciled. Inevitably, Qesemet and Asamet made war on each other.
This great war was the most destructive catastrophe the galaxy had ever known-or has known since. Great fleets of warships clashed above forgotten planets, whole continents were riven by powerful magics, and billions died as worlds were crushed under the clawed feet of the great dragon armies. Most other races, nations, and worlds became engulfed in the conflict, allying themselves with either Qesemet or Asamet, usually along lines of alignment. Before long, the terrible war had spread throughout the galaxy.
Finally, it became clear to King Khelorn that the war would never end, that the dragons would exterminate themselves and most of the population of the galaxy along with them. Their artifacts and machines of war were simply too powerful and their hatred for each other too deep. The king realized that if he didn’t do something drastic, all would be lost.
In a moment of sublime humility and wisdom, Khelorn admitted that the war was ultimately his fault. When he founded Qesemet, he’d known the chromatics would not participate, that they would be excluded and would inevitably feel resentment because of it. Despite their differences, dragonkind could only enjoy a lasting peace if a new kingdom were formed in which all were included: gold and red, silver and blue, good and evil. Khelorn also knew that the evil clans would only agree if they were allowed to share rulership of the new realm.
Khelorn called a new council on Scion III, the historic site of the founding of Qesemet. This time, the leaders of all the clans-good and evil-attended. All were wise enough to recognize that they faced extinction if they were not able to forge a permanent truce.
Khelorn proposed the creation of an empire that would span the known galaxy. This empire would be ruled in a line of succession by each of the dragon clans. The elder of one clan would rule for a thousand years and then pass the crown to the successor clan, who would in turn rule for a millennium. While the debates and political battles over the line of succession lasted for months, the leaders of all the dragon clans eventually accepted the proposal. The five clans of Qesemet would rule first, beginning with Khelorn himself. After 5,000 years, the elder wyrm of the red dragons would assume the imperial throne. Blessed with practically immeasurable lifespans, the chromatics were willing to wait and prepare for the day when they would rise to ascendancy over the galaxy.
Many of the leaders of the other races, nations, and world powers were not entirely pleased with the prospect of subservience to a dragon emperor. Through a combination of political pressure, rewards, and outright threats, all but a few isolated frontier worlds eventually submitted. The benefits of citizenship in the new empire-peace, security, and prosperity-were simply too enticing to ignore…and the price of defiance simply too high. Scion III was renamed Draconis Prime and the Dragon Empire was born.
Dragonstar is set a little more than 5,000 years after the birth of the empire. The known galaxy has enjoyed five millennia of peace under the benevolent dragons of Qesemet. Now, it has been 40 years since the great red wyrm Mezzenbone assumed the imperial throne. While the transition of power to the lords of Asamet was peaceful, the empire is already struggling under the lash of the new tyrant. The emperor has formed a secretive bureaucracy whose mission is terror and oppression in the guise of law and order. The ranks of the Imperial Special Police Directorate are filled with the emperor’s drow allies who aided Asamet during the war. While the ISPD enforces the emperor’s will at home, the Imperial Legions have embarked on an expansionist crusade along the Outlands frontier, bringing more and more worlds within the grasp of Mezzenbone’s cruel talons.