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Prologue: The Spread Of The Many Children of Earth

Kylia Quilor

61 Badges
Jul 15, 2018
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7200 years ago, History tells us, Humanity left the cradle.

For thousands of years, tens of thousands of years, humanity had lived on one world, and one world only: Earth. A small, unimportant world, orbiting a small, unimportant star. But eventually, humanity left Earth. There is so much that has been lost or distorted over the centuries since, hidden in the darkest corners of some archive somewhere, or simply gone forever. The Colonial Wars, the fall of the First Empire, the Kishrath Wars, the Fall of the Second Empire - these wars, and a thousand crisis, plagues, disturbances and more, have all stolen so much of the details of our history from us. We know that mankind had great pioneers of space - Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin, great scientists, like Albert Einstein, Deepak Chopra, Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi. Great rulers and leaders - Elizabeth II, Augustus, Barack Obama. Great monsters and villains - Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin.

Or so some versions of the histories say. Others say other things, but that is all immaterial, ultimately.

Humanity spread across the stars. We know that humanity interacted with many aliens at the time, that the hyperspace lanes brought humanity into contact with strange races - few names survive to us. Some, do, however. Blorg, Chinorr, Maweer, Jehetma and Kel-Azaan. The details are lost or confused, but we know that humanity in the stars was dominated by the Commonwealth of Man and the United Nations of Earth - but over time, many smaller human nations were settled, free from these great powers.

It was in -3950 (or so - all dates are approximate for this period) that the great Colonial Unification Wars began - the United Nations of Earth and the Commonwealth of Man went to war to decide the future of humanity. Soon, all of mankind was drawn into the war, and it was a war that was costly not just to humanity. For the war left the other aliens without aid when the ancient empires that had come before went to war, what we know as 'The War in Heaven'. A great genocidal conflagration that passed humanity by, consumed as it was by self-destruction. Billions, maybe even trillions of humans died. Earth was turned into an unlivable rock, as was the Commonwealth's homeworld - the name lost to us now. In the end, neither the CoM or the UNE won, but instead, the Empire of Three Crowns, a union of several smaller monarchies. Through clever diplomacy, ruthless coups backed by master spies and simply having an intact fleet after decades of war, the Empire of Three Crowns, ruling from the world of Black Rose, united all humanity in the Empire of Man.

The age of The First Empire of Man, as it is known now, was the Golden Age for mankind. Technology ran free, and in the aftermath of the War in Heaven, there were no fallen Empires to police the lesser races. Humanity was one power among many, but unified, numerous and well-governed, humanity grew to dominate most aliens, to one degree or another.

The First Empire of Man is when the many genetically modified offshoots of humanity were made. Some were merely local changes to deal with hostile environments, but others were far more extensive, becoming whole new races of Man. Few remain today, but some have lasted the ages, even in great numbers. The long-lived Elvhen, the short, bearded Durgon - experts in Industry and finance, adapted for heavy gravity worlds. The hardy and warlike Orcs. The Psilons, victims of alien experimentation that left them even more inhuman than other offshoots but possessed of low-grade telepathy.

Author's Note said:
(Profligate and Universal are Traits from mods. Profligate gives you +30% Consumer Goods Upkeep and -10% Habitability. Orcs were adapted to Arid worlds, and less so to other ones, and their bodies consume more resources in all sorts of ways. Universal is a flat +5% from all jobs. The Psilon's low-grade telepathy lets them do collective tasks much easier and more efficiently.)

All good things must come to an end, however. The First Empire fell to a great combination - first, the alien Skreeth, long enemies of humanity, unleashed the tailored bioweapon on humanity known only as the Ravening in -2710. The Ravening consumed world after world, but eventually it was stopped on the world of Corris Prime. The world was bombaried to ash even after all infected had died, but quarantined for all time. There was to be no risk of a return of this great plague.

But soon, invasion by opportunistic aliens - led by the Skreeth - and ambitious local factions and governors tore at the weakened First Empire. For three hundred and six years, the First Empire fought desperately to live. The Skreeth were destroyed, as were several of humanity's alien allies. But this was all made worse by the changes in hyperspace - the Hyperspace lanes linking worlds began to change, shift. Some worlds were cut off from each other entirely, lost to all known space, others were connected in new and dangerous ways. Countless worlds and systems were lost, including the Sol System itself. The First Empire was doomed, but still it fought to the last against the Entropy of History. It was a beautiful, tragic struggle, immortalized in untold countless works of fiction.

It took the final destruction of Black Rose in -2313 by a Colossus weapon at the hands of an alliance of renegade governors to finally end the First Empire... and then the victorious governors fought over that great Colossus, destroying it and nearly all human civilization in the process. Brought down to the local level, many planets starved and withered at the vine, either literally or metaphorically.

But mankind tries again. After every collapse on Earth, mankind rose again, and the same held true in the stars. After two thousand years of darkness, constant low-grade warfare and constantly shifting hyperspace currents, in the year -571, four star-Empires formed an alliance. It was at first merely an alliance of Xenophobia. The powerful Dwamak Empire was a threat to all four states, all populated by Humans or Human-branched races. The League of Argoss defeated the Dwamak, and even destroyed their homeworld in nuclear fire.

It was over the ashes of the Dwamak Homeworld that the League found a new mission - to rebuild the First Empire. To restore humanity to its greatest heights, to protect Mankind from the alien menace. It took centuries of war, of political and diplomatic dealmaking and massive expenditures of blood and treasure, but eventually, in 1, the Second Empire of Man was formed. The name was a misnomer - the royal family was a figurehead, selected based on supposed links to the dynasty of the First. All power was concentrated in the fractious Senate, and even more so, at the Sector level - the Second Empire was far more of a Confederacy.

But the Second Empire was also more Xenophobic. Any child of Humanity was welcome - any alien was not. Countless species were exterminated or driven into small, quarantined worlds or isolated corners of space. Some fled in generation ships beyond the reach of the Hyperspace Lanes, or did the same via wormhole or Jump drive, escaping into unmapped portions of the galaxy. But the Second Empire thrived, and by 418, all known space was controlled or dominated by the Second Empire, one way or another. That, of course, only meant the 3000 or so star systems connected by the hyperspace lanes known to man at the time, but still.

The Second Empire, strictly speaking, never did know absolute peace - there were always small grade brushfire wars and rebellions - but it did now general peace and it did know great prosperity. Lost technology was claimed, great megacorporations were founded, religions flourished, art and culture and so much more.

But even the Second Empire, mighty and secure and confident as it was had to come to an end. The Second Empire too, fell to a compounding of events. Its weakened political structure doomed it when the Kishrath invaded. An extragalactic menace, a consuming hivemind that could add all sentient life it captured to its collective, the originally insectoid Kishrath were a great diversity by the time they invaded the Second Empire in 1098.

The Second Empire should have been able to defeat the Kishrath. They had great armies, great fleets - and mighty hosts of machine soldiers even. But even as the Eastern Reaches were attacked and under threat, Senators and Governors in other parts of the Empire resisted providing aid, expending resources - the Empire was strong enough to defeat the Kishrath, after all. Why bother raising taxes, instituting conscription? Everyone claimed to need their local defense fleets for anti-piracy, rebellion suppression, maintaining overwatch on small, surviving alien powers.

Even as the East burned, the Empire dithered. Seeking to end the deadlock, generals launched a coup, destroying the Senate - and with it, all semblance of Unity. Even in the midst of invasion and the impending threat of Genocide, the regional governors, local planets, great interest groups and factions big and small remained focused on their own concerns. The Gynoids, the most numerous and strongest of humanity's machine soldiers - made, as the name suggested, to look like human women, they were nearly sentient each, all but fully AI. Impossible to assimilate, let loose by the collapsing government, the Gynoids conscripted worlds for resources, and forced the Kishrath back. But the rest of Humanity was now at war. First the generals against the governors, but then the generals began to bicker with each other, the governors accused each other of all holding back, wanting to let their allies bleed for them. It was is Entropy bred more Entropy.

Even the news of the final defeat of the Kishrath after the decade-long battle of Elteris Prime in 1131, which saw the hivemind's remnant survivors flee the galaxy and the Gynoids destroyed did nothing to end the fighting.

Everyone had an axe to grind against their neighbors. Even as everyone looked on, watching the world collapse, everyone fought. Many claimed genetic modification was the cause, dividing humanity into too many competing families. Other blamed capitalism, individuality, godlessness, religion, technology, weak institutions... everyone had a solution, it seemed, and everyone was ready to kill to force that solution on the galaxy.

War bred War. As trade collapsed, more planets were lost simply to refugees fleeing, to a lack of resources, Specialized planets were hurt the most, but every world suffered from the collapse of trade, of communication, of travel. Piracy and worse rose across known space. Whole sectors were lost to any sort of unified government.

By 1350, the Second Empire had even nominally ceased to exist when the Hyperlanes began to shift again, isolating the Throneworld of Argoss from the galaxy. The final collapse into darkness was settled by 1439, with all remnant claims to the throne, to even sector-level power lost to the entropy and decay of collapse. There was virtually no trade, beyond what nomadic peddlers brought. Communication between worlds ended.

Centuries passed. Worlds were lost. Worlds died. Worlds were destroyed, by themselves or by outsiders. Alien menaces returned but were cut off by shifting hyperlanes. New, primitive races threatened to rise to space. Marauding alliances of lost aliens formed, plundering. But surviving worlds adapted, changed, grew ready for the new order. New models of organization were tasted, planets unified, planets formed new governments. Some were determined to bring about a Third Empire. Some simply want to exist, thrive and survive in a new galaxy.

But all know that sooner or later, there will be a Third Empire.

But with the chaos in hyperspace, the weakness of all these powers... nothing could happen yet. But hyperspace calmed, new warships and starbases were built.

But by 2200, things stood poised to change. Across the galaxy, the known hyperlanes connecting some 1300 star systems in a network that would serve as the backbone for the eventual Third Empire.

But there are threats on the horizon to all sentient life, to all the Children of Earth, to the possibility of new, growing civilization and a Third Empire. Internecine warfare is not the only danger.

The Gynoids survived, in small numbers, on Elteris Prime, unknown to most. Over the centuries, their programming corrupted, and now all organic life is understood to be part of the Kishrath, the war not over yet. The Kishrath must still be defeated, and if that means exterminating all life that is part of the hivemind? The warped machine intelligence of the 2118th Gynoid Infantry Division, with fleets at its command is ready to make that sacrifice.

In a once-remote system, the Ravening has evolved, escaping quarantine during the fall of the Second Empire and found a new form. A sentient virus that controls its hosts, the New Ravening is a hivemind swarm, bent on devouring all life, all biomass, into itself.

On Ulger, robots invented to catalogue and preserve all knowledge assimilated their creators, and now seek to preserve and catalogue all knowledge - and all who hold it. If they assimilate all life, there will be only stagnation. The Archivist Angels are a threat to the hope of the Third Empire.

And beyond known space, other, darker threats linger. Pislon Oracles speak of the legendary Shroud and the entities contained therein. They speak of another dimension, home to strange devouring energy beings. They are laughed at, ignored.

Archeologists warn of suggestions of a great, hidden machine empire out there, ready to exterminate all life - a contingency gone awry. Proof is scattered, discounted, unsure.

And astronomers watch a galaxy slowly vanishing into dark space, and notice that hyperspace itself seems to be bending at the outer edges of the galaxy. Something is coming. To the Kishrath come anew, or does another invading swarm come? Is this all just an overreaction based on an absence of data?

Humanity stands at a crossroads. There will be a Third Empire... or perhaps there will not. Will Humanity fall to its own hubris, to its own struggles with itself - or will it fall to some greater threat beyond it?

And if there is a Third Empire, what form will it take? Will it favor only one vision of Humanity, only one of its many subraces, or will it be a unity of all of Earth's Children?

No one can say. But we will see. We will see.

Programming Note said:
Animated Synthetic Portraits Extended Reborn seems to be... not entirely functional. Several tests have shown that they just don't seem to force spawn properly and in the process the mod seems to screw up all machine empire spawning. So there's gonna be a few changes to the appearance of the Archivist Angels and the Gynoids in-game, even if, lore-wise, the above images are what those races are *supposed* to look like.
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Administrative Interlude #1 - What's All This Then?
Okay, so this is an AAR I've been toying with for a while. I was hoping to wait until Elves of Stellaris was updated, as well as a few other portrait/race mods, because I had ideas for more offshoots of humanity I could make using them, but I decided screw it. And now, with 2.2. I have even more ways to make this a fun and diverse experience.

I've made 35 distinct Empires. Some share races, some are localized offshoots of humanity, some are barely human, nominally so at best. I will not be sharing all 35 now, but I will be sharing the six I'm considering playing as - and it will be open to you all to suggest who among them I play. Several of the 27 were not created to be played (such as the three 'Menace' Empires above), at least not for this AAR by me. Races not of the six or of the Menaces will be introduced in more detail as they are encountered.

The mods I'm using are several, however:

  • Homeworld Ethics (2.2)
  • Advanced Ascension
  • Animated Synthetics Portraits Expanded: RebornMod Nonfunctional
  • Cybrxkhan's Assortment of Namelists for Stellaris
  • Diverse Basics
  • Diverse Federation Names
  • Ethics Colors
  • Exigency
  • Extragalactic Clusters
  • Fleet Cap Percent 2 (Repeatable Tech)
  • FutureCorp
  • More AI Personalities
  • More Galaxy Sizes
  • More Home Systems
  • Nacho's Extra Civic Point
  • New Civics and Traits Mod for 2.2*
  • Origins Civics
  • PJs Extra Civic Slot
  • Repeatable Genetics and Robomodding
  • Traits: Better Refineries - Mod Nonfunctional
  • Vassalization Rebalance - Mod Nonfunctional

This is not my first AAR, but it is my first Stellaris AAR, and the first one I'm posting here. I'm not even sure the forum I shared my first AAR (a short-lived Khazar CK2 run) is even still around, so I won't dig it up and link it here.

I'll be spending a lot of time on the narrative and lore of the universe, and probably some recurring characters, so expect in-universe documents and probably discussions between the various leaders of my Empire. I may use the console a few times to keep the story interesting and moving forward, but I won't be giving myself help simply so I can curbstomp.
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That's a heck of a backstory. This seems like it'll be fun!
That's a heck of a backstory. This seems like it'll be fun!
That is the hope. Fingers crossed that it is fun and that everyone here enjoys the infodumping and worldbuilding.

Systech Solutions Incorporated. In its heyday during the Second Empire, Systech Solutions Incorporated was the master of providing when the government couldn't - private security, private buses, private garbage collection, private fire services and more. And of course, they would do everything they could to ensure the government on a planet they'd gotten their tendrils into didn't provide these services. They'd offer 'cheaper' or 'more efficient' services, and with bribery and appeals to capitalism and free markets, often succeed. Sometimes they were even honest about the superiority of their private-services.

Systech, as one might expect, was nearly destroyed by the fall of the Second Empire. But on the world of Dalia, one branch office survived, ever so barely. And slowly, oh so slowly, it took over Dalia, absorbing companies, governments and more.

Systech seeks a restoration of the Third Empire. Profit, in the long term, requires peace, and peace requires unity. They may not dominate the new Third Empire, but they want it to exist, and they will help it along, one way or another. War can be done, if need be. Subsidiaries do make for such excellent tools. But peace and trade and diplomacy will be preferable.

Systech is currently led by CEO Yasin Qaderi.

Author's Note said:
As a pacifist, xenophile megacorp, I expect a Systech run will involve a great deal of diplomacy. If I play Systech, I will be playing them 'in character' and the goal will be to form or join a federation and guide that federation to dominating most of known space.

Alvania was always a prosperous, Idylic world. And even during the fall of the Second Empire, that never changed. Protected by stellar phenomenon, Alvania was never attacked during those dark days - but they welcomed refugees, evacuated worlds and provided aid to everyone they could. What limited fleets and soldiers they had were used to rescue and save and aid. Eventually, though, there came to be no one to help, no one they could reach, as the hyperlanes continued to shift.

Alvania is a world of peace, of equality, and of charity. Wealth exists, but to a far more limited extent than on other worlds. Charity is the Highest Good to the people of Alvania, and though it may see them derided by other nations, they seek to extend that to the stars. A Third Empire led - in part or in whole - by the Tranquility will be a land of charity, equality and peace. It will be a land where people help their neighbors, whatever else. A land where the mistakes of the Second Empire will not be made.

The Alvanian Tranquility is led by High Charity Berdt Sumariessten

Author's Note said:
The Tranquility are basically space Hippies, and I'll be playing them as such. They, like Systech, will be aiming for a Federation, but we'll probably be fighting very few wars on purpose - whereas Systech could engage in a lot of wars to liberate people and then make Subsidiaries, if nothing else. Systech creates opportunities where none exist, the Tranquility just wants to find them.

Artea is a bloodthirsty goddess. She demands pain, she hungers for blood, and she believes in power. She knows that the path to power is to exploit the weak and downtrodden. Her cult spread from contact with a now extinct alien race - the Kossuth - and enjoyed great popularity among criminals, the fanatical and the desperate. Revolutionaries and Rebels, Mobsters and Madmen - all flocked to Artea. Her faith was banned on world after world after world in the First and Second Empires, but it has sustained itself. As the Empire fell, the Church fled to a few bastions, and thought it was eventually mostly purged from each of them, on one world, they thrived.

On the world of Satan, orbiting the star Lucifer, the Church took over an entire world, by hook and by crook. The Goddess paved the way for their dominion. Elvhen followers of the Bloody Whip, She Who Thirsts For Blood will spread into the stars, claiming souls to serve her, wealth to fund the church and sacrifices to fuel her.

The galaxy is fueled by blood and by gold. The church will claim both in spades, and a Third Empire, a bloody empire dedicated to the truest Goddess will be formed.

The Church is led by Oracle Nerwenye Cera.

Author's Note said:
The Church of Artea will be much more aggressive than the previous two. Slavers (well, 'debt slavers' and criminals, not to mention a megachurch, the Church's goal will be to spread spiritual ethics, get rich and, most importantly, spread across the Galaxy with its branch offices. They won't be entirely adverse to a Federation if one comes up, but ideally, they want to refound the Third Empire with themselves at the head. Either by total control, or informal dominance.

The Elvhen may have originated on the world of Saykori, but they were everywhere when the Second Empire fell. During the final days of the Empire, a powerful general Koris Vayhlos realized that the empire was Doomed and never would be saved. It simply lacked the Iron Will, the Iron Power, the true Iron Men needed to save itself. And so he led his soldiers to the Moristar System and established a Kingdom. At first he sought to take over the sector, but he died in the effort and lost most of his forces along with him in the Battle over Kadtrain. His heirs have kept the dream alive, and after a recent war of succession Empress Elwil has taken over a united Moristar Prime.

She will be the Iron Queen the galaxy Demands. The Third Empire under her vision will be a place of power, of unity, of militancy. Unified around the common zeal, the defense of all. People will be raised as warriors, all will serve one way or another.

This is an age of Iron, and the Iron Kingdom of Moristar is ready for it. All will bow to them in the end, or they will make like their founder and die in the effort.

The leader, of course, is Queen Elwil Vayhlos.

Author's Note said:
A more traditional conquering state. Expect a fuckton of warmongering, once everything is situated. In theory, at least. The Iron Kingdom wants to bring all under their protection for the common good - even aliens will be welcome, if they're found. As long as they were willing to be Iron, they will be part of the Third Empire.

Allure was once, basically, a prostitute world. It was famed for its brothels, its escorts and more. Sure, it offered other hedonistic pleasures, but the prostitution was the big draw. And I won't go into too much more detail, since this is meant to be safe for work. But, in short, Allure was a pleasure planet. It may have been a desert, but it was also Paradise.

It should have fallen after the end of the Second Empire. With no one coming, no tourists, no imports... it should have been doomed. It was ravaged by raiders and pirates and invaders. The people of Allure were carted off time and again for use as slaves - obvious value in the people of Allure. But somehow, some way, it survived. Under the leadership of a former Madame, Paridise fought back. In the process, it lost all its ships, and much of its advanced infrastructure, but it survived.

Life in Allure has been hard, and it has changed its people - no longer wasteful, no longer quarrelsome, the humans of Allure - now known as Allurids - are still a people dedicated to pleasure, but they are also a people who understand pain. That both must exist in equal measure. And they are a people that have understood that they must conform and be united to achieve survival. Pleasure is the reward, Pain is the Reward. It is the absence of both that is the true punishment.

Paradise is now well armed, and it is ready to offer the galaxy pleasure. And it will ensure that the galaxy knows pain - one way or another.

The Royal Paradisio is led by Empress Zenia Kudrina.

Author's Note said:
While I really like the idea of Allure, from a lore standpoint, it might be hard to do an AAR about them. They basically are if BDSM was taken to absurd and (absolutely not Safe/Sane/Consensual) extremes and then made into a governing philosophy. So it might be hard to do a narrative about them here on these forums. They are slavers, but they won't necessarily be aggressive. They will fight wars, and they will wage peace - pain and pleasure in equal measure.

The Psilons, victims of forced genetic modification by the Skreeth, are a people of telepaths. Of telekinetics. Of oracles. They are all a spiritual people, able to sense the undercurrent of souls across the galaxy through their power - how could they not?

The Psilons on Xathea are not really an aggressive people. They are a people of strict hierarchies, but even more, they are a people of faith. They believe their powers, ultimately, were a gift from the universe. They revel in them, and seek to expand on them in time. They have no ambitions to rebuild the Third Empire - many think it will happen, and they'd like to be among the leaders, sure, but it is no specific goal of the ruling class of the Sacred Imperium. Such mortal concerns are beneath them.

The universe has a shrouded second half, and Xathea will pierce it, and make contact with the powers and realm beyond. Telepathy is just the beginning.

Author's Note said:
The Sacred Imperium of Xathea is built around the modded civic 'Psionic Heritage', which lets them start with Psionic Theory. Basically, they're geared entirely to take Psi ascension. in terms of playing them, Xathea is going to be very play it by ear - they may be aggressive, they may be friendly. The only hard thing they will do is Psi ascension. Everything else will be a response to circumstance, making them a bit of a wildcard.

And so there you have it. The Six Nations I may play as. Each one offers a slightly different personality (or very different) and so will offer a different experience in the AAR, and a different style of play. I'll be happy to play as any of these six, so please, vote what you think is the most interesting, and we'll go from there.[/quote]
Very intriguing backstory and setting.
Thank you!

Any opinion on which Empire the AAR should play?
I generally don't like choosing such things. I am a kind of "whatever the writAAR wants to do" attitude.
I generally don't like choosing such things. I am a kind of "whatever the writAAR wants to do" attitude.

:p if I could easily pick one of the six, I would have. But your impulse is very understandable.
I'm fairly certain there used to be a business in my hometown named Systech. My dad and his dad both worked there. Somehow I always knew the company wasn't truly out of business. They just expanded to new frontiers and horizons!

In all seriousness, this is a cool concept for an AAR. I love lore- and story-driven AAR's so I'll stick around to watch this play out.

I'm also waiting for a couple of very specific mods to update before launching my next story, so I can understand how much work you probably poured into this. Looking forward to the next update!
I'm fairly certain there used to be a business in my hometown named Systech. My dad and his dad both worked there. Somehow I always knew the company wasn't truly out of business. They just expanded to new frontiers and horizons!

In all seriousness, this is a cool concept for an AAR. I love lore- and story-driven AAR's so I'll stick around to watch this play out.

I'm also waiting for a couple of very specific mods to update before launching my next story, so I can understand how much work you probably poured into this. Looking forward to the next update!

I think I stole the name from Star Wars (or I found a star wars company with a very similar name anyway, I can't remember) - I've been using Systech as a name for sci-fi companies for years.

I appreciate your interest and support. One way or another, I'll pick the Empire (either by people's votes or just rolling a six-sided die) to play within a few days and should have an update out by the weekend.
I think this AAR has a lot of potential to be really good from the initial blurb. Looking forward to it.

On the subject of empire choice... I'd say either Xathea or Moristar. I don't really see Psionic Ascension very often in AARs, but if that's not an option, a conquering empire sounds a bit more interesting than slow Federation-building, and in my opinion, megacorporations don't really appeal to me very much.
Why don't we see Psionic ascension in AARs? When I did it in a 2.1. game, it turned out to be really cool - I mean, the shroud was hit and miss, especially since I actively avoided taking any entity deals, but the production bonuses from the Psychic leader/pop traits were very nice, and the Psi-Jump Drive was a tactical game changer for me.

EDIT: And your vote has been noted. ^^
I've seen Psionic Ascension a few times, most recently in @Nikolai 's Blessed Sithrandir Confederacy

I think the reason why folks might see it less often is because quite a few AARs unfortunately cease before the game would get to that part.
Very interesting backstory! Love the lore around each of the major factions, including those that are not an option for play.

In terms of who to go with, I would say Xathea or Artea. Quite like their backstories in particular, though leaning more towards Artea (Blood for the Blood God! Ahem, I mean, er... ;) ) Overall love the stories you've started weaving here and looking forward to seeing how it all pans out, whichever faction you decide to go with.
Very interesting backstory! Love the lore around each of the major factions, including those that are not an option for play.

In terms of who to go with, I would say Xathea or Artea. Quite like their backstories in particular, though leaning more towards Artea (Blood for the Blood God! Ahem, I mean, er... ;) ) Overall love the stories you've started weaving here and looking forward to seeing how it all pans out, whichever faction you decide to go with.

Thank you.

Votes noted.

You have committed Heresy against the God-Emperor of Xathea-

JK, JK. The game hasn't even started yet. But still, watch your tounge.

Heresy must be punished - but actually the Xatheans are pretty pantheist. Artea worship fits in well :p
I think I want to see you play Xathea as well. The end-goal of Ascension can be a great launchpad for a lot of stories.
Xathea does seem to be at the head of the pack.

I have a few more test-runs to do to make sure all the kinks are worked out (as I discovered a few new ones last night and while I think I've fixed them, I want to test the fixes) but we'll be ready very shortly, unless another Empire gets some votes.