"Vaster than empires, and more slow." — Marvell
Vaster is an exercise in worldbuilding, done for its own sake, but also intended as a possible setting for stories and roleplaying games. Its genre is space fantasy, but it starts by giving a solution to a real problem in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: Where are the aliens? If intelligence is common in the galaxy, why wasn't Earth colonized ages ago, or, at least, why isn't the sky full of their signals? This question is called the Fermi Paradox. There are many proposed solutions.
In Vaster, the solution is that intelligent life is reasonably common, but science and high technology are rare. Humans are the first starfarers in the galaxy, at least in a very long time. We are the Elder Race.
In ten thousand years, though, the galaxy is hopping and it's heavily humanocentric. There are thousands of races and tens of thousands of settled planets. Only about a quarter of them have human-majority populations, but everyone uses metric measures, learned their technology (at one remove or another) from humans, and, if they do cross-species business, very likely communicate in Terranic, a descendant of English.
There is no galaxy-wide government. Most planets are independent, belonging to loose treaty organizations. But there are many organizations of interstellar scope, notably religions and the Institutes of Life, Time, Wisdom, and others. And there are many interstellar states with a handful or a few dozen planets, and a few very big galactic states: the Terran Union, the Vegan Confederacy, Keribor, Rete, Anisel Shon, the Humanate, and, greatest of all, the Core.
Civilization is starting to spread beyond our own galaxy, to its satellites, but there are still vast stretches of sky in the Milky Way that remain unexplored by the interstellar community. What is known is outlined here.
Vaster than empires...
(Click ◊ for full outline.)
Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010