A Galaxy at War
Though the game of Galactic Emperor: Succession is set within the Palace Minor floating above the frozen capital planet of Principality it is played against the background of a galaxy at war. The Vl'Hurgh are attacking. The Artifact Wars have begun anew. Nowhere in the galaxy is safe.
The Empire of a Million Suns
The Empire of a Million Suns is comprised of the Seven Hegemonies: the Heart Suns and the Core Suns, which are together referred to as the Inner Suns; and the Realm, Nest, Embers, Reaches and Rift; which are together referred to as the Outer Suns. In less chaotic times, each except the Core Suns was ruled by one of the greatest nobles of the galaxy the Hegemons of the Empire. But since the assassination of the Emperor, all sureties are gone. The six Hegemons have been deposed and order will only be restored when a new Galactic Emperor is chosen.
Of the Seven Hegemonies there are two that are entirely vital to the well-being and continuance of the Empire. The Core Suns including the planet of Principality and the nearby Heart Suns form the Inner Suns. They sit at the center of the galaxy and are the population centers of the Empire, home to the majority of the Empire's commerce and agriculture.
The remaining five regions of the Empire the Realm, the Nest, the Rift, the Embers, and the Reaches form the Outer Suns. Though they are less densely populated than the Inner Suns, they are the heart of the Empire's innovation. It is here that the great scientific projects of the Empire are centered, and amongst these Hegemonies are those worlds richest in Artifacts. It is here, near the rim of the Galaxy, that the Empire first encountered the Vl'Hurgh.
The Four Ruling Races
Rulership of the Empire of a Million Suns is dominated by the four major races: the Grune, the Iyali, the Sorvu, and the Thrile. These ruling races are the only ones to have successfully conquered, subjugated, and claimed dominion over the many minor client and slave races of the Empire. It is the minor races which do the true work of the Empire, but they hold the Ruling Races in such awe and reverence that rebellion is unthinkable from that quarter.
The Grune are a vertebrate race that is reptilian in nature. They dominate the empire both by brute and economic force. Grune armies and Grune trade monopolies are common in the Empire. The Grune's opportunistic nature has led to the saying, "Never trust a Grune." Though the other races reap the advantages of the Grune's aggressive nature, they are also intimidated by it. The Grune dominate the military forces of the Empire.
The Iyali are an invertebrate race that is primarily aquatic. They are the great intellects of the galaxy, and their inventions are responsible for much of the Empire's prosperity. Although the Iyali prefer aquatic and zero-G environments, they have invented suspensor devices which allow them to operate in gravity. The Iyali dominate engineering and scientific research in the Empire.
The Sorvu are the third Ruling Race. They are amphibious in nature, and thus not subject to some of the limitations of the Iyali. The Sorvu are best known as master breeders and farmers. They are gentle and kind, even granting considerable freedom to their vassal species. The Sorvu's work ethic and physical strength, as well as their penchant for finding new ways to work more efficiently, have led to their dominance as laborers in the Empire.
The Thrile are the most strange and secretive of the four major races. They are a sentient plant race, and this might be why their thought patterns are so different from those of the other rulers of the galaxy. They are introspective and share strange, esoteric knowledge. They have a peculiar interest in the Artifacts of the Shining Ones and are the most involved of the four races in the Hymn. The Thrile are the acknowledged masters of psionic talent in the Empire and provide Psi specialists to the other races.
The relics at the heart of the Artifact Wars are older than the Galactic Empire itself. No one knows their true origin or their purpose. They seem to be the product of some ancient race, but even the name of that race is supposition. The Artifact's creators are called the Shining Ones solely because of the luminescence of many of the Artifacts.
Over thousands of years a religion has formed around the Artifacts, originating with the Thrile. The religion's earliest adherents began to collect Artifacts to excavate, purchase or steal them and then they began to study the Artifacts as well as their unknown creators.
Though originally supported only by the psychic races, the religion of the Artifacts soon spread to the minor races of the Galaxy; they worship the Artifacts as divine relics, just as they often worship members of the major races as gods. The followers of the Shining Ones call themselves the Hymn. Most historians of the Empire state that their name is derived from inscriptions on their greatest artifact, housed in the Three Towers on the planet Yarrow V, the Thrile homeworld.
The Hymn is dominated by the Thrile, for there is something in the nature of the Artifacts or in the nature of the Hymn's understanding of the Shining Ones which fits their peculiar thought patterns. Some question whether the Thrile might be the Shining Ones themselves, and whether the Vl'Hurgh might be their ancient enemies. The answers to these questions have been lost in antiquity.
In recent centuries the Hymn has grown quite strong with the addition of Iyali and even some Sorvu adherents to the congregation. Thus, when the Artifact Wars began, the Hymn was able to convince the then Galactic Emperor to stand strong against the invasion.
When the Vl'Hurgh first seeped over the rim of the galaxy, it was to test the defenses of the Empire. Raiding various worlds for their treasured Artifacts, the Vl'Hurgh claimed descent from the Shining Ones themselves and said that the Artifacts were theirs by right of inheritance. The Galactic Emperor stood strong, resisting their claims, and thus were the Artifact Wars begun.
The Artifact Wars have been fought for a thousand years, but in all that time the Vl'Hurgh have made few major assaults. They have eaten away at worlds in the Outer Suns and warred with the Empire's fleets, but their incursions have rarely been major, and they have never threatened the Empire itself.
That has all changed with the assassination of the Galactic Emperor. The Vl'Hurgh have made new attacks with resources they were not thought to possess, and the continued existence of the Empire is in doubt for the first time in a hundred thousand years.
The World of Principality
At the heart of everything at the center of the galaxy, deep in the Inner Suns, within the Core Suns Hegemony sits Principality. It is the capital world of the entire Empire and its Palace is considered one of the wonders of the galaxy.
The Palace itself is split into two parts. The Palace Major sits amidst the snowy wastes of Principality, cooled by millennial-old ice floes and warmed by huge underground seas. It is the heart of the Empire's bureaucracy. Far above the Palace Major, a jewel in the night sky orbit above the planet, floats the Palace Minor, and it is the heart of the Empire's nobility.
It is in the Palace Minor that the Archons of the Galaxy gather to name the next Galactic Emperor.
The Palace Minor
The design of the Palace Minor is a metaphor for the Empire itself. Four long spokes jut out from the station core, ending in magnificent promenades. Each promenade is controlled by one of the four major races; each honors the most prestigious members of that race.
At the center of the Palace Minor the four races come together to engage in the true rulership of the galaxy. In the Hall of Emeralds, at the center of the station, Archons meet and converse, surrounded by the banners of a hundred worlds, under a view of the galaxy from the Core. Above the Hall of Emeralds rise the Throne Room and the Council Room, the twin hearts of the Empire's nobles. Surrounding the Hall of Emeralds are numerous administrative rooms, used by the rulers of the Galaxy to oversee the Seven Hegemonies and to conduct meetings of the various factions.
Docked to the Palace Minor are the yachts of the Archons the ships used by them to travel to the Palace Minor. It is within their yachts that the Archons make the strategic decisions which will determine the fate of the Empire.
Though the entire galaxy is at war, it is in the Palace Minor above Principality where the future will be determined.