After Ether: Ascension

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AE Timeline

Key Concepts

The Viennes Naval Treaty

Fourty-eight years ago the Enduscaran Federation emerged triumphant from the Fifth Reflex War - the Endwar - and vanquished the enigmatic Masters and their clone-sanjaks. This twenty-nine month war was not the longest but probably the largest in centuries and perhaps since the Ragnarok Period more than half a millenia ago. Having just completed one war but aware that the Mastery of Suns still existed in a distant corner of known space beyond the Melporne River neither the Enduscaran senate nor their SOLAR advisors had any appetite for a war in their backyard. But by its very nature the enormous Enduscaran battlefleet was a threat to those near Endusspace; the Holy Germanian Empire, the Hellesphere, Gondwana, not to mention sundry smaller states.

In a pair of brilliant political moves, Endus first formalized a number of pre-existing treaties and agreements and merged them into what was soon dubbed the 'Panhelios', eventually the greatest true pan-stellar supranational organization since before Ragnarok. Inviting almost every starfaring state within navigational range, Endus envisioned a future in which states would see themselves as equals - with Endus as first among equals. As a corollary to this, Endus also proposed a sweeping naval limitation treaty to cover most of known space. In addition to heading off any potential arms races before they becamse self-sustaining the proposal also controlled or outright banned various 'uncivilized' weapons such as umbraships and long-range cruise missiles. While supremely contentious, buy-in from the HGE (facing down a potential arms race with Endus itself and still in the midst of a depression) and Gondwana put enough pressure onto other states that ratification became a possibility. The final push towards broad ratification was the departure of the Enduscaran Expeditionary Force for the distant world of Rubicon; literally overnight the Enduscaran fleet in known space was halved in size at which point ratification went from a trickle to a landslide. As of four decades ago effectively every spacefaring power that could lay claim to a cosmofleet bigger than a handful of light cruisers was a signatory of the Viennes Naval Treaty (the VNT).​

One of the key elements that helped the adoption of the VNT was that for most states it was quite generous; a state with one-tenth the economic strength of Endus could have anywhere between one-seventh and one-fifth its registered fleet tonnage (whichdid not actually equate mass of ships but was instead the result of a more complicated calculation). All but the most militant states found this to comfortably fulfil their defense needs. What was so insidious was the hidden costs of actually doing so: the Enduscaran Federation's massive military was tightly integrated and was backed by an enormous and highly automated industrial capability and as a result could achieve efficiencies of scale that few others could match. In theory an alignment of smaller states would be able to stand up to Endus (or, for that matter, other great powers). In practice such an alignment would be spending its money far less efficiently and would be easy to politically cleave, making it difficult for one such to actually achieve a superior position to the Federation.

Ultimately this scenario never came to pass. Provincial interests meant that most states cared far more about threats and challenges in the near abroad and keeping up with the Joneses, not forming some sprawling alliance to challenge Endus or the other great powers force-on-force. As such the VNT performed admirably and a common sentiment was that it had managed to bring some sanity to spiraling military expenditures. While there were some cheats, for three and a half decades the VNT's military caps and the Panhelios talking shop put a proverbial wet blanket on arms races and excessive interstate conflict.​

An unanticipated (or perhaps to some in the upper echelons of SOLAR, anticipated) effect of the VNT was the hollowing out of many national defense industries. Even with the departure of the EEF Endus still had an enormous fleet mostly consisting of young ships completed within the previous half decade, not to mention many others stored incomplete or never commissioned. As part of its committment to reduce its fleet strength down to that it had granted itself under the VNT, Endus offered warships both complete and incomplete to 'responsible' states at attractive prices. With highly efficient naval yards lying idle and only partially converted to civilian use, the shipbuilding concerns of Endus could continue to do so as the sector was consolidated into the sprawling Endus Shipbuilding Industry Conglomerate (officially abbreviated as ESINCO). A number of other manufacturers saw the writing on the wall and managed to get their own share of a pie that was being progressively divided into fewer and fewer major slices. Hoersch of Kassel and Luftkriegwerft GmbH ​became two prominent defense contractors from the HRE and alongside Royal Bretwaldan Shipwrights these became known as the Big Four. These, alongside the Next Seven and their subsidiaries, eventually accounted for upwards of 90% of all cosmonaval and aerospace programs by Écu exchange rate equivalent.

All this meant that by the time of the Sixth Reflex War the vast majority of warships and aircraft were built by one or more of only eleven manufacturing multinationals. This was rather less than one per four major Panhelios worlds. It is not an exageration to say that the Big Four had all become planetary-scale economies on their own merits. While nationalism among the great powers meant that they used locally-designed and -manufactured equipment, the dozens of also-ran states that populated the Panhelios generally used off the shelf warships and aircraft with only marginal modifications in sensing, command and crypto equipment - this was one of the few fields that truly had a flourishing independent sector. Indeed, within twenty years of the VNT entering into force the Big Four and Next Seven had effectively performed a regulatory capture by getting their products pre-announced. While in many ways the VNT was little more than an honor system with no meaningful enforcement system, the legitimacy of buying craft known to be compliant was a potent motivator.



The Holy Suebi Empire

Theme: High Space Opera
Cues: Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica
Favored Milieu: Heavy Metal

Before the Godswar and Ragnarok, the Suebi Allthing was one of the core constituents of the great Rutasan Accord; old, rich and conservative. Indeed, the capital world itself of Neue Arthas lay inside the borders of the Allthing.
After Ragnarok, the Allthing was shattered. Terrorized by magical war-beasts, homes scorched by vast weapons of war, abandoned by the malfunctioning god-machines, humanity nonetheless hung on and, in a way, thrived. In its place was the Holy Suebi Empire; an empire of blood and iron built from the scattered survivors of one of the most heavily populated parts of the known space. Built in the image of its founding emperor-saint Beowulf Steiner the Empire was a bastion of stability in the tumultuous half-millenia following Ragnarok.
The stability has faltered of late though, and the House of Beowulf's has failed to guide the Empire effectively for well over a full lifetime. Instead the Electors rule now and while they nominally still pay lip service to the Empire, in most ways they are effectively independent states all squabbling for preminence. Some taboos and ancient laws exist merely until a major state too strong to be brutalized for breaking them does exactly that, while others such as the longstanding hostility towards 'witches' remain as strong as they did in the day of Beowulf Steiner.


Volstagg is large gas giant surrounded by orbiting space stations. The world is rich in ether and served as a major fuel provider for the Kaiserliche Sternmarine since before Ragnarök. The space stations are operated by a clan who send mining ships into the Volstagg’s atmosphere to gather ether for processing and to hunt the various beasts which make their home in the world’s turbulent air currents. It is dangerous work which lends itself an air of romanticism with the men and women who plunge into Volstagg as brave as any of the Emperor’s soldiers with many a song of the brave “Wind Riders of Volstagg.” A dozen moons orbit Volstagg containing a wealth of materials and home to mining colonies which also feed the HSE’s industries. Each clan acts as its own independent entity and gather in their own assembly to elect their system’s Jarl to speak for them in the Imperial Diet. The current Högtalarejarl is Lizbeth Lalli, a rather moderate woman who would prefer to see any potential succession issue resolved quickly as her world would be the first target in any future war.


Theme: Conventional Scifi
Cues: Babylon 5, Gundam, SBY
Favored Milieu: Heavy Metal

The Verge

Theme: Posthuman Space
Favored Milieu: Infospace


(approximate, years before present) Union of Progressive Peoples formed in the late Imperial Period.

~1000-750 - Union of Progressive Peoples
~750-550 - Centralized Union (periphery splinters off due to conflicts, waystorms, etc)
~550 - The Overturn
~550-440 - New Men
~440-430 - War of Repudiation
~432 - Flight of New Men to Zorya
~430-150 - Cylord dominance
~410 - Sack of Mir
~400 - Landing on Iskandar
~380 - The Burning of the Books (Iskandar)
~150 - Mastery sweeps Cylords out of the Verge
~140-125 - Mastery takes several treaty ports on Polyarny
~125 - Mastery takeover of Polyarny
~50 - unrest against Mastery occupation increases substantially
~40-33 - Ground war of occupation
33 - Mastery 'localizes' the conflict and pulls troops out
33-32 - Collapse of Mastery-backed government
32-Now - Polyarny People's Republic

The Tsardom of Iskandar Constitutional monarchy with strong monarch Founded by a rogue (if such a term can be used) Cylord disgusted with the infighting between the other Cylords; takes followers and whatever civilians they can grab or recruit and sails south for Iskandar where the latter are dumped and told 'congrats you're all peasants now' while the Cylord proclaims themself the new Tsar of Iskandar. A generation later once everyone is settled, the Tsar orders all history burned and many other books transcribed, falsifying a new history of Iskandar and wiping the record of any connection with the (former) UPP and the Cylords. The true history remained a closely guarded secret by the royal house. Iskandar today is a fairly conventional constitutional monarchy, with a powerful crown and an upper house of nobility.


The bureaucratic center of UPP and the capital after the Overturn, Mir saw widespread fighting at the end of the War of Repudiation. Two decades later it was sacked by several Cylords, as a result the fragile truce between these warlords broke and the collapse of the former UPP worlds into a techo-barbarian dark age became irreversible. It was fought over repeatedly during the three centuries of Cylord dominance and it was a rare decade that it was controlled by a single one of the cyber-warlords. Today Mir is a world of survivors, of scavengers and the shreds of the broken Cylords. Struck briefly by clone-Sanjaks at the end of the Mastery's campaign against the Cylords, even then Mir was all but de-industrialized. Today little exists beyond blacksmiths and the forlorn remnants of the Cylords scrabbling through the tree-encrusted glories of ancient centuries.


Polyarny was a somewhat peripheral world to the old UPP, though it was never cut off from the core worlds such as Mir. Unfortunately, like so many others it fell prey to the nomadic Cylords, with its resources and people plundered over the centuries. Devolved into the techno-barbarism and pastoral sedentarism that characterized the former UPP 'Cylord Steppe' and many other worlds, Polyarny was ripe for capture by the victorious Mastery; something of a high-water mark for the Mastery, the distant empire exerted control over the locals for most of a century. The colonial government could only last so long however, and as the Mastery's grip weakened the flames of revolution were kindled. While governed by the Popular Front of Polyarny since the end of the revolutionary war three decades ago, Polyarny's government is indisputably controlled by the All-Regions Party. Already the recipient of significant military aid smuggled in during the revolutionary war, Polyarny has since undergone a military-industrial revolution with technology transferred from Zorya.


Zorya was settled four centuries ago by elements of the New Men fleeing the Cylord's War of Repudiation,

The Former Mastery

Theme: Torn Apart Empire
Favored Milieu: Sword and Starship

The Drifts

Theme: Pith Helmets and Beasts
Favored Milieu: Steam Trek


The Steppe

The Scabland

A sector of space cataclysmically scoured by the massive ether effluence of two gods committing mutual suicide into one another, life has been slow to recover here. The ether currents have been irrevocably altered and even the worlds themselves show the scars of titanic ether flows.

The Badia

For centuries the Badia has been considered the southern border of 'civilized' space, a natural barrier of arid worlds with thin ether. While the ways are famously clear year-round and storms are rare, the Badia is uninviting and even today traffic across it is only a fraction of that to either side. Only a few oasis dot the Badia and wise or experienced travellers bring ample fuel and supplies for finding more can be difficult at the best of times.
This is not to say the Badia is uninhabited. The tendency towards harsh climates and thin ether means those who do call it home must trade for many essentials of life on a regular basis. As such large sky-caravans regularly cross the Badia, typically using the same ether sails that they have for the past millennia. Some of this has been superseded by trade with the industrialized powers to the north over the past two centuries but as the Badia has very little of value, to this day it remains mostly the domain of local trade.
Of the major powers only Gran Bretwalda has done any form of colonization into the Badia and even those are nothing more than waystations and fueling stops built during the decades of Bretwaldan imperialism south of the Badia. Some have since been retaken by the locals while others are stubbornly maintained, barely paying for themselves on corridors for north-south trade.

The Sapmi

Thousands of years ago the Sapmi was a mildly prosperous corner of space split between a number of polities and faiths. Unfortunately some long forgotten dispute escalated far beyond whatever petty issue sparked it and with their powers, the Gods of Asgard cursed the entire region. As the years rolled into decades and decades into centuries, the stars of the Sampi dimmed, ever so slightly. And so the crops failed, the snow fell in summer, the glaciers advanced and the seas froze. By the Godswar they were all but vacant with their original inhabitants having long since departed to warmer and richer worlds, a state of affairs that has not changed in a millennia.
Life, however, finds a way. As the seas closed and the air chilled, the flora and fauna was forced to adapt or perish. And so they adapted - or perished. The biota on these worlds has adapted itself to the arctic conditions in myriads of ways.

The Tessellation


It is unknown exactly how long the region of space known as the Tessellation has existed, though it predates human exploration. Much else about it is equally mysterious. What is known in broad generalities is that is a sector of space where space itself is damaged. Regular astral irruptions can fill vast areas with deadly radiation and ether storms can whip up from nowhere - or stay standing for centuries. Spatial pockets can open, entrapping unwary in a cold inescapable embrace. Even distances or linear connectivity can distort, leaving to a gruesome death and structural failure.
For all that, some souls do brave the Tessellation. It is an incredibly rich source of ether and other exotic materials and a fortune can be made from its resources. Strange artifacts and ships can even be found. But any such efforts are intrinsically temporary.

Other Stuffs

Corporations of Known Space

Below are some of the more important (and relevant) companies of known space. This is not meant to be a remotely exhaustive list and primarily consists of ones that may be highly relevant to nation-level play such as military contractors.

The Big Four

The Big Four are the four largest military contractors in known space and combined they have a supermajority of all contracts by weighted exchange-rate value.

Headquarters: Endus, Enduscaran Federation
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Warships, Battlecraft, AFVs
The Enduscaran National Shared INdustrial COmpany is the single largest military-industrial concern in known space, the results of Endus combining its various government-owned production facilities under one umbrella group. As such, ENSINCO doesn't technically own most of the industrial facilities it uses, only renting them from the Enduscaran Federation. With access to so many different facilities ENSINCO builds basically everything from jeeps to juggernauts.
ENSINCO has a small civilian sector footprint, being a major player in the (admitedly small) megaton-scale freighter/tanker market, but is otherwise a military contractor. Technically the youngest of the Big Four, ENSINCO's constituent branches often have much longer histories of operation.

Hoersch of Kassel
Headquarters: Kassel, HRE
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Warships
One of the two 'grand old yards' of known space, Hoersch of Kassel is second only to the Royal Bretwaldan Shipwrights in terms of length of operation. Having been founded twelve centuries ago they were a key player in the Rutasan Empire's industrial sector and billions of tons of goods annually flowed on Hoersh of Kassel hulls during the per-Ragnarok golden age. They, like so many others, barely produced any new craft during the worst of Ragnarok and it was not until the reformation under Beowulf Steiner that Hoersch of Kassel was saved from eventual dissolution. In fact up until roughly two centuries ago Hoersh of Kassel had relatively minimal military exposure and was dominated by the freight shipping sector.
An unexpected change in fleet composition that called for a greatly enlarged capital ship inventory was a void that only Hoersch of Kassel could fill thanks to its high-capacity yards; where they would build two or four freighters together would now each build one dreadnought. By a century ago Hoersh of Kassel was the Holy Germanian Empire's premier capital ship contractor, something that has only expanded today with many foreign contracts filling its yards. Hoersch of Kassel today has a balanced portfolio ranging from corvettes to etherstars of various models and marques for most customers. They still do manufacture for the civilian sector though other than the century-old and perennially popular Wirkung IV transport family that can be found across known space in innumerous states of repair, modification and owner, Hoersch of Kassel mostly specializes in high-efficiency container ships for major shipping concerns. Hoersch of Kassel is the second largest of the Big Four by market cap on the strength of their large-ship portfolio.

Royal Bretwaldan Shipwrights
Headquarters: Teignbridge, Bretwalda
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Warships, Liners, Special-purpose ships
One of the oldest continually operating ship-building concerns in known space and certainly by far the oldest of any operating at scale, the Royal Bretwaldan Shipwrights have been building for both the civilian and government market for more than 1,700 years. Having seen multiple era of boom and bust they have persisted over the centuries and built up an unparalleled reputation for both contract fulfilment and budgetary reliability; a policy of always aiming to be the second mover has let them minimize costly innovations and leverage their deep expertise in product management. This is not to say they are boring and unoriginal; they have a corporate motto of 'it just works' and aim to deliver understated luxury and class in their 'Signature' line and top-class product reliability in their 'Star Rover' line. The Royal Shipwrights are one of the largest builders of liners in known space and are a prefered supplier for demanding environments. Their military products share the same ethos and they build everything from corvettes to battleships with the same firm elegance.
The Royal Shipwrights have expanded massively over the past four decades, seizing the opportunity afforded by the VNT to greatly expand their military-side business from the debt-stricken Bretwaldan empire of fifty years ago and leverage that into greater play in the government and civilian sector. Of the Big Four, the Royal Shipwrights have the third-highest market cap and by far the largest civilian sector footprint, and like Hoersch of Kassel they are solely focussed on ship construction.

Luftkriegswerks GmbH
Headquarters: Kassel, HRE
Milieu: Sword and Starship
Primary Products: Light ships, Battlecraft
Known simply as LKW, the Luftkriegswerks are the smallest of the Big Four and the only one that didn't build its fortune on VNT-compliant capital ships. Instead, LKW focusses on small craft from dragoons to aerospace fighters to battle mecha. This is a more competitive market but over the past three centuries LKW was played the game well and acquired various competitors and built many cutting-edge vehicles.
LKW is the only of the Big Four with no direct civilian sector exposure or product line, though some of its products have been used in unorthodox situations, e.g. water bombers. LKW is the smallest of the Big Four by market cap and also the most innovative - and, it should be said, most expansion-minded.

The Next Seven

The Next Seven are seven major military contractors that, while not on the scale of the Big Four, are nonetheless still of significance. Any one is large enough to be a national champion, though compared to the Big Four they do tend to specialize a bit more, or simply not have the same production volume.

Headquarters: Delphi
Milieu: Sword and Starship
Primary Products: Light ships, Battlecraft, Luxury craft
Sibyl A.E is the largest independent arms manufacturer in Delphi with the sales of the Ares Polemtech's large but unprofitable warship division to Hoersch of Kassel some three decades ago in the wake of the Amazonian War. Recognized for more than a century as known space's premier luxury craft designer, Sibyl has long upheld a committment to quality and performance. Their various product lines have generally been classified as 'semimilitary', making them popular among the hyper-rich, paramilitary forces and nation-states with an appreciation for - and willingness to pay for - style. Compared to most of their competitors Sibyl's products tend to be relatively lightly equipped and many traditionalists consider them expensive toys, but products bearing the Sibyl logo are also built to the highest quality.

Headquarters: Himalda, Gondwana
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Warships, Battlecraft
The largest Gondwanan

The remaining five are placeholders for PCs that wish to host one of the Next Seven. Preference will be given to concepts that fit the established theme.

Hillux Heavy Industries
Headquarters: [TBD]
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Light ships, Battlecraft, Frontier-ready shipping
The go-to contractor for those on a budget, Hillux Heavy Industries (HHI, or simply Hillux) competes on two points; price and rugged reliability. While generally seen as low-capability by the larger states with the budget to spare, a Hillux corvette to guard a mining operation beats no guard - and the Hillux will last twice as long between major overhauls as any other. As such Hillux is a relatively high volume, low-margin producer with a strong presence in the frontier sector.

Headquarters: [TBD]
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: Warships, AFVs
The ultimate in affordable, MOND is notorious for supplying the lowest prices going but with products that are of sometimes questionable capability. MOND approaches their equipment sales as loss leaders, relying instead on service contracts to remain profitable. MOND hardware is generally considered low quality and inflexible, though more than one battle has been lost by underestimating a squadron of well-used MOND warships. While not deliberately marketing to outlaws MOND has certainly earned a reputation for willful blindness and has few scruples in who it sells to.

Headquarters: [TBD]
Milieu: Heavy Metal
Primary Products: [TBD]

Headquarters: [TBD]
Milieu: Sword and Starship
Primary Products: [TBD]

Headquarters: [TBD]
Milieu: Sword and Starship
Primary Products: [TBD]