The Core is deified by her citizens as the brilliant source of all Imperial power. Every 100 years the Emperor boards his capital cruiser Sempiria and makes his pilgrimage into the heart of the star. His ship returns without him. Passing through the veil he enters the City of Rings, gateway to the Infinite Realm. and crosses into legend. The heir to the throne, also aboard the Sempiria, returns from the journey profoundly changed- bearing the mark of apotheosis, and crowned in light as the new Emperor or Empress.
All Coredawn content is Copyright (c) Brian Hull 1992-2018
The focus of stories in the Coredawn universe center around the Imperium, the stronghold of humanity based around a giant central star called The Core. The current year is 3655 eCD (extant CoreDate). Starting from the Core and moving outward the closest planets and most important to the Empire are called the core worlds, further out you find the rim worlds, beyond them the veil worlds, then a vast band of nothingness called the Shadowvast. Within the Shadowvast and beyond it are the “dark worlds” most of which are uncharted and nameless. Humanity’s sudden and catastrophic rise according to popular Imperium folklore began thousands of years ago when the Core burst into new being, intensifying into a much larger star and sending a band of “core light” out in all directions that pushed back the darkness and set the stage for humanity to flourish across the galaxy from their birth place on a single world.
That single world was Aldaun, which is now the capital world of the Imperium. Click the images below to familiarize yourself with basic information about the eight Core Worlds of the Imperium.
The Core itself according to Imperial tradition is not just a star, but a semi-sentient deific presence, within which lies an extra-dimensional gateway known as the City of Rings- standing as
a boundary to the Infinite Realm, the place to which all conscious beings must retire after death. This amounts to something of a religion that not all imperial citizens believe, but what none would argue is that the Core is very powerful and vital to the survival of the Imperium. Corelight is energy harnessed directly from the Core, which fuels the Empire’s most powerful warships and is used to charge and fire its most devastating weapons. Corelight is also used for near instantaneous travel and is even said to have physically restorative power.
The Imperial way of life is vast and complex, with billions upon billions of people living their lives in the classic sci-fi universe sort of way. There are skycars and floating mansions (palansions),
buildings soaring hundreds of stories into the sky, hologram advertising and video display on most articles of clothing. TCVs (terrain contact vehicles) still roam the labyrinthine city streets
below and machines and robots work alongside humans. The poorest folk have the worst jobs, society is stratified into classes and on most imperial worlds those who are poor remain so and those
who are of great wealth will never know what it is like to be poor- with a few exceptions.
Imps’ or Imperial Enforcers are the white armored police, and breaking the law is very strictly punished. The worst criminals may serve a brief (enemies of the Imperium would be an exception to “brief “) term on the prison planet Terseus before they
are “encoded” which is a legal process that results in the guilty party having his or her surname removed and replaced by a numbered code, such as Thomas 9C471. This code allows any who do business
with the person to immediately tell what sort of crime they were involved with. It is highly illegal and brutally punished if one is caught speaking, writing, signing, or doing business based on the former name a criminal had before the encoding. An encoded criminal cannot pass his or her name to children, and in the case of both parents being encoded the child will have a surname
assigned by the state.
Assuming you don’t break the law so badly to be encoded the Imperium has a program formerly called “criminal under terms” which mandatory labor usually a form of direct atonement for the crime committed. “CRUT” has become the popular abbreviation of this and is no longer used in official documents (replaced with CIUT for citizen under terms). “Crut” has since become one of the worst insults available in common slang. Calling someone a crut is about as low as it gets. Sicon is also insulting but to a lesser degree, a sicon is “status imperial convicted” and applies to anyone who has ever been convicted of a crime. When applying for jobs if you omit “sicon status” you can get in big trouble.
In the Imperium each core world has its own distinct culture and way of life, and though migration between planets is possible and even encouraged, the vast majority of citizen scientists on
the planet Sypsus for example, will live their entire lives there. Even criminal justice is dealt with planet-by-planet, so long as the crime is not against the state.
Brief Character Example:
Bronn lives on the planet Rinlon, the largest of the core worlds and the most “earth like”. The capital city of the entire world is Niova; a massive sprawling necropolis that reaches deep into the sky with roots that go deep underground. Bronn works as a forensic specialist for a small private firm called Under Light, a crime scene inventory company. Every day Bronn heads out of his “tube” a long rectangular style apartment 21 stories under ground in the Vasault Corporation building (many large companies lease excavated space beneath them to apartment rental companies). Bronn generally doesn’t venture above “street zero” or the ground level of roads- driving his modest slip-scooter to work. A few hundred feet over his head is street web 1, and above that web 2, and so on up to web 6. The higher one goes the wealthier the businesses, the customers, and the people who live at that level. The street webs above 1 are suited only for skycars and rail-freight; anything with wheels has to drive on street zero or SW1 (to abbreviate).
At work Bronn goes to a shabby locker and signs out his kit before heading to a scene, usually by gravitube (high speed elevator) to get to the higher levels and skycab it to the job site. More often than not he is sent on high-credit theft cases. His kit allows him to analyze particles in the air and pick up even the slightest traces of blood, perfume, sweat, or any other agent that might provide some insight into who did the deed. Most often his company is subcontracted by the Imperial Enforcers for a logged crime, but sometimes he gets hired privately when someone wants to investigate on their own.
After a long day sniffing the air, and gulfing down a zipwrap sandwich (pull a cord and the plastic wrapping disintegrates) he treats himself to a thermos of coffee from the nearest posh place he wouldn’t normally get to (most street zero citizens need special credentials to take the gravitube higher than SW1), he heads back to work, signs in his kit fills out his logs on the private network, and goes home.
At this point he’d probably kick back and fire up the wall (TV basically), waiting for his older model mod-u-rest bed to reshape itself into an easy chair, and see if there’s a game on. Maybe ripper ball (like air hockey with people using levi-skates, hitting the ball off panels and either into a hole for a big score or into an opposing player- knockdown gets points), or edge (balance game of combat with coloful sticks on the high walls of a maze, the walls get thinner as the game goes on, falling off means landing in a sort of freeze dried soup that takes forever to crawl out of,
last one on the wall wins for his/her team).
He’ll probably be bombarded by ads for a better higher level apartment the marketing AI thinks he can afford (if he cuts coffee out of his routine and sells his bike he could get an older one with no payments), and then QOLs (quality of life ads) meant to fire him up and inspire pursuit of the almighty credit. QOL ads play for the rich and poor alike: perhaps you’d like a beautiful Symborn companion, or a week’s vacation at a sparkling resort on the ocean world of Aquovis, maybe even an ad-bundled skycar (skycars go through ad gates as they drive- pay less for your car get more ads), then of course there are ads for the local eateries and bars, Upside-Town is the biggest in his area, but it’s too noisy and he’s pretty sure there are a lot of illegal drugs going on there (like “vite” which is rubbed on the skin like lotion or “hadro” pills tha dissolve in liquid).
Bronn used to sign up for enough MNET bandwidth for holo-dating, but decided most of them were scams or synthetics and it was a bit pricey so now he’s back to basic holocast video and music.
Bronn’s monthly spending money would probably amount to a few hundred credits.
So Bronn is low class. Here is an example of high class:
We’ll call her Droxia, a stage name probably that stuck and she won’t hear anything else. Droxi lives in Aldaun, in New Aradyn city, the capital of the Empire. She used to choreograph elaborate gymnastic and laser routines used to back up some of the biggest names in showbusiness. She even did all the presentation work for Legion’s All World Wonder tour, and had drinks with Satra the lead singer herself. Droxia is beautiful, and she’s paid for it. Sleep massagers, ingestable skin-toners, a rigorous workout routine at Apex, one of New Aradyn’s most exclusive spa resorts- covering everything from water meditation to REM resistance training.
She lives on the 441st story of the luxurious gold skinned Garan-Kruppe Tower, GK being a juggernaut that provides legal council to some of the largest core world corporations. Droxia is divorced, having been married for only six months before deciding her work was of vastly more importance. She is in the process of purchasing an advertising firm which she wants to rebuild in her image- providing insourced campaigns and adware for her choreography business, and outsourced ad campaigns leaning on her good name to drum up extra revenue. she could care less about the products, all publicity is good publicity.
When she’s not designing shows, working out, or chatting up wealthy friends at hot spots like the Shaupman Club or Orsia Lounge, Droxia indulges her passion for being among the first to eat or be seen at whatever new venue or restaurant is opening up at least “triple up” meaning 300th story or above, wherever it is. Triple up as a term is familiar on most core worlds, and even used as an insult to folks less fortunate.
Her vast veranda is ideal for parties, and she has lots of them. Of course any good party needs Symborn eye candy, to pose as statues painted gold or pass out drinks- but she loves the human touch as well, and sends out scouts at least a month in advance. Models hired to attend must sign brutal contracts stating that if they cancel for any reason the penalty is hell on earth. Droxia’s ambient models are hand selected for knowledge in music, literature (even manuscript- ie going way back to printed books), history, war, technology, you name it. It is at these parties that Droxi
greases palms and makes dreams come true- furthering her own business ambitions by buliding bridges and helping others do the same. Of course none of it is illegal but if someone gets hurt she tries to make sure it’s someone with little recourse. And a party isn’t a party with a good water shaper- these monk-like practitioners with mastery over water help to fashion great floating cubes of water that serve like pools hovering over Droxi’s own infinite pool that dives off into the nigh turning into mist some 5000 feet above street level. Guests can swim in the cubes and drop from one cube into another, until they burst out the bottom and land in the pool. Other water artistries might include a scalable staircase, levitating whirlpool or “water vines” snake-like tendrils of decorative colored water, often holding lights inside. Water shapers are expensive, and many of course refuse to lower themselves to doing such a party, but there’s always someone.
The exception to Droxi’s power would come into play if she were to be caught disrespecting a specific Imperial custom, statute, or abusing an Imperial enforcer. Though corporate might is often decried as the greatest power in the Empire, the largest corporate armada isn’t even a fraction of the Imperial navy and on the Emperor’s homeworld of Aldaun her citizens do well to respect the Empire at every opportunity.
Droxi probably enjoys over a million credits in disposable income every month.
So aside from your typical sci-fi professions (and regular professions) there are several unique to the Coredawn universe:
Techrinaut – these are autistic techno geniuses bordering on supernatural. though not necessarily impaired in any social way the techrinauts or generally eccentric and obsessed with technology. Their specific gift is that they can near instantly grasp not only the correct use of any technology they put their hands on, but master it.
Shapers – earth, air, fire, water. elemental mystics who can shape and manipulate the elements. the kingdom of Yad, far to the east of Aravune (where the capital is) on Aldaun, is the source
of the shapers and there the largest temples dedicated to their disciplines can be found
Sensates – masters of emotion, many Imperial inquisitors have at least some sensuation ability- a truly powerful sensate will see his target’s feelings as floating orbs of color; red, yellow, green,
blue, etc. Capable of manipulating the emotions of others and even killing with psychic overload, an example of a sensate overdoing it would be collecting someone’s jaundia (fear energy) and multiplying
it, blasting it into their mind over and over with a simple gesture until the person goes into cardiac shock from total overload of fear. This type of activity is strictly forbidden, and the attack
of a sensate takes time so there are relatively few cases of sensate killing sprees.
Arcromancers – unarmed combat masters who have learned to use the harmony between objects to project force. Their attacks are executed as normal unarmed maneuvers but in the case of the most
powerful arcromancers could strike their target upwards of 100 feet away. they are also far more powerful than any normal practitioner of the martial arts, and one strike from an elder
Arcromancer would crush and kill most normal humans. Arcrimancy as it is called takes quite a while to master and few have achieved the highest ranks of its secretive order.
So in a nutshell what is the idealized purpose of the Imperium?
The Imperium serves to unite and protect humankind. The core worlds are each absolutely vital to the strength of the Empire, and many of the Rim Worlds serve to bolster Imperial power by
contributing to the “Gavon Slag Column” (the unending freight stream of metals transported from mining colonies all over the galaxy to Gavon the Imperial forge world and divided into resources
for all core worlds), or providing other types of trade, exploration, scientific research or personell. The Imperium seeks to protect humankind first and foremost from the darkness of the Akuun’Dur.
What is the Akuun’Dur?
If darkness, silence and fear have a name it is Akuun’Dur. This is the Ildiri name for a vast alien presence of pure evil that hides itself in a chaotic dimensional “flip side” of the known universe. According to Imperial lore the first successful jump cruiser ever built by man ended up breaching a dimensional shell and discovering a pitched battle between the unknown race of the Ildira and darkness itself. The Empire, primitive though it was at that time, wasted no time in deciding which side to take and sent a vast armada of warships to aid the Ildira. Thus an alliance of blood was formed and a peaceful bond between two vast empires that has lasted now for 1000s of years. Unfortunately this interruption alerted the Akuun’Dur (the empty dark in Ildiran) to humanity’s presence, and the darkness counter attacked. Great Morarch battleships, so black they could only be seen as a hole in the stars, descended on the Imperium, and the nations of humankind were not ready. It was at this moment that the Core itself resisted, unleashing an impossible shockwave of light and heat that spared the worlds of the Imperium but blasted away the
incursion of darkness. The Core had awoken. And the Akuun’Dur, though pushed back beyond the shadowvast, would not give up their insatiable need to consume the light and from that moment
began waging their unceasing war, gnawing at the edges of Imperial power.
In popular use the term “Akuun’Dur” is forbidden. The Empire does not want their name on the tongues of its citizens unless they are in possession of a military clearance.
When the Akuun’Dur descend upon a planet they use anti-energy weapons to blast apart the garrison fleet with pure darkness. Their largest ships, sometimes 100 miles in length or more, are called
Morarchs. These Morarchs will drop dark entities to the surface to clear the toughest pockets of resistance before the Morarch itself begins vomiting forth a great dark bile known as the “black tide”.
This all consuming sentient froth spreads in all directions until it coats the entire planet, a process which may take up to an Imperial year. When the froth washes over living beings it paralyzes them,
filling their mouths, eyes and lungs. Once the planet is entirely coated it vanishes leaving only an empty hole in space- disappearing to the “other side”. According to rumor and semi-credible classified
Imperial leaks, the Akuun’Dur reanimate these planets in their own dimension, forcing the inabitants to carry on a hellish sort of unlife so that the darkness may study them, and learn. All who are
consumed by the Akuun’Dur surrender their minds and memories utterly, and the darkness grows more devious.
What are the Ildir?
Ildiri people are highly intelligent humanoids, more slender than humans and hairless, without any nose to speak of. They wear elaborate headdresses. Their homeworld of Ilduun is a massive world, ten times the size of Aldaun, and covered with everything from sprawling jungle to vast fortress cities to great snowbound mountain peaks. Ilduun is far too distant to be reached by standard travel, and it was not until the Imperium had mastered core light travel that it became feasible. Since then the two races have shared much technology back and forth, and the Ildiri have told the Emperor all they know of their oldest enemy.
Notable technology of the Ildiran Empire is the ability to “glace” a planet, which is a process of using a capital ship’s beam of absolute zero to freeze the entire world. For thousands of years before humankind met them the Ildira had been glacing planets to stop the Akuun’Dur from taking them after the world was lost. Over the centuries Ildiran technology has helped transform the Imperial
navy into an immensely powerful military force.
What are Symborn?
Symborn are synthetic humans. They use nanotech biology and are virtually indistinguishable save their tendency to be tall and comely. Symborn bear a nanite keymark as proof of their artificial status.
This is a black barcode on their side lower neck that marks them from flesh all the way to the spinal column, making it virtually impossible to remove. Humans are traditionally not allowed to mark the Symborn, and this operation is overseen by MIL (machine intellect labor) units on Obitron. Mather Prime itself oversees the production of Symborn.
Symborn are used for labor but generally only in cosmetic rolls as the cost of buying a Sym is often prohibitive. They are only slightly stronger than humans and have over centuries been used less and
less for warfare and hard labor and more and more for the softer pursuits (synthetic soldiers are manufactured separately on Galidor and are highly classified). Symborn can be custom made as celebrity
clones (which for some celebrities earns them far more credits than direct sales of their material), but must be registered as such through a complex process to insure there are never more than a given number of clones in the same area. “skinsuits” is the derogatory name for them. Syms bleed red, need to breathe (though they cannot suffocate but merely shut down temporarily), can sleep and even dream. most newer models are capable of eating and drinking in small quantities as well, though no symborn needs to eat or drink to survive. Symborn children are not built. SEDL or the Symborn Emigration Defense League is the loudest activist group campaigning for Sym rights. Symborn are often destroyed for violence against humans, and the SADL feels they are not given fair hearings in such circumstances. The penalty for unlawful killing of a symborn is strictly financial unless “sadistic intent” can be proved in which case the attack is treated as though against a human.
The wealthy will use Symborn for everything from errand running to recreational sex. Syms can also be built as translators, and those that still work outside the purview of a human guardian are most
likely to be found either in some sort of robotic data-mining job or as entertainers. There are a few Symborn only clubs scattered throughout the Imperium but humans cannot legally be barred from
them, though often Syms will refuse to speak when in such a place so “biogens” as they call humans are not usually interested in sticking around.
What is Mather Prime? The absolute apex of artificial intelligence, Mather Prime is a single intelligent machine, seated in a deep underground complex beneath the surface of Obitron. Mather Prime manifests as a great talking face over a lake of mercury. The paragon of AI works with the Emperor but is allowed great freedom to dream and research on its own. Mather Prime or just “Prime” has access to nearly every connected system in the entire Imperium, though the noise this generates is generally tuned out unless it has reason to look somewhere. It has no ill will for humanity and a strong logical dislike for the Akuun’Dur due to their lust for darkness and silence; a cessation of all input and therefore the anathema of a deep thinking machine of such power as Mather Prime.
What are the different races in the Imperium?
The most humanlike races that can be found commonly throughout the Imperium are Human, Sapiaverro, Crimsar, Merawn, and Yadjin.
Humans are the most numerous, and will vary by planet or sometimes by region (humans from Gavon have unusually gray skin, humans from southern Aldaun have very dark skin, humans from Yad have tawny skin and narrow eyes).
Sapiaverro are green skinned humanoids nearly identical to humans save 4 fingers and 4 toes. They come from subterrannean jungles beneath the southern surface of Aldaun, in a vast hollow realm
called the Savora. Sapiav is the singular, Sapia is plural. The unpleasant slang name for them is vagro, a mish mosh of vegetable and grown, making fun of their affinity for all things flora.
Sapia tend to be unambitious and accel at careers close to the land such as horticulture and farming.
Crimsar came about on the forge world Gavon after in the year 1441 a wily scientist managed to gene splice magnaura (native volcanic dwelling quadrupeds) and human embryos, creating a breed of demi-humans highly resistant to heat and toxicity. Over a few decades the formula was perfected and now the active mining force on Gavon is roughly 60% Crimsar. Crimsar have unusually red skin,
dark hair and dark eyes. They tend to be slightly shorter than normal humans, six foot maximum, and strongly built. other than red skin and dark nails as hard as stone they are identical to humans and Crimsar-Human unions are quite common on Gavon. They are sometimes called Crim or Cringe, and they hate both. Crimsar are most comfortable working with metal, preferably underground and
are sensitive to light. They tend to have slightly less manual dexterity than most humans but are more rugged.
Meranna (plural of Merawn) were similarly created on the water world Aquovis when an endangered race of mer-humanoids was discovered and bred with humans in what was at first an illegal ocean floor laboratory. That was nearly 1200 years ago and Meranna have since spread far and wide. They are most common on water worlds such as Aquovis and the quieter core worlds such as Phater and Sypsus. Meranna have very pale green or blue skin and very light eyes with large pupils. They excel at intellectual pursuits and by and large see all life as sacred. Their most common unpleasant nickname is “seaweed”
Yadjin (pronounced Yad-Yeen) are descended from the ancient mystical race that ruled Yad thousands of years ago before the time of the Imperium. They are tall with pale skin and dark hair, and
live on average 300 years. Yaj is a common name for them that is not celebrated nor hated, “squint” being the most unpleasant nickname that is heard. Yadjin works for both singular and plural.
They excel at scholarly pursuits and the great libraries of the Cilestial Citadel are said to full of Aldaun’s prehistory- the Yadjin are said to bear a great pain in their souls as they can in
dreams recall the world before light, a great period of darkness before technology existed, and before the light of the Core pierced the black clouds that covered the world. It was not Aldaun
then, but Drakauna, of which only the Yadjin could speak of. Yadjin tend to avoid official military pursuits but the Celestial Steward has a very powerful force of elite fighters that must be
counted among the best in the Empire. Martial prowess comes naturally to them, especially when fighting without weapons, but Yad is a nation of great natural beauty, and most of the Yadjin
prefer the quiety life. Those found in other nations or on other worlds tend to be teachers, artists, or musicians.
These three are not core worlds, but are important to the narrative thus far. Sekris is the setting for Loa’s Secret, the Eye of Ozuar is a nexus of unfathomable darkness, and Drocia is an ancient world formerly held as a farwatch outpost by the Imperial armada- it’s great cities were consumed and destroyed by what has come to be known as the ‘Drocian Worm’, a massive silicon based life-form that was planted miles beneath the surface by the Akuun’Dur, the dark soulless enemies of the Empire.