The Starpath Lore Guides are a set of 8 guides, written up by Facepunch user Sega Saturn in anticipation of Scoundrels of the Interstellar Highway. They detail certain aspects of the lore that were originally developed in Journey Across the Galaxy.
Humanity and Factions in SpaceEdit
I've had a few requests on Steam to explain the basics of the lore in the Starpath universe. While I stand by my statement that reading the previous game is totally unnecessary to newcomers, I've decided to write a few short guides for the benefit of newcomers who want a head-start going in.
Keep in mind that the lore is slightly fluid, and new events are added to the timeline often. Others are sometimes adjusted to add new details. Nobody "owns" the universe overall, but some writers have greater creative control over certain sections, and we encourage collaboration. So without further ado, let's talk about humans.
Humans began venturing out into the galaxy starting in the year 2232. They encountered various forms of alien life in their travels, and were soon introduced to the UGC, or United Galactic Community. Think about it as the "Space UN." As the humans explored and colonized other planets, they established a variety of governments and powerful privatized factions, which weren't always peaceful. Although the UGC was ready to recognize humanity's place within the community, the lack of a generally-recognized human state made negotiations difficult. After a century of uncontrolled expansion, Terra (formerly called Earth) worked to establish such a state in the 2340s, known as the Sol System Government.
Throughout the 2350s and 60s, Sol was preoccupied with extremist factions within the system and in nearby star systems. In the latter decade, the formation of the Sol Defense Force lead to a military campaign to restore peace. As a result of their efforts, the SSG now controls the most populous human planets and is generally recognized as the foremost voice of humanity. However, many colony planets, corporations, and mercenary groups still fiercely proclaim their independence, and for years the UGC struggled to resolve "private wars" between the innumerable human factions. In 2382, one such war (the Oracle War) resulted in a massive attack against the UGC itself.
In the aftermath, it became clear to the leaders of Sol that the UGC would soon be torn apart by in-fighting and international calls-to-arms. To avoid becoming entangled, Sol resigned from full membership, setting off a chain of high-profile resignations. Conducting negotiations bilaterally, the SSG has protected its neutrality so far, while the various factions have experienced widely differing outcomes.
Viper123_SWE was the primary creator of the Sol System Government and the SDF.
The Sanghvi and the Former MantleEdit
The galaxy is divided into four quadrants, similar to a world map. Terra and human space are positioned in the southwest and southeast quadrants. Players of the first game introduced numerous alien races, and out of a desire to create intersecting histories, tended to place them in proximity to each other. This filled the southeast and northeast quadrants completely, but left the western quadrants mostly empty. Today we'll talk about the one of the races which exist in the east: the sanghvi, and their rise and fall.
The sanghvi are a strange race of non carbon-based life whose biology would take an entire post to explain. They arose from the Patagonia Asteroid Field in the outer fringes of the northeast quadrant in ancient times, before establishing a vast hegemonic empire known as the Mantle. The empire, one of the first of its size in galactic history, was constructed in a way which preserved the structure and culture of smaller nation-states within, and had reached full-maturity by the time humans were building Stonehenge. Tragically, the Mantle eventually became the target of terrible xenophobia by newer, carbon-based civilizations which arose in its wake, such as the kanads and the ayr.
The UGC, partially founded to provide a unified front against the perceived sanghvi menace, was leveraged by the kanads to start a horrific war in the mid 2300s. Initially conceived as a simple border conflict, the war continued to worsen as the years dragged by. The surprise destruction of the entity known as the "Librarian" which was the origin of the sanghvi race marked a turning point, to which the sanghvi responded with reckless brutality by unleashing a genocide against the kanads, focused on the planet Spirra. As a result of attrition and failing political support, the Mantle suddenly imploded into civil war during the 2370s. Most of its holdings were occupied or reformed into UGC-backed governments, leaving the now-rebounding sanghvi race with a thirst for revenge.
The Sanghvi were created by Deathgrunt.
The Kanad Collective and OffworldersEdit
Highly organized and violent by nature, the kanads are the antithesis to both humans and sanghvi. Named for their icy and inhospitable homeworld, Kanadys, this goblin-like race of calculating, fanged creatures originated via planned evolution from a mysterious precursor race, sharing common ancestors to the khergians of Rigel. Having nearly destroyed themselves with nuclear weapons many centuries ago, the kanads established a monolithic world government known as the Collective to enforce unity and progress. They have since turned their aggression outward and carved out a sizeable empire in the east.
Becoming interstellar in the 18th century, the kanads fought a long and difficult war against pirates from the nomadic serek race, building the now-vaunted Black Fleet in the process. In 2025, they used their might to crush and subjugate the hapless phiri race of Koda, and coerced other nearby races into client-state status, encountering true resistance only from the khergians. The outward expansion slowed with the creation of the UGC, which was backed by the Collective for the purpose of containing and defeating the sanghvi. Although severely wounded by the war, the kanads have emerged as the strongest single state in the galaxy, rivaled mostly by human factions. As of 2385, the Collective is seeking to capitalize on the Mantle's downfall, as well as the breakup of the UGC.
Kanad society is divided into two castes: the empowered Highbloods, which contain the Rozel, Sidikan, and Vor'Pangn clans, and the subservient Lowbloods, containing hundreds of smaller clans as well as non-kanad citizens, such as the phiri. Although the vast majority of Highbloods are loyal to the Collective regime, there are some who leave its jurisdiction in search of work abroad. While doing so is permitted, the state resents these so-called "Offworlders" and actively harasses them with a sophisticated and feared State Security apparatus. Offworlders also commonly encounter discrimination from other races, and so they are tantalized by the concept of liberty, which seems perpetually out of reach.
The kanads are my own creation.
Other Eastern Civilizations- the Ayr and the KhergiansEdit
Just as I explained in the first guide post, the game's lore isn't fully concrete. There are many civilizations in-universe which are only vaguely understood or have histories which will be defined in greater detail in the sequel. Aside from the three I outlined above, there are only two other races which I feel that new players ought to get acquainted with ahead of time, due to their shared history with the other races and relevance to the plot of the sequel.
First are the ayr of the same-named planet Ayr. Their society can be described as aristocratic, traditional, and mercantile, and possesses a certain stateliness which other nations envy. Their emperor, respected as a demigod, rules over a two-tiered nobility. The higher tier is composed of a dozen "High Houses," which in turn control Guilds that serve economic and government purposes. The "Low Houses" which comprise the lesser tier are not as empowered, and derive their political power through subservience to a High House (referred to as a "Master House" in this relationship) and the guild managed by said house. This leads to competition, as well as the changing fortunes of the lower houses.
The ayr tend to view other races with disdain, and have taken steps to ensure their political independence and cultural integrity. The ayr cooperated with the UGC in ways which were profitable, but avoided unwanted commitments wherever possible. They practice diplomacy far more than war, and with good reason- The ayr communicate through telepathy. Ayr diplomats are difficult to deceive, and ayr merchants are neigh-impossible to cheat. That being said, the ayr are not above war when war is perceived as necessary. The ayr readily sided with the kanads during their war with the sanghvi, despite their contempt for the former and their malignant Collective. The reason was to defeat what they perceived as an existential threat within the sanghvi hive-mind. While this was not quite an accurate understanding of the sanghvi race, few can deny that victory was beneficial to ayr commerce in the aftermath.
Further south, between human and kanad space, lies the frozen planet Rigel and the tribal khergian race. As mentioned before, the khergians share a common ancestor with the kanads. However, while the kanads turned out small and rather fragile, the khergians developed into tall, robust beings. Their civilization is less technologically advanced than any of those described so far, and they have yet to establish their own interstellar space industry. Instead, they have opted to open their planet's economy to trade ships from other galactic states, leading to work-exchange programs, especially with human factions. And while Rigel's many clans often fight petty wars, the khergians have long been at peace with their interstellar neighbors. All except for one glaring exception.
The ayr and the khergians were both created by Radley.
The Siege of RigelEdit
Centuries ago, the khergians and kanads sought to cooperate, as the latter were vulnerable for many decades during their conflict with the serek pirates. After the creation of the Black Fleet and the Collective's transformation into a military power, relations rapidly deteriorated. The kanad state, in its quest for regional domination, labeled the khergians as an inferior race, and Rigel as a backwards planet in need of intelligent leadership. After the destruction of Koda, the kanads attempted to strong-arm the khergians into submission without a similar mass bombing strategy, a technique they were using successfully elsewhere to build their empire. Khergians abroad soon had their rights stripped from them and were forced into slavery. Precision strikes were then launched against khergian trade ports, and terrorism, perpetrated by the kanad SS, was widespread.
However, the kanads completely underestimated the khergians' resolve and ability to unite against a common foe. Utilizing their outdated equipment to its fullest, the khergians gave every bit as much as they got on Rigel. While the kanads could commit more and more soldiers and equipment, they were matched every step of the way by a race unwilling to be dominated. Prisoners of war, taken during the siege, were asked by their interrogators what they thought would happen if Kanadys brought its full strength against Rigel, as it did with Koda. The khergians would often reply fatalistically: "then we all die." The kanads quickly realized that no amount of violence could bring the khergians to the negotiation table. The only options were to give up the campaign, or exterminate the entire khergian race.
In truth, the kanads lacked the resources to commit another atrocity on the scale of Koda. The destruction of Koda, being more of a political decision than one of military strategy, had exhausted the fleet's heavy ordinance stockpiles for the sake of shock and awe. The Collective lacked the industrial capacity to replace it all at a time when more ships were needed to patrol the state's vastly expanded sphere of influence. Moreover, destroying Rigel carried no strategic, economic, or political advantage which could ever justify such a gruesome undertaking. Unfortunately, the leader of the Collective, the now-reviled Kapela Vor'Pangn, refused to accept defeat and continued escalating until her assassination in 2037.
After a full decade of increasing violence, the khergians finally sensed victory as the Black Fleet began to depart. Peace, however, has forever eluded the two races, as successive generations of kanad leadership viewed the conflict as a humiliation, and have sought vengeance at every opportunity that a supposed khergian "provocation" presented itself, as recently as during the Kanad-Sanghvi War. The khergians have so far repelled every kanad incursion, and have also secured the release of those enslaved populations within kanad-held territory. A large reason for their success is tied to the UGC, with its mediating powers. But the UGC isn't what it used to be, since the humans left. In fact, the next time the khergians face an invasion, it might not come just from the kanads.
The Rise and Fall of the Mercenary UnionEdit
When humanity made its great leap into the stars, it never anticipated the turmoil that lay ahead. Indeed, in a galaxy ripe with precious resources, advanced knowledge and technology, and boundless latitude, the general expectation held by the naïve multitude was an end to scarcity and a chance for absolute peace. In truth, these bounties only stoked the fires of greed and ambition. As humans watched the eastern empires maim each other in the worst war seen in centuries, they too became embroiled in their own local conflict, the birth of the Sol System Government. By the end of the 2360s, a decade of severe upheaval, smaller states were desperate for security and turned to hired guns for help.
Many of today's largest mercenary organizations have existed for far longer than the 2370s, but at the turn of the decade a plethora of veterans from conflicts far and wide massively expanded the ranks to meet growing demand. As these groups expanded in size and influence, they became less stable, splintering and harboring ill-will. The border states which hired them found not security but rather more trouble than ever. It finally boiled over in 2373, on the planet Trixina. There, diplomats from the lesser states had come to a well-known hotel to find common ground, but in a tragic miscalculation, brought along their mercenary representatives to assist in the negotiations. Three mercenary factions, for reasons totally separate from the political forces which employed them, chose to attack a fourth on the spot to settle an old grudge. The massacre that followed caught so many innocent bystanders in the crossfire that it made headlines across the entire galaxy.
It wasn't the first incident, but it was finally enough to distract the UGC from the war in the east. With support from both Sol and the Collective, new galactic laws were enacted placing harsh regulations on mercenary factions. A new arbitration body, the Mercenary Union, was created to resolve disputes before they could erupt into violence. In practice, however, it was a sham. Larger groups held all the power and influence, and used it to capture monopolies over key industries associated with the trade. It should come as no surprise, then, that as soon as the UGC began to fade in the wake of the Oracle War, the Union collapsed unceremoniously. There is an ongoing push to create a new, more functional union to replace it, but most of the major factions remain independent.
In my next post, I'll give details about the factions themselves, and in my eighth and final post, we'll talk about private armies- their differences from mercenary groups, their responsibility for the Oracle War, and their recent activities in the southwest quadrant.
Kilerabv was the primary creator of the Mercenary Union.
The Various Mercenary FactionsEdit
This guide will be formatted as a list, because there's so much to cover.
The Boome Marines: Until recently, the Boomes were a mysterious organization of masked soldiers known for poor discipline and high casualty rates. They've been working to dispel this image, especially after they decided to reveal what they had been hiding behind the masks. The Boomes are all clones of a failed super-soldier genetics experiment, and prone to psychotic blind rage which can occur during the heat of battle. Still, they are highly loyal to their creator, whom they call "Father," and have demonstrated their increasing competence in the Oracle War. Recently, they've been working with the Sol Defense Force to further increase their legitimacy.
The Death Vigil: Originating on the remote planet Gibel in 2309, the Vigil ran trade escort services for many years and has gathered a renowned reputation. Soldiers from hundreds of races have staffed its ranks, and its discipline is equal to that of any state military force. Inside, however, the story is somewhat darker- the Vigil demands absolute, unquestioning loyalty from its members, and has even been compared to a cult. Currently, its leader is an aged but cunning human named Mordecai.
Gold Dusts: Built around vice industries like slaving and narcotics, the Gold Dusts have a specter-like presence throughout the galaxy wherein ties to local outfits can be found on practically any planet where goods are bought and sold. Its members are pleasure-seeking, and will accept the most lucrative contracts. Most of the time, however, they'll send poorly-armed slaves to fight in their place.
Star Dusts: A splinter group which broke off from the core of the Gold Dusts decades ago, the Star Dusts are soldiers of fortune in the purest sense. Unwilling to sit idle while slaves fought in their place, the Star Dusts fight for the thrill of battle and the spoils that come with it. Unfortunately, their reputation has been tarnished by rampant drug use within their ranks, and they aren't the first choice for most rational contractors.
Wave Galaxias: Originally a unit of veteran Gold Dust slaves known as the Golden Wave, what would become Wave Galaxias turned against their masters during the Gladiator Revolt of 2382. Following this event, the Wave sought to liberate slaves everywhere by force. The next few months, known as the Aurum Sclavus, was a time of chaos for the galactic slave trade in which the Wave grew in strength exponentially. The Oracle War dealt terrible losses to the organization and stemmed this growth, however, and in its wake they have sought further liberation through more peaceful means. By 2384, the Wave had evolved into a humanitarian organization and adopted its current name, with a defense subsection called the Auxiliators. Their President is their former revolt leader, Aver Lagul.
Kabelas: These professionals got their start as hunters in the outer fringes of the galaxy, seeking not bounties, but wild game. Only when they discovered that their tracking, trapping, and sniping skills made them well-suited to bounty-hunting and mercenary work did they become involved in the trade. Their reputation is quite good, and they often keep trophies from their slain targets.
Alpha Sisters / Omega Brothers: Previously part of a single organization referred to as "The Family," these two groups split off from each other due to an undisclosed incident within their ranks. According to a popular rumor, the leaders of the two groups are siblings, but this is unproven. What is known is that the two associations are totally hostile toward one another. The Sisters only employ women and specialize in assassination, whereas the Brothers only employ men and specialize in intelligence work.
All of the preceding groups were created by Kilerabv, with the exception of Wave Galaxias, which was created by Damian0358.
Private Militaries and Their ConsequencesEdit
While mercenaries are reliant on transnational businesses, and try to avoid conflict with the states themselves in order to continue operating within their borders, private militaries are loyal only to the parent business. If that business comes into conflict with a state, they are likely to attack the state. This key difference has resulted in massive bloodshed in recent years and was at the cause of the Oracle War.
When the UGC imposed regulations on mercenary groups, private militaries were exempt. In 2382, the HarkArk Corporation's Privateers were dispatched to the planet Zeruel to fight against what had previously been thought of as a criminal syndicate, the Crimson Son. However, as would later be reported by returning veterans, Zeruel was actually home to a civilian state, the Crimus, and Crimson forces were fighting to protect their homeland. The Oracle War, then, eventually boiled down to a genocide of the civilians on Zeruel, perpetrated by the HarkArk Corporation. This, along with the earlier destruction of the planet Odenia in the same war, finally impelled the UGC to take action.
However, by the time resolutions had taken effect, humans had already been leaving the UGC in droves. The kanad-lead reform effort was received poorly, as the economically-liberal humans and sympathetic aliens of the southwest quadrant viewed the act as an unwanted intrusion by the Collective into a private sector in which they had no stake of their own. Multiple large corporations, especially those with private militaries such as Argos, banded together to create an alliance called the Elysium Combine. The Collective, in turn, declared the organization rogue, and called upon the UGC to send a fleet to suppress it. However, the Black Fleet had already become engaged in other activities, leaving the local forces of the southwest to accomplish the task themselves.
Instead, the effort to suppress YsCom, as it was soon referred to informally, failed in spectacular fashion. Local governments in the southwest were under extreme pressure by their constituents to abandon the "kanad-dominated" UGC and support the economically powerful YsCom. Those states which didn't defect by choice were sometimes deposed by civilian efforts, and before long the UGC force had retreated haphazardly to the abandoned planet Starvis to mount a desperate, self-preserving defense. To relieve them, the UGC dispatched forces from the northwest quadrant, which was even less prepared for such a large battle. In their absence, pirates began to organize in the northwest. The UGC managed to break their southwest forces out of the Starvis pocket, but upon their return to the northwest they were beset by a massive pirate armada and chased all the way out to the safety of the Ayr Empire.
In one fell stroke, the UGC lost control of the western quadrants entirely by 2384. The balance of power within the UGC shifted even further into the hands of the kanads, making true the fears held by those peoples of the southwest quadrants the previous year. Losses during the retreat were staggering, but the political will of the remaining UGC states is too weak to even fathom vengeance. Meanwhile, YsCom continues to grow in power unchecked. It is unclear what the Combine intends to do with its unchallenged latitude.
HarkArk and the Privateers were created by Doomevil. YsCom was created by Deathgrunt.