In the previous instalments, we ran through the early and middle-period factions during the Fifth Age, the Warring Ages of panhumanity on Antares. This instalment, we give a summary of the final development of the two of the major factions that rescued and almost destroyed panhumanity during the 5th Age and whose warring even brought the Fifth Age to a close: the Ascendancy and the Isorian League.
The Ascendancy Timeline
The fortunes of the Ascendency are probably best illustrated in a timeline, as follows.
|5th Age Date||Ascendancy Event|
|~950+||The Time of Treachery: numerous, small, panhuman empires on Antares wane and collapse. Trust is in very short supply with even an offer of alliance being seen as a tool of manipulation and an indicator of impending conflict. With panhumans fighting amongst themselves, the Vorl find it relatively easy to pick off the isolated, non-Vorl empires and fiefdoms.|
|~1100||The Gethderah Trade Federation, League of Ha’Ruul and the Saviours of Teveron ally against the growing Vorl menace to form the Ascendency of around six hundred connected systems. Over the next few hundred years, the political machinations of the Ha’Ruul NuHu helped encourage more invitations for membership from smaller empires, the Teveron legions encouraged others to join through fear of destruction and other empires and fiefdoms flooded to join from fear of neighbouring threats, particularly Vorl incursion.|
|1350||Isori rejects political overtures by the Ascendancy, claiming to be merely one of many, neutral systems.|
|1380||The Ascendency switches to an expansionist programme including the forcible annexation of nearby naval shipyards and poorly defended worlds. They use a wide mix of the Teveron legions, privateers, sub-contracted raiders, espionage and political means to ‘encourage’ fiefdoms to join. Derivar and other independent, specialist shipyards are particular foci of the expansionism.|
|~1470||Under pretext of the Isorian League harbouring enemies of the Ascendency, warships of the Ascendency begin raiding systems on the Isorian borders. Apparently random annexation increase over the next hundred years until a pattern emerges: a thrust into the heart of the League and Isori itself.|
|1594||The Ascendancy attacks Isori and is repulsed. Isorian defences prove much more potent than the Ascendancy realised, using a prototype null-space weapon within its system that almost completely wipes out the Ascendancy armada.|
|~1600||A renewed and co-ordinated Vorl offensive forces the Ascendancy to relinquish its pressure on the Isorian League. The next century sees the Ascendancy shrink in size to around 8,000 systems before it manages to recover from the losses incurred in the assault on Isori.|
|1748||The NuHu enclave calling itself NuXon is reconnected to the Nexus and is immediately courted by the NuHu rulers of Ha’Ruul to join the Ascendency.|
|1798||With the shipyards of NuXon pouring out advanced ships in ever greater numbers, the Ascendancy begins a number of major campaigns against the Vorl Extents and push the Vorl back.|
|~1800-1900||The Ascendancy expands until it has over 20,000 active, member systems and as many more that have been ‘cleansed’ by the Vorl and are now stripped bare of sophont-level life. The Vorl devastation shocks much of panhumanity and the Ascendancy’s political elite, fostering a hatred that fuels many to volunteer to serve in the Ascendancy’s military.|
|~1850-2020||The Ascendancy’s influence grows to claim over 30,000 full members. Around a half a million further independent and isolated, panhuman and alien systems flock to the Ascendancy’s banner, all claiming to be part of its extended alliance even though they are not active members of the Ascendency nor its military. Many other empires try to weather the storm and declare independence of any broad alliance.|
|~1900-2050||The Ascendancy wipes out the heart of many Vorl Ordo and triggers a collapse of trust amongst the Vorl: infighting between the many Ordos is rife allowing the smaller panhuman empires to take advantage of the Vorl’s diminishing resources. Whilst many panhumans might have been tempted to commit the same horrors on the Vorl that the Vorl committed on panhumanity, they are saved from such a decision as almost every Vorl, combatant or not, fights to the death against panhumanity. The few Vorl that are injured and captured commit suicide rather than live amongst what they apparently refer to as ‘The Insane’ – the panhumans and their allies.|
|2020||The Ascendancy begins piling political pressure on many smaller empires such as the Isorian League to join their fight against the Vorl. After the Isorians refuse, the Ascendancy gathers military resources around the small Antarean enclave of the Isorian League and its allies. Isori protests as, over the next thirty years, their allies are conquered and fall to Ascendancy forces until the Ascendancy threaten a series of overwhelming assaults against the Isorian gate.|
|2049-2053||An initial assault by the Ascendancy against Isori is repulsed by an improved null-space weapon that leaves few survivors. Within months, the Isorian gate collapses and the Ascendancy begins pulling back its military resources based on nearby systems. Whilst there is no proof, it seems likely that the Isorian null-space weapon triggered a cascade of gate collapses, casting a transdimensional shadow that spread from the Isorian gate around the Nexus. The side effect of the shadow includes the destruction of nanospore and the blocking of each NuHu’s nanospore receptors. Such a dire side-effect causes havoc, killing many NuHu and the leaders of Ha’Ruul are almost completely wiped out. Within the space of five years, there are no more gates recorded as being connected to the Nexus.|
Isori is the fourth world in orbit around the star Isor and is one of many rocky planets and giants in the system. The system is extensive and abundant in resources, with habitable (terraformed) moons and many planetoids and dwarf planets in far-flung orbits. The two planets in the theoretical ‘goldilocks zone’ for panhuman life are Isori (Isor IV) and Isor III. Isori itself has a carefully controlled climate, extensive, ‘greened’ cities and arcologies, and is home to numerous research and manufacturing facilities. Isor III is a jungle-like, ‘garden’ world whose temperate zones are used extensively for farmland and crops with the hotter zones kept for leisure.
Even during the Fifth Age, NuHu regarded Isori as their spiritual home and there are more NuHu – or Senatexis – on or in orbit around Isori than any other world, even that of the Ha’Ruul homeworld. The Isorian policy of independence was only sustained due to the Isorian policy of sharing advanced defence technology with their neighbours and establishing a mutual defence federation, the Isorian League. By the 5A1590s, the Isorian League had around 50 systems with varying amounts of Isorian technology in a tightly-maintained, mutual defence pact.
The Isorian League proved largely successful at defending its borders from both Vorl and panhuman attacks. Though it had plenty of opportunity to do so, the League declined to turn its defensive successes into aggressive expansionism, only inviting a very few stable, non-hostile systems on its borders into its arms. As a result, it grew slowly, only reaching 90 systems by 1800s where it stabilised, future expansion being curtailed due to extensive Ascendency military activity around its borders.
The Isorian 5th Age Timeline
A rough timeline of Isori activity during the Fifth Age might read as follows.
|5th Age Date||Isorian Event|
|~1250||Isori reconnects to the Nexus. They quickly establish a small alliance – the Isorian League – with the nearby, advanced systems but after taking stock of the chaos around them, remain largely insular in outlook. To the isolationist Isorians this time it is known simply as the Dark Age.|
|1350||The Isorians reject political overtures by the Ascendancy, claiming to be merely one of many, neutral systems.|
|~1470||The fringes of the Isorian League are attacked by Ascendency forces. Over the next eighty years the attacks develop into a bold salient pointing towards Isor itself.|
|1594||The Isori system is attacked by the Ascendency but its defences prove too much for the attackers – though the Isorians barely hold on. Whilst the Ascendancy regroups, Isori steps up extensive research into space-time and the Antarean gate technology in order to build radical new defences against the military forces of panhumanity, aliens and Vorl.|
|2020||Isori again rejects requests to join the Ascendency. Over the next thirty years, their Isorian allies are conquered and fall to Ascendancy forces until the Ascendancy threatens the Isorian gate.|
|2049||The Isorians uses their newly upgraded null-space weapon against the Ascendancy fleet. Inadvertantly, this causes a transdimensional shadow that spreads to their own star and through the gate into the Nexus. The Isorian gate collapses, putting Isori into isolation and killing many of its NuHu, and the collapse spreads across the surface of Antares.|
The above and the previous instalments combine to give some idea as to the nature of the Fifth Age and the turbulence that forced the rise and fall of both petty and major factions of panhumanity. In subsequent instalments, we explore how players might be able to map their own empire or build their own faction’s forces for use on the tabletop – build your own Warring Age empire and army!