Rising Powers is planned to be a universe conversion for Escape Velocity Nova. Being made by some random guy calling himself LordInsane, Rising Powers promises a mostly Standard Sci Fi Setting, with a few subversions and aversions thrown in... generally stock ones, of course.
The backstory begins sometime in the past. Two great species, later called the Precursors and the Forerunners, arise, spread their influence for millenia after inventing the Hyperdrive... and then they meet each other. They couldn't stand each other. War soon ravaged Local Space, ending in a mutually destructive exchange when the Forerunners deploys a weapon that warps space-time and the remnants of the Precursors respond by a species-wide Taking You with Me and unleashes a pathogen that kills off the Forerunners and the last Precursors, leaving only a few scattered ruins (thinnest around Earth, as the main front of the war went in that general region) and wierd... ship-pod-thingies in the West.A hundred thousand years later, humanity invents the Hyperdrive. For some reason, humanity somehow ended up developing the 'drive comparatively early in their technological development, leading to an initial burst of expansion (later called 'the First Expansion') followed by a period categorised more by the steady growth of the already established colonies than of further colonisation. That, and the establishment of the Terran Empire, a federal constitutional parliamentary monarchy.
Relatively soon after the Empire's establishment, humans are special again, and invent the Slipstream Gate. A Second Expansion begins, humanity spreads farther out, and for three millenia the Empire stands as the safeguard of peace, prosperity and good governance. Then it breaks down in a slow, drawn-out Imperial Fall, with the Empire's descent into being a Vestigial Empire mirrored by a descent into being, well, The Empire, as increasingly harsher methods are resorted to in increasingly desperate attempts to bring the wayward governors and outlying regions and the warring factions under control. In the end, the Emperors are forced to flee from Earth, a new calendar, dating from that 'Imperial Flight' becomes widespread, Earth's ecumenopolis is gradually scavenged into a number of scattered 'mere' megacities, and the dominant state of government is the planet-state.
But nothing lasts forever, for soon polities begin to consolidate, and as the Terran Unity arises to the East, in what was once Forerunner space, the South begins to gather together, becoming dominated by five great Powers, and the Core Worlds begin to wonder if maybe it would be a good idea to get together, after all. The Last Emperor manages to exploit his nominal status into forming a republican Commonwealth of the more unification-enthusiastic Core Worlds, in exchange for abdicating, which leads to other Core Worlds falling under increased pressure to join (because a) the Commonwealth was good at hunting pirates, and b) pirates therefore raided systems not part of the Commonwealth more often). The Southern powers interprets that as a first step towards recreating The Empire, and the five greatest Powers lead the formation of a League, becoming the dominant Council Powers thereof.
As the game begins, the year is 327, half a century after the Commonwealth's establishment, and the unstable balance of power between these Rising Powers is about to break down...
The 'verse is intended to provide examples of:
- Absent Aliens: Humans are the big players, but strictly speaking the aliens aren't absent; the Precursors and Forerunners are, of course, gone, but they both left things behind, not all of whom are inactive, and humanity has found two semi-sapient (as in, smarter than chimps, but not by much) non-Terrestrial species, though only one of them can even remotely be called important on the scale of Known Space and in any case, it is an offshoot of the Forerunners' Organic Technology rather than a fully independently developed species, what with being space-inhabiting beings with an inherent ability to cloak and increasingly destructive natural weapons as they age- the other one is a stone-age seallike species that haven't perceptibly advanced since they were first found, 3400+ years ago.
- The Alliance: The Southern League, although it has a few federal streaks.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Part of the Kalian Kingdom's flavour. Not all that large a part, but still there.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The Commonwealth's CAF higher officer ranks might look like this at first glance. Strictly speaking, they aren't, as noted under Space Is an Ocean.
- Corrupt Church: The Church Union is this, if the Corrupt Church is also The Government, and that is a large part of the reason why it is corrupt in the first place.
- The Empire: The League regards the Commonwealth as an incipient version of this, and the old Empire as a thankfully gone version. Meanwhile, everyone but the Unity regards the Terran Unity as this, or at least wanting to be this, something quite a bit less debatable than the Commonwealth or the old Empire, even towards the end.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Two variations, both using the same plane of existence, but in somewhat different ways: the Hyperdrive, a standard 'warp drive' dropping the ship in another plane of existence where distances are shorter (and obstacles aren't the same), metaphorically described as a network of still rivers, and the Slipstream Gates, a Portal Network working by taking the same plane of existence as the Hyperdrive, and then creating a 'tunnel' with a rapid 'stream' in it between two connected Gates.
- The Federation: The Commonwealth is the purest example, but three of the Council Powers of the League (which in itself is somewhat federal) have strong tendencies towards this, with the Demic Domain providing a 'local direct democratish' variation, the Spinward Pact providing an 'alliance-tinted' version, and the Corporate Worlds providing a 'corporate' variation.
- Future Imperfect: Historians are somewhat... fuzzy... when it comes to pre-Imperial history. That said, they do get most things right, they just can't find proper sourcing for most of the data, leaving them forced to add 'possibly mythical' qualifiers and the like to most things they say. That, and they avoid details as much as possible. To put it another way, they are aware of this trope, know they would almost certainly fall under it, and take steps to avert it as much as is reasonably possible.
- Game Mod: The planned media.
- Generican Empire: The Commonwealth is simply the Commonwealth. The Demic Domain and the Church Union both have descriptors for their systems of governance as the adjective. The other multi-system polities avert it, however, using either dynasty (the Kalian Kingdom), astrography (the Southern League, the Spinward Pact) or the ethnic range that is the goal of the polity (the Terran Unity) as the adjective.
- Feudal Future: The Terran Empire, somewhat (it had an Emperor [or an Empress, at times] and nobles titled in a vaguely European way, but excepting the Imperial Majesty, being a noble didn't really mean much, there not even being a House of Lords analogue [and before the Fall, the Emperor, while theoretically powerful, essentially kept that power on the condition that he did not use it], and the Kalian Kingdom, complete with oppressed peasants, a disenfranchised middle-class, decadent nobles and an overly honoured warrior-class.
- Living Ship: Given their Organic Technology-usage, the Unity naturally has this. Game-mechanical, the Wraith are also this: they are living beings... who are represented by shïp resources. In-universe, the Wraith are descended from Living Ships, only falling out of the category by virtue of the fact that they aren't hollow anymore.
- Multiple Endings: By virtue of there being either three or four main storylines: Commonwealth, League, Unity and possibly Pirate.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Used and lampshaded: the description for one of the planets mentions that one of the main reasons why no-one has messed too much with the Precursors' remnants is the fear that in one of those highly persistent vaults they left behind might be a disease nasty enough to kill off humanity. It then goes on to note that this shouldn't be a rational fear, what with biochemical barriers and all... but there was that Plague that killed off both the Precursors and the Forerunners, and since the problem with that was apparently *limiting* what species it hit, rather than the reverse...
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted in one part of the Unity storyline. You're sent to destroy a prototype League vessel, but the intention is firstly to delay the project, and secondly to get more intel on the capabilities the finished League ship will have before the League can actually put it on the frontlines- the idea that this will put a stop to the project is regarded as silly.
- One-Federation Limit: Mostly played straight, with a Commonwealth, a Unity, a League, a Domain, a Pact, a Corporate Worlds, a Kingdom and a Union, though there are two polities that are explicitly called 'the Republic of X', of which one is a one-system member of the League and the other is an independent world to the north of the Commonwealth. There is also the Union Civil War, with the Church and Reformist Unions, but since There Can Be Only One...
- Organic Technology: The Unity uses a techno-organic variation of this, as did the Forerunners. These two facts are not unconnected; the Unity's technological advantage compared to the other factions were achieved by reverse-engineering Forerunner technology.
- Precursors: Two of them. Neither of which really fits into abusive, benevolent or neglectful categories, what with dropping out too rapidly and too unplanned for them to had time to clean up their messes.
- Space Is an Ocean: Mostly played straight, as per the source game, but with one slight aversion for the Commonwealth: as a deliberate attempt to distance itself from the old Empire, it calls its Space Navy the Commonwealth Aerospace Force, and uses old airforce ranks (except for the Marines, who uses Army ranks)... old being what the planetary air forces used during the Empire; what they use is a proposed set of RAF ranks that never actually got implemented, leading to such titles as Ardian (meaning 'Chief Bird') and Wing-Leader. Naturally, not only is the Commonwealth the only ones to do this, they also continue to use naval terminology, just not for the ranks. The Commonwealth still has Admirals around, though- in the Planetary Naval Service of the Army.
- Super Prototype: Inverted in one part of the Unity storyline: you're sent to destroy a League prototype ship partly designed with reverse-engineered Precursor technology. The prototype is primarily for testing the main weapon of the ship, and while the weapon is just as powerful as the finished version, the prototype ship is severely lacking in most other regards, being basically designed to be a mobile platform for testing the weapon rather than something actually made for combat.
- Theme Naming: The Commonwealth's military ships all have an adjective for a name (like CSS Ascendant, CSS Victorious and CSS Free). The League have Proud Warrior Race Guy-ish names (like Blood Honour, Skin of Iron and Holding Back the Sea), which is odd, given that does not fit their persona in other matters. The Border Guard of the Unity tend towards leaf-related names.
- Translation Convention: One part of the documentation begins as if this is averted in favour of Eternal English, by way of talking about how first the Empire and then the general isolation during and after the Fall slowed down linguistical changes to a crawl... followed by noting that 'crawl' is faster than 'not at all', and that the story does take place at some point in The Future more than three and a half millenia from now, making translation necessary (but still somewhat easy compared to many other options). Naturally, the assumption is made that the lingua franca and language of governance of the Empire, and possibly its humanity-uniting predecessor, if it has one, will be English.
- United Space of America: The Commonwealth is a democratic federal bicameral republic with a President, where the two chambers of the parliament represents the People and the constituent Worlds, respectively. Then again, it is also a parliamentary state with a nearly powerless President, a fairly important Prime Minister, and the balance of power of the two Chambers of Parliament being very much in favour of the Popular Assembly over the Council of Worlds. Also, the CAF never names its ships and vessels after persons or places.