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Prequel in the Lost Age

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In a series set After the End, especially if it's so long After the End that the Golden Age is nothing but myth and legend, one constant factor is that the Golden Age and its end will be tied in with the plot somehow, whether this means Lost Technology for the heroes to use, or a Big Bad who is a Living Relic from those times and is plotting to bring them back at any cost. However it's played, tantalizing details about that time will be revealed, and if they're interesting tidbits, they'll whet the readers' appetites for more. As a result, one of the most popular settings for a Prequel is during the lost golden age, before the world-shaking cataclysm that set up The 'Verse that we know today.

Most of the time, the prequel will prominently feature said worldshaking cataclysm as its climax; indeed, it's almost mandatory, so that viewers can see how the wondrous world of the Golden Age became the world of the original series. Normally, the Golden Age will be (at least superficially) a Utopia filled with either Science Fiction trappings or Magitek; Crystal Spires and Togas are often shown. It's very probable that the setting will be a Crapsaccharine World under the surface, in which case it's also a Soiled City on a Hill. Prequel In The Lost Age can overlap with Just Before the End, but this is actually somewhat uncommon; normally, everything seems to be going smoothly right until the lights go out. Often overlaps with (and justifies) a Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel.

Warning: Late Arrival Spoilers will be unmarked.


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    Film — Live-Action 

  • The novel BioShock: Rapture mixes this with a slide into Just Before the End. It basically links all the backstory we know about the first two games together into a single novel.
  • In the CoDominium series, Falkenberg's Legion is a prequel to The Mote in God's Eye and King David's Spaceship. Set during the CoDominium era, it focuses on a mercenary band's attempt to stabilize off planet colonies before World War III devastates Earth.
  • The Corean Chronicles have a prequel trilogy set in the time of the Duarchy, starring the ancestors of Alucius and of the Protector's line.
  • The Dark Tower: Most of Wizard and Glass is set Just Before the End of the time of the Gunslingers and tells of a time when Gunslingers still kept peace in the world, time and space were still somewhat dependable, and there seemed to be hope that even though the world had already somewhat "moved on," things maybe could still get better.
  • Katherine Kurtz wrote the Camber trilogy and the Heirs of Camber trilogy to explain the state of affairs in Gwynedd during The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. Specifically, the Camber and Heirs of Camber books explain how a land that had humans and Deryni co-existing openly (including Healers as a regular feature of then practice of medicine) became a land where Deryni often had to conceal their abilities or face death.
  • In the Dragaera series, the Khaavren Romances are a fictional in-universe series detailing what the in-universe author considers the "good old days", where nobles were brave and honorable and peasants knew their place. In contrast to the modern, First-Person Smartass style of the Vlad series in the "present", these are written in Antiquated Linguistics (although interestingly, they are written in-universe some time after Vlad).
  • The second Dragonlance trilogy, Dragonlance Legends featured the Cataclysm, which occurred 300 years prior to the events of most of the other Dragonlance materials.
    • Though Legends isn't a straight example, as it involves characters from the present visiting that era via Time Travel and therefore also continues the storyline of the original trilogy. However, there are numerous Dragonlance works set in Krynn's distant past that do play this completely straight, including the Elven Nations Trilogy, The Legend of Huma, and the Kingpriest Trilogy, which covers the events leading up to the Cataclysm in more detail and focusing solely on characters actually from that time period.
  • Some of the Dune prequel novels from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson cover the distant past where sentient machines ruled the universe and the formation of the Imperium. None of the novels cover (or even mention in any detail) the time period prior to the Time of the Titans... yet.
  • Isaac Asimov's The Empire Novels: When Dr Asimov began publishing this series, he had already published several of his The Foundation Trilogy stories in Astounding Science Fiction. Foundation takes place during the fall of the Trantorian Empire, while Empire takes place before and during the rise, and during the apex of said empire. They initially only had a few names in common with each other, but Canon Welding joined them into the same galactic storyline.
  • The Genesis of Shannara is not only a prequel to the Shannara books set during the events that turned North America into the Four Lands, but canon welds The Word and the Void into being this as well.
  • The Gospel of Loki takes place before and during Ragnarök, in contrast to the main series (Runemarks), which is set five hundred years later.
  • Greg Bear's The Forerunner Saga is a trilogy of Halo novels set during the heyday of the Forerunners 100,000 years ago, when they were spread out throughout the Milky Way. All that's left of them now are various artifacts (and their AI caretakers) scattered throughout the galaxy, including a set of giant rings meant to wipe out all life in the galaxy.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar universe includes the Mage Wars trilogy, the first book of which is set during the titular conflict and leads up to the Cataclysm. The other two books deal with the immediate aftermath and set up the state of the world to come in the main chronology, 3,000 years later.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is set in the The Time of Myths, when the Tiste still lived in the realm of Kurald Galain and the great Citadel of Kharkanas, before the civil war that made Mother Dark turn away, tore their realm apart and drove the Tiste out and into the world of the main series.
  • The Great Migration Duology books (Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon) in the Liaden Universe.
  • The Magic: The Gathering novel series has The Thran, a novel about the time before the five colours of magic were discovered. It contains the Start of Darkness moments for some of the series' villains as well as explaining where several of the Plot Coupons used in the other books originated.
  • Old Kingdom: Clariel takes place 600 years before the birth of Sabriel, and 400 years before the events that threw the Kingdom into chaos.pedantry  The short story "To Hold the Bridge" is also set in this time period, an unknown period of time before the events of the novel.
  • The Revelation Space Series largely takes place after the Melding Plague - an unknown alien technology that corrupts human nanotechnology - wrecked human civilization, decimating the technological base that made the Bella Epoque golden age possible in the Yellowstone System. Chasm City, the prequel to the first novel, takes place only a few years after the Melding Plague hit the eponymous city, and shows the nightmarish environment where the self-evolving skyscrapers became corrupt, growing and consuming anything in their path. The Prefect takes place a few decades before the Melding Plague, showing the nigh-utopian pre-Plague Chasm City, and shows the vast 'Glitter Belt' of multi-cultural orbital habitats before they were reduced to the 'Rust Belt' after the Plague.
  • The Silmarillion is this to The Lord of the Rings.
  • Darkwing is a prequel to the Silverwing trilogy that takes place in the prehistoric era.
  • The Tales of Dunk and Egg are an ongoing series of prequel novellas to 'A Song of Ice and Fire set about a hundred years or so before the start of that series, during the tail end of a prosperous period under the old regime. They are somewhat Lighter and Softer and generally end on at least a bittersweet note.
  • Tales of the Branion Realm is largely this, since each book is set a century or more before the previous book. Book 3, in particular, sets up the familial conflicts in Book 2, as brothers and sisters in the former make way for third cousins in the latter. It also mentions, in passing, an event that will lead to the main conflict in Book 1.
  • When The Tripods Came is a prequel to The Tripods.
  • The Horus Heresy novels are essentially the story of how Warhammer 40,000 became such a Crapsack World.
  • Sadly, there will never be a true prequel to The Wheel of Time series, due to the death of Robert Jordan, but we do have a brief "flashback" due to a past-viewing device in the fourth book. There Rand has a series of visions that work their way from the release of the Sealed Evil in a Can through the Breaking of the World, which ended the Age of Legends, and through several centuries of the aftermath. There's also a very short story The Strike at Shayol Ghul — an in-universe preliminary report of a historian, who studied a damaged history book written less than a century after the Breaking.

    Live-Action TV 

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE's 2004 and 2005 sagas took place a thousand years before the current story. Allegedly, they planned to have more flashback years, but the kids buying the toys found them too confusing.
  • Star Wars Legends includes many novels, video games and comic books set in the time of the Old Republic, usually thousands of years before Star Wars: A New Hope.
    • Anything happening more than one thousand years before A New Hope (when the Republic was re-formed, and the Sith were thought by everyone to have been wiped out), in particular. Before this time, the Republic had a military and the Jedi were allowed to hold political offices, with a Jedi serving as Chancellor. This re-formation happened in part because the communications and travel infrastructure of the galaxy had been ruined by Sith warlords, and the Republic being on its last legs, before the Sith annihilated themselves. Besides the military being disbanded and the Sith in hiding, the difference between those eras and the films is one thousand years of corruption and decay. The lack of an enemy to fight caused several families that had served as officers for thousands of years to be disaffected (setting the stage for the Empire), and dissent caused by the corruption caused the Separatist crisis and the Clone Wars. After the Reformation, the galaxy's economy bounced back as strong as ever if not more so, but the oversight and judiciary mechanisms for it stayed stagnant, to the point that people actually welcomed the Empire, at first.
    • The Knights of the Old Republic games are set in the Old Republic era, nearly four thousand years before A New Hope. The stories center mostly on the wars between the ancient Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, the Mandalorians, and the Rakata precursors who enslaved the galaxy several millennia ago.
    • Tales of the Jedi takes place in the very early history of the Republic, a few decades before Knights of the Old Republic. The architecture and technology are far more primitive-looking, hyperspace lanes are still being mapped, and the Jedi Order is strong but with different codes and morals than the 'present day' (for instance, romance is not forbidden and Masters are seen taking several students).
    • Dawn of the Jedi goes even earlier in the galaxy's history, before hyperspace travel was common. The organization that would eventually become the Jedi were gathered remotely by powerful alien beings. The Jedi aren't even called that yet (they're Jed'aii) and are as wary of "falling" to the light side of the Force as much as the dark.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Earthdawn was originally conceived as a prequel to Shadowrun, set in the Fourth World, sometime before the Late Bronze Age Collapse if not earlier. Shadowrun itself is set in the Sixth World, which started in 2011 when magic returned. However later editions attempted to distance the two as the properties changed ownership.
  • Exalted:
    • Rge Dreams of the First Age supplement is set in the eponymous First Age, a high-Magitek civilization ruled by the immensely powerful, and increasingly power-mad and deranged, elders of the Solar Deliberative. The supplement kicks off at the very moment that the Unconquered Sun turns his face from his Chosen.
    • Exalted used to be itself a prequel to Old World of Darkness, with various types of Exalts being derived from WoD splats - Lunars are obviously werewolves, Abyssals vampires and Sidereals mages, for instance.
  • Forgotten Realms: The Arcane Age line explores the days when Netheril and Myth Drannor were at the height of their power.
  • Rifts Chaos Earth is set during the Coming of the Rifts and the end of human dominion over the Earth. Ironically, due to the rarity of magic, the nonexistence of Techno-Wizardry and the fact that Chaos Earth hasn't been fighting a constant war for survival for centuries, the tech level is in many areas lower than that of the mainline Rifts Earth setting.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted in Phantasy Star II; it's a sequel to the first game, set a thousand years afterward in a world where technology has created a Utopia and its breakdown is driving the Algo system off a cliff. On the other hand, it also has a sequel of its own set after the destruction of Mother Brain.
  • Sagi's headache induced "Elsewhere" scenes in Baten Kaitos Origins takes place before the War of Gods. It only becomes clear at the 3rd occurrence, where the group notices the land goes on endlessly, in contrast to the Floating Continents the series uses.
  • Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 stand as prequels to Final Fantasy Tactics. Probably.
  • Wild ARMs 4 seems to be set during a period of time constantly alluded to in other games in the series of a massive world war where cyborgs and nanomachine monsters freely roamed the lands. Many of the world's bigger cities have been destroyed in the chaos and are slowly turning into the types of locations you see in games such as Wild ARMs 3.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Almost all Zelda games take place in their own distinct era of Hyrule's history, but The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is notable for being the earliest game in the timeline, before the founding of Hyrule itself, and when the Demon King Demise threatened to wipe out all life for the Demon tribe. It also shows us the creation of the Master Sword and Demise's curse on Link and Zelda that birthed Ganon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes place After the End in a Hyrule where Ganon destroyed and mostly depopulated Hyrule a century before the beginning of the game. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes place in that pre-Calamity period, with many battles fought and stores/sidequests located in towns and other places obliterated and Reclaimed by Nature by the time Link finds them in Breath of the Wild.
  • Kingdom Hearts χ takes place before the Keyblade War, in a time where all of the various Disney worlds existed in the same space and keyblade wielders were common. While the first incarnation of the game led up to and ended with the Keyblade War, the story has been continued to detail its immediate aftermath.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online is set in the Second Era of the series' timeline, during a period known as the Interregnum between the fall of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire (led at the end by the Akaviri Potentates) and the later rise of the Third Empire under Tiber Septim. The Interregnum is considered Tamriel's equivalent of Dark Age Europe and previously had very little lore associated with it as a result. Online takes place about 600 years before the first game in the main series.
  • Fall from Heaven: Age of Ice is a Dark Fantasy scenario for Civilization IV (included in the Beyond the Sword Expansion Pack). It's a prequel to the popular Fall from Heaven mod that takes place near the end of the previous age. Specifically, the main mod takes place in the Age of Rebirth, while the scenario, as indicated in the name, takes place during the preceding Age of Ice. No scenario/mod exists for the even earlier Age of Magic, although it probably wouldn't be too different from the one set in the Age of Rebirth, with factions being the main difference (e.g. the Amurites did not exist during the Age of Magic but play a key role in ending the Age of Ice).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The main events briefly alludes to Torna, a Titan/kingdom that existed 500 years prior to the game itself. The actual cutscenes related to this time period were cut, due to time and budget constraints, but became part of the expansion pass. However, the project took on a life of its own and eventually became massive enough to warrant a physical release as a standalone prequel called Torna: The Golden Country.
  • Ys Origin takes place 700 years before the events of Ys 1 and 2, detailing the efforts of various members of the Holy Knights of Ys that set out to rescue goddesses Feena and Rhea from the tower that would later become the Tower of Darm. The origins of several plot-important items Adol finds along his quest are explained, and in particular, the events that would corrupt the Fact clan are depicted.

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