Greetings brave mercenary,
You are here to embark on your first contract, to find Glory and Profit™ among the stars at the behest of your employers. It is not an easy task in the modern sphere, warfare has as ever kept apace with humanity’s need to quarrel with each other. Giant machines known as battle mechs stalk the modern battlefields, shaking the earth with every step. Life and death duels between aerospace pilots and dropships the order of the day to get them there. Sometimes the conflict is over land or politics, other times it’s for resources to feed the massive forges that churn out such fantastical warmachines. Sometimes you’ll be employed just so those paying you can have a little peace of mind and sleep safe in their beds.
The year is 3047, while things aren’t as good as the legends about the era of the Star League told in every pub and watering hole might have you believe, mostly they’re on the upswing. Even if this is “the good times”, there’s always work for your kind out there, someone always needs something done, and they’re willing to pay.
But first you should know where things stand, and for that, we have to look at the biggest starting point of the age; when humanity left is cradle.
The Inner Sphere is a region of interstellar space surrounding Earth to a radius of roughly 450 – 550 light-years, generally demarcated by the outer borders of the “Great Houses.” Within this region of about 2 million stars, there are approximately 20,000 inhabited planets. Beyond the Inner Sphere is the Periphery.
Colonization of the Inner Sphere began in 2108 when the Terran Alliance launched the first manned faster-than-light mission aboard the TAS Pathfinder. Between 2108 and 2235, the Terran Alliance colonized and ruled the first centralized interstellar government in human history, controlling more than 600 colonies within 120 light years of Terra.
- The Free Worlds League, established 2271
- Rulers: House Marik
- The Federated Suns, established 2317
- Rulers: House Davion
- The Draconis Combine, established 2319
- Rulers: House Kurita
- The Lyran Commonwealth, established 2340
- Rulers: House Steiner
- The Capellan Confederation, established 2367
- Rulers: House Liao
As with all of human endeavors, there was war:
With the establishment of the five great houses, there were lines to be drawn and fought over. Raiding and ‘unsanctioned’ pirate activity was the norm, commerce raiding and the occasional destruction of entire towns and settlements. Eventually enough minds saw the need to put an end to this.
The Star League
Sprung from the more central planetary governments around terra and initially formed by what was known as The Terran Hegemony, the Star league was arguably humanity’s highest point in recorded history. All of the houses agreed that besides sniping at their neighbors and political rivals, the amount of pirate and unaligned factions doing the same were beyond manageable. Each of the houses agreed under the charter of the league to contribute material and personnel to its formation, and the upkeep of a standing defence force under the auspices of mutual protection.
For a quarter millennia it worked. Sciences and the standard of living rose, far more esoteric technology like the Jump drives and HPG communication, which enabled the movement and flow of information over vast distances were commonplace. Conflict was limited to far less random brutal raiding and destruction. Though rare, small scale conflicts continue, but under the firm understanding that many humanitarian accords were to be upheld. Violations were severely punished by the standing forces of the Star League. A prosperous peace reign, though rife with political intrigue and many shifts in power, for the common people it was a bountiful time, still remembered as utopian by modern standards.
As with all things, it wasn’t to last.
The Succession Wars
After a flurry of political moves by many of the houses, a slowly settling decay which affect all bureaucracies of staggering size, the League collapsed. Helped along by the death of its First Lord and nominal leader, the absence of an strong second and all the major houses agitating for more power and control, the League shattered.
Many of the defence forces returned to their home Houses and star systems, however in a shocking turn the bulk of the standing forces that oversaw and enforced peace through nearly 20,000 star systems rallied behind their leader and left. In one moment they turned their backs in disgust on the stagnant system that had failed to maintain control over the politics and policies of the League, and the houses that perpetually sought to sink yet another of their claws into the systems in place. As one the Star League Defence Forces left the Inner Sphere in a mass exodus, leaving the houses to squabble over the remains of the systems, fighting for the nominal throne of the Star League.
This is widely accepted as the beginning of the succession wars.
- The First Succession War, 2786–2821
- The Second Succession War, 2830–2864
- The Third Succession War, 2866–3025
- The Fourth Succession War, 3028–3030
The reasons for all of the ensuing conflicts, and there are many many more beyond counting that are not mentioned, could fill books and employ scholars for lifetimes. Even distilling the 250 years of chaos and hell that ensued into just four conflicts doesn’t cover the gravity of what was lost. Humanity regressed.
Hundreds of billions of lives perished in several decades long conflicts. Technology, precious knowledge and infrastructure were lost. The ability to communicate across the vast tracts of interstellar space became rarer and more costly. Traveling suffered as well, and with it comerces dwindled as every nation sought to control or curtail the use of jump ships. Numbers of them beyond counting were destroyed in the fighting, along with pitched battles fought over their rarer shipbuilding facilities rendering them fewer still until even amid the chaos all factions agreed to no longer target them.
Since the end of the fourth succession war there’s been an uneasy peace in the wider galaxy. Tensions are high but over the last twenty or so years it has remained largely uneventful. With less need to fight for its survival or ideals humanity has begun the long upward climb back to its former glory, discovering or rediscovering lost technology and locations, once again trying to bring about the prosperity of the past before the next inevitable conflict.
This brings us to Now. 3047, and things are relatively stable, measured in the sense no one has had to redraw any of the maps for close to twenty years.
Welcome to the Inner Sphere mercenary.
For Glory and Profit.™