The Hyperion Voyages setting is basically “what might have happened if the generic D&D setting had advanced 3000 years (assuming it doesn’t quite go Tippy-verse)”. Guns and space travel are common, but technology based on electromagnetism and explosives are still in their infancy. It’s common knowledge now that the “prime material plane” is unique in that it’s not a plane per-say but a collection of planets and star systems. The Hyperion Federation is the biological origin of almost all known peoples, and is similar to the Star Trek™ Federation in that it’s largely a post-scarcity society headed largely by a homogeneous government spanning multiple worlds. New worlds “join” the federation in much the same way. There isn’t really any other space nation (that a typical Hyperion would know of). Magic is considered taboo, and spellcasting is outright genetically impossible for the majority of the known galactic population. Psionics, meldshaping, and other non-spellcasting systems thrive (but psionics is more prevalent than other systems).
Technologically, “hypertech” is the way by which everything “advanced” in the known worlds operates. Everything is online, wireless, and in most cases self-powered, more so than we have now. Imagine iPads usable by thought and you get a picture of the everyday technology level. A Hyperion can simply look at a toaster after putting bread in it and it’ll come out the way they want.
All biological or technological Hyperions are genetically-incapable of casting spells in the “traditional” sense. It’s an inherent part of being a born or integrated Hyperion. Naturally, magic has come to be “taboo”. Warlocks and factotums and such can still use “spell-like abilities”, but those kinds of people are generally shunned by the populace, and will be among the first the public will likely turn on if bad things happen. There are many that don’t have these wonderful “gifts” handed to them at birth or through integration, so they can potentially cast spells. Spellcasters themselves are thus rare, actively feared by the general public, and may even be arrested on trumped-up charges.
All born or integrated Hyperions grow up using Hypertech every day as much as we use laptops and cell phones. They also have, among other things, an item familiar embedded at the top of their spine (smaller than the size of a pea). Both biological (fleshy) and technological (construct) Hyperions have an item familiar; fleshies get a “neural implant” and constructs have a “cyberghost”. All Hyperions (fleshy and not) can thus interact wirelessly with various devices, most notably, anything with a “Hypertooth Interface” (anything we’d consider mundane like a lightswitch, radio, elevator, etc.).
The usefulness of magic-psionics opacity can be seen in the case of how the Hyperion government controls a riot. Since magic users are oppressed by the general public, if a riot breaks out (which likely includes psionics but not magic) the Hyperion police usually can throw down a null psionics field and send in their own magic-using forces (using wands or non-spellcasting-class squads).
Another aspect can be demonstrated in the wording of detect magic vs detect psionics. Detect psionics reveals the presence of psionic creatures, but detect magic doesn’t detect the presence of magical creatures. This scares Hyperions, because magic users could potentially be hiding anywhere undetected, ready to terrorize the populace at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, all state-granted spell use is strictly controlled like guns are in our world. There are rumors of innately-magic shock troops being created by the state (using innately-magical creatures), but all but a few discount the rumors outright as they “know” the Hyperion government would never condone that kind of thing and “know” it’s impossible anyway because all Hyperions are born incapable of spell use.
Lost in Space campaign variant
If you’re not too keen on changing whole swaths of the D&D 3.5 ruleset as described in this setting, this optional variant can be used to enable your existing D&D 3.5 campaign to utilize the Hyperion Voyages options and much of the lore without requiring the stuff in the Game Feel chapter.
In this campaign variant, the party is thrown (or otherwise travels to) some location far beyond the reaches of Hyperion space. The fringe worlds (much less the core worlds) are effectively nothing but a twinkle in the party’s collective memory, and most characters in the party likely long to return to the comforts of home. Think of the premises of narratives such as Lost in Space™, Star Trek™ Voyager™, or Sliders™, and you’re a long way to understanding the narrative impetus here.
It’s usually a good idea (nigh-on required, really) to somehow give the party access to a means or a promise of a means by which they can eventually return home, such as a space ship, hints of portals in the campaign, or some other form of feasible interplanetary and/or interstellar travel.
The Great Planar Seal
Much like when Raistlin of Krynn defeated Takhisis, many mortals hailing from the material and transitive planes have sought to strike down the gods and lords of other planes. After millennia of fighting off uppity wizards and other powerful mortals, the gods and other lords of the inner and outer planes collectively decided that they’d had enough with mortals invading their homes and assaulting them (usually for no better reason than because they exist).
While there was some sentiment to destroy or banish all high-level inhabitants of the material and transitive planes, the higher powers managed to come to a peaceful agreement for how to handle their common greater threat. The result was the creation of a great planar seal which walled off the material and transitive planes in almost every respect. The higher powers have maintained the integrity of that seal ever since.
|Note: The term “material/transitive planes” refers to the material, astral, ethereal, and shadow planes as a whole. Likewise, “other planes” refer to planes other than the material/transitive planes.|
Creatures on the material/transitive planes can only travel to another material/transitive plane or to their home plane. Creatures on any other plane can travel to any plane as normal. Unattended objects are sealed off from other planes in the same way, while attended objects can only cross the seal if the creature attending them can as well.
Creatures on the material/transitive planes cannot be forced to travel to any plane other than the material/transitive planes (a willing subject can travel to their home plane). The great seal does not affect the preparation and casting of divine effects, summoning effects, or calling effects, but other than communication where one side of the conversation is a deity or a proxy of a deity, no communication is possible between the material/transitive planes and any other plane.
The March of Progress
The industrial revolution on the Hyperion core worlds was made possible by the corporate and government support of using golem and effigy magic to create the first mass-produced dextrous automatons. These automatons were intentionally very limited in their capabilities, only being able to accomplish a few very specific tasks with little room for interpretation. This made them perfect for working on an assembly line and for the hard labor required for food production.
The same kind of research used to create these limited golems also brought about similar innovations for spells and powers. Severe but acceptable limitations could be set to make known useful effects more permanent. For example, a variant unseen servant could be made which did nothing but open a sliding door when someone approached, but was inexpensive and permanent. Eventually, these kinds of automated tasks were carried out by specific magical effects akin to presence-based “traps”. Later, programmed unseen servants oversaw the activation of these effects and they themselves were then managed by real people.
The more these automation methods were refined, the cheaper they became, until almost all aspects of Hyperion life from home construction to managing schedules and personal hygiene became dependent on autonomous effects and non-sentient laborers. This led to a new golden age for Hyperions, at its best freeing even the poorest of citizens to explore artistic and intellectual pursuits at their leisure, and at its worst spawning even more decadence and greed among the jealous and wealthy.
While crimes based on worldly needs became nearly extinct, crimes of passion, greed, power, and psychopathy continued unabated, especially in humans. To address the need to reform the worst human offenders, the Hyperion government perfected a method through which a human criminal could be stripped of most of their personality and memories and be remade as an elan. Since this change also granted a form of immortality, rich and affluent humans often paid for have their children be remade as elan to continue their legacy.
The golden era also brought about the birth of the first Hyperion warforged, a true philosophical and technological milestone. Although the creation of warforged was initially funded to create manufacturable soldiers — not manual laborers — society had become so accustomed to automation that it took time to start thinking of them as more than glorified forklifts. Within a few centuries, war itself became meaningless and laughable in the eyes of the public. Warforged gained more respect and slowly gained the rights afforded to all other sentient races.
Fascinated by warforged and inspired by the Sheen, an ancient and encroaching threat which combined man and machine, renegade mastermakers and gnome artificers worked together to reverse-engineer sheen technology to create the first Hyperion manikins. This breakthrough enabled almost anyone to give up their mortal body and become part “sheen”. Usually this procedure was only necessary to prevent certain death and combat irreversible maladies, but anyone could choose to become a manikin if they’re willing to be put on a waiting list or enter a lottery.
The Fall of Magic
Eventually, magic became so seamlessly intertwined with Hyperion life that most people stopped even calling it “magic”. While it was true that magic was the underlying energy that drove the most critical functions of modern technology, almost all of the interface aspects were done through psionics by communicating directly with the user’s mind and modifying their senses. As a result, spellcasters became less necessary and therefore far more rare, while psionics began to be treated as scientific fact by the general public.
Although magic was not seen very often by the populace, a great tragedy led public opinion to distrust magic in its entirety. A little over a century ago, the planet Ashetos suddenly vanished. The core worlds were horrified as more reports came in that the space where the planet should be was replaced with an unspeakably potent magical vortex. Billions of bereaved families blamed the gods, but when no deity or demon stepped forward to take credit for Ashetos’s disappearance trillions more blamed magic itself. To this day, you’d be hard-pressed to find a group of Hyperions without some degree of hatred against spellcasters.
However, not all forms of magic were hidden away. For the very rich that wanted to cheat not just natural death but also untimely death, the quest for profitable immortality veered off in an entirely different direction: What if you could die but then awake in a younger version of your own body? “Life Insurance” corporations sprung up that sold subscriptions to a very tightly-controlled stasis clone service. In short, you paid to have a current version of your body cloned, stored, and maintained in their facilities, and in the event of your death your soul would be instantly transferred to your new body.
With the taboo against spellcasters and the widespread use of cheap immortality, healing magic did not enjoy much innovation and acceptance. Hyperion hospitals have improvements in mundane healing and surgery, but also utilize psionic cradles of healing (SoS p139). As a result, most forms of magical healing are useless to the average citizen except in extreme circumstances.
All no-RHD LA+0 races populate Hyperion space and are roughly evenly homogenized. However, certain races have coincidental benefits or detriments by their racial nature and thus are more or less common than others. A few of these are listed below. Races with racial hit dice or a level adjustment but have psionic abilities are just as common in Hyperion space as no-RHD LA+0 races.
Most likely to be hologram specialists because of the “Holocunning” feature combined with the “Hyperion Education” feature.
The Hyperion elan operate completely independently from the non-Hyperion elan. Both still select humans to undergo the process, but the Hyperion elan is very selective, basing their entry on either wealth, rehabilitation, or in some rare cases, merit or lottery. The Hyperion Elan that undergo the process from rehabilitation are forced to lose almost all of their memories in the process (more so than normal), literally getting a fresh start. This is what replaces the death penalty in many cases (unfortunately, this option is only available to Hyperion humans, for obvious reasons).
The non-Hyperion elan however are selective in a different way by it being a largely an issue of thanks to a hero or super-important figure in their culture (people they want to keep around forever). Many non-Hyperion humans have a number of deeply-revered elan people in their culture. This isn’t the only reason for someone to become an elan though. While a Hyperion might have a chance of socialized healthcare, non-Hyperions don’t have that option, so when the need is dire, there have been a few tales of the gravely sick or dying of all ages being remade into elan. If a non-Hyperion human wanted to become an elan, they’d have to seek out one of these somewhat-tribal human colonies that have an elan council.
Most likely to be hologram specialists because of the “Hyperion Education” feature combined with their resistance to illusions. Air Gnomes are known to be particularly effective working in a vacuum or underwater because of their breathless quality.
Air Goblins are known to be particularly effective working in a vacuum or underwater because of their breathless quality.
Hyperion humans are widely regarded as a passionate but complacent, decadent, and violent race. This stereotype arose from the fact that the vast majority of elans in Hyperion space are rehabilitated human criminals (and there are a lot of elan).
Colloquially called a “robot” (as an insult, although “canner” is worse).
Warforged are known to be particularly effective working in a vacuum or underwater because they don’t breathe. Warforged are also known to be particularly adept at cyberspace infiltration because of their ability to instantly jump into cyberspace and ghostly move through cyberspace.
Manikins are humanoid-sheen hybrids created by a machine cyst in order to study biological life. Many of these attempts at merging biological and machine life fail horribly, but the occasional experiment yields a functional being. These manikins are allowed to return to their former lives, but all are hard-wired with a compulsion to return to the cyst of their creation at some time in the future.
Hyperion manikins are created through a medical procedure that transforms a living biological being into a construct. Usually this is done in response to a tragic accident, but more and more Hyperions are opting to gain a cybernetic body as a form of transhumanism.
(LA+1, halved to LA+1/2; Ant-like; XPH p6)
Colloquially called an “ant” (as an insult, although “bug” is worse).
(LA+1, halved to LA+1/2; Dark Dwarves; XPH p8; Racial Class available in CP p144)
Colloquially called a “dark dwarf” (as an insult, although “mud dwarf” is worse). Most likely to be hologram specialists because of the “Holocunning” feature combined with the “Hyperion Education” feature.
(LA+2, halved to LA+1; Caustic Gith; XPH p10; Racial Class available in CP p146)
(LA+2, halved to LA+1; Ascetic Gith; XPH p11; Racial Class available in CP p147)
(LA+1, halved to LA+1/2; XPH p12; Racial Class available in CP p148)
(2 RHD + 2 LA, halved to 2 RHD + 1 LA; Mantis-like; XPH p14; Racial Class available in CP p149)
Colloquially called a “mantis” (as an insult, although “bug” is worse).
How is Adventuring Legal?
How Modern Adventuring Came to Be
The Hyperion government has “departments” that branch out to every function of government. To an adventurer, the two departments that matter the most are the “Dept of Defense” and the “Dept of Intelligence”.
The Dept of Defense consists of (among other things) the Military and the Dept of Mercenaries. The two are generally separate, but on occasion the Military requests for personnel from the Dept of Mercenaries if they need a particular kind of specialist.
The Dept of Intelligence consists of (among other things) all investigative arms of the government (hereafter referred to collectively as the Police). While the Dept of Defense has the most raw manpower and combat ability, it requests information from the Dept of Intelligence so that they can effectively accomplish their operations. The Dept of Intelligence is not beholden to the Dept of Defense, and is generally free to deny requests that it feels jeopardizes the Dept of Intelligence’s security or the public’s safety.
The Dept of Mercenaries is a civilian-run organization that covers most every circumstance where the government needs additional manpower for some kind of offensive action where the Military does not have the expertise it needs to accomplish a specific mission or overall goal. In times of war, the Military will request a draft directly from the Dept of Mercenaries long before they try to draft any other civilians. In all other circumstances, the Dept of Mercenaries is generally passive and is free to deny the Military access to their personnel except in special situations.
While the Dept of Mercenaries has offensive specialists of all sorts, it does not have the funding or rights to have extensive psychological testing of their operatives and provide a regular paycheck to all mercenaries that are within their purview, or to legally compel a mercenary into service to fight against an unconfirmed threat to the general public. Further, the Dept of Mercenaries itself is regarded as consisting of greedy thugs and cut-throats, and thus the overworked Police force can’t ask for mercenary assistance when they get a case they can’t handle by themselves. As a result, the Adventurers Guild was founded.
The Adventurers Guild gets funding from the Dept of Mercenaries, but can be thought as part “public relations firm” and part “bounty hunters organization”. The Adventurers Guild has worked very hard to acquire a long-standing reputation with the general public of being “the good guys”. Adventurers are touted as heroes that are called in when someone needs to put their life on the line for an extraordinarily unusual and dangerous mission.
Effectively, adventurers are mercenaries that (unlike most mercenaries) operate under an extremely high amount of scrutiny and oversight. Adventurers undergo regular behavior audits and psychiatric examinations, and can be compelled to take on assignments (or risk being suspended or fired). In exchange, the Adventurers Guild provides adventurers with housing, minimal living expense and transportation stipends, manages some of the adventurer’s affairs while they’re away on assignment, and grants the adventurer the public prestige that comes with the arrangement. Most notably though, adventurers also possess a limited “license to kill”.
Being an Adventurer
As part of becoming an adventurer, you are required to undergo a psionic procedure where your “adventurer’s license” is supernaturally-embedded in your mind and body. This grants you the ability to at-will project a simple visual and tactile illusion of that license in case you need to show it to a member of the general public. The Police however do not accept this illusion as legitimate on its face, and carry a device that lets them scan for an adventurer’s license so they can instantly determine whether you’re legit.
Your license also contains a recording device that records your location and all of your senses, but does not intrude upon your thoughts or emotions. This allows you to act with a limited amount of impunity regarding committing otherwise-illegal acts to complete your assignment. This is made legally possible because you cannot remove or modify the license or its recordings, and you are required to regularly submit yourself to the Adventurers Guild so that they can gather recorded evidence from your license and so you can debrief them on your experiences.
An adventurer can temporarily disable some of their license’s recording functions as a mental free action. Usually you would do this for privacy. You can disable the ability to project your licence, the ability for your licence to be scanned by Police, and the sensory-recording aspects of your license, but you can’t disable the recording of your location. You can re-enable all of these functions as a mental free action. If you’re a suspect for a crime and you can’t prove that you’re innocent through the recordings from your license, your adventuring license is immediately suspended (which is like disabling it, but you can’t yourself turn it back on) pending a viciously-thorough investigation by both the Police and the Adventurers Guild.
How an Adventurer Gets Assignments
An adventurer always has at least two direct superiors:
- The adventurer’s guild-provided psychiatrist, who is responsible for clearing the adventurer as fit for assignments.
- The adventurer’s guild-provided agent, who is responsible for managing the adventurer’s career and public image. An adventurer’s agent is almost always a veteran adventurer themselves.
Both of these people are privy to the recordings submitted by the adventurer, and both are always present for all behavior audits and psychiatric examinations. The agent handles the behavior audits themselves, just like the psychiatrist handles the psychiatric examinations.
Often, an adventurer also has a temporary “Assignment Leader” for the duration of a particular assignment. Sometimes the assignment leader accompanies the adventurer on assignments, but usually the leader acts as a squad commander for the adventuring party or as simply a liaison of some sort.
When the Police don’t currently have the the expertise, funding, or time to devote what’s necessary to resolve a case, sometimes a detective or district attorney will act as a liaison that provides information relevant to the assignment. Most of the time though, the Police just dump a case on the Adventurers Guild when most or all of the investigative work is done and what’s left is for someone extremely dangerous to be captured or killed.
How an Adventurer Gets Paid
In a “modern” or “futuristic” setting, criminals and bounties generally don’t carry much physical cash on them, and even if you stole a villain’s bank card, house key, etc., you wouldn’t be able to use them because you’re heroes and that would be illegal (and besides, looting the dead guy’s apartment would take too much time away from the flow of the game).
Furthermore, it is potentially very unbalancing to the game for a mook or villain to have magical items on them which the players can just pick up and either immediately use at their full potential or outright sell for profit. Besides, it’s very discouraging for players to get into a monotonous loop of “kill monster, get sword, sell sword, buy bigger sword, kill bigger monster”. Magic item crafters should be far less commonplace in this kind of setting, so magic items that just anyone can use should be more rare. However, villains and other enemies still have to have the necessary equipment to be a real threat.
Unlike most mercenaries that are paid up-front or simply bring in someone that has a widely-reported bounty on their head, adventurers have to act upon incomplete confidential intel about a villain that usually isn’t listed on a bounty board, and they only get paid once they report in after an assignment. As such, the nature of “treasure” has to be re-thought.
Treat all NPC and enemy non-consumable magical equipment that’s not appropriate to the party’s make-up or Item Level as using the “Bonded Item” rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide II. That means that the enemy’s magical equipment is only magical to its original owner, and only has its non-magical properties when anyone else has it.
To compensate for this, the difference in raw wealth lost by the players not getting traditional treasure is instead acquired as a reward paid by the Adventurers Guild when the PCs report in after an assignment. Adventurers can then use that to purchase their own equipment as restricted by each item’s “ rarity”.
Banking and Economics
Hyperion planets have access to “The Bank”. The Bank has a withdrawal limit equal to the community’s “GP Limit” (DMG page 137) for any given day. However, you can deposit as much raw cash (in GP, SP, and CP) as you want (other loot must be converted to cash before being deposited). You can also make transfers to another account at The Bank, but special restrictions may apply (at the GM’s discretion) such as transfers being limited to only being able to transfer so much each day. You can spend any amount of your banked money at any establishment that accepts The Bank, although those generally also accept raw cash.