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 Lady of Pain rewrote the multiverse that way, perhaps to hide Sigil where no one could find it). 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 Hyperion Federation was founded thousands of years ago based on reverse-engineered “Ancient Hypertechnology”, most notably using extant portals linking their homeworld Hyperion Prime to some of the other planets in the Hyperion star system, as well as to a few planets in nearby systems. Using these portals and other newly-invented “Hypertech” gave immense benefits for trade and conquest. Hyperions began to see themselves as divinely ordained to conquer the galaxy.
The full rotation of the galaxy in this setting (the “Hyperion” galaxy by self-aggrandizing Hyperion astronomers) takes roughly 1.296 billion Hyperion years. This rotation in time is split into 360 degrees, which is further split into 60 arcminutes, then 60 arcseconds, and then 1000 milliarcseconds.
Hyperions in antiquity considered their homeworld’s celestial alignment so important that they magically corrected the revolution of Hyperion Prime around the Hyperion star such that one of their years equals exactly one milliarcsecond of the galaxy’s rotation, with no drift. They then restarted the entire Hyperion calendar with this event being day one of year zero. This event was timed for when the Hyperion star was in precise alignment between this galaxy’s galactic center and the brightest neighboring galaxy on their opposite side, “Dis”.
The Hyperion calendar year is divided into 360 days, 18 months of 20 days each, each week having 5 days. Hyperion Prime has 2 moons, also corrected to revolve around Hyperion Prime every 3 months and 1 month, respectively.
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. That said, despite having that hatred, those same people will usually continue to use magic-based technology anyway in their homes and their daily lives.
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.
(This section is very much a work-in-progress)
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.
Ghostwise Halflings (from Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) are common as merchants, politicians, security agents, and spies, especially if they have the Mindsight feat (from Lords of Madness) which allows them to detect all nearby creatures who have a mind.
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).
There are two kinds of adventurers in this setting: vigilantes, and “licensed” adventurers.
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.