The Terrible Secret of Space
Description: For eons, the children of Earth have spread beyond their miniscule planet, colonizing whole galaxies. As exploration and colonization proceeds much more rapidly than humans can propagate themselves, and as technology exceeds even people's nigh infinite wants, the need for social structure breaks down. Each starship with populations ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands has developed it's own identity, culture, and with genetic manipulation it's own species, sometimes widely diverging from the original human form. Psionics is one widely-implemented result of highly-advanced genetic manipulation. Only in emergencies such as catastrophic failure of ship systems do such populations make a permanent colony on a planet, and only then does terraforming take place, but even then the sheer emptiness of space draws most people away as soon as the new colony is capable of ship building. Due to the fracturing of humanity into ship-bound tribal units, technological innovation has taken a back seat to exploration and individual ambitions. Further, as the innumerable subspecies of Homo Novus has discovered in it's travels, even the most basic native life is extremely rare, and intelligent and tool-using aliens are considered subjects of fiction and rumor.
The story follows one particular starship as it discovers ancient evidence of another intergalactic empire. While the ruins themselves are perhaps a billion years old and protected by psionic traps of exceeding and maddening power, the explorers stand to discover incredible secrets, including the lost empire's genesis and dissolution, the nature of it's extradimensional invaders, and the inevitability of humanity's impending doom. The reaction of the explorers is the core of the story: do they flee their newfound knowledge into the safety of insane decadence and violence, do they somehow seek to save themselves from the invaders by hiding, or do some seek to contact the invaders and thereby trigger invasion?
Large numbers of small homogenous groups. "I am a member of the Short Red tribe"
Society organized along the lines of hereditary social roles. "I am of the Warrior class"
Coexists with: Castes
The society has lost all capacity to innovate or adapt. Ex: Late Roman Empire, Late Imperial China
Construction of planets, restructuring of solar systems, total conversion of matter to energy, probability manipulation
Dysonian Engineering (TL 14)
Exotic locations, foreign peoples, strange creatures, unknown histories
Doomed characters in terrifying circumstances
Psionics are an outgrowth of the processes of life, and variables such as species, emotions and states of consciousness can affect psychic powers.
All people are psychic, but special training is required to make use of the ability. Psionics will tend to be restricted to powerful groups with resources for training.
Psychic powers leave distinctive energetic residues which can allow identification of what power was used, when it was used, or even who used it.
Spice: Traceable Psi